Eating the Elephant

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to get into Public Speaking…

I kind of achieved that goal when I started working for the University as a Student Ambassador and began running workshops with High School kids. The thing is though, to be completely honest with you, running workshops with school kids on Journalism and Public Relations was always in my comfort zone.

Then, an opportunity came up when I was asked to run a workshop at #ONEWorldSummit in Melbourne. A group of highly motivated, inspired youth leaders makes an awesome audience and I was instantly excited… but also instantly nervous. I took this as a good sign.

I was initially asked to speak on Project Management. “Sure”, I thought, “I run lots of little projects, I manage my time effectively and can organise a team through from initiation of an idea to it’s execution”, but something just wasn’t right. This audience are changemakers, I want to inspire them.

I just so happened to be given a Book…

The book was called “How to Eat an Elephant” and it was about making little changes to your daily habits and routine to become healthier and more mindful. I thought the idea was great – to take this massive and somewhat arbitrary vision of “becoming more healthy and mindful”, and breaking it down into manageable chunks to actually get going and take the steps which will get you closer to the goal. I started to think that this applied to all big goals in life, and the reason we often get stumped on a goal and can talk about it but find it hard to take action is that it seems so bloody big. I’m pretty confident all of us have at some point or another been faced with a vision or a problem to which our initial response is “Where do I even begin?!”

So I Changed My Angle, to Tackling the Elephant

I have taken some of the most useful theories, concepts and exercises which I have come across that have helped myself and others close to me break our goals into manageable chunks. The following presentation should have enough information on it to be useful even if you weren’t in the workshop, and my details are in the opening and closing slides if you would like any further information. You can also contact me here.

 

It’s one thing to care and be passionate about a cause or a goal, it’s another thing to actually figure out how to tackle it, much like ‘eating an elephant’. In This workshop on effectiveness, we’ll be breaking down the huge goals and passions we have into manageable chunks. A number of exercises and activities inspired by awesome change makers around the world, focusing on your own goals, will have you looking more analytically at your vision, your thinking and your actions. You’ll leave ready to take that first or next step towards achieving your dream and making change!

30 Day Yoga Challenge

So since the Marathon 3 months ago I really haven’t exercised much at all. My body took a long time to properly recover and I have found tenderness to the ligaments on the outside of my knees, I don’t want to push my body to injury by working it too hard after such an intense experience.

I’m maintaining health by walking a lot, and being mindful of what I’m eating and drinking. I’m not satisfied though. It’s not the exercise I miss per se, and I’m thrilled with the shape I’m in; I think it’s the structure of training which I miss, the endorphins, the routine, and yeah – the challenge (along with the sense of accomplishment).

Settling back in to Australian life from a UK Winter I’m seeing people exercising everywhere. The weather’s great and we are living in Saint Kilda; quite a funky, fit, lifestyle focused community. However if I’m not ready to start running again and without wanting to spend ridiculous fees on a gym membership, what can I do?
 

 
My boyfriend Marcus joined a local Yoga club, which offers multiple varieties of Yoga practices, from the calm and relaxed Yin Yang, to the more intense and heated Hot Flow yoga (and a few fitting somewhere in between). I had tried Bikram yoga in the UK last year and have to say I was quite unenchanted. But hearing Marcus talking about this yoga club, the casual friendliness and welcoming nature of both the teachers and the other students, and the variety of practices on offer I decided to join for their new member introductory offer: $35 for 30 days.

Now, I have heard of the 30 day challenges. Friends of mine in the UK had done so with the Bikram yoga, and the thought entered my head. Could I do it? Should I do it? Would it be good to do it?

It played around in my mind, and I realised there was no reason not to give it a try. The first yoga class I attended the first day was great. My only other reference point being Bikram, the warm but gentle and relaxed slow flow yoga was a wonderful surprise. I looked at what class I could take the next day… The only times I could attend were hot Yoga classes. Now whilst not as intense a practice as Bikram, the room is still warmed to about 40 degrees celcius, and being their most popular classes, the rooms are packed with lovely sweaty people. I took the class the next day and did not enjoy it in the slightest. My breathing was sharp and I found it almost impossible not to breath through the mouth, and I found my self dizzy and lightheaded. However I made it through, and, whether you want to call it out of foolishness, or dedication to my self-appointed challenge, signed up for the same style class the next day (today).
 
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I woke up feeling great this morning, and even quite keen for the class, despite last night’s experience. I’m not sure whether it was the change in attitude, a different teacher, or a little bit of practise the last couple of days, but today’s lesson was 100 times better. I was more relaxed, more comfortable, and found my breathing very deep and natural.

My skin is also looking amazing, and a lot of muscular tension in my body is already starting to ease.

If this is somewhat due to 3 days in a row of yoga practise I can only imagine what a month will do!

So I’m in it for the long haul. I’m interested in noticing any changes in my body, mind, skin, and sleep patterns and will report back at the end of the 30 day challenge, hopefully victorious!
 
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5 Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Marathon

If you told me last NYE that I would be crossing the finish line of a 26.2 mile race by the end of the year I probably would have laughed at you. At the very least I would have asked how many glasses of bubbly you’d had and whether maybe you needed to slow down. I hadn’t run 6 miles before, let alone 26. To me, a marathon was always something only the fittest of crazy fit people do, an abstract distance, and an elusive concept that “normal” people could run it. But, with only 3 months of training, I did, and there is a lot that I learnt, not just from the race, but from the whole 3 months, which has changed the way I view life, and will face future goals and challenges.


#1: Get Outside Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is defined by what you believe you can or cannot do with ease of mind. Day to day, most of your activities are within your comfort zone, and it’s when we are asked (or forced) to step outside this self-defined zone that we feel nervous. In saying this, if you had never done anything which made you nervous, how many opportunities would you have missed, how many people would you never have met, places would you not have gone and how many things would you not have experienced? It’s only by undertaking these challenges which make us nervous that we can broaden our comfort zone, and therefore open ourselves to even greater experiences and challenges. Running a Marathon was definitely out of my comfort zone, but by training for it, and completing it I not only feel amazing in my accomplishment, but I’ve been given a point of comparison for other challenges. Now, when faced with something scary all I need to say to myself is “Well hey, I’ve run a Marathon, how hard can this be?”

Achieving something outside your self-defined limits not only forces you to broaden these limits, but gives you a powerful belief that anything is possible.

#2: Always Have a Plan, and Stick With It

When you have a whopping challenge in front of you, it can feel very overwhelming, incomprehensible, or impossible to achieve. The only way to combat this is by breaking the challenge up into smaller, achievable pieces or goals, by making a plan and by measuring your progress. When I signed up for the Marathon I knew I could run 6 miles. I couldn’t just continue jogging, hoping that in 3 months time I could bump this number up to 26, I had to follow a training plan which gave me a slow and steady increase in the intensity and duration of my running. I found a training plan which catered for 5 different fitness levels, picked the one 2nd to the left, and followed it (almost) to a T. Tracking all of my runs, speeds, distances and how I felt on completion to monitor my progress also helped me improve, keep on track, and gain a sense of accomplishment.



The day by day and week by week changes were gradual enough that I could always complete them, but as the weeks went by I found myself running 8 miles with ease, then 10 miles, then a half marathon, then 18 miles. The plan also makes you accountable for achieving your goal. If you set out a plan you know whether you are on track or not, and you are accountable to sticking with it, indeed you pretty much have to stick with it to achieve the final goal. If I wasn’t following the training plan I can close to guarantee I would not have been out running almost every day, doing intervals or running up and down hills off my own motivation.

A plan helps you break down a seemingly un-achievable goal into achievable stages, and holds you accountable for staying on track.

#3: Make Yourself Accountable, Publicly

It’s one thing to make yourself accountable to yourself, but one of my biggest motivations, was making myself accountable publicly. As humans we are proud creatures, and enjoy others seeing us in a certain way; we hate to be seen as failures, some of us more than others. Myself, I like to be good at things, I like to be acknowledged for what I’m good at, and I’m very stubborn. By telling family and friends that I was training for a Marathon I was suddenly accountable to everyone else. People were asking about training, how I was going, and how long I had until the race, which gave me the extra motivation to keep training, to prove that I could do it. It also meant I had a great support network with whom I could share my progress and achievements.

Giving Up is a lot harder when you have public expectations you want to reach, and something you want to prove to yourself, and the people you care about.

#4: Want to Achieve The Goal; Give Yourself a Why

You need to WANT to achieve the goals you set yourself, otherwise you will have no personal investment in achieving them, and no motivation. When faced with goals or challenges an easy way to make sure you want to achieve them is to ask a very easy question; Why? Once you have answered “why” you have untapped what makes you tick, and become emotionally invested in achieving your goals. I wouldn’t have said I wanted to run for 5 hours in the middle of an English winter through ankle deep mud and puddles, but I signed up for it anyway. Why? Because it wasn’t just running for 5 hours, it was running a “Marathon”, something understood by society as a pinnacle of athletic fitness and achievement. Because by training up to that goal I was increasing my fitness to a level I had never had before. Because it would get me out of the house and exercising more than I had been, and get me into better shape and feeling better than I had in years. Because it was an achievement that not many other people can say they have done and if I could do it, I knew my confidence would increase in other areas of my life.
 
When I reached about 20 miles, my body was telling me to stop. I was cold, fatigued, I had cramps in the arch of my foot which would spasm on every step, but I kept going. I kept going because I kept thinking of my “why”. Without the why I would have quitted, probably long before the race, but almost definitely during it, the why gave me the will power to trump the pain and the messages my body was sending me to stop, and allowed me to cross that finish line.
For everyone else on that course that day there would have been 1000 different “Why?s”, it doesn’t matter what they were, but every single person would have had one, and that would have been what kept them running too.

When faced with achieving something, ask yourself why you want to achieve it, The why will be your emotional fuel to keep going, the why will be your willpower.

#5: Don’t Over-think, Be open to new challenges and take opportunities.

Sometimes people get stuck with a tunnel vision view of their future. There’s nothing wrong with long term goals, but there are problems with having blinkers on, shielding you from all the shiny things in your periphery. If an opportunity comes up that you weren’t expecting, be open to taking it, even if it steers you slightly away from that long and steady path you were following.



Re-evaluate your goals and your path often and see if that’s still where you want to be travelling, or if making a change and taking on a new challenge may be what you need. I wasn’t planning on running a Marathon, but when my boss asked if I wanted to join him in it and my boyfriend said he’d be up for it with me, I signed up before I could talk myself out of it. By not over-thinking it, I had paid the entry fee and had decided to start training. After a few weeks I had found my “why” and had become invested in achieving the goal so much that even after my boyfriend had to pull out of training and the race after an injury, and my boss followed soon after I kept going. Even when the week before was pouring down rain, and the course on the day was drenched, I kept going, and I have completed something amazing. If I hadn’t been open to taking on a challenge I wasn’t expecting or if I had over-thought and reasoned myself out of it, I would have missed out on feeling as proud of myself as I have ever been.

When presented with an opportunity that’s not part of the grand plan, be open about taking it on. Don’t overthinking it, just do it.


It has been an amazing journey, a hard one but also rewarding one. I have grown as a person, I have developed physically and emotionally, learnt so much about myself and I’ve already decided to sign up for the Melbourne Marathon in October to reach a new goal of 4 hours, 30 minutes. To that, you can hold me accountable.

21st Birthmonth Part 4: “Not the End… Only the Beginning”

Following that Saturday of presents and bubbly and terrible dancing to amazing old music there were still things I had to look forward to in the last couple of weeks on my Birthmonth.
 
The Wednesday of the next week I returned home from a dental appointment to find my friend Nithya waiting for me at the front of my flat! Having had lunch with her the day of my flight to the UK she was one of the last friends I saw in Melbourne, and one I was very excited to see again. Only having met in August last year at a TEDx event, we met up a month later and Nithya had told me her story. Listening to her talk I remember thinking: “This woman is incredible!” She is passionate, intelligent, courageous, creative, funny, loving and humble and there are so many other amazing adjectives I could use to describe her but I’ll stick to those for now. Feeling very close to her after this first coffee date, we met up more regularly in the couple of months following before I flew over to the UK. Nithya is one of those friends you can talk to about anything, who doesn’t judge you, who actually listens – without just thinking about when she can jump in and have her two pence worth. We both have shared so much of ourselves, our pasts, our presents our hopes and dreams with one another in such a short space of time that I feel like I have known her a lot longer than I have.
 

 
She was in the UK to attend a symposium in Lincoln where she presented a paper, “Women, Nature and Bharatanatyam: Ecofeminism and the performance of Indian classical Dance” and then spent some time catching up with old friends from when she studied here, and, luckily, found a couple of days to spend time with me!
 
We spent the time enjoying cream tea in one of my favourite vintage tea rooms, strolling through the lanes, enjoying the pavilion gardens and the Brighton Museum and Gallery and generally enjoying catching up and having the same wonderful conversations we always enjoyed in Melbourne. Although sad to say goodbye on the Friday, it was only goodbye for another 6 months when we can pick up where we left off, back in Melbourne town.
 

That day that she left I was being whisked away with Marcus on a surprise birthday adventure my Dad and Step-mum (who I believe was mostly responsible) had organised for us. Boarding the train I found out we were headed to Rye, although it wasn’t until we actually got off the train an hour and a half later that I realised exactly where we were… we were in one of England’s most preserved, old towns… and I’m talking cobble stone streets, no chain coffee stores or supermarkets in sight, and beautiful, beautiful buildings dating back to the early centuries of the last millennium! Goggling at the surroundings and half expecting a horse and cart to come trotting towards us, we made our way to our home for the night… England’s oldest inn… the Mermaid, rebuilt – 1420.
 

 
Entering the front door we were greeted by a porter who took us to our room and proceeded to show us our fire exit… an original secret passageway in the form of a fake bookcase! We were not supposed to use it except in case of emergency… but we couldn’t help ourselves from opening it up and taking a squizz behind into the narrow stairwell with a lantern hanging from the ceiling; I was in love with this town, this inn, and maybe a little too much with the bookcase. We spent the afternoon strolling the town, looking at antiques and enjoying a pint (no half pints for this young lady) before heading back to the room to play some good old-fashioned backgammon and chess before Dinner.

Dinner deserves a paragraph for itself; Being only served by footmen (obviously no maids are to be seen in the dining hall) we enjoyed AA Rosette awarded cuisine. I myself selected March Beef Carpaccio, followed by a trio of lamb (I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the liver… but I’ll try anything once!), followed by a delectably sweet Rhubarb soufflé. All went down splendidly with a bottle of red and good conversation followed by retuning to our huge, heavenly bed. The next morning I was devastated to leave. I truly felt I had been transported back in time, and was quite content with the change in lifestyle, but Alas! Like Cinderella and her magic spell, we had a check-out time and no fairy godmother was going to extend our stay for us.
 

 

We had a few hours before our train back to the present so we took a countryside stroll through the sheep paddocks to the nearest Town, Camber, and walked barefoot along a lovely beach. Returning to Rye we went for tea before luncheon at a lovely seafood restaurant where I ordered some (delicious) oysters and we had ourselves some fish before hurrying to catch the train.

Arriving back in Brighton was like arriving in an alternate universe. It had been amazing to escape the city life, even if it was for just a night.

Almost at the end of my Birthmonth I still had a visit from Cate, a Melbourne Uni friend to look forward to, and her arrival on Friday was lovely. I showed her the sights in Brighton, we enjoyed cream tea, had fun playing the amusements on the pier and wandering the lanes before a necessary dinner of some good bangers and mash at our local and then heading out for Stonelove rock and roll at one of the clubs by the sea.
 

 
It was amazing to have seen some Melbourne friends again, and all of September had been an incredible reminder of how many amazing people I have in my life and what they mean to me, and me to them. We had some great adventures, and I can honestly say that although the Birthmonth is behind me, I’m going to carry the happiness, excitement and fun into all the months ahead.

21st Birthmonth Part 3: “Two’s Company”

Yes, that’s right, there is a part 3 to this birthmonth Saga! After all, my birthday itself was hardly half way through the month-we were only just getting into it!

The day after the lovely dinner with Marcus on the night of my 21st was the actual date of the conference at work, probably our biggest day of the year and kind of a big deal. After the generous serving of cake the day before at lunch I was definitely not expecting any more birthday surprises so it was a lovely surprise when Tasha arrived and gave me a cute bottle of handmade plum vodka, tied with a ribbon with a handwritten birthday label – (I have tried it, it is delicious!)

Thinking that after that little treat the birthday was definitely behind me you can imagine the astounded look on my face when in the main concert hall at the beginning of the conference, my boss announced on-stage that “it was Skippy’s 21st birthday yesterday”, resulting in hundreds of people filling the auditorium with a slightly off pitch and absolutely hilarious rendition of the birthday song. As if that wasn’t enough Kelvin got me on stage too, and gave me a gift bag.
 

Opening it later I found a huge cake with Roo from Winnie the Pooh on it, which said “Happy 21st Birthday Skippy”, 21 candles, and a voucher for cake decorating classes (something I have wanted to do for ages)! I was stunned, and amazed at the generosity of my workmates with whom I have only been a part of the team for a few months. To top it off, the conference itself was also a success! A fun day and some great networking and catching up with industry friends afterwards set the day to a close before heading off early to admittedly get started on that cake, and then catch some sleep before an action packed Saturday!

Birthday Haul From the Taylors!

Saturday morning I opened present from the UK family. Opening Chambord (my favourite liqueur), my favourite perfume, Little Creatures (amazing Aussie beer – That was from Marcus)and other bits and bobs I was definitely feeling very spoilt, and the day had hardly begun! Having left Marcus in charge of the plans for that day I didn’t know what to expect, except for something exciting. He didn’t disappoint, booking us in to Go Ape! A high rope, tree top adventure course where, most simply, you get to act like Tarzan for a couple of hours swinging through the tree tops in 5, 30-odd foot high obstacle courses! It was awesome! We both got our monkey on and flew through the courses, completing all the hardest levels and zooming down the final zip-wire absolutely wanting more. Unfortunately there was no more, so we settled for a transformation from monkeys to cowboys, and enjoyed lunch in a Wild West themed Grill and Diner where we enjoyed some Tex-Mex food and sipped on Margaritas.
 

 

The original plan for that night was to hit the town with some of my old work mates from the café, but as all had prior plans except Jo, who did visit for a cuddle and a beer but couldn’t stay, Marcus and I settled for sharing a couple of bottles of champagne, and dancing around the living room to 80’s and 90’s cheese. Despite finding out my boyfriend’s slightly concerning love for Cindy Lauper we had a lot of fun, and it made me realise how lucky I am to have a partner who is also my best friend.

To be able to have still have so much fun when it’s just the two of us being silly is absolutely wonderful. From monkeys to cowboys to exclamations of how girls just want to have fun, my birthday weekend was really testament to the wonderful relationship we have, and the fun we have.

21st Birthmonth Part 2: “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”

One of the blessings of a “milestone birthday” away from your family and your best friends is that the people who you do have around make an extra special effort to make the day magical and memorable, and those you can’t be around tend to tell you things which they wouldn’t necessarily say if you were around them.

I was lucky enough to be able to go back to Oxford in the weekend prior to my birthday and celebrate with some of my friends there, and then with Marcus’ family the next evening.

A lovely dinner, bottle of wine and endless chatter with my friend Charlie from university started off the Oxford birthday weekend nicely, and the following night saw a group of us enjoying cocktails and some somewhat inventive dance moves out in Oxford.
 

 
Although some of my closest friends couldn’t make it, those of us who were out made sure we had a wonderful time. We seemed to have the city to ourselves and not many people were about, but all the better to make claim to the dance floor! It wasn’t a crazy night, but it was a fun one.
 

The next night Marcus and his parents took me out to a lovely Chinese restaurant where we were met by his sister Amanda and her boyfriend James. It’s an incredible thing to be on the other side of the world to your own family, yet to have another family who truly make you feel a part of them.
 

 
It was such a nice night, and saying goodbye to Mama T at the bus-stop the next day where she gave me an extra special hug I had to fight to keep the tears at bay, and a similar sensation occurred when I received a beautiful message from Amanda later that afternoon. So much love made me miss my own parents and siblings a lot, yet at the same time made me so grateful for the family I have here. Getting back to Brighton I found a bouquet of beautiful flowers waiting for me out the front of the flat. Opening the card I found they were from two of my best friends from Melbourne. Again, the tears welled up, but again I managed to keep them at bay.

On my actual birthday I woke up to open a bottle of champagne and a chocolate hamper from my Dad, Stepmum, brother and Granny, and a gorgeous signet ring from my sisters to replace one I had since childhood and lost 2 years ago. I managed an unexpected Skype chat with Dad and co. Rather cheery, I went to work and after registering delegates for the workshops we were hosting that day, I managed to take calls both from my Mum and older sister, Tennille. Following that and sitting at lunch at a nearby restaurant surrounded by the couple of hundred delegates another surprise was awaiting me. My workmates had organised a gigantic piece of cake surrounded by profiteroles and accompanied by a chocolate sauce message saying “Happy birthday Skippy”.
 

 
Needing some help to polish it off, I was very well fuelled to enjoy the rest of the day before heading home to get ready for a nice romantic dinner with the man. Once again I was greeted at the door by a beautiful bouquet of flowers, from another of my closest Melbourne friends, Gee. Beginning to wonder if we were destined to start a florist, I showered and readied and Marcus and I headed down to one of our favourite restaurants, Terre a Terre.
 

 

On the way, Marcus realised he had forgotten a gift, one he was determined I was to open over dinner, so left me to make the reservation time and ran back to the house to fetch it, and glad I am he did. Handing it over just before the mains arrived I opened it up and found a book inside. Opening up the first page I was greeted with a photo of my dear friend Rene, and a beautiful letter she had written. I saw the photo, and no longer could those sneaky tears be held at bay. Page after page followed, full of pictures, messages, wishes and some of the kindest words I have ever read. It truly made me realise that I am so very proud of the life I have created, and the friendships I have forged and so very grateful of the people who make that happen. I may have missed all of these people so very much this year, but to know that even with time and distance separating us, we are all still as close as the day I left, made me feel so very loved. It made me think, if I was back in Australia, sure, maybe I would have had a party, maybe I would have had more people around, but I doubt I would have had the same sentiment expressed as I did over here, or appreciate the book and messages inside as much as I do, so even if I could, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

21st Birthmonth Part 1: “Hakuna Matata”

So we’re onto the last day of September which means that my 21st “birthmonth” is coming to an end. “A birthmonth?” I hear you ask… Let me explain.

In the lead up to my 21st birthday I knew that on the day itself, and the day after, I would be working on a major conference we organise bi-annually at work. An event of over 2000 people, it’s not exactly a day I wanted to spend under the weather after a night of, what one may consider traditional, 21st birthday celebrations. As a result, the celebration plans seeped into the weekends both before and after my birthday, and coincidental visits from Melbourne friends at the end of the month meant that I had exciting plans for almost the entirety of September, hence the concept of the Birthmonth was conceived!

Last Semester at Uni, I made a few wonderful friends, however the end of term in June meant saying goodbye to some people I had become very close to in a short period of time, leaving me with a 4 month summer break, and no friends in this big city… it didn’t help that at this same time I changed jobs from working in a bustling café dealing with customers all day to commuting to an office 40 minutes away. I absolutely adore my new job, but that coupled with no longer studying made it very hard to meet new people here in Brighton, and, chirpy people person that I am, I was finding the transition quite tough and more than a little lonely. Understanding this, you can imagine how excited I was at the prospect of my Birthmonth! After months of interspersed tearful or glum, lonely moments, I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing friends in Oxford, having birthday surprises, and seeing some people from back in Melbourne.

The first event on the birthmonth list was a trip to the West End, to visit the King of the Jungle!
 

Img Credit: london.broadway.com

 

I have always adored the theatre, both acting, watching, and working behind the scenes. Although I haven’t been directly involved since leaving Newcastle in 2011 I am constantly pining for my old love, so when I happened to find out a man I knew worked for Disney’s The Lion King, and could get Marcus and I house seats and take us on a backstage tour I could not have said yes fast enough! Not having had the most thrilling theatre experiences before, Marcus took a little bit more convincing, but when I offered to get us the tickets, and told him that if any show was going to take his fancy it would most likely be the one full of dancing animals, he had to agree.

The show was incredible. It was the first show I had ever seen, as a girl in Sydney with my parents but my memory of it was not strong, and seeing it again was absolutely magical! The talent of the cast, the detail, care and precision of the crew and the artistic skill of composers and choreographers absolutely blew me away, and being surrounded by children clutching plush Timon and Simba’s, eyes goggling the stage only added to the magic!

Glancing sideways numerous times during the show I was very pleased to see Marcus absolutely transfixed – FINALLY! I had found a show which communicated with him the power and beauty of the theatre which I feel every single time the lights dim and the curtains open.

After the show we were taken backstage by Mike, and not only saw how some of the magic was created, but got up close and personal with many of the main puppets, and met a couple of the main cast. Meeting them, out of their animal kingdom costumes and into jeans and t-shirts. A reminder that in the real world a villain is a loving Dad, and a king of the Pridelands can enjoy some laughter and banter with mates and complete strangers. It amazed me that these actors had played their roles for, in one case, 7 years! I asked each of them if they enjoyed their work, and they each took a long pause, a smile sneaked onto their faces, and they nodded. “I absolutely love it” was always the response.
 

One of the Zazu Puppets backstage

 
As we said goodbye to Mike and left the theatre I felt absolutely invigorated, a fantastic start to the birthmonth there was one specific phrase which stuck with me and dissolved all the down times of the past months away – Hakuna Matata.