ACT 2021 Featured Capstone:
Executive Speaking Coach, Communications Consultant, Actor – Chicago, Illinois, USA
Who did your Capstone Project serve ?
My project was designed to serve my clients in the tech world, my acting students and my family and caregivers as we dealt with my father's passing this year.
What was the suffering that your project addressed?
My project addressed the stress of loss whether that be physical loss, loss of work, loss of confidence, or loss of compassion for oneself.
How did this project address that suffering?
As part of a Compassionate Conversations Series, I designed and delivered workshops in the corporate world to investigate and work with triggers, both personally and professionally. With my acting students, I introduced concepts of compassion to enable them to overcome nervousness, support each other, and create roles from a place of non-judgment. Within my family, I was able to bear witness to my father's death in a way I never expected, empathize with and support the healthcare workers who were part of our journey, and heal relationships with estranged family members through compassionate conversations.
Who was your audience and how many people participated?
My audience was a diverse group of wonderful people from across the globe, from 18-94 years of age, who were open, courageous, and curious. The trigger workshops were held 7 times with intimate groups of 10 people or less. 72 actors stretched themselves in classes of no more than 12 people. The family impact included 50-100 people and continues to grow, a person at a time.
How was the project delivered (the format)?
I facilitated my corporate workshops online in highly interactive zoom sessions (2-4 hours each). I spent the month of August with my family in Pennsylvania, donning PPE to visit my Father in skilled nursing for the last month of his life, being the support person my Mother needed, and I created a zoom celebration of his life after he passed that brought us all together. I delivered acting classes both virtually and in person, and performed (as an actor) on NBC, calling on compassion as a "superpower" on the set as cast and crew were returning to work and uncertain of safety protocols prior to vaccine availability.
What was the reported impact on or feedback from participants? On yourself?
Participants of the trigger workshop valued identifying triggers and their origins. They especially appreciated a writing exercise that consisted of identifying one's physical, emotional, mental, and nervous system responses, naming their stories, and openly sharing them with others. The impact was a greater understanding of where others may be coming from, the internal and external stories we tell that lead to triggered responses, and tangible tools for growth. The actors had performance breakthroughs, learned to coach each other in healthy ways and to more fully embrace the uncertainty of being an artist.
I learned to be much more gentle with myself, to ask for support when I needed it, to reach out to my colleagues at ACT for witnessing, compassion and reminders to put into practice the tools we were exploring, everywhere.
How has the ACT Program helped you become an Ambassador of Compassion?
I especially love and appreciate that ACT is not a one-size-fits-all program, but an ever-evolving way of being with myself and others in the world. I get to walk my talk, and listen with my heart anywhere and as often as possible.
What advice would you give to someone who's considering participating in the ACT Program?
Embrace the time for yourself even if you have doubts, it is all welcome. The program can be a touchstone in more ways than may immediately be apparent to you. If you feel the tug, follow it.