Brixton & Battling

And a Happy New Year!

Yes, it’s been incredibly quiet on the blogging front from me, however i’ve been up to my armpits in off-line ‘real life’ stuff.

Towards the end of last year I was in a real state of flux. I’d recently finished a part-time stable job that was very helpfully supplementing my income, and at the same time had been given notice by my landlady. yowzers.

Long story short, I found a new place (in Brixton, South London) and have a new gig – I’m a film extra! Since November I’ve worked on two major movies and have had a blast on both of them, as well as been paid very well indeed. It’s re-fired me up to be more involved in productions (film, TV, stage) and that’s where I’ll be focusing my efforts for the foreseeable future.

To any performer who has had snide remarks said to them…

Things have also been getting good with my ukelele group! I joined in Sept last year and over Xmas took part in their festive hootenanny – I had the chance to lead everyone in a few songs on the main stage. And I had a strange deja-vu moment, one I’ll share with you now as it may help – for anyone who has been judged for being a performer.

Many years ago back at university, I played guitar & sang in a few bands. One night me and my then-boyfriend went to see a friends’ band play. During their set, they asked me to come up on stage to do some backing vocals. I rocketed to the stage and had fun. I then joined them for a couple of other songs. When I re-joined my boyf in the crowd afterwards, he told me I was an ‘attention seeker’, and that weekend when we were visiting his parents, he told them about me and the gig, saying I liked to ‘steal the limelight’ and that I was ‘hogging the stage’.

Those phrases stuck in the back of my mind, and sub-consciously ate at me.

I played in bands less (stopping altogether, eventually) and began to tone myself down.

(You’ll be pleased to know that me and the boyf didn’t last)

Fast-forward to the ukelele hootenanny.

After going up on stage to lead everyone through a couple of festive songs, I came back to my seat in the crowd, and the guy next to me (who I didn’t know) says ‘Well you like the limelight, don’t you’.

I didn’t know what to say. Was that a criticism, an observation, even an affirmation? My immediate response was to take it the way my ex-boyf had said it – almost as a put down. But this time I chose to respond differently.

Just then the ukelele group leader called out ‘we need a female singer to come up and sing the women’s parts on this song’.

So I waved my hand, stood up, turned to the guy next to me and said ‘Yep, it’s time for me to get back in that limelight’.

I wish I hadn’t previously let other people’s judgements about me being on stage get in the way of me being where I’m meant to be, doing what I love to do. I suppose it was a ‘test’ in how much courage and faith I have in myself as a performer – that it’s ‘okay’ for me to enjoy it and want to do it – that it’s not about me being an ‘attention seeker’.

So for anyone reading this who might have come up against the same comments from others, please don’t start turning your back on your performance space! If you love it and it makes you feel alive, then you’re meant to be there. Who gives a fig what others might think about you. Life is too damn short.

Waacking abroad

Other big and exciting news is that I’m on the battle list for Street Star – a big European street dance competition being held in Stockholm at the end of February. I’ve taken part in battles here in London in front of 100 – 300 person crowds, but this is a big step up – there’s likely to be at least a thousand people watching.

Dressed as Pingu for a fancy dress battle

Dressed as Pingu for a fancy dress battle

I suppose the thing that means the most to me about it is that I only started dancing this style (waacking) two years ago, with no idea of where it would lead (if anywhere). I couldn’t have even dreamt that I’d be getting on a plane to compete & represent the UK!

So this blog will likely still be a bit quiet – from now til then I’ll be training, booking the hotel, and hopefully there’ll be another film job.

A year ago I had no idea that I’d be going to international dance competitions,playing in a music group again, and making money from acting in blockbusters (being on set with Kenneth Brannagh and Kevin Costner LOL). Funny how life turns out. Never say never…

S xo

What does your soul want to DO?

Earlier this week I pulled a muscle in my neck/shoulder, which has given me a few days of being laid up at home, watching Salt, eating muffins and musing!

Inspired by Lissa Rankin’s articles, I want to share something with you to hopefully help anyone who is feeling in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back place.

Your souls calling

In one post, Lissa asks us all ‘what is your soul dying to create?’. And i realised that my soul does not want to create.

Creating can be quite an earthly, tangible thing. It springs to mind a business, a book, a radio show, a house, a baby, a table, whatever it is! To me, ‘to create’ implies output.

And i realised that part of me had a belief that if i’m not producing (or creating) something, then whatever it is i’m doing is worthless. If there is not tangible, quantifiable ‘thing’, then what do I have to show for myself?

That’s a terrible space to be in when your souls calling is truthfully not attached to outcomes. If you’re in the headspace where tangible, quantifiable outcomes (the book, the show, the project etc) denote how well-spent your time is, or how much value you are worth, then you will look down on things that don’t produce an obvious outcome. Things that you love to do for the pleasure of, the process.

My soul does not want to create anything. I know that for sure. My ego wanted to create EVERYTHING. It wanted an impressive bio full of books, movies, acting roles, gallery showings – tangible ‘things’ that prove i’m contributing to the world, being productive.

Nope, my soul can do without all that. For me, it’s about what my soul needs to ‘come out’ – how it flows out into the world. It’s like energy that just needs to have space. Anyone else ever feel that? I feel my soul doing it’s thing when i’m on the dancefloor, when i’m singing & playing along to songs at ukelele jam, when i’m in the flow at stage combat class, and of course sex. I have NOTHING to show for myself at the end of these activities – no souvenirs (unless someone else has been filming it) , no products, i haven’t been working towards anything – just enjoying myself in the moment.

My soul seeks opportunities, spaces, platforms, to do her thing, let her hair down, give it all to that space, then leave.

So is this true for you, i wonder? What does your soul need? And what does your ego need?

Resistance

When i opened up to what my soul really craves (spaces to be free), I hit some gnarly beliefs.The main one being that my soul’s desires are worthless.

How awful is that?! I know!!!

I’m sure it’s an accumulation of many factors – let’s face it, most of us have grown up in an education system that’s results-based, and its likely that out parents geared us up that way too. Worthiness, productivity etc is often based on output and measurable things. So the things we do with no measurable output (other than that we love doing them) are left out of the equation. Even thinking about sex, ‘How many orgasms did you have?’ can be considered more important than ‘how pleasurable was the ride?’

I don’t know if this is to do with living in a masculine-skewed world, and i don’t think it matters too much if it is – what matters is that we start to change our minds. The fact is, for some of us, we have to start unhooking ‘worthiness’ and value from productivity/outcomes.

The main reason why this is so important is that if you don’t feel your soul’s desires (to express, rather than to make something tangible) are worthy, that they don’t matter, that they’re not good, then you are pretty much telling yourself that you aren’t worthy, don’t matter, and are no good. And how the fuck can you live your life from that space?!

This is hard work. For me, i’m finding it hard work. To know that when i hit the dancefloor at class, just ‘doing my thing’ is enough. That my unique expression in whatever arena is enough. No-one ever told me that. Rarely has anyone ever said ‘just bringing your spirit into a space is valuable in itself‘.

Holy crap

Have you ever been valued for who you are, rather than for what you can do for another?

You’re not ‘of worth’ because you produce an outcome, or fix a problem, or make someone else’s life better. Your value doesn’t come from being measured in terms of output or meeting anothers needs.

Your value does not come from output. Not from metrics. Not from what you can provide another. Not from what you can physically go out and change. Not from anything measurable or quantifiable.

Your value comes from your being. When you walk into a room. The way in which you make pancakes. That your presence alone can make someone else feel safe. That’s your significance. Not the trophies, the certificates, the goals met, the number of followers – not that, none of that. Just your presence, your existence, and what your essence brings – which you carry with you all the time.

That’s the value, the worth, the gold.

And I raise a valiant middle finger to the world that has distorted things so much that we don’t feel worthy unless we’re being over-producers, over-achievers, constantly looking to prove our worth.

The sting, the rub, the beginning, and now the end

I know a lot of this stuff isn’t ‘new’ – god knows i’ve read it before. But i’m having a proper bing-bing moment so please bear with me.

Where does this split occur, where we start to believe we need to prove our worth & value in the world by going after external things? Even those of us who have let go of material things (fancy cars, job titles etc) still probably have other things we believe we need to have or do or be in order to be considered of value – whether that’s creating output that others need, or doing something that we believe will have an impact, in order for us to feel valuable.

I can pin it down.

God bless my parents.

What did you have to do to get love? What did you have to do, who did you have to be, to feel recognized, valued? When you were a kid – did your parents project a role or their needs onto you? Or did your parents allow you to just ‘be’, getting their needs met from others or met by themselves in a healthy way?

Let’s just say that both my parents were unable to provide themselves with the happiness and healing they needed, so I had a lot of stuff projected onto me.  I lived in a world where my value, worth, came from what i could provide these people with – that i met their needs that I shouldn’t have met. I wasn’t valued for simply being me – messy, hanging from the trees, plastering-barbie-with-punk-make-up me. I was valued based on what i could do for others – be that fan their social status, or be an emotional rock.

And i guess I’m starting to crack that idea that i’m valuable just for being me, not for my output or for what I can give or do for others ( I enjoy helping empower others – i’m talking about enabling and/or martyrdom…).

So my big ol’ Q’s for the week for you are: What are your feelings, memories, ideas around ‘being of value’? What do you value, what have people made you feel valued for? What’s your lifeblood, is it different to what others value from you? What does your soul want to do, and do you value it? If not, why not?

And with that, I’m done. High fives to all who made it to the end of the post.

Your value is in your happy glory

S xo

Lesson from Fear:Going around the houses

Today I read an article by an actors marketing coach about how fear can create the same ol’ pattern of behaviour: you get an idea, you get scared that it won’t work/you’ll get rejected so you overanalyse it then you either trash the idea, or use it in a highly diluted, un-fun way that is a million miles away from the original idea.

I see this often. Not just about creative ideas but decisions in life, too. Do I approach the guy I fancy? I want to do this (insert wildly outlandish activity), but will it lead me anywhere or make me successful? I want to create a blog on this topic, but will people read it and what’s the point of it anyway?

Personal story.

Years ago when I first got the idea that maybe I’d want to do acting, in my mind what I *really* wanted to do was be in action movies – anything from Kill Bill to Batman to Lara Croft to the Bourne series. Running around, kicking booty, helicopters n motorbikes, yes please.

Me, yesterday

But what happened.

Fear stepped in. Instead of me taking the most obvious step, the step that would have me doing what I REALLY wanted right from the get-go (take stunt acting classes!), instead I listened to my fear which said ‘you have to be a “serious’ actor”. This lead to a winding road of theatre acting classes, Shakespeare, falling asleep whilst watching plays at the National Theatre (true story), and going to networking events trying to hold conversations with actors who wanted to discuss plays.

I hate going to the theatre.

But my ego kept telling me ‘if you wanna be an actor, this is what you have to do, else no-one is gonna give you a break, no-one is gonna take you seriously, and you have to compete with all these theatre types who have theatre training.’

As time went on, I started to feel like I wasn’t really ‘an actor’ because I didn’t wanna talk about Chekov or the more academic side of things (which is crazy – if you enjoy acting as an activity then you’re an actor). My passion waned, and possibly worse, I felt frustrated and lost. I thought I enjoyed acting – so why did I feel like a fish out of water?

I took a break. I didn’t act for about a year. I took up freestyle dancing, and through that re-connected to my passion for self-expression through movement. And the call of acting came back.

This time, I’m gunning for what I want and love. I refuse to let my fear or ego trip me up. No more going round the houses. Just direct.

I took a ‘dramatic violence’ class last week and I was completely in my element – grappling, fake-strangling, punching ;) It felt RIGHT. There is much more of this to come, so brace yourselves.

This week’s takeaway:

If you identify something that you want to do, or something that you love, ACCEPT it and take the shortest, most obvious route possible towards bringing it into your life. Don’t listen to the BS that says ‘well if you want to do this, you have to do XYZ first’ or ‘you’re not a proper ____ if you don’t do XYZ’. Don’t let fear take you on an unnecessary journey away from your core desire. Don’t negate your desire to make it more ‘acceptable’ or seemingly less ‘risky’. Because

  1. You may waste a lot of time, money, effort
  2. You may begin to question if you really want what you want in the first place – self-doubt
  3. You might start to even dislike or become jaded about your original passion
  4. You might find yourself amongst people who are NOT on your wavelength, feeling pretty isolated

All bad beans.

In the past couple of years I’ve learnt that when you ACCEPT what you are truly passionate about, and stick with it, your passion will grow, doors will open, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who you love and who support you, and your sense of self will start to feel more solid. When I really got into waacking (the dance form I do), even if other elements of my life felt turbulent or unsure, I knew that at least one thing was true; I am whole-heartedly a waacker and I had that to hold onto. And you know, if I had let fear lead me round the houses when it comes to dance, I’d probably be a jaded unfulfilled ballerina, missing out on the passion, friendships and competitions I get to do with waacking.

I think something I was prone to doing was looking at how I could ‘maximise my chances of success’ by picking the most popular or mainstream area, even if I wasn’t lit up by it. And aiming to be the ‘all-rounder’ rather than an expert. Being an action actor is quite niche, waacking is a very niche dance form, even the things I write about in my blog (life lessons) is kinda niche.  But you have to love what you do, not try and alter it so it fits into what ‘most’ people like or ‘respect’. It’s unsustainable. Passion is pretty much the only thing that will keep you going the long-term. So don’t let fear rob you of falling in love with your passions and missing out on opportunities for success! And when you follow your niche, you’re bound to become an expert in it much much quicker.

Can you relate to this? Have you let fear lead you on a merry dance, rather than just dive in to what you really love and want to do? Are you doing that right now, and if so, what do you truly want and what can you do to move towards it, rather than away from it? Leave comments!

Off to practice my bad-ass action girl swagger,

S xo

Authenticity

The Creative Channel

I’ve been amongst visual artists, writers, filmmakers, actors, dancers, musicians throughout my life and have found sometimes it can be easy to focus on technique rather than channelling your truth. We are often trained or taught that to be ‘good’ at something means mastering technique and/or doing the best practice of what came before. It can sometimes be easy to look to peers and consider ‘if I do it like them, then I will get ahead’.

Yet if layers of taught technique cover up your authentic expression, your distinctive style will be unable to come out. Not only that, but your motivation to stay with the creative form (be that writing, acting etc) will diminuish as you move further from your true core. If you start to associate creating with all the shoulds, worries, self-criticism, then you’re not gonna want to be creative!

Whilst this can be seen more obviously with creatives, it also applies to anyone who denies their truth, in the moment. If your mind is busy with future projections of how ‘you’ will be received, or overly considered with whether you are doing something ‘the right way’, you are missing out on the one thing that is truly of value: expressing your truth.

Imagine inside you you have a ball of golden light, that wants to reach out from you (you may prefer to imagine a stream of gold light coming in through your head and powering through your body). That is what you should be focusing on when it comes to expressing yourself. Not the doubts in your mind, not ideas about how you may be received by others, not trying to remember what you ‘should’ be doing – just be present, and let what needs to come out, come out.

Even after doing a lot of work on this myself, it always amazes me how many layers there can be to strip back so that this core energy can come out unhindered. Where there is hesitancy to create, then there tends to be a layer to dismantle.

And it’s not always easy. Because there are folk out there who have set beliefs about how a creative should be, and who may not receive your gift in the way you may hope them to.

Yet there is a yearning for authenticity and natural talent, a yearning for resonance, and we owe it to this light that flows through us to step up + represent!

How can you step out of your own way this week? Where can you show up present, vulnerable, in your true voice, and stay open rather than alter to fit the projected perceiptions of others?

Rejections are signs from the universe that you are not resonating with that particular person or group – a sign to change the environment you are moving in, rather than change yourself.

It Gets Better

The past couple of weeks I’ve been really drawn towards initiatives that empower gay youth. I’m straight, yet know what it’s like to be bullied and feel marginalised. The concerns of the LGBT community can reflect struggles any of us have when it comes to being authentic and taking a stand for who you really are in a world that often wants conformity, no matter what your gender, race or sexuality.

No-one should be rejected for expressing their authentic individuality, which is why I’m supporting It Gets Better – a project whose purpose is to give hope to gay teens who may be struggling with being accepted at school or by their family. If you feel inclined to bring a little ray of hope, please make your own video and add it to the It Gets Better website. I love contributing to anything that aims to bring hope and light to others, I hope you’ll join me.

Much love,

S xo

Unique

As some of you may or may not know, I have been taking classes in a dance style called ‘waacking’. It’s a freestyle dance, where you learn a range of different moves then can put them all together however you like depending on the song you’re dancing to, how you feel.

Some people are really good at particular moves, more than others. For example, there are some people in my class who are flexible and can do high kicks or the splits. Then there are some who can do really fast arm moves. Then there are others who are more natural at footwork and grooving.

Rather than being a room full of people all trying to do the same thing perfectly, in a waacking class there’s a range of people who each can do certain things really great, and other elements not so great.

My teacher was talking to me about how I should use my height and long limbs to my advantage. Rather than try to move like someone else or try to do things that I’m not so naturally suited to, to polish up and make the most of what I DO have. To make bold strong moves that take up space, that have presence. That could be ‘my thing’.


This got me thinking about struggle, ease, and making the most of what you got, in any area of life.

Sometimes we make things difficult for ourselves, and don’t see the best way to make the most of what we have.

Rather than focus on building up what makes us unique, and using that to our advantage, to be ‘our thing’, it can be so easy to try be like someone else. To worry that we’re not ‘doing it right’ (whatever that means), that if we do something ‘our way’ it’s not going to be ‘good enough’.

It’s important to try new things and incorporate a range of elements into your ‘style’ so you grow, but there’s also something to be said for knowing your strengths and advantages that you have over ‘the competition’. Polishing what you inherently have, rather than trying really hard to be more like someone else.

This week, I encourage you to consider what YOU uniquely can bring. What are your effortless, go-to strengths that others don’t have (that maybe they wish they did have)? Can you focus more on them, use them, work on them so they rise up to be SUPERPOWERS?! How can you STAND OUT more?

Be brave, you got it in you!

Get Your Hands on ‘What The Stuck?!’

‘What The Stuck?!’ is an emotional unblocking workbook you can use on any area of your life that you feel ‘stuck’. It takes you through a process of reframing your perceiptions, letting go of stale habits and freeing up space for the new n fabulous! Grab your free copy by signing up with my new mailing list provider, Mailchimp, HERE.

Rockin it,

S xo

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Putting Yourself Out There

Happy Valentine’s! Whether you are in a relationship or single, I encourage you to carve out a little space for some self-love and appreciation for wanting more autonomy and empowerment over your finances and personal growth!

Since my last post for you, the Money Rockstar site has had a facelift AND I have an article published over at MindBodyGreen! It’s about being responsible for your own gifts and talents, which is super relevant to self-worth, so if you haven’t checked the article out yet please do, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. It ties in very neatly with this weeks topic:

Putting Yourself Out There

When you can stand in your own value, it is much easier to market yourself – whether that’s in the form of a job application or resume, submitting to be a guest writer or speaker, or promoting your business.

Knowing and standing in your own value and worth is the bedrock for being able to spot and apply for opportunities, approach collaborators, potential clients or employers, and also helps to clear out any BS about what you will or won’t do! Once we know what we truly rock at, what our innate gifts are, and begin to shine the spotlight on them, we are less likely to go for jobs or clients that won’t make the best use of our talents.

And as we shine light on our talents we begin to appreciate them more, which in turn boosts our self-esteem and sense of self-value. And from there it is a LOT easier to put yourself out there.

What areas of expertise do you have? Are you sharing them with the world effectively? When you look for clients or employers, do you focus more on what they can give you, or what you can bring to them? When I focus on how important my message and advice is, it makes it far easier for me to reach out to others to share my services.

Your homework for this week!

1. No matter what your current employment status (out of work, full-time employed, freelance, business-owner etc), check back in with yourself. What are your core innate skills and talents? What do you do best? What message do you want to share with the world? What knowledge do you have that others may want to know? What skills do you rock at that you should focus on, while delegating or ‘stop doing’ the things you’re not a natural at?

2. What small steps can you take this week to share your unique self with the world, and put yourself out there? Who would benefit from your skills and knowledge, and how can you reach them?

Refocusing back to your core gifts, and valuing what they can provide for others, should help fire you up to make those calls, submissions, videos, adverts!

And when we start putting ourselves out there, we start getting opportunities and new sources of income whilst boosting our self-esteem. This is a crucial part of financial empowerment.

Be honest with yourself about the questions above then take action!

One-on-One Coaching

I am opening up spaces for ongoing coaching at a flat rate of £50 for 40 minutes. Coaching sessions take place via Skype each Thursday. I have 5 spaces available – if you feel I can help you please get in touch directly at s_l_byrne@hotmail.com and I’ll send you through an intake form.

Have a great week!

Rockin it,

S xo

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