Improv for a Better Life!

I grew up taking acting and improv classes. I grew up in a world filled with stages, props, costumes and wild imaginations offered up by teachers, classmates and playwrights.

Having that as the backdrop and foundation from which I grew and came to be a woman has served me well. I learned early on that putting yourself out there with only your body and voice and imagination creates magical moments that can create laughter, tears and new ideas about life. I learned that you can make mistakes on stage and keep rolling because the show must go on. It was such an amazing life lesson to learn at such a young age. We all make mistakes, don’t say what we want when we want and yet, life must go on. But after practice and time you begin to get out of your head and just say what you want when you want and not be attached to the outcome. Improv teaches you that.

These lessons learned on stage start to seep into our being and go with us wherever we go. Many people think that acting is just about the show, about the spotlight, about being an extrovert… it can be, but it can also be about a world of self-exploration, especially the study and practice of improv. Yes, if you’re an introvert, practicing the art of improv will definitely move you beyond your comfort zone, but it’s for you, too.

Because improv is about learning to be comfortable in your own skin.

It’s about learning to trust your choices and go with them. It’s about seeing that a mistake is only a mistake in your mind and can be turned into something magical on stage and in life, too.

Practicing improv helps you learn to connect with people by listening and accepting their choices and building off of them. It builds life skills that you can take into any conversation or life experience. Learning to say, “yes, and…” can help you build stronger relationships in the office and at home.

That’s why Angela and I developed an improv class that’s not really about the acting but about using this amazing exercise to help us find the real story in all of us. Using improv exercises allows us to tap into our truth and our gifts. It helps us find the place within all of us that says, “Yes!” to life, to our ideas, to our wants, to our gifts.

It’s something everyone should explore at least once in their life.

Our 8-week workshop will be offered at The Acre Orlando starting January 12, 2016. Classes will be held every Tuesday evening from 7-9PM through March 1. You can sign up for the class by visiting AmplifyYourConfidence.com.

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Angela & Toni cracking up at The Acre Orlando. 

by Nicolle Masters (“Toni Vizard” on VC Podcast)

Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

Photo by Aih

Photo by Aih

Toni and I recently recorded an episode on aging and, since that incredibly vulnerable and honest conversation, I have been really focusing on how I respond to my feelings of inadequacy.

As a feminist, it almost feels like a betrayal of my values to be going through a funk about my time on the calendar. The reality of the mirror, however, does not preclude strong women from this experience.

You know what, let’s lay it on the line: Many of us have been programmed to believe that a considerable amount of our worth is wrapped up in our looks. It doesn’t make us weak or less powerful, it’s just an admission of our struggle against our upbringing.

I, for one, don’t think we should gloss over the insecurities of women who are fighting every day to overcome that programming to be who we are in our hearts today.

So I share this with you.

Some days, it sucks to pass by the mirror and not recognize the woman looking back.

Sometimes, I have to consciously focus on not caring about what I look like to get through the day.

Oftentimes, I avoid the mirror in order to pull my energy from my heart, rather than my narcissism.

Yup, I said narcissism. Because that’s what it means when we think the world cares so much about how we look that they don’t judge us on our actual merit.

We have to acknowledge our insecurities to be comfortable enough to tackle them. Shame doesn’t solve anything.

So, ladies, I say we embrace every wrinkle, every laugh line, every enlarged pore as a sign of our continual growth!

If we stayed the same, we would be fulfilling that deepest fear of the perpetual awkward teen, 20-something, etc… We’ve out grown that stage!

We’re trying! We know our worth cannot be about our outward appearance!

But let’s be gentle on ourselves as we learn to accept this transition. Joy doesn’t mean there was never a little hiccup.

Joy is the where we’re going and every second we touch it is a triumph!

Love to all,

Angela

 

Don’t Break Down on the Road to Self-Improvement

It’s really easy to get stuck in the “How can I be better?” mindset and forget to celebrate the beautiful, wonderful things about you that make you…well, YOU! As a chronic self-improver, I am guilty of this most days. But today is different.

Why today? Because I just finished reading Gay Hendricks’ The Big Leap, recommended by the inspiring Marie Forleo.

I devoured Gay’s book; he offers so many useful tips about finding your strengths and purpose necessary to living in your “Zone of Genius” that I had multiple “Aha!” moments. Now, I understand that that isn’t anything new to us who collect Don Miguel Ruiz, Deepak Chopra, Steven Pressfield, and Dale Carnegie books like they’re cute little plush toys with beady black eyes, but something clicked in a way that’s never clicked before.

I already possess that magical talent or unique gift that I’ve been thinking I’ll find when I ‘get better.’

My special-ness been a part of me since I was a child. It was even cultivated because of the hardships that I endured,  not despite them. Now, that’s a tough one to admit.

One of the most profound moments of my life was at six or seven years old (?) when my mother caught me chanting in the mirror, “Who do we love? Angela! Angela! Angela!,” and proceeded to kick the chair out from under me with her response of “Stop being so vain.” Um, what?! I was a baby!

That nano-second of a rejection has whispered in the back of my mind for thirty-plus years. “Don’t love yourself. Don’t think your pretty or smart, or any other thing that is good, because you’re being vain,” slips in every time I start to feel good about myself.

Gay Hendricks helped me see that that experience (among countless others) created a glass ceiling for my level of acceptable success, love, and abundance. It caused me to perceive myself as weak; to feel as if I had to get better, be better…but not too much better.

I’m not going to lie, the journey is going to be difficult, fraught with hair-triggers and landmines decades old, but I’m going to start celebrating the aspects of me that are strong and beautiful. I’m going to embrace the fully human, connected Angela who believes that she is worthy.

I want to share this tiny, amazing revelation with anyone who, like me, gets caught in the feeling that you’re not good enough as you are…Heck! Not just “good enough,” but awesome, inspirational, powerful, and abundantly capable of having your wildest dreams come true!

There is tremendous worth in striving to be a kinder, more loving, healthier, more successful, etc. person, but don’t follow that road with a map that leaves out the pit-stops of self-love and recognition.

Celebrating who you are isn’t vanity – it’s expressing the perfect interconnectedness of all of us. So, I say, be vain! Love yourself!

Who do we love?…

Welcome: This is Vagina Chronicles Podcast!

Toinette Vizard and Angela Stoner are so excited to bring Vagina Chronicles Podcast to you.

They have been addressing women’s issues for nine years. It started in 2005, when they produced a play called, To Silence Me is To Silence…, which broke the silence of one childhood sexual abuse survivor. That collaborative experience sealed the deal for Angela and Toinette on the love they had for working together. In 2011, they co-produced with multiple artists and writers a performance art piece, Breaking Plates, which brought many women together to share their stories of surviving rape and sexual abuse. And in 2013, Toni and Angela came together with their Producer, Pavel Amelishko, to bring the world Vagina Chronicles Podcast.

This show is the love-child of Angela and Toni. They bring VC Podcast to you with the intention of making the lives of women easier. They bring women’s issues of all kind, to the forefront, and they address them in a way that will bring tears to your eyes in one moment and send you rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter, in the next moment. They inspire, empower, educate, and entertain in every episode.

They bring experts to you so that you can learn from the best when it comes to things you really want to know about.

They talk about tough topics that might be hard for you to address with your friends or family like sexual abuse, rape, substance abuse, and domestic violence.

Toni and Angela will also talk about things that are on the lighter side of life – like managing unruly hair growing in the wrong places, personal integrity, and gratitude, to name a few.

They are looking forward to inspiring millions of women to be who they are meant to be,and to giving you knowledge about things that will change your life forever…for the better.