During my day job’s busiest season, every store in the area was encouraged to take up what was called a ‘Viking Mentality’. This was partly for fun and gave us a theme to play with as we worked the season. Every store in the area took photos of staff in costume for our yearly charity calendar. Despite the fun aspect, it was mainly employed to inspire us to tap into our selling ‘Killer Instinct’ to make every sale count.
This was all started by someone reading a blog post by Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen. Upon reading a printed version of this blog post, I was indeed inspired! Not just in making every sale count; but more importantly, I found this applies to life in general.
Bull-Hansen does write that this way of thinking won’t be for everyone, but it resonated with me and I took it to heart. I have reworked some of the tenets as I didn’t want my interpretations to copy his…. that and these are what I understood them to say. I already do some of these and I’m working on others:
Be Courageous – Nothing is accomplished without action. Believe in yourself.
Never Give Up – If you want something enough, what are you going to do to get it?
Seek Wisdom – learn from your mistakes as well as the knowledge of others.
Seek Challenges – If we do not push ourselves, then how do we achieve?
Respect Others and Yourself – Offer respect to all and make yourself respectable. (Aka- Don’t be a dick!)
Take Opportunities – If an opportunity presents itself, seize it! You’ll only have yourself to blame.
Value Loyalty – If you don’t have loyalty in those close to you or even to yourself, what do you have?
Let Your Actions Speak For You – It’s all very well saying what you’re going to do, but what did you actually do?
Live the Life You Want -What’s it going to be?
Turn Disadvantages into Advantages – Turn your situation around, whatever the difficulty. Aka “Quit yer bitchin’ sort yourself out and make some good.”
In Bull-Hansen’s original post there are only seven tenets, but he has written a whole series on this subject. Could these apply to you? Do you think you could/should adopt a ‘Viking Mentality’?
I was going to put the ‘Yule’ chapter of my Wheel of the Year series as this festival’s entry, but it needs one hell of a re-write and, quite frankly, I’m not in the mood to rewrite pages of material.
Thursday marked the Winter Solstice and it was a dark, damp cloudy day. I was inspired! I wrote a piece for all my friends in Facebook land, I like to spread hope where I can.
Light, dark, balance is what counts. Lean too much towards the former and we see everything with rose-tinted glasses. There is no wrong in the world. Ignorance is bliss. Lean too much towards the latter and, well, there is everything wrong with the world.
I managed to get out of the house to take a walk in Highfields Park, just outside of Beeston, Notts. Although by the time I got there, the sun had already set and dusk would soon give way to night. This reminded me of the Owl card that I had drawn at the beginning of 2017. The concept of ‘Owl Time‘ was not lost on me.
Realising I was rushing through. I stopped and took in 9 deep breaths and closing my eyes. After that, I heard the sound of something in the lake. I turned and found a whole group of ducks swimming by the side of the man in the wheelchair being pushed by another. The ducks recognised him and were expecting to be fed…. their disappointment was evident when they started waddling along the embankment and quacking amongst themselves. A black bird with a white bill and stripe on its forehead ‘Pinged’ at the ducks. The scene was reminiscent of a uniformed official trying to keep order of loud football fans and the fans ignoring him as they pass him by.
Later, as I walked, it was getting darker but I could see to my right two white specks moving uphill. Two hares making their way. Do hares hibernate? I didn’t think so.
I went onto the small island where, surrounded by six tall Yew trees, I performed my ‘Five Senses Meditation’. By now it was dark and yet through the clouds, I could see cracks of a lighter sky. Night had not yet fallen.
Going to the lakeside, I made sure I wasn’t giving a false impression to the ducks (no snacks from this two-legged who didn’t think to bring munchies for the birds), bent down toward the water and held my right hand over the surface. Here, I gave my respects to the Lady of the Lake. When I was done, my hand was warm. And it was time to go home to perform my Ovate ceremony to greet the Solstice.
On my way home, I could see a clearing in the clouds getting larger until I reached my front door and the clearing revealed the sky as a teal-greeny-blue, right on the clock as the Solstice begun.
I came away from the park with these two lessons:
The importance of stillness.
There is always life, both in winter and the dark.
And as I was performing my personal ceremony, I was taken by Awen as I said out aloud and made the following observations :
In the dark, there is rest.
In the dark, there is the hidden.
In the dark, there is fear.
With fear, you can either run, do nothing, or take a stand.
Sometimes we must run, there is nothing wrong with a tactical retreat to fight another day. Sometimes we can do nothing but let the threat pass over. But there comes a time when we cannot run and we cannot do nothing and we must make a stand.
I said out aloud my fear and decided to take it on with the lesson I have gained from this year: Nothing is Accomplished Without Action. It was then the candle was lit.
Sure enough, the day after the Solstice was bright, the sky was clear and the sun shone with brilliance.
Go and put the kettle on and make yourself a drink….. Locksley’s been offline a few months and now, he’s turned up and written this long post!
How I got involved (aka- ‘Oh boy was I suckered’…..)
BA: Locksley, auditions are next Thursday at…….. School for our new, original community theatre musical ‘The Last Revolution’.
Me: Thanks guys, but I don’t sing so I’ll have to miss this one out. Thanks for letting me know though!
BA: Locksley, what can we say to convince you to join in? We’re running low on men, we’ll even give you a non singing role!
Me: ……. Ok, when is it being performed? I have another project in the Summer that is tbc.
BA: 23rd-25th June.
Me: …….. Ok, I’ll do it. Where’s the audition, again?
Me: (looking around in the audition) Hang on, there’s a lot of men here!…….
Was pretty much how the conversation went via text message with me and Big Adventures, the theatre company I worked with last year on their comedy version of Conan-Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. The conversation took place in January and the production finished three weeks ago.
Acting, I do. Dancing is how I got into the Performing Arts in the first place. Singing? No. Just no. I still remember when in college, my mate, Dwarfer turned around to me during one singing session and said “Sorry, but I’m going to have to move away. You’re putting me off…..” Any confidence at giving singing a go was shattered after that. So I never did. There were the couple (only two come to mind) of times I went on drunken karaoke (is there any other way?), and the one time Pipes told me not to ruin Metallica’s version of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ the one time I was actually trying…. Thanks guys, fuck you very much. So, I was content with absolutely no singing in my life. Ever. I even mumbled lyrics in the shower.
So imagine my terror when I discovered I had to sing in my audition! Luckily, it was part of a male ensemble, but then we had to sing individual verses……. I hadn’t been that scared for a long time: my heart beat was bursting from my chest, my stomach no longer existed and my legs wanted to collapse underneath me. Oh! And my mouth dried up. And then I started thinking about singing in tune….. How did it go again? What the hell does an ‘E’ sound like (I still can’t tell you)? What about pace and rhythm? And so it came to pass as the piano was played and my turn came up, my lyrics came out as: dhdydjfndiaa!?#+$%#!?@$%$ but hey, I made the acting audition!
We were called the week after and found out what parts we were given, and what did I do once I was given my script? I do what any performer does, skim the pages until I find my bits….. ‘Hang on! There’s lyrics here! And there are a few lyrics I have to deliver all by myself! Shiiiiiiiiiiit!’
Over the next few months we met every week for rehearsal, sometimes twice a week. And as time went on, I learned how to sing. Or hold a note, at least. The Director took care of, well- directing. Whether it was setting the scene, offering feedback or helping everyone with how to deliver lines or try scenes in a certain way (community theatre has a mix of people from different performing backgrounds, some of which had none. There were more than a few for whom this was their first show- everyone did wonderfully!) The musical director made everyone comfortable, often by joking with the cast or about himself. But he was good enough to know if you were struggling and help you get through it by being patient, persistant, firm but fair. They had both created ‘The Last Revolution’ and steered us with patience and enthusiasm.
I learned two things that really helped:
1, As someone new to the singing lark, I found you don’t actively think about keeping the pace, after doing it a few dozen times, it becomes automatic. You still need to keep an ear out for the tune, but it’s not something you can read about on how to do, you have to just do it and find it. So I stopped worrying. I found this easier to do live rather than listen to a recording and sing the lyrics to it.
2, I have a problem with thinking and listening and the same time. You can tell me your most painful secret, but if my concentration wanders, I won’t take a word in. More than a few times, I’d be over thinking a song or so busy acting something and getting involved in that thing (such as background chatter in character) that I’d miss my cues. I found this also applies to everyday life, too. To listen to you, I have to 100% stop what I’m doing and take in everything you say. Because I had to balance this and act as well as listen out for my singing cues, I learned how to do this! The trick is to appear busy and active, but actually am listening out…… Cats do it all the time.
What was the musical about?
The musical itself was based on the real historic event of The Pentrich Uprising of 1817. An event you won’t just find in your everyday history book. The uprising was the last act of rebellion against the Crown and His Majesty’s Government in England. Back then, the Napoleonic wars had just finished leaving the country financially drained. Poor harvests meant crops were lost (due to a volcano sending dust particles into the air and obscuring the sunlight!), the Industrial Age had created machines that replaced manpower and living conditions for the poor were squalid. In short, England was in a dissatisfied place indeed. Various uprisings around the country took place, but the Government got smart. They employed spies to go into places of known dissent, get the local communities fired up and snitch the rebels in. And this is exactly what happened to the revolutionaries of Pentrich. A government informer, under the alias of ‘William Oliver’ was sent into Derbyshire to find traces of rebellion, which he did. He also became involved with the local rebels and urged their leader, Jeremiah Brandreth to press on under the belief that various towns and cities were joining in and all ready to storm Westminster….. All they needed was the right man to start it all off. The men of Pentrich, Wingfield, all other surrounding areas (apologies to any readers from Derby, I’m not a local lad) came together on the very early hours of the 9th of June and began their course to Nottingham. It was at Nottingham they were told they would be met with other revolutionary groups from The North, they would receive ale, meat and money then march all the way down to London. It was raining heavily as they went from village, to village, pressing men into service along the way, taking weapons and dealing with deserters. One young man was murdered, being shot dead and before the men even reached Nottingham, a whole military force was waiting for them…… William Oliver had done his job well. In November that year, Jeremiah Brandreth and the other ringleaders, Isaac Ludlum- the Elder, William Turner were hanged by the neck until dead and beheaded for treason against the Crown. It was this event that lead to the formation of workers unions that are in this country today.
Interestingly, one other man was tried at the same time. George Weightman was sentenced to live out the rest of his days in the colonies of Australia….
What amazed me about the Uprising was the passion for it today from both the people of the areas involved and the descendants of those revolutionaries who were sentenced to Australia. There are societies in both countries taking great pride in their families involvement, as well as trying to piece together everything that happened. It turns out that the Government had kept this part of our history quiet, the only information released around the time were the newspapers, but the Uprising was brushed under to be forgotten. The families of those involved kept quiet so they could keep their homes and jobs, after all the excitement and failure what else could be done? Very soon, The Pentrich and South Wingfield Revolutionary Group will be granted access to the archives of the Duke of Devonshire. Perhaps more information of what happened will be revealed?
The Real William Turner
I had the pleasure of playing William Turner, a stone mason and ex-soldier. He was 46 years old when he was involved in the Uprising, ten years my senior! He was described as tall, but there are no other indications as to what he looked like. Neither were there any portraits. He was survived by his parents, siblings and his nieces and nephews, having no children of his own. The house he built for his parents still stands today! In the case files, he was described by witnesses as being keen for the march to proceed and knew of every weapon in his home village of Wingfield. He was one of the men who helped organise the Uprising and even led part of the force that made its way toward Nottingham (but never reached it due to the militia waiting for them). During his trial, Turner seemed to give in to the resignation of the fate that beheld him, he sobbed as he was charged ‘guilty’. In his last days, he was keen to show repentance before God and hoped to be spared….. That hope was dashed once he was sentenced to be hanged and beheaded for treason against the King. After days of despair, he put on a brave face for his family and prayed for forgiveness from God. Asking about the state of Jeremiah Brandreth, both he and Isaac Ludlum were distraught that Brandreth did not seek the repentance they wanted so much. Before his death, Turner cried out this was all the fault of the Government and William Oliver. Which, of course, they disapproved.
I played him as a frustrated individual who had come back from war to find there was no reward for those who returned, the countries money was tight, meaning the wages were considerably less than promised and once back home it was ‘Wham-bam-thank-you-very-much-now-off-you-pop‘. My version of William Turner was waiting for a chance to lash out at those who treated him and others as disposable, and was bitter until the end.
The real William Turner was, as mentioned, a former soldier. I can’t say why he wanted to revolt. Perhaps he saw something when he was at war? perhaps he was disgusted at the state of his country with the rich and poor divide? Perhaps he wanted to fight so his family could live without starving? Or maybe he just got caught up in the zealous energy of the idea of rebelling against the authorities. Whatever his reasons, Turner felt strong enough to make a stand to try and make the world better in some way. I was told by a cast member that one of his distant relations would be coming to see the show. I don’t know if they did or not, but I hope I portrayed their fated ancestor with the respect he deserved.
‘The Last Revolution’ is a proud moment in my life, I made some discoveries about myself and made many friends during the production. I did something I’d never thought I would and pushed myself out of the comfort zone. I also learned a piece of English history that seems to have been glossed over, when it was actually quite notable, even if it was ill-fated. The common people turning around and saying ‘No!’
It was an honour to be involved, an honour to perform and an honour to the memory of those who wanted “…. freedom and fairness for all!“
Back in 2015 I wrote this piece on exploring the concept of courage and bravery in a culture of fear. It was strange reading it as I was becoming a different person back then. I’ve grown since and become a lot more sure of myself.
I had taken the title quote so inspirational that it has actually become part of my being. Back in that year, I was so sick of being scared that I leapt at every chance I was presented with, sometimes the courage paid off, other times…. I hurt people.
Courage alone is of no use unless it is reflexive to do something in that moment. Where there and then you can make a difference. Courage sprung from lying to yourself and impatience is stupid; it ends up with other people being hurt and you being a dick!
However, courage born from something to make a difference or to put right a situation where inaction and silence will lead to something worse is worth those twenty seconds of crazy!
Very recently, I dared to ask a complete stranger out for a date.
I was looking at a food menu through the glass window of a sandwich shop when, in my peripheral vision, a customer walked in then a few moments later stuck her head out of the door telling me to “Come in, it’s lovely!” Invitation by a cute blonde wearing hipster glasses? How could I resist? So I went in and placed my order. Blonde Hipster Girl turned around and flashed me a smile (she was very cute) and I started conversation by asking if this was her regular place to go. She told me she used to come here all the time until she got fat. She wasn’t fat at all, curvy, sure- I love curves on a woman! And so I laughed along with her, thanked her for her advice, collected my order (hers was taking longer to prepare) and went for the bus to get me to work. It wasn’t until I reached the bus stop and was halfway through eating my sandwich I thought to myself: “You idiot! You should have said ‘Fat? No way, you’re as cute as hell and I want to ask you out for dinner.’ So I kicked myself over that Friday morning encounter as a missed opportunity.
Over the weekend, I made a plan.
On Monday I went back.
With a letter in an envelope labelled “To The Cute Blonde With Glasses.” In it, I explained that I was thankful for her giving me the push to go into the shop, that I wanted to ask her out for a date and that her next meal at the shop was on me (I paid for it in advance) and signed it with my name and mobile number. This I passed on to the ladies behind the counter. Job done, and like a spell once cast….. I let it be. It’ll either work or it won’t.
She replied the next day!
Through the medium of Whatsapp, I received a message from the ‘Cute Blonde With Glasses’ kindly explaining she had just started seeing someone. She also told me the letter was cute and that things like this only ever happened in movies, and I should keep doing what I do as it made her year. Oh, and that she gave the money back for the lunch I bought her as she felt guilty.
And you know what? I was fine with that. Totally and truly. It wasn’t the outcome I was hoping, but I knew it would be one of the few that came to mind. I’m still glad I took the chance and feel the better for it. What happens now? Simple, I let it go and should I come across another opportunity, you can be damn sure I’ll give in to those crazy 20 seconds. It all comes down to the fact if you don’t ask, you don’t know. Would I rather have left it and wondered what would have happened if I never did something about it? I’ve wasted far too much of my life making that mistake.
Go out there step out of your comfort zone and do something amazing and even if it doesn’t work out, you’ll feel great for daring to take a shot!
With all the strong winds we had this winter, I got the feeling that the winds of change had already arrived; eagerly pushing 2015 out of the way as if 2016 couldn’t wait to get here.
2015 has been a busy year for me. I got moved store (again) and have even taken steps to help me back on the road of acting.
Comparing to last year’s reading, how did things play out?
Venom: I lost my cat, Loki. She was my companion, my little girl and my pain in the arse all at once. I had her put down after she was attacked by a Fox as her chances of survival were extremely slim. Not a day goes by without me thinking of her.
I broke the heart of my friend and fellow Grove mate, River. I thought I was ready for a new relationship and after three months, realised I wasn’t. So I ended it and hurt her badly. Looking back on it, I see now that was what’s called a ‘rebound’. We have spoken since and says she has forgiven me. I wouldn’t say we are the friends we used to be, but at least we are civil now.
The venom was my broken heart and the lesson of Adder reversed is to use the poison that harms into one that cures. Loki’s death reminded me of the savage side of Nature, it was a serious wound that was brought through the cycle of survival. I think it would have been worse if I found her after getting run over by a car.
As terrible as breaking up with River was, things happened in motion to change her life for the better, from what she told me, she has discovered Buddhism which has taught her to let go of the past and embrace the future.
I learned a lot about myself from this experience and now know who I am, as well as who I don’t want to be.
Honey: The card of Bee represents community, celebration and organisation. 2015 was a very social year for me, I am blessed with many friends wether it is my Grove, my housemate, my workmates, both my social and spiritual circles. I even left Pagan Pride in an official capacity, in a good place.
With the Am Dram group, I bonded really well with my fellow cast and crew in the One-Acts of that summer. I spent NYE with Cludgie’s family and mutual friends. It was Cludgie who gave me the final push to go for the role I auditioned for and got. The director had previously asked if I’d be interested in reading for it and I thought of every reason not to. I’m glad Cludgie talked me round.
Three major creative things happened this year too: me, Strider and Dumbledore got together and formed our storytelling group “Tales From the Fireside”, a separate venture from our Grove that was described by one event organiser as “I knew you’d be good, I didn’t expect you to be awesome”. The other was joining the Actors Workshop here in Notts. Making some good friends and progress in my performing skills.
And filming the Promo of Gallows Bait in Sherwood Forest, dressed as a proper highwayman for two days!
2015 was for me a year of discovery, having courage enough to do what it is I want to actually do (and sowing the seeds for it to happen) and being surrounded by wonderful people, old and new. I also did a lot of guest speaking this year, touching on new subjects for me as well as revisiting old ones.
Dragons: I was quite hungover on New Year’s Day when I drew the card for 2016 and as soon as I saw what my focus for this year was, I said in my best George Takei voice: ‘Ohhh Myyyyyyy’ Earth Dragon or ‘Draig-Talamh’ is the card of accessing your inner potential, as well as recognising the potential in others.
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a very productive year!
I could do a whole post on them, breaking them down further and explore their meanings and definitions, but I’ll do that another time.
Right now, I want to focus on just one of those virtues… Courage.
Have you ever been inspired by a sentance or a phrase? Maybe even just two or three words that seem to shout out to you and give you the kick up the ass needed?
Mine came from a tattoo.
More accurately, it’s a quote from a movie that I read on someone’s arm.
Artemis had a friend round, Sandy, who stayed with us for a couple of days. We were chatting and seeing the tattoos on her arms, I asked if I could read the words on one of them. And when I did, it was exactly what I needed to hear…. If reading can be classed as listening. And here it is:
Full Quote: “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it. “ Benjamin Mee, ‘We Bought A Zoo’.
Or as Sandy put it: “… to stop being a pussy…”
I have never seen the movie, as someone who worries a lot (especially about things that haven’t even happened!), this has stuck with me. It has become my mantra for 2015. And it is sooooo true!
We live in an age of fear. Fear of not being accepted, fear of offending someone, fear of the future, fear of being hurt. Fear of war, fear of being sued, fear of doing the right thing (because we end up being accused if we do… If you believe what the Newspapers say, anyway).
Courage is something that is seriously lacking in our world, boy do we need it!
One of the reasons I look to the past is that there are tales of Courage and heroism, and not all of them are centred around men and the ideology of the Male Principle. To turn around and do what is right, to do the thing no one else can or will, to make a stand. That takes courage.
I’m not saying we need to start running around being reckless or stupid, but what would happen if we all started acting bravely? What if we dared, on a day by day basis, to have ourselves of 20 seconds of courage?
You know the ones, right? It’s that feeling in the back of your head and in your gut. Something happens and for a moment the world stops. You know you need to act… Do you?
There are a number of occasions that I remember where I should have acted, but didn’t. I believe that courage can be built up, if we have the will to do something… DO IT! 20 seconds. That’s a lifetime in a split moment. Don’t waste it.
Tell someone ‘No’, say ‘Yes’ to something that you’d normally be scared of. Dare to step in when your friends argue, tell that girl you have a crush on that she’s beautiful, go and do that thing you’ve always been wanting to do but never have done (if not now, then when?).
I’m done with being unsure, like the Lion from The Wizard of Oz once he realised he had his courage already within, it is time to ROAR! * It’s time to stop reacting and start acting. 20 seconds…. That’s all it takes.
*Yeah, I took the title from the Lannister family motto from Game of Thrones… Wat’cha gonna do!?
Its been just over a fortnight (when did we start saying biweekly?) since I put up my last post.
I seriously didn’t have any idea it would generate such a positive response- I just got shook up be a bad dream, which opened up a few anxieties I wanted to get off my chest. That in itself was a good exorcism of those personal demons.
In my last post, I wrote about courage being essential about what makes a “man”. By this I don’t mean fearlessness, that is something that (realistically) doesn’t exist. I mean the courage to stand up and do what is right, the courage to actually dare to make our dreams a reality, the courage to stand by one’s beliefs, the courage to go forward instead of looking back.
Last time, I spoke about my feelings on how I perceive I have failed to utilise my potential, something I have decided to face and take on.
In the past two weeks I have made progress in writing my book (just about finished the last chapter, then I need to fully rewrite the conclusion, leave it a week and check for spelling errors and bad grammar as well as correcting sentences that don’t make sense), I have also been rehearsing the part of St. George for a traditional Mummers Play (being performed in Lady Bay and Beeston on the Solstice day! And I’m the only Pagan in the group…). Tonight, I will be having my first rehearsal for an acting project created by a friend of mine. The idea being that once its filmed, he shall upload it onto YouTube and see how it turns out. I’m a little daunted by this, its the first straight acting piece I’ll be doing since 2007, after I sacrificed that world for a business venture and my marriage (courage was essential for both those adventures, the first evolved into something else and the latter is ongoing). After a lot of soul searching and stopping from running away from myself, it turns out my performing side was still there all along and will always be a part of me. It just that now I’m no longer denying it and am seeking to work with it once again.
On the OBOD Bardic course, we are encouraged to find our creative and expressive side. I knew of mine all along, I just lied to myself saying that part of me was over. What a fool I was!
Embracing the fire within has taught me that my Bardic self is my true self, something I only diluted with Morris Dancing alone. Having the opportunities presented to me this year to pick up the rest of my performing side has taken the courage to do that what my spirit has been crying out for.
I have no idea where this project I’ll be rehearsing for is going to go, or even if it will be a success. The important thing is I am stepping forward to do where I feel my potential lies.
I came upon the gorge that had ripped open the land like a wound. Instead of anything like blood escaping or bone and muscle being revealed, this wound was dark, sucking in any hope and life into its depths. Looking around the land that was once whole and complete, the gorge stretched on for miles around, as far as the eye could see. On the other side were pear trees, I could only just make out their vibrant green leaves and golden fruits. The rest of that land was hidden by a fog, the hidden unknown of the future. I spent years looking for a way round, there was none. I even spent those years thinking I was content with staying on this side, where I know the things I do and am familiar with all on this half of the gorge. And yet. Yet… the calling from the other half was there, I tried to ignore it, hell even told myself I didn’t need to listen to it. Then one day, I spied the pears of those trees and became hungry. I knew that whatever lies in that fog is where I needed to go. So I walked back towards the land I already knew, heading toward the trees and rocks I knew all the names of, and then I stopped. I turned to face the gorge and breathed deeply, every intake as though they were my last. So… I ran. Running toward the gorge, the fire blazed within my chest, my breath as quick as I could take it, the strength in my legs burning as I headed closer and closer to the gaping precipice until my right foot touched its lip at which point I yelled only one thing as I leapt into the air above the darkness: “Geronimo!”