2012 – Year of the Citizens Progressive Answer

The Time magazine person of the year 2011 was “The Protester” when 99% of the people of world, nation, state, and county stood up against injustice of authoritarianism, Wall Street greed, the unjust distribution of wealth. The people have had enough. Millions of protesters awakened with a powerful willingness to risk life and limb to manifest the kind of change first lifted in the campaign slogans of Barack Obama. The “Occupy” movement kicked the sand-man of apathy out of streets and the halls of congress, and many people awoke rubbing their eyes, with the question: “What do they want?”.

Wisconsin Rising

The voice of the “Occupy” movement is not a birth cry but an echo. It bounces and reverberates back along and through all that is Wisconsin. Perhaps, the chanting, dancing soul of the protest is little more than a push from the skillful and friendly ghosts of our past. The words of one of the most passionate and great leaders of Wisconsin has come back to haunt its people into a glorious fight as alive and and well as it was a hundred years ago. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s words might excite repetition in any “Occupy” mike check:

It is a call to patriotism and higher ideals in citizenship. The patriotic citizenry of the country must take a stand to wealth, to demand it conduct its business lawfully. Mere, passive citizenship is not enough. Men must be aggressive for what is right, to protect the government from those who are aggressive for what is wrong.

Robert La Follette created the “Progressive” faction inside the Republican Party of Wisconsin in 1900. In 1912 he attempted to create a Progressive Party but lost control to Theodore Roosevelt, who became his bitter enemy. La Follette continued to serve in the Senate as a Republican until his death the following year, and was succeeded in a special election in 1925 by his son, Robert M. La Follette, Jr.

Like Anything Obvious, You Notice it First or Last

American’s love progress.

The poll found that the term progressive is viewed positively by a majority of all partisan groups — including 55 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Democrats. Blogging Blue

Wisconsin holds the most powerful elixir or the catalyst of change in a potent mixture of past history, present leadership, and future progress in a mortar and pestle just sitting there on the top shelf gathering dust. It is there waiting to mesh the earlier work of Robert La Follette, the present voice of protest, and the longing cry for progress into a pasty mixture of the nitroglycerin of a progressive political explosion that can fill the air with positive, proven, and concise policies. Here is the answer to the question, “What do they want?”, raised in the “Occupy” action.

“My Kingdom for a Horse”

We are stuck on the battlefield of “what is wrong” wanting to mount the horse of “what we want” just as Richard III when he was unhorsed on the field at the climax of the battle, and cries out, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” The frustration is more daunting when the horse is just out of our grasp, as close as one of those moments Steven Spielberg captures time after time on film, when salvation is continually blown from grasp. The answer throbs deep in the heart of people of Wisconsin. How? How will it be grasped?

Former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold has signed a book deal with Crown Publishers to write, “While America Sleeps,” his take on America’s missteps since the Sept. 11 attacks.

I’m proud to announce that I have finished my book, While America Sleeps, and it will be available on February 21 (and is available now for preorder).

Feingold’s hope is that when the history of this era is written, it will be said that our country was taken off guard at the height of its power at the turn of the century and stumbled for a decade in an unfamiliar environment, but in the following decade America found a new national commitment of unity and resolve to adapt to its new status and leadership in the world.

Feingold’s Book on Amazon

The La Follette family continued his political legacy in Wisconsin, publishing The Progressive and pushing for reform. In 1934, La Follette’s two sons began the Wisconsin Progressive Party, which briefly held power in the state and was for some time one of the state’s major parties, often ahead of the Democrats.

Start PLAYING today!

Begin to Meet Your Playful Self – Now!

You are about to discover a step-by-step instruction book of tools and paths used by them to capture the creative playful moment. No matter your age, sex, occupation, race, or if you want to perform or not, you can become a more playful person. The paths are in this book – You can begin to discover them in a few minutes.

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In order to find your playful self I am out to convince you that:

You are often too self involved in your approach to life.

The more people, places, and things you can accept, the more playful you become.

Words are far less important in communication than you think.

When you believe you are listening – you are not listen

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The Workshop – For Teachers, Managers, and Parents

Most board games cost about $15 -$20

The Meet Your Playful Self – Workshop

The last half of the book, Meet Your Playful Self; The Workshop, gives you a detailed, step-by-step map for your own playful group.

The paths or exercises, derived from 40 years of working with improvisers, offer you a short cut to your intuitive, playful self by-passing years of trial and error, frustration, and confusion you might experience on your own.

A decorative cell phone cover cost $9.99

Teachers, Coaches, Youth Leaders

If you are a teacher, coach, or youth leader, you can lift segments to practice with your students. Whether you teach History, Math, Phys ed, or Soccer; you can use the workshop to explore listening as a skill and offer your students a guide to understand when they are listening and when they are not listening.

A ticket to a Lady Gaga concert costs $95 – $188

Managers, Business Leaders

If you are a manager, you can use the workshop paths “Talking Fast”, “Yes…and…”, or “Counting and Listening”; and I promise you will be far ahead in building the “team” spirit that will lift the morale in a department, erase petty conflicts, and as a result, increase productivity, profit, and performance.

A scratch off lottery ticket can cost $20.00


If you are a parent, you can use the workshop like you might play the game of charades with your children and their friends. You can play the interactive games like “being”, “Zip, Zap, Zoop”, “Clap Around”, or “Playing with an Object” to enjoy the intuitive, playful nature of your own children. As Plato says, “You can learn more about a person in one hour of play than a year of conversation.” What’s more – it works!

A “Would You Rather” card game stocking stuffer costs $40.00

Improvisers, Directors, Actors

If you are an improviser, you know to well how easily the magical intuitive moment escapes you in your work. We don’t even know the why or how, but before we know it we find ourselves in a conceptual, unproductive trap. The exercises in the Workshop offer the best conceptual routes like “The Three Levels of Acceptance” or “Push to 10” to keep your group in the intuitive groove, grind, and gristle.

The book  Meet Your Playful Self costs  $10  ($9.99) through this link

BUY the pdf file for your adobe reader. Click buy now for PayPal secure payment
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Or you can go to the Amazon Kindle site and and get Meet Your Playful Self for the same $9.99.  You can read Kindle books on your computer. ( I did not know this)

Kindle platforms include; Kindle, Kindle DX, Kindle (2nd Generation) ,Kindle (1st Generation), Kindle for PC, Kindle for Mac, Kindle for iPad, Kindle for iPhone, Kindle for Android, Kindle for BlackBerry. Plus text to speech conversion.

Meet Your Playful Self on Amazon Kindle

This link will take you to Amazon – Start reading in a few seconds.

Playing with Others – Try this #8

An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self”

Being funny

I believe that laughter is a language of God and that we can all live happily ever laughter.
– Yakov Smirnoff

We all like to laugh. We all like to be funny and enjoy the funny in other people. We all have heard quotes and read accounts of the value of laughter as one of the most healing energies of human existence resulting in longer life, higher self-esteem, and success in business.

So, what is funny? Let’s take a peek at what happens when we find funny. Since all of the exercises have been developed in the course of training people to perform in the theatre as actors or improvisers, the technique of improvisers is a likely place to look for funny.

Improvisation is generally equated with comedy and has been the forerunner of The Second City and Saturday Night Live. Yet, improvisation and meeting your playful self
is not about being funny. That may come as a mild shock to some, since Second City, Saturday Night Live and Whose Line is it Anyway?, seem to be all about funny.

Many people come to improvisation workshops and classes with the idea that they should show how funny they are. In response to this expectation, I don’t know how often I have heard teachers of improvisation say something to the effect of: You will never be funny if you are trying to be funny. Being funny is not the result of doing or saying funny things but doing the steps and following the paths to your playful self. You cannot decide to be funny any more than you can decide to be poised before an audience. You can be funny by opening up and making yourself vulnerable by choosing to take the path to embrace your playful self.

You may have already guessed that being funny is related to being. You cannot just decide on being , but you must follow a path to get there. This leads to how being and being and listening figure into being funny.

Conceptual vs. BEING – Funny

The use of the word being is beginning to ring a familiar tone by now since you have encountered being in sharing an image and being and listening and here it is again in being funny. The very same nagging resistances of self consciousness and AJE (analysis, judgment, evaluation) will deprive you of your freedom to be funny just as it prevented you from holding your image in playing with image. The same AJE rears its ugly head and stands in the way of being funny as it did when it blocked your freedom to and talk in public. AJE has become the usual suspect and is also the barrier to being truly funny. So, here we are at being again in – being funny.

Let’s look at the difference between comedy emanating from ideas or wit, which we will call conceptual funny and comedy generated by emotional identity, we will call being funny. Since the most available and common tool for springing into laughter is a joke, lets look there. A funny story or a joke contains the ideas for a set up and a punch line that we may find funny. Thus we have the long line of situations or ideas for the set-up: the farmers’ daughter, Ollie and Lena, or you are really a red neck …if – jokes.

Why can two different people tell the very same joke, with the result of one getting a reaction of side splitting laughter while the other gets polite smiles?

I would suggest it is because one is being in the story and the other is being conceptual.

When someone says, Hey, here is a funny story, I want to run. What follows is a person, whose motivation is to try to be funny telling a joke, launching into a narrative to arrive at an eventual punch line, at which time everyone is expected to honor the telling of the story by laughing whether is really funny or not.

Being funny is being in the story with the result of engaging the listeners to identify with you emotionally, as a human being. This leads to a laugh stemming from emotional identity. On the other hand, being conceptual is saying words that set up a twist, or punch line which might be funny in it self. The laugh, therefore is a heady laugh.

The comedy of emotional identity is the home of the belly-laugh, when we identify with the players as real people involved in the every-day, real-life situations of being human. The funny comes after our identification with the characters, so we are empathetic with the narrative because the joke teller has moved out-of-control and into the intuitive or playful.

Funniest videos are funny for this very reason, ordinary people doing ordinary things suddenly forced out of a control and into funny when their dress catches on a nail, or they back into a wadding pool, or smash through a fence.

How many times have you watched a TV show, film, or play that is billed as funny and found yourself in the kingdom of The Emperors New Clothes?

You are among the masses that hear a laugh track and observe odd human behavior and are expected to agree with the funny of it all, just as the subjects of the king are expected to react as though the king is fully clothed even though he is quite naked. It is not that the scenes and conversation are not light or full of witticisms. They are. Yet, even though they self generate a laugh track, they do not inspire a real belly laugh. Most of the material in situation comedies on the TV and silver screen , seem to gravitate toward this conceptual comedy of ideas and wit.

My favorite example of a TV situation comedy that was successful on both levels is All in the Family. Here we had the set up of situation, coupled with emotional identity. Mike, Archie, Edith, and Gloria could enter into the wit of comedy like name calling – Meat Head and Ding Bat – yet they each allowed us to identify with them emotionally. They dared to move out of the safety of pure wit and into the real emotional lives of human beings who could cry real tears, and lash out in real cruel anger.

The result for the viewers was real and frequent belly-laughs. The comedy often arrived through subtleties; out of a look, or an action, rather than the words, ideas, and wit. The laughter came from what was going on beneath the words as expressed in their body language. The words of the script may not have been funny at all even though the laughter was loud and long.

So, how does this All in the Family example relate to telling of a joke? A joke teller who relates to the narrative is being conceptual gets the chuckle or polite laughter, while the joke teller who moves beyond the words into being funny, as exemplified by Archie, Edith, Mike and Gloria, gets the belly laugh.

We are conceptually funny when we are relating the narrative of a joke; we believe it is the words that are funny. If the narrative is funny we may get a laugh. In emotional comedy we are moving into being with the narrative and, therefore, being funny.

Being funny is where the deep healing belly laughs dwell.

The Funny Mistake

Another example demonstrating how being conceptual is less funny than being funny, is when something goes wrong in a scene. When the line is dropped, or a drink spills the actors react honestly setting up the funny of emotional identity by mistake. Some of the most electric moments on stage were the result of something going wrong. (Remember the original dictionary definition of improvisation?) You may have heard stories told by actors of the times when someone dropped a line, missed an entrance, or dropped a plate or a glass.

Let us imagine a scripted play where the butler is bringing in a drink on a tray and it slides off and lands on the lap of the unsuspecting actor. What happens? Actors will agree to a feeling of panic of the most intense kind usually described as – YIKES! Suddenly, the moment is up for grabs as the actors must adjust to the spilled drink in the context of the play. The unexpected has moved the actors into being.

What happens to the audience? The play has been rolling along as planned and rehearsed in safe mode. All the lines were flowing at the appropriate times, the actors were relating and moving as rehearsed, and then, the drink spills off the butler’s tray, and the focus of the audience is peeked. They lean forward with great interest, even if they do not know whether the spilled drink was an accident or not. Why?

The audience is engaged because for the first time in the play, the action on stage was not acted. All the actors moved into being. It is real because the actors were emotionally identified. The actors were forced to react in a real way, moment to moment, and the audience pricked up immediately, and without even knowing why.

Do you see how this example of sudden discomfort in a rehearsed play relates to being? In meeting your playful self you are following the steps or paths into being, without the need for the unexpected spilled drink, to end up at the same place of being or being funny.

So, it ain’t about the words. The power of words and talking are vastly overrated in comedy and our day-to-day conversations.

Our facial expressions and body language are far more important and powerful in the message we convey than are the words we are speaking. What is it that activates all of these powerful expressions? How do we get to the emotional life of the words? We bring our words to life and create emotional identity – through being.
Meet Your Playful Self

Playing with Others – Try this # 7

Being and Stage Fear

I don’t know why people are so surprised by my live performances. My approach is so simple; every song I sing, every story I tell , every move I make, must move the audience to laughter, tears or inspiration. Otherwise, why should I do it?
– John Davidson

How many times have you heard people say; I could never do that – I could never get up in front of people – I have severe stage fright? Or how many people approach speaking in public to ask a question at a meeting or to give a presentation with dread, fear and loathing?

It is clear how these fears limit our lives. They deprive us expressing ourselves in any group of people be it a PTA meeting, a classroom, or seminar. What is the fright all about in stage fright? What are we really afraid of?

Basically, we are afraid that we might fail and be ridiculed and embarrassed. It is as simple as that. Most likely, it is because we have, at some time in our past, experienced embarrassment when expressing ourselves in a group of people. So, we have learned not to repeat the experience by avoiding it. Is there a way to unlearn the negative feeling of embarrassment? Yes of course, and as you may have guessed from the bold heading above, it is by understanding the relationship of being and stage fear.

We began our entrance into being through playing with image and, in so doing, we moved out of the irrelevant emotional baggage of our recent past to find ourselves in touch with our playful self. That same emotional baggage of our past is the very luggage or large trunk keeping us from speaking up in a group of people.

The trunk is full of unconscious memories, of third or fourth grade reading, or being made fun of and ridiculed at some past instances in our life, and this past fear has made us self conscious in the present. Now, every time we are up in a situation where the possibility of speaking before a group arises, we bring out the bag of memories filled with our past memories.

We are self-conscious. We are focused on ourselves. We are remembering the bad from our past when we were faced with a similar situation. The key to unlearning this behavior lies in understanding and working out the differences between: self-conscious, playful, and being.

Self Conscious vs. Playful

Self-conscious is when we hold the thoughts of fear of failure from our past. Playful is when we do the actions which move us out of the fear of failure. Being is the result of shifting from self-consciousness into our playful self or throwing away the bag of fear.</block quote>

This shift is not some mystical, out-of-reach goal. It is really quite simple. In fact, you are already practiced and experienced in this transition from your work in sharing an image, and being and listening. All you need to do is apply the same approach to the new problem; your fear of speaking in public. You are merely applying what you have done to a new situation or raising the stakes.

When we raise the stakes by approaching a new skill, we tend to regress away from the playful or the intuitive by judging, thinking, and conceptualization. This regression is so engrained that we may not even be aware of it. This knee-jerk reaction is our way of protecting ourselves. We want to be in control. This nearly unconscious reaction is understandable. Our past experience of pain and discomfort was the worst kind of unpleasant and it is only natural for us to avoid another similar experience.

Holding on to personal control in face of the new, untested, and unknown – like speaking in front of a group, is our learned way of protecting ourselves – from what?

The Trap of Control

A habit has been formed to shield us from humiliation, embarrassment, and failure. Yet, this pull back into conceptualization or analysis, judgment, evaluation – AJE, prevents us from moving into the intuitive and playful place, which we have demonstrated, IS the path to real safety. Do you see the ironic whirlwind in which we are trapped? We move into the control mode through conceptualization while we know this AJE is the very force that is keeping us from succeeding.

Getting to the intuitive and playful is familiar now, through sharing an image and being and listening. You have found freedom from the AJE clog in the spigot. Now you only need to follow the same paths to the playful and out of AJE, in this case -conceptualization of our fears of humiliation, embarrassment, and failure.

So how do we get past the knee jerk reaction for control to get to the playful and intuitive? We can follow a sensory path instead of a conceptual one. We can experience the moment through the senses; taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell instead of conceptualizing and thus replaying the painful thoughts of the past.

Here are two examples that clarify the difference between a conceptual approach and a playing with image approach as we stand before a group to speak:

Example of conceptualization in speaking before an audience.

You are standing in front of group prepared to speak, and if you follow a conceptual path you will be thinking thoughts: here I am – everyone is looking at me – that man is coughing.

You are thinking about your self as you stand up before the group. You are self-conscious.

Example of “sharing an image” in speaking before an audience.

Now, you are standing up, and you follow a playful path.

Let’s just use the same one as we did in sharing an image; you are experiencing an important image of your life: you see yourself receiving your diploma – making a snow man with your father.

You are bringing yourself into the situation. You are being playful.

Have you heard of the cliché advice for what to do when you get up in front of an audience to speak? Just pretend that everyone in the audience is naked. This advice is really accomplishing the same thing as sharing an image. It is taking you off the path of conceptual and self consciousness, and bringing you on to the sensory path of playful.

Through your actions and by your intention you are moving into the sharing an image place – a place where you cannot think – a place where you can only BE.

Action You Can Take

I just read a bit of advice in a book about public speaking; one should not be nervous but poised. That was it. The author went on to describe what being poised looked like and the effect it had on the listener, but I could not find a single word describing how one was to become poised. Even though I understand what the word poised means, I cannot just suddenly decide – Oh, I am going to be poised now. If the transition were that simple we could decide any number of states: I will be loving now – I will be patient now – I will be happy now.

The paths – sharing an image and listening and being – are the actions you can take. You are practicing things you CAN DO to become not only poised but all of its synonyms; assured, confident, self-possessed, calm, serene, tranquil, dignified, elegant, and graceful.

To overcome your fear of speaking in front of a group, you can continue to practice sharing an image and listening and being, to strengthen your ability to move into the playful. Then you can apply the practices to your fear of speaking in public.

Experiment # 7

Sharing an image when speaking in public

The next time you want to ask a question at a meeting, or make a presentation before a group, bring the skills you have practiced with you.

Before you get up to speak, focus on sharing an image and listening and being.

As you are able to move out of the conceptual and into the playful through the use of these paths, your fears of expressing yourself in a group or before audience will begin to evaporate.

You will BE poised.

Remember the story of Ann at the beginning of this book? She came into her first audition a nervous wreck before practicing the skills that allowed her to create the transformation into a strong, confident woman.

In doing this work, I have seen so many people who were stage frightened; tentative, nervous, or shy in the workshops, become transformed. Once they enabled themselves to find a release from their conceptual, AJE opinions, they were noticeably more self-assured, humorous, and comfortable in their own skin.

Meet Your Playful Self

Play with Others – Try This # 5

An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” – Personal Experiments – Playing with Others

Experiment # 4

Playing with an image

Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and simply think of a moment in your life that was important to you. It can be joyous and happy; like a graduation from high school, or sad; like discovering you did not make the basketball team, or dangerous; like the time you nearly drove off the bridge. It does not make any difference so long as it is one of those important moments from your past that crops up easily.

Next, you see just one picture of that moment like a snap shot.

Just close your eyes and relax with that snap shot image. Do not try to find it and think: there it is I am done.

Relax and move into the image by focusing on the details and the details within and around the details.

Once you have the snap-shot image firmly in your mind, open your eyes and hold the image before you. Even though your eyes are now seeing the walls and pictures of the physical room, hold the image in your mind.

As you are holding the image, allow it to play through the memory.

Whatever image you have chosen will want to move and develop through the whole action. Just let it move through and watch it as though it is a movie.

Move through the experience as though you are sharing it with another. Hold it as long as you can.

Here is a video of the students of Independence High School in Wisconsin working with “being” in a workshop. View all of the workshop segments at The Virtual Workshop Page

Bridging Your Image

The difference in the directions for being and relaxation practices, such as meditation and self hypnosis, is that in playing with image the resulting relaxation is not an end in itself. The calm that comes with playing with image is not the end point, but just the opposite. It is the beginning or starting point to becoming playful by bridging your image.

If you can only feel relaxed and playful in your bath tub alone…what good is that? Once you have created and are holding an image, is when the fun begins. Now you begin bridging the image into the next moment. You open your eyes and hang on to the image, bringing it back into the conceptual world, even as you see the room around you. In projecting the image from the within out into the world, you began to build the bridge between boredom and being. As you open your eyes, the room has not changed, the faucet is still dripping, the walls are the same color, but you have changed. You are not experiencing the room in the same way you did before. That is the bridge!

As you practice and cross back and forth over the bridge you will be able to do so with greater ease. You will not need to sit in your tub in the bathroom, you will be able to make the crossing at work, driving to the store, or raking leaves.

Learning to play with image and then bringing it back out into the conceptual world is the core of improvisation and meeting your playful self. The act of bridging boredom into being and then – being into playful – is the very dynamic that energizes improvisation into a performance that delights audiences. These skills are absolutely necessary for improvisation to work, and they are skills you can learn to bring into your life. This is powerful stuff that can lead you to a whole new awareness or release as realized by Ann earlier in the book.

Playing With Others

As you make the move in and out of playing with image you are learning to be playful and discovering skills to play with others. Do you remember a category on a report card; plays well with others? This is a good thing!

How can we play with others unless we are present to play? If your conscious mind is full of the emotional residue of the conflicts of the day, you cannot be present as a player. You will merely be walking around presenting the anxiety of your day. You are carrying all the stuff from your recent past, be it an argument with your mate, a car that won’t start, a sprained ankle. How playful is that?

So, playing with image moves you out of the irrelevant emotional baggage of your recent past and puts you back in touch with your playful self.

Playing with image can seem tedious and unreachable in your first attempts. Remember you are learning a new and foreign skill. Just as you would approach learning to dance, ski, or golf, you can practice this exercise until it has become a skill you can accomplish with ease in just a few moments.

How might your life be different if, when you feel overwhelmed and out of control with family and friends, you could turn to a simple skill to connect you with your lighter playful self?

The ends will justify the means.

The Arrival of BEING and Playing With Image

Playing with image is as simple as it is profound. This realization, which seems obvious in retrospect, did not become obvious to me until some years of work and observation of players and performances. In the course of experimentation, I finally was able to explain being in a way that others could duplicate the experience. The result was an exponential leap in the quality of work of the players since it kept them in the intuitive tract with much greater consistency.

Playing with image continues to prove a valuable skill in acquainting people with their playful self, even more effective than yes…and… It is a skill or practice that remained out of my reach for many years. In the earlier years of working with improvisers, and experimenting with various forms of yes…and… , we discovered inconsistencies; something seemed to be missing in the process. Yes…and…was often hit or miss as a tool for bringing players into the intuitive, playful moment. What was missing? Why did yes…and…seem to go playful at some times and fall flat at others?

In hours of observation with this question circling and darting in my head, the answer finally became clearer; it is because players can do yes…and…while staying locked in their heads trapped on the conceptual plane. Even when done well, yes…and…could fall flat when it rode on a purely conceptual level. The question became; what was the root cause of this inconsistency? Then it became clearer. The exercise led to a playful place – ONLY when the emotional life of the players was carried with the interaction.

In workshops we began practicing yes…and…in ways that would strengthen the emotional underpinning. We began by raising the stakes within the scenes we evolved, and called it as: going for the meat! We focused on making emotionally charged comments directly about our partner: You look like you are about to cry – rather than – That is a new shirt. We discovered as we would go for the meat in our observation statements the scenes and conversations would tend to move into a more playful place.

So it became clear that yes…and…would lead to playful place when the emotional underpinnings were raised, but even then, the scene could easily shift back to a flat conceptual place. What were we missing? How could we locate and focus on the emotional engine that allowed yes…and…to move into playful? Was there another way to get to the important emotional underpinning of yes…and…?

The answer was: Shut up, to put it bluntly – or to be quiet – to be silent.

The answer: If talking was influencing our track into a playful place, what would happen if we discarded words completely? What would be left? ————sharing an image to arrive at being.

The awareness of being through the simple directions above is the hub, center, and foundation to which all of the other exercises are connected and built. Earlier in this book we talked about what is left when the script, props, costumes are all stripped away and I quoted the words of two great teachers Viola Spolin and Sanford Meisner and the specific words they used to point to intuitive awareness; Inner impulse and responding in immediacy.

How do we begin to locate our inner impulse and how to respond in immediacy? Just follow the directions for playing with image above. It is through that process you will experience inner impulse, responding in immediacy, and being your playful self. I do not mean to suggest that the work and direction of the great teachers should be dismissed or ignored, but that the playing with image exercise offers a simple, practical path for discovery of the basis of their teachings.

Meet Your Playful Self

Play with Others – Try This #4

An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” – Personal Experiments – Playing with Others

Experiment # 4

Being as in human…The intention of being

Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt

– William Shakespeare “Measure for Measure”

You have experienced an important facet of yourself as you experimented with yes…and … in the exercises above. When listening, we are continually influenced by habitual judgments that we are not even aware of. You’ve discovered that when you move through your life without watching you lose the possibility to make a choice.

In the opening of this book we talked about how the dictionary definition of improvisation seemed to leave out an important aspect of meeting your playful self. The dictionary suggests that improvisation arises when we are forced to make it up due to circumstances well beyond our control; when the bride catches her dress on a nail. We cannot be intuitive by merely making the decision: “Ok, I want to be intuitive now”, but neither do we need to wait for fate to cause the unexpected, like getting our clothes caught on a nail and leaving us in our underwear. We can decide to be watchful and open up the possibility of choice.

As you experimented with taking the action of using yes…and…, you discovered you can choose to do things that will lead to an intuitive and more fun and playful place.

By intention, you are playing games, learning exercises, and putting yourself in situations that set you up or trick and tickle you into the leap into playfulness. Even though, you may not experience an intuitive leap in every exercise, you are making the decision or expressing the willingness to do something extraordinary; to take a personal risk which is likely to lead you to a playful place. You did something new and important choosing to do a specific action, even though it may have felt uncomfortable, with the goal of arriving at a playful awareness.

The next intention we will encounter is even more subtle and powerful ; the intention of being.

Being – silent

The very thought of being silent can be a cause for anxiety. Now, why is that? Why do we feel we must fill every waking moment with conversation, tasks, or assertive action? Why might we tend to equate silence with restlessness and boredom?

You are not alone in this reaction. The students in Sanford Meisner’s class felt that same way and he addressed the boredom and restlessness he saw in their faces in the quote:

“Look, I’ll tell you why the repetition exercise, in essence, is not boring: it plays on the source of all organic creativity, which is the inner impulses.”

Within this quote is that powerful droopy word, from which our anxiety springs in a moment of silence: boring.

I remember suggesting ideas of things to do with a group of my son’s friends when he was in middle school; We could build a snow man”, or :”We could make chalk drawings on the side walk”. I was met with their chant in unison; “Booooring.” I could relate to the same frustration expressed by Meisner as he tried to ignite his students to move into the intuitive when he says: “I wish I could make that clear!”

What is the bridge between boredom and being? If you experience inactivity or silence as boring as did the students in Meisner’s acting class, what can we do? You already know that you can trick yourself into a playful place by experimenting with intention of yes…and…. why not trick yourself out of restlessness and boredom with the intention of “being” by applying it as a playful trick or tickle that will move you into silence with an intention. You might just find yourself in a quiet place that is not boring, but is peaceful and comfortable.

Playing with an image

The first thing to do as you practice being silent is to get relaxed and comfortable in a relatively quiet place. I say relatively because those places seem fewer and farther between in our lives. When all else fails, a hot bath tub, with the door closed will do just fine.

Experiment # 4

Playing with an image

Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and simply think of a moment in your life that was important to you. It can be joyous and happy; like a graduation from high school, or sad; like discovering you did not make the basketball team, or dangerous; like the time you nearly drove off the bridge. It does not make any difference so long as it is one of those important moments from your past that crops up easily.

Next, you see just one picture of that moment like a snap shot.

Just close your eyes and relax with that snap shot image. Do not try to find it and think: there it is I am done.

Relax and move into the image by focusing on the details and the details within and around the details.

Once you have the snap-shot image firmly in your mind, open your eyes and hold the image before you. Even though your eyes are now seeing the walls and pictures of the physical room, hold the image in your mind.

As you are holding the image, allow it to play through the memory.

Whatever image you have chosen will want to move and develop through the whole action. Just let it move through and watch it as though it is a movie.

Move through the experience as though you are sharing it with another. Hold it as long as you can.

Congratulations! You just experienced being silent without boredom. What did you notice about the passage of time as you were experiencing silence?

Meet Your Playful Self

Play with Others – Try This #3

An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” – Personal Experiments – Playing with Others

Experiment # 3


Television and radio are the home of every sort and style of interview show. We are constantly being introduced to the stories of people in entertainment, sports, politics, and science. The next time you listen or watch any broadcast in the interview format, watch to see if the rules of yes…and…are being practiced.

Experiment # 3 Yes..and… in an Interview

When an interviewer asks a question watch and listen to the answer given. Even if the interviewee does not actually say yes, is it implied as they answer the question?

As the interview moves along, observe how the dialogue holds your interest. Do you find that interviews moving along the paths of yes…and… hold your interest more strongly than those that do not?

Most often, interviews with an actor or a comedian on a late night TV show tend to be more interesting than those with people outside the entertainment field. Comedians, actors, and performers in the biz know about yes…and…either because they have experienced it in training or have come to learn its workings through practice.

Now that you are armed with the knowledge of yes…and….you can observe how a question by Jay Leno or Conan is met. If they say…”The new film you are working on is being shot in the Rocky Mountains?” and the question is met with an answer, “Well, not much of it really”. , the interview falls flat. If the same question is met with, “Yes I was riding a donkey along a pass last week and it nearly bucked me into a gorge”.

This little yes…and…game goes on before us all the time and now you can enjoy watching how conversations evolve as it is followed or ignored.

Experiment # 3

Watching the Interview

The next time you tune in to an interview on any subject….just watch.

Overall, you will find that the interest level projected by the interview seems directly proportional to the way the dialogue follows the path of yes…and… Possibility.

The more you bring the awareness of yes…and… into your day-to-day communication the more playful you are apt to find yourself. You may find the little yes…and… voice hovering over you like a whispering elf as did one of my students recently:

One evening after a workshop session where we focused on yes…and…for about an hour, the six members sat around and began to talk about the changes they had noticed in their relationships as a result of their practiced awareness of yes…and….

Bob is a talk radio DJ, who remarked how he was aware of yes…and….when he was doing on-the-air interviews for his show. Now I am always thinking of – yes…and – when I am taking calls. If I tend to negate someone, a little bell goes off in my head and I change my question or response.

Dawn, who works in customer service for a major cell phone company, said that her life had changed. Now that I am aware of yes…and…, I watch myself as I am talking to customers, and I am able to really listen to what they have to say. My whole focus for talking and listening to other people has changed.

Reactions such as these are not extraordinary or unusual for people who practice yes…and…; they are common and ordinary. You will discover the same result as Bob and Dawn in your own experiments.

Why does the awareness and practice of these experiments lead to new possibilities in our lives? Why does yes…and…make conversations more interesting to observe and more engaging to listen to? Why does it lead us to some new awareness of ourselves? Why does it function as a tool to lead us to a more intuitive or playful place?

Conflict Eraser

One effect of yes…and…is that it removes the energy of conflict. By its very definition we are agreeing to agree and taking disagreement off the plate. When someone says, “You took a wrong turn there.” – you respond with – “Yes.” Possibility! You might say you’re right. – instead of , “Maybe you want to drive”.

Do you see how simply a conflict is diverted? Is refusing to say yes and admitting a wrong turn really worth all the emotional turmoil resulting from our negative response? How often do we respond habitually with words that lead to conflict, when we could simply listen, agree, and move on?

“Yes…and…” is a skill. It is a response you can learn along the same curve as riding a bike, or writing a check. Can you imagine how many little conflicts and emotional traumas can be averted throughout the day, the week, the month – your life? At the end of any given day, you will enjoy the new accumulated energy you might have wasted on a dozen petty conflicts, and can feel a bit more alive and present with your children, family, and friends.

Conflict is not very interesting. When people are arguing over a point in conversation or interview you tend to turn off and lose interest. If a mother and daughter are arguing about what soap to buy at the grocery store, don’t you tend to veer away? When you watch one of those “Right vs. Left” news programs, don’t you just want to surf way? So, what is it about conflict that limits our interest?

When we read a novel or watch a movie, conflict is what the whole story is all about – CONFLICT. But what if we steer away from the whole story, and focus on a specific moment of dialogue. Let’s look at how conflict functions in the smaller context of a specific dialogue or conversation. As you look closer you can see that conflict limits the possibilities of what can happen next. Once a conversation moves into conflict or an argument, what are the possibilities? Usually a fight ensues leading one or both parties to exit, or attack each other leading to bodily harm, mayhem, or death. Oh boy!

We experience this predictability of conflict subconsciously. Not that you have a conscious reaction like: “They are conflicted so they are going to fight.”, but you seem to sense a move to place you have been to time, and time again. You subconsciously predict the outcome from past experience and tune out.

On the other hand, yes…and… eliminates conflict so you become engaged because you have no idea about what might happen next. In fact, anything can happen when met with a yes. With each new statement the listener is re-engaged as we learn another piece of a puzzle with no predictable solution.

In a conflict the possibilities are monotonous, predictable, and limited. In yes…and…possibilities are open, and playful, unpredictable and …possible.

Play With Others – Try This # 2

Playing with others

Creative work is play. It is free speculation using materials of one’s chosen form.
– Stephen Nachmanovitch
Playing with Yes…and…

Once you become an observer of your self-listening by practicing with the radio or TV, you may begin to wonder, what would happen if I began doing yes…and… in a conversation in my daily life? What if I choose to respond with yes…and… to my family, friends, and co-workers?

Try it. What have you got to lose? It is really very simple.

Experiment # 2

When someone makes a statement, experiment by saying yes, and then agreeing.

Just set yourself up with an experiment and decide that the next time you walk into the house, room or office; you are going to experiment to responding to your mate, mother, or friend with yes…and….

I have encouraged people in my workshops to try this and the stories that have evolved from the practice are truly amazing and often funny.

The advantage of practicing yes…and…in a workshop is that the whole group has agreed to play in objectifying life. In a workshop if one player says; Hey, baby you wanna come home with me? The yes…and…result is much safer than real life. Fortunately, there are many common places in your everyday conversation where playing with yes… and… will not affect your morals and safety.

You can have fun doing this with your family or a friends; you can agree to play yes…and… together just by setting up the rules that when one person makes a statement the other will say yes and add to it. Next time you are having a conversation with a friend or co-worker, try keeping yes in your mind as you listen. As you move into agreement with what you are hearing, you are hearing the details of the message, just as you did in the first exercise, before it becomes clouded with judgment and analysis.

Try to follow up by responding with agreement. You are moving through doors of listening that would be closed if your head were filled with thoughts of what-will-I-say-next and judgments. Try to just hold yes as you listen and see how a new door opens as you listen in agreement.

If you find yourself with a friend at the mall, try playing yes…and … just for the fun of it. You may discover how this little game will lighten up one of those hurry-up-and-wait moments like when you and a friend are stalled in life at a bus stop or food line.

If you want to ease the strain and discomfort of a first date, ask your date to play yes…and… with you. Much of the self-consciousness and fumbling will transform the experience as self-conscious thoughts of judgment and concern are evaporated in a fun and playful game.

You might stop reading right now, close the book, and provided you are in a place where there are other people, you can decide to communicate using yes…and… – right now.

YES… try it – AND… have fun.

Meet Your Playful Self

Play with Others – Try this # 1

Playing with others

Creative work is play. It is free speculation using materials of one’s chosen form.
– Stephen Nachmanovitch

Now you can begin to practice the paths to your playful self in your own social circle by playing with yes…and… in your daily life. Below are some fun and simple experiments you can practice to experience the effect of yes…and… in your perception of the world around you.


Watching Yourself

You are about to make a discovery. You may think of yourself as a glass-half-full sort of person, and that you react positively in most situations of your life. Now is your chance to put your reactions to a test. Try this little experiment.

Experiment # 1

Watching Yourself Listening

Go over to the radio or TV and switch it on and listen to a news report. As you listen, watch yourself to discover what you are thinking in reaction to the words you hear. Do you find that you take immediate exception to much of what you hear?

After doing this for five or ten minutes, try to evaluate your reactions as positive or negative by percentage. Where they: 50% negative 50% positive? Make your own evaluation.

Now repeat the process, but this time try saying “yes” aloud to everything you hear.

You are not being encouraged to become some dish rag conformist. You are experimenting with watching yourself listen. As you become attentive to your habitual thought process, you can access the difference in the way you feel by agreeing when holding the intention of yes….

As you watched yourself listening, you became aware of all the immediate, split second, judgments and attitudes that arose. Of course this is normal. We all do this. The big difference is, as you are doing it now, you are actively watching, whereas ordinarily the judgments creep in beneath the surface without the slightest notice.

If you heard a news report regarding a car accident, you most likely formed opinions about the circumstances. You began to react and make judgments as the story unfolded the facts: who was going to fast, the way people drive, etc. You probably made most of these judgments before all the details were known. If our thoughts are continually occupied with judgments and evaluations beneath the surface, are we really hearing all the information being offered? When you disrupt the message with analysis and judgment as the message is unfolding isn’t it clear that you are not hearing the whole message?

As you hold the intention of yes… and… when you do the experiment, you are opening yourself to the full communication before allowing the snippets of judgment and analysis to creep in. You are hearing the details of the whole story without the message being clouded by impulsive habitual judgments.

When you held the intention of agreeing with what you heard , did you tend to listen more fully? Did you feel less strain and heaviness?

Try practicing this little experiment from time to time to notice the difference in how you feel when holding and saying the intention of yes…and…. If you really want to challenge yourself, tune into an interview of someone whose political stance, or view point you strongly oppose.

Meet Your Playful Self