Sunday, July 26, 2015

RISING IN THE BLUE DREAM OF SKY: Launching "InterPlay Lift" on Friday Night in Decatur, Georgia

Written by Ruth Schowalter, certified InterPlay Leader and InterPlay Art and Soul Creativity Coach
INTERPLAY LIFT, THE LAUNCH.  On Friday, July 24, 2015, Ruth Schowalter, certified InterPlay leader, began a Friday evening InterPlay class that will take place once a month in Decatur, Georgia, USA. (art by Ruth Schowalter)
The idea for my monthly InterPlay Atlanta class began with HOT AIR BALLOONS! I envisioned colorful and buoyant balloons ascending over the Atlanta skyline.  Playing around with words: rising, uplift, uptake, ascension….I happened upon the name for my Friday evening InterPlay class—InterPlay Lift!

POWERFUL FUN. Ta dah! Here I am arriving early to open the doors for the first night of "InterPlay Lift"! InterPlay Atlanta is growing its offerings with the addition of two newly certified InterPlay leaders, Ruth Schowalter (me) and Christine Gautreaux (who created the InterPlay Atlanta sign show here in the photo and offers InterPlay in Norcross). We join Jennifer Denning, who has been leading InterPlay in Atlanta since 2008. (photo by Tony Martin)
“InterPlay Lift” would offer people a way to “rise” after a week of work instead of falling into exhaustion.  Playing together with one another on a Friday night might allow everyone to shift perspectives so that their weekends could begin with a little bit more energy and connectivity with themselves and one another.

One InterPlayer in Atlanta, Callahan Pope McDonugh, proclaimed this Friday night, “Date Night,” including all of us players as her “dates” along with her husband Bill! What a thought! A communal date!
COMMUNAL DATE NIGHT--INTERPLAY LIFT! Twelve people showed up for the first Friday night Atlanta InterPlay class offered in downtown Decatur at the First Christian Church, across the street from the Post Office. Christened "date night" by Callahan Pope McDonough, who took this photo, we all felt that "InterPlay Lift" had given us a great way to have fun on a Friday evening. Afterwards, we went across to the Irish pub, The Marlay, for refreshment and conversation.
Exformation was my main goal for this first “InterPlay Lift” class! Listening to what my body wanted and needed, I crafted 90 minutes of activities that would allow us to release—“exform”—some of the excess information, both good and bad, that accumulates in our bodies. InterPlay co-founders, Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, consider information “physical” and something that can be “moved” out of our bodies. So I set forth and executed the following plan after introductions and warming everybody up.


LAUGHTER YOGA (I’m a certified Laughter Yoga Leader so that is an added plus I bring to InterPlay!)—We did small front-of-the-mouth mmmm’s, progressed to back of the mouth heeheehee’s, and moved onto to large belly hohoho’s, and finished with handshaking laughter, punctuated with “very good, very good, yays.”

SHAKING IT ALL OUT—Oh yes to two continuous minutes of all out moving and shaking out, dedicated to shaking whatever body part needed to be shaken to the rhythms of drumming.

BREATHING AND SIGHING—Resting but still exforming, we breathed deep breaths and released hearty sighs at our own individual paces.

BABBLING IN A MADE UP LANGUAGE—Players were invited to tell stories in a made up language about the exformation practices they already use in their lives while incorporating face and shoulder dances.

BAD IDEA BEARS—Borrowed from the play “Avenue Q,” I introduced the “Bad Idea Bears,” who encourage you to do all of the “wrong” things that you want to do but deny yourself.  “Bad Idea Bears” is an activity during which Players help each other expand on their “bad ideas” by cheering each other on and exclaiming, “YAY” and waving their hands wildly. So if you say, “I have a great idea. Let’s get a cake and eat it all tonight.” The other Bad Idea Bear agrees and suggests if one cake is good, two cakes are better! YAY!

“Noticing” is something we do in InterPlay after we “do stuff” like the exformation activities described above. InterPlay Lift Participants noticed after playing around with “Bad Idea Bears,” that it felt releasing and energizing to express all those “bad” or “wrong” ideas that run through our minds instead of repressing them. Even better? To have someone agree with you in hedonistic raucous pleasure! YAY!

SIDE BY SIDE STORIES. How fun, exformational, and energizing it is to tell a story about whatever activities you do to "exform" alongside another person and to be "witnessed." Yes to all of that! (photos by Ruth Schowalter)
After these Exformation and other activities like “Side by Side” stories, I thought that I would play around with resting inside of stillness and offered Participants the opportunity to stretch out on the floor and breathe. 
SOLO ONE HAND DANCES. A time for stillness and a time for moving on behalf of whatever it is we need at the end of the week and entering the weekend. (photo by Ruth Schowalter)
Then after a period stillness (had they descended from the LIFT that InterPlay exformation provided?), I introduced the solo hand dance, which progressed into a duet hand dance with a nearby lounging partner. So they scooched their heads together and created a serene hand dance to this song, “Kinder” by Copper Wimmin:
As we were nearing completion, I wanted to play around with the concept of “rising and falling” that Cynthia Winton-Henry introduced this past spring in Dancing the Ruby Way, her Monday online dance class, and is written up in her book, Dance the Sacred Art. We practiced gently rising from our pillows and falling back down on them in different ways, again and again during the length of a song. Thus, experiencing for ourselves, that “falling” is part of “rising”—they are in perpetual relationship to one another.  When we fall, we have only to rise again! (See my blog entry, “I Fall Down, I Get Back Up: Embodying the Rise and Fall of Life,” that I wrote in reflection about my experience.)

Yay for InterPlay Lift…it is the rising part of the fall! When we fall down, we get back up! Thus, the imagined hot air balloons rising served my creative process in the creation of this Friday night InterPlay class! Hurray for imagination and visual images that guide us! (Thanks to friend Trish Weaver for creating this video using my InterPlay Lift art!)

I thank you God for this most amazing day,
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, 
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything 
which is natural, 
which is infinite,
which is yes.
--e.e. cummings

I hope you will join me for InterPlay Lift in the upcoming months in 2015 (August 28th, September 25th, October 23rd,  November 20th,  and December 18th)! We will certainly be playing around with “Bad Idea Bears” again and rising and falling. Wishing you a great lift in your day! SOUL BLOG with me on my blog, Coffee with Hallelujah, and share what your activities are to “exform.”

Friday, July 24, 2015

Subbing at Spirit Play

Dear friends,

Today I had the amazing opportunity to be a co-leader at Spirit play with the wonderful poet, Debra Hiers.  I was substituting for Jennifer Denning, Director of InterPlay Atlanta, who created the offering Spirit Play and was on vacation this week.  

We started the session with sitting
Spirit Play began in February of 2015 and is held the fourth Friday of every month from 10:30-Noon at the Atlanta Shambhala Meditation Center which is a beautiful sacred space.

What a gift it was to take a deep breath this morning after a hectic week (heck who am I kidding - month) and take time for InterPlay and stillness.

Debra led off with an introduction to stillness and a short sitting meditation.  I was so grateful to just be.

Poetry and Writing adds a different element to this InterPlay Session
We transitioned into introductions, "I could talk about..." and babbling with partners.

Next it was time for a gentle warm up and Walk, Stop, Run, Sit (we were at a meditation center).  We had so much fun playing with this form we did an additional Walk, Stop, Run and added Leans. 

Of course there was time for deep breaths, sighing and shaking some stress out and lots of noticing during the entire morning.

Then Debra, poet extraordinaire and Interplayer, lead us through the poetry and writing section.  

Today we played with Mary Oliver's poem The Summer Day:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Once the poem was read and discussed we had time to reflect and then write our own poems and/or thoughts.  The poet and writer in me loved this sacred time.

We finished the morning with toning with our voices and singing bowls.  Such a yummy way to spend a Friday morning.
Leading the toning

I hope you'll join us next month when Jennifer will be back and she and Debra will provide another Spirit filled SpiritPlay.

A fun group of SpiritPlay InterPlayers who felt expanded after our morning of play and meditation.  
Wrapping you around with infinite love and play,


P.S.  All pictures (except the group) were taken by certified InterPlay leader, Ruth Schowalter - The group picture was taken by a member of the Shambhala center and I didn't catch his name.