I'm not going to lie... I'm slightly in shock. Here I sit, doing what I love: writing.
I have been craving to sit down and write a proper blog post for months. Literally months. That's the sad thing about hobbies we love - they always take a back seat to 'real life'.
Things have been very hectic lately - I opened a play in Manchester that I was both performing in and producing (never do that), beginning a job hunt, juggling a few other lovely projects... It's been hectic to say the least.
And always, when I am busy, this blog is the first thing to suffer. It's my private, selfish, happy place, so if you haven't heard from me in a while, it's evidence that I'm stretched too thin and not having enough 'Hannah Time'. Which is dangerous. We should always be making time for ourselves. But also, it's not the only thing to suffer - everything does - sleep, exercise, relationships, making time for my family... Our foundations are foundations for a reason, we need them to be our best selves and take whatever life throws our way. When you don't have those basics in place, it can be a lot harder to cope when the going gets tough.
Life has been a funny old thing lately. In many ways I've been living a dream, performing, producing, building my theatre company, spending time with friends. I'm incredibly lucky. But there is something about our society that makes me feel like I can't ever just be settled and content. I sometimes feel that everything around me is designed to keep me dissatisfied. Designed to make things more difficult than they need to be. Of course, this may just be me, my natural anxiety, my investment in wanting things to go perfectly getting in the way of me being able to just stop and enjoy life.
But whether it's me or society, it's there. This niggling dissatisfaction with things. It's like until I'm a full-time actress who doesn't have to worry about money or time, I will be dissatisfied, which is of course complete nonsense because there have been many times in my life - as a barista, a waitress, a producer, a social media guru and everything in between - that I've been happy. I'm not only happy when I'm acting, not at all, so it's time to focus on the little things. Time to remember that whatever is happening in life, wherever we are on the long path, life is amazing. It's brilliant and it's here to be LIVED.
Here's how I'm going to spend the next few weeks, soaking up the small things, getting back on track and remembering how lucky I am.
1. Money is not important
Can I pay rent? Can I eat? Can I survive?
Well guess what? i'm a hell of a lot luckier than most. And that's a fact. It's time to stop panicking about money all the time. It's not healthy and it's also not necessary. Money is out there and it can be made by getting a shitty bar job, working in an office or doing any number of things. The one thing it's not is impossible. Get a job, make the most of it, and stay focused on the more important things in life. Get a job that will enable you to do the things you really love and don't get bogged down in thinking it defines you. It doesn't. This is me talking to myself here, in case you hadn't noticed....
2. Life is not about success
I care a lot what people think. GASP. Anyone who knows me will smirk reading that, because it's so painfully evident to those in my life. But for anyone who just reads this blog, you may think I'm a carefree person who lives their life with a smile and not a care in the world.... not true. I get very bogged down when I feel I'm not meeting expectations or not the person others think I am. Crazy, I know. But I'm working on it.
Something that I know will help keep me on track is remembering that NO ONE CARES. We are all too wrapped up in our own lives and insecurities to really invest that much time in what's happening to others around us. Especially to monitor and consider their successes and failures. It's just not a thing. Do I spend a moment of my time considering other actresses around me and their auditions? No.
I'm going to keep telling myself that the same applies to others around me. And cross my fingers.
3. Remember the vitality of basics
Although I hate him now, I always remember Durianrider (a vlogger) reciting the mantra "sleep, sugar, water, sleep, sugar, water" over and over again.
It comes into my mind when I'm tired and frazzled and I know that my "basics" are not in place. I'm not sleeping enough, I'm not drinking enough water and I'm certainly not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Over the last few months, the busier that I've become, the more I've let myself slip into the mindset of 'it's okay, I'll just have another coffee"... "it's okay, I'll just grab something quick"... and it really isn't good. Sure, it doesn't matter once or twice, but it really does build up and start to become habit. I think about Hannah a few years ago, who was eating so well and so prioritised what she put in her body and I almost can't believe how I've shifted. It's amazing how our foundations can slip when our priorities do. But it's important to remember WHY they are foundations. They matter. And I need to remember that.
Sleep, sugar, water...
4. People are golden and vital
I am surrounded by some exceptional people. Truly. I need to make sure I see them, make time for them and for myself too. That's all.
5. If you're a creative person - you don't need permission to be creative
Do creative things. Always. I am a creative soul and I need to (again) stop slipping into the trap of thinking that my job is where I do what I love. No. I love creating and I can and SHOULD do it anytime. So, Hannah, get back to the blog and do some writing, you love it. Get back to those million stories you are working on and devising. Take some time away from the Clinton/Trump saga and do some writing instead. It's oxygen. It's breath. It's so incredibly important.
If you're a creative person in any way. Do it. Get in a room with some friends and make a piece of theatre, write a poem, draw something. On the way home from Liverpool with my partner a couple of weeks ago, I sketched the man asleep opposite us and I am NO ARTIST. The drawings were crap, but I loved doing them. It was fun. And it was way better than just listening to a podcast to pass the time. Which leads nicely into my next point....
6. Time In Our Own Brains
How much time do we really spend just with our own thoughts, in our own minds? These days, I'll guess most of us have barely any without a computer, music, radio, friends....
I used to be very good at making sure I had time without any noise blasting in my head for at least some small part of the day. Even if just while walking to the bus stop, or before bed, whatever it may be. Our minds are full of thoughts, inspirations, ideas, worries... the list goes on. And if we have no time to let that all mull over and stew and process, that's usually why we can't get to sleep at night! Because our minds are turning over all of the things that it has not been able to throughout the day.
Let your mind think, let it settle. Don't give it non-stop entertainment. It doesn't need it.
7. Be Grateful For Everything
Final bit of wank. Be grateful for everything. This is what I need to improve. Because, I'm always so keen to IMPROVE. I want more, I want better, I want the best. It's time to enjoy every tiny thing that I'm so lucky for. Who knows what will happen tomorrow...
Love and sweet potatoes,
Not long ago, I posted about the changes my life has undergone recently - mainly in the form of employment. After ten years of making coffee I had reached my wits end. I have creative dreams and ambitions, but no idea when these will become something tangible; more than just a dream or a hobby.
Can what I love ever become what pays the bills?
What has kept me sane over the last ten years has been - BEING BUSY. So busy. So, so busy. Any creative endeavour I can sink my teeth into - I will. Any company I can get involved with, any acting role, writing, blogging. I love it all. I love it, but none of it pays. Occasionally an acting job will give me some money, occasionally I will be able to get some added income from a freelance job, but mostly - my income has been: coffee-making. Cafes. Hospitality.
I've been an actress, a producer, an administrator, a writer, a social-media wiz, a production manager... you name it - I've probably done it. I took a two-year internship in an independent theatre space basically doing every job under the sun to help keep the place afloat and didn't receive a single pound. That's how desperate I was and AM to do what I love.
I have taken almost any opportunity to act, to be in the theatre, to be creative. If someone asks me to be involved in something - I say "yes!" and this attitude has served me incredibly well thus far. The downside has always been time. I spend most of my life feeling like I'm chasing time, which isn't ideal. It seems the opposite of what every 'self help' book and wise friend tells you do. Time is precious and it's so important to stop and make time for ourselves. I'm good at that....when I have time. I am brilliant at being alone, brilliant at relaxing with my laptop in my favourite coffee shop, but the issue just seems to be WHEN.
If you've read my Getting Creative With Your Income post, you will know that I quit my job three months ago. God, it's only been three months. I took a temporary opportunity while re-building my life in every aspect - creatively, professionally and personally. Some aspects I took control over - namely a theatre company, but others have simply come my way and Lord, let them stay.
Five Weeks After Quitting My Job....
Five weeks after quitting my job I received an email from a brilliant and inspiring writer and entrepreneur, Ravi. My theatre company (Play With Fire) approached her about mentoring us into our first endeavour, which she accepted with open arms and was an enormous help.
Then... this email. How mysterious. But every gut feeling in me knew it was good. I've been burned a few too many times to get overly excited about potential opportunities, but something about this felt different. Safe. Secure. Dare I say - professional. In the creative world there are a lot of people "talking the talk" and not a lot of actual results. I have fallen victim too many times to people who talk the talk and started to lose hope that a creative position would ever come my way that I could truly throw myself into without fear.
And... it actually happened. This incredible woman was in fact - offering me a job. And not just any job - a dream job. A job where I get to link brilliant people together, work on promoting creative work that truly helps people, that raises awareness, that tells stories that MATTER.
And why? Well - because she stalked me. She stalked my history, my endeavours, THIS BLOG. She knew I was a hard worker, that I shared her passions, that I would deliver on my promises. I can't believe my long history of attempts to find a suitable career and all of my volunteered experience actually got me to this moment.
I will never forget sitting with Ravi, in the sunshine at her beautiful home and just thinking: 'this is what all my work has been for. This is why I took all those opportunities, why I didn't get that role, why I quit my job.... because of Ziggy's Wish'.
I have now been working with Ravi for seven weeks and it is a true dream. It's hard work and a full time emotional investment - but it's incredible. It feels like the answer to a lot of questions I have had about what my future involves and how I'm meant to pursue my skills.
What an incredible feeling.
And of course - my own theatre company - Play With Fire. Play With Fire was a dream set-up between myself and my best friend Daniel. We knew that we could produce theatre, we knew we could do it well, but - we wanted to do it properly.
There is a lot of inspiring work being done in Manchester; it's a thriving, exciting city. BUT - there are a lot of people working for free. I personally have worked for free FAR more times than I've been paid. It's an assumed thing. We are making a play, you're doing what you love, therefore - we don't have to pay you. Wouldn't be accepted in any other field, right?
So - Play With Fire was born - a company where Dan and I could make the kind of theatre we care about and do it as professionally as we know how.
The first step was to seek funding. And our approach to funding encompasses everything I'm trying to say in this post. Namely - WE WORKED OUR BUTTS OFF. Dan and I spent literally months on this application. We drafted and redrafted - we gave it to many professionals to read over and edit for us.... we made sure it encompassed our goals as best we could, we crossed everything, kissed it and sent it off. Perhaps one day I will find the time to write about the day I found out we were successful (it's a bangin' story) but for now - let me just say - it was a brilliant day. We got the funding and the incredible, mad rollercoaster to Orphans began.
I am seeing the results of my hard work every single day and know that I have never been so creatively satisfied. I spend my days with Ravi and Stacy in the beautiful Ziggy's Wish office, scouring the internet for inspiring stories to share, I am involved in some truly intimidating conversations about future projects that terrify me, but I know will help me grow. Then, in my evenings and spare time, I get to work on Play With Fire, my own baby. I get to write exciting emails, update our website, write the next schedule....
I may be a nerd. But I love it.
And, best of all, my life feels perfectly balanced at this point. I am still working two days a week in the beautiful zen of Oak Street Cafe, which I value so so much. And - without it, I wouldn't be able to take beautiful photos like this (and eat beautiful meals!)
A life COMPLETELY without hospitality still seems a bit strange. It's been an enormous part of my life for TEN YEARS - it's paid my rent, it's given me daily entertainment and, surely, the reason why a quiet cafe with an easy-to-reach powerpoint and yummy soy latte is one of my favourite places to be.
But - What About Your Blog??
I feel truly sad that blogging has had to take a back seat over the last few months. This place, my happy place, is so important to me. Here - I get to connect with you all - I get to WRITE, I get to share my thoughts and feelings and, best of all, hear your thoughts back.
I need this. I will never stop. It just may be a little less regular. I promise you - delicious meals are still happening every day and I'm trying to stay diligent on Instagram! ;)
What was the point of this post?
Really to say - work hard. Try everything. And if you WANT to throw yourself into something - do it, even if you're fearful the payoff may not come. It likely will, even if in an unexpected package.
I truly have never been happier. My future has never looked so bright. And a day like today, where I have done NOTHING except eat delicious food with my partner, sit in front of my laptop to write and am heading out to a movie later, are so so precious because they are so rare.
Love and Sweet Potatoes,
I haven't written anything too personal for a while. There was a time when my blog was almost an online journal. I would post about my personal life when compelled, my problems if they seemed relevant and always got an overwhelmingly positive response. My personal posts would get such flattering comments and I did enjoy writing about things other than veganism occasionally (shock horror.)
But.... I don't do really this anymore.
My blog has become a bit disconnected, a bit lost along the way and I realised this morning, over my morning cup of mocha, it's because people in my real life are reading now. I'm no longer a stranger. My blog is no longer a secret place. It's open and exposed and I am too. Not every single person is reading every single post, obviously, but enough to make me aware. Enough to make me edit what I really want to be writing about. How silly is that? After four years of such lovely feedback and positive reenforcement from both strangers and friends, why should I suddenly start questioning what I want to write about? I am guilty of why would anyone want to read this shit? But thankfully, for what ever reason, people do.
So, what wanky, lame, pointless, personal things have I been dying to post but haven't yet? What have I been keeping from you that I definitely wouldn't have a few years ago?
Here we go.... Let's get personal.
I'm Making a Difference?
Getting to talk passionately about why you're vegan doesn't happen anywhere near as often as I would like. I know a few incredible vegans (four of my friends are (seriously!) and my amazing mother) so I get to share "vegan moments" or little rants more often than most, but sometimes it's talks with non-vegans I crave and they are so so rare.
You want to make a difference.... You want to inform people.... You want to talk about what you think matters. But, it's not really fun for the other party. They don't want to hear about how cows only produce milk when pregnant or how piglets tails are getting cut off at birth.
Vegans understand that. We do.
BUT - it's difficult feeling like you're not doing anything. Not stepping in. Not speaking up.
When I first became vegan I would rant and rave to anyone who would listen. God, it's a miracle I have any friends really. These days I'm far more mellow and only discuss animal rights or "vegan-related-matters" when I gauge people are actually open minded.
A few days ago at work was an amazing, rare morning where people wanted to listen. People were ready to drop their blinders and have an honest, raw conversation about how the world operates and maybe make a few changes. My manager dropped a bomb - she had no idea what marshmallows are made of. Whaaaaaat?! Don't worry, we relished telling her the horrible truth and her reaction was exactly what it should be. Shock. Horror. Denial. Her confession began a brilliant hour or so where myself and a few colleagues talked about what animals are used for, the practicalities of this, the greed of humans .... It was brilliant. I was the only "veggie" in the discussion, but it was so reasonable and open minded you could have thought we all were! I obviously led the whole thing and felt so happy with how accepting and interested everyone was. It gave me faith. Given the right circumstances and the right information, people can care. They may make change.
The next day, I got this amazing message...
How amazing is that? And how lucky am I?
Remember - you have no idea the impact you're making or the ways you may be influencing change. I had no idea the impact I was having on this person, but I was. It is a perfect example for me of what I've always believed: go around being the example of what you want to see in the world. If you are an example, you are living proof it's doable. And not just doable, easy! If you are happy, kind and good and positive, it will be contagious. Don't go around preaching veganism as something militant or elite or negative. It's not. It's eating good food, caring about animals and being informed.
Oh, and feeling great....
That's contagious, surely?
I have to mention also - my friend Stephie. She is an inspiration to me always, but even moreso at the moment - having just CONQUERED Veganuary! Not only is she a successful, brave, beautiful and talented woman, she is now taking the full plunge and staying vegan after enjoying January so much! I could burst I'm so happy for her. Please check our her beautiful space of the internet - Tea in Your Twenties and read about her journey.
I'm Not a Superhero... Though I Try.
Yar.... I'm a bloody busy bee.
I've given up waiting to become someone who isn't busy. Someone who is zen and peaceful and floats around the globe. I always wanted to be like that, as apposed to the ball of mad energy I seem to be. Eh - It's time to embrace. I'm a busy person, probably always will be and the sooner I just accept that and make it work for me, the sooner I can start thriving.
I've been quite obsessed with this "woman I want to be" concept recently. A bit obsessed with wanting to better myself and be a superhero who can work a full time job, have a relationship, keep all my friends, blog regularly, pursue my acting career, start a theatre company, take up voice classes, go to Yoga AND do all my washing.
It's not really possible without being a stress head. Or doing it all badly. Or murdering someone.
I need to be more realistic, strip everything back and decide what to spend my time on. This is nearly impossible because there is nothing I want to cut out. Obviously if my Acting WAS my full time job, there would be no issue. I'd be spending the 40 hours-or-so I spend making coffee doing what I love. But at the moment, I am making coffee for a living (sigh), so outside work, I'm doing everything else that matters to me. I'm trying to keep all these relationships, build new ones, make recipes, be active, pursue my career...... Oh and stop to enjoy it now and then? Yeah that.
It needs a re-jig. Because at the moment it's not working.
I'm pretty tired and pretty stressed, so I'll get back to you on this. I need to cleanse my life, but nothing is getting cut. There is nothing I WANT to cut, I only want to add.
But they haven't invented cloning yet, so I'll have to get cleansing instead.
I'll have to take
At the moment what is working well is keeping a positive mindset (duh). Remembering actively that everything I'm taking on and doing is a CHOICE. I choose to make my life this way and I could also choose to run away to a mountain and spend my life meditating. Remembering you are in control is a very empowering thought. For me anyway.
Projects, projects, projects!
This flies in the face of everything in the above paragraph, but I am so excited about the projects I have coming up! One is acting for a fantastic theatre company here, which will be an enjoyable and important investment of my time. The other is more long-term.....
I am coming back to what I ultimately know I need to be doing: making theatre .... Producing, production managing, writing, maybe even some directing in the future? I'm working with a friend to build something we care about, can be proud of and turn into a theatre company that will become our income. It's ambitious, but we are up to the task ;)
I'm... um .... in Love
Yep. Turns out it's possible. Turns out my years of being alone and thinking I may just never find anyone "right" were all building to something. What I wanted wasn't asking too much.... My dream partner wasn't a dream, he's real.
I won't say much, because this is beyond personal and he will certainly be reading, but I will just say - wow. I'm happy. I'm so, so happy and am experiencing a love I didn't know was possible.
I may write more about this one day, but for now, it's ours. Just ours.
My blog was always a personal place... A safe one... A place I shared thoughts that I wouldn't even vocalise to best friends, so it felt wrong to not at least mention this massive life change. My life has completely changed. It all looks different and only for the best.
I'm incredibly lucky, incredibly loved and pinching myself every day.
This was a result of my co-worker having way too much fun with the label maker.... I appreciated it.
Have a brilliant week everyone. Lots of posts swimming around my head to get working on..... One called "Children Eating Marshmallows". Beware - rant ahead.
Love and Sweet Potatoes
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