There is a voice in my head, which says it is insane to share Anja’s World with you. Why? Because it’s the raw, unedited, most imperfect version of myself, multiplied by a hundred times.
Let me explain. A couple of months ago I embarked on the journey of filming myself for one minute every day. The idea was to have no script. I had only one shot at it and I couldn’t play around with my one minute material.
After I finished the project, I pondered why not make a series out of this. It’s kind of fun!
Yesterday I completed the edit for the first three episodes of Anja’s World. Each is about three minutes long and contains three of my one minute improvisations in front of the camera.
To be honest, now it feels even more nerve-racking. Because it’s whacky, it’s uncomfortable, it’s me. There is no place to hide.
The warning voice in my head screams even louder: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me! Don’t do it.’
Sharing Anja’s World feels risky to me, because it seems so off the beaten track. This is not about creating a perfect image version of myself. On the contrary!. You get to see moody me. Sometimes struggling through my days, feeling exhausted and fatigued. At other times hyped or angry.
So, why make it public? Because I don’t want to be ruled by inner voices, wanting to keep me safe at all costs. Standing by my values is far more important to me. Creating perfect, imperfect art, where the rawness is still allowed to shine through. Very much like a tree we love for its crookedness and weird way it grows into the endless blue of the sky. This is where the magic lies. Shining a light on the beauty of imperfection.
My new series Anja’s World has a lot to offer. Showing vividly how multi faceted we all are. There is a freedom to reinvent ourselves at any given moment. This is exciting!
When you enter my world, you’ll be surprised at what you find. It is curious, at times absurd and definitely unpredictable.
You might find, that parts of my world reflect something back to you. Emotions, ideas, inspirations. I hope Anja’s World offers you some encouragement to be unapologetically yourself, embarking on your own very weird, creative journey.
From the third week of September onwards, I will post a weekly episode.
Improvisation is like embarking on a flight to a foreign country you even didn’t know existed!
Who knows what’s gonna happen…
I encountered this art when I was 19 years of age, attending a conference in Vienna. There was a performance I innocently watched. Until, from one minute to the next I got dragged on stage and of course completely froze. All the other actors jumped around me, doing crazy things.
I thought: ‘This is definitely not for me!’
Nowadays I often walk on stage with no preconceived idea about what I’m gonna do at all! It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. My much younger self would have a hard time believing that improvisation could grow so close to my heart. More so, that it would be the fundamental underlying practice for all of my work; Be it art, writing, or performance.
In my opinion, if you want to create original work, no matter in what field, improvisation is the way!
Even though it seems terrifying, the greatest gift this practice can give to you, is that you discover something about yourself and the world, you didn’t know before. New ideas begin to form in your head.
The empty space is where the magic begins!
When you embark on the journey of improvisation, it is important to bring yourself to the present moment. Don’t allow yourself to get ahead of yourself.
It is also crucial to keep your inner critic in check. Otherwise it’ll run the show like only a dictator can.
Trust your first idea and just run with it however trivial it may seem. You’ll be amazed how interesting the apparent simple things can be.
If you want to know more about the principles of improvisation I recommend either Keith Johnstone’s book called ‘Improvisation and Theatre’ or Stephen Nachmanovitch’s book called ‘Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art’
And now stop planning for a bit and improvise! If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them in the comments section! Also, watch out for my new series Anja’s World!
Magic happens when you face stuck with a twinkle in your eyes!
The thing is, there is no point in running away from nasty, uncomfortable feelings in general. The minute you try to escape them, they turn into a permanent ‘ugly duck’ tattoo. Stuck gets under your skin, starting to follow every single step you take. As a consequence, life turns into a tasteless, grey soup of indifference with no exciting spices to be found. Where is the chili?
I tell you it’s much better to download my freebie and start having as much fun as possible with, what’s bothering you. Looking the enemy straight in the eye.
Several months ago I felt terribly stuck and this is why I started to create sketches, dealing with the issue for 50 consecutive days. For you, I have selected 15 of the most touching ‘Fifty Shades of Stuck’ and added a short description to each. A friend of mine said, it reminded her of oracle cards. Feel free to use them that way. 🙂
Do you want to know the truth?
When I embarked on my doodling journey, I didn’t get unstuck right away. Instead, I developed a much better understanding for this particular state. It was intriguing to realize in how many shapes and forms stuck actually can sneak up on you. Disguising itself as excessive numbing (internet, TV, food, etc.), excruciating loneliness, trapped like a bird in a cage or feeling you can’t measure up to this apparent, perfect world. This is to name just a few.
Maybe stuck is more of a symptom than the cause.
There nearly always seems to lurk something underneath…
The good news is, stuck often precedes a phase of natural growth. Unfortunately you can’t just bypass this condition nor can you forcibly speed it up. Stuck has its own rules and stays as long as necessary. Until it moves on and visits someone else…
My advice is to neither ignore stuck nor take it too seriously!
Remind yourself that it is human to feel stuck from time to time. We can’t be in the freaking flow, always! Why not try to get curious about what’s going on? My freebie ‘Fifty Shades of Stuck’ will definitely help you with this. And don’t forget to smile. 🙂
I didn’t want to have the usual scene of someone sitting at their desk, reading a story to the audience. Boring!
Maybe pretend to be the lost mouse in the heating… Hence the setting underneath my table. So I gave it a shot and very soon gave up on the idea altogether.
Who wants to see someone squatting underneath the table, being in a very bizarre position, while reading a story? No one!
Often there’s a huge discrepancy between an idea in my head and how it pans out in reality! That’s another reason why I love improvisation so much.
I don’t have to deal with any preconceived concepts, lined up for the ultimate disappointment. Failed expectations are hard to deal with.
But in this case, I wanted to come up with a video, that was different!
Before pretending to be the mouse in the lost heating, I already tried various other things.
I sat on the cliffs with my Iphone and selfie stick. Ready to smash it within a great scenery. It went quite well until these young people walked right into my picture, chatting noisily away. Blah, blah, blah … Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle… Of course they were totally oblivious to the fact, that I tried to record something important! What did they care.
I hate inconsiderate people, but that’s another story I guess.
You can imagine my frustration. Apart from the interruption, the breeze was too strong as well. It just didn’t work. So I gave up on the great scenery idea and moved back home and in front of my green screen.
Not wanting to give up, I forced myself to do another shoot the same day. Of course the result was unsatisfying to me. This time the trouble was staying focused throughout the whole story, while reading it.
Damn it, why has this thing become such a hassle!
A friend of mine asked me: ‘But surely you can edit it?’
Yeah, but if I can’t do an 8 minute piece without messing it up, what kind of performer am I? Not a very good one. Anyway, an edit can look awkward, when you’re just mainly sitting and not changing position so much.
You see, I am battling with my own standards!
So, it was the following day, when I started with the squat under the desk and than gracefully moved back to the green screen… This time with a purple colour matching blouse.
New day, new luck, right? I am about 4 minutes into the story, everything goes well. And then the bloody phone rings! I start again. Four sentences in, the phone rings again. I don’t believe this. It’s freaking me out.
Finally I get through the first page of my story and everything seems fine. But when I change over to the second page, my sunglasses fall down to the ground and I have to laugh.
Keep going Anja, keep going. And that’s what I do and I decide to keep that version. I can’t bear to do another one. Enough is enough. Sometimes you need to work with what you’ve got. Hiccups included.
I have three reasons for choosing the version you get to see in a minute:
I don’t seem to be able to get it right
Perfect doesn’t interest me anyway
It’s definitely different
Wait a minute, I nearly forgot to tell you, why I went to go through the ordeal to record ‘The Lost Mouse in the Heating’ in the first place.
So, I am finished with my ‘Fifty Shades of Stuck’ doodle challenge. For those, who really liked it, I have good news. I am putting the best doodles with some inspiring text into a freebie! I hope to have it ready soon. Watch out!
Because I get bored without a challenge, I am working on a new one. It’s called ‘Finding meaning in senseless doodles’. The sketches you are looking at in this blog post, are my latest creations. If you want to see all of my bizarre doodles, connect with me on Instagram. I’ve sketched fifty up to now. Mmh, I think I actually need to come up with a new challenge soon again…
In this one, I basically doodle and write down the thoughts, which come to my mind, while doodling. I have highlighted my thoughts directly underneath each picture.
I personally believe, when you dare to enter the senseless realms, there is a lot of wisdom to be found. Enjoy!
Suppressed energy always finds a way to express itself. Even when it has to go underground.
I believe a lot of illness creates itself like that.
What, what you see me run free and don’t like it? It’s not my fault, if you choose to imprison your spirit.
Often it seems to be easier to follow someone else’s rules, but your own.
Thoughts are like birds. Soaring the skies, they cluster.
You know what I mean?
Things are never finished. They only appear to be. Just as life does.
Beginnings and ends are an illusion of the mind.
When the pendulum swings to the one direction, it has to swing back to the other side as well. Simple!
From the inside to the outside. And from the outside to the inside.
There’s nothing to add.
Things seem so disconnected at times. But are they really?
I guess not and it’s easy to forget.
Most of the times, less is more applies. When you do little, you think you’re boring. But we are intrigued. When you do too much, we often don’t buy it. Of course this only applies to performance and performance alone… It’s got nothing to do with life!
I hope you enjoyed my bizarre doodles and the prompts, which go along with them. I would love to hear from you.
Which one of the 9 bizarre doodles spoke to you the most? What are your thoughts?
‘You never invite me for dinner!’ my friend commented the other day.
I have to admit, it’s kind of true. My dear friend cooked for me at numerous occasions throughout the years. I only invited him back a few times. That was, when I still was living with my former flatmate. She loved to cook and it was the kind of stuff my friend enjoyed eating.
Does that mean I don’t like to cook?
I don’t think that’s accurate entirely.
Let me take you on a little food journey of mine. It might explain things…
As far back as I can remember, I always loved food!
I remember the sweet smell of plum cake, wafting through the house. My dad made the best plum cake in the world!
As a kid I enjoyed baking tremendeously. Everyone in my family would get a cake for their birthday. They didn’t have a choice really. Here’s a funny story. I made marble cake for my aunt and she put it in her boot, while we were out for lunch. When we came back, the cake had been half eaten by her dog. I was devastated. My piece of art had been destroyed brutally.
As a teenager I was known for my world famous Tiramisu. I’d always bring one to the parties, people invited me to. It was a recipe out of a women’s magazine called ‘Brigitte’ and I loved making it.
After having completed my A-levels, I volunteered for half a year in a Camphill (an anthroprosphical community for disabled people) in Ireland. Guess what, I had to cook for 15 people every day. It was a great lesson in cooking and since no one ever complained, I experimented a lot with mainly vegetarian recepies.
In my early twenties I was not only studying Social Work in Hildesheim, but I found myself in my first serious relationship as well. One of the things, that defined us as a couple, was that we both loved cooking together. We’d dance around each other perfectly in the kitchen. Harald and me also greatly enjoyed inviting friends over for dinner. I at the time was famous for my homemade pizza. My dad had given me an Italian cook book with those great recepies for pizza from scratch.
The love for food runs in my family. My dad is a great cook. He’s always full of enthusiasm when it comes to cooking as well as eating.
Interestingly enough, the few times, when I lived on my own, I didn’t invite people anymore. I don’t know why. Maybe it was, because of the space being so small. Maybe I just prefer to share cooking with someone else, including the joy of having friends over for dinner.
But now, let me tell you the main thing, that has changed for me over the years of my food journey. My previously uncomplicated relationship with food has become a minefield I am navigating every day.
Nowadays I am constantly confronted with the following questions:
‘Is this particular food good for me? Do I need to change my diet again? Why is my digestion not getting better? Am I still eating something, which I might have an intolerance to?’
All those foods I used to love and cook I’m not eating anymore. Pizza used to be one of my favorites. I haven’t had it in years.
I am dealing with Hashimoto’s, Irritable Bowl Syndrom and several food intolerances all at the same time. Not to forget the Chronique Fatigue, which is playing havoc in my life.
So, as a result I have been cutting out a lot of foods I used to eat. All in an attempt to heal my gut and get better again. It’s tricky though. Because, when you cut out things, you might indulge in something else too much, which in return you might become intolerant to.
That’s what happened with carrots to me. I used to eat them all the time, as kind of a snack. Until I turned orange in the face and developed an intolerance. Great!
Sometimes I feel it’s a no win situation. No matter what I’m doing to get my health back on track, it doesn’t have the impact I wish it to have.
Here’s the truth. Most of the time, I am quite happy, when I got through the day in one piece. Managing to do a few of the things, which are close to my heart. Writing a new blog post. Rehearsing with my company. Driving my creative business forward.
I know it’s so difficult to understand! All of those health issues are invisible to others. Often people tell me: ‘You look great!’ How I feel inside is another reality altogether. I am living with this challenge every single day and so do millions of others.
One of the things I found out the hard way, is that my energy is very limited. There’s one simple realization, I’m not able to fulfill other people’s demands the way I used to anymore.
So, as stupid as it may sound: ‘Sorry, I can’t do it. I can’t invite you for dinner!’
It’s just too much at the moment. I have to priotize and my well being needs to come first.
Setting healthy boundaries and practicing your ‘No’s’ is crucial, when it comes to looking after yourself. It’s a way to maintain your health. Gabor Maté explains in his book ‘When the body says No. The stress disease connection’ that people with health struggles often have no boundaries.
So, if you need help and support with asserting yourself, I am here for you. It’s one of the things, that lie very close to my heart. Supporting others in learning to express themselves fully. For this very reason I have decided to offer Impakt Theatre Coaching in St. Ives again. I’ll attach the flyer so that you can have a closer look.
Don’t worry, if you don’t live locally. You can head over to my be creative site and book a taster Skype session for free with me.
Looking after ourselves and our own well being are one of the most important things we can do in preventing disease and maintaining our health. Don’t wait until you have to learn it the hard way, like me.
I got to know Jordan Jackson about six years ago, when we were rehearsing ‘How desperate can it get’ in the Arts Club in St. Ives. Jordan kindly agreed to do the tech for us. He even accompanied us on our crazy trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
I tell you, we couldn’t have it done without him and it was great fun, having him around.
Jordan and me also collaborated on Rage a 2.34 min video, we developed together all those years ago in 2011.
When Jordan started sharing his photos on Facebook, I was in awe of his work and I wondered how he discovered his passion.
I feel very honoured, that Jordan sat down with me at the beginning of this year, telling me about his own unique journey.
I hope you find our chat as inspiring and insightful as I do! The interview is 46:09 min. long and every minute is so worth it! Enjoy!
Here’s a rough outline of my interview with Jordan Jackson:
2:16 min. Jordan talks about being behind the camera, instead of being in front
3:23 min. About choosing purposefully photography
6:40 min. Jordan’s love for landscape photography
7:54 min. What project Jordan is working on
11:06 min. How Jordan found the courage to buy his camera
15:00 min. On the importance of not taking it too seriously
17:24 min. About the choice to not make photography Jordan’s main income
22:46 min. What Jordan does, when he has lost his mojo
26.35 min. The importance of giving yourself a break
29:26 min. On having a decent support network
35:09 min. Jordan’s trip to Iceland
39:21 min. If you find your style, do you have to stick with it?
42:55 min. Get out and try as many things as possible
44:09 min. Perspective requires distance!
That’s it! Don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter! You can check out Edward Chapman‘s interview here. 🙂
‘What do you mean, you feel invisible. Get a grip!’
Not feeling heard or seen by others is one of the most excruciating feelings on earth. Don’t you think? It’s soul crushing! More so it is a tabu subject!
I remember vividly, when I was developing my first solo show called ‘Circus of Emotions’. I did one improvisation, which was all about invisibility. Literally!
I was walking through a crowd of people and no one noticed me. Finally I got up on a pedestal to hold a speech. But no one reacted. It was, as if I was a ghost. I jumped down from the pedestal, stopping people in a frenzy, shouting:
‘Hello, can you hear me? Anyone!’
Silence. There was only the echo of stillness in my ears and emptiness all around me.
Some improvisations I never forget! This is one of them.
A friend of mine posted on Facebook yesterday, that he at the moment feels invisible to other people. I thought to voice his feelings was such a brave move! He recently lost his wife to cancer. He told me, the last time he felt invisible was after his divorce.
I feel invisible, when I for example write a blog post and after I’ve published it, it seems to disappear in the eternal internet ether. Like a black hole. If no one commented I’ll never know, if it made an impact on someone else’s life.
I want to matter. Everyone does!
So, do you have a place in your life where you feel truly seen and heard the way you are with all your imperfections?
For me, feeling seen means to be able to express myself fully. Showing vulnerability without being judged. Being able to say, that I feel sad and drepressed today for example. If the witness is judgemental I most likely end up in a shame drama. It’s like a dog gone mad, barking at me constantly.
So, let me tell you, the one place where I truly feel visible is our new theatre company ‘No Ordinary Theatre’.
It’s like a sacred, safe space, where everybody is welcomed the way they are. We are all very different from one another. Still, the promise to show up fully connects us on a deeper level.
Each rehearsal we start with sitting in a circle on the floor and ‘checking in’. Which means, everyone gets to say how they feel at the moment. ‘I feel so anxious today, because I hate parking in this tight place.’ (That was one of my dramas…) There’s no discussion, only listening. Which is why, it is so healing I believe. The check-in circle is our preparation for play as well.
Afterwards we either do group improvisations or solos. After each play we give feedback. We agreed to always be encouraging. We look for what we really liked, instead of critisising relentlessly.
‘I loved that delicate movement with your hands. I want to see more of it.’
This way each performer can feel save, expressing him- or herself fully! I am absolutely loving it. I enjoy watching the others play as much as acting on stage myself.
If it was up to me, I would be doing this every day. I hope it’ll come true soon! 🙂
It’s all I want to do!
Play, improvise, perform, act!
Play, improvise, perform, act!
It makes me feel so alive! Everything is possible. You can be angry and funny at the same time. I am very good at it. 🙂
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were more places in society, where we can express ourselves freely, being who we truly are?
Most of the times, I feel I have to fake, that everything is fine with me, when it’s not. Who wants to hear the real story?
I often ask myself where do all the emotions go? Underground, where the fester and sometimes turn against us in form of illnesses. I really believe, that my health issues at least in part are linked to that.
In my opinion, theatre, as well as film are promoting emotional freedom! Audience and players are going on a journey together and it can be cathartic. This is one of the few places, where people still allow themselves to feel. Cry, if the story is sad etc.
‘No Ordinary Theatre’ is devoted to transformative play.
We improvise dramas immediately, while being entertaining and funny at the same time.
Rapunzel gets reeinvted. The prince can’t be bothered to climb up the tower and when he finally does, he’s shocked to find out it’s his own mother …
An innocent rabbit gets shot. You name it.
There are so many more weird, absurd things happening on stage.
As an audience you’ re definitely in for a surprise all the way long.
Monday the 29th of May in the evening No Ordinary Theatre has its first inofficial performance in Marazion, Church Hall. Each of us can invite 4 friends.
So, if you are a friend of mine and live close by, let me know and I put you on the list.
In case you don’t live close by, but you feel you have an issue with invisiblity, feel free to contact me. I offer free taster coaching sessions.
Look for more information on my Be Creative page. I’m happy to be your witness to feel seen again. 🙂