Through the 1980s and 1990s it was my pleasure to be working in theatres with a rich and wonderful programme of events. The amazing Phil Cool – the rubber faced solo comedian – was a regular sell-out gig, building on his TV series, but a must-see live. Now retired.
But this blog is about being alone, being freelance – and the phrase “Phil Cool’s Carrier Bag” came to mind. My abiding memory of seeing Phil is the amazing performance, the cheering audience, and then the man walking back to his dressing room picking up his carrier bag and walking out into the night. 980 or 1296 people cheering (depending on which theatre), followed by a quiet man, walking off to his quiet hotel room, or his solitary car, and heading home.
The phrase came to me last night as I walked out of Cornerhouse arts centre in Manchester after 10 hours of coaching/cgo surgery sessions, leaving the buzzy venue and brilliant cafe with my small bag to walk back to my car and 5hrs drive home from the gig.
Being freelance can be lonely and we need to acknowledge it and take care of ourselves. January for me started with the worst jet-lag ever [ok pay back from being in the hot Australia for Christmas] and then a week of yucky post York Hall Devoted and Disgruntled chill [too much time sitting in a big space without enough warm clothes]. But as a freelancer we can’t stop, we have to keep going. As I type this I’m beginning to feel more human again…and so I am setting my intention for February.
January has been a catch-up time, getting through emails, making sure the plates are all spinning, reminding the world that this freelancer is available for work. However busy freelancers appear with our positive self-promotion and blogs…we are still looking for gigs.
But February is going to be TLC – tender, learning, care. I’ve marked a few days off in my diary to re-group. To have a day off…why not have a Wednesday off if we are working on projects all day Saturday and Sunday. There’s no need to feel guilty. 6 day weeks are not short-skiving weeks. I’m setting time off to study some work on coaching. Exploring the amazing CDs of Pam Lidford about exploring our values and beliefs. I will not feel guilty being curled up in bed with the CDs, a notebook and a large mug of tea. And I’m going to allow the Universe to do some work for me. Be available, open, and welcoming for new projects, new ideas, new mysteries, new clients, and new teaching.
Then in March I’ll see what has grown for me from a TLC month, and judge what is hotting up from the irons-in-the-fire across my coaching and networking, surgery and international project fraternity. Then set myself a business goal for the end of the month, and get on and make it happen.
My PS to this Blog, and in a sense to my last blog about being honest, is to re-read it and reflect on the Mental Health articles in The Stage this week. Annemarie Lewis Thomas’s powerful and important continuing challenge to all drama schools makes important reading in response to The Stage. Trainers need to do as much (and maybe even more) than she does for her students in terms of encouraging all students to be aware of the importance of their own good mental health, as part of overall health. We all need to be aware that it is OK to seek help and know how to benefit from help.
So yes – we may be freelance, we may be solo, Phil Cool Carrier Bag, folk – but we need to take care of ourselves, share challenges with our own coaches and colleagues. Ensure we live to our own best values and don’t beat ourselves up by having some TLC time. Happy February