The Other Side of the Table

Another first for ol’ Brie here. This week marks the first time I’ve ever stood behind a table and held auditions of OTHER people for one of my* projects.

(I helped a friend audit once, a little while back, but it doesn’t count because I had nothing else to do with the project. Shout-out to Mishi here!)

Though it wasn’t a ginormous audition for some big-time movie, or some grand Broadway production, it still felt really freakin’ cool! It’s me, scouting for people I don’t know, who may or may not help me build this brand new-project here in Niagara. It’s so fun and exciting! We even had a write-up in the paper about it and everything:Screenshot 2018-01-28 22.46.44.png

We’re going to hold another one in February because we’re still a little short on numbers, so I get to do it all over again next month. Hopefully with a whole bunch of people who are super-interested and excited to entertain the Niagara Region by making fun shit up on the spot.

Gimme a Yay! This is so exciting!

*When I say “my” of course, I mean “our”. “Our” being Dina and I and anyone invested in the existence and success of Improv Niagara.

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But, Out

A woman in my class this week told me that since our first class, where we learned what it means to “yes and,” she noticed the amount of times over the week that she had the tendency to write “but” in her text messages. She attempted to take the advice learned in class in order to make her text communications more positive.

In improv, “but” is basically the same as “no.” It’s telling your partner you’ve heard what they said (maybe); you don’t like their idea, you think you have a better idea, or more likely, their idea scares you and you’re worried about how to pull it off,  so you’re going to try to squeeze in your safer idea in the scene instead.

For example:

“Alright Mom! It’s time to go to the moon!” 

“Ok honey, but the moon’s too far away, so why don’t we just go to the grocery store instead?”

It might as well have been:

“Alright Mom! It’s time to go to the moon!”

“No. We’re going to the grocery store.”

It’s sometimes remarkable that people think they’re listening and responding positively, when they’re really steering the scene (or the conversation, or the making of plans, in a non-improv setting) to discount their partner’s ideas or wishes.

Maybe we could all benefit from my student’s exercise. For one week, notice how often you text “but”, use “but” in an email or say “but.” Reflect on it. Is that “but” necessary? Or are you using “but” to turn down someone’s idea or invitation because you think you have a better idea or because you’re afraid to know where theirs might take you.

All this to be taken as a reminder that it doesn’t take a hard no to refuse someone’s offers and ideas, onstage or off.

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If this blog post has opened up some bubble in your brain and you want to read more about “but,” in a context other than improv, check out this Fast Company article:

The One Word That’s Undermining Everything Else You Say

From the article:

“If you never used ‘but’ again, you’d be just fine,” she says. “It’s a conjunction used to marry two completely separate ideas. Why do that?” – Karin Hurt

(PS. they totally mention improv in the article)

My Lighthouse

I think People & Chairs turned me onto Ben Noble’s blog, which lead me to his newsletter; a weekly Monday morning email filled with inspiring and helpful tidbits pertaining to improv and creativity in general. The perfect email to receive amongst the rest of the Monday madness of a 9-5 office job.

It seems appropriate then that I should read Ben’s post about his Lighthouse word last year around the same time I began bullet journalling because the two seem to be an intertwining system of motivation and creativity.

Per Ben, a lighthouse word is a single word that will serve as your guiding light for the year ahead. I figured I’d give it a shot. Last year, I chose the word “wake,” because I felt like I may be going through the motions too much, rather than being present, and awake for everything I was doing. I also felt like I was sleeping in too much on weekends and taking too many naps, and that I might be missing out on stuff as a result of that. Since then, I’ve reminded myself that that’s ridiculous because sleeping and napping are both awesome, especially when you already have a lifestyle that keeps you up late at night.

The combination of wanting to be awake, and the mentality of enthusiastic yes anding learned in improv that’s seeped into my everyday existence really helped make 2017 a truly stand-out year. So when it came time to pick my lighthouse word for 2018, I was a bit worried. What could I pick that would be as impactful as “Wake the eff up, Brie?”

I shortlisted a few words and continued setting up my bujo for the year ahead. I thought about things I lacked, areas in my life I’d like to improve. One thing kept coming back to me. Something that frustrates me beyond belief;  when I’m not ready for something that I’ve known about for a while. I pride myself on time management skills, but my husband reminds me that these could still use a bit of brushing up. This is difficult when you have a million separate projects on the go, and they all require a significant amount of brainpower to make happen on a regular basis; like producing multiple comedy shows, acts and classes.

I think my perception of time is off, because there are always things I forget to take into consideration before I have to go out and do, anything! I assume I’ll just leave the house and be ready to go, but no; there are other things that need to happen before I step out the door. Inevitably, I’ll leave much later than originally intended because I forgot that leaving the house requires a fair amount of planning and preparation, and that these things take time.

This seems obvious, but it’s a huge set back for me. I try to plan things out to the T, time-wise so as soon as something like “shit, I forgot I have to put gas in the car” comes up, it throws me off my timeline and puts me behind, which raises my anxiety and brings out all sorts of negativity in me. And that’s just one little thing. There are many of these little things that add up and make me late ALL THE TIME. Since FOREVER! Since I was a kid! I wait to the last minute because I’m focused on other things that I’m not giving myself the amount of time to THINK about what I NEED to do to accomplish what I WANT.

So. I’ve taken some steps and I’ve thought up some strategies because this year, now that I’ve trained myself to be awake, I’ve decided that’s not enough. I also want to be properly PREPAREd.

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PS. It’s super hard for me not to sing that Lion King song almost every time I see this page in my bujo, and I’m trying to be OK with that.

What do you think? Do you have a lighthouse word for 2018? Let me know in the comments below!