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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Improv Wisdom: Don't Prepare, Just Show Up

This book has been on my list for quite some time (it was released in 2005, so you know...). I picked it up this week to give me a pick-me-up. This is Patricia Ryan Madson's Improv Wisdom.

Life is improv. Madson says this, and it's something I have said many times in the past. If life is all improv, then, perhaps we should take the rules of improv and actually try to live by them. What this means is that we don't live entirely unscripted, but rather that we leave space in our scripts (our lives!) to embrace the now, say yes, and be willing to make mistakes. These are just some of the maxims put forth in this book that encourages readers to use improv wisdom to live their best lives.

This book is short (about 140 small pages) which makes it very worth the day or so you will need to read it. It's also one of those great books that you can read one chapter at a time, really ruminate on the advice, and put down while trying to live it and embrace the maxims one at a time. I also love that Madson includes exercises to actually try in your everyday life that embrace whichever maxim she currently speaks of. These exercises are real-world-friendly and I feel would really broaden your worldview if you were to give them a shot.

I was reading this book just prior to my yoga class in Bryant Park, and I was meditating on how thankful I am to have learned these rules so early in life. (I guess I should mention here that I worked in theatre for a decade prior to switching gears to academia--surprise!) One of the reasons I practice yoga so faithfully now is that I embrace (or at least I try to embrace) a culture of yes. Two years ago my dear friend Lyndsey asked me if I wanted to do yoga in Bryant Park with her. I was broke due to a cutback in hours at work and it was free and I was free time-wise, so I said yes. It was physically hard work and prior to that class I had no desire to actually do yoga, but because I said, "Why not?" I now am in love with an exercise that helps my poor aching back and balances me mentally.

So many wonderful things have happened to me in my life because I showed up, said yes, and was willing to make mistakes. Madson's advice in this book is great for those of you (ahem, me too) who are Type A over-planning perfectionists.

Hard copy for purchase below.

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