Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Walking in this World—Week 1, Day 3

Today's morning pages were a ramble.

Despite feeling exhausted I failed to sleep last night—my brain was too busy processing multitudes of thoughts. As I finished blogging my intention to head straight to bed, I received a reminder of an application I've been meaning to complete, and that set me off on a spiral of what if's and could I's to busy my already full mind. I ended up going out a walk at 2am to clear my head.

It perhaps serves as a timely reminder that there are more ways I need to look after myself than simply eating well and exercising. The brain (perhaps more importantly) needs care and attention too.

The next task of the week couldn't be more opportune.  It is, quite simply:

Do Nothing
This task asks that you do nothing—and that you do it thoroughly for fifteen minutes. Here is how to set your nothing up. First of all, cue up a piece of music that is both calming and expansive. Secondly, lie down. Stretch out on your back, fold your arms comfortably, and let your imagination speak to you. Close your eyes and follow your train of thought wherever it leads you into your past, into your future, into some part of your present that you have not been able, due to busyness, to fully enough inhabit. Listen to the music and to your thoughts gently unspooling and repeat to yourself gently this simple phrase, I am enough… I am enough… Stop striving to be more and appreciate what it is you already are.
Sounds like bliss. Had you asked me to do this several years ago my inner cynic might have sniggered at you then retreated. Right now, I can't wait to go home and give it a go. In fact I'm sorely tempted to sprawl out on the library floor and do nothing right here, right now!

Try it.

Do you meditate? If you do, what are your experiences? I used to take regular mental pauses—after yoga classes, during drama workshops, sessions at the Buddhist centre—but I've gradually lost the way of it and made less and less time as my life has become full and busy again.

I'll leave you with a snap from my morning walk into town—my very own ‘View from the Bridge’, if you will.  Today I captured the historic titan crane; the pyramid entrance to the SECC; the Armadillo; the ever-rising structure of the new Hydro arena; Glasgow University's spire in the distance; a juxtaposition of eras and industries reflected in the still of a calm, silent Clyde.


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Walking in this World—Week 1, Day 2

I have a million and one things I should write about tonight.

I should update on a project I've been working on that is finally nearing fruition; I should talk about the three different routes I walked today; I should give a full run down of last night's Stage to Page workshops at the Playwrights' Studio where I observed some fascinating new work; I should write all about my experience today of being interviewed and broadcast live for the first time on BBC Radio Scotland's Culture Café in response to my petitioning and campaign to scrap impending arts taxes; I should reflect on the conversation I had with an old lady about the Garden Festival as we crossed the Bells Bridge on my walk back from BBC's riverside studios; I should mention the kindness of old theatre colleagues who still look out for me 10 years after we finished working together; I should talk about witnessing a robbery that happened so quickly no one could react; or I should write a whole post dedicated to how much I loved An Appointment With the Wickerman tonight, and how proud I am to have so many talented friends that make such brilliant theatre.

I keep saying should, but I'm so utterly exhausted that I am collapsed on the sofa and intend to do only one more thing today:



Monday, 27 February 2012

Walking in this World—Week 1, Day 1

What the Hell, I Might as Well!

Week 1, Day 1.  Here we go again!

I got up this morning, wrote my morning pages, made pancakes (from scratch) for breakfast then caught the bus into town, got off part of the way there and took a brisk, crisp 30 minute walk through Kelvingrove Park.  I walk twice or thrice a day in bursts of 20-40 minutes depending on where I am and what I'm doing, but as part of Walking in this World I intend to vary my routine and do something different every day.  The park is one of my favourite spots though; expect lots of mentions and photographs in the coming months.

We're presented with a nice, gentle task to ease us in to the first week, which Julia introduces by saying:
Often we experience a sense of powerlessness because we do not see any direct action that we can take to concretely alter our sense of being stuck.
Oh so true.  I have a tendency to get stuck in a mind-rut, coming back again and again to a feeling of helplessness as I'm unable to pursue some of the big-picture things I'd like to be doing while I'm financially constrained.  This task serves as a timely reminder that there are in fact lots of things I can still do whenever I feel like it that will spur me back into creative action.  It's aptly named What the hell, you might as well to remind you you can just do something creative for the sake of it.

Here's my list of 20 small things I could do whenever I feel stuck or unmotivated:
  1. Write a poem in my journal.
  2. Bake biscuits.
  3. Bake cakes.
  4. Bake anything!
  5. Share my baking with others.
  6. Make a pot of soup.
  7. Prepare my favourite meal.
  8. Make a photo album or collage (I don't have any at all!).
  9. Clean up my old SLR cameras from my photography studies.
  10. Take more pictures.
  11. Re-pot my Madagascan dragon tree.
  12. Read a play.
  13. Write sketches for fun.
  14. Act out the sketches.
  15. Send postcards to friends.
  16. Go postal, write long-hand letters to friends.
  17. Make a playlist of my favourite music.
  18. Light candles and listen to my playlist.
  19. Practice holding my authoharp (zither, pictured below) and strum the few chords I know until I get better.
  20. Sing!
I deliberately didn't include a few of my favourite free things to do such as brewing coffee, walking in the park, visiting the library or walking round the galleries as I already do these things most days.

What would your 20 small creative actions be?  How about picking 5 for starters and sharing them in the comments below?


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Walking in this World — New beginnings

Hello blog readers… long time no speak!  :-)

A couple of months have flown by since Debbie and I shared our Artist's Way journey through these blog pages.  It was an exciting time for us both; a period of creativity, productivity, projects, change, highs and a few lows and struggles too.  For me personally it was the period in which I fundamentally shifted how I view myself and my artistic desires; I stopped feeling ‘ashamed’ of being an actor and writer and focussed instead on actually acting and writing.  And as a result, I found work—I made work.  Those 12 guided weeks helped me to address several of my artistic frustrations, and I found a much healthier balance—not work/life, but art/life/work balance.  I've kept up my artist's dates (I've only missed 1 in 2 months), I go on my daily walks round the park or the city, and I write my morning pages (or evening pages) every day.

So, a few months on…where are we?

Well, we're back for more!

Some time after writing The Artist's Way Julia Cameron followed up with Walking in this World; a next-step 12 week programme designed to take us further along the path of our artistic journeys.  Our creative cluster has expanded, and this time we've been joined by actor Mandi over in Melbourne, Australia—yes, we've gone global!—and we may have another artist joining us this week too. This morning Debbie, Mandi and I grappled with modern technology (Google+ and Skype) to have our first creative cluster prior to kicking things off tomorrow.  We talked a bit about where we are at present with our work and current projects, where we think it is leading and what we hope to achieve in these 12 weeks.

It's exciting—the first day of a new term at school!

Lots has been happening with me since I last blogged.  I did write a huge spiel about it all then realised how long the post was becoming, so I've cut it out and instead replaced it with a short list of what I've been up to.  I'll refer back to it and fill you in as relevant over the coming weeks.

  1. My playwriting mentorship;
  2. Touring my play 2h:9m:37s which finished last week;
  3. Possibility going to the Edinburgh Festival;
  4. Acting work;
  5. Directing work;
  6. A new business and a new project;
  7. Campaigning for the arts;
  8. Creative writing course/studying;
  9. Major lifestyle/health improvements;
  10. Simplifying my life ready for change.
I'll leave it at that for now.  I'm off to re-read Week 1's chapter in preparation for the tasks ahead.