why finding your purpose shouldn’t mean splitting your soul…

wpid-20150624_154153.jpg

Hey everyone, how are you? Today I want to talk a little bit about how difficult it can be to choose a job and find your purpose.

I mentioned in my post on Sunday, that recently I’ve been getting a little more serious about my freelance theatre work, and that this has led me to rethink how I label my work, and how all the different roles I take on make sense with one another.

I read a lot of blogs, from wonderful inspiring women, men, entrepreneurs and general creative spirits, and they all have one thing in common. They all seemed very clear about what their purpose is. They had a product to sell, a message to give, a role to fulfill. I looked at my theatre website and my blog, and thought that the maybe the reason i’d felt a bit blah about it all lately, is because I had too many roles to play. So many that I couldn’t give any one my full attention.

But I loved them all.

I didn’t want to pick a niche. I don’t want to be just a children’s performer, or just a lifestyle blogger, or just a programmer. I want it all, but everything seemed to be telling me, you can’t have it all. I couldn’t decide whether to separate my blog from my theatre site. I couldn’t decide whether to separate my theatre site, into separate theatre sites. I couldn’t decide how to split all my passions up, because although on paper, they didn’t seem to fit together, to me they felt inextricably connected.

So I started to think differently about it. I started to wonder what linked all the things that I did together, and then I realised, that the thing linking it all together was me. I couldn’t separate my passions up, because unlike Voldemort, I can’t split myself up into tidy (but deadly) little chunks.

The reason I’d felt a bit blah about it all recently, wasn’t because of all the different roles there were to play, but because I’d forgotten why I wanted to play these roles in the first place.

Maybe, it is just me because I am, in some ways actively looking for it, but it seems to me the world these days is built for multirolers. People who don’t do just one job. This is particularly obvious in the blogging community. Bloggers are writers, marketers, photographers, pr specialists, stylists, wise and wonderful people, who seemingly do it all. Sure some of us are better at the words than the pictures, and we don’t all know what a social media strategy looks like, but if we don’t know how to do something, we know somebody that can, so I guess you can add resourcefulness to that already impressive list of things.

Coming out of university with a degree in English Literature and Theatre Studies, I’d been forewarned by parents, and grown ups all around me that, ‘it wouldn’t lead to a job.’ And they were right. It wouldn’t. Because guess what? So few degrees actually do. I mean do you know anyone who studied history and became a paid historian? I thought not. All I had was a creative skill set and a passion.

A passion to tell the worlds stories. To tell my own story and to help other people tell theirs.

That’s what led me into arts marketing, where I could help other people make sure their story was heard by an audience. That’s what led me to start a blog where I could tell the story of the everyday things that normally go unnoticed. That’s what has led me to become a programmer, where the local community choose the stories they want to hear. And that’s what has led me to make my own theatre and to run workshops with children and old people a like. At the root of my many branched tree was the drive and desire to make stories and theatre happen.

Have I said the word story enough?

When I looked at all of this, I realised that all my passions did make sense sat together, as long as I told the narrative (thank you thesaurus) behind them. That my theatre website didn’t have to be a boring old cv, that looked like a simple dot to to dot. This job led to this one, which led to that one, which leads me to hear. Instead I had to paint the picture, I had to make sure the different colours brought out the best in one another and most importantly of all, I had to go outside the lines. Having a purpose doesn’t mean having only one interest.

Working in the arts, it isn’t uncommon to have one person playing many different parts (both on and off stage) and I think this is becoming increasingly true in other careers too. I know a lot of people who read this have felt or do feel confused about which road they should go down, about how all their roles and passions sit side by side. Maybe you don’t have to put them all on a website, because you’re not interested in working freelance, but you probably do have to find a job that matches at least some if not all of those passions. For you my advice would is this: Work out what all these things have in common, what is it that makes you passionate about them? What is it that means you can’t pick just one? Is it because you’re driven and want to do ALL OF THE THINGS? Well, don’t let that scare you into thinking you’ll hate being tied down to one job, because one job very rarely has one task. If you want to, you can make any job role uniquely yours. Maybe you’re not involved in the marketing department but it just so happens you’re a wizz at social media, why not ask? Maybe you’re a blogger worried that you’re trying to write about too many things and trying to appeal to too many audiences? Well I don’t just read one type of blog, so if you want to offer me a whole plethora of posts then I’m more not less likely to follow.

Or maybe you’re a newly graduated twenty something year old girl wanting to work in the arts, with no idea of what specifically it is you want to do. Try everything. Because you’re a human being with more than one skill and one passion, and whatever job you get, it will almost certainly ask you to play more than one role.

Live life & rlearn from Voldemorts mistakes x

ps. If you were wondering I’ve decided to keep my blog and my theatre website linked up. When I finish the new site I will share a bit more on this!

Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram

Advertisements

morning monday… summer report card…

wpid-img_20150725_153157.jpg

Hey everyone, so it has been a while since I did any kind of goal orientated post, and what with it being the beginning of the summer holidays, and the nostalgia of the end of year school report, I thought it was as good a time as any to check in with you guys, and probably more importantly, with myself.

My resolution for this year, was to carry on trying to be the person I want to be. You know that perfect version of yourself that gets up early, a bundling ball of energy and takes on the day, with shiny hair, a big old smile, and this general aura of being calm while completely bossing it? Yeah. Her.

I didn’t set myself any specific goals with this, so the sub headings here, are the areas of my life that when I imagine the girl I want to be, these are her fundamentals. Does that make sense? Like, if I get these building blocks in tip top shape, then I’m stood on a pretty good foundation.

So without further ado, or poor confused metaphor’s here goes…

Health & fitness… Stephanie has come a long way and should carry on the good work…

Guys, I’m actually in pretty good shape. Like not perfect shape, and I’m definitely still soft around the edges, but generally speaking? I’m doing ok. Of course there is always room for improvement.

My running routine isn’t anywhere near as solid as I would like it to be, but when I do get my trainers on, my times and distances aren’t all that embarrassing. I’ve never been one for public sport or exercise. I was terrible at PE at school (apart from dance) and had one or two mean comments made about me that really stuck. Not to mention the fact that co-ordination just does not come naturally to me. So other than the odd zumba class (where everyone at least THINKS they look slamming) I’d always believed I truly didn’t enjoy exercise. But that has definitely changed. Running clears my mind, and lifts my mood like few other things can, and now I’m even thinking of signing up to a real public race. A 10k might not sound like a huge challenge, but up until a few months ago I was too embarrassed to even tell people I went running in case they asked me how fast or far I went.

Other than running, because I don’t drive, I get in a fair amount of walking, but I would like to start doing more exercise that focuses on other areas and not just cardio. I throw in the odd swim, but I really want to spend a little time thinking about my strength and toning up a little bit. Nearly every week I tell myself I’ll complete at least one online yoga class, and barely ever do. But if I want to be able to touch my toes, and carry my shopping up the stairs (not at the same time) then I need to do something about it! Not to mention the fact that I don’t want my fitness to take a nose dive when the weather turns and the days get shorter, and running around the park is just no longer a viable option. It may even be time to join a gym!

Diet wise, as regular readers will know I’ve stuck it out with veganism. Again, I’m not a perfect vegan but my attitude towards food, is now much more balanced. Even when I do indulge, it is never to the level that it was before, and this is a huge improvement. I’ve never had brilliant will power, but towards the end of last year, I’d gone beyond that and fallen into some seriously unhealthy eating patterns, which weren’t doing my body, my confidence, or my mind any good.

And that shift in attitude, is the biggest improvement I’ve seen in myself since the beginning of this year. I lost weight, but even though it wasn’t as much as I originally wanted, the confidence and perspective I gained, were double that (I spoke more about this here). What’s more is I’ve kept the weight off, and stayed at one weight for longer than I have done in years. I’m happy in my body, I still have days where I think ‘oh if only…’ but I don’t hate myself. I don’t punish myself. I know, that I am lucky to have a healthy body that can do all the things I want it to do, and looks pretty good while doing it.

I want to carry on improving in this area, and at the end of summer I intend on doing a month or so of very clean living, but I know longer see health and fitness as just an impossible goal to measure my failure by, it’s just the next step on the running track.

Career… Stephanie always works hard in class but her homework lacks care and attention…

This time last year, I was new to my day job, I was excited and eager to learn, but also nervous, and scared that I would fail. Today I can hardly believe that was only a year ago. I still learn something new every week, and I’m still finding the systems that work for me, but my confidence in myself, and the work that I’m doing has grown tenfold. In June I took on a big old project, and while it didn’t all go as smoothly as I would like, I realised that things rarely do. This job, may well end in February, which forces me to regularly reflect on what I’ve done and where I’m going. I don’t want this job to end, I still have so much to learn and I love where I work, and what I do, but the idea of going back on the job market isn’t entirely terrifying. In some ways I find it quite exciting. I don’t want to tie myself down to one area of theatre, or type of arts work, so looking for a new job, feels a bit like, looking for a new adventure. Of course if having to find a new job does become a reality, I can’t promise I will be quite as chipper about the situation but for now… I’m happy, I’m confident, I think I might even be quite successful.

I love my regular pay salary job, and I know I’m very lucky to be in a position where that job is in theatre, but I never intended to get that dream day job, and stop working on my own independent, writing, shows, workshops or theatre company, and in truth, that is exactly what has happened. I haven’t performed properly in over a year, and the new show I intended to work on, hasn’t got any further than an elaborate set of scribbles in my notebooks. I’ve found it much harder to stay motivated and driven in my independent work than I thought I would, but I guess that is natural. When you spend all day working on and in theatre, you don’t necessarily want to come home and do more! Some sort of burn out was inevitable, however, I’ve recently been rethinking this extra work, and what exactly I want my side hustle to be. In particular, working out how all the areas of my life and work sit beside one another. I won’t go into that too much here, but I’m working on a set of steps to take that should make my purpose a lot clearer, and hopefully see my blog, and my theatre work sit much closer to one another.

Blog… Stephanie needs to focus on the real task at hand…

Ok, I feel like I say ‘I don’t do this for the followers’ so often that it’s beginning to sound like I protest just a little bit too much. So I am going to be straight up and tell you, that at the beginning of the year I set myself the target of reaching 500 followers on bloglovin’ by December.

I’m not going to make that goal, and that’s generally a bit disheartening.

Here’s why: I don’t want a HUGE following because I want this to be my day job, or because I want to get cool stuff for free, or to feel like a bit of an internet celebrity, but because I want to know that what I am writing is RELEVANT to people.

At the very beginning of this year, I made myself an editorial calendar and I stuck to it. I took out some small scale advertising and I saw my numbers begin to climb slowly but surely. And then all that new year gusto wore off, life got in the way of spending three nights a week blogging, and I’ve actually seen followers, and my stats in general, fall.

For the past two months, I’ve been struggling with this a little bit. I saw this down turn in views and follows as proof that what I was putting out there wasn’t relevant. However, I’ve recently realised, that isn’t true. Those of you that do pop by this space of mine, keep coming back, I love that I have conversations and comments with the same group of people, because what that means, is that what I’m writing may not be relevant to the masses but it is to a handful of bloggers out there who if they lived down the street would probably be some of my best friends. Which HEY GUESS WHAT! Is EXACTLY what I really wanted this space to be about.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet a couple of you in real life, I email more of you, all the time on my lunch breaks, and I love that. Moving to Blackburn where I knew nobody meant that blogging and you guys, really were a life line. So I guess what I’m trying to say is THANK YOU! And if you pop by here regularly, and we haven’t spoken, please feel free to get in touch.

Now I’ve done the soppy bit, what action have I decided to take about all of this. Well, I’ve got rid of my editorial calendar, so that when I do post it is because I truly have something to say. And to those 4 people that unfollowed me on Bloglovin’ (yup, it was only 4 people and I nearly scrapped the whole thing) that’s cool, maybe you don’t want to invite me round for dinner each week, but lets still meet for the odd coffee every now and then?

Relationships… Stephanie get’s on well with her classmates, and her friends are a credit to her…

At the beginning of this year I did a fair bit of reading about mindfulness and happiness, and everything I read and watched talked about the importance of strong personal relationships. At the end of last year I think I’d started to shut down a bit, and even though I still spoke to my amazing friends, all the time, I was never really TALKING to them. This is something I decided to change at the beginning of this year. I put my irrational fear, that they didn’t really care to one side and just told them everything that had been going on with me. It will come as no surprise that I instantly felt a thousand times better.

I’ve spent a lot of time this year, being really honest with people, and making sure that those people that are really important to me, are regularly a part of my life. There isn’t as much face to face time as I would like, and there are a few friends a bit further away that I want to just call more often, but generally speaking, it’s quality over quantity with my friends. I have a handful of amazing friends, that I see a handful of amazing times a year.

Of course the other thing is that I have a boyfriend now. This was never a GOAL as such, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that as I worked on myself, and started to fix all those software glitches I’d been experiencing, I started to become more open to the possibility of meeting someone, and eventually did.Getting a boyfriend wasn’t a goal, it was a happy by product, and being in a relationship is already teaching me a lot about myself, and who I have become. I’d quite like to keep learning in this more one on one way please!

Growth… Overall Stephanie has made a lot of progress this year, with just a bit more hard work, she will be well on track for a good 2016…

Final category, I promise (well done if you’ve made it this far!), and this one is a bit of an amalgamation of two things:

1. Being a grown up
2. Personal growth.

So firstly, being a grown up, is probably one of the areas, I have the most work to do in. Especially when it comes to my finances, bills, and flat. I’ve started paying more attention to what I’m paying when, rather than letting the direct debit do it’s thing and hoping for the best. I’ve also set myself the challenge of paying off my credit card off by February (to coincide with the possible change of job and circumstances). This isn’t a huge figure, but so far summer has being seriously expensive, and when you combine that with one or two unexpected bills, it’s enough to make a very sensible mans daughter begin to panic a little bit!

The other thing is me rented flat. Which generally speaking is fine, but there are a couple of things I’ve been putting off calling the landlord about, and actually they need to be dealt with. Like the ceiling peeling in the bathroom, and the wardrobe that never stood up properly in the first place.

Finally on the grown up front. I NEED to learn to drive. I’ve never been behind the wheel of a car and for 3 months now I’ve said I will book a lesson. But then something else (that I’d rather spend money on) popped up and I put it off. No more excuses though, because my parents have paid a bulk of lessons for my birthday, and I have to get them booked by, well, today actually.

The second part of this category, is personal growth, which I guess makes for a pretty good conclusion to the end of this lengthy post, which essentially is entirely about how I’ve grown so far this year.

At this point of the year I think I’ve done a lot of the heavy lifting for becoming the person I want to be. I could still get up earlier, and I will always want a better morning routine (or any morning routine), I will always want to read and learn more. Write more, create more. But these are small tweaks I can make every day. Little steps like cutting down my screen time, and working on getting a night time routine, so that I’m awake enough to tackle a morning one. I’ve journalled much more this year than I’ve ever done before and found myself becoming much more interested in mindfulness and meditation. Which in turn has has made a positive shift in my attitude, something which I credit for making everything else I’ve spoken about in this post possible.

August is just around the corner, and writing this post has made me realise, is that what I really need to do, is to use the remainder of the year to keep up the good work, and polish off the edges, so that come 2016 I feel ready to go even further. In truth becoming the person you want to be, can’t be done in a year. It’s an ongoing project. I’m an ongoing project, and one, that in all self indulgent truthfulness, I really enjoy working on.

How does your summer report card read? This one is certainly better then my year 5 one which said I was a bossy little madame, and caused months of upset!

Live Life & keep working on it x

Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram

dealing with a bad day at work and how to go about turning it around…

wpid-wp-1432725942644.jpeg

Have you ever had one of those days at work, where just one email can send you into meltdown? It’s one problem that has raised it’s ugly head, and instead of being able to just deal with it, you’re frozen to the spot, unable to see past the issue to the solution?

I know I get that all the time. It can be something tiny, or something pretty big (I’m yet to have something massive happen, thankfully), and I’m a stress head at the best of times. I’m also a control freak, so I feel the responsibility ten fold if something that I said I would do, doesn’t get done or goes wrong.

Stress has never helped anyone though, in fact most of the time, if I try to carry on working with that knot in mystomach it only leads me to making further mistakes, and before I know it, a day that started out perfectly well, makes me want to crawl under a blanket and just write it off completely.

When I’m in this position, there is only way for me to get out of it, and that is to stop everything, take a moment and breathe. Here’s how I deal with a bad day and how most of the time I manage to turn it around…

and breathe…

I don’t know about you, but if something has thrown me off, or caught me off guard, I find it hard to think past it and see the solution. So the best thing I can do is take a step back and breathe. It might not seem like the most immediate response to a situation, but gradually I am learning with myself, that responding quickly isn’t always putting my best foot forward.

give yourself a break…

Now, I realise if you work in a high pressured environment, with strict deadlines, and a boss breathing down your work, taking a long lunch might not only seem impractical, but also impossible. However if you don’t work in that kind of environment and you have an understanding boss, explain to them, that you need to take a bit longer for lunch, to clear your mind, eat something that is going to fill you with energy, and that you’ll come back revived and ready. If you can get out of the office even better. I quite often walk to the shop, only to come back with a calmer mind. Go for a coffee, a cake, a walk, a run. Whatever. Even if you can’t take a longer lunch, make the most of the time you have, not to fret, but to TAKE. A. BREAK.

a blank screen rarely holds the answer…

Ok, so a lot of these points, seem to be about avoiding the problem. That isn’t what I am promoting at all, but I just don’t find staring at a laptop particularly inspiring. In my office I am famed, not only for having the nicest handwriting but for practicing it more than most. I have a pretty extreme system of notebooks and to do lists, but that is what works for me. So when I need to get my thoughts in order, I move away from my laptop, even from my own desk, and get out my notebook, and mak sure everything that is running through my head is down on paper. Maybe that is a list of questions that I need to find answers for, maybe it is a list of answers that I need to put into action, or maybe it is just writing out what the situation is. You’re much less likely to miss something, or forget to do it, if it is right there in front of you, on paper, and getting it out of your head, makes room for more positive thoughts. The types that will ultimately turn your day and your situation around.

a small win is still a win…

Sometimes in life we need small wins. I know there are a thousand articles out there that tell you not to put small tasks on your to do list just so you can tick them off, but hey even those people have bad days, and sometimes, just having been able to have sent an email feels like you’ve completed something. So if I am stressing out about something, and feel a bit like I can’t move forward I look at my to-do list, and set about completing the three easiest tasks on it. These might be directly related to the problem or not, either way, having completed something, makes you feel much more capable of completeing the next, maybe slightly bigger thing on the list.

chat it out…

If something has gone wrong, and you feel responsible for that, it can be really really hard to pipe up about it, or to ask for help. Some times you don’t want to admit that anything has gone wrong, so you keep it to yourself, stew and fester, and everyone around you can tell something is up anyway. So why try to hide it? You don’t have to go to your boss, or to a colleague on the same project as you, sometimes, you just need to put it out there, to anyone. Sometimes I jump on facebook chat and tell my best friend what is happening, sometimes she has the answer, sometimes just having talked it through with some one, makes the answer seem so much clearer. Other times, I’ll turn around and ask my manager. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength, particularly if that is what is needed to move on. I’m a big believer that a problem shared is a problem halved, whether that is personally or professionally, so get it off your chest whatever it is.

put yourself in someone else’s shoes…

Sometimes it is hard to take your own advice. You might know all the above and you might preach it daily to other people, butif you’re having trouble applying it to yourself, imagine your helping out a friend in your situation. How do I know this works? Because I started putting together this blog post, on a long lunch break, during the middle of one of the most stressed out days I’ve had in my job to date. And guess what? It worked wonders.

It might not feel it when you’re feeling like a hot stressy mess, but you can turn things around.

Live life & don’t give in to the bad days x

 Follow me on Twitter | Bloglovin’ | Instagram