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It's been two months since I began work in the rehearsal room, on my solo show, How To Be Well In A World That Is Sick? It has also been two months since I wrote my first blog post.

And what a two months it has been! Wow. A real rollercoaster indeed. My intention was to write a blog each week....ha! Best laid plans and all that. As it happens, it has all been rather a lot, and sometimes, it has all felt like way too much. Like taking on Goliath, alone.

I have contemplated pulling this show a number of times these past two months. I have had a fairly regular series of small and sometimes larger meltdowns, and done a lot of sitting on the floor crying and or staring at the walls of the rehearsal room.

I have learnt a lot. A lot about myself. A lot about this process. A lot about my mental health. A lot about working with past trauma. A lot about my inner critics and demons. A lot about what creative processes and balancing mental health need. A lot about what does not work. What is too far. What is not safe. What is too much, too hard and or too risky. Too exposing or re-triggering. It's been a journey of much learning and re-learning.

I made the decision for a number of wise and self loving reasons not to have a director. And in hindsight there were also a number of less healthy and less self loving narratives and coping mechanisms involved in this choice. I realised fairly early on that it was a big mistake to try and do this so solo. I have been doing some interesting reading around the concept of fierce independence or hyper independence as a trauma response, as a way of coping and or survining. Feeling the need to do it all alone, to push people away and not let people get close or really help you. It's been hard to swallow and also helpful.

Realising that one of my biggest fears these past months and years is people pleasing and fawning and giving my power and agency and voice away, also as part of an old coping strategy and trauma response to many things in my past from long long ago. I have become so scared of my own inability to say no and or hold onto what I want or need, that some part of me was terrified of having someone else in the room, in case I ended up trying to make the show they wanted me to make, and not what I need it to be.

And what I have realised, more deeply than in the past, is that I only really ever do this in situations or with people I don't fully trust or feel fully safe with. That's when it kicks in. If I am in a relationship, of any kind, working or otherwise, and I feel safe, have established trust, then I can speak my truth, say yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no. So it was not that I didn't need a director, it was that I really needed someone who understood.

A person who I trusted and who could be in that space with me on all levels, who could empathise with my process creatively and also personally, in relation to the very personal and deeply exposing and challenging content and subject matter of this work. I needed a person who would be able to meet me on all levels and in all spaces and help me to feel safe. Feeling safe is such a huge part of healing from deep trauma, such a huge part of navigating wellness and mental health struggles, being able to be yourself, as you need to be, as you are, is a huge and vulnerable and exposing journey. Luckily for me and for my team and the work, I remembered I do in fact have this person in my life.

Better that than never as they say! I shipped in a good friend from Yorkshire who is also a very talented artist and somatic movement practitioner, specialising in trauma held in the body. She was the life line I needed and helped me to turn a corner after a very arduous six weeks largely alone in a rehearsal room with all my trauma and demons having a big and wild party, without my consent! It was a very sticky middle part to say the least!

And I was surprised by some of the things that were coming up for me. SO many fears and self judgements around the subject matter for this work, so much anxiety around being open and honest with such deep and raw wounds. SO much fear of the reaction of others and or the validity of my journey and the worth of my story..."Does this matter? Is anyone going to want to hear this? Is this a good idea? Do I have the right to be here and take up this space, on this stage, now? Is it good for me? Am I re-traumatising myself?

Is this a bad idea? Am I doing this from a healthy space? Why am I doing this? Where does it come from in me? Is it from a place of fullness or a place of lack? Should I cancel it and should I pull back? What about all the peoples voices I haven't included, all the stories I am not telling, what about them? How can I say all of the things I want to say and what is safe for me to say or speak? What needs leaving out? Can I do this? Is it possible?

Ultimately I have decided yes. Yes I can. Yes I want to. Yes it matters. Yes I do deserve this space. Yes this is healing for me. Yes I am finishing this. Yes it is very hard and very scary and sometimes feels like way too much. And yes. I am doing it anyway. This is now the last month. I have a lot of fears around the time I feel I "wasted" and a lot of space to now change and re-write that narrative as part of what happened. As part of this show process and part of healing and part of navigating wellness and unwellness; the constant need for self compassion and acceptance and checking in and changing things and a big and endless amount of flexibility and fluidity and willingness to go with and be with what is...It is not easy. That's for sure! It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done, and that said, getting to this place in myself, over the last seven years or more, was harder still....

If and when I am able to remember that, to remind myself how far I have come, then I am able to find the strength to keep going and carry on. To allow the days of sitting on the floor and doing little or nothing. To be kind to myself in them. And embrace the days like today when I feel I was able to achieve a lot. To make space for valuing both equally and not fall into the trap of telling myself a story that one is 'better' than the other. They are both part of me, both part of this process, of this work and of this journey. So here's to making space to celebrate all of us, the times and moments when we can and those when we can not...equally. To making space for our light and dark, pretty and ugly. All.

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Updated: Feb 3, 2022

I am thrilled to announce that I did indeed get the funding I was hoping for, from the wonderful Arts Council Of Wales, for my solo show "How To Be Well In A World That Is Sick?". Today was my first day in the rehearsal room. And it was a beautifully hard one.

I didn't sleep very well last night. I arrived late. I left my bank card at my partners house. I am about to start bleeding. And everything all felt like too much. The first thing I did was lie down on the floor and meditate. Which felt good. And helped. It also dropped me into my body deep enough to feel all the sadness in me today. So then I cried lots. Which also felt good. Realising today was not going to be a 'productive day', I decided to try and focus on allowing myself to be as I was, how I was, and accept that. Sounds simple right!

And it has taken me years, quite literally, to learn how to do this. To unlearn all the ways I was taught and conditioned to go against what I felt or needed, to go against my body and its flow, its needs, or desires. To ignore the reality and force myself too 'do more'........

I certainly still did more today than my body wanted to do. And. I allowed myself to do a lot less, than my head was telling me, I 'should be doing'. So it was a day of progress, in a way that I have also had to learn to recognise and celebrate, as its own kind of success and or achievement. The success of letting go and doing less. The achievement of recognising this as a healthy step towards better self care. The achievement of rewriting my value systems and or belief systems, that have told me for years, more is better, less is worse. To push is to be strong, to listen and yield or surrender, is to be weak. Failing.......

...that achievement, is all about doing and not about being. Striving rather than listening. Pushing rather than being able, to surrender. This narrative feels so strong in our culture.

They are firmly rooted deep in my psyche, these institutionalised narratives, from the outside. And as the old witch saying goes; as without, so within, as above, so below.

I wrote a little today, from sheets of paper. Collated a few ideas and put them onto a document to share with other members of my team. I danced a little bit. I asked for some help from a friend. Nothing was 'done' to satisfy the part of me that only wants a particular kind of 'doing'. And much was allowed, permitted, given space, held, in myself and in my space. Much was released and accepted, leaned into and softened, into.

So as I write this, in the here and now, I am changing the narrative I had in my head, as I drove home. The "I didn't do enough today and I am already failing" story. The one that says "You have no idea what you are doing and this is going to be a big mess". And as I hear these words inside me now and type them, my stomach resists them and wants to push them away. No. This is not the full truth. This is the critics. And they tell stories.

Stories that are not whole or true. They may feel true sometimes, or be hard to dismiss sometimes. They may carry a lot of weight and domination sometimes. And they are not the only perspective. I can choose this new one. A new story. A new narrative. The one that says "You did great today". "Isn't it amazing that you made it into the rehearsals room at all, given how tired you felt!?" "And how wonderful that you recognised you needed to lie down and meditate, and then did that, and gave yourself what you needed! How excellent are you!" "And what a marvellous thing that you allowed yourself to be with what was, instead of pushing past it, and trying to get to what you 'thought', 'should' be, how brilliant you are!"

And this is what this work is all about; me, learning how, to allow myself, to be, as I am.

So with that in mind, whilst today was hard, it was also a very good start. Because I lay on the floor a lot, and cried, and did powerful roations with my hips, and felt my body, and I lsitend to it, more than I often have, in the past. And I danced a little, and wrote a little, and I took a few pictures, and ate some food. And that is actually enough, more than enough, to start with. And the critics that belong to the wound in me, that never feels enough, will never be satisfied, because that is thier way; they always want to shout some more, they always have some other unkind or cruel thing to say. And that's ok too.

And they will be there sometimes. And what I am learning, slowly and surely, is that I do not have to listen to them. I do not have to believe them. I may not always be able to silence them, and that's ok too. They can sit, on thier perches, chatting away, shouting or jabbering, and I can let them just be there. Or throw them the odd doughnut to eat, give them a tasy treat to chew on for a while, give me some peace, to just be, lie down, cry, wind my hips, stretch my legs, look at the trees, listen to the wind, and consider; what this journey may be. How this show may turn out. Where it may take me. Or not. And it was lovely, to find some moments today, of being very present, with what was, with what is.

What a gift to find one today, in the most unlikely of places. The kindness of strangers. It is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things about life and this journey, for me. How much kindness I have received, from total strangers, people who really, genuinely, want to help, care, support, hold, cheer lead, encourage, liste to all the many and wonderful strangers in the world, who have helped me so much, from a place of real and genuine love with no agenda other than a desire to be kind. It gives me hope, always.

It is all about the perspective we hold. the stories we are told. And the ones we choose to re-tell, to ourselves. This alone (and it is no small thing to change), really is everything. The lens through which we see ourselves and or the world around us, is the difference. It is the thing that keeps us stuck, trapped, and drowning, or the thing that carries us forwards, to places of new confidence, worth and possibility. Stories are very powerful.

One of the waitresses in the arts centre cafe today asked me what my show was about. So I told her. And she responded very kindly and astutely, by saying, 'You can do this'. I had never met her before. She continued by saying and offering '...And if you ever need a cheer leader, then come and find me. And I'll remind you, that you can do this'.

It was the most beautiful and wonderful thing anybody could have said to me at that moment. And magical given that I had been writing about that very thing, earlier today; how important cheer leaders are. people who are on your team, who won't give up on you or let you give up on yourself. They are vital. Crucial. Necessary to the healing process. We/I, really need, those people.

What a gift to find one today, in the most unlikely of places. The kindness of strangers. It is quite possibly one of the most beautiful things about life and this journey, for me. How much kindness I have received from total strangers, people who really, genuinely, want to help, care, support, hold, cheer lead, encourage, listen, ask. Thank you. To all the many and wonderful strangers in the world, who have helped me so much, from a place of real genuine love, with no agenda, other than a desire to be kind. It gives me hope, always.

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