My bad: I did indeed miss one update last week, and I honestly don’t have a particularly good excuse.
Show Notes: https://wp.me/p5bc9S-2k3
It did help me remember that.. the whole point of this year long challenge is to explore the concept of fun: what fun means to me, what new ways can I explore fun, and that also means finding out what I don’t find fun.
There were a handful of fun things I could have told you about last week: but the actual idea of sitting down to write, record and edit a podcast… sounded terribly un-fun.
Which taught me something new:
Fun fluctuates. What sounds fun one day - or even most days - may not be fun on another.
And this level of instinct: of going with what feels good for me right now and paying attention to what my body is saying - rather than my dictator-like mind that so badly wants to follow the script and do what my Asana calendar says - this is something I’m really working on right now. Practising, may be a better way to describe it.
But here we are: I’m back in a more inspired mood, ready to fill you in on my latest fun adventures.
This is a bit of a controversial one, but I’d love to ask you dear listener: what comes to mind when you think of going to the cinema - or ‘the movies’ if you’re stateside - all alone?
For a very long time, this was a total no-go for me. As much as this introvert embraces virtually all solitary versions of activities… with some exceptions - seeing a film alone was just not on the list of fun.
Until… I was travelling solo in Avignon, a few years back, and I found myself rather bored on a rainy day. And I just happened to be right by their trendy artsy cinema, which was showing a film in English (with French subtitles.)
And… Yes, I felt a bit awkward for all of 5 minutes, until I realised how brilliant this was. I mean, it’s the perfect solo activity because what kind of maniac speaks in the cinema? Bad form. Compare that to a meal, where talking to your buddy can enhance the experience - well, if you like commenting on your food as much as I do…
In addition, I could cry without holding back! Which has become a habit of mine, almost regardless of what film I’m watching - I can’t seem to control my emotions in my old age, and have even been known to cry in trailers. Doesn’t take much.
OK so: the cinema: a fun activity, in my opinion regardless of companionship.
I actually managed two cinema trips in the last fortnight, one solo, one with friends.
One experience cost all of £4, one cost over £65.
Which was more fun?
The £4 experience was the solo trip. I happened to be in Worthing, an arguably sleepy town not far from my place in Brighton, and I thought it would be a nice end to a rather high-adrenaline morning (I taught a workshop that morning) plus the theatre itself, called the Dome, is really quite charming looking, and I figured it would be worth a look inside at least.
Now I had no idea you could still go to the cinema for less than £10 in the UK. But £4 tickets that - get this - included a free cup of tea or coffee… well, that is still blowing my mind.
And the theatre itself is genuinely lovely - much nicer than the big multiplexes we have that cost a fortune and have sticky floors.
So that was a success. I watched the Shape of Water, which I adored, cried heartily at, and have continued to argue with my loved ones about. That’s the other part of the solo cinema experience: I thought I’d miss the long debates I have afterwards discussing the film, but more often than not, your mates will at some point see it too even if you go separately. Plenty of chances for film debates.
Ok so cinema experience #2: the £60-odd quid experience, was a bit more unique. This is the Secret Cinema: which is basically an immersive experience where you go to some warehouse in the arse-end of nowhere, which has been decked out to look like you’re on the set of a blockbuster film.
I’d been to a Star Wars themed one before, which was amazing, but this one was Blade Runner.
Now, I’m a fan Blade Runner, both the original and the revamp. I even tolerated Ryan Gosling for 2.5 hours.
And this experience was - I think it’s the first fun activity I’ve spoken to you about - which involved my actual real life friends. Who were by far the highlight of my night: the actual Secret Cinema itself was… underwhelming.
It was kind of fun being in this seedy world of neon lights, actual rain even though we were indoors, strange laboratories, a kind of strip club…. Sure, they did a good job.
When it came time to watch the film, you sort of forget what you came to do. And despite paying through our noses for tickets, you didn’t even get a free tea.
Honestly? I’d take a quiet afternoon in the Dome over Secret Cinema any day.
When I worked a 9–5 job in a design agency, I couldn’t think of anything worse than living the same day over and over again… until the weekend, at which point my routine fell apart and with the help of a lot of booze and ice cream, so did I.
Freeing myself from those shackles, my life took the other direction - and my first few months as a freelancer looked a lot like CHAOS.
I figured, my life was now about FREEDOM. Why ruin it with boring old routine?
Now. I have learnt since then that if you embrace routine, designing your life to suit your needs, desires and values - even if you’re a routine rebel - you will actually create MORE freedom than you ever dreamed possible.
Not to mention the success which comes with getting shit done.
So… how to go about designing your ideal life through routine? That’s what this podcast episode is for.
If you read the title, you'll know already that I did not uphold my planned fun activity this week which was to go to a car boot sale.
Unfortunately the British springtime weather just didn't seem appropriate for a wander around parked cars on the 9th floor of a car park.
So I did what any sensible introvert would do and went to a museum.
If I'm honest, staying in doors would arguably have been as much fun.
Back to back cups of tea and episodes of Girls, being entertained by Lena Dunham and the crew.
But I know myself well enough to remember: staying in doors all day ends up making me quite a grump, come 4pm.
I did attempt to entertain myself indoors: I rearranged the furniture in my bedroom which was satisfying.
But then I was finished... and only 20 minutes had passed.
I think this need for novelty is to do with my high sensation seeking nature, which often conflicts with my high sensitivity and introversion, it's a push pull situation that can really make decision making tough at times like this.
Past of me says stay inside where is dry and safe, part of me says get out and experience the new!
If you want to know more about that high sensation seeking and high sensitivity dynamic duo, I recommend checking out the podcast I recorded with Dr Ken Carter.
Ok so the museum.
To be fair, this place is all of a 5 minute walk from where i live,so i really didn't have much of an excuse not to go.
Actually, if it wasn't for the year of fun, I'd probably never get round to going. .. it's that weird phenomenon that happens when you live somewhere with lots on your doorstep but never go because they're so close to home. You'll get round to it one day.
Full shownotes here: https://wp.me/p5bc9S-2iK
Show notes >> https://wp.me/p5bc9S-2hW
In this week’s episode of the Creative Introvert podcast I talk to Joe Moran, historian of the everyday, about his book on shyness, ‘Shrinking Violets.’
Shrinking Violets by Joe Moran
Quiet by Susan Cain
By far the classiest, most cultured edition of the Year of Fun so far - I went to see (and hear) the orchestra!
I've only been to the orchestra once before: the result of a spare ticket needing a taker, and I took it.
Honestly, the first time: I wasn't super excited. I like live music, though I very rarely go to gigs these days because of, you knew, standing in a sweaty crowd of strangers, the worst of whom who have no ability to recognise that standing in front of a 5'3" girl isn't the most thoughtful thing to do when youre 6’4".
But sitting in a nice theatre with lots of people who's average age doubles your own? Heck yes: that's my kind of fun on a Sunday afternoon.
Anyway, that first time I was in tears within 5 mins - I was overwhelmed with the magic of it.
Seeing these real people move in such precision & synchronicity to play music that is the auditory equivalent to the Mona Lisa... I mean, it was incredible.
So naturally I was pretty thrilled when I pulled this one out of the Jar of Fun last week.
For one: this really is a perfect thing for an over-thinking introvert like me to do on a rainy afternoon. Honestly I was in quite a funk all weekend, for no real reason, just feeling like a cloud of discontent, itchiness & apathy was passing overhead and the last thing I wanted to do was to sit at my laptop… But I didn't want to see anyone either.
The orchestra provided a perfect respite from a - temporary - moodiness.
No demands to speak to anyone, perform or create: all of which I do actually enjoy, just at certain times. This musical break let me just exist, in my comfy chair, and be an observer .
Observing is one of my favourite ways to calm my busy mind- and I recommend it to any introvert who struggles as much as I do with traditional meditation.
Instead of challenging my mind: a kind of trap I fall into when I sit in silence & attempt to let my thoughts float by like clouds or whatever piece of shit advice you get on the Headspace app - instead, I let myself experience what's happening around me and use that as a point of focus.
Before long, I'm far more present & mindful than I can ever get when I try to sit still and go blank.
And by the way - you don't need to go to the orchestra to do this. I first practised this on a long distance walk on the South Downs. I started to pay a kind of unexciting game to distract myself from my achey legs: l started just noting the colour of everything around me.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t just saying: green, green, green - there were lots of colours to see, and it wasn’t long before I found myself in a zen-like reverie and not at all thinking about my sore legs.
Back to the orchestra:
Whilst I didn’t break down and start crying this time,
I was just as impressed by the performance.
My seat was amazing - first row of a balcony - so I could really see the whole team doing their thing.
The conductor was the star of the show, if I’m honest: at one point he jumped - both feet off the ground - he literally used his whole body to conduct. Amazing, especially when you’re working within an art form that is… well, formal - everyone has to dress in black and sit in a certain way and be about as regimented as an army platoon, with y’know, less killing people.
It also got me thinking about our position in life - whatever domain, whether it’s at home, or in school or in your career - we’re all individuals, yes - we all have our own piece of music to play - but we’re also part of this whole. That when you put us together, magic is created that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Not the most unique of metaphors I know, but it really is perfect. It especially made me chuckle when I saw the guy whose job it is to play the triangle.
I mean, you look at these incredibly complex, elaborate, finely tuned instruments with lots of strings or pipes - and then you look at this seemingly simple, three-sided piece of bent metal. It seems kind of… juvenile, and out of place. Insignificant, next to it’s fellow percussion instrument: the cymbals. Whoah - they may be simple but everyone knows you pay attention to a clash from the cymbals.
That’s when I got a bit of a surprise. When the triangle got going, towards the end of one piece, it was unmissable. It’s distinct sound calling our attention, emphasising the beat and cutting through the entire strings and wind and brass section - it definitely gave the cymbals a run for their money.
So, another cheesy metaphor, but I can’t help myself - don’t underestimate the seemingly small, simple and insignificant parts. They DO make a difference and certainly hold their own.
Now I know getting to an orchestra may not be as easy for you as it was for me - here in Brighton, a considerably culture-friendly city - but I’ll bet you can make time to sit and just listen to a classic piece of music. It doesn’t need to be classical, but I would encourage it: partly because of the fun you can have in playing my noticing game.
So like I described on my walk, where I noticed the colours of all the things - try to notice the details in the music - what instruments can you hear? How does it make you feel?
One of the pieces played was ‘Night on a Bald Mountain’ by Mussorgsky - also featured in Disney’s Fantasia - definitely made me feel high levels of anxiety, probably because of that scene in the film etched into my confused childhood head - but even that was fun to see how my body was responding to the music in such a dramatic way.
It really was a lovely afternoon, and I thank you Brighton Philharmonic for the entertainment.
Next week's fun activity is...
Go to a car-boot sale!
Recently, we've been talking about the joys - OK less so the joys - but at least the usefulness of email when it comes to getting anything from press, more work, better clients - all the things.
But... you may be a bit stuck on what to email.
You might not have any specific clients or journalists in mind, let alone knew what to say when you reach out.
Consider these 'warm up' emails. I go into these techniques more in-depth in the Email Answer, my online course but the general idea is...
That after sending any one of these emails you are starting a conversation, which sets you up for going in with an ask or your true pitch.
When you dive straight in with the ask like BUY MY THING! or HIRE ME! then you're likely to save someone away especially if they don't know you.
But when you start with a warm up, you move from stranger to... nice person who sent a thoughtful email.
So that's what I'm going to help you with in this podcast.
There are 3 emails that you can send anytime that are very likely start a great conversation.
SHOWNOTES (+PICS) https://wp.me/p5bc9S-2gG
Nearly two months into the Year of Fun and as far as I'm concerned, this has definitely made what are normally pretty hellish months... actually quite fun.
This week's Fun activity was a callback to my childhood: Scratch Art.
I didn't have a name for this as a kiddo, but I do remember the confusion of seeing my older sister cover her square of paper, which she had beautifully coated in rainbow crayons, with a thick, oily black layer, hiding all her good colourful work.
Then... I remember my delight as she took an empty ballpoint pen and scratched on the slick black surface... to reveal... lines of rainbow!
Ahhh. A magic moment I then committed to recreating as often as possible.
Still to this day, I love the aesthetic contrast of all the rainbow colours next to a complete absence of colour.
It's the same reason I prefer multicoloured lights on a Christmas tree. Why have one when you can have the lot?
Anyway, this week I made time to do a slightly more grown up version of my childhood obsession of scratch art.
If you're not familiar with this wondrous art form, it's simply a matter of covering a sheet of paper with lots of colours - using crayons or oil pastels.
Then, covering over all your work with black - either oil pastel or paint works too.
Finally, you draw/scratch onto the black surface to reveal lines of your colours underneath.
The result is... quite lovely.
One mistake I made was getting a bit too enthusiastic with the black paint. When I was a kid, we just used a very heavy duty black oil pastel, but since I had a lot of ground to cover, I opted for black acrylic paint.
I just laid it on way too thick so the initial marks I made kind of just moved paint around.
That said, the simple action of moving the paint around and revealing the rainbow underneath was really quite magical.
A little lower because lets face it: the element of challenge wasn't exactly there, but I did enjoy the lighthearted, tactile experience.
If I have anything significant to say to you this week it's: what activity did you enjoy as a child? One that created that sense of wonder we lose in our teens?
Is this something you could recreate today, just for old times sake?
Next week's fun activity is...