Pressure, Oh how I love your sweet warm embrace & heavy load, thinking, feeling & consuming of your wondrous exciting powers, I know I have become quite obsessed with you! Pressure, Oh how you have teased me recently throwing more balls up in the air than I am able to catch. Pressure, Oh how I love to bath in your delights it makes me feel so active, so alive, so addicted to you that I can’t be without you. Pressure, Oh how you spark a fire within me, first a titillation then a tussle until I’m totally ravished with your tempting tentative ways …
Nothing cooks quite like pressure
Pressure has been consuming my daily routines, the simplest of tasks and particularly every waking thought for, well, a long time now! I’ve even been putting pressure on myself to get this blog finished, I feel like I can’t do anything without a tiny bit of pressure nestled in. And that’s ok, a little bit of this & that in life is all a part of the balance of living, but here’s the problem I’ve been facing, balance & I parted ways a while back! I clicked into gear 5+ & haven’t made it down since, oh friends, I’m a little obsessed with this pressure lark! Stemming from my desire to constantly GET STUFF DONE, I love a post it note, a plan, a goal, to do list, a schedule, a diary, alarm clock, it’s all so exciting. I get high off of all of this, don’t even get me started on the thrill of a highlighter or the crossing off of a task! The Sheri tried, practised & daily used methods are as follows; it starts with making a goal, then finding the process or method to action the steps to reach that goal finally adding a bit of pressure on top & bobs your uncle I can make it happen. I know what you are thinking, that’s called life and getting shit done! But lately my beautiful system of forward thinking & future planning has been entirely flawed. Take for example my journey yesterday from Bermondsey to Green Park. As I put my oyster card away on the escalator going down to the tube I pulled out my headphones ready to listen to some new songs that I hadn’t heard yet (this was the allocated time I gave myself to do this). So, I unravelled the cord, plugged it into my phone, sat down and then I’m off. It wasn’t until I left the tube at Green Park that I realised I hadn’t pressed play, I had been too busy thinking of how best to plan the time from my exit of said tube to arrival at work place (Should I call my Dad? Or that client about tomorrows event? Or practise monologue? Or write down exercise for movement directing workshop?) I had completely forgotten to do the obvious & press play! I really need to slow down & breathe because I’m forgetting to tone down my energy levels to anything other than chaotic. But that’s life, isn’t it? I’m a self-employed creative living and working in one of the most vibrant cities in the world (I would argue the MOST vibrant city in the world, but that’s a blog for another day!). They say that New York is the city that never sleeps, well I think London is the city that doesn’t breathe, I mean why would we want to anyway? Breathing is for the chilled folks living out in the clean air anywhere past zone3. I don’t know about you but I’m someone that wants to do it all, that’s the beauty of London, a city that offers you opportunities on a plate and it’s for the well-trained of us to say YES before contemplating how we will juggle all the balls.
In order to breathe at a more regular pace & feel more present in the actual present, I’m taking a trip down memory lane.
I first felt pressure … aged nine.
It’s a Saturday in October 1997, I feel special because I’m here! Me & my Mouse Detective dance and my mum has made me a costume and bought gold laces to match, she told me she sewed every gold star onto my costume. I have lots of gold stars on my dress so I think this must have taken a long time. I’m nine & this dance was made for a girl aged twelve, but was given to me as a gift from my dance teacher, this is my Mouse Detective dance and it’s the THE MOST SPECIAL, EXCITING, SOLO DANCE EVER in the whole wide world – EVER EVER EVER !!! It’s my first SOLO DANCE, I’ve only been dancing professionally for two years, yes that’s right two years & I have already been given a solo dance! It’s the day of the competition and I’m standing at the side of the stage, we travelled so far to get here. I’ve not sat in a car for that long before & laid asleep in bed with rags in my hair to make it go curly. My mum has left me now to sit in the audience, I’m alone but READY TO PERFORM MY MOUSE DETECTIVE DANCE, eepppp! I learnt this dance in less than a month & practised every day. I showered with my dance & dreamt of my dance & taught my teddies my dance & my sister. I ate thinking of my dance & stared into the distance with my dance at school, I loveeeee my solo dance. I’ve got my costume on and grown up red lipstick, my name is called, eeck, I look at my gold laces and feel excited about performing my special mouse detective dance. I run onto the stage looking at my laces. As I lift my head up into my first position – which is the position I must be in before the music starts my teacher told me, (left leg stretched out, feet pointed, arms up, hands flat, head tilted to one side) I see the audience. There are so many people and they are all staring at me, all their faces on me, looking, watching. I freeze. My mum said be brave & I practised in front of her & my sister but now there are loads of sisters and mums, too many. I’m in my first position but I feel strange, like I can’t move. My insides feel shaky & all wobbly but my outsides are stiff. I am alone, just me and my solo dance. I can’t move at all, ahhhh I can’t think! I look to the side of the stage. I look back and now my music has started but my body isn’t dancing it, my arms aren’t moving and my feet are still. Nothing moves, I see my mouse detective dance dancing out in front of me but I can’t catch it, I can’t move. I cry. I see my mum standing up in the audience. I run off. The next time I think about The Mouse Detective is in the car going home, my mum told me I felt pressure and that is ok. And that was the end of The Mouse Detective …
Twenty years on and the meaning of that day is imprinted in my psyche. I was totally out of my depth, feeling a huge amount of pressure and building myself up to what seemed like an impossible task at the time. That moment became impossible & so I ran away. This memory feels me with utter joy, it’s a concrete reminder that running away is actually ok, making mistakes and dropping balls is alright, its part in parcel of what it means to be a human being. Since that day in October 1997 I have danced, acted & performed on many stages all over the UK and one in Kenya! This month I will be on quite a big one & my favourite of all London stages, The Barbican Theatre. I suppose pressure will never entirely leave my side, I will always be quite enticed by it because my idiosyncrasy needs it. But I strive for more balance, I strive for more experiences of being totally present & allowing that feeling to fulfil me. More than anything I strive for times like this, times where I can look back. It feels healthy to remember that nine year old girl that was brave and scared and full of life, it feels healthy to take in the twenty year journey from The Mouse Detective to now. After all, looking back moves us forward.
If I could sit with my nine year old self she would look at me, putting a hand on my shoulder and with a huge smile say ‘you are doing pretty well’. So to my friends reading this, Sheri say’s ‘you are doing pretty well’ and the Sheri writing this now say’s ‘be kind to yourself & press play!’
Sheri divides her time between all of her passions, being the co-artistic director of Elite Squad London, movement directing and working as an actor. She tweets for ESL & herself, please follow her career, @EliteSquadLdn & @SheriSadd7 or connect with her work on Linkedin .