A Much Needed Break in the capital of comics

I finally got around to taking a short holiday.  I planned on taking a break in December, and as I write this it's now June. This is a short personal blog about taking a break and work life balance.

I'd intended to have a holiday for months, and just kept putting t off.  I told myself I was too busy. I was at first too busy to take a break, but when I had the time there wasn't anywhere I could think of I really wanted to  go.  After a couple of  long conversations with good friends to tease out some real excuses, I slowly admitted to myself that I didn't want to travel alone.

A work trip would have been no problem. I can travel with friends just fine. Travel to gigs, even better -getting paid to go places! However as much as I wanted to travel solo, which I've done plenty of, mostly to the USA;  free-time and unplanned 'nothing' was proving a lot harder.

At some point quite recently doubts had crept into my mind  about travelling to another country where I didn't know the language or culture, and the potential for loneliness. I'd instinctively try to pack as much into my  schedule as possible, for fear that if I ran out of things to do I'd be left to my own thoughts in a beautiful place with no one to share the experience.

Angloueme is a town in Southern France, about an hour East of Bordeaux by train. The self proclaimed 'capital of comics' with a dedicated museum. Streets and buildings pay homage to Herge (Tintin), Rene Goscinny (Asterix) and many other classic European comics characters. I'd wanted to go there since I was a student.

Getting Unstuck

Recalling this place during those conversations was key to getting unstuck. The desire to travel and visit outweighed the doubts that had crept in, and off I went to France. I had an amazing time. It was even fun getting lost in Bordeaux on the way back to the airport.

I don't want a big moral to this experience, but there's no harm in reminding myself and others to keep talking. It's more work life balance than mental health, but the two are related. When writing my personal journal as I do from time to time, the two mainly questions I try to answer are 'what are my goals?' and 'how do I feel about stuff?' - and they are always changing and developing.

Keep Moving.

Manchester Road Runners

Manchester Road Runners 'Run and Talk' Mental Health Champions

I recently joined 'run and talk' an incentive created by England Athletics and organised by one of the members of my local running club, Manchester Road Runners. Anyone attending the weekly run can speak to a 'Mental Health Ambassador'. We're not trained counsellors and we've can't advise, but we can listen and point people in the right direction.  The shirts are nice too.

I recently took a Present Yourself! workshop with The Growth Company in Manchester, helping a group of their members build confidence through comedy.

Late last year I took part in their 'Spark 2 Scale' programme -  to help grow my own business, and it's been a real boost for my networking and marketing. So it only made sense then for me to then approach them at the end  and offer the service they'd helped me develop in return.

The idea for 'Present Yourself!' was born out of the stand up comedy class I had been  teaching, and has slowly 'iterated' from there over the last 2 years. Slowly adding in 'bits' from other disciples such as personal development,  solo improvisation and side coaching, and clarifying what it is - and what it isn't.  It's great finally see growth myself, the help running the event the feedback on the day was incredibly rewarding.

Stand up comedy workshop for presenting and storytelling

Stand up comedy workshop for presenting and storytelling in business

Feedback from the event:

"I came away with more confidence, and an understanding that I can talk about topics that I'm passionate about in a way to engage the audience without losing them ... probably one of the most rewarding growth hub events and totally valuable use of my time."

"Brilliant – straight away comfortably out of my comfort zone!"

"Really enjoyable. Got a lot from it. Hope to implement in my workplace."

"It will push tour boundaries, but well worth it."

"Amazing use of 3 hours to develop confidence & presentation skills."


John Cooper
Comedian & Improv coach
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