I mentioned in my post about "The Permanent Me" (which is now on sale on DVD at CFRI.org) that I was beginning to explore the value of using my past actor training to make my talks a little more dramatic and hopefully more powerful. Well, I have held true to that promise and man, has it been a blast!
Last week I teamed up with an awesome Duke Palliative Care Doc, Tony Galanos, and we did a real live improv for about 100 nurses. We were the entertainment for the night so it had to be fun but we couldn't miss the opportunity to convey some messages. Dr. G and I were super nervous (OK, I was, you'd have to ask him how nervous he was feeling) because we had never rehearsed and we had no idea if we were about to b.o.m.b. The crowd was great and we had them rolling with our silly improvs about life in the medical system. BUT, at the same time, we took pauses in between each improv to check in with the audience and see if they learned anything from watching the improv. I was thrilled to see that we weren't just having fun--they gleamed some really amazing lessons from the exercises. Win, Win!!!
I have really been riding that wave of joy for a week. It felt so great on so many levels--we had fun, we had a message and...maybe best of all, I was collegues with a doctor. That huge patient/physician barrier had to be torn down so we could work together as human beings. The audience was struck by it, this rare sighting of a doctor and patient with no sense of "superior" and "inferior." I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. I'd say, at the risk of exagerating, it was magical. Thank you Sandi for booking us! Thank you Dr. G for going on that wild ride with me and making it so much fun!!!
This has taken me in two directions. 1. I am hungry for more opportunites like this--to improv, to act and to bring my messages to the right people through fun and humor. 2. It has made me more passionate about openeing the curtains and humanizing mdicine, as I talked about in a previous post. A friend told me recently that Quakers (I hope that's right) do not have titles such as "Sir" or "Maam" and they do that because they do not see one person as being any better or lesser than the next. These titles alone put us in positions that take us out of our own humanity. Add to that all that we are taught about the titles and you have...well, me. I'm a good example of a perfectly competent human being who has believed for her whole adult life that she is inferior without any alphabet soup after my name. I deny what I know and replace it with the opinions of others because I see them as better than me. I do not recognize my worth because I let others tell me what I am worth based on our society's labels.
There have been many gifts of this work I am now doing. One of them is in reassessing the ideas I have about my value in relation to those around me. The improv with Dr. G was a huge, huge step on this journey to walk beside people, not behind or in front of them. I am so grateful.
In addition, I have challenged myself creatively. Tonight, I start my first stand up comedy class. I feel queasy every time I mention it! I do not see myself as a funny person. Certainly not the kind of funny where you stand alone on a stage telling joke after joke. Ah, I feel sicker.
So why I am I doing it? I have had a dream for years to write my own one woman show. I want it to be about the illness journey but I want it to be universal enough and funny enough that it's not just for patients or professionals. I want to reach everybody. Gulp. So, tonight I have to present 2-3 minutes worth of material. I am terrified and excited. If it goes ok, if it's not just the worst thing anyone has ever seen, I am going to video it in its developement and upload those videos here. We'll see!!!
I hope you all have a wonderful week and do something that makes you queasy too.