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34. The big G

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G is for Gratitude
I read an incredible blog today via twitter and that, coupled with the tragic death of Gary Speed, has prompted me to write one of my most serious blogs yet.  I do want to preface this piece by stating that this blog is not about his death.  The concern and confusion surrounding Gary passing away simply helped me to put pen to paper on a more serious side to our profession but I have no opinion about what took place, and can only hope his family are okay during this difficult time.
So why the title gratitude? I am getting to that.  But first let’s reflect. We live in a society where cruel, hurtful and harmful acts and things take place every day.  Times can be tough, and we have just seen the world go through a recession that has been near crippling for many individuals and families.  We have more worries about the world, the weather, what we eat, technology, our looks and even social media than ever before.  And in our particular industry we are judged.  Moment to moment, look to look, photo to photo, we are always being watched.
What does it all mean?  
In essence, when we are being critiqued as much as we are the reality is that we can get quite down on ourselves.  We can be our own worst critics and we can allow a lot of self doubt to creep through the edges of our otherwise confident facade and shiny smile.  And for many depression can set in.  Hopefully for most, this won’t be debilitating.  But for some it is.  Some people suffer all kinds of ailments, illnesses, problems and feelings of unwellness.  
Personally, I have been fortunate not to have ever really suffered anything that left me unable to continue on with my life or the profession I love.  But speaking openly and personally, I have been closely touched by mental illness.  I have first hand experience helping and supporting someone in my world to work through getting better after they were unknowingly unwell for many years.  Suffice to say, I feel gratitude every single day of my life knowing that they are well, healthy and happy now. But it isn’t always this way for many.
The death of a legend has really rocked the UK has reminded us all that often it is what we don’t see could in fact be a big problem.  What are you doing to make sure you are okay? How are you protecting yourself from the harshness of our industry? How are you being enveloped with love?  Do you have outlets for seeking help if you need it?
I would really love comments and suggestions from you about how you think we can help one another, and also about how we can identify when a person needs our help.  
If I was to offer my thoughts on ways you can ensure you find outlets for happiness, love, support and friendship these would include:
  • Reading: Paulo Coelho, amongst others, writes the most incredibly uplifting spiritual books that allow us to access our inner truth and to really reflect on our life in a positive way.  The Alchemist for me was life changing. It is also a book that can be read time and time again at any age.  Another book on my list to read is The Artist’s Way.  Three friends have suggested it to me so I intend to put this one on my Christmas list.
  • Hobbies: One thing we can forget to do is spend time on things we love away from the acting profession.  As an example, I go rock climbing nearly every Friday with friends.  It is incredible. Have you found a hobby that you enjoy that not only allows you to do something you are passionate about, but also meet friends outside of your acting circle. Making genuine connections with people is literally one of the most powerful life aphrodisiacs.
  • Giving forward: Every time I help another person who is in a worse situation than I am, or I just help someone for the hell of it, I feel good.  There are local communities and charities scattered all over the UK, many of whom are short staffed and desperate for extra hands.  There are outreach groups looking for others to help connect with the homeless.  There are people working on the street every night selling The Big Issue.  Have you ever stopped and met The Big Issue person who works locally to you?  They have fascinating stories to tell and when you spend five minutes getting to know them it is so uplifting. They are incredible people.  How lucky are we that every day we get to work towards ‘living the dream’ while every day a person on the street selling The Big Issue is just working towards living off the streets.  This is a powerful reminder of how we should feel gratitude.
  • Cupcakes: Need I say more!
Every day I feel gratitude, and I hope you do too. 
Please share your thoughts below. 
p.s. cutest ideas ever on this page about feeling better: 100 Things To Do When You’re Upset 


“What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the soul of the world tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we move toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst, just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’ Every search begins with beginners luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”
-Paulo Coelho

  

9 Comments

  • Felicity Josling Reply

    Incredibly important topic. Emotional health is paramount and we all need to look after each other. I think it is more important than any amount of success. Well put and I am grateful for my gorgeous colleague and clever friend Angela xxx

  • Ian Attfield Reply

    Wise words Ange. I am blessed with 2 fabulous young children who remind me every day that it just isn't about me anymore. Everything I do is geared up to ensure their safety and security, a roof over their heads, food on the table and as many life opportunities for them as possible. If that means that my focus has to be on the full-time office job rather than the career i'd rather be doing then so be it. What i lose in options, i gain in life-fulfilment

  • Angela Reply

    Felicity thank you for your lovely comments! I am grateful daily for your friendship more than you realise.

    And Ian, wow. It has been incredible to watch you change and grow with the arrival of your two babies, and I love what you've expressed above. "What I lose in options, I gain in life-fulfilment". An incredibly powerful statement. That is GRATITUDE.

    Thank you both!

  • Lenka Reply

    Great post, Angela! It is so important to be grateful for things in our lives as we often take it for granted. Unfortunately I've found myself in situations, where I could not do any sport and always had to think of being careful and could not eat very little things = both health issues. It just makes you realize how simply going for a run or play a basketball for example feels. How fortunate person is if they can eat everything and don't have to worry that if they eat something it's going to make them sick for at least couple of hours.

    It's so easy to complain about things, rather than seeing the good in it. Even if something bad happens to us, it has its reason, it is an arrow pointing us to a certain direction and teaching us something. It's only bad if we choose to believe it is.

    I think the main thing is to help each other just for the sake of it. Just do it, without being asked and without any expectation of something in return.

  • Angela Reply

    Thanks Lenka for your honesty. It's such a big deal even to identify when you are down so you can then work on how you can feel better.
    And not being able to exercise – urgh, I can't even imagine how that would feel.

    This morning I also saw this very timely blog post which it echo's everything I said above…beautifully demonstrated with a true story.
    http://tristersthoughts.posterous.com/the-passing-of-gary-speed-my-local-beggar-and

  • Actor/Director/Writer/Teacher Reply

    Not to the exact same extent, of course, but a lot of us in the industry are/have been or will be beggars ourselves at some time. Not the kind scrounging through bins and picking up old ciggie butts off the street, but relying heavily on the charity of others when we are down and out.

    You are absolutely right, the 'C' for Charity we receive (even in small doses) should be matched (and surpassed) with the 'G' for Gratitude we express.

    The 'Pay it forward' idea is a good one and I think enshrining that in our behaviour is a great thing. Not legislating it, just deciding it. Not because we should but because we can.

    I may be late to your blogs but I'm always glad to have read them. Please feel free to post yours on the Acting Inspirations wall too, whenever you launch them!

    =pb=
    x

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  • Angela Peters Reply

    Thank you so much! I love sharing, but even moreso we are on this journey together.

  • REBECCA JAMES Reply

    Really touching piece. Thank you.

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