Its a Sunday night about 9:30 pm in early June of 2020. A certain grim acceptance that the pandemic is not going to end soon has given rise to an underlying current of anxiety in my body and household. Suddenly my husband and I are bolted from our TV-watching comfort coma by a blast from both our phones that a tornado has been spotted in the area. Not a tornado “watch.” A “get in the basement now” warning. My stomach drops as I stare at the phone in disbelief, my fight-flight-freeze instinct stopped at freeze. My husband is all “fight.”…


As we step into this new year, we turn the page on one rife with realities that called for an unprecedented use of the word unprecedented. In many ways, all of us have been improvisers on the stage of life for many months, innovating solutions to problems on the fly and crafting our days without the familiar structures. As dark and difficult as the days we are walking through can be, being forced to do things in an entirely new way can lead to sometimes startling discoveries. This is something we can train ourselves to look for, a practice for…


An article in the Nov. 22 New York Times titled “Abandon Your Thanksgiving Script” opens with the line “”This is the year for an improvised Thanksgiving.” It is a helpful read for many reasons, mainly because we all may need some encouragement to keep doing what is necessary to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have to think and behave in new ways to manage an entirely new situation, and this can collide with our desire for the holiday rituals and familiarity that provide psychological comfort and happiness. …


When Helena Lewis performs her poems and monologues in solo shows, populated by characters inspired by real people she encounters in her work as a Doctor of Social Work and Licensed Certified Addictions Counselor, the audience has an inside view of realities they might otherwise never confront. In her award-winning show Call Me Crazy: Diary Of A Mad Social Worker she tells the truth about systems that underpay and overwork professionals who provide essential human services. In Shenanigans, she explores grief, death and loss through the lens of her mother’s death and the ways it reshaped her family. Her most…


When a friend — I’ll call her Marilyn — asked for my “best psychotherapist take” on how to tell her 9-year old daughter they could not keep the stray kitten they’d discovered in a ditch near their home, I was ready with offers born of many years of experience on topics like this. Not a good time for the family to add a new member, or incur the expenses of a pet? An opportunity to teach a child about boundaries and limits in life. Worried the child will not do her part to care for the kitten? Consider this an…


What the country, and the world, is going through right now is shaking up our social life and sense of safety along with our assumptions and expectations. As the pandemic stretches on over time, there is a growing sense of uncertainty, and for many a sense of dread and exhaustion. In this fluid and dynamic situation, we are unable to predict too far into the future. At the same time, we are naturally concerned about what direction our lives will take. We like to know ahead of time if our efforts are going to pay off. …


There is a kind of magic that happens when improvisers co-create an imagined reality so seamlessly it seems hard to believe it is happening on the spot. Players achieve this by agreeing to a set of practices — radical acceptance of what others offer, unwavering support of one another, emotional engagement as the gateway to rational story-making, elevating others’ ideas, to name a few — that are uniquely effective ways to get on the same page with other people not only in the creative space of an improv scene but in real-life human interactions. And in this cultural moment, as…


“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away,” wrote science fiction writer Phillip K. Dick and in these highly unusual times, we are dealing with realities we might at one time have had trouble believing. Wearing masks. Staying away from stores and public gatherings. These acts of civic duty were not on our radar when we rang in 2020, nor were schools and work pivoting to online at mind-boggling speed. Even with the pandemic taking nearly 100,000 American lives, there are many around the country who struggle with the reality of it. It is a…


This week was the longest month of 2020 so far. With head-spinning changes in our daily “normal” as the guidelines for how to protect against the highly contagious COVID-19 shift in response to evolving information and losses starting to deeply register in our personal and public consciousness, the emotions and tension can be exhausting. There is grief for the world as it used to be and unanswered questions about how we will shape things going forward. …


Before Isaac Newton was a “Sir” or a famous scientist, when he was a student at Cambridge University in England a pandemic called the Bubonic plague shut down cities completely, forcing him to return home for almost a year. While hanging in his backyard, where the wi-fi was lousy and he had not gotten the hang of Google Hang, he observed an apple falling from a tree.

“Great, I wonder if there are any laws about this ‘falling’ situation” he thought.

But he couldn’t look up anything about the forces of gravity. The wi-fi was the worst, because the internet…

judetrederwolff

LCSW, CGP, MT & Certified Practitioner of Applied Improvisation, consultant/trainer and writer/performer. www.lifestage.org, www.mostlytruethings.com

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