Monthly Archives: June 2012
Image courtesy of Robert Couse-Baker on Flickr.
PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Throughout the 16th century and even beyond, European explorers trekked through the New World hunting for the mythical land of El Dorado: the Lost City of Gold. The precious metal was supposedly so abundant there that it was even used to make children’s toys. The quest was ultimately futile, although it led the explorers to stumble upon lesser treasures of practical value — the potato, for example. After being brought over to Europe from South America, it became a staple food. I’m foreseeing a comparable progression in your own world during the coming months: You may not locate the gold, but you’ll find the equivalent of the potato.
From The Hoopla Horoscopes.
I don’t mind this at all.
Namely cos I am in awe of the many brilliant uses for the potato. Hot chips. Wedges. Throwing them at the Kardashians.
I’m at a bit of a crossroads. Questioning things, shaking things up, trying to work out where to from here.
Part of this, in fact a pretty damn big chunk of this, involves working out what direction this blog is going to head in. I’ve got a ton of possibilities – some dramatic, some not so – floating through my little brain, but before I launch myself into a half-baked plan of change, I turn to you. My friends. The good yet sometimes faceless folks who read this little corner of cyberspace. I ask you: why are you here? Not in an existential sense, just in a selfish feedback kinda needy way.
Seriously, if you give half a shizz about this, then I sure would be stoked if you would be willing to give me a few moments of your time to do this little blog survey to help me on my way. It’ll be like the lamp. And I’ll be the Florence Nightingale. Only I don’t think she blogged. Or was a narcissist. Anyhoo.
Thank you so much in advance. Here’s the survey!
(It really shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Unless you’re typing with a tree-stump. In which case, power to you.)
I am slowly emerging from the fog that’s been the whirlwind – amazingly so and awfully so – start to this year.
In trying to get my head around what the heck this second half of the year is about, I’ve entertained the notion more than once of getting a life coach. In fact, it’s been at the point for a while where I’ve known deep down that it’s exactly what I NEED, but the cost just seemed so prohibitive. Well, last night I signed myself up for the When I Grow Up Coach’s Clubhouse, a very inexpensive and seemingly cool way to test the waters in the life coaching arena. I will let you know how it goes, I’m pretty chuffed though that I’ve FINALLY taken action on this area of my life that’s been niggling at me for some time.
As it seems, has much of my to-do list.
One of the things I want to work on is getting a bit more systemised in terms of how I approach these projects. I think tackling one at a time until it’s finished (like Monsieur Henry Miller) is definitely the way to go, and definitely one of my greatest challenges. I have a dreadful habit of getting so distracted by the new shiny ideas, getting a thought on that project, having a stroke of inspiration for another, then sitting down at the piano and writing a chorus, only to then think about the article I wanted to write about blah…I am digging a lot of holes in the ground, yet none of them are seeming to get very deep!
I also sat down the other night and wrote out ALL of my projects…current and future and was equally impressed and mortified to realise that I have enough work to keep me going for six lifetimes.
Time to start drinking my coconut water.
How the heck do YOU stay on top of all these exciting things to do in this lifetime?
I know I joke a lot onstage and off about how hard is is to raise kids and how much effort is involved just in keeping the damn things alive (this from a woman who has managed through marvellously minimal effort to kill 100% of all plants that have ever been bold/stupid enough to enter her household.)
However, what I haven’t spoken often enough about is the sheer awesomeness that kids bring into your world. Really. It disturbs me how as I even write that I feel a knee-jerk reaction to justify it somehow. Or to apologise for saying it, lest I look like a self-righteous super-earth-mama who pounces through fields of daffodils while a Vanity Fair-esque photographer captures her inner luminosity while photoshopping out her flaws and funkily-fonted photoshop words splatter across her “I just find motherhood so…FULFILLING!”
Blegh. (Okay, fine, I’ll admit that actually sounds kinda nice. Note to self: call photographer.)
I’m not dismissing the hard stuff.
But right now, I’m just focusing on how freaking amazing they are.
And I feel like I’ve never really spoken about that side of them here, or if I have, it’s not nearly enough. If you have zero interest in reading on, by the way, I don’t blame you. But, if you are, as it would seem, am I, in the mood for a gush-fest, then please. Accept my cup of cyber-chai through the screen here, give me a juicy platonic cuddle and let’s be friends.
I am pretty disgustingly in love with my kids. I mean to say, I don’t JUST love them, but I genuinely like who they are.
And I think I’ve figured out why I’m enjoying them even more these days…I’m really getting off on watching them explore their passions. As somebody who is pretty much obsessed with following passions in life, I am finding it so incredibly cool and inspiring to see what those passions are and how they are pursuing them.
Ella, our 9-year-old going on 89, is mad about writing. We started going on writing dates (i.e. us in a cafe, her with a hot chocolate, me with a cappuccino, dag that I am, both of us with journals open and scrawling away) in Canada and she hasn’t stopped. Just minutes ago, I opened my computer and discovered an open document containing a story she is currently working on. I beamed, uttered “Awwww. Ella!” and was instantly inspired to write this very post. She also reads voraciously, to my utter delight. Right now she is all about “The Famous Five” and “Secret Seven” series by Enid Blyton. She also LOVES the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (we can both recite almost by heart the final 20 minutes of the series), Franco Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet and Anne of Green Gables. I could fall in love with somebody based on any one of these shared passions alone.
She is also currently obsessed with kick-boxing. Yes. Kick-boxing. As is much of the family. It’s crazy. And new. But now that all four of my house-mates are now into it (even littlest has started putting on his gloves and asking Daddy to spar with him) I have to admit that this new addition to our family’s culture looks like it might have staying power. So I need to wrap my head around it. This will possibly merit a series of posts on its own.
Caleb, our 8 year old comedian-in-waiting, is crazy about performing. I read once that Jim Carrey’s mother said that even as a baby, Jim would sit in his high chair pulling ridiculous faces to make her laugh. Oh yes. Oh heavens yes. Caleb told me recently he wants to be an actor. And a businessman. And live in a mansion with a dog. He also wants to move to Hollywood and make movies, in fact he’s already working on a sci-fi action flick about a little boy in outer space and somewhere in there are dinosaurs. It’ll be epic.
Caleb is also passionate about superheroes (it’s The Avengers central over here right now), soccer, kickboxing (naturally, we’re just that kinda family) and action movies. When he began announcing his arrival into any room of the house by bursting into the Darth Vader theme, I nearly burst an artery in sheer pride.
Cassidy, our 3-year-old rockstar, is just passionate about life, in that way that only young kids, as yet untainted by life’s weaponry, can be. He doesn’t over think it. I mean, sure, he’s got his things he loves: Olivia, books, puzzles, swings, the trampoline, kickboxing (duh), the library, his cousins…but his passions are constantly changing, he is always open to new things, he is just into taking one day at a time and enjoying every moment. Why else would he be so angry every time he has to wait a few minutes for his egg to boil? Because that’s THREE MINUTES OF MY LIFE I COULD BE ENJOYING, MUM!
Point is, I’ve been so focused on nurturing my own passions in the midst of motherhood that having my kids’ passions emerge so visibly came as a bit of a bonus surprise – a pleasant one! I have always wanted them to grow into passionate people who pursue their purpose in life, rather than just take the road well travelled. However up until now I realise I’ve just been operating on the assumption that my decision to practice what I preach would be a good example and that would be it.
But now I’m excited on a whole new level. Now that their passions are taking shape, I can make conscious efforts to encourage them, to help stoke their fires and to share each other’s excitement. Already I feel so selfishly inspired by my kids and their sheer joy in the process of doing things they love.
Right now that’s the beautiful thing about it: NONE of their passions even have any thoughts, hopes or attachments to building an income out of them. They are free – with no worries yet about the responsibilities that come with adult life – to explore their passions just for the sheer love of them.
Two thoughts on this:
1) That is pretty damn cool.
2) They have much to teach me.
We’ve been in home-making overdrive here at CM headquarters this weekend. Ella de-weeded almost the entire garden and learned to whipper-snip! Caleb and my hubby made a book-case: out of Caleb’s old bed! Cassidy cheered helpfully from the sidelines (code for “wanted to do everything himself”) but took satisfaction in his new “art corner”. But what I want to share with you is my own selfish triumph: my new office!
As some of you may recall, I did have a little office in the city last year for a while, however unfortunately – SUPER unfortunately as I adored it – I just wasn’t getting in there often enough to justify the rent. With three days a week to make it in, all it took was a kid to get a cold, or an appointment near home, to mean that I was only averaging getting in there once a week, and sometimes not even that.
So…back to the home office it was.
Until, of course, the home office got all Prince on me and decided it would become “The Room Formerly Known as Home Office.” In other words, Cassidy needed to move into his own room. Some of the office stuff stayed in Cass’s room until I could
defeat my laziness muster up the will to sort out a better designated space into something functional.
Unfortunately this “designated space” became the room which runs off the kitchen, which is not unfortunate in itself, only that every time I looked at it – covered in unsorted papers, office bits and pieces – I was reminded of my FAILURE TO SORT SHIZZ OUT. Until this weekend. And I am proud.
Without further ado, THE BEFORE SHOT.
THE AFTER SHOT.
Two desks! Huzzah!
One of the biggest challenges I stumble upon almost every working day is trying to balance the admin/promo kinda of work (i.e. the “Management” side of my career) with the creative side (i.e. writing, song-writing, rehearsal.) I’m seriously hoping this strategy of having a separate physical space – even though they are closely located – will help me to:
a) be more aware of the balance of how I’m spending my time, by having a physical representation of which area I’m working in; and
b) be more organised in my paperwork, by having designated spaces to deal with admin/organisational bits and pieces, separate from my endless notes of writing snippets, which were previously flitting around together like a bunch of prepubescent teens from same-sex schools who’ve met up for a school social and don’t quite know what to make of each other.
It already feels so much better!
What is it about us human beings and our capacity to always want what we can’t have?
This book, for instance.
It sat in my bookcase for six years, untouched, unloved, despite the fact I’d heard it mentioned by numerous sources over the years as a “must-read” for writers. Finally I gave it to my BFF, Frankie. Where it proceeded to lay in her bookcase, not for six years, but…you get the drift.
Anyhoo, it was only when I was up visiting her last weekend that I came across it again. And for the first time EVER – I actually started reading. And reading. And reading. And reading turned to underlining. And underlining turned to more underlining. And more underlining turned to…da da da da…putting my newly sparked passion into practice and WRITING.
I have written more in the past few days than I have written in MONTHS. Articles, sketches of book projects, snippets of comedy…I have turned a real corner, THANK THE GOOD LORD DAVID BOWIE.
I’d love to share a few snippets with you which have particularly rocked my world.
Writing, the creative effort, the use of the imagination, should come first – at least for some part of every day of your life. It is a wonderful blessing if you will use it. You will become happier, more enlightened, alive, impassioned, light-hearted and generous to everybody else. Even your health will improve. Colds will disappear and all the other ailments of discouragement and boredom.
Damn, I hope she’s right!
Also, in talking about William Blake:
…this creative power in Blake did not come from ambition…he said…”I wish to do nothing for profit. I wish to live for art. I want nothing whatever. I am quite happy.”
And the following two, which I think apply as well (which I suppose, they absolutely should anyway) to comedy:
But it must come from your true self and not your theoretical self, from what you really think, love and believe, not from your hope to make an impression.
When you say perfunctorily about the sky just to talk: ‘What a beautiful evening!’ that is not poetry. But if you say it and mean it very much, it is.
By the way if you’re interested you can buy the book for yourself over here.
It’s really inspired me to try harder with my writing. To push myself to not be lazy – which I really, REALLY have been – but to, as my treasured friends and improv posse at Loose Moose Theatre would put it, “play at the top of your intelligence.” Which essentially, I think, just means to strive to do the best work you’re truly capable of. No phoning it in!
While we’re on the writing front, I have been flirting with the idea – not seriously, just in a Britney in “Oops I Did It Again” way – of writing a bit more on here ABOUT writing, doing some creative prompts etc. on there, kinda like an incredibly informal and most likely highly scatter-brained writing group/corner. Only you don’t need to report back on what you’ve done (unless of course, you want to!), rather it would just be a way of hopefully prompting any of you who enjoy writing/wanna write to be inspired to do more of it, myself included! Would that be of interest to YOU? To anybody out there other than myself? If so, please let me know in the comments and so long as I’m not overwhelmed by crickets (note the “s” there. I can’t imagine how anybody on this earth could be overwhelmed by cricket), I will proceed with said idea. If not, no biggie, I will just continue my thing over here in the corner and occasionally interrupt my scrawlings with bursts of manic youtube-surfing.
Let me know what you reckon.
We interrupt our regular programming of self-indulgent narcissism to bring you breaking news of “This Week in Brisbane!”
Three incredibly talented women I have had the great pleasure of meeting in this lifetime have all got gigs happening this week in Brisvegas and I do hope if you are in the vicinity you will get yourself along!
1. Thursday: Spare Parts Fundraiser at The Zoo
Priscilla has been a kick-ass lady for as long as I have known her, however her latest undertaking has me wetting everything in awe. Since she started the idea a couple of years back – an exhibition where artists are commissioned to use prosthetic limbs as their respective canvases – it has taken on a life of its own and is about to jet of on tour to…da da da da: LONDON! So freaking exciting. The project is not-for-profit with many artists choosing to donate proceeds to their chosen charity and is run independently, thus they are holding a very cool indeed fundraiser Thursday night at The Zoo, with music, comedy, artworks and more. Sounds super fun. I was meant to be doing a comedy spot here but very sadly, my hubby has had to jet off up north for work this week and with no babysitters in sight for the near future, twas not to be. I really am gutted as I am so utterly blown away by what Priscilla has done with this and want to support her and such a rocking project as much as I can. So please…GO TO THE ZOO, BUY A DRINK AND CLINK IT WITH HER IN MY HONOUR! Tix are only $12 prepaid and are available here.
2. Wednesday – Saturday: Australian Booty at Brisbane Powerhouse
I already raved about this show during my jaunt at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Of the dozens of shows I saw during that fest, this was definitely one of the highlights. Superbly clever, hilarious, authentic, uplifting…I could go on. And perhaps I shall. This show was like receiving an enjoyable injection to better your health. I walked out of the theatre feeling like my self esteem meter had shot off the charts, like I wanted to just strut my stuff – complete with all its flaws, wobbles and stretch marks and roar “I AM WOMAN! NOW FEED ME CHOCOLATE!” Or something. Anyhoo, I cannot rave about this enough, I only hope that Candy B will do a special 10 year anniversary performance or similar so I can take my daughter to see it when she is old enough. ROCK. Go check it. It really is booty-freaking-licious.
3. Saturday: LadyNerd – A Cabaret.
While I haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing Ladynerd for myself, I have heard NOTHING but wonderful things about it. The adorable Keira Daley (who I first met through improv-world, as she is an improv passionado much like myself) makes her solo debut in a show which has already garnered tons of buzz, awards, razzle, dazzle and all that spectacle-clad jazz. And she’s about to jet off to Edinburgh with it too! Very cool indeed, especially that she’s bringing it up to Brissie as part of her Aussie tour before she jets off abroad. Hugely recommended.
I’m off to plan my weekend.
I am overwhelmed by spam. Not the “SPAM SPAM” type of spam that can suck you in with its pseudo-friendly “Hey! Jenny! Remember me?”, a subject which possesses such confidence that you give the unfamiliar sender’s name “Rick Aston? Hmmm, sounds familiar. Maybe I do know Rick Aston!” the benefit of the doubt and click on their email, only to be bashed over the head with “$2.99 VIAGRA PILLS! ASK ME HOW!”
No, no, I’m talking about the spam that is self-inflicted. Emails I’ve signed up for, with nothing to blame other than my passion for an online giveaway. I get emails with travel specials, emails with tips to quit sugar and…the ones which cause me particular irritation only because with every arrival comes a reminder of personal failure: “Jenny, check out your progress on your 2012 goals!” That’s right. I signed up to a “goal accountability” site. A site which sends me these emails. Emails which, should I irritate myself further by actually opening them, will smile at me with such quaint and charming malice-lessness (it’s amazing what fonts can convey these days) that I instantly decide the contents are, in fact, malicious.
“Goals completed: 0.”
This is, I am quick to remind myself, not because I have achieved nothing this year.
However, the goals I listed on this website were, true to form, wildly ambitious and ones which I had at the time of writing, not yet invested any energy into. The quite extensive fringe festival run which took up February to April of this year? It was already planned when this list came along, so it didn’t count. Plainly.
Anyhoo, as much as I may rationalise my overall productivity this year, seeing that “0″ there irks me. And then it irks me that it irks me. I want to be un-irkable, above such silliness, better than the stupidity of caring so much about failure to meet goals which…da da da da…as I write this, I can’t even remember what they actually were.
But now, here at mid-2012, I decide enough is enough. Am I going to pay any heed at all to the Jenny of six months ago? Are we going to give this another shot or pretend it never happened? I do it. I open the email to check what these goals actually were. I read this.
The thing is, since I wrote this list, I have changed. My priorities have come rather dramatically into focus even in the past week. I feel as thought I’m at a turning point. My key points of focus as they stand right now would probably read more like this:
- Create a more magical and inspiring creative home environment.
- Plan some really cool catch-ups with family and friends.
- Prioritise sleep, eating well and exercising.
- Develop my spiritual side.
- Write each and every day.
I guess the biggest epiphany from this entire year – perhaps magnified from the little drama of last week – is that I want to stop waiting til x happens until I can start living the way I want to live. To stop waiting for a break of some sort…which, let’s face it, may or may not ever actually come.
I want to just love what I do more, to find the joy in it again, to just write, sing, perform and create stuff which brings me life and which is so much ridiculous fun with that doing it just makes my life better. Art that I just need to make, with no thought about whether it’s gonna be received well, what it might lead to, where it could go from there, just to enjoy it for itself.
I feel as though I’ve been so focused on the massive, huge, limitless dreams in life which I’ve almost created my identity out of believing were possible…that I’ve focused so much energy on what was POSSIBLE that I neglected in that very process to think about what was actually DESIRABLE. Or BENEFICIAL. Or just A LIFE WELL LIVED.
It’s become quite simple. I want to live more in the now, rather than always trying to rush to the next amazing big thing on my radar. To stop focusing on a future which may or may not even occur and rather find the beauty, the success, the magic of what is happening right now. To find gratitude and creativity and art in the tiny things present in every day. To not wait for some big break to come along as though it will with it, hand me satisfaction and the keys to some magical castle to which I feel entitled.
I want to instead, just focus on what I have right here, right now and enjoy the shizz out of it.
I want to not worry at all about success coming or not coming. Because whether it does or it doesn’t, the fact is, my appetite for it is like my appetite for sweet food: insatiable. No matter how much I stuff my face with it, IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH. Therefore, chasing it so mad-heartedly is really quite idiotic, like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. To keep doing that means I am really chasing after a thing I will never have: satisfaction.
Instead, I want to be satisfied with what I have. To love what I do. To love my family. To love my life.
And I think that starts with what is now my ONLY goal (yes, you read it here) for the remainder of 2012:
1. Every day, practise being good old-fashioned grateful.