It’s 100º here in Little Rock. Canadian summers have softened me and I have wilted often the past few days here in the South. I have to say though, as much as my hair looks like a freshly humidity-laundered poodle, I have missed walking through this soup.
I rolled into Memphis and had a lovely chat about hospitality with my host, Kaelin. The phrase “a soft place to land” has been echoing in several chambers recently and it reflects the kind of space I want to create for other artists.
I settled in for my fourth Our Own Voice Theatre Troupe (OOVTT) production. I was extremely lucky to find them in 2002 when I was casting about for a master’s thesis topic and have been grateful ever since for their generosity and ethic. Their latest outing, Neuro Plastic City, explores how we make connections and see patterns (as well as how we might seek to break them). Good, good stuff, and I borrowed a pen at intermission to write down more ideas for our workshop the next day.
24 JUNE **WORKSHOP with OOVTT — 3:30PM-6:00PM**
My first easybake workshop was made possible by the most gracious eleven individuals: Alanna Stewart, Alexander Parker, Ann Sieber, Bill Baker, Ian Lemmonds, Jonathan McCarver, Katherine Dohan, Khyber Daniel, Kiña del Mar, Linley Schmidt, and Sarah Rushakoff. I pulled out all of my over-sized legos, playdough, molding foam balls, hand-me-down Brobee, and so many crayons/markers/colored pencils and construction paper. A sampling of our activities:
Self-Care Hot Potato
We passed foam dice with dry erase panels on them around a circle while I hummed inane children’s songs. When the music stopped, the holder of a die wrote down a word or phrase describing a self-care activity they employ. We repeated this until we had filled two six-sided dice with drumming, music, hydrate, yoga, snack, precision jumping, pray/meditate, disentangle, exercise, aimless driving with my sweetie, sleep, and writing. We then tossed the dice around and the holder mimed what they saw on a panel for the group. Then the person who had written that word/phrase told us about how that activity makes them feel. (We also incorporated the dice into Self-care Simon Says later in the workshop.)
Adult Meets Child Self-Care
- On a sheet of white paper, we mapped:
a. WHO – a list of people I feel safe with, I can call for help or companionship, I trust with my care, who know my history/circumstances
b. WHERE – places which make me feel secure and safe
c. WHAT – activities that make me feel in control, centered, alive and/or happy
- We stepped away from the table, stretched, did a wash-off-the-day ritual, and then made some silly faces to shake off our adults.
- We sat at the table in a child-like posture and answered the same prompts on colored construction paper, this time thinking as our kid-selves.
- We examined the two sheets of paper for similarities and asked how it might feel if we incorporated something from the child paper into our adult lives tomorrow (after a debrief with one of the participants, I’ll now also ask what it might be like to use one of our adult self-care prompts as self-compassion when thinking about our younger selves).
Going for a Walk
We walked randomly around the room and I would stop a participant and give them one of Kali Quinn’s values rephrased as a self-care action to model for the rest of the group to do: tell someone they are beautiful, greet a stranger, review your relationship with technology, move through life as a clown, etc.
Holding Space in Practice
I ditched the final activity I had planned for us (group-decorating a large cardboard box) in favor of continued conversation while we drew and sculpted various things. We spent our last 40 minutes together talking about the other ways in which we practice self-care, reasons why we don’t, the importance of valuing artists and their contributions (Frederick, by Leo Lionni), the necessity of community (talking to our ancestors, and how our increased access to sugar is a good metaphor for our increased isolation), the significance of modeling self-care, and how the reverse of self-care is tearing ourselves down or letting others do that for us.
We closed our time together in an uncomfortably tight circle just feeling each other breathe. I am so thankful for the willingness of OOVTT to be guinea pigs in this grand experiment of mine!
*** If any of my OOVTT folks are reading this: HYDRATE! ***
The National Civil Rights Museum took every minute of the three hours I’d allotted myself and I feel I still need to go back. It’s an amazing facility and I deeply recommend the experience. I drove to Little Rock (a little zigzag between Memphis and Jackson) to meet up with friends I’d not seen in 15 years, Monica and Greg Robinson and Stephanie Judkins to attend a benefit for Lucie’s Place. It was wonderful to hear Greg sing after all of these years and to hear their kiddos also tearing up the stage.
Central High School Visitor’s Center and the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum. Tonight I’ll go see Monica in Menopause the Musical. When it’s 100º, everything feels like a hot flash, so in addition to my anticipation of seeing my friend onstage, it seems appropriate.
Tomorrow I may very well read to goats!