I said ‘No’

Ah “balance“… that old yoga word.

Turns out balance isn’t just a word we use on the tightrope. It is also a word that applies to our daily jobs, our lovers and our day-to-day non work life. For now let’s consider and focus on the latter…finding balance in our non work lives. Indirectly when we find that I’m sure the other two will be helped.

Meet Daisy….
She’s a great girl. She’s pretty, vivacious, outdoorsy, confident and always out and about. She does all the right things to progress her career forward and she is constantly amongst it. Daisy is always at all the networking events, and also always auditioning. Daisy is going well. But you see Daisy around April, and well, she looks a bit tired and slightly frazzled. Come May when summer is really starting to sizzle she is looking fragile and frustrated. What could Daisy possibly be doing wrong?
Yes you guessed it. She is doing too much. She needs a holiday from her life to recoup and get her energy back when her life is the thing that should be giving her the energy. She is living the dream after all….

We have all been there, we have all done it. By the time we book the holiday to go away as a treat we hit the beach chair, have one day in the sun and then our body falls apart and we get ill. We spend the rest of the holiday getting over a flu or virus just in time to be well again when we get back to work. Doh.

In order to be the masters of our own destiny we actually have to learn how to say no sometimes (not just to acting roles). Just this week I said ‘No’ to an acting networking night. It’s the night I keep free every week for my bikram yoga and I know that without my exercise I’m just not as much fun to be around. So I missed one acting night. Oh well, there will be more. And as it turned out I was able to get a debrief two days later from my mate who did attend. Nothing lost but balance gained. Not that I would have turned it down if it was an audition. We can’t just not go to those.

But how can we do things differently?
1) Exercise: This is one of the most wonderful things ever. It releases endorphins that make us feel incredible and also has the second benefit of making us look better too. Find a form of exercise that compliments your hectic life.
One clever London pal of mine walks to her work every day in winter and rides in summer. Her outdoor exercise is governed by the seasons.
2) Read every day: Another friend of mine (I have many clever friends who teach me a lot) reads every night before bed. He always allows himself 20-30 minutes to read a novel. Nothing work related, nothing boring, just pure blissful entertaining reading.
3) Consider what Epicurus (Greek: Ἐπίκουρος, Epikouros) suggested – “allow time for reflection daily”: Find 15 minutes in the morning or evening to write in a journal or reflect on your day. Morning journaling is typically about thought dumping (read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (http://www.theartistsway.com/) for ideas) and evening writing can help to reflect on the day that has passed and brain dump what’s still in your head. You can even sleep better if you do this.
4) Pick a new creative treat just for you to learn: Now as silly as it sounds I bet some of you have new years resolutions that appear year after year on your list but never get done (I still haven’t done that photography course). If you pick one thing you love and focus on learning it I guarantee you’ll be so excited you’ll actually want to spare some time to do it. Consider guitar, painting, photography, jewelry making, rock climbing, parkour, Spanish lessons, becoming a Chocolatier. The list is endless.
5) And last but not least, my favourite. …”fun time”: Schedule a half a day off a week for it. It’s your welly day. You’re too well to go to work. Don’t read that script, don’t edit that film, just do something you enjoy – be it spending time with mates or going to a gallery or exhibition, or high tea with a pal. You absolutely MUST have fun, and it need not involve alcohol.

And while finding a way to strike a balance guess what else happens? Next time you go for an audition and the casting director says “So Jo, tell me a little about yourself.”, you’ll have some really exciting things to reply with. “Well actually I’ve just started learning parkour and it’s incredible” or “I just learnt how to make silver jewelry like this” (cue showing them your new ring). Remember, the casting director didn’t ask that question to find out more about your acting CV, they asked because they want to know more about you the person, and what makes you tick.

So it’s time B.A.B.E. to get out there and strike a balance.
Truth: I actually have started learning parkour late last year and it’s really fun. To find out more go to http://www.urbanfreeflow.com/uf-classes.

Dare: Enroll into something new in the next month and post it on here or send me an email.

Fact: Eating just 13 packs of cookies can increase your dress size by one whole size, and that would take you more than 100 hours to jog off on the treadmill.  Stay away from those cookies babes.

Watch out for my next blog – Finding an agent, which will be posted in two weeks, with some special guest writers from London and LA.

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