*End section of my blog post of 2020 – please read Part 1 and Part 2 for the full post.
My son started primary school this September so I now have 5 days a week in which to progress. It’s a new chapter. As you can imagine, the challenge I have is balancing or rather, tilting my time and energy between the three businesses, and still having energy to be there for my family, the house (jeez that pile of dirty washing!), friends and being a parent and staying ‘charged’ myself. I have certainly not mastered it yet – my head can get way overloaded and pulled in so many directions in attempting to navigate the different worlds I am stretched across, with their different terminology, learning / knowledge and ‘to do’ lists, and then at 3pm I’m at the school morphing into being Barnaby’s mum (which by the way can feel icky inside as I try to switch off my ‘just get another thing’ done mind at 2.30pm)!!
I really feel like I’m starting my 40s as a beginner. A beginner in being a mum (now of a school-aged child), in being a UW Partner, in being a LAMDA teacher, being self-employed and learning how to grow the community theatre company of my dreams. Yes my life up until this point has prepared me but turning 40 feels like a rebirth, a blank slate. In some ways, this is tough on my ego – I identified as a successful well-paid drama teacher before Barnaby was born. Now I’m some sort of splurge of many worlds, over spilling them all! All I can do is work towards the death of the ego, ie. of identifying and judging myself in that way, and do my best to honour the opportunities I now have in life, count the blessings and keep re-finding the faith to trust in the process of my life.
I received the budda doodle above on the 21st October and it reminded me I had to come back and finish this blog which does indeed feel like a bumpy mountain where I’ve touched on lots but not quite got to the bottom (well I suppose I’m trying to get to the top anyway, and that’s more about letting go and becoming lighter!), hopefully it’s still a step forward to share where I’m at right now.
Let’s imagine we are at the top of that mountain the cartoon buddha is climbing, sitting under the tree with the warmth of the sun’s rays on us feeling fulfilled, admiring the view from the top. I’d like to mark the moment by sharing what will probably always be my tippety toppermost quotation of all time whilst sitting up there with you: ‘it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the human eye’. The Little Prince, as I’m sure you know. See with your inner knowing, your visions, your dreams, your heart. We can get there. We will get there. One step at a time – regardless of how untidy that step is (‘Even if you stumble and fall, at least you have moved forward’ Darren Hardy).
Let’s all have patience and keep believing there is a more peaceful, love-based future coming for us all. Right now we are in darkness but see with your heart above all else. ‘True success means winning in your battle with yourself. Those who persist in the pursuit of their dreams, no matter the hurdles, are winners in life, for they have won over their own weaknesses.’ Daisaku Ikeda – the incredible Japanese leader of the SGI Buddhist movement.
In order to keep moving towards the future we all want, let’s all keep asking ourselves Deepak Chokra’s question: ‘When you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask yourself do you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future?’ I have it on a notelet in my office. It’s a tough one to face, especially at moments that demand courage, but it’s important to, otherwise we’ll all just keep perpetuating the same mistakes. Let’s try not to let the past run the show. It is over. The future is truly waiting for us if we stop replaying past garbage. Our mind at times is one very sick bunny that has a caveman’s limitations of fearing anything out of the ordinary. It does not have the answers, only doing something new can bring about something new.
The phrase ‘Be Yourself’ is fascinating to me – I reckon it has many layers. I feel like in some ways I’m more myself than I’ve ever been – I just don’t fit in boxes anymore. I never did but it took giving birth and becoming a mum to force me to break free into the undefined me. I do feel scared but I sense the freedom I have always yearned for – to be myself. It’s having faith I can and that can only comes from trusting there is a Grand Design in which I have a part to play. A part only I (the real ‘I’) can fulfil. A part for which I am needed as if I don’t step up, others won’t step up either and fully play their part and I desperately want us ALL to be heroes in our own stories.
If you’ve read to this point, my sincere thanks. We’ve made it to the end of the blog!!!! Yippee! I hope you feel a sense of achievement too. I’m aware this is a bumper, messy, long blog I’ve written in three sittings trying to pull together strands of thought that have occurred to me amidst everyday life.. I am above all seeking to be brave in the hope that sharing something that is raw is far better than holding back and forever staying stuck. This blog is the toughest one I’ve ever written – I hope in sharing my part-time work triangle there are jewels for both of us in the dirt.
Finally, THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH to everyone who has looked at UW with me, totally regardless of the outcome (!!). I hope you can see that any progress with UW helps me to be in a better position to achieve the Moonstruck Astronaut dream too.
Let’s all remember we each have our own mountains we are attempting to climb, that if we do achieve, in turn, benefit the whole. Loving companions make all the difference as to whether we manage to go the distance. ‘Be kind – for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (aka. climbing their own mammoth triangular mountain!)’ (Socrates).
*Sincerely – if you have read to the end, thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you’d like to leave a comment or a takeaway below, you’d make my day! Much love, Hannah xxx
*Please note to understand this middle section of my ‘All of Me blog’, its probably best to glance over Part 1 if you haven’t read it.
14th October 2020 – It’s 5.23am, I’ve been awake since 3am. My soul is demanding I finish this blog! In July I could only start it. Now it’s time to finish it. ‘Is your dream bigger than your rejections? If it is, maybe it’s time to keep going, instead of giving up.’Found on p182 of Rejection Proof by Jia Jiang, a book I was gifted by the awesome Suzie Oulton, who I’m blessed to have as my mentor in UW. I probably would have thrown in the towel and given up long ago if it wasn’t for her and Nicola at my side, and the consistent support of other UW partners. Suzie gave me ‘Rejection Proof’ very perceptively – I’d recommend reading it, especially if you have to encounter rejection a lot with your work.
Suzie has been an absolute rock in her commitment, passion and focus, whilst compassionate to my struggles and very, very patient! She is steadfast in her belief in me – she sees that I can overcome my obstacles if I keep going. A basic ‘obstacle’ I’m working on is whilst I am left-handed and well-developed in what is considered ‘right-brain’ thinking (intuition, creativity, analysis, emotions – with my English degree, drama and theatre background), I am under-developed in my left-brain thinking /right-hand side connection (logical, methodical, maths, numbers, rational) – and growing my left-brain’s balancing influence is vital for me to make a success of UW. In the bigger picture, I see UW as the divine masculine coming in to protect MA which is my divine feminine side – we all need a balance of both. Another ‘obstacle’ is my mild dyspraxia has also been playing up much more in that I just struggle to remember new learning (especially if it’s factual info) unless I see it written or can hear it repeatedly –my struggle to learn affects my feelings of self-esteem and those dear old self-limiting beliefs can start to kick in, which in turn dramatically reduces my ability to retain information as I just don’t feel good. I can certainly relate more to children who struggle to learn now!! Through all the highs and lows, the nitty gritty of learning, my at times bruised self-confidence, Suzie has been consistently grounded, kind and present – it goes without saying, I’m incredibly grateful to her. There has to be a bigger plan here as Suzie, myself and Nicola coming together for the first time at the WIRE (Women in Rural Enterprise) conference in 2018 was very, very serendipitous and somewhat a miracle.
Turning 40, my journey appears to be truly accepting/ knowing myself – who I really was born to be – and being that authentic self out in the world. Nicola and I have decided our team motto for ‘Team Unicorn’ is ‘Be Yourself’. I saw it on a pebble in July. So simple, so profound. This blog stems from that stone. ‘All of Me’. I’m not conventional. I’ve tried. Oh believe me I’ve tried. ‘What if your difference is your gift to the world?’ rings with truth.
So it’s accepting that and just getting on with it, doing my best to bring my authentic light to a troubled world. ‘I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not’ Kurt Cobain. Woah a bit too strong for me (“You mean you really don’t like cheese and onion crisps too?!”) but powerful… I’d sort of reframe it as Rachel Campbell’s way of putting it it in ‘Light is the New Black’: ‘I am not for them and they are not for me’. In turn, I do my very best to be non-judgmental and accepting of others as I believe we are all doing our best with the knowledge and awareness we have, and we all deserve warmth and compassion. Indeed, we each live in our own unique dream world, crafted by so many influences – and actually our inner soul world is what’s most important to stay connected to to steer us forward. Don Miguel Ruez wrote about this in his poetic way:
I’m on a journey, at the moment I can’t say I’m immune to the opinions and actions of others, nor that I ever will be, but I’m further along the line of shedding illusion than I used to be. I also never want to not listen to wisdom and knowledge from others – ‘no man is an island’ is certainly true of me; it will take many people with all sorts of amazing talents to pull off the Moonstruck Astronaut outdoor show of my dreams – I love cooperation and collaboration, what we’re talking about here is the different sense when someone has a jarring opinion of you and what you do, it’s usually their stuff not your’s. Wayne Dyer often spoke about the fact that Abraham Maslow always taught that it was necessary for the self-actualized individual to be “independent of the good opinion of others.” Becoming self-actualized is the tip of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs triangle – the ultimate goal. Yes there’s a synergy there with my work triangle! I wish to help build a world based in kindness where we are not quick to judge others and we do our utmost to allow others to be themselves and live life their way.
I’d like to share the 3 BIG reasons why I love UW:
1. Equality – ANYONE no matter their background, age, religion, colour, sexual orientation, ANYTHING can access the UW opportunity. It brings together all backgrounds, all professions, all ages – young and old. We are surrounded by systems of inequality, burdened by historical bias. I don’t agree with inequality. It is time for new systems of unbiased access for all to actually emerge. There’s lots of talk about this but I don’t think many businesses manage it. UW is rare. I see in UW hope for the future that there CAN be an equal playing field.
2. Trust – UW is run on trust, on word of mouth, on people power, on recommendation. It’s success is It’s normal people helping other normal people and in turn, enabling everyone to bring more money into their homes through a sustainable long-term business model:
‘When I started this journey a little over 20 years ago, I was hoping to build something worthwhile that had a positive impact on as many people as possible. To create an ethical business which treated all stakeholders fairly – customers, Partners, staff and investors. Our commitment to these core values is at the heart of everything we have achieved together so far.’ (Charles Wigoder – founder and Chief Executive of UW)
The fact UW has managed to avoid being part of mainstream sexy advertising, and actually THRIVE outside of it, is extraordinary and a beautiful testimony that grassroots trust between people is still alive and kicking in this day and age of warped consumerism.
3. Money – To put it bluntly, I wouldn’t need to be doing UW if I could earn an excellent, regular wage as a creative artist. There is so much baggage here that I get lost so it’s best to just let go of what I am not in control of which is the craziness of money biases in current society and focus on the opportunities in life I have been given. Coming across UW is one of them. As a side point, I would be SO elated to help many other creatives thrive through introducing them to the UW bee hive – that’s part of my motivation to succeed. In turn, I’m very much looking forward to supporting whomever wants to join me in being a UW buzzy bee and spread the love. Part of the love is its beautiful accessibility to all. UW is also clever in how it rewards you for your efforts to share. It is also straight forward in how wealth is shared – if you are prepared to face fears and work on dismantling self-sabotaging beliefs (well, in my case… I hope others find it a doddle, and I’ll certainly pass on what not to do!!), be open to the new, learn and improve your skills, take action consistently, you get paid well. To put it simply it’s about a lot of people doing a little work part-time consistently over many years supporting each other. When you make a success of UW the money becomes residual income – which I’d never heard of before. The concept of residual income just makes sense to me and it would hugely support me in being able to co-create Moonstruck Astronaut projects every summer.
Those who have plenty of money can do more good in the world. I am a generous person who sincerely wants to be an agent of love, hope and good on the planet. I know as my income grows, I will be joyously empowered to do more good in the world. I hope in sharing this blog I take some sort of step forward out of the limiting beliefs of the past and into my divine right to abundance, knowing I will pass it on. I want a world where money can be given and received abundantly and freely, with trust and harmony and love. I want a world where good people have lots of money so they can do as much good as possible while they are alive. In my opinion, UW is already helping to birth that world.
So that’s a bit (or rather – a lot!) about why UW is now part of the Moonstruck Astronaut dream. The dream of one day achieving uniting many people of all ages, backgrounds to co-create outdoor theatre on a field near Newport is a vision that won’t leave me. I’m still working towards it but with a much wider view of how to get there than I had when I jumped ship from my drama teaching career into icy waters back in August 2017. Formed through facing the reality that Moonstruck Astronaut CIC can’t pay me much, certainly not regularly, and I don’t want to pressure the theatre company in that way also. I have a mountain to climb (believe me it’s better than swimming in an endless ocean!) and I’ll be beavering away in these three part-time businesses for years.
Please continue to Part 3, the final part of this blog!Thanks so much for reading this far.
15th July 2020 – 11.11am. I’ve put 33 minutes on the timer. It’s the Wednesday before schools break up for the summer holidays in the year of the pandemic. I haven’t written for this blog since November 2019, 9 months ago. Does the question of last year still ring true?
How to start to establish a community theatre company based in Newport, Shropshire whilst managing the demands of being a new parent and maintaining an income?
Yes, Moonstruck Astronaut community theatre projects are still an ultimate goal. However, with the life that’s emerging it’s becoming less of a one-pronged dream and more like a triangle of three. A triangle of three areas to my work life.
In July 2017, I posted this short comment to Facebook: ‘I step out beyond the known to claim the riches of my true potential’ Alan Cohen. Just saw & wanted to post to mark a moment! Hopefully it does for u too, however small or giant the ‘new’ is feeling right now.’
It’s funny I used the word ‘giant’ as that’s featuring in my mind right now. Back then all I knew was I was meant to leap to be there for my son and to move towards my long-held dreams of running a community theatre company.
Three years later, the new life that is emerging from having stepped out beyond the known is still strange to me, and still evolving. Although it now feels much more exciting than scary as I have ground beneath my feet and I can see a mountain, which is actually reassuring.
In order to maintain an income whilst still being flexible enough to be there for my son, and available for Moonstruck Astronaut long-term, I have three part-time businesses that have emerged in answer to the BIG question above:
Moonstruck Astronaut C.I.C., a registered community interest company – formed to co-create yearly outdoor community theatre summer projects (albeit not this summer owing to COVID)
Team LAMDA, Wrekin College – teaching LAMDA speech and drama to solo students alongside Head of LAMDA, the fantastic Lucy Willis who I thank my lucky stars I met in August last year.
Being a Partner with Utility Warehouse (UW) – helping as many people as possible bring more money into their homes, by introducing them to saving or earning money through the FTSE 250 company which Which? magazine have recently named ‘Utility Brand of the Year 2020’.
The image of a triangle started to land in June to help me make sense of this completely different and entirely new set up to my working life. I like the idea of a triangle as it’s solid and stable (‘The triangle is the strongest shape in nature’ – a line from the start of the Boss Baby animation!) and can rotate or tilt in terms of where I’m best to focus my efforts at that moment in time. It also has that sense of a mountain too with being able to achieve Moonstruck Astronaut projects as the peak of success supported and grounded by my other self-employed roles with UW and LAMDA teaching!
I’ll focus in on UW in this blog as I’ve never shared it openly before. Utility Warehouse is the part that is very much out of my comfort zone, where I have been strongly guided by spirit and my soul – my ego mind finds it well tough! It asks me to drop many previous beliefs about myself and money and subconscious judgements. It’s been bonkers what goes on inside my head! However, these amazing wisdoms keep me going – number 1, ‘your mind only knows what you’ve taught it’ (ie. it can be full of bull and inhibit access to so much more wisdom that is beyond the mind) and number 2, ‘your mind is like a parachute, it only works when it’s open’. Too often closed minds miss SO SO SO SO SO much, as I have done in the past, and probably will still, but I’m working on it and I haven’t given up, despite the struggles.
So, here I am, two years in since committing to being a UW Partner and I am seeing the start of success. Basically, Nicola and I, who started the same day, have made it to a milestone (when you receive a box of heavenly chocs!) that marks our team are gathering customers well. We’ve named our team ‘Team Unicorn’ – I can’t get enough of unicorns (as you may have noted!!) and want the figure of a unicorn to be our anchor. Accepting of all in our uniqueness and leaving no one out, shining our authentic lights out into the world.
The UW part of me is still raw and unsure and unsteady, and I’m unsure when this blog will be shared, I hope it will. I always seek to be transparent and honest. Stepping ‘beyond the known’ is stepping beyond society’s invisible psychological rules. It’s BLINKING SCARY. For me it has also been facing a fear of rejection every time you reach out to share, and learning how to roll with a lot of no’s!
UW is different and unique in British society – it can be seen with suspicion as it operates differently. It’s actually very ethical and beautiful in how it shares money, of course why I’m drawn to it and believe in it, and am willing to go through A LOT of pain to honour it. Which I’m hoping will reduce the more it becomes a system for me and I can separate a deep-rooted fear of rejection from the truth that I am a good person and deeply loved no matter what, no matter other people’s reactions are to UW, which is influenced by many factors that are not in my control.
What I do have control of is connecting with my soul to help me last the journey. I take these psychological risks out of a deep sense of love and responsibility to serve, knowing there is a far bigger picture than my fear that seeks to hold me back so much. You have no idea how other people will react to UW, it can feel a big risk to offer it, it can be reacted to like marmite whilst, to me, it tastes like golden honey! I have had some deeply painful experiences, but then you simply have to get back to seeing the bigger picture (and I look at my hot air balloon image again). On the other hand, I’ve had many deeply fulfilling experiences when you do help someone simplify their life and save A LOT, and you know you have blessed their life. There’s still a sense of dirtiness that I am seeking to heal – money subconscious limiting that is not true, but I’ve picked up from the decade and culture I was bought up in. And then of course there’s other’s subconscious limiting beliefs and it can become a quagmire.
I am simply the messenger that it exists, but I still seem to ‘personalise’ the rejection which I really want to improve on – if it’s possible, to lose the emotional charge and just treat it systematically. You go through a certain number of no’s to find a yes sort of thing. It’s always wanting what’s for the highest good of all and letting go when things don’t go as you’d hoped. I was given great advice by Clare Hingott (an actress who is also a leading light in the UW world) who I had a 2 minute chat to at a UW event in Autumn 2018: ‘marry the process, divorce the outcome.’ Great advice I’m still learning.
It is also realising the perceived rejection actually is only in your mind/ego and not the truth of who you are, and working on yourself (see the two wolves story reference at the bottom..). I’m someone who can feel rejected if someone doesn’t take a crisp from me when offered! I’m a highly sensitive, empathic soul who picks up on other’s energies – which has it’s plus points, and it’s challenges.
Stopped at 11.33am
Please go to Part 2 of this blog, which is the next one... (to explain – my trusted friends who’d read it in full fed back it’s just way too long to read in one go!!!)
How to start to establish a
community theatre company based in Newport, Shropshire whilst managing the
demands of being a new parent and maintaining an income?
To answer or at least beat about the bush around this mammoth
question (!) and ideally help me continue to take action, Stage Directors UK
have provided funding for me to be mentored this year. I have luckily found not one but two mentors
who feel right. Both working in the arts in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. They are
Maggie Love, the Artistic Director of Shrewsbury Youth Theatre and Mike Layward,
Artistic Director of DASH (Disability Arts in Shropshire).
As part of the remit of the SD-UK funding, I am to record my
learning and engage in regular self-reflection ‘of whatever kind is going to be
most helpful to me’. I felt starting to
write a blog would be the best way of diarising my thoughts, and making them
accessible and visible to those who can help the theatre company grow and also
be helped by its’ growth.
I’ve made up a rule that I’m to blog after I meet with either
mentor – if I’ve not got much time, I’ll still get something up!
So I had my first meeting with Mike Layward last Thursday. I opened up and shared a lot about me. He’s a great guy who I feel I can be open with and not be judged, in any way really, just held and listened to compassionately – that’s a superior skill not many have in my experience.
It’s been coming to a head that I’d sort of forgotten I’m slightly dyspraxic. I was diagnosed late – when I was 30, studying for my drama teaching PGCE at Goldsmiths. And this part of me has been ‘playing up’ ever since I left Concord College in 2017 to pursue the dream of setting up the theatre company and being a fully present mum. It’s been a bit of a mystery maze and, as I’m so out of my comfort zone, in pretty much all areas of my life (and my energy has been seriously zapped by all this change), I’ve felt overwhelmed regularly and my dyspraxia has played up. I sort of zone out and my brain melts and I feel panicked when my system overloads with too much new stuff. As you can imagine, I’ve not really known what to do with having being diagnosed slightly dyspraxic and I really had just forgotten about it completely and got on with being a drama teacher just accepting I have to work hard behind the scenes. I hadn’t told any of my schools I worked for I was slightly dyspraxic. And I’ve survived this long without needing any help with it.
However, now, with feeling on a mission to birth this theatre company and hopefully help many, I need to admit I really do need help first! I am too much at sea with the dyspraxia side of me playing up much more often. Boy I’d be relieved if I didn’t feel so isolated with this mission and found people who compliment my skill set who can equally see how awesome this theatre company will be for Newport and its’ neighbours.
I never set out to be a one man/woman band. I’ve always felt the right people would appear at the right time. In allignment with this quote: ‘A woman who walks in purpose doesn’t have to chase people or opportunities. Her light causes people and opportunities to pursue her.’ (Dr. Farrah Gray) . I still have to walk though. And get better at meditation so I’m ‘in purpose’ every day! Last year my original plans fell apart (get an arts council grant!) and I’m in that vacuum post plans and really just needing to accept more time is needed. And to take a much wider view. I feel the right people will emerge if we do a project together but I’m not yet in a position to do a full-blown project… and I’m also still balancing my son’s delicate needs. He’s nearly 3, and there’s no way I want to let him down by disappearing into theatre director / project management distant mum just yet. I did leave Concord partly to be there for him at this crucial early time in his life, and I hoped my quest with the theatre company would entwine nicely with my quest to be a great mum.
And then there’s the maintaining an income bit which I’ve so not yet resolved, although I’ve managed til now (with a huge slice of support from the ‘universe’ around me shall we say). Hunches are coming up as to the next stage of rolling out the green financial carpet beneath and I will take action. It’s very much an intuitive journey.
Which leads me to saying at the heart of all this brave transitioning I’m doing lies my spiritual side I’ve been developing for a long, long time. I now believe in Angels, Fairies, Unicorns, Dragons, the Universe, Source energy, my sixth sense. You name it. I’m very open and curious about the invisible; however, I stay much on the side of the light and what I deem to be a good influence. And I’m totally aware I need to be grounded too which I can struggle with. I hugely believe in nature. Connecting with trees is becoming paramount to my health. And the words: surrender, trust (ok, this one p**s me off at times as it’s tough when you can’t see land yet) and hope.
So, back to what I learnt from Mike, he’s shared with me practical advice that I can get free ‘access support’ with my next Arts Council application (my last three attempts failed) and it may be worth my while looking into the new ACE ‘developing your creative practice’ fund. Something about ‘Access to Work’ being a government initiative that can support someone like myself. Loads of people he thought of who sound interesting (but yes I got wholly overloaded by email links after and can’t take on board at the mo!). Oh yes the neurodivergent movement which sounds very cutting edge and, although I’ve heard the term bandied about, in actuality I know nothing about… I sense I am neurodivergent but then. wouldn’t we all be? Perhaps some are simply more ‘off the beaten path’ than others?!
I did share with him a dream is to co-create a spectacular community event like the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony in Chetwynd Deer Park one day. “Nothing big then” he said. Yup. I’m aware that’s years away. For today I’m learning how to write a blog, and I sincerely hope I haven’t bored you – I’m learning you see. Think perhaps I’ve written too much… but I’ve started 😊