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Saying, "No, and..."

[Newsletter Series (#13)]

“Babe, come watch a movie with us. People in improv get vacations too, you know...”

That’s what my husband said to me not even 30 seconds ago, while I sit here at my laptop catching up on social media, the numerous blogs I follow etc -- and WHAM! I realized that’s the theme of this newsletter, so here goes Newsletter #13.

I know I’ve already talked about the importance of following our need for rest and I again say, YES! to that. But isn’t it funny how persistent those callings can be? That despite every molecule in our bodies, telling us to slow down, chill out, reeeeelax...we ignore it all for the sake of staying on track and up to speed. Connected. In “the know”.

For me, the internet is one of those tantalizing lures that gives me the perception of progress; of getting important things done. I am crystal clear on its power too -- with all of the beautiful people, hilarious memes, well designed Rumi quotes and heart-wrenching news alerts. The web is like an ill-prescribed drug we’re all hooked on. But yet here I am, sitting in front of the fireplace on my mountain vacay, sucked into Insta-cray and Twit-ter, spending (ahem, wasting) time keeping myself educated (ahem, medicated) on digital C.R.A.P, when I swore I’d honor the downtime I need.

How does this tie into improv?

Well, just as performers practice “Yes, and…”, there are also times they need to say “No.” That may seem contradictory to what we’ve been talking about here with our Aliveness Scaffolding, but hear me out: Saying “No” in a scene just might be what needs to happen in order to keep the story rationale, understandable and not too far reaching (for humor, attention etc.) This is highly nuanced though, and the key is not to lose the “and”. The “and” is what gives forward movement; allowing the actor a chance to offer his scene partner an alternative.

Improv scene:

Player A: “Hey man, let’s go over there and beat that guy up just for fun!”

Player B: “Uh, you know I don’t think that’s a great idea (aka, no) and our favorite reality TV show is starting in 10 minutes (new offer). Shouldn’t we get back to watch that?”

Player A: “Oh, right. Good point! I forgot it was the season finale of Me and My Mother-in-Law. Let’s go!”

If Player B had said “no” outright to the fight offer, there surely would have been an awkward pause, leaving both actors perplexed where to go next. But with the “and”, Player A had something different to respond to (the reality show), thereby saving the storyline for both of their sakes.

Don’t we Life Players need to practice our “no”s too? Not just to avoid the interweb, but to stay true to what’s good for us, with authenticity and voice.

  • No to status plays that make us feel small or question our worth

  • No to proposals from peers/family/friends to do or say hurtful things to others

  • No to favors asked of us that will rob us of precious time

  • No to toxic relationships, toxic foods, toxic decisions

(You get the gist.)

So here’s to you, Webpages of Perceived Joy. I do love you, no doubt. But I’m with my family now. I need to rest in my own creativity, rather than immersing myself in what others do/say/create online.

Because I’m worth it. And so are the people around me who need my time and attention.

“Mom, c'mon! MOMMY...come and watch with us!”

See what I mean? “People in improv get vacations too, you know…”

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