Healing from Trauma (Seven!)

If you don’t know how to say NO your YESSES don’t mean a thing” – Dr. Gabor Mate

Yesterday I had the privilege of going to a day-long seminar taught by Dr. Gabor Mate. The topic was ”When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease connection.” (He has written a book with the title of the same name). When I first read an article by Mate about seven years ago I was skeptical; now I find his logic and research difficult to deny.

When trauma occurs in a person’s life – especially early childhood trauma — it results in: Continue reading “Healing from Trauma (Seven!)”

Giving up Control (and Loving It)! Six!

photo: playing catch

I have fond memories of playing catch with my dad as a kid. Often it would be after he got home from work, and he’s have something on the grill. I felt connected with him in a special way.

I’m a parent now – of a fifteen year old and I’m learning what it’s like to be in this new season of parenting. She’s not a little kid any more and yet she is not an adult. How do I not dominate too much, but also not be too passive in permitting everything, or giving no boundaries?

Well here’s what’s great about improv and what I touched on in my last post. Improv is Continue reading “Giving up Control (and Loving It)! Six!”

It’s Embodied Learning! Five! (or, Improv-ing as the Church)

IMG_1137 - Copy

[This is a fifth post in a series of seven answering ”What does Improv Give us?”]
[Preface – know that this is not ”improving” but ”improving”]

It’s a Monday night in June and ten adults and two middle-schoolers gather in the Adult Ed room at the north end of our church building. There are nervous chuckles, as many people gathered are stepping outside (for some WAY outside) of their comfort zone. We are coming together for the first of four improv classes that I’m facilitating on Monday evenings. I started taking improv classes at our local theater – The Upfront – five years ago and it’s transformed my life. As often happens, it’s hard for me to keep such things to myself. Continue reading “It’s Embodied Learning! Five! (or, Improv-ing as the Church)”

Uncoupling Anxiety from Uncertainty! FOUR!

Puzzle pieces You Me

[This is my fourth post in a list of ”What improv gives us?”]

For most of my life I’ve coupled together anxiety and uncertainty.  When there’s uncertainty of how something’s gonna pan out, anxiety gets pulled right along the tracks with it. I’m realizing recently that they can be uncoupled. Uncertainty doesn’t have to bring anxiety along for the ride.

If anxiety is wedded to uncertainty we often will try to (key words: try to) reduce uncertainty in our lives, because anxiety doesn’t feel so great.

When we enter into an improv game or an improv scene we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. We don’t know where the story will lead. Continue reading “Uncoupling Anxiety from Uncertainty! FOUR!”



{this is the third post in) a series of Seven Things that Improv Gives us}

Currently I’m reading ”The Boys in the Boat” at bedtime. And I’m loving it. I’m completely drawn in to the story of this nine young men – the University of Washington crew team – who persevere against all odds, and win the olympic gold in Berlin in 1936 (under Hitler). At the time all the great crew teams were Ivy League schools in the east – Harvard, Penn, Cornell, Yale, etc. University of Washington’s crew team didn’t come from a place of means. Many were sons of lumberjacks and farmers; many like Joe Rantz came through such adversity and abandonment from his own family (twice!). The author chronicles how Joe often felt like an outsider from even his own teammates. The varsity coach Al Ulbrickson kept trying new configurations of the boys in the boat. They’d do well, but then fall apart.  Then Continue reading “Synchrony!….[Three!]”

Embodying a Posture of YES! ….TWO!



One of the Core ideas of improv is saying YES. It’s basically unlearning what we learned in our terrible twos – No! No! No! : )

In the Improv world…..You and I come on the stage together and you say, “Hey Doctor Miller I’m here for my 2 o’clock appointment.”

Me: I’m not a doctor. I’m standing here at this bus stop.

This is known as blocking and the scene goes nowhere. I’m basically saying ‘That was a stupid idea. I’m starting over.’ 

[Take 2] Continue reading “Embodying a Posture of YES! ….TWO!”

Laughter IS the Best Medicine … ONE!

Laughing Together

What if Laughter actually is the Best Medicine?

Doc: Well Sarah, seems like you’ve got a lot of maladies right now in your life – physical, psychological, emotional.

Sarah: [ thinking: ‘tell me something I don’t know’ ]

Doc: Well, I could put you on Xerozaphanictaphase* (there are a number of side effects including Extreme Anger at medical authorities….so I tend not to prescribe this.), and some other pill options, but you know what I’m gonna do?
[Doctor scribbling on her prescription note pad] Continue reading “Laughter IS the Best Medicine … ONE!”