Creativity, Transparency & Courage

This above all: To thine own self be true. – William Shakespear … [Photo by Matthias Wagner]

Next month, I’m planning to go to my hometown of Winnipeg to visit friends, family, and take in some of the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival. I’m quite looking forward to it!

Being at the Fringe Threatre Festival is going to be interesting. I haven’t performed in nearly two years. I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. Part of me misses being on stage, and part of me doesn’t. When I take in live theatre, though, I tend to start thinking about diving into creating and performing again.

That said, I don’t really have a burning desire to get back on the stage again and perform. Well, not really, but maybe a little? It’s complicated – but I’ll try to explain what I mean.

Acting for the sake of acting and getting deep into a role has never really been, shall I say, my impetus for getting involved in theatre. When I think about it, I don’t think it was ever my true desire to be an actress. I just sort of fell into it, and then went along for the ride. And I’m glad I did, because I believe it to be a very important part of my life journey! But more than anything, I came to see theatre creation, production, and performance as a means of personal self-expression.

I never got serious trying to expand my threatre career because the real reason I was in it was to use theatre as the medium to express and explore myself and ideas – and this was done primarily by creating, producing, and performing my own independent plays.

And so, it’s not performing or acting in and of itself that I miss – although it can of course be quite fun! But rather, I miss the process of creating a piece and bringing it into the world, sharing it with people, and interacting with an audience. I like knowing that I’ve made an impact on someone else’s life.

I’m not sure if I’ve given up on my past threatre career just yet. (Although it hasn’t really been that much of a career for the past 8 years or so, since I haven’t been deeply involved in it for quite some time.) My last show, which I only performed in one city, was vastly underdeveloped bu the time opening came around, and of course I bombed my opening performance and got a horrendous review based on that horrendous opening show.

That’s been a pattern I’ve had for a while:

  • Have lofty ambitions for a show.
  • Book a slot in Fringe festivals when the play is merely an idea.
  • Work on creating the show for the booked performances… but then inevitably get stuck in the creative process.
  • Fall WAY behind schedule because I hold myself to really high expectations and get overly critical of everything I write.
  • Scramble to get the show ready, somehow, in time for the pre-scheduled performance date so that I don’t have to bear the embarrassment of cancelling the show and losing all the money I had already invested in festival fees and props and costume pieces and advertising, etc.
  • Focus way too much on the production details (like sound, costume, poster and flyer design, etc.) because I find that part so much easier and more grounding than the difficult process of trying to be a creative genius and prove to the world that I have something important to say. Plus, it makes me feel like I’m actually making progress and being productive.
  • Calm myself down from stressing myself out (like you wouldn’t believe) and somehow pull a performance out of my ass on opening night.
  • Kick myself over and over post-opening-night show for missing various key points that I had intended to make due to getting too nervous (not to mention being underprepared.)
  • Get depressed about the inevitable review from that horrendous premiere performance. (I’ve almost always had the wondrous ‘luck’ of having a reviewer attend the very first performance EVER of a new production or at a theatre festival… and of course the very first performance rarely goes according to plan.)
  • Try to continually improve and tweak the show throughout its entire run.
  • Stress myself out during the festival.
  • Mop up my splattered self-esteem (and you can image how much of a mess it can get when one’s own grandmother expresses disappointment over that bad aforementioned review and refused to see one’s show because of it).
  • Reassure myself that I’m capable of so much better.
  • Remind myself that, although the show was vastly underprepared and nowhere near my initial vision and ambition, it was still something that many people were touched by (at least as the show continued to improve).
  • Tell myself that there’s no way I can let that be my last production because if I were ever to “retire” (so to speak), my ego wants to go out with a bang. i.e. a show that’s garnered tons of praise and wonderful reviews.

… And that pretty much brings us back to the present – or, to just under two years ago when my last show wrapped up at the end of July, 2017.

Every so often, I’ll find myself thinking about potential show ideas that I could, just maybe, attempt for next time. Although next time I want to ensure that I’m beyond prepared. That would certainly be a refreshing breath of air!

One of the show ideas I’ve tossed around in my head involves a format I’ve never done in my life, and it sort of terrifies me: Portray myself on stage. Not a character, not a work of fiction. Portray my real self and share stories about life. Share my actual thoughts and fears and demons. You can see why this might terrify me.

Part of me desperately wants to attempt this type of show. I’ve never done anything like it, ever. I have no idea if it’d be any good. Have I even led an interesting enough life to warrant such a show? But the very fact that this scares me tells me that I should probably explore it.

If I did a show based on my life (it’d be a storytelling style play, I believe), I ask myself if I’d have the courage to be blatantly transparent about my self and my life. I truly want to. But would I have the balls to do that if I knew my family would be there in the audience?

Ultimately, I’m pretty sure this is something I’d like to explore. I don’t have a specific idea as of for the theme I’d want to explore for this type of show (aside from daring myself to be as authentic and transparent as I could be), nor for the stories I would share. But it’s definitely something that’s been on my mind, and I’m so curious to discover what kind of show I’d come up with if I were to pursue this idea.

I suppose I could consider this bog post as a means of “leaning into it” – “it” being the idea for this storytelling show in which I’d portray my unabashed and unadulterated self. Hmmm…

How comfortable are you in sharing your true self with the world? What stories would you be afraid or nervous to tell? What kind of stories do you think others would relate to best? …And especially: What kind of stories would you love to hear? <3

This above all: To thine own self be true.

– William Shakespeare

More Awesome NOW: Overcoming Procrastination [June 2019 Challenge]

Overcoming Procrastination: More Awesome NOW… [Photo by Juli Moreira]

I mentioned in my last blog post that I’d loooove to post here in my blog at least once a month. It’s been about 1.5 months since that last post, so all considering that’s not too bad. But still, it’s obvious that I tend to procrastinate when it comes to writing and this blog.

Well, it just so happens that right now I’m participating in a 30-day procrastination challenge! It’s a group challenge for the member’s of our Conscious Growth Club (CGC). Participation isn’t mandatory, and those who choose to participate can define their commitment to this challenge in any way they wish.

My approach to participating in this challenge is as follows: I made a list of all the things I’ve been putting off for quite some time, or simply tend to put off in general. The items on the list are all over the place. It ranges from some basic chores that I’d like to attend to; sorting, organizing, and decluttering of all kinds; mending clothes or sewing on buttons that have fallen off; getting an eye exam, and then getting new glasses; reading (I love reading, but just tend to put it off); and of course, writing in this blog! And the list goes on. My list is pretty long. The challenge I’ve given myself is to work on something from my list each day in June. And hey, every day I’m making progress! And that’s great to see. 🙂

As of today, a couple other CGC members also kicked off a blogging challenge where the goal is to write and post a blog entry once a week. Heck, I’m thinking of combining both challenges – so if I participate in the blog challenge and write/publish a post on one day, I figure I can also count that towards the overcoming procrastination challenge too since blogging is also on my to-do list for that challenge.

One thing I love about participating in challenges is the accountability factor. This is probably a reason why I did so well in school, too – being graded on assignments, projects, and tests is a form of accountability. Having that external structure really tends to kick my ass in gear. I suppose I felt a desire to prove myself and my potential. Plus, I tend to have a little bit of a competitive streak in me, and that inspires me to keep up and excel in a challenge – and to hopefully come out on top.

When I was in middle school and high school, I won sooo many awards for highest achievement in various subjects. I was such an academic nerd and over-achiever in that area. But, without external structure, pressure, and system of accountability, I tend not to be nearly as motivated to really push myself.

The ultimate goal, I think, is to shift one’s perspective so as to be more naturally inclined or motivated to take action without that external structure and outside pressure, let alone praise and accolades. (I love praise and accolades, but I think there’s possibly a danger in that being a sole factor of motivation because then it can become the sole source of one’s sense of self-worth and self-esteem.) I believe participating in these monthly challenges will really help me (and others) to flex discipline and action muscles, as well as develop, strengthen, and maintain internal motivation and ambition. And that in turn can help to rebuild a sense of self-esteem. How awesome is that?

Last month, for May 2019, our monthly challenge in CGC was centered around fitness and exercise. I followed that one through 100%, too. In fact, I’ve participated in numerous health and fitness challenges over the past decade and a half (or so), and have been very successful in sticking to it.

One area that presents a true challenge for me, however, is that of creativity and expressing my unique truth and vision out into the world. That seems much more daunting to me. And I suppose it should– the perceived risk in putting myself out there seems oh so much higher. (But then I wonder… is it really? I guess it’s all a matter of perception.) Either way, I’m really excited about where I’ll find myself by the end of this year and beyond.

Right now I’m caught up in a semi-creative project (it involves a lot of writing, but it’s “work” and not a personal project), and I don’t think I’ll get that finished until at least September. So in the meantime, I feel like it’s unrealistic to put another creative writing project on my plate on top of what I’ve already got going work-wise. But once that mega work project is over and done with, I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into some deep creative work. And this time, I really think I’ll succeed.

I actually feel pretty confident in my ability to put in the effort on a deep creative project and to stick with it through til the end. I haven’t felt that sense of self-assurance in myself in a while. …It’s an exciting feeling to have!

What about you? What motivates you to kick your own ass in life? What are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to achieve? And how successful have you been in holding yourself accountable? Are you ready to create more awesome NOW?

And with that, my dear friend, I’ll you with some words for thought:

The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure.

If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.

― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart