Blog Archives

Kate Arms-Roberts is Moving!

It is official. My new site is now live. 

What you will find there is an expansion of what I have been doing here.

  • An ongoing blog about InterPlay, writing, play, story-telling, and finding meaning in the world – continuing what I began here
  • Information about classes I am leading. These include InterPlay-related classes, writing groups, and acting classes
  • Information about the Creativity Coaching I am offering
  • Information about writing and editing services I am offering

Please join me over at www.katearmsroberts.com

If you subscribe to get the blog by email from the new site, there is an audio-recording of an InterPlay warm-up as a thank you for moving with me to my new space. It is a 15-minute introduction to InterPlay, and I hope you will subscribe and listen to it.

Please come on over to www.katearmsroberts.com and check it out.

 

New Year, New Everything, Almost

Just a heads up. I am in the throes of transferring this blog to my own domain and away from wordpress.com. I hope that you, my readers, will follow me there. I promise that I will have a little something for you if you do. But none of it is quite ready yet. Until it is, I won’t be posting here very much. I had hoped to have the transfer done this week, but it is taking longer than I planned and I’m not sure I’m going to make it.

In the meantime, I am getting ready for my new drop-in InterPlay classes starting on Friday. If you live near Oshawa, Ontario, please come by and check us out.

And, if you know anybody who is looking to have some more fun in life or reconnect with lost creativity, I am taking on clients in my new Creative Living Coaching Programs. Details will be on the web soon, but in the meantime, direct any inquiries to kate@improvliving.com.

I hope 2013 is treating you well so far and I look forward to fabulous creating as we go through the year.

Cheers,

Kate

InterPlay is Coming to Oshawa

Want less stress in your life and more ease?

Want to excavate your buried creativity?

All while having fun in an affirming community?

 Try InterPlay!

Starting in January, I am offering two InterPlay classes a month. These are drop-in classes. No need to preregister. Newcomers and experienced players welcome.

InterPlay is a practice and philosophy rooted in the power of play. It’s an easy to learn, creative process that uses movement, storytelling, and voice —but does it in ways that don’t require particular skill or even nerve. The forms of InterPlay help create a life of greater ease, connection, and health. InterPlay celebrates and creates connection and community. Through this simple form of play, we learn more about ourselves and each other. It is incremental, affirming, and anyone can do it!

The Details

TGIF InterPlay: 2nd Fridays 7:15pm – 9:00pm

Friday Morning InterPlay: 4th Fridays 10:15am – 12:00pm

Location: Both Playgroups will meet at Durham Improv’s Oshawa location: 1115 Wentworth Street West, Oshawa. The space is on the 2nd Floor (above “Medigas”) and is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible

Cost: $15 per class or $50 for a 4 class pass (save $10)

For more information, contact Kate Arms-Roberts at 647-408-6133.

Holding it Together When Things Get Busy, Part II

 This is Part II in a series of tools for dealing with the busy times in life. Read the first post in the series here.

Move Unnecessary Stuff Out of Your Body

We all get information constantly.

Unless we have a way of releasing it, we carry it around in our physical bodies. We truly carry the world on our shoulders if we aren’t careful. A physical practice for getting rid of the stuff you don’t need to carry is very useful. Teachers of young children who have embraced the song “Shake My Sillies” out as a tool for getting kids to focus in class know this. Getting the breath moving with a deep inhale followed by a sigh and shaking muscle tension out is a very simple form of Exformation. Repetitive physical activities that you can do without mental wrangling can all be exformational: washing dishes, house-cleaning, knitting, exercising, walking, running. It is a physical form of meditation – letting what you don’t need pass through you.

When we have lots of projects going on, knowing what we need can be challenging, so we tend to hold on to everything and then we burn out, suffering information overload. Using a physical practice to release, we can trust that our bodies know at some subconscious level what we can release.

One of my favourite release techniques is one I learned in acting classes. Hold your upper arms parallel to the floor. Raise your hands and clasp your hands in front of you. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, let out a big, open vowel sound while shaking your arms. The goal is to relax your jaw enough that your lower jaw shakes with your arms. It is hard. Most of us carry huge amounts of tension in our jaws. It is impossible to do this exercise without looking and sounding ridiculous, and if you do it right, your whole body vibrates and all your muscles relax.

Do you have an active practice that helps you release tension or let go of unnecessary concerns?

Holding it Together When Things Get Busy, Part I

When Things Get Busy

Have you ever found that all the projects you have on the back burner came to a boil at the same time?

It is exciting when projects move from potential to production. But, the transition can require some adjustments. When more than one project makes the switch, your routines may need more than a little tweaking. Changing habits is hard, and especially so with the pressure of imminent deadlines. How do you do manage the transition without tearing your hair out?

Everything in my life has been in overdrive in November except this blog. I have been working behind the scenes to set up several projects.

Coming in 2013, in addition to my writing and theatrical activities, I will be:

  • Training as a writing circle facilitator and setting up a new circle
  • Teaching InterPlay workshops at a new facility
  • Setting up a new business as a creativity coach

All of this started coming together at once. And although it has been an adrenaline-filled rush, it has had me drawing on all of my tools for managing a multivalent life.

If you have been reading this blog for long, you know that my favourite life-management tools come from InterPlay, improv, and theatre.

Coming up over the next few posts, I will share some of the tools I have been relying on heavily over the last month. But first, a quick look at getting started.

Show Up and Start Anywhere

It doesn’t really matter where you start, but you must start. When there are too many things that need doing, just pick something and do it. Activity builds activity. And it doesn’t matter if you could have made a better choice. Getting started will often reveal what needs to be done better than any list-making preparation.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, pick one small task you know will move a project in the right direction. Now go and do it.

Notice the Good Stuff

I have a new post on working with Emotional Intensity over at An Intense Life. Although I never say so in the post, it draws heavily on an InterPlay technique. Like all InterPlay techniques, it seems simple but has profound effects.

Notice the Good Stuff and Choose More of It

Notice the Good Stuff. It sound so simple, but for many of us it requires a huge shift of focus. Notice the good stuff. Not the peeling wallpaper, the nasty thing someone said in passing, the cleaning that didn’t happen, the new wrinkle around your eyes. Not those.

Pay attention to the beauty of a dew drop on a leaf, the smile from a stranger, getting up from the sofa without the twinge in your back you have come to expect. Pay attention to the part of your writing that works, the warmth of a cosy sweater, the email from your spouse asking if they can pick you up something as they stop at the store after work, the relaxation that follows a deep exhalation.

In almost any moment, you can find something to smile about and something to frown about. Choosing to focus on the smile doesn’t make the frown go away, but it does make the frown easier to take.

Creatives are creative because we notice lack, lack of beauty, lack of meaning, lack of clarity, lack of external things that expresses our lived reality. Our creativity springs from an impulse to improve – even when we create playfully, we are making something from nothing, which means some part of us noticed the nothing.

That part of us will always be there: the critic, the worrywart, the internal editor.

But, we can choose to see also the beauty, the love, the joy, the peace. Even if it is only for a moment.

We need those moments.

Noticing the good stuff gives us the ground from which we can create more good stuff – more stuff to fill the void we cannot help but see.

What is the good stuff you see around you right now?

Me, I hear children at the nearby school laughing as they play at recess and the soft purr of the warm cat curled up next to me. I hear my breath as I exhale through my nose – still somewhat stuffy, but clearer than this morning when I had to breathe through my mouth due to the congestion caused by my fall cold.

It is a rough day in a rough week for me. I have too much to do and I am sick and saddened by bad news in my family. But, even in my illness and my emotional pain, when I look, I can see the good stuff too.

How about you? Can you notice any good things about this moment?

Giftedness, Creativity, and Storytelling – and Imposter Syndrome

It is the International Week of the Gifted 2012. Around the blogosphere, advocates for gifted adults and gifted children are writing about giftedness with a particular enthusiasm and energy. The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children is encouraging the use of International Week of the Gifted to pave the way for the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013 with the theme “Stories and Story Sharing”.

Giftedness, creativity, and the power of sharing our stories are three of my passions. I feel compelled to do something, organize something, create something.

If I had my druthers, I would organize a series of workshops, offered to gifted children and their parents, using the storytelling tools of InterPlay to help them tell their own stories, hear each other’s stories, and share them through a public performance. I have the training to do this, but I am not sure I have the time, and I definitely worry about whether I have the gumption.

You see, I suffer from the great gifted woman’s disorder: Imposter Syndrome. Essentially, Imposter Syndrome involves constantly feeling like a fraud, like you are not as competent as people around you, and as they think you are. There is an accompanying fear of being “found out” and a lack of willingness to put oneself forth as a resource.

In my case, it manifests as a reluctance to set up workshops because I fear no one will come and that if they do come, they will feel like they have wasted their money. But, I know from past experience that I am a good teacher and a good director. When I lead InterPlay workshops, people enjoy them and many folks want to know how they can experience more.

Lisa Rivero’s article Who Do You Think You Are? Re-Thinking the Imposter Syndrome introduced me to the idea that the feelings of being an imposter may be a sign that one is heading in the right direction and that one should lean into the fear and work through it rather than letting it stop you. That idea resonates with me.

If you had asked me when I was 14, what work I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to run a theatre and associated theatre school. A few years later, I saw a performance by teenagers of monologues they had written about their own lives and was struck by the immense power of people telling their own stories in performance. I spent the next 15 years working in theatre, remembering the power of the autobiographical performances, yearning to be part of such things, and yet not doing any work in that area. Until I found InterPlay.

When I discovered InterPlay, I was teaching a class called Sacred Bodies, Sacred Play at Starr King School for the Ministry. I had developed a collection of tools for triggering spiritual experiences through physical play and creativity and was sharing them in the class I was teaching. The overlap between the forms I had discovered myself and was teaching in that class and the forms of InterPlay were uncanny.

But, I had not been formulating my system into a teachable tool for very long and Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter had been working on InterPlay for decades. InterPlay was in many ways simply further along the path than I was. More than that, InterPlay had developed the tools for combining the physical body, the spirit of play, and improvised performance into truth-telling performances sharing deep stories, thereby joining my play-based work with the power of performance autobiography that I had witnessed so many years before. It is no wonder that I started the InterPlay Teacher Training Program immediately after finishing my first class.

After completing the training, I didn’t dive right into teaching. For good reason. I was moving internationally while pregnant with triplets. I was otherwise occupied.

It is now time for me to start offering classes and workshops.

And, I feel the fear of the Imposter Syndrome surrounding me, telling me I am heading in an important direction, considering a meaningful path, and must take action.

I am not an Imposter. I am well trained for this work. But, sometimes, I have to remind myself of these facts.

  • I have been leading rehearsals and teaching performance as a director for 25 years.
  • I have been organizing rehearsals as a stage manager for longer.
  • I have organized events with substantial budgets.
  • I have produced theatrical productions and special performances for half-a-dozen theatre companies.
  • My InterPlay training was with the founders of InterPlay, including performance classes.
  • I have performed in several InterPlay performances as a dancer/storyteller.
  • When I participate in InterPlay Leaders Events, I am recognized as a peer by leaders with all levels of experience.
  • My understanding of the power of InterPlay as a storytelling tool has deepened through my writing about InterPlay.

I am hopeful that I will have time in 2013 to lead workshops for gifted children and their parents to share their stories. My family is going through some changes that will take some months to settle out, and until they do, I will not know what 2013 is going to look like.

But, I am committed to being a part of the world-wide community of people telling the stories of gifted people, sharing what our experience is. If the performance project looks too big, I will focus on telling more of my story through my writing.

Gifted people are identifiable because we are outside the norm. Sharing our stories helps us connect in a world where we too often feel isolated. I can be part of enriching that connection by sharing my own stories. One way or another, I will be creating work supporting the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013 on the theme of Stories and Story-Sharing.

I hope you will join me in 2013 by either telling your own stories or finding other people’s stories to witness.

For a list of other posts related to International Week of the Gifted, click here

Sneaky-Deep: Easing Into Truth

Part of a series on truth-telling in life and art. See the first post, Dare to Be Yourself, here.

My experience of InterPlay went a little like this:

  • InterPlay is fun, a little weird, maybe, but definitely fun.
  • Oh, shit. I didn’t mean to talk about that. InterPlay is scary.
  • Oh, boy, I really needed to talk about that. InterPlay changed my life.

See how the deep work slipped in there surrounded by a lot of fun. Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, the founders of InterPlay, talk of the practice of InterPlay as sneaky-deep. What they have developed is a body-wisdom system that eases people into connecting with their whole selves, including the parts of themselves that they shove back into the recesses of their psyches. It is a very gentle practice, and because it is so gentle, it can seduce people into touching deep material. It is not therapy, but it can be very therapeutic. And, because of the way it is taught and led, workshop participants can choose how deeply they want to play.

But, if you want to play deeply, the opportunity is always there.

My entire life has been a journey to understand myself. When I found InterPlay, I immediately started using it to consciously explore myself and the nature of my experience as a physical being. I have conditioned myself to play deeply.

Here’s a little story.

Once upon a time, my husband and I decided we would move our family to a foreign country, away from all our friends and family. We would give up on giving our only son a sibling and start a new life for the three of us without regrets. My husband got a job in the new land. We sold our house and made arrangements to rent a temporary place in the new country while we looked for a new house. We had not only a dream, but a plan and a budget. My husband started the new job from afar and we sold our house.

And then, before we moved, but after we were committed, plans changed. I was pregnant. Ok, that had been part of the old plan. We could adjust. With twins. Okay, this is tough, but we’ll get through. Oops, sorry we missed a baby, that would be triplets.

If you imagine that I flipped out at this point, you would be wrong. I went into shock.

6 months later, I was living in a foreign country and had three babies in the hospital and a traumatized older child at home. Still in shock.

6 months later, I was still in shock.

But, somewhere in there I had enough sense to know that I needed to pull myself into my new reality. So, I took advantage of the fact that I had completely failed to get any of the babies to breastfeed and left them with my husband, my mother, and the nanny for a weekend of InterPlay.

I swore going into the weekend that I was sick of my whole life being about the babies and I wasn’t going to bring them up while I was gone. Which shows how deeply detached from myself I was.

The first thing we did was completely non-verbal. I danced, letting my body move without words or thought according to my impulses. I felt great.

The second thing was a little exercise called babbling. People pair off and take turns talking for 30 seconds or so about or in response to a word provided by the leader. In one of the rounds of babbling with my first partner, we were asked to talk about our kitchens. Now, having done the leadership training, I know that this is a sneaky-deep topic. It sounds innocuous, but it gets to the heart of a lot of people’s lives.

In my case, my kitchen was a literal representation of everything that was wrong with my life. I hated that kitchen until we moved out of that house last month. We had left a gourmet kitchen and moved into a house that although otherwise well suited to infant triplets had a crappy kitchen. Until the trio gave up bottles, the counter-space was entirely covered with bottles drying and slow cookers with warm water ready to heat bottles. The table was displaced from any sensible place because there needed to be room for three high chairs, and the entire space was heavily gated in preparation for triplets on the move.

When I was asked to describe my kitchen, I could have described the kitchen underneath all the baby stuff, but the truth was I had never really talked about the baby stuff with any depth and my body knew it needed to let some of those stories out. So, I spoke about the bottles. Not about the rest of it, I only had 30 seconds after all. And, having that limited framework made it okay to talk about. I wasn’t going to be overwhelmed by everything that had happened over the previous year because there wasn’t time to bring it up. But, 30 seconds of cracking open the door of my experience and seeing what was in there was safe.

Eventually, the focus of my weekend became about me embracing my new life. I had already been doing everything I needed to do to make sure the children were cared for, but InterPlay helped me start caring for myself as well.

Sneaky-deep stuff.

I just went to have fun. I came back more whole.

InterPlay is like that.

Mid-Month Reflections on Daily Blogging

Having been engaged in the NaBloPoMo daily blogging challenge for a week and a half, I have noticed a few things. Noticing facts and patterns about our own lives and life experiences and claiming them is a central practice in InterPlay, my grounding system of deep play.

The InterPlay wisdom that I bring to bear on my reflections includes:

  • Notice, Notice, Notice: This is simply a direction to be aware of what is happening in and around your mind and body.
  • Inner Authority: Only you know the truth of your own experience. You are the only one in your body and only you are aware of how that body shapes your perspective. Claim the authority of your inner awareness.

Here are some things that I have noticed:

  1. I like the ritual of daily posting. It is easier to keep the momentum of generating post ideas and writing reasonably fast when I do it daily than it was posting weekly.
  2. I don’t have time to write a post a day and put pictures in all of them. I miss the pictures.
  3. I am stunned watching the statistics of traffic to my blog. Only one previous day in 2012 saw more traffic than my slowest day last week. I do not understand the source for the increased traffic. The numbers do not merely reflect the same group of people reading more frequently. More people have reached my website. This is thrilling, but the not understanding makes me anxious as well.
  4. Headlines matter. Simple headlines that describe the challenge I am contemplating get more traffic. This saddens me; I love poetic titles, and the evidence is that the web does not.
  5. I have fallen into a theme: blogging about blogging. I feel conflicted about this. I like the way the posts relate to each other, and the way that my thinking is developing, but I fear that interrelated posts will put off people who visit my homepage for the first time, making them feel like they are diving into a conversation already underway.
  6. I cannot continue waking early in the morning to write without getting to bed earlier.
  7. Not only do I love writing early in the morning, but I love waking up knowing what I will be working on.
  8. Responding thoughtfully to comments takes time.
  9. I am tired. The daily blogging commitment is a contributing factor.
  10. I am not finding time in the day both to blog and to work on my novel.

Overall, I find myself feeling good about the process and the product, but concerned about the time commitment. I need to make progress on my novel. I have several deadlines that I am not progressing towards fast enough. I am going to notice what comes up for me as I finish out the month. I am curious to see whether my experience changes as the month continues.

I expect that this experience will push me to make some changes to my blogging practices in April, but I don’t know what those changes will be yet beyond being confident that I will not be blogging a full 7 days a week.

These are my reflections from my experience. I am curious to know what your experience is as a reader of my blog. I have so many questions.

  • Have you been reading all of the daily posts?
  • Is one post a day overwhelming?
  • What changes have you noticed in what I am writing about?
  • Is the quality of my writing changing?
  • Do you miss the photographs?
  • Is it annoying that I am ending more of my posts by asking direct questions of you?

I would love to read any thoughts you have.

Too Many Choices?

“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”

— T.S. Eliot

Having too few choices is constraining, oppressive, confining, and frustrating.

But having too many choices is also bad. How many of us have experienced analysis paralysis or decision fatigue?

One of the basic InterPlay forms is Walk, Stop, Run. As the name implies, participants choose from three movement options: walking, stopping, and running. We move (or stop) accompanied by music, in a group. Something powerful happens when we restrict ourselves to those three options. With so few choices, the moment to moment decision-making can become clear and conscious, and I can easily slip into either mindfulness or unconscious flow.

Who chose the red brick?

But, invariably, there are people who can’t tolerate those restrictions. They stretch the rules, break the boundaries, push the definitions, and otherwise mess around with the instructions. The tricksters skip, hop, dance, sashay, and lie down, or grab a partner and do-si-do.

I used to hate those tricksters. They weren’t following the rules.

But now…

Now, I have a choice.

Some days, I walk, stop, and run, but nothing else.

And some days I fly.

But, I like to have the choice.

Sometimes, I even choose to play “No-frills Walk, Stop, Run,” a variation where we agree in advance to truly limit ourselves to those three, simple, movement patterns. And there is something poignant in having chosen that simplicity.

So, choice is good.

But, give me an unfamiliar deli with three walls of sandwich menus when I am hungry and I will hunt you down and eat you rather than read the entire list before choosing.

(Maybe it’s a good thing I gave up bread and don’t eat sandwiches anymore.)

How about you? Do you thrive with free choice or working within limits?

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