I don't know about you, but sometimes (pretty much always) the hardest thing about my life is not the stuff itself, it's what my thoughts are about the stuff. So I've been working on changing that. This is a life's work.
My 40th birthday wasn't the birthday I'd planned - I was meant to be in the lakes for the day itself, but a performance course I signed up to last year changed its dates so I found myself in Manchester.
This last year hasn't been one I would plan either - my acting career has turned into more of a 'hobby' and for a long time I wasn't massaging people so my sense of identity and meaningfulness was hanging by a thread and although I've remained fairly positive about it, lately it has started to drag a bit and I've found myself feeling sorry for myself which is just not an appealing way to be at aaall. But it also HAS just been rubbish and challenging and I have applied for at LEAST fifty jobs in the last few months and done auditions for dozens but I have got none of them and that was the nature of the performance industry anyway but it's got even more extreme as there are less jobs and more people applying so it honestly has been a challenge.
Anyway, I found a new thought about my birthday and life that I reeeaally liked. Instead of 'I am so hard done by.' I've been working on, 'It is possible that I am winning at life.' As soon as I looked at things like that I was like, YES! I am! Like, for my birthday I got to be with my oldest friend and his family and to be performed for by my friend's daughter and get non-stop cuddles from his son and spend time with people I love and eat excellent salad and in the day I found a new swim spot and practised my acting craft and the following day I went to the lakes and swam every day and Yes it IS possible that I am winning at life. Because you often find what you're looking for, so if it's all the ways you are unlucky, you'll find them. But if it's all the ways you are winning, you'll find them too.
So that was working well.
And then I was in the lakes and having a day to myself and I cycled past the shop and got a spot of wifi so I had a little look at my emails and there was another thank you but no thank you email about a job I had recorded an audition for.
As I cycled back up the hill after my lovely day by the water, the thought, 'It is possible I am winning at life' wasn't quite hitting the spot. I was disappointed and felt pretty ground down and hopeless about my career. It's normal, these rejection emails. I get them all the time, but I was thinking, 'It's been a year without a yes. Can I go on???' And all the time, I was cycling with only 8 gears up a massive hill back to Grizedale forest. Talking to myself. Am I winning at life??? It doesn't feel like it. But I guess I can cycle up big hills which is pretty cool. So am I? But I want to do the thing I have trained for!
Then I thought back to my birthday. On the morning of my birthday on the course, we were invited to spend some time in grief. Earlier in the week we had done joy and lust and desire and rage and probably other emotions that I can't remember. Fear a little. But my birthday treat was grief. And we really went there – people in the room were howling and there were tears and it went on and on and I found it then I lost it then I found it again and towards the end I looked around the room at these beautiful people who all had access to grief because they had all had losses in their life, no matter what they were. And yet after the exercise we wiped ourselves down and walked out into the world and it really touched me – how somewhere, inside every person there is a well of grief. And yet we walk about our lives doing our everyday things and I came up with another thought: "Yet still we rise."
So as I was cycling up the hill, having to stand up because my gears don't go very low, sweating and frustrated with my career, I had a go at 'Yet still we rise.' And it helped. We are awesome humans BECAUSE we keep going when things are tough. And in that way, it was still possible I was winning at life.
It's been an interesting year, working on my thoughts and of course I still have a looooong way to go but this is where I am at the moment. It still feels hard and disappointing yet still we rise. Resilience is a beautiful quality.
As I said, working on changing thoughts is a life's work but some days it seems to really help.
The weather is looking rainy for tomorrow (Tuesday 6th July) so if you would like a massage, I have some daytime availability.
Or Thursday 29th July. I'd love to see you, however you are. All welcome.
The photos are of me with cream on my face on my birthday and of me with my friend Cam as we walked back down off a hill with massive bags in the pouring rain, scared and not enjoying it at all so I suggested that we capture the moment, because 'Yet still we rise.'
It would be lovely to see you soon, let me know if you would like to book in,
Ruth Nadia x