The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

It’s been a while since my last post, life seems to have sped up.

Work is busy as always, plus getting a new job that I start in a few weeks time. Add to that preparation for the Adelaide Fringe including production and publicity work as well as actually writing and rehearsing with my Three Stuffed Mums buddies Kate and Kehau, it seems my time has flown.

In between it all was a sojourn to Sydney to see no.1 son off on his travels once again with the Navy. It was great to spend time with him and very sad to wave him off. The up part being that it will be only six months and he will be home again.

And in between all of this action trying to observe, to stay true to myself and my path, to learn about what’s transpiring and to simply enjoy life.

Because when it all comes down to it, I think that’s the crux, the meaning of all of this life stuff; living it and creating joy, however you find the expression of that to be.

Some people write, some perform, others love to cook, or make things, or ice cakes or climb mountains or talk to people or any other of a million things. And if they express and engender joy through that activity, if it results in you and others feeling uplifted by it and benefitting from it, there isn’t that much more to aim for, is there?

We Three Stuffed Mums have been talking a lot this week about what our comedy means for us, about what we’re trying to do with it, and we all agree that it’s about the following:

-Do no harm

-Uplift ourselves and others

-Have people leave the show feeling better than when they came in

Sounds good to me!

Have a great week!

M 🙂

Trusting the Tao

Trusting the Tao

73

The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.

Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn’t let a thing slip through.

From Steven Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching

The words above have been a very real, very practical lesson for me recently.

We’re getting ready for another great Adelaide Fringe, and I’m writing a new show with my Three Stuffed Mums colleagues called Still Stuffed. Its a brand new show, with all new stand up comedy and songs, following on from the great success we had last year.

The songs are fine, they’re all written and being arranged right now. All new stand up – that’s another story. I don’t know how other writers operate but I cannot just sit at a computer and write funny – especially when the funny is for spoken delivery.

For me, that means it has to come from spoken origins. And its not a linear process either. Ideas, or phrases or sentences pop up, that generate further ideas that progress out from that original trigger like the ripples on a pond. The most important thing then is the idea, and the next important things are the words that convey that idea. The words can be swapped around like the idea trying on different outfits, but as long as the idea is intact and still inhabits my mind in its original form, there’s that leeway to play with. And then after a few days of musing (or weeks) it gets commited to screen via the keyboard. The words, if you’re not careful, have a way of pegging the idea down like the guy ropes of a flyaway tent. Done properly they neatly package and deliver the idea concisely, precisely and with punch. Done badly they bog it down and kill it. So you can see where I’m starting from.

So, all of this is to say that you cannot force the process. At the same time you have a deadline called ‘opening night’ looming ahead that tends to focus the mind and has the capacity to instill panic. So, what to do?

Me, I have learned to pick up my copy of the Tao Te Ching to remind myself to chill out and that all will be fine. That calms me enough to trust again that what I need will be delivered as long as I do my part in the process. And when I do, its a kind of self fulfilling prophecy, the ideas flow more freely, the mind is more open to receiving new ideas, not tense with panic, and things start to shake up in good time. And I have to say, things are coming together very nicely re the stand up, much better than I anticipated, actually. Adelaide Fringe 2012, I cannot wait for opening night!

If you’re in the vicinity you should pop down and see our show at The Maid, which also has some great comedy shows not featuring us. Our senior Stuffed Mum, Kehau, runs the venue with an aim to helping new comics put on their first Fringe shows without going into bankruptcy to do it. She and her husband Glynn work their butts off to make sure this happens so they deserve support for that alone, I reckon.

Whatever you do, and wherever you are please support your local artists, take part in your local culture and entertainment, and most of all, have fun!

Have a great week!

Maggie 🙂

NB: When looking for the correct stanzas to illustrate my point about trusting the flow in the writing process, I went to the internet version of the translation and blindly clicked on a chapter number. It turned out to be precisely the best chapter to describe what I was trying to say. Bravo Tao!

Bucket List Quest

Hey y’all, it’s been a while!

Bit of a newsy one this time.

July was very busy with theatre and comedy. Son was working as crew on Avenue Q for the month and so needed the mum/dad taxi service, meanwhile I was gigging every weekend for the OOTS Comedy Galahs around town.

That itself was a wonderful experience. We’d turn up and there would be 19 other comics all ready to go on and do their bit. I don’t know what the comedy scene is like in other cities, but in Adelaide we’re blessed to have a great one. The comics are all friendly and supportive of each other and take a real pleasure in seeing each other succeed with audiences. It fair warmed the cockles of my heart.

Also, one of the greatest pleasures was to see almost all of the female comics there too. We weren’t a token one or two on the bill, neither were we the total lineup which can also be tokenistic if you’re not careful. We were all just part of it, and great fun it was.

I congratulated the producer (and comic/David Tennant lookalike) Mark Trenwith on his great gender mix lineup and like the lovely guy he is he was genuinely dumbfounded. “I just hire people because they’re funny,” he said. Love that guy!

In other news, the Three Stuffed Mums have embarked on a project to compile a book of funny mum stories ‘from the trenches’. We’re asking mums to write in with their story that might not have seemed funny at the time, but you decided to keep it for their 21st, to be included in the Mum Book. The scheme was originated and masterminded by our more business-minded mum Kate, so if you’re interested, log on to http://www.themumbook.com.au and tell us your story.

My exciting news on a more personal level is that Fringe registrations opened this week for the Adelaide Fringe 2012. So, in the interests of crossing another thing off my ‘Bucket List’, I’m embarking at 50 years of age on my first solo Fringe show! It’s called “Sold!” and it will be a mixture of stories, songs and comedy.

Just this week I’ve received from my Musical Director Extraordinaire, Le Monsieur Mike Pitman, the backing tracks and scoring of two of the songs wot I wrote. They sound great, and now all I have to do is rack my singing voice up a notch or three to match the great quality of the arrangements.

The concept of “Sold!” is around those things we get sold on – whether its ideas, things, people. We have to be sold on them in order to justify our investment in them with our time, energy and loyalty. Sometimes we get swindled, but sometimes it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us. How do you get ‘Sold!’ on something? Tell me by going to the Facebook page for the show – Just click the badge to the right of this blog entry or search for me on Facebook under ‘Maggie Wood – Sold’. Oh and please click ‘Like’ on the page if you’d like to be kept up to date with my progress with the show.

And that’s probably me for this epistle. The weekend lies ahead as open as the prairies of Oregon (if they still have prairies there), for R&R and general navel gazing before the work week kicks off again on Monday.

To all of you out there, have a lovely weekend and a great week, and remember to look after each other. We’re all we’ve got!

M :o)

Let’s Enjoy Ourselves!

Just a short update: we’re three quarters of the way through the Fringe. There’s a show tonight (Saturday) and then Tuesday through Saturday again.

However we look at it, this Fringe has been a huge success for the Three Stuffed Mums. There have been great houses, fantastic audiences and lovely reviews. Even with a week to go we have post-Fringe bookings, some awesome plans in the pipeline and a bundle of songs and sketches awaiting development for the full stage show.

I’ve been having Thursdays and Fridays off during Fringe to accommodate energy levels and it’s worked well. It’s been a good balance, with the normal Monday to Wednesday workdays grounding me and stopping me flying off into Fringeland entirely. It pays to remember that Fringe isn’t the real world and it’s as transient as any of the Tivoli Garden setups in the parklands. It’s beautiful and enchanting when it’s there, but it’s not there for ever. And if you’ve seen our show, you’ll know the Mums are all about keeping it real.

The one thing about the show that has surprised us and blown us away is the sheer joy of it.

We knew we were having fun putting it together, but we didn’t bank on it being this much fun night after night. We also didn’t bank on the sheer joy of our audiences and the great energy they are feeding back to us.

When we talk to them after the show they say things like ‘I’m glad it wasn’t just me thinking that’, and to hear them talking about how it feels better to just be human and flawed, that they feel happier in themselves because they know they’re not alone in feeling how they do and how great it was to see their lives reflected back at them, well it makes your heart swell.

Its exactly what we’ve had underpinning the project all along – helping that connection set up and continue, to get us talking about parenthood with a laugh rather than a psychiatrist, and to know that none of us need to be alone on this journey through parenthood. I say ‘parenthood’ rather than ‘motherhood’ because some of the great feedback has been from the dads who were at first reluctant to come along. Yet,when they did they realised that it is just as applicable to their lives as it is to the mums’.

If you’d like to know more about what the Three Stuffed Mums are about go to http://www.threestuffedmums.com (silly blogspot won’t let me link it!)

Ah, it turns out this hasn’t been as short a blog as I thought it would be! So, heading into the final week of Fringe, lets all enjoy ourselves!

Happy Fringing!

I’m Stuffed Just Thinking About It!

Well, with two shows under our belt and the third due today, the Three Stuffed Mums have got into the swing of Fringe 2011.

Its been a busy week with lots of radio interviews, dress rehearsals and then opening night on Friday night. So far audience numbers and reactions have been great. Everyone’s found something to relate to in the show – even young single males!

It finally feels that we’ve given birth (so to speak) to this vehicle where we can utilise our talents in a positive and progressive way, so onward and upward!
The comedy industry here in South Australia is so oriented towards young single men that previously womens’ voices (of all ages) haven’t had much of a forum. That’s not a bad thing, its just how it was.

Now we’re creating that forum for both ourselves and hopefully for other female comics to come forward. That’s probably going to be one of the best parts of the Stuffed Mums project – to help and nurture new talent and give it a voice in the world.

We’ve already been booked to play the Ascot Theatre in Kadina in March, and with a Mother’s day show in May and some interstate shows looming, its all looking rather good.

Internally, its an interesting time. I don’t feel that big high that I used to get at times like these when I was younger. In its place is a very deep calm and contentment that, paradoxically, seems to anchor me to the flow of what’s going on. Its not a new feeling, but its never been this strong before and I’m enjoying it very much.

Its a rainy, cool Sunday morning here in Adelaide. Between now and the 5.30pm twilight show there’s washing and tidying to be done.

No.1 (step)son Andy is home from the Gulf – his ship got in this week so its time to claw back his room from the tide of office and exercise equipment to make it liveable once more as a bedroom.

Jeez. I’m stuffed just thinking about it!

Have a great week!