Thursday, 1 October 2009

Let Creativity Begin Retreat: Exciting guest photographer

'he listened' - photo by Naomi Calvert

As soon as I saw this photo, which Naomi Calvert (@_nai_) took while she was at the Do Lectures, I knew I was in the presence of a pretty special photographer. When I saw the rest of the photos she took during those magical days at Fforest and read her blog I thought how great it would be if I could somehow find a way to get Naomi to teach me photography. Organising my first creativity retreat has provided the perfect opportunity to do just that ... I've invited Naomi to be a guest tutor at the retreat and she's agreed! I'm so excited and can't wait to find out how Naomi gets such amazing quality of light and a sense of honesty in her photos.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Good Cause Auctions, now with added doodling delightfulness

So here's my latest scheme to raise money for good causes (I should point out up front that one of those good causes happens to be me!):

Auction 1:

My Do Lectures notebook packed full of scribbled snippets of wordly wisdom gleaned from each of the Do Lectures speakers PLUS whoever wins the auction will get a Do Lectures inspired doodle from me every month between now and the next Do Lectures in 2010.

25% of whatever I raise will be donated to the Do Lectures to give them a headstart on their fundraising for the 2010 lectures. Another 25% will go to Ben Bowen to support his fantastic DoTour adventure. The other 50% will go to me and I will spend put it in a safe place and put it towards my 2010 Do Lectures ticket.

Auction 2:

My Howies 2009 Summer Catalogue which features 7 of my doodles hand-drawn over some beautifully inspiring photography by James Bowden ... by the time I mail the catalogue out it will almost definitely have more doodles in it :-) PLUS whoever wins will get a Howies inspired doodle from me every month for a year.

50% of whatever I raise will be donated to James' Bourgeois Bicycle Caravan adventure. The other 50% will go to, you guessed it, me.

So how this will work* is you drop me a message via the comments here, or on twitter, or on Facebook, or via email or by running up to me in the street and let me know which auction you want to bid on and what your best bid is. I'll keep this blogpost updated with the highest bid and I'll close the bidding on Sunday evening (27th September) at around 9pm.

*All the usual rules apply ... basically I make the final decision about who the winning bidder is and I won't close the bidding until all bidders are finished ... this isn't ebay ;-)

Monday, 21 September 2009

One Hundred Days Of DO

Today I bought a new notebook for recording my first 100 Days of DO-ing ... The first 100 Days of Do is up on the 16th December and hopefully there will be meetups of Doers going on all over the UK ... all I have to do is help make it happen and then decide which meetup to go to :-)

By the way, I've worked out that if you work to a 100 day change cycle then you can have three change cycles every year and still have 65 days of rest ... I quite like the sound of that!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Do you want to play?

When I started this blog it was part of me taking a tiny first step towards a long-held dream ... to help others have fun exploring their creativity. My fledgling idea was that eventually I would hold workshops for creative souls who want to play at making art, crafty bits and pieces. Thanks to an inspiring talk by Andrew Reason at the Do Lectures (and helped along by a sharp nudge in the ribs from the irrepresible Duke Stump) I've decided to take a leap and organise the first ever 'Let Creativity Begin workshop'.

Here's the plan: a group of us (girls only I'm afraid!) will spend 3 or 4 days together in early November. You can stay at my house or at a local hostelry. I'll supply the materials, inspiration and food ... you bring your sense of fun and a willingness to share your ideas and play. During the day we'll cover the dining room table with words, paintbrushes, scraps of material, glue and things we've ripped from magazines; In the evening we'll eat together, drink together, make popcorn, watch heartwarming films and share our stories ... we might even sing, or teach each other to knit, or go for a scary torchlit walk in the woods.

all the ingredients for creativity

You'll be helping me shape future workshops so I'll leave it up to you to pay what you think the workshop is worth/contribute however much you can afford. If you're interested in coming to this workshop then get in touch and we can take it from there!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Do be brave, Do be happy

I am currently finding myself rather dumbstruck at the magnitude of awesome things that are going on in my life right now. Today seems to have completely gone off the awesomeness scale and is carrying right on up through the stratosphere.

First of all it's payday ... which might not seem all that awesome but it means that I can pay back one of my Do-nators. Paul Carruthers (@paulcarruthers) blew me away when he donated £100 - firstly because we'd only recently met on twitter when he made the donation and secondly because he was doing his own fundraising at the time and training to cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats! The doodle I did for Paul is below {well it would be if blogger was uploading the image! in the meantime you can see it here} and will be winging its way to him as soon as possible :-)

Second of all I found out that my application to the Leadership Unleashed programme was successful!!!! It made my day when I saw a tweet from Michele Taylor (@mou5e) to say that she'd found out she was accepted to the programme ... when I checked my email and found out that I was accepted too I burst into tears of joy! You'll see from my recent tweets that I was far from confident about applying:

"writing my application for a leadership programme is tricky when I don’t see myself as a leader :-("
"… my application can be condensed to 5 words: “take a chance on me” … please keep all fingers and toes crossed until further notice"
"in a rare moment of bravery I’ve just submitted an application to the Leadership Unleashed development programme: … gulp"

The next 12 months look set to be somewhat of an adventure - I'm looking forward to [i.e. feeling mild terror at the thought of] having my preconceptions of who I am and what I'm capable of stretched to their very limits.

Thirdly, I went for my first singing lesson in about a month. I started lessons about 3 months ago and I'm completely loving it. Turns out that I've actually got a pretty good voice - I just need to learn how to control and amplify my instrument :-) If you've ever fancied learning to sing then I insist you find a singing teacher or join your local community choir ... whether I spend the lesson singing scales, humming like an angry bee or singing the 'Tale As Old As Time' (from Beauty and the Beast) I always leave my lesson on a complete high ... and it only costs me £16 for each lesson!

Fourthly, and finally, I had the privilege of spending a transformational 30 minutes chatting with Duke Stump (@skratta) on skype. Duke was one of the Do Lectures speakers who I was lucky enough to connect with ... in an irreverent piss-taking kind of a way ... and he offered to give me a bit of coaching after the Do Lectures dust had settled. Despite *slight* technological difficulties (all at Duke's side of the Atlantic I'm fairly certain ;-) it was a deeply thought provoking and challenging conversation that ended up with quite an extraordinary revelation ... it's a bit early for me to spill the beans but I promise that as soon as I can put it into words I'll share my 'big audacious hairy goal' with you. I'm so grateful to Duke for sneaking up behind me and shoving me over the edge of the clifftop ... I'm sure it won't be a wholly graceful descent but he's certainly got my '100 days of Do' off to a high velocity start ... and hopefully I'll find my Doing wings on the way down :-)

Sunday, 13 September 2009

My Do Lectures Notebook

Open my Do Lectures notebook on the Issuu website

This is the notebook I filled with words while I listened to each of the Do Lectures speakers. I'm planning to auction off this notebook to the highest bidder ... 75% of the money I raise will go to good causes, 25% will go towards getting me to the 2010 Do Lectures (arguably also a good cause, albeit a less altruistic one!). I haven't worked out the best way to run the auction yet ... all ideas and/or initial bids very welcome!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Feels Like Home to Me

"Decide who it is you want to hear and let them speak to you" ~ Andrew Huggett

In the weeks that led up to the Do Lectures I went stumbling and crashing through pretty much every possible emotion ... hope, euphoria, relief, gratitude, unworthiness, fear, quiet bravery and loud celebration ... at the root of it all was the worry that I wasn't enough of a 'doer' to deserve a place at the Do Lectures and a fear that I wouldn't fit in. Then suddenly I was there in the middle of Fforest - all the mental noise fell away and then the learning began.

Trying to describe being at the Do Lectures would be like painting the Forth Bridge ... it would take forever to do and as soon as I got to the end there would be new stuff to describe from right at the beginning. All I can tell you is that the deep connectedness, deep learning and deep sense of timelessness I experienced in those four days is threaded and stitched through my soul in a way that makes the ticket price pale into insignificance.

As I unpack, literally and metaphorically, from my trip to 'TED in a Welsh field' I'll try and find the words to share my experiences but in the meantime you can see the Do Lectures through my eyes in my flickr photostream, and read the tweets I made while I was there on my tumblr blog.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Sunday, 16 August 2009

the journey from Procrastinating to Doing

the journey from Procrastinating to Doing from Helen Harrop on Vimeo.

While I was making this I learnt an awful lot about the very worst way to make an animated video ... next time will be a breeze!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Lots 2, 3 and 4 in my 'book + charity' auction

The Harry Potter first edition triple charity book bonanza was a bit of a flop i.e. I still have all three copies in my possession and raised a grand total of zero pounds for the three charities. Undeterred by this fundraising hiccup I now offer to you the following books:

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks - Paperback, unread

The Hyper-Creative Personality by Blaire Palmer - Paperback, unread, 1st edition

The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel - Paperback, preview copy supplied for a blog interview I did with Eric Maisel, 1st edition (the corner of one page has been folded over on a page that happens to have the word 'sex' on it ... this is a purely unintentional, albeit rather Freudian, coincidence)

This is how it will work ... you have until 9pm on 18th August to make an offer by leaving a comment below or by sending me a message on twitter (@iamhelenharrop). Each book will go to the highest bidder but the second highest bidder will get a chance to increase their bid (in the interests of raising as much money for charity as possible).

You can choose which charity you'd like the money to go to from the list below or nominate your own preferred charity. You can also choose what percentage you want to donate to charity (the remaining percentage will go towards covering my travel expenses etc for the Do Lectures).
  • The Royal British Legion - to honour Harry Patch, the very last WW1 vetaran who died last month.
  • Comic Relief - to support Eddie Izzard's 1000 mile (!!!) run as part of Sport Relief.
  • Touchstone Leeds - a charity who support communities, particularly around mental health issues.
  • Living Paintings - a free tactile book library who bring stories and artwork to life for partially sighted and blind children, young people and adults.
The minimum bid for each book is £20 and I reserve the right to increase the percentage donated to charity depending on the final amount raised (i.e. I'm not looking to make money for myself). Each winning bidder will also get an original doodle which I'll draw while I'm at the Do Lectures.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Harry Patch: A life well lived, a person well loved

Created with the text from Harry Patch's biography [pdf] on the British Legion website (using Wordle)

The triple charity book bonanza

There is every possibility that I'm pushing my luck here but in the interests of charity I'm going to take a chance and put my (many) doubts to one side ...

Several years ago I was preparing to get married to my wonderful husband and was busy looking for presents for our bridesmaids. I had the idea of buying a Harry Potter celebratory edition paperback for each of them. At the time you could pick a 1st edition, 1st printing copy for almost cover price and I thought it might be a nice gesture ... but then doubt set in and I ended up buying other, less tangential, presents for them.

Which is all a slightly long-winded way of explaining why I ended up with a mini-stock pile of 1st Edition Harry Potter paperbacks.

After the success of my recent 'charity + book' auction I've decided to offer up another three copies of the same book to see if I can raise some money for some more charities while everyone is still in a generous mood.

Here's how it will work ... I'm offering each book for £125 which is a tiny bit more than the amount the last auction raised ... £100 of that donation will go to one of three charities:
  • The Royal British Legion - to honour Harry Patch, the very last WW1 vetaran who died last month.
  • Comic Relief - to support Eddie Izzard's 1000 mile (!!!) run as part of Sport Relief
  • Touchstone Leeds - a charity who support communities, particularly around mental health issues
and the remaining £25 of your donation will provide support to me for my forthcoming trip to the Do Lectures (to help cover some of my travel costs etc).

Each donor will get a 'thank you art doodle' from me which I'll be drawing while I'm at the Do Lectures.

If you'd like to grab one of these 1st edition Harry Potter paperbacks and raise money for charity at the same time then you can leave a comment below or send me a message on twitter: @iamhelenharrop

It goes without saying that if you would like to donate more than £125 that would be amazing and if you'd prefer 100% of the donation to go to charity then that's no problem at all.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

My love affair with clouds

I think clouds are so amazing that I find it really hard to understand people I meet who say 'yep, it's a cloud .. so what?' when I point wildly into the sky. I didn't realise quite how much of a cloudspotter I was until I did a search for "cloud" on my Flickr photostream ... aren't those clouds fantastic! :-)

One of my favouritest things is clouds reflected in puddles ... it's like a whole other world exists through a watery puddle portal (or something).

The fact that there is a Cloud Appreciation Society with some 18,000+ members makes me feel glad that I'm not alone.

The August '09 issue of Coast magazine featured the Anderby Bay Cloud Bar where you can do a spot of cloud spotting from the roof terrace all year round.

Lot 1: Harry Potter, now available with added charity

***UPDATE: Final bid = £120 ... that means £90 for Full Circle Arts and £30 to put towards my Do Lectures expenses ... All thanks to the lovely @Mou5e! ***

Raising £1200 for other folk's charities is lovely and everything but it got me in the mood for raising money for my own choice of charities (and helping to cover some of my Do Lectures expenses at the same time). So without further ado I present to you the first item in my 'Book + Charity' auction.

Lot 1:

The Celebratory Paperback edition of JK Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was published in 2001 to coincide with the launch of the first Harry Potter film and also to celebrate 1.5 million copies of Philosopher's Stone being sold.

This copy I'm auctioning is a 1st edition, 1st printing of this celebratory edition. It is in brand new, un-read condition and would make a great investment to store away and give as a gift to a child on their 18th birthday. The spine is uncreased and it's only been opened to verify it as a first edition copy (and to take the photograph above).

The charity that will be benefiting from this auction is Full Circle Arts

How the auction will work:

You can submit bids via twitter (@iamhelenharrop) and in the comments here on this blog. I'll tweet whenever I get a new bid (there might be a delay on that during the day because I'll be at work). The auction will end at 9pm on Wednesday 5th August but in the interest of raising as much money for charity as possible I'll give the highest bidders at that point a chance to increase their bids in a similar way to if you were sat in an auction house or the way that the Bumblebee Auction website works.

I reserve the right to a) refuse to take a bid from someone I have reason to believe is not genuine b) cancel the auction if it looks like something is going horribly awry c) increase the percentage of money that I give to charity if the amount I raise far exceeds my expectations (i.e. I'm not doing this to get a ton of cash for myself). d) auction additional copies of this book after this auction finishes if there is enough interest. e) I have the final word on how the auction is run and who is the winner. f) the successful bidder will be notified by me and will be given 24 hrs to make a payment to me via Paypal, in the case of them not making a payment then I reserve the right to offer the book to the next highest bidder (as long as the reserve is met. ... Complicated enough for you? Good :-)

I am setting a reserve to ensure that I raise a minimum amount for charity - please dig deep folks!

I'll be donating a minimum of 50% of whatever I raise to support the fantastic work that Full Circle Arts do. They are a national arts organisation who promote and campaign for access and inclusion of disabled people - both as artists and audience members.

I had the opportunity to attend a Full Circle Arts workshop in Manchester last month and was impressed by their passionate but down-to-earth, wholly inclusive approach to what they do. Their mission is positive, empowering and in my opinion, extremely necessary - while I was watching the live streaming of Ted Global recently it struck me just how able-bodied centric even the most enlightened of events can be. At the Never Dive Alone workshop I attended I had the privilege to meet a whole spectrum of folks from the creative industries - I came away feeling nourished and included as an artist and my head was buzzing with new ideas and wider possibilities.

The work of Full Circle Arts encourages and supports arts practitioners such as Alan Martin who travels all over the country running Inclusive Dance Workshops, giving advice on disability rights and access issues from his own personal experience, and also choreographing dance performances which can turn the tiniest of micro-movements into a centre stage performance - I learnt more about the art of communication and understood more about my own limitations from spending a day with Alan than I could from studying a degree in linguistics. He also has one of best website names I've come across in a long time: My first thought when I listened to Alan talk about his dance productions was 'I'd love to see that on the stage of TED' ... I'm going to suggest it to them and see what happens.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Spread some joy

"In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do." ~ Dorothea Dix, 19th century activist for the welfare of the mentally ill.

Some days I use twitter to spread joy, on other days the folks on twitter buoy me up with their joy. My aim is to spread more joy than I absorb :-)

When passion and people power collide: a modern day Twitter fable

Less than a week ago I expressed a dream and a slightly crazy idea for making it happen. Now I find myself sitting here with the slow realisation that we did it, together we made it. A handful of generous friends, family and followers stumped up a total of £1000 so that I can go to the Do Lectures. *Wow*. It still hasn't sunk in!

Thanks to my generous donors I'll be passing on around £1200 to various good causes over the next 10 months (sooner if I can) and all the donors will get a thank you doodle which I'll draw while I'm at the lectures.

What has been really thrilling and unexpected is that £120 of the donations came from people who wanted to thank me for my TED Global twitter coverage ... wow again!

Of course the idiotic dreamer in me is already thinking ... hey, maybe we could do this to raise the money to go to TED Global 2010! I think not but you never know ;-) For now I'm thinking that I'd like to do more for charity and raise some money for my travel expenses etc so I'm going to do a book + charity thing with books that I own more than one of. Full details to follow but the books I'll be auctioning are:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling (Celebratory edition, 2001) - Paperback, 1st edition, 1st printing, unread

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks - Paperback, unread

The Hyper-Creative Personality by Blaire Palmer - Paperback, unread

The Van Gogh Blues by Eric Maisel - Paperback, preview copy supplied for a blog interview I did with Eric Maisel

I'll do a proper post detailing how I'm going to run the auction but the plan at the moment is that I'll set a reserve for each book and 50% of whatever I raise will go to charity ... more info to follow.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The kindness of strangers (and friends + family)

I am rather overwhelmed (to say the least) by people's response to my Do Lectures appeal on Twitter. I thought that at best I would be met with disinterested silence and at worst I would be met with scathing 'who do you think you are?' comments chastising me for abusing the goodwill of my twitter followers ... boy was I wrong!

Since Sunday folks have donated a grand total of £610 plus a book (undisclosed title at the moment). Even folks from the non-Twitter world have stepped up and donated! I'll do a proper grovelling thank you post soon but for now here's a quick run down:

£100 from @traceymadden
a book to take with me from @warmstrings
£100 from @paulcarruthers
£100 from Michael Dodd (colleague and mentor)
£100 from @carencarter (my twin sister)
£100 from @betsybeth (my best friend and honorary twin sister)
£100 from my Mum!
£10 from @dswviper (£10 as a thank you for my TED Global tweetfest!)

So that means I'm currently 2/3 of the way towards my Do Lecture ticket and have raised £751 for charity ... (including £20 which I'm sponsoring @paulcarruthers for his Lands End to John O'Groats cycle ride:

*Wow* *thank you!* Each person will get a hand drawn doodle from me as an additional little thank you.

I've never been so glad to be proved wrong!

Fingers crossed I can get the rest of the money raised before the tickets sell out - The Do Lectures website says there are 36 tickets left but I think that figure is out of date ... eeek! If you want to help out and raise money for a charity of your choice at the same time then drop me an email (iamhelenharrop [at] yahoo [dot] co [dot] uk) and I'll let you know the best way to do-nate (if you donate by credit card using the button on the left that incurs a charge so I've found a better way to do it via PayPal directly)

By the way if you buy a £15 Do Lectures t-shirt from Howies you have a Willy Wonka-style chance of winning a free ticket to the Do Lectures: ... if you win the ticket but can't go then give it to me and I'll donate £1000 to a charity of your choice over the next year. If I sound *desperate*, that's because I am ;-)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Do Lectures dream update

In the two weeks since finishing my Do Lectures inspired animation I have been mulling over how I could come up with the £1000 ticket money I need (forgetting about travel etc which I'll need on top). There have been a few days I've felt like just damning the consequences and whacking it on my credit card but that didn't seem like a particularly sensible solution (particularly as my finances are not exactly in a blissful state as it is). I thought about getting all my completed art pieces up for sale on Folksy (which I've been meaning to do for months) but then I can't guarantee I'll sell any pieces let alone sell them quickly enough to secure a ticket to Do Lectures before they sell out.

Last week I came up with a crazy but possible solution and tweeted my proposal:

If someone gives me £1000 now, I'll donate £100 per month for the next year to a charity of their choice.

That would means someone's favourite charity would get £1200 (plus gift aid) over the course of the next 12 months. Unsurprisingly no-one responded to my tweet but then today one of my close followers sent me a Direct Message which simply said:

"I'll give you £100; can you find 9 more?"

So I sprang into action and set up a mechanism whereby folks can make a donation to me via Paypal (I wanted to use but you need to specify a charity upfront for that to work)

The idea is simple: instead of one person giving me all the money I need, ten folks give me £100 each and their charity of choice gets £120 (plus gift aid) in return within the next year.

I tweeted this new idea and waited ... so far *nothing* but then I tweet a lot so it would be easy for folks to miss the idea even if they follow me quite closely.

If anyone would like to help out then they can use the PayPal 'Donate' button on the lefthand side of this blog. If I get ten people donating £100 then I'll buy a ticket to Do Lectures and make a payment to a charity of each person's choice as per my plan above. Each person will also get sent an original doodle which I'll do for them while I'm at the Do Lectures. If tickets to Do Lectures sell out before I reach my target of £1000 then I'll give donors a choice of taking their money back or letting me go ahead and donate the money to a charity of their choice (but without my extra amount on top) - they'll still get a doodle from me to say thanks :-)

If I get anyone donating less than £100 then I'll donate to a charity of their choice with 10% added on top and they'll get a doodle too.

Theoretically I already have my first donation of £100 pledged by the person who gave me this idea ... so that's just £900 left to raise, hoorah!!

I dream of Do Lectures

A couple of weeks ago I was (once again) drooling over the Do Lectures website and wondering how I might be able to afford/justify spending the £1000 I don't have on buying a ticket. Suddenly I spotted a single line on their tickets page "There is one special [free!] ticket going to someone who can create the best Do inspired animation." I had never really even thought about doing an animation before let alone actually sat down and made one but doing so seemed to be the only way I would have a chance of getting to attend the Do Lectures so I got to work. Two days later this is what I'd made:

Do Do Do Do Do animation from Helen Harrop on Vimeo.

I never imagined that my first ever attempt at animation would be good enough to win the free place so I wasn't too distraught when I got the 'it's lovely but' email back. The feedback from Claire was really encouraging and I was *thrilled* to see it featured on the Do Blog a couple of days later :-) The thought that it might inspire someone else to have a go is fab ... please do share your efforts with me if you do :-)

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Happy Mothers Day

imperfect beauty, originally uploaded by creating in the dark.

Daffodils are my Mum's favourite flowers - everytime I see one it reminds me of her :-) Happy Mothers Day to my Mum who is more than 200 miles away but very much in my thoughts today :-)

angels want to wear my red shoes

red shoes [close up]
Originally uploaded by creating in the dark

About a year ago when I painted a picture of my favourite red shoes I would never have dared to dream that someone would buy the painting. Then I was invited to exhibit my work at the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds and a few weeks after it went up I got the exciting news that someone was interested in buying my red shoes painting!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Going on [creative] safari for charity

Today is pretty historic for the world of social media ... 175+ cities across the world are hosting Twestivals and will all be twittering away about it as they raise money for Charity: Water. I'm heading along to support the Leeds Twestival and have also donated a prize to the raffle.

I've described the prize as "A half-day Creative Safari (a volunteer tour guide will take you on a tailor-made expedition to explore your creativity)" ... in a nutshell I'll be spending half a day with the lucky winner and dragging them at high-speed on a whistle stop tour of art galleries and other interesting places in Leeds. Along the way I'll be forcing them to brush off their creative skills by doodling and playing with words. I just hope the person who wins likes walking and eating cakes because there will be plenty of that.

I would love to raise more money for Twestival so I've got a plan ... if you like the sound of spending half a day getting in touch with your inner child then donate £50 to Charity: Water and then get in touch with me. The deal is that if I come to Leeds you also cover my travel (let's call it a tenner) ... if you want to come to York instead then you just pay for your own travel. We'll each buy any refreshments out of our own pockets :-) ... simple!

... And just to make it really interesting ... If you donate £100 or more to Charity: Water then I'll spend the whole day with you :-)

Let the magical mystery creativity tour begin!!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Notes from behind the curtain

On 11th January I spotted a tweet from @nmeth on Twinkle which read: "York Light Opera need backstage people for 2 weeks in Feb at York Theatre Royal" - In a rare moment of decisiveness I sent a message back saying that I might be free ... Nigel put me in touch with David Pumfrey and just under a month later I found myself backstage at York Theatre Royal for the first full dress rehearsal of 42nd Street. I couldn't remember anyone's names, I didn't know any of the backstage lingo, couldn't make head nor tail of the set notes and was petrified that I'd get in the way or generally show myself up as the newbie I was.

Against all odds I enjoyed every nerve wracking minute and after three nights I'm already starting to feel quite at home ... I even know what 'paging the blacks' means ... and will get it right next time! :-)

Tonight I've got a night off because I'm heading to the Leeds Twestival and I can already tell that I'm going to miss those hours spent in the shadows waiting for the next flurry of activity and trying to protect members of the cast from being run over by the fast moving 'treads' (trans: staircase)

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Element (by Ken Robinson) is mine all mine

I put Ken Robinson's new book, The Element, onto my Amazon wishlist the moment I saw it was being published. When I saw it was on special offer at less than half the full price it got immediately promoted to my shopping basket ... can't wait for it to arrive!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Looking forward to Jen Louden's Virtual Retreat

I've been a fan of Jen Louden's for ages and loved both of the books I bought (The Woman's Retreat Book and Life Organizer) a while back. So when I read about the virtual retreat that Jen has organised for later this month it didn't take much to convince me that I should book myself onto it - particularly once I saw that many of the speakers are people who I admire greatly (namely Barbara Sher, Michael Bungay Stanier and Michael Neill).

As someone who tends to worry much more than she'd ever like to admit I found just reading the session titles for each speaker ever so soothing and comforting! I was lucky enough to get an early-bird offer via Jen's newsletter but even at the full retreat price ($88) it's a steal and there's even a 100% money back guarantee. For the price of a couple of nights out you get a 4-day virtual retreat with access to some amazing inspirational speakers (including Jen herself), loads of support and a ton of freebie downloads before, during and after the retreat - hurrah!

As you'll know from my previous blog post I'm currently nursing a broken wrist (you have *no idea* how long it's taken me to type this blog post!) so what really swung it for me is that all of the sessions will be downloadable and mine to keep after the event. I find that my eagerness to take in new ideas and information can sometimes make it hard for me to take things in deeply first time round so the idea of being able to download the sessions and revisit them as often as I need to is very appealing. If you want to join me on the retreat or want to sign up for Jen's inspiring newsletter then you can click here to visit Jennifer Louden website :-)

oh no, i just keep on falling

oh no, i just keep on falling
Originally uploaded by sandramatic

Two and a half weeks ago I slipped over and within seconds I knew I'd broken my wrist - a late night trip to casualty confirmed my suspicions and in an instant my festive plans went up in smoke. A combination of the pain, the woozy-making pain killers and other external complications meant that I've been in a one-armed limbo-land since that fateful moment. Happily the pain is finally settling down and I'm chomping at the bit to get my creative plans back on track ... albeit one-handed until my cast comes off on Jan 19th!