My Lighthouse

I think People & Chairs turned me onto Ben Noble’s blog, which lead me to his newsletter; a weekly Monday morning email filled with inspiring and helpful tidbits pertaining to improv and creativity in general. The perfect email to receive amongst the rest of the Monday madness of a 9-5 office job.

It seems appropriate then that I should read Ben’s post about his Lighthouse word last year around the same time I began bullet journalling because the two seem to be an intertwining system of motivation and creativity.

Per Ben, a lighthouse word is a single word that will serve as your guiding light for the year ahead. I figured I’d give it a shot. Last year, I chose the word “wake,” because I felt like I may be going through the motions too much, rather than being present, and awake for everything I was doing. I also felt like I was sleeping in too much on weekends and taking too many naps, and that I might be missing out on stuff as a result of that. Since then, I’ve reminded myself that that’s ridiculous because sleeping and napping are both awesome, especially when you already have a lifestyle that keeps you up late at night.

The combination of wanting to be awake, and the mentality of enthusiastic yes anding learned in improv that’s seeped into my everyday existence really helped make 2017 a truly stand-out year. So when it came time to pick my lighthouse word for 2018, I was a bit worried. What could I pick that would be as impactful as “Wake the eff up, Brie?”

I shortlisted a few words and continued setting up my bujo for the year ahead. I thought about things I lacked, areas in my life I’d like to improve. One thing kept coming back to me. Something that frustrates me beyond belief;  when I’m not ready for something that I’ve known about for a while. I pride myself on time management skills, but my husband reminds me that these could still use a bit of brushing up. This is difficult when you have a million separate projects on the go, and they all require a significant amount of brainpower to make happen on a regular basis; like producing multiple comedy shows, acts and classes.

I think my perception of time is off, because there are always things I forget to take into consideration before I have to go out and do, anything! I assume I’ll just leave the house and be ready to go, but no; there are other things that need to happen before I step out the door. Inevitably, I’ll leave much later than originally intended because I forgot that leaving the house requires a fair amount of planning and preparation, and that these things take time.

This seems obvious, but it’s a huge set back for me. I try to plan things out to the T, time-wise so as soon as something like “shit, I forgot I have to put gas in the car” comes up, it throws me off my timeline and puts me behind, which raises my anxiety and brings out all sorts of negativity in me. And that’s just one little thing. There are many of these little things that add up and make me late ALL THE TIME. Since FOREVER! Since I was a kid! I wait to the last minute because I’m focused on other things that I’m not giving myself the amount of time to THINK about what I NEED to do to accomplish what I WANT.

So. I’ve taken some steps and I’ve thought up some strategies because this year, now that I’ve trained myself to be awake, I’ve decided that’s not enough. I also want to be properly PREPAREd.

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PS. It’s super hard for me not to sing that Lion King song almost every time I see this page in my bujo, and I’m trying to be OK with that.

What do you think? Do you have a lighthouse word for 2018? Let me know in the comments below!

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New Episode of The Constant Struggle Featuring The Dandies’ Dale Wells

Our latest episode of The Constant Struggle podcast is up and this time, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dale Wells, improviser and co-founder of The Dandies & Holodeck Follies.

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e12-follow-your-passion-with-dale-wells/

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Dale speaks about the benefits and challenges producing live comedy shows in Toronto. We talk about the history of Star Trek improv in the city, about geek culture, and about his show; Holodeck Follies, kicking butt at this year’s FanExpo. Dale and Nick chat about what it’s like to be a Dad artist with a day job. We bring up his love of singing and the various ways in which improv can bring joy to your life.

What a positive guy!

***
With GREAT shout-outs to:
ANDIE WELLS
NATASHA BOOMER
ROB ARISS HILLS
THE 404s
GARY PEARSON
MARK LITTLE
KEN HALL
ALAN LEIGHTIZER
TODD VAN ALLEN (COMEDY ABOVE THE PUB)
GILLIAN ENGLISH &
TODD GRAHAM
***
 Be sure to follow The Dandies on Twitter @TorontoDandies & catch the next edition of #HolodeckFollies at Geek Hard Live!
#StruggleOn everybody!

Episode #10 with RYAN HUGHES is UP!

http://theconstantstruggle.podbean.com/e/e10-hurricast-with-ryan-hughes/

In this episode, Nick & Brie chat with actor, writer & improvisor Ryan Hughes about some of the struggles he’s currently facing in the pursuit of his art.

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Dis Ryan!

Ryan speaks of a few pros and cons of the day job, and what happens when it’s gone. He discusses issues of confidence and mental health. We also delve into a deep discussion about women in comedy and *~*GASP*~* even feminism!
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With GREAT shout-outs to:
CARLY HEFFERNAN
JESS BEAULIEU & NATALIE NORMAN (THE CRIMSON WAVE)
CATHERINE MCCORMICK
DANIELA SAIONI
ILLUSIONOID
***
Be sure to check Ryan out on Twitter @ryanfhughes & his improv troupe
Peggy Molson @peggymolson
Peggy Molson are competing in the Big City Improv Festival’s “TKO” tournament. Their semi-final set is at Comedy Bar on Tues. Oct. 13th @ 8:00 PM. Go check ’em out if you’re in Toronto.
#StruggleOn

Chicken Pod! (The Constant Struggle’s Newest Ep!)

Episode 6 of my brother and my podcast, The Constant Struggle, is up & we’d love it if you’d giver a listen.

This time around, Nick’s got a new writing deadline he wants to get to before he takes off to Scotland with his family. Will the trip inspire him to write something while he’s over there? We’ll see!

Will Brie survive her month of insane-work hours and continue to work on her comedy all throughout, or will she have a complete mental breakdown along the way?

Find out, by downloading the episode on iTunes or checking it out right here:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/audio/postId/5711034?url=http%3A%2F%2FTheConstantStruggle.podbean.com%2Fe%2Fe06-chicken-pod%2F

Oh, and if you want to sign that petition to help get Kevin Smith Canadian citizenship, click here:

https://www.change.org/p/government-of-canada-grant-kevin-smith-a-canadian-citizenship?recruiter=309221733&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_twitter_responsive

Struggle On, friends!

Struggling On

logo1On a day like today, the first day this month that I’ve had to work full time hours on the weekend (just Sunday this week, in the coming weeks it’ll be expected of me Saturdays and Sundays), more than ever I feel the need to promote the latest episode of Nick & my podcast; The Constant Struggle:

http://www.podbean.com/media/player/a28d3-56ed11

This episode was taped on Father’s Day, and we discussed the grind of getting your creative work done under not-so-ideal circumstances. I have a feeling the next episode is going to talk about more of that because this month I will have even less time to do the things I love, which is pretty crazy disheartening.

It’s getting more difficult to manage the balance of work and passion. Work seems to be weighing more heavily. Too bad I’m not a millionaire, y’know?  Anyway…

In this episode, we give shout-outs to:

  • Drop & Give me 20 stand-up show (Marc Hallworth)
  • Robert Ariss Hills (improviser, graphic designer)
  • Dan Dingwall (a dude)
  • Susannah Kiernan (triple threat)
  • Ken Hall (improv guru)
  • Alexis Bernstein (networking queen & creative expert)
  • The bird clock
  • Porter Airlines

Books & Movies

  • Save the Cat (Blake Snyder)
  • Whiplash (2014)
  • Inside Out (2015)

Podcasts

  • The Moment (Brian Koppelman)
  • WTF (Marc Maron)
  • The Crimson Wave (Jess Beaulieu & Natalie Norman)

***

#StruggleOn friends!

Days Go By and Still I Think of…

…all the great stuff I learned last week!

All right, maybe I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m a total dork, but I am sortof obsessed about learning about comedy. I probably don’t watch enough stand-up comedy specials on Netflix, I do read about it often enough, (currently on Bruce McCulloch’s “Let’s Start a Riot,”) and I suppose one of the big fears I deal with regularly is how much I should be “learning” vs. how much I should be “doing.”

One of the major problems I face with my own comedy is time. I have a Mon-Fri 9-5 job, which is great for paying back debt, but not so great for staying up late and going to multiple shows and partying until all hours of the night at the local open-mic/watering hole. (I do this extremely rarely.) I’ve tried to strike a balance by producing many of my own shows, thus giving myself ample play time, but also seeing many of the acts around town who inspire me and more importantly, who make me laugh.

Another thing I’ve just taken on, is the co-creation of the “Women in Comedy Toronto” group. It seems, so far, that people are really excited about it, and based on the first couple events we’ve had, it’s really evident that this is the kind of community group from which women in the Toronto comedy scene can really benefit. For example, last week Christina Walkinshaw came by to talk to us about her career in comedy thus far, her writing process, tales from the biz, and many other fascinating tidbits, and I tell you, it was inspiring!  I think anyone who was in attendance will tell you the same.

Also, on Wednesday, I attended the I ❤ Sketchfest event at the Steamwhistle Brewery, where they screened the premiere of Bruce McCulloch’s “Young Drunk Punk,” which was excellent, and I’m sorry I didn’t give it it’s own page, like I did with “Sunnyside“, I just ran out of time.

Which is my point. By this point, it’s Wednesday; I’ve helped a friend film her one woman-show, produced a 2+ hour talkback with one of Canada’s most amazingly hilarious female comics, supported my favourite Toronto comedy festival… and I haven’t had time yet to do any of my own writing or work.

Problem solved: Thursday, I booked, produced, and performed in a show put on by my improv duo, Exit, Pursued by a Bear. Friday, I produced and performed in Improv Game Show (and I won! Thanks again Maddox! [as if he’s actually reading this!])

And alas, the weekend called for fun family celebrations in Niagara, which are lovely, but don’t really allow for much writing time. (Nor should they. Family time is important, dangit!)

So, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that it would be nice to have a little balance. Maybe last week was just crazy, or maybe I’m over-committing to stuff. Either way, I’d love to know what your solutions are to feeling like you can never get fully on top of the multiple things you’re trying to accomplish?

My brother recommended I read Chris Hardwick’s “The Nerdist Way,” and it already seems like a great process for helping people achieve their goals. But I’m already looking at it like “I don’t have TIME to create a fancy CHART with all my WANTS AND DESIRES on it, and make it pretty with pictures?!!?”

And again, so much is the nature of an anxious person.  Sometimes we have so much to do, and we can’t just… take… a … breath. It’s always go go go. Sometimes what we need is to slow down, and only in those times can we think clearly and make a plan towards actually accomplishing our goals. Like finishing this damn spec script I’ve been working on for MONTHS. (The outline is now finished. Thank you.)

Sometimes it’s about balancing a crazy week with a following week of cuddling up with your computer at home with a nice (several) cup(s) of coffee in a cozy hoodie.

That’s where I’m at this week.  Until I’m not.

 

Time

With the launch of Facebook’s new Timeline and, as time, in the real, non-social-networky world goes on, I’m beginning to realize I have a bit of an obsession with time.  Let’s add the word “time” in here one more time for good measure.  Time.

I'm making it easier and easier for you to find out everything you need to know about your next victim.

I’ve never been the greatest at managing time.  I used to sign up for many extra-curricular activities, (dance, piano lessons, army cadets, sports, improv, taxidermy, etc.)  I was out so often that some of my fondest memories are of my parents and eventually my siblings rushing me from one place to the next.  It was a regular occurrence for the driver to brake especially hard at red lights and stop signs when I was trying to put on my cadet dress uniform over top of my ballet tights in the back of the moving car.

In university, I became a bit better at managing assignments, but not until third year.  I’d had enough of all-nighters because I worked.  I needed to be (somewhat) conscious to up-sell popcorn to miserable suckers.   I began to recognize patterns in the professors’ assignment-schedules, knowing I would be given a certain amount of time to write a certain amount of essays that were all going to be due within the same week so, I’d begin writing them well in advance. By fourth (and fifth) year, I had pretty much managed it.  And if I still couldn’t finish on time, there was always bribery. Sexy, sexy bribery.

I finished school and moved to France and there, time sped up.  It started to feel as though it was going so fast I was spinning. (Note:  it might have been all that wine.)

When I came back state-side, (province-side?) I was obsessed with seeing people; staying in touch with friends I’d made in France and re-connecting with school and work friends – booking and often over-booking myself,   throwing parties at which I would try to combine all of my social circles at once in an attempt to save time and thus, kill several birds with one party-stone.

Who spiked the punch?

It is impossible to combine everything in one.  Comedy in Toronto is helping me to realize this. On any particular night, there are at least a dozen performances I can attend, either as a performer, or (more commonly) a spectator.  I can’t see them all.  I can’t do it all.  And  there are parties.  And there are other meet-ups.  And there are joke-jams.

Then, there are nights in.

Nights. In.

Sometimes they’re the simplest and the most meaningful.