CONFESSIONS · THE ART OF HAPPINESS · THEATRE

Life Update: Acting, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Creativity

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“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead.” 
― Susan Sontag

It’s mid-March. MID-MARCH. I’m not quite sure how I got here. But it seems I did some things – some exciting things – for a while, became very worn out, felt very poorly, then just sort of stayed poorly and out of action for a miserable two weeks, then rose one morning with a whole new zest for life to find, it’s mid- March. Very nearly Spring in fact.
After months of preparing for auditions, getting my butt to London to see plays, monologue hunting, acting tutorials, and all the rest of it. I am now DONE with auditions for the foreseeable future, and I have to say, I have mixed feelings about this.
It was a long and bumpy journey, and there were times when I just thought “What am I even doing?! Why am I even bothering?! Go home to your child woman!! STOP DREAMING…”. But I carried on regardless, knowing that I had to see this thing through to the end -or what feels like the end, it’s very much not the end – as best I could.

It turns out; it’s not easy balancing being a Mummy with pursuing something so…all-consuming.

“Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”
– C. G. Jung

Whilst I loved giving acting my all; plunging myself into the world of theatre and experiencing some of the most brilliant writing I’ve ever witnessed on stage; feeling excited, motivated and above all inspired; the entire time I also felt…swept off my feet. – Carried along with the current.
I felt as though I was just going through the motions of what someone that loves to act, and write, should do. Every play I travelled to London to see, every acting tutorial, every National Theatre-Archive room visit, was another few hours that I wasn’t with Maia. Another few hours that I was putting my energy into something else. And I felt it. I felt torn the entire time. It was overwhelming.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I’m there, in London, I feel excited by my career, where it may lead, what I might end up doing – the possibilities seem endless; everything and anything seems achievable. There is a child-like sense of wonder and feeling of taking-the-road-less-travelled. I’m surrounded by other creative, like-minded-hungry-to-perform-souls, (souls that, by and large, don’t have children). – I feel as though I am where I am meant to be in order to grow as an actor/writer, as a creative. It’s an amazing feeling. For a few hours, I am twenty-four, and I am dreaming. But then I remember; I am a mother too. At one point I couldn’t get her little face out of my head during the workshop part of an audition and I just kept thinking “This is exhausting. I should be at home with her right now”. My heart was not always in it, because my heart was with her.

When I am here, at home, tidying up toys and cutting the crusts off Hovis Best of Both, I often feel hungry, frustrated and downright guilty. Hungry to get back to those people. Hungry to be pushed, and challenged and inspired. Frustrated that I can’t live in London – or travel there more often- and take in all the inspiration, the colour, the magic, the theatre, use all of it and put it into my work. Guilty for even thinking and feeling this way when I have magic right here, a healthy, happy, wonderful little girl. My life is colourful, just the way it is. It’s full of joy and laughter and excitement; I’m a very fortunate woman in so many ways; how exactly did I end up making myself miserable by yearning for what I can’t have? A life that is not mine. I quickly came to my senses. “But I don’t want anyone else’s life; I want MINE. I have my moments, but on the whole; I LOVE MY LIFE”. The perilous downward spiral of comparison – of focusing on what’s missing in your life- is a nasty little trick our minds love to play on us when we’re feeling the least bit low. Shut that shit down the second you become aware of it.

“To raise your vibration, talk about possibility more than you talk about your problems (even if you don’t know how to get there).”
– Dr Michael Bernard Beckwith, Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations Podcast. 

I spent far too many moments quietly thinking of all those twenty-somethings renting in London or some other big city – were they all doing what they love? Are they all pursuing their dreams in some way shape or form? Do they feel free and independent? Are they all fulfilled on a daily basis? Hmmm. Not all. And certainly not all the time. Some might be. Many might be really going for what they want – doing something each day to work toward their dream, even if they weren’t doing it full-time- and feeling good about it. Some don’t even know what they want. Some are in the exact same hot-bed of uncertainty that I currently find myself in. Lost and a little bit in need of some direction. We’re all just muddling along, doing the best we can with the lives we have created for ourselves, in the situations we find ourselves in. It’s all very messy and yet still wonderfully exciting. You never know what’s round the corner.

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This is one of the first times I have felt truly torn -as a mother- between doing what I love, and my little girl. And the feeling has often been – as I’ve heard so many working Mums say – that I’m not quite measuring up on either side. Like I was juggling too many balls and watching them hit the ground beside me. Every time Maia threw a tantrum I would think “See, this is because you’re not spending enough quality time with her because you’re always busy with your acting stuff! You need to be more present with her!”. And this was true, I did need to be more present with her. Now that the auditions are over and I’m around a lot more (both physically and mentally), I’ve noticed how much calmer I am with her, how much more energy I have….how much happier I am as a Mummy.

“Undoubtedly, we become what we envisage.”
– Claude M. Bristol

I suppose it’s about striking the balance between acknowledging the frustrations – saying “Yes, this feels shit that I cannot pursue this wholeheartedly right now, boohoo woe is me”, processing that feeling, but swiftly moving on to focusing on what is thriving (all those things that are going right in life) and maintaining a sense of gratitude for what I do have, and what I can do. Thankfully, I am fortunate enough to be able to say that the opportunities are still endless, despite not being able to throw myself into pursuing acting as a career right now. I have other options; and they’re just as magical. Anything is still possible, and I am still allowed to dream, and act on those dreams.

Because I may not be able to get an agent, or attend auditions, or see plays every week, but I can still keep my toes dipped in the water. I can still see plays from time to time, I can read voraciously, I can write my own stories and connect with creatives in other ways. I can try. I am not powerless.  I commit to honouring my wants and needs as a creative as best I can. I commit to exploring my curiosity and my creativity, and seeing where it leads, because so far, doing just this, it’s been an amazing journey. I’ve met some of the most colourful, brilliant, talented people through simply following my curiosity, and always taking the next step.

So here’s to juggling all the balls, to creativity and to taking the road less travelled.
Here’s to talking about possibilities over problems, making the unrealistic the realistic and living each day with love and gratitude. Here’s to a bold and brilliant rest-of-2018.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
– Henry David Thoreau

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