Yes And… The Improv Game of Life

My life is the “Yes and…” improv game, just on a really life size scale.

Here’s how you play Yes and…

An improv player makes eye contact with another team member and makes a statement such as: I found a box on the road. Player two says Yes and…we should open it. The conversation goes back to the first person. Yes and…lucky I have a wire to open the lock. Yes and… it’s full of seeds. Yes and… we plant them. Yes and… we grow this wild garden that attracts birds, bees and butterflies like crazy. Yes and…the university reaches out because they want to study our plants. Yes and… we get a Nobel Prize (I don’t even know if you can get a Nobel Prize for plants, but whatever! It’s improv!) This can go on and on, often ending in hilarity with wild exaggerations. One of the rules in improvisational theater is to accept all ideas offered by the other players. There is no bad idea. I have said this over and over in the years that I taught theater. It’s incredibly entertaining to watch young players build exaggerated scenes.

With a good attitude it’s fun to look at my life and reflect on all the Yes ands…. I have experienced. Just like the improv games I think there may have been a couple of bad ideas but from those came experiences and lessons.

Round one: the pre-yes and…

Some of my yes ands…. did not include my actual participation. My parents were playing yes and… I was just along for the ride, immigrating to Canada with my parents. I just bobbed along with them, letting them navigate these big cultural changes. I didn’t have input. I didn’t get to say yes. Or no. Or much of anything really. I was just a small human. Grade school was not terrific but I wrote one really cool story and drew one really cool picture. Yes and… felt more like And so…?

Round two: the awkward teen years

Pimples, insecurity and sugar cravings popped like a pack of Jiffy Pop. I didn’t feel successful at much and my marks didn’t reflect any kind of academic accomplishments but I kept trucking. Friend: You’re kinda good at art. Me: Yes and so…? Friend: You should take more art classes. More art classes helped my sad below average-average. Mr. Davies, a fantastic English teacher offered: You should run for student council? Me: Yes and… that’s a terrible idea! But, for what ever reason I did. Maybe because I couldn’t say no. I got on the student council. I think I made it because I was the only one who ran in my selected category. I was the advertising rep. This was a not so fancy title for “I made a lot of posters.” We did all the promo for all the events at school. How this teacher talked me into a leadership role I would never have taken otherwise I still don’t understand. But I didn’t say no. I gave the smallest Yes and… and that was good enough for him. I was shy and quiet but that small yes and… got me working on a team, talking to small groups, sitting on the stage and having people look at me—just because I was sitting up there not because I was doing anything charismatic or wild.

My marks verified that University wasn’t really something I could get to. I had an average that sat around 64%. Barely the required GPA for admission. Friend: Are you applying for university? Me: Yes and…. I’m also looking for a job. We’ll see what happens. However, I got in! Shocking. Now what? Like for real. Now what?

My post secondary yes and…experiences

University was a squeaky, scary, unsteady, roller coaster ride of learning about me, about studying, about filling out forms, negotiating with professors, appeasing professors, finally understanding time management, waiting at the crack of dawn on the hallway floor in the Education Building to be the first (or third in line) to get the class I wanted as soon as the registration desk opened. So different than today where everything is on line. I was barely passing. Sometimes failing. Often crying. However in all of that screaming and terror on the metaphorical roller coaster of higher education I noticed that I was pretty good at visual art. Different friend: you’re good at art, like good at art. Me: Yes and… I’m going to change my major to art. That came and went with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a group exhibit at a major gallery. This degree was followed with a degree in education. Yes and… I was going to be a teacher.

Adult yes and…

Somewhere between degree number one and degree number two I said yes to a marriage proposal and… then a divorce. I was hired with a permanent teaching job. Boss: I see your major area of focus is visual art. Could you teach drama and direct the school productions? Me: Yes and… I learned a lot in those early years. I knew nothing about theatre but found myself on scaffolding moving stage lights, programming light boards, running microphones, making costumes, writing scripts, designing sets, directing. Yes and…the learning curve was steep. Relationships with the theatre kids have lasted a lifetime. No regrets.

How yes and… got me writing

Somewhere in the middle of being the high school drama teacher and theatre director I approached David to help me. Seems like he was also playing the yes and… game. We worked well together. He asked if I would write a script with him. Of course I said yes and… We wrote several more after the first one. All different genres, playing with creativity, figuring out our script writing palette. The film industry slowed down in our province. David changed the question. Would you like to write a book? Yes and… We wrote four. And in a little while we will have written five.

Relationship yes and…

I won’t go into the details of all the relationship garbage I waded through. In fact I’d say there were a few times yes and… should have been fuck no… Again, learning. Boundaries. Values. Self esteem. Eventually I met my current partner. I gave a solid yes and… We went on one date. I didn’t year from him again. That was okay. I was in a “no chase” stage. Eighteen months later he asked me out again. I said yes and… I now understand what a stable relationship feels like. It’s exactly what I need.

Yes and…some extra stuff

As an independent woman I carried on. Career. Home. Decisions. Eventually it came time to deal with my old dwelling. I built a new house, not sure how finances would come together, but they did. I’m at the tail end of my teaching career with an official five years left. All my yes ands…. are funneling towards a post teaching life. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like but for now I’m cool with the ambiguity.

Consenting and carrying on

My learn-as-I-go life of building confidence, compassion and the tenacity to keep standing up every time I fell down has brought me to this moment. And this moment will take me to the next. Not every yes and… has been spectacular or fun. Some have been fucking scary but the point is I kept on. Sometimes I didn’t even know what I needed but I accepted the offers. Sometimes it turned out my yes and… was a terrible, toxic idea. The good thing about yes and… is that those three little dots give an opportunity to change the outcome, to divert.

The ultimate intention of the game Yes and… is to accept all suggestions given and spin them in the best way possible to create a really cool story. Perhaps this is the point of life. We don’t really know what we will be offered but no matter what we should try to move forward. Shonda Rhimes (again with Shonda) wrote a whole book on this idea in Year of Yes. She’s right. Just say yes. I’m looking to future opportunities to saying yes and… whole heartedly, steered in the directions I’m supposed to go by the Creator.

What is it they say: They only things we regret are the chances we didn’t take? Something like that. I think they also said yes and… a lot!

As always, thanks for reading lovelies.

P.S. Sorry for all the yes and… repetition.

P.P.S. That one good story I wrote and that one good drawing I did…well guess that turned out okay.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: