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Archive for September, 2010

Sometimes I wish I could be inside LP’s mind watching her imagination unfold.  I imagine it is very cinematic…. I get those lovely glimpses of the world in there through what she says and what she does but I know there is so much more.

At dinner a few evenings back,  I was telling ImprovDad about some B&Bs I had been checking out. (we have my wonderful Aunt J coming for an overnight with LP next week – woohoo!) One was called the Dancing Coyote and LP loved that name. She wanted to know how coyotes dance, so we invented one. It is a little bit Bollywoodish with howling. It was hard to finish dinner through the laughter.

Post dinner she was pestering us to go outside and see the dancing coyote. I was in “get things done” mode and had her bath running already so I wasn’t game but she rallied ImprovDad.

The report back is that LP led him down the street, around the corner and to some bushes that had a small space between them where the neighbors store their recycling bins.  “That’s where the dancing coyote lives,” she said and then collected some leaves and sticks to leave for the coyote to eat.

I love seeing how her imagination expands.  I think a few months ago she might have had the idea of a place being where the dancing coyote lives if she was looking at it but now she can picture it in her head first and then go explore it. Now her spontaneity and creativity are developing in new territory…how good it is to discover it.

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Playtime for Parents!

I’ve been working on promoting my upcoming class. Marketing is not my strong suit (talk about bringing out my shy side) AND it has been great (and frustrating) to work on refining my pitch and getting more clear on how to tell folks what the class is about. Below is my current iteration…if you live in the CA Bay Area, come and play!

PLAYTIME FOR PARENTS!

Feel busy and under pressure?

Do you get stuck for ideas when playing with your kids?

Bored with the repetition? Pressed for time?

Open up your imagination with Playtime for Parents!

Enhance your enjoyment of playing with your kids by discovering what makes you feel playful. Come and spend two afternoons with other parents exploring play through improvisation.  No previous experience necessary and shy people are welcome!

  • Learn tips and strategies for adjusting activities for different ages.
  • Practical hands-on ideas that you can use with your family.

Playing together builds strong families and gives children the chance to try new things and work through difficult feelings.  Parents need that chance too!

Dates: Sundays October 3rd & 10th

Time: 1-4pm

Location: Emeryville Senior Center

Cost: $80

Register at http://www.emeryville.org/activenet

Susan Snyder has been playing professionally for almost 15 years.  She is a drama therapist, an improvisor with the Un-Scripted Theater Company and a mom. This class grew out of her experience and a noticed need for parents to carve out some playtime for themselves, with positive benefits for everyone.  Susan writes about improvisation and parenting at http://www.improvamama.com.

This post is part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at Steady Mom!

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Playful Eating

I realized  that in true grown-up fashion, I was making saying “yes”  too complicated.

LP was in horse mode at lunch the other day (which she has been for most of the day recently except  for breaks when she is an otter or a rooster) and wanted to eat grass for lunch.  So I made her pasta and used some food coloring in the butter to turn it greenish and then added some chopped spinach. She seemed pretty happy with it although I don’t think much was eaten (she likes her leafy greens fresh from the earth, anything even slightly cooked gets a pass from her).

A playful twist on food is often a hit…green eggs (a la green eggs and ham, although mine often come out more olive green) are popular with LP, as is any food that ties into her current imaginary world.  So while sometimes I get inspired to create an “urchin” out of a cracker with hummus and dried lentils for my otter, I realized that at this stage of the game she’s happy to use her imagination. She seemed completely delighted with me putting down a plate of turkey and cheese for lunch while calling it urchin.  Hmmm…no fancy food effort on my part with a happy result and food for discussion for our meal (always helpful, I struggle with mealtime chat on a daily basis).

So I’ll accept her offers of what she wants to eat as she stays in character for meals and I’ll make offers too that fit in with her play. Sometimes my “yes!” will be in the form of creating something to eat that represents that and sometimes it will be in form of imagining along with her….which is a little easier on the cook!


This post is part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at SteadyMom.

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#1 Being playful is not the same as being happy.

As an improv performer and teacher, I knew that play felt good but when I wasn’t “in the zone,” my work as an improvisor often suffered (and of course I would go home and rehash every minute of it over and over again).  Using improv in life is similar in that when I can get the improvisational flow going, it feels great and when I can’t…life feels quite a bit more flat.  That flow is easier to find starting from a happy place.

AND yet…I was surprised and grateful when my knowledge of improv allowed me to stay playful (or at least have playful moments) while struggling with PPD.  I was so overwhelmed with sadness and feelings of despair and then here was this incredible gift.  My knowledge of and experience with play was useful;  truly, it was a lifeline that helped me feel connected with LP even in the haze of PPD.

I continue to rely on improv principles and activities to keep life playful when the going gets tough.  It is SO MUCH easier to be playful when I feel happy but I’ve learned that I don’t need to be happy to be playful. AND play often lifts my spirits, even if it is temporary.

#2 I sometimes feel self-conscious about being playful

I’ve been professionally playful for over a decade — teaching improvisation, working as a drama therapist and just plain bringing my sense of play into every day life.  Yet I can get in my head and self-conscious about public expressions of this playful self that is the real me.  It is easy to be playful at home with my family or when my professional role calls for playfulness. More difficult is keeping that sense of play alive in my daily life when the worry voices nibble at my awareness.  Even being a playful parent in public can be a challenge sometimes. There is such a culture of judgment of parents that even if no one is judging me, I’m imagining they are! And that sure does get in the way of feeling playful

#3: My playful and your playful are different…AND that is GOOD!

In general, I’m a quiet person. And so much of my playfulness shows up in a quiet way.  I often have a little bit of envy of parents I meet who can  rally a group of kids and energize them into active, group play.  Suddenly everyone is rolling on the ground with laughter or in an amazing game of tag.  That parent is usually not me.

I am I think my strength is drawing out shy kids or in smaller interactions (1 or 2 kids). I like to observe the play that is happening and find places to say “yes!” to ideas and be an aide to bring those ideas to life. Play comes in all shapes and sizes AND when I see a big person playing in a way that I enjoy (or envy), I can work to stretch myself and see what happens if I practice a different kind of play.

Do you have a playful confession to make?

This post is part of the Moms’ 30 Minute Blog Challenge over at SteadyMom…just made it in at the 30 minute mark this week!

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