Saturday, August 20th, 2011
A recent Life Practice Program graduate, Beth Sarver, wrote these comments about her experience of participating in the Life Practice Program in Seattle.
The Interplay Life Practice Program came into my life at the most perfect time. The forms and methods that I learned have expanded my work, my mothering skills and most awesomely I have experienced a cosmic shift in my spiritual life. I have always been a storyteller, performer, dancer, singer and creative person… but now I have experienced the potency of prayers lifted through dance and the power of laughing til I cry and wailing until I sigh and say “Wheeeee!” I have had a lot of dynamic learning experiences in my life, but none would compare with the richness that has come into every facet of my life after completing this program. I am humbled by the life changing power of play. I am transformed by the empowering surge of energy that exforms through movement and stillness, story and song. This training catalyzed my heart, mind, body and spirit. I look forward to the Leadership program and continuing to grow the interplay modalities on behalf of folks with disabilities and youth in crisis.
Wednesday, June 08th, 2011
We come to Friday morning Interplay—a dozen of us in Seattle and soon sixteen or twenty. The leaders rotate and bring themselves and the Interplay forms so we can renew, uplift, and share. We often start with babbling in pairs and the forms begin. Last week it was the topic of mentoring—played with in incremental steps—backing up and into that unique and blessed relationship of teacher/learner and those who show us “the” way. An opening quote (not a usual piece) was from Parker Palmer, so I picked him as my mentor example. Can a mentor be a family member, too? My partner chose her father. In her case, the mentor was her dear father and mentor who led her to “be who she could be” and she knows now even after his passing more how he taught and gave her wisdom and life! Surely her example and choice was enlightened by maturity and awareness of what parents can give and how they lead us to ourselves.
How could mine be Parker, who wouldn’t know me if he walked in the room, but I know him—his writings, his work in education, his work in growth of the spirit. He embodies for me the mentor who “made my worlds of faith and work” meld into one entity during one magic daylong workshop over fifteen years ago. He was just writing his famous book, Courage to Teach, and he asked us to pick an animal that would represent our “teacher presence” in the classroom. He had just worked at Berea College for a time, and he picked a sheepdog. I don’t remember what I “chose” that day during the exercise, but I remember talking to Parker and telling him that I could physically feel a connection—that often did not exist—between my Christian church home and my secular college teaching. He was that mentor link—he had been my teacher in both of those physical places.
If I think about my “animal” mentor today, I would pick a panda bear—that fluffy reminder of gentle curiosity and tree climbing and quiet nudging. I know that now because those are traits I used as a teacher, to see from above and turn my head all around to take in the width and breadth of those student bodies before me and to nudge them into words. They wrote stories of their lives and used their voices in words to evoke the softness, and sacredness of each precious body. The panda that I saw last year in Australia gave me that mentor image as I captured her on video. Now I have two mentors—Parker and Panda. Gratefulness is another Interplay session to go deeper, step-by-step into a fuller more embodied life.
Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Our Seattle Friday Morning Class has been a time of joyful connections. Players find ways to support each other inside and outside of class. Some class members continue in the fun and creative spirit by gathering for lunch after class. Joy Fry shares her experience in this poem.
out to lunch
after Friday morning InterPlay,
slide into playful Southern drawl.
delighting in one another
*Opal * Ruby * Sapphire * Pearl*
Our waitress *Amber* joins in.
We are nourished!
A fundraising event to honor the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers on Mother’s Day was also born out of connections made in our Friday Morning Class. Elizabeth and Lorraine created a fun and meaningful event that included showing the movie about the grandmothers along with a wing blessing and a water blessing by Lorraine Bayes.
Let the connections made in Friday Morning Class continue to flourish and nourish!
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010
My four “20 something” children suggested that we needed some new holiday traditions that involved more than opening presents on Christmas morning. The gift that they decided to give each other was “ecstatic following”. Each person in our family came up with an idea for a family activity on Christmas weekend. The gift from everyone else was to show up, be present, and participate without complaining.
This was not as easy as it might seem! Ice skating for the first time in 35 years (and I was lousy at it then) was a bit of a challenge for me. Then there was the cookie baking and decorating. Nothing makes me swear faster than a rolling pin with dough stuck to it! And my son had never attempted to decorate anything with frosting in his life. It was also a dangerous activity after taking twenty years olds to the Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. Those Picasso inspired Gingerbread men had uniquely placed anatomically correct parts! Laughter ensued…and their father decided that some of the Gingerbread men needed another layer of clothing before delivering them for Christmas gifts.
The weekend turned into a very memorable time. Our whole family found ways to interact and enjoy each other. Occassionally I had to remind them and myself that the gift we were giving each other was “ecstatic following”. It was just the right reminder to support us to show up for activities when they weren’t our first choice. I wish I had known about InterPlay’s ideas of “following and leading” when they were younger. What a miraculous and delightful gift!
Thursday, October 28th, 2010
Krista Harris Importance of Connections Story
Theron Shaw IP Million Connections Tour Seattle
Phil Porter Seattle's Million Connections Tour
Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
I don’t think we quite made a Million Connections this weekend or a million dollars…but my heart feels like an absolute millionaire from the connections I made with new friends and old friends during our various workshops this week with Phil Porter. Many thanks to Phil for teaching us “all that he knows” about Performing, Money Wisdom, and the BodyWisdom of teamwork for organizations. And thanks to all of you who joined us and to those who donated as well! What gifts you are to our community!
Monday, August 16th, 2010
Over 40 InterPlayers have visited Malawi with Masankho Banda, a California-based InterPlayer and peacemaker who was born and raised in Malawi. Masanko was given political asylum in the United States in 1987. His father, Aleke K. Banda, was imprisoned from 1980-1992 by the president of Malawi who ruled as a brutal dictator for 30 years, and it was unsafe for Masankho to remain in Malawi. After getting degrees in Theater and Dance Arts and in Creation Spirituality, Masankho chose to devote his life to using dance, music, drumming and storytelling to bring about peace, healing, and cultural understanding. He received the Unsung Hero of Compassion Award from His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2001. (See ucandanc.org to learn more about Masankho and his work.)
Three Seattle InterPlayers – Liz Lang, Louise Petrasek, and myself – were members of the first small group that Masankho brought to Malawi to learn about African culture and to stay in the ancestral village where Masankho had learned the arts of African dance and storytelling as a boy. It was grounding, affirming, and deeply spiritual for me to be in Africa where humanity and dance and song were born and where dance and song are still interwoven into the fabric of everyday life. We travelers were deeply moved by the warm-hearted, welcoming people who lived in the village and the surrounding area. We danced and sang with them, toured their homes and fields, and learned firsthand of the challenges these people face on a daily basis. This trip changed our lives. We could no longer sing and dance and live in Seattle without remembering and feeling our connection to these dear people. Liz, Louise, and I committed ourselves to raising awareness and seeking donations to help fund projects that would address issues of poverty and help the villagers we’d met become more self reliant. We were grateful that a small non-profit organization, the Kunyanja Development Organization (KUDO), had been created in 2004 by Aleke Banda. We have been helping raise funds for KUDO ever since 2006 and we also helped bring Emily Chintu, the volunteer director of KUDO, to Seattle in 2007. (See kudomalawi.org for more information about KUDO projects.)
I have returned to Malawi two more times, once with a large group of over 40 InterPlayers (including my daughter, Meghan), and more recently, with my husband. Each visit deepens the connection that was formed in 2006. I continue to share stories about Malawi with individuals and groups who would like to learn more, and I continue with fundraising efforts. If you are interested in having a Malawi presentation with a freewill offering for KUDO, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions of any size make a BIG impact in rural Malawi. No donation is too small. From June 21st – September 21st, 2010, there is a Summer Solstice Matching Campaign that will match (and double!) donations that are made to KUDO. I am really excited about this, but donations are welcome at any time of the year. To make a donation, visit the KUDO website, kudomalawi.org.
Wednesday, July 07th, 2010
InterPlaySeattle Life Practice Program participants 2009-2010
Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Invariably when I ask a longtime InterPlayer what part of InterPlay they value most, they say, “witnessing and being witnessed”. In InterPlay many of our forms involve having a partner whose “job” is to simply be present with you with an attitude of respect and positive regard as you tell a story or do a dance or sing a song. They offer feedback about how your expression moved them or what they can affirm. Sometimes the whole gathered group is the witness. And other times the participant is invited to be their own witness. Witnessing is a foundational principle of InterPlay.
What is the gift in being “witnessed”? Often people report that they never felt really “seen” as children. Their parents didn’t know how or had too little time to offer them important gift of presence. Sometimes “being seen” is challenging for people because as children the only time they were noticed was when they were being criticized or reprimanded. When I first started to InterPlay I was really frightened by the idea of someone witnessing me as I danced or sang or told a story. But as I’ve gradually grown into enjoying having a witness, I’ve noticed that a witness has allowed me to have my full expression in ways that I would never attempt if I were alone. Being witnessed also helps me know and express my deep inner truth. Sometimes my witness reflects back to me things I didn’t notice or confirms the wisdom my body is expressing. A witness provides a container when the challenges of life seem overwhelming. Creating a dance or story out of the challenges gives them a beginning, middle, and sometimes most importantly reminds me that there will be an “end”! Having a witness helps me feel less alone on the planet.
Being a witness to the stories or dances of others is also a gift. I always feel like I am on “holy ground” when I see someone share their heart through movement or word. I may be moved by their courage and struggle or by their creativity, joy, and beauty. I notice that I can honor all of life’s journeys and get the opportunity to participate in their journey for those few minutes while I am witnessing. My heart opens as I see these “snapshots” into of the lives of others, and I am able to cry or smile or celebrate with them. I’m always happy to have the opportunity to say, “I’ll be a witness!”
I had finished a Master’s degree in Transforming Spirituality and was panicked about returning to the “world.” I kept getting messages from a range of sources that I needed to try InterPlay. Those message-givers knew what my soul needed – a place to play in a community of wonderful people who were willing to risk to improvise with abandon. I often say that InterPlay “saved my life”. I suppose that is almost too grand a statement. I do know that InterPlay has added a level of delight to my life that I never imagined and has placed me in a community of amazing people in the greater Seattle area. I recommend InterPlay to anyone who is willing to listen – people at exercise, people in the grocery store, and even people next to me on the plane. It has taken me to deep places, to life-filled places, to joy-filled places. Doing InterPlay as a life practice will change your life.