Annual Navel Gaze 2019

As I say every year, I don’t do New Years resolutions. Instead, I take a look back at the past year and take stock of the things that happened, the things I accomplished, and then look a head to the new year and see what I want to accomplish. Its a great way to take stock of the year that was, and to both put what i want for the new year into the universe, as well as create accountability by putting these goals out for public viewing.

This year’s accomplishments:

  • I was finally able to perform The Commandment at home, at the Toronto Fringe. It was a real joy to be able to share this play with the home audience. We won North (519) Best of Fringe, and performed the play three more times in Orangeville.
  • My theatre podcast Stageworthy crossed the 200 episode mark, and turns four years old in the new year!
  • The podcast for introvert’s (The Introvert’s Guide To…) that I co-host with Jess McAuley continues to grow, and crossed the 15,000 listens mark this month.
  • I got a bunch of writing done.
  • I got a tattoo!
  • I did a little travelling. The highlight was a trip to Quebec City, though I would have enjoyed that more without the fractured rib I got two days before!
  • I started a monthly pub night for creative people. This came from my noticing that I am more creative when I surround myself with creative people. So I launched a very informal monthly night of getting together and talking about whatever comes up. And while the numbers of people have fluctuated, the conversation has always been good!

Last year, I set myself some challenges like “be nicer to myself” and to lean into my introverted “stay home all the time” nature. I had limited success with those. I don’t think I was as good to myself as I could be, I think in the later months of the year, I made some strides. I did not do very well at getting out and not isolating. For example: after the Toronto Fringe, I spent almost two weeks at home not talking to anyone.

So, for the year ahead:

  • My 50th birthday is coming up in April. I want to do something to mark and celebrate it. So my plan is to go to London, England (I’ve never been and always wanted to go).
  • I want to continue to find performance opportunities for The Commandment.
  • Last year, I said that I was going to finish my Christmas play and perform it this year, which you may have noticed I did not do. I’m still working on the play, and it continues to evolve. But I am getting there. And while I’m impatient to be done, I have to remind myself that The Commandment took me a long time to write too.
  • Keep growing Stageworthy and The Introvert’s Guide To…
  • Keep writing, and do it more. While I have written relatively consistently, I haven’t done as much of it as I want. I’m a pretty good procrastinator, so I often find things to do that aren’t writing. I want to get better at not doing that.
  • I have had an idea for a new play for Keystone Theatre, and its high time I pitch that idea to the gang (and also, it would be great to get the band back together).
  • I have also had an idea for a musical for a while, so it’s time I started sketching that out. I don’t write music, but I want to have the idea straight when I find a composer/collaborator.
  • Be more social. Get out to some events now and then, even though I am more comfortable staying home. And not to talk myself out of going (like I often do).
  • I said this last year, but I’ll say it again: do more things with friends. Yes, being a homebody is nice, but you have to go out sometimes. It’s better to connect with people in person than digital.
  • Take more photographs.
  • Post on this blog more. I realized as I was writing this that the 2018 Navel Gaze is the last time I posted.

How was this year for you? What are you most proud of? What are you looking forward to next year?

Annual Navel Gaze 2018

As I say every year, I don’t do New Years resolutions. Instead, I take a look back at the past year and take stock of the things that happened, the things I accomplished, and then look a head to the new year and see what I want to accomplish.

Here’s a look back at things I accomplished in the past year.

  • I launched a podcast for introverts with my friend Jess McAuley. After attending a friend’s birthday and feeling awkward and foolish at not knowing how to interact with people, I spoke to fellow my introvert, Jess and together we launched “The Introvert’s Guide To…” in which we try and tackle a new issue each week and figure out how to navigate what seems like an introverts world.
  • I performed The Commandment at the Fundy and Halifax Fringe Festivals, received rave reviews, and was named Outstanding Solo Show at the Fundy Fringe.
  • My Theatre podcast Stageworthy crossed the 150 episode threshold.
  • I think I finally figured out how to finish the Christmas solo play (as yet untitled) that I’ve been working on for about three years.
  • I moved again (which I wasn’t happy about, but it worked out). My landlord sold the building, and I got one of those notices that says the new owner is moving into my apartment, so out I went. Apartment hunting in Toronto is a terrible experience, full of scammers and people over charging for closets. I hope I don’t have to do it again for a very long time. But I do have a bigger apartment, in a nicer neighbourhood, so I guess that’s a win.

On the other hand, while I’m super happy about this stuff, I have to admit that there’s some other stuff I’m not so happy about.

  • While I’m generally pretty content being an introvert, and staying home, I do feel like I’ve been isolating myself a bit. It’s all well and good to be a homebody, but not at the expense of close friendships.
  • I’ve also come to the realization that I have not been kind to myself this year. I have avoided a number of social engagements because “no one really likes me”, which is something I chalked up to introversion, but I have come to realize instead is a self-esteem thing (and I haven’t thought about self-esteem being an issue for me in a long time). So, I need to find ways to combat what my brain tells me, so that I isolate myself a little less.
  • I’m also not good at forgiving myself. An important step in recovering from a fuck up, is to be able to forgive yourself for making it. Which I have not been particularly awesome at.

So that’s the year that was. Now let’s talk the year ahead.

  • As I said last year, I want to find more performance opportunities for The Commandment. I did that this year, let’s see what can be done this year.
  • Finish the (as yet untitled) Christmas play (which I describe as a Christmas play for grownups that like a little horror in their holiday), and perform it. Which means I’m in the market for performance space. Ultimately, my ideal situation I would love to be able to perform The Commandment in the summer, and this new piece in Nov/Dec.
  • Write more. I have this new apartment where I’ve created this working space. I should use it. I always said I wanted a work space and that if I had one, I’d be able to write more. So now, it’s time to prove that true.
  • Keep Stageworthy growing. The podcast turns three years old at the beginning of January, and so I want to expand its reach. Interview some bigger names more regularly, get a little more out of the Toronto theatre bubble and talk to more people in other places, and generally grow the audience.
  • Get more traction with The Introvert’s Guide To…. We had a good start, but then needed to take a bit of a hiatus. The goal is to continue consistent podcast production, and to engage with the community a bit more to try and find out what they want, and what questions they want us to tackle. So far, Jess and I have been able to come up with some good topics, but there are times we struggle, so hopefully, by connecting with other introverts, we’re able to get a larger pool of topics than we’re able to come up with on our own.
  • Be kinder to myself:
    • Recognize that my tendency to believe that people don’t actually like me is not a part of being an introvert, and is just a story I tell myself, which means it’s something I can unlearn.
    • Say yes to more social engagements, and don’t talk myself out of actually going.
    • Do more things with friends. Yes, being a homebody is nice, but you have to go out sometimes. It’s better to connect with people in person, than digital.

How was this year for you? What are you most proud of? What are you looking forward to next year?

The Annual Navel Gaze: 2017

As I say every year, I don’t do New Years resolutions. Instead, I take a look back at the past year and take stock of the things that happened, the things I accomplished, and then look a head to the new year and see what I want to accomplish. So let’s dive in the past year:

  • First stop: the thing that ended up defining the second half of the year, and pretty much overshadowed everything that came before: my break up. That was really a really difficult and unexpected thing (which I suppose they often are). I moved, bought all new furniture, and started getting used to not being the duo I was. It was really hard, but it was also very loving. There was no acrimony, and it was actually a pretty loving breakup, and I am very happy that we have been able to stay friends.
  • My friends took good care of me. Its always good to be reminded that you have wonderful people in your life, and my friends sure reminded me. They stepped up when I needed them, and made sure I had the support I needed through the transition in this second half of the year.
  • My theatre podcast, Stageworthy reached its 100th episode, which is an important milestone in the life of any podcast. A lot of podcasts never make it to 100, so I was really happy to get and surpass that number.
  • I kept a steady pace writing my Christmas play. I had intended to perform it this year, but through circumstances, that fell through. This was a blessing, though. Because while I think that it would have been fine, it would have been a bit of a rush to get it done and ready. Postponing it means that I can make it better, than it would have been, and I actually feel better about having more time.
  • I launched my Rough Draft podcast, where I read pieces that are fresh off the pen, or things I wrote and put aside for a bit.
  • I started working with the folks at Geektropolis on a geek/pop culture podcast, which you will see in the near year.

What about next year? Here are some things I want to accomplish:

  • Finish and perform the Christmas play (I guess I should come up with a title for it, so I can stop calling it “the Christmas play”).
  • Find an opportunity to perform The Commandment. The challenge is that The Commandment is of a length that is good for a festival, but not long enough to stand on its own outside of a festival. I didn’t get into the Toronto Fringe, so I’m trying to find a venue where I can do a BYOV for Toronto Fringe.
  • I want to do some new things with Stageworthy this year, like a regular Indie Producer’s roundtable, maybe finally get the Playwright’s roundtable going (like I’ve wanted to from the beginning). Maybe I can finally crack the problem with Crowdfunding for indie theatre that I’ve been mulling over for years with a roundtable discussion on the topic.
  • And a challenge for my introverted self: say yes to more social engagements. I have a habit of not going out to things because…well: introvert. But I have found in the past that when I make myself go, I always have a good time. So, that’s my challenge to myself: go out more with people.

How was your year? What did you accomplish and what challenges did you face? And what are you looking forward to for next year?

The Annual Navel Gaze 2016

As I say every year, I don’t do New Years resolutions. Instead, I take a look back at the past year and take stock of the things I accomplished, and then look a head to the new year and see what I want to accomplish.

There’s quite a few things to list for the highlights of the past year.

  1. I launched my weekly theatre podcast, Stageworthy. The show has been picking up momentum, and listenership has grown over the year.
  2. I premiered my solo play The Commandment at the Hamilton Fringe, and was named a Critic’s Pick by the Hamilton weekly.
  3. I had a pretty prolific writing year. The priority was getting The Commandment into performance shape – that and the rehearsal and production of that play took up the first half of the year, but after that I wrote a new play at the Red Sandcastle’s annual “100 Monkeys 24 Hour Playwriting Festival”, worked on revising an old draft, wrote a scary Christmas poem, and have begun work on something I’d like to perform next year at Christmas.
  4. Travel: Sarah and I went to New Orleans last year in January, explored the French Quarter, saw our first ever Mardi Gras parades and had a great time. We also spent a lovely long weekend in Prince Edward County at a lovely little boutique hotel, and took a weekend away to Port Hope to write and relax. With work, I spent some time in San Diego, Boston, and Dallas.
  5. I hosted my second Spring playwrights retreat on Toronto Island at Artscape Gibraltar Point. Again it was great to spend some time writing with another group of writers, and get away from the usual routine to focus for a few days.

For next year:

  • I want to find more opportunities to perform The Commandment, as well as try to perform some other new works. I know at least one piece I want to do in November or December, but there’s another piece I’m working on as well that I’d love to perform sooner than that. Of course, that means I’ll have to do some fundraising, but if I can swing it, both of these pieces are things I’d love to present.
  • I’ll be hosting a third Spring playwrights retreat on Toronto Island. Details on that will be coming in the new year.
  • I’ll be spending a few days in New York with Sarah in March, where we’ll get to see Hamilton on Broadway, and do a bit of exploring in NYC.
  • Heading to New Brunswick to see some dear friends get married, and then spending a week in a cabin with Sarah writing and relaxing.
  • Continuing the Stageworthy podcast into its second year.
  • More writing, more creating.

The Annual Navel Gaze 2014

As I say every year: I don’t do new year’s resolutions. Instead I take a look back at the year and see what I accomplished. Then I look ahead to the new year and see what I might want to accomplish in the year ahead.

Quite a bit happened for me in 2014. So, let’s go over the highlights:

  1. I found a full time job at an awesome company. After two years of working part time jobs, I finally found a full time job at EventMobi, doing tech support, and I love it there.
  2. Keystone Theatre presented The Last Man on Earth at the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto, which allowed me to have this moment with a poster of me as Gormless Joe in the lobby.
  3. My play The Parliamentarians was performed at the Red Sandcastle Theatre. It was a huge thrill to work on this play with my very talented cast: Richard Beaune, Scott Clarkson, Rebecca Rodley, Siobhan Richardson and Adrianna Prosser, and I’m very grateful to both them and to Rosemary Doyle at the Red Sandcastle. Also, big thanks to my stage manager: Christopher Douglas. Its really interesting to see how the cast helped me improve the show. It was really gratifying to work with actors who were able to give some great feedback that helped me improve the play.
  4. Keystone Theatre presented its latest show, Gold Fever at the Toronto Fringe Festival to rave reviews. It was great to rework this play and find new depth. It was in the end, very different from the play that we presented at the Festival of Clowns in 2013.
  5. Sarah and I spent Canada Day weekend in Niagara on the Lake, which was an exciting surprise getaway.
  6. We also went to a cabin in the woods, on the other side of Ottawa. It was a little place with no running water and no electricity. Its the most rustic I have ever been. The purpose of the trip was to do some writing, and we did. I was working on a new play, and Sarah was working on an awesome new project. We’d wake up in the morning, and make some coffee on the Coleman stove, and then sit out on the porch overlooking the a ravine as the mist rose.
  7. In November I took a shot at NaNoWriMo and tried to write a novel in a month. I didn’t make it to the 50,000 word goal, but I learned a lot about writing, so I count it as a win.
  8. In addition to NaNo, I’ve been writing quite a bit.
  9. Sarah and I also took a big nine day trip to New York City, and it was awesome. We’d been planning the trip for a year and a half, and it was just as awesome as we had hoped.

Next year, is about creating.

  • Reviewing the drafts of plays I’ve written this year, and starting the work on revising them.
  • In May, I’ve organized a weekend Playwrights’ Retreat, with Artscape Gibraltar Point.
  • Planning to submit one of my plays for the 2015 Toronto Fringe Festival. The only question is, which one?

That was my year, and a look ahead to next. How was your year?