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Walking the tightrope

man walking on a tightrope to the moon. The tightrope is being laid down by him as he goes.  His gaze is steady on the moon.  His back is to us.
Photo on the front cover of a greeting card my insightful, wonderful stepmum Sue gave me when I was living in London, writing inside that ‘it may sometimes feel like this’ setting up the theatre company.  I’ve found it again for this blog; its poetic image is a pertinent reflection of how it often feels to be navigating this path between dream and reality. The iconic picture is called ‘Giacomond’ by Quint Buchholz.
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?

I met with Mike on the 19th September, it was our last meeting under the SD-UK Mentoring scheme.  However, fantastically, Mike has agreed to be a non-executive director on the CIC’s board for the next year to help it progress.  This means we are aiming to meet four times in the next year to check in about the CIC.  Romella Jones, a gorgeous local business woman, mum of two, and Newport Wire leader, has agreed to be a second non-executive director for the next year too.   Rom has been a steadfast support and educated me in the rudiments of running a facebook marketing campaign among many things.  I hope they will help me reduce my ‘wibbly wobbly’ moments, and work on a more steady, constant gaze on the life I want to create – that balances being there for my family and myself whilst being able to give expression to my talents and visions of uplifting and uniting people of all ages, and all backgrounds, through exciting theatre projects. And I hope they help me be patient, letting go of the time frame projects are to emerge in, taking the pressure off, so I find a way to accept the ‘slowness’ of reality while not fear mongering it is blocking me from achieving that vision. 

All in good time.  It’s that pearl of wisdom that what you focus on increases anyway – the art of steering your thoughts is a lifelong lesson for me.  A phrase Jane Frost a beautiful friend has said to me is ‘Think Positive… or don’t think at all!’ which would make the perfect t-shirt slogan!

Indeed, after two years of feeling like I’ve been swimming in a rough sea with currents swaying me all over the place, and just about staying afloat (well, going under a little, and for sure, flaying my arms around a lot!), LAND IS APPEARING!!!  I’m starting to feel ground beneath my feet again and it’s actually looking beautifully POSITIVE for 2020. I’m experiencing some glistening olive branches that hold lots of love and light.  It starts with receiving some ‘elf gold’ for working as a Christmas Elf as part of Hawkstone Park Follies’ ingenious ‘Santa Safari’ event.  This unexpected delightful opportunity kick starts ‘reaping what I’ve sowed’ through not giving up whilst experiencing a fair few brick walls, disappointments and sudden dead ends.  It’s best I don’t go into specifics right now but the ‘ideal part-time job (or jobs)’ to Moonstruck Astronaut and my family commitments appear to be emerging from the waters.  This land will of course have a whole new set of challenges and balancing acts, but it feels familiar, kind, exciting, and, dare I say it, abundant. 

I’ve sadly had to let go of teaching the LAMDA Group Acting classes at Trinity Church this September.  But it’s the right decision. It simply wasn’t financially viable, and making the money work is just integral to me ‘surviving’ (hopefully ‘thriving’ in time, but surviving, to be blunt, is where I’m at now) long enough to deliver on the theatre company’s goals.  I learnt a lot and cherish the two years and the successes of the talented, gorgeous students and families I worked with. 

Although land is appearing, I am still nervous of the changes at times.  My ego / inner child still kicks off in fear in the pit of my tummy as it’s lots of changes in identity and lots of flexibility and trust and faith that’s required.  I simply must earn a living but I don’t want to be consumed so that I have no space for developing arts projects.  My energy is limited (‘there is only so much Hannah to go round’) and that includes ensuring I give sincere attention to my son and husband – it has to be said my husband gets the short straw which I am working on.  I’m guessing many mothers feel that.  Otherwise, there is no holiday pay or sick pay or pension or other ‘safety nets’ endorsed by law when becoming self-employed or running a business – how do you still make it work financially? As far as I know, no one in my family runs a business nor any of my original school or university friendship group – I have stepped off the well-trodden path and onto the ‘invisible tightrope’.   

Overall though, this past year is testament to feeling the joy of the treasures you have regardless of foggy, uncertain ‘work’ and ‘identity’ circumstances – remembering you have true friends and family.  So many good, good, GOOD people are around me, and new ones are appearing.  Good, kind, sincere people who naturally relight your fire and lift you back up. Meeting with Mike and Maggie has always felt like that. It’s such a delight to feel the kindness, loyalty and good nature of many who are around me.

My profound thanks to my dad and Sue for helping me these past six months; they’ve kept my head above water financially. We’ll both be relieved when this period is over but I hope we’re becoming closer as a result and finding a mutual respect and appreciation.  To my husband, my undying gratitude for hanging in there with me… of course we’ve experienced tension, friction, negativity, annoyance etc between us (I’d have thought most would, especially when there’s a young child and financial instability in the mix!) but we’ve also experienced lots of love, fun, silliness and care for each other. The wedding vow ‘support you through difficult times’ has been very present this year alongside ‘being forgiving, kind and patient’. A vow we also spoke to each other on our wedding day was to ‘encourage and believe in’ each other’s ‘greatest potential’ and, through thick and thin, through mundanity and excitement, he is staying true to that one. I am blessed. I’ve got this academic year to continue searching for that healthy balance between addressing the concerns of today but still allowing space to edge closer to the dreams of tomorrow.

Mike and myself in the outdoors area at the Hive, Shrewbury (where his DASH offices are based) after our meeting.  I’m sporting the first ever Monnstruck Astronaut t-shirt which I had on for filming about the CIC later on in the day.

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