Hope, or something like it

We are living in the post-follow-your-dreams era where most career advice has a dark cloud of the 2008 economic collapse, escalating student debt, and low graduate employment rates. “Push forward, with caution” is the anxious whispers from academic halls, and even career consultants meant to inspire feel the need to temper their motivation: “Do what you are passionate about so long as it is valuable and you are good at it.” The message is clear your passion is no currency for success and happiness, don’t risk it all on a dream.

The problem with this advice is it fails to take into consideration that no one has ever started out “good at” something. Passion is what carries you through those long hours of practice makes perfect, and keeps you up late at night solving for x when the average person would have given up and gone to bed. It’s creativity’s high voltage elixir . Without it you get xerox scanned clip art and slapped-together, good-enough solutions.

It’s likely that this advice is well intentioned, as the road to passion is long and arduous. It often will seem to move so slowly that everything appears at a standstill, and then suddenly darts ahead at lightening speed so that you struggle to keep pace with it. You will make mistakes. At first you might stumble or get turned around, and the path forward will not always be clear. You may even believe that these mistakes are because you are mistaken to follow this fool’s passion, but if you are committed to learning from the path your passion leads you on then you will begin to learn the patterns of it’s behavior, to track it like a wild beast, and perhaps even to lead the hunt to discover new opportunities that ignite your passion.

You are the keeper of your passion you must take good care of it so that it will take good care of you. Passion must have room to stretch it’s legs, to make a mess occasionally, to sing from the rafters at all hours of the night. It can be part jealous lover, part needy child, and part stern master. You must wholly invest in your mental and physical health, and your emotional and spiritual well-being in order to become the tool your passion uses to reach the world.

Often those that are committed followers of their passion say that they would not wish this life upon anyone, there are easier ways to make a buck, but if it is calling you then you know that it is not about making a buck. It is no small task to commit to living a passionate life. This is what those weary eyed career councilors are trying to warn you. It may never, and probably won’t, pay off in wild success and a steady pay cheque. The fastest way to unhappiness is to follow fool’s gold into the belief  that you will earn your way into passion for your life. If you just work a little harder, wait a little longer. If you wait to put your passion first it will shrivel up and die before it is given a chance to prove valuable.

Too many people run away from their passion out of fear of what it will ask of them, but it is not healthy to suppress a force so powerful. It will wear you down into the dirt until there is barely anything left. It is then that sparkle of passion shines the most brightly in order to lead us back to ourselves.

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She Does Review

“You just keep the bad things away from your project. That’s what a director does. All the great things that happen aren’t really because of you, but if the bad things creep in that’s your fault. If something doesn’t feel right don’t let it slip through the cracks, even if other people are saying “it’s fine, it’s fine” you are the one that has to say “no it’s not” – Kat Cizek on her role as a director.

Discovering She Does has been a huge inspiration for me in the last week or so. To be honest, I’ve been staring into the abyss a lot lately, spelunking to some pretty dark places, and doing some intense creative soul searching. It’s easy to get bogged down, so I turned to my friends who recommended a bunch of blogs and podcasts to check out that deal with creative process and big ideas.

This one is by far my favourite. Possibly my favourite new media discovery this year.

At first I wasn’t sure how relevant the series would be to me as an artist that primarily works in live performance where as many of the guests largely work in tech and film. Each of the thirteen guests they have on the show has given me at least one extremely valuable nugget to take back to my personal practice, and not to mention just the general validation of hearing from other women working in a male dominated industry that say “yes it can be challenging, but it’s also very worth it.”

I highly recommend you check it out on stitcher or itunes if you are in search of some new inspiration yourself. My favourite episodes are: #4 How to Skin a Squirrel with Debra Granik the director of Winter’s Bone talking about her process for shooting fiction and documentary that respects the people within your story; #10 Always Talk to Strangers with Bianca Giaever who I relate to the most as another young artist she chats about story telling, meeting strangers, and figuring things out as you go; #8 Either You Fall or You Ride with Hanna Polak who offered some great insight into working on passion projects that have a massive scale; #11 Kat Cizek whom I quoted above that has worked for NFB and told stories across many different platforms while maintaining a community, activist focus.

Let me know in the comments which episode is your favourite, or if you have another podcast or blog about creative process you would recommend.

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Work habits

  • Meditation/introspection start and end of day
  • Tea first thing
  • Stretch and move my body and lungs at the start of the day
  • Spend time in the moment upon wake up
  • Record dreams in greatest detail possible
  • Limit social media and email in the morning
  • Always take the time to look great, life is too short to not be fabulous 
  • Walk to work whenever possible, making peace with the elements brings great calm
  • Coffee only after fed and mind is awake and active
  • Limit mindless media for special occasions and rewards
  • Read before bed, at lunch, after work. Write in the morning and before bed.
  • Ideal bedtime is between 10 and 11 on week nights 
  • Warming up as a group is essential
  • Remember to check in with yourself and your group
  • Active listening to the room as well as the speaker
  • Work with what you have and where you are at today
  • Work the body hard to out smart the mind
  • Do too many things at once, make mistakes, how happy accidents are born
  • Be mindful of downtime
  • Cultivate healthier habits in the work
  • Practice self care outside of the work
  • Dedicate work space outside of home space or public space
  • Pause to reflect often
  • Take lots of notes
  • Privacy is essential to my process
  • Trust is necessary at all levels
  • Give myself room to break the rules
  • Engage with the world outside of the theatre as much as possible
  • Be inspired by everyday things
  • Practice mental distractions to prevent unecessary worry
  • Everything is part of the work
  • I’m going to hate myself and my work sometimes and that is ok, show up and do the work anyway
  • Be a shit disturber. Prevent static energy through static routine
  • Research everything, you never know when it might come in handy
  • Be able to throw out good ideas that aren’t working. Accept the evolution of things as natural part of development.
  • Dream in technicolor blueprints
  • Pay attention to the small things asking for your attention
  • Meet people where they are at
  • Ask unruly questions
  • Unpack tidy answers
  • Be concious of creating safe spaces for those with less of a voice
  • Follow the fascinating thing
  • Value what is important
  • Foster a culture of change
  • Take an active role in the design of your life and work
  • Start a fight. Be unapologetically outspoken. 
  • Speak truthfully; act truthfully; live truthfully
  • Have a goal, know my purpose
  • Stay involved through the entire process, delegate often, work communally 
  • Surround myself with people that inspire me to aim higher
  • Feel new things
  • Think larger
  • Play out of my league
  • Ask the tough questions 
  • Lift others up and be the champion of each other’s work, there are enough detractors
  • Leave room for other perspectives
  • Don’t be boring
  • Make bold choices
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    Eureka

    When you’re working on a different problem and stumble across the truth to a forgotten question, or the most wonderful feeling in the world.
    Moments like these affirm that there is always a part of me seeking my higher purpose. All I need to be is ready to receive when the time comes.

    Today I discovered a part of myself that I have oft visited, now changed under the light of new perspective. Like an old friend who suddenly sings you a song from childhood long eroded from passing time to sound entirely foreign and strange to grown up ears.

    Dear Devotion is the piece I am most passionate about creating. I have sat with it for many years gestating and fermenting. Every day I take it out and turn it over gently examining it from all angles. Is it ready yet? Is it time to share you with the wild and insidious world? Not yet she whispers. Let me dream a while longer in your arms to smell of lilacs and rain. For once I leave this hallowed place there is no growing backwards. The world is an all consuming place they will swallow me hole and their will be nothing left for you and I to savour in our private glory. Let me germinate a while longer that I might creep through the valleys of your unchartered mind and find new unexpected haunts to lay down our roots. 

    It is not time yet my love. 

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