Courageous & Outrageous - Improving by Improv

By Pat Nichol

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When was the last time you stepped outside of your personal comfort zone?

On the last day of February when the rest of the world was glued to their seats watching THE hockey game, I was pushing myself so far outside of my warm, cozy comfort zone, that I didn’t think I would ever be warm again.

I don’t have a problem standing in front of an audience. Those of you who attended the 50+ Active Living Celebration the last few years know that. I love it! I love connecting with people, making them laugh and extending that connection between the audience and the performers. What I didn’t realize was that I have a problem being one of the performers.

On that Sunday afternoon, I voluntarily registered myself for an improv class. Granted, my friend Laurie used the guilt card to get me to go. She wanted to take the class, but didn’t want to go alone. So being a good friend, I went along.

Maybe many of you have tried improvisation and loved every minute. For the first hour and a half, I hated every minute. I was stiff and awkward; I couldn’t make my mind and body work together. The prickles I was feeling were standing out all over. My body was rigid with tension. This was supposed to be fun? Not!

Finally, I came to my senses. The only person standing between me having a good time and enjoying what our instructor Dave was giving to us was the inflexible and austere adult named Patricia. I relaxed, allowed myself to be silly, to interact with others and, suddenly, it became much easier, certainly more fun and I found myself bounding up on the stage to volunteer. All of a sudden, my comfort zone had widened to encompass a new talent. Well, maybe not a talent, but certainly some new knowledge.

Thank you Laurie, for talking me into it; and Dave for the patience to know how uncomfortable I was and for giving me the best piece of advice that an adult can receive. “It is okay to fail.”

When you fail, cheer, because you have just learned a new way and created a new path in your brain. So, as we move into spring, practise failing and give yourself a giant round of applause when you do.

See you at the next improv class!





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