"Where are You Going?"

2017 is the year of creation for me. I hope you'll indulge me a bit as I do so...so some posts here will be "how to" and a lot of them will be like this...just me and an instrument and whatever happens to be occupying my heartspace at the moment. 

I don't always write silly songs. The first line of this song popped into my head earlier and the structure loosely follows my journey through relationships: from the girl who based some of her self-worth on attention from some dude to the woman who says, "I have a wonderfully full and joyful life. Join me?"

Thanks for listening/watching/sharing. Happy 2017 to you, my friends!

xoxo, Sarah

Playing the Self-Improvement Long Game

Self-improvement doesn't happen overnight. 

It also shouldn't happen overnight. 

You're good and loveable and wonderful NOW, regardless of your (perceived or real) "pending improvements."

I talk in this video about the "long game" of self-improvement and how I've simply been taking the time to "notice" lately, rather than rush to fix or tweak. 

As someone who struggles with self-beat-up, this is a useful exercise. Because sometimes when you sit with your shortcomings, you might notice that they're not so bad after all. 

Watch the video and let me know what you think!

On Messiness (and Why It's Okay to Be So)

messy

It didn't take long before we figured out he wasn't like the other kids. 

It was a short improv workshop for five junior high aged boys. And while the other four happily made up scenes about workers in Wal-mart, funny grandmas and one very imperious king, this boy consistently made choices that involved affairs, drinking, drugs, violence and a number of other things that are generally shocking to hear from a 12 year old. 

It's not as if kids aren't exposed to those things at that age, but the other boys were far more adept at innocent play, while this kid seemed stuck in a filthy loop that even made me cringe a time or two (and I've said "fuck" at family friendly shows at least three times).

As teachers, we did our best to help guide him to a different space, to not simply go for the joke, but to try to come up with real moments, funny or not. 

After the class, one of the moms explained why this boy might be behaving the way he did. At twelve, he had experienced more heartache and upheaval in a few short years than most of us will experience in this lifetime. 

But the thing is...I already knew that. Maybe not the details, but I did know that something was there.

That's because improv is an art form where you can't hide.

There's no script, costumes or set to mask anything. It requires that the artist become their "youest you", so unless you're very, very good in real life at hiding your shit, it's gonna come through when you're making things up on the spot...even if it is just for fun. 

The beauty of doing what I do is that it forces you to take a hard look at yourself and try to do better...if not for yourself, then at least those around you. 

The shitty part of doing what I do is that it forces you to take a hard look at yourself and try to do better. 

I like to chant this little mantra: "I'm perfect just the way I am...I just need a little tweaking."

Sometimes it's easy to wallow in the things I feel need tweaking. To only see shortcomings, or to only feel challenged by situations where I don't handle things as my best self. 

I've found though, that sometimes I just have to sit with my tweakings, as uncomfortable as it makes me, and just see what happens. To let myself be messy and not-so-together and real

I worry in these messy times that I am not easy to love. I buy in a little to the lie that if I don't stop being messy, I'll lose the love of my loved ones. 

HOGWASH. (Yes, HOGWASH.)

Life is messy. People are messy. Loving and being loved is messy.

Even joy can be messy, surprising us when we least expect it. 

What to do When You Don't Know What to Do

Not sure what to do? Take it one step at a time. 

In improv, we call this action "building brick by brick." Because we're working without a script (hey! just like life!), we can't bring a fully realized house to the stage, we can only bring a "brick"...or that one thing we have to offer in the moment. Then we work together to build a reality "brick by brick" using "ok, now what?" and the other gifts and choices we have to create something new from scratch. 

I've been struggling this week to enjoy some much needed downtime.  All I could think about was all the things I was "putting off" not doing (IT'S VACATION, SARAH), and then, when I finally turned that off, I began stewing about how I would spend my downtime to maximize my relaxation.

I am a vacation ruiner. 

Finally, I had to remind myself that all I need to do is take it "brick by brick."

First, coffee. Then, enjoy coffee. Then, take a walk. Then, hit a movie, if I feel like it. I had been so intent on planning how to relax I was missing out on doing the things I actually find relaxing. I sort of just went where the wind blew me and had some lovely times and naps (and food. Probably too much food. OK, definitely too much food.)

"Brick by brick" is great not just for salvaging a vacation, but, oh, for pretty much everything. Overwhelmed at work? Take it task by task (and only one task at a time). House a mess? Take it room by room. Struggling with depression or anxiety? Take it moment by moment.

Everything can be figured out as you go along. Plans are nice, sure, but sometimes life gives a big "fuck you" to your plans. When that happens, build (or re-build) brick by brick. 

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Improv, Joy and "You are Enough"

You are enough. 

You, yes you. The one with those extra five pounds. With the chronic illness. With that thing you're always "working on" but never seem to get. With the stress and anxiety that seems tripled during the holiday season. Yes, you. 

You are enough.

There's a principle in improv that surrounds the idea of being enough. Whether you're a total beginner or an expert, if you approach each scene or moment with a sense of yes and a little honesty, what you're bringing to the table is "just right."

This is not to say you can't improve your skill-set or practice or understand the game better. You can. Sometimes that improvement is simply realizing your own limits or strengths. 

But what you bring to the table, your "you-est you" is enough. 

I struggle with this concept a lot, nitpicking my body to death sometimes, or thinking that I need to reach a certain milestone to be worthy of whatever random thing I've convinced myself I'm not worthy enough to have right now. 

I struggle with finding the balance between knowing my innate worthiness and lovability in this moment ("I am worthy of a relationship right now") and seeing the things in my life I must earn ("I have to take steps x,y and z to grow my business"). 

Things get jumbled sometimes and I start to view my whole life through that lens of "I'm not there yet."

But the fact of the matter is, I am there. I'm worthy now. I have value now. I have something to offer now. 

Is it perfect? No. But it's enough. I'm enough, and that's a great place to start. 


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Improv, Joy and "OK, Now What?"

Improv has just one rule that can't be broken: "yes, and..."

Yes teaches you to accept whatever you've been given. On stage, this might mean that if your scene partner says you're a flying dragon, this means you're a flying dragon. No being a dick and saying, "I'm not a flying dragon! I'm a unicorn."

And teaches you to then add to the story. "Yes, I'm a flying dragon, and I just burned down your village."

In real life, I believe the everyday application of "yes, and..." is "OK. Now what?"

"Yes" or "OK" is neither positive or negative. It's simply saying, "This is my reality. I'm sad, or this shitty thing happened, or I'm the happiest I've ever been."

You can sit in the "yes" or the "OK" for a minute, but eventually, you're gonna have to "and" or "now what?"

"Now what?" is all about you.

You can choose to deal with your circumstance as it is. That may be something as minor as: 

OK: "My boyfriend broke up with me."
Now what?: "I will get out of bed today and shower." 

"Now what?" might also mean stepping away for a minute, or going ovaries out to reach your goal, or trying something new. It could just mean that you choose to laugh instead of cry, or that you give into that sobbing jag. 

Whatever you decide, it's not the end. Simply ask "OK. Now what?" again.

This past week (ok, month...ok, fine, fall) has been interesting for me, to say the least, and "OK. Now what?" has been my mantra again and again as I tackle each day. 

What "OK. Now what?" requires is an intention to "check in" with yourself every so often.

It can be tough, because accepting your current reality might not be easy.

You might be doing too much. You might be the one to blame for an argument. You might realize you've been a little lazy. You might think your kids are being little assholes. You might discover someone you love is kind of a dick. You might be a dick. You might be the most loving, caring person on earth and guess what? The universe just shit on you anyway.

OK. Now what?

Thank you so much for watching, reading and sharing! I made a thing for you below. Enjoy! :)

oknowwhat