Tag Archives: Yes

the best non-acting role for this life

18 Apr

is simple because you only have to memorize one line,

one word, really,


and repeat it often.

all the good stuff feels so scary

15 May

right before the birthing starts for real,

the body shakes and trembles

independent from all thought

flesh holds the fearing and the quaking on its own

at the precipice of seeming choice

the movement forward into irreversible transitions

stepping into new lands

the stomach empties

the muscles tremble

the bones rattle

what is this occurring?

what is happening?

what does my body know that my mind won’t let be said?

birth death long distance travel

we have traversed the universe, flying into bodies

as souls

at break neck speeds,

but here now imbibed in flesh, a short leap

to the other side of the world feels treacherous

a releasing of a child’s hand into heavy traffic

a speeding car and screeching tires

for effect

for a vision in the mind’s cinema

of a child run over in the street –

the movie is the body’s mechanism

for caution

do I watch the screen or

do I

leap into the lava in this life

feel the burn of every radical departure

fear bathed, I spend – I send – I quake – I release

I answer the invitation that arrives on my doorstep

I say yes yes yes, despite the recklessness my body tells me is occurring

one night in bangkok will be my daughter’s song

away from me, flesh away from me,

I overrule the tremble

I step on newly hatched legs

every day a glimpse of death’s transition

hinting at farther realms

the body can never grasp


an improvised life

30 Apr

one of my improv classmates, Michael Lacey, won a speech contest at the Citadel here in Charleston.  This is his winning speech – An Improvised Life…


do the opposite

20 Apr


Basically this –  I’m afraid.

My acceptance into the improv company and the reality of actually performing in front of a live audience as a regular gig has me quite afraid.  Who is afraid?  Who watches the fear?

The body increases the heart rate in response to thoughts; the air flow constricts, the body pulls into itself, almost wanting to opossum itself under her chair.

What a  gift – to be feeling fear – and to get to experience the body and mind in this fear and to recognize the infinite array of choice here.

I’ve had a tendency (I guess that is what we do as human animals-have tendencies toward certain behaviors) to retreat.  I can get into my passive mode fairly easily, allowing myself to be taken by the currents, flowing with the go :), but not initiating the go, so much.

Where does the teaching come from that suggests one do the opposite of the habit or tendency as a practice toward the middle path?    One guru would be George Costanza from the Sienfeld show 😛

What compels us to do anything on this planet in our human bodies?  Dancers dance, singers sing:  why do I have hangups about just doing what it is I seem to be able to do?

The opposite for me here is that instead of retreating, I am walking straight into the fire of my fear.  My self doubt is tedious to me.  When I went to see a show this week, my little self was screaming inside, “You can’t do that.  Why did they want you in this company?  These people are all so funny and clever and spontaneous!”  And then those thoughts got old.  And I realized that I can say the opposite to myself,  of course.   I can stay open to the moment of whatever all of this brings.

What is difficult is that while you learn a new way of doing something, you make a lot of mistakes.  I say improv is a failure-based art form because inexperienced players fail almost every time they try to do a scene.[…]  Improvisors need to recondition themselves to see failure not as a negative.  Greg Tavares, Improv for Everyone  (Greg is one of my teachers)

Do I really care about success here?  NO, not really.  I just like to play.  And having an audience watch me play with others who like to stay in the moment in a massive game of silly pretend is of no matter.  I can do this.  Improv is a failure driven art form.  Life is a failure driven art form.  To live your life – the life of your own – you ultimately give up expectations and definitions of success and failure and just do what you are going to do.  The praise or rejection comes to no consequence.

In the world of improv,  My name is George, I’m unemployed and I live with my parents can even become a most powerful and attracting introduction.

no, but…

31 Mar

I take a lot of vitamins and supplements everyday.  Getting them out the the jars and into my stomach is a morning ritual.  Each morning it hits me that I can hardly tell the difference between yesterday morning and today.  The same action repeated every day makes the days seem short.  Staring at myself brushing my teeth at night can give me the same time-warp feeling, as if just a minute or two pass, and here I find myself again, taking my vitamins, brushing my teeth.  The moments between that shake things up can pull me out of habits and patterns, make each moment fresh again.

A part of me, like the part that knows to beat my heart, the part that knows to digest food, the part that takes me on  my night time journeys, also draws experiences to me – custom made to help me learn, grow, wake up again and again.

I Love love love seeing the things I bring into my experience:

from breath-holding challenges to downhill releases,

from upturning changes to much of the same,

from tsunami waves to gentle currents of ease…

we all get it all.

I’m playing all parts on this journey as well as watching her fill her plate from the buffet spread  out before her.

The funniest thing to watch – to my dark humor –  is me being blind to my own blind spots.  The turn around of karma has me laughing at someone tripping only to find myself sliding on a banana peel moments later. (metaphor!  Not laughing at people tripping:)  The funny part is me on the banana peel.

The name of this blog in spotlights is me seeing my  own life as improv.  The first rule you learn in improv is “Yes, and…”  meaning that when your partner initiates a scene, you accept the reality of that scene.  You do not contradict the world they are trying to create; you join it, and add to it.

So my premise for this blogging was that the path to remembering involved saying “Yes, and…” to life itself.  Life flow is my partner who initiates scenes and I answer yes…

So I was called out of the blue and asked to audition for an improv company. WHOOO HOO to most, but  I was so surprised and confused by this, I actually started to answer with a “No, but…”

My friend DK sent me these wise, wedging words –  He is ever  lovely to hold up the mirror–


For all my “knowing” the path, here I was saying, “NO, but…”

So I released any thoughts I had, went to the silly, old audition because IT didn’t matter for anything except to walk the path with a YES as this was clearly being placed before me by my scene partner – life.    I had a crazy good time.

I was ready with my, “oh that’s okay, it was just fun to try” response (insert eye roll here) when they called to ask me to join the company.

When this call made my heart race, I was confused.  My heart hasn’t raced that way in a long while.  Seems a good reminder that  I am in a body, and I have blood and a heart and a mind and adrenaline.  There are activities that each of us enjoys, flows to, plays at.  Expressing these diminsions of ourselves is joining in to life, is part of the reason we take on a body.  What is up with my “No, but…?”

no matter.

The lesson is for me.  In All Ways.

Yes, dammit,  yes, and………….here i go!

“…one who finds somehow in each moment, comes to each moment, fresh, not harboring some projections about what you intend to do and what you have done before – The excellence of that State so few enjoy…as stateless state…a complete freedom, your whole life can be like this.”  – Mooji

Zen and the Art of the Parking Ticket

9 Jan

Parking meter.

It is sort of a thing in Charleston, parking tickets: a ubiquitous visitor to anyone who ventures downtown, tourist and local alike.  Those “ticketers” are GOOD at their job, and I have always paid the ones I deserved:  the forgotten meter time, not really a spot ticket, oops, I thought it was Sunday ticket (free all day Sunday).

But this time, I had a case.   I read the back of the ticket and figured out I could squeeze by the DMV Appeal Hours between dropping Chloe off for dance and picking up Eden…yada yada.

Forgive the tedious details…I want to get to the main point, which is a Zen Master at the DMV…I swear it is true.

I rode the elevator up with a woman, after showing her where to go.    She was in a huff, “I lived in NYC for 15 years and never got a ticket.  I’m here one week, one week!”

The appeals ended this particular day at 6 pm and she and I sweated our tight arrival together, arriving at 5:56 pm.  I thought they would say, too late.  But in we go…there are 4 of us there.

The women behind the glass make it clear that all they need is to get our names and info on the list – we are to wait to talk to The Man. I wish I could remember his name.

I am last on the list.  After sitting a few minutes,  a slow moving, large, authoritative black man emerges from his office.   He owns his space and does not show his cards.   He calls names out one by one and in each one goes.   In quick succession, the first  two offenders are quickly dismissed out of his door with polite “thank you’s and have a good night” and grins.  “You too” he calls after them.

My compadre from the elevator is before me and she gives me a grin and a thumbs up as she heads out the door.

Once I’m seated across from him in his office, surface conversation ensues, totally unrelated to the ticket, but it is his BEINGNESS that is radiating out from him no matter the words.  He is fully present with me and he knows what he is to do with purpose and grace.  How often do we experience this in others?    He is here to diffuse, to accept, to excuse…everything about him radiates peace – AT THE DMV – AT THE TICKET APPEALS OFFICE – really?

So I tell him my story, and he nods and says, “I know that parking lot, very old, you can hardly see the lines…of course you are right.  No problem.  Have a nice night Ms. T.”  I get the feeling that we are absolutely bowing to each other in mutual kindness, respect, love.

I know I am drawing out a story that is small and personal.  But I think, more and more we are all having these experiences when we are present to the moment, honoring the flow, saying “Yes, and…” to life.

I read a book years ago called Breakfast at the Victory by James Carse –  a philosophy professor at NYU.  In the title story, he illustrates a master (much like my parking ticket appeals officer)  shining through the owner of the diner he frequented every morning on his way to work.  Every move of pouring coffee, idle converstion with customers, wiping the counters was pure, radiating beingness.  If we are observing, we know IT when we see IT- and we are drawn to IT because these beings, workers,  masters in our midst are mirroring our true being back to us.

We are becoming masters of our own beingness.  The way an animal in nature inhabits its grace, beauty, perfection without resistance, we humans are remembering how to be.



2 Dec


Gosh.  I know right where I am.

A few days pass.  In between grading poetry anthologies, I take a little journey into reading the blogs out there that I have never seen.  Along this journey, I run across Awakeandfindingpurpose.wordpress.com and there I find another path walker sharing nakedly and beautifully.  This find then leads to some more bread crumbs along the way to Theawakeneddreamer.com…Wowza.  I am ready to hear this voice and experience stepping into her “telling” right now.

Rocking on my heels…ready to stop, and drop it all, no fear, just “come on fellas, show a girl the launching pad?”  Ah hahahahahaha.  Cue Alicia Silverstone Clueless voice, “As if….”

The empty mind times feel as nourishing as a bowl full of steamed spinach, a pure glass of water after a walk by the marsh.  Then the busy mind times feel like consuming cheeze doodles and dr. pepper.  Ugh.

So much has fallen away that I am full of longing for the rest to fall away.  I have had a shift; now I “know” the Eckhart Tolle park bench moment is coming.  Of course it is.  Everything to this point has led me along, and Everything will always continue to do so.  “She” let go of the grass reeds on the bank of the raging river a while ago.

I used to sneak away when my girls were young to go to a Thich Nhat Hanh Meditation Group in the basement of a Modern Baptist Church in Charlotte for one-half hour of sitting and one-half hour of walking meditation, followed by an awkward discussion of thoughts jumbled with ideology jumbled with all manner of open and closed, seeing and blind.  And I remember saying out loud, “Gosh, I just realized in the past few weeks that over 98% of what I think about is unnecessary.”  And a woman gave me and look, and said, “Really.  That’s messed up.  What do you think about?”  Indeed 🙂 What do we all think about?  But I was so new to the path, I thought I had said something so obviously stupid and wrong.

Most MIND is pretty close to that percentage…I stop and listen to mind chatter throughout the day.  What is it going on about?  At best, most of it is unnecessary, noisy blabbering, at worst painful confusion.

Paradoxically,  I don’t have to do anything about it.  I don’t have to sit on it, stuff it down.


I just look at it.

It is going away… Soon, perhaps today it will fall away entirely; how beautiful!

“silence is the language of god,
all else is poor translation.”

― Rumi

Yes, and…!

19 Nov

Improvisors use the phrase, “Yes, and…” to answer and begin a scene.  But really, everything can be about “Yes, anding” if we allow that.   Doesn’t life get interesting when we answer whatever may come with a “Yes, and…”?  This simple phrase is actually quite familiar through other words.  Lots of phrase contain the idea of saying “Yes” to life: “Go with the flow”, “Effortless action,” “I don’t mind,” “Show up, and see what happens…”

Saying YES to life, without resistance, no matter how messy, no matter how seemingly painful or humiliating, seems the only choice to me, anymore!

I am 46.  I took my first “Improv” class almost two years ago, and soon after, I found myself stripped and naked of all I had known for a long while.  Soon after that first class finished, I left my marriage of 19 years. I gathered my teenage girls, my possessions, and started out on a new life – a venture into the unknown.  Improv didn’t make me change me life directly, but it sure as hell helped me get the confidence to sit still, to listen, to see, to shake off the sleepy dust of roles and expectations. When I was present enough to show up, I realized my husband had already left, though he was not able to convey this except by not showing up, literally. Waking up and seeing takes courage sometimes, but now I know that showing up is the only option for me.

But this is just a story, any story really. Anyone in a body has one. And the same way improv, on a stage as a form of comedy or acting, lets us tell stories, experience identities, act out utter insanity; being in a body does all this as well.  Life is one constant scene.   We may forget this, attaching to the bodies we have, to the stories we think we are.  When we plug into believing we are our roles,  life has very high stakes for these “PERSONS.” Just as easily, I can shift my life, as the improvisor does from scene to scene, with a “yes, and…” and a listening ear – making life become play…life as improv!

There are so many avenues to explore; this is just one…I’m going to show up here and see what happens.

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