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Fairwell Oedipus, You Were a Fine Dog

It was 4:30 yesterday afternoon. I was in good spirits, having just completed a successful “Difficult Conversations” training for the Johnson County Disability Support team, when I got the text from my granddaughters: “Oedipus is dead.” My good spirits disappeared and my heart sank. Oedipus, my son’s family’s miniature schnauzer, only nine years old, dead. Some neighborhood dogs had gotten loose and killed him.

Oedipus was the sweetest dog I have ever known. Not the smartest, nor the cutest, nor the biggest nor the bravest, but the sweetest. He loved to cuddle. He would sit on my lap indefinitely, lay his head on my chest and gaze lovingly into my eyes. He was just plain sweet. Now he’s gone.

Sheriff’s deputies located the dogs that killed him, and issued the owners a citation. Perhaps they will be more careful in the future, but it won’t bring Oedipus back.

Today I drove up to Glenn and Michelle’s house to visit the place they buried him.

All loving relationships end in pain. If we want to avoid the pain of loss we have to forego the joy of loving. In the end it’s a good tradeoff. We all loved Oedipus, and in his sweet doggy way, he loved us too. Now he’s gone. We miss him.

Thank you Oedipus for the joy you brought into our lives.

Rest in peace.

Who needs improv training?

Who needs improv training? Well me, for one. Although I have been doing improv for over 20 years, I am still learning. Last night at Laughing Matters workshop, I had a wonderful time and learned some neat new stuff.

Meanwhile, I’m able to pass on my expertise to help an ever more diverse clientele.

In the next month we will provide improv based training to:

The Shawnee County, Kansas Sheriff’s Department;

The Vestry at Grace Episcopal Cathedral;


Johnson County Kansas Development Supports; and

Kansas Department of Health and Environment Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention

Who’s next? It could be you! Contact me, What have you got to lose? All our training is unconditionally guaranteed.

Improv Training

From time to time in this space I have tried to explain how we can use improv to improve performance in many professions. But I have seldom seen it better explained than in this blog by my friend Gina Trimarco Cligrow.

I met Gina last Spring when I attended the Applied Improvisation Network’s conference in Baltimore. Now because she has already said it better than I ever could I’m asking you to read what she has written about the power of improv training. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me!

That blog again

I’m Not Stupid

One of Laugh2Learn’s most popular presentations is “Difficult Conversations,” or “Dealing with Difficult People” (Pretty much the same presentation with a different title.) One of the main points in that presentation is “Deal with behaviors, not characteristics.” For example:

  •  Rather than, “You’re rude!” “I don’t like it when you don’t let me finish my sentence.”
  • Rather than, “You’re lazy!” “I don’t think you do your share of the chores.”

Yesterday, it occurred to me that we also need to apply those guidelines to our own self-evaluation. At least twice in one day I did something stupid.

First I sent an email to the department secretary at KUMC where I’m an Adjunct Professor, asking her to verify a phone conference that I had on my calendar for 9:00. Her reply, “That conference was Tuesday. Your next conference is March 5.”

 Needless to say, I felt stupid.

Next I was working with a guest lecturer who had agreed to speak to my web-based class. I sent him the link to get into the virtual class room, and managed to get everything set up just peachy, except that I couldn’t hear him. He could hear me. The little symbol on the screen showed that his mike was working, but I couldn’t hear him. I contacted KUMC’s excellent tech support team and shortly Susan Bailey was in the virtual class room with us. She could hear my guest, and he could hear her, but I could hear neither of them. So . . . it began to dawn on me. Perhaps the problem was with my computer. I turned my speakers on, and suddenly, viola! all was solved.

Needless to say, I felt stupid.

But I’m not! Everyone does stupid things. Everyone.

Thomas Robinson,

Thomas Robinson

star of the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team got a technical foul in the last minutes of a close game. You did something stupid T-Rob, but you’re not stupid.

A good friend with whom I play Scrabble on-line was having an unproductive day. You were having an unproductive day Sue, you’re not worthless.

Recently some Italian Physicists concluded that neutrinos travel faster than light. They have now found an apparent error in their measurement. You made a mistake guys, you’re not stupid.

We all make mistakes. We all do dumb things.

I make mistakes. I do dumb things.

But I’m not stupid!

Am I?


My Friend Flicker

Today I have been feeling a bit of pressure to get some things accomplished, and I even got to my office a bit earlier than usual.

So I’m working away when I happen to glance out my window. (My office window looks out over the porch roof, and I toss bird seed out there for the wild birds and squirrels.) What should I see but a beautiful Northern Flicker, eating seeds. What a handsome fellow.

Northern Flicker

(This is a picture downloaded from the web, not my personal Flicker)

I had to take a moment, relax and just enjoy his beauty. One of the things I noticed is that he was using his tongue to pick up the tiniest seeds and seed fragments. So I sat very still and just watched.
Two things about this experience:
  • You should never be too busy to take just a moment to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.
  • Riding a motorcycle is a lot like being a bird. We envy birds freedom, but have you ever noticed how alert and cautious they are? Riding a motorcycle is a lot like that; you have a wonderful sense of freedom, but you have to be extra alert and cautious if you want to live to ride again.

Wow, how’s that for disparit ideas from a single experience.

Ok, back to work!

Northern Flicker In The Wild

The Joy Of Giving

Last Thursday I had a great experience when I volunteered as a teaching assistant, teaching English as a Second Language at Vida Ministries. It reminded me how much joy there is in giving. Oh, I only gave about 90 minutes of my time, and I was only the assistant teacher in a beginning English class, but I came away feeling refreshed and fulfilled.

Last Saturday, I  gave a 45 minute demonstration of Laugh2Learn’s improv training to the Daughters of the King at Grace Episcopal Cathedral. I was reminded again of how much joy there is in playing. As George Bernard Shaw’s said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” 

But it wasn’t just about playing; we also rediscovered the joy of giving. One of the games we played, a game I almost always play at a Laugh2Learn gig was “Spread The Joy.” In this game we divide into groups of three, designate one person in each group  the “head honcho;” one the “big cheese; and, one the “top banana.” In the first round the head honcho is the boss and sends her minions out into the room to spread the joy by saying something positive to someone. She gives specific instruction — “Find someone who has helped you and tell them how much you appreciate them,” “Find someone wearing blue and tell them how nice they look today.”  After the “head honcho” sends her employees out  the big cheese and finally the top banana take their turn at sending employees to spread the joy. It is a wonderful experience. When we debrief, almost everyone comments on how good it felt to have people say positive things about them, but many always also comment on how much joy there is in paying compliments. .  . giving.

Below is a short clip of Lawrence LEAP playing “Spread the Joy.”  Notice the happiness on the faces not only of those who are receiving compliments, but also on those who are giving.