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Archive for February, 2009

Here’s a simple one that I’m getting a lot of mileage out of these days.

Color – which in improv is all about description, to verbally color in the scene, character, story, moment, etc.

LP is very into (and loyal to) her stuffed buddies. Yesterday the way out of a tantrum/meltdown of the “I’m not napping” origin (a very long one at that), was when I started to describe Mona Cow who she was holding onto. Something like this:

Once upon a time there was a cow named Mona Cow. She was a brown cow, a light brown cow with dark brown spots. She had two eyes. She had two soft brown ears and two small soft pink horns. She had dark brown hooves. She liked to stand on her back two legs….she wore her favorite sweater. The sweater is orange with pink trim.

And so on, and so on…really stating the obvious. LP would cue me about what was most interesting to her that she wanted to hear again (“she had horns”) or more about (as she kept playing with Mona’s sweater to see if it would come off).

I “colored” for at least 10 minutes, maybe more. This could easily turn into a story. In this instance, LP was inspired to have Mona Cow want to read a book so we read the books of Mona’s choice (Goodnight Gorilla and Mrs Wow Never Wanted a Cow).

Variations: Describe what your little person points to or is looking at, ask your little person questions to help with the description or just tell a descriptive story (no action necessary, all scene setting and then it can be foundation to come back to and expand into an action story…if this evolves with Mona Cow, I’ll share it)

I find this really good for me when I’m feeling uncreative, overtired and a little cranky…suppose I could’ve used a nap too.

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Why Improv?

I’ve been thinking about it a lot since I started actually writing this blog.

I’d believe in the power of using improv techniques just based on my life experience of learning to use them as an adult, just based on the huge life-changing experience of becoming more playful, expressive and adventurous (all qualities I’d like LP to have in spades) and just based on developing the ability to take (and enjoy taking) actions and still feel shy as all get out AND be comfortable with both.

And there is more.

After LP was born, we had a really rough patch. We had all the usual “how do we keep this being alive?” moments and intense sleep deprivation (LP has not been into sleeping – ever, it just isn’t her thing). We also had all kinds of trouble nursing (I saw at least 10 different lactation consultants in under a month – lots of bus trips and waiting rooms with a newborn who at first lost weight and then just didn’t gain it). And after putting off work and work travel so as to be around when LP was born, my honey had to go away more than I was ready for or really, able to deal with well. So the perhaps normal post-birth isolation was compounded.

And , I had postpartum depression. Which took me way to long to acknowledge and get the help I needed.

During all this (about the first 10 months of LPs life), I was able to take care of her and engage with her. I took terrible care of myself so I used my ability to interact with LP as my guide to how things were.

It was my improv skills that I used to stay engaged with her, even when I didn’t feel like it.

It was my improv experiences that helped me realize what was missing in our lives together and believe that I could change that.

And it is my improv skills I’m using to this day as I work on getting through, past, around some negative habits of mind I developed during that time.

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