This is the eighth in our series of emails called “How I Monk.” In this series we will be highlighting + celebrating members of the Monk Manual community as they’ve meaningfully applied our tools and resources to find peaceful being and purposeful doing in their everyday lives. If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here… #HowIMonk
Occupation: Theatre Producer & Director
Where are you based: California, USA
A bit about who you are and and how you spend your days: I am a theater professional. I produce, direct, and act. I have also worked as an administrator for social good organizations that I believe in - those advocating for community arts, investigative journalism, consumer rights, fair trade, and biodiversity.
Colleagues and I formed Belville Productions to produce, promote, and publish plays based on social issues, history, and folklore. We are primarily dealing with a deep trunk of prize-winning plays, many written by my late husband, Lance Belville, and seen most recently in festivals in San Francisco and London or on stages in Minnesota and Indiana.
Practical Monk Manual Tip: On a trip, as I only do carry-on, space and weight are at a premium so I’ll take the mini-journal instead of the full manual. I write in the responses to the main prompts and add trip notes. Back home, I then tuck it into the pocket in the cover of the main manual. Also, on the month page, I always write in the calendar for each day a two- or three-word entry of what made that date memorable. And, I save the filled Manuals on my bookshelf with a date label on the spine.
When you were first getting started, what part of the Monk Manual did you struggle with most?
I’m still not as adept at using the weekly page to its fullest potential. For 2024 I’m trying the Weekly Planner to see if I can equal the benefit I draw from the monthly and daily pages in the original Monk Manual. My work is free-lance and episodic. Belville Productions has a publication project I want to complete in 2024. Perhaps a greater week-by-week focus will help bring that to fruition.
Do you have a favorite prompt or section?
“Ways I can give…” As an administrator, my career was about service to members, co-workers, clients, and donors. Now, I’m more conscious of ways I can give to a wider circle of acquaintances, neighbors, friends, and extended family. And of what more I can do as a volunteer or contributor to grassroots organizations.
Also, “I’m looking forward to…” Even as a high school kid, I’d wake up, wondering, “What’s going to be fun or pleasant today?” Sometimes it’s big, friends coming from out of town. Sometimes small, just a baseball game on television, but there’s always something.
I also benefited from the worksheets and processes of A Year of Being and Doing - now Life Atlas. That helped me focus my priorities and I revisit it and update it.
How has your life changed since using the Monk Manual?
I feel more positive, and more pragmatic. I am more forgiving. Looking at both sides: “I was at my best when…” is encouraging and “I felt unrest when…” is calming, as you name your fear. I try to consciously learn from events and that is helped by writing things down. With my husband’s death, I lost my confidante and sounding board.
My practice of writing in the Monk Manual gives a bit of that back to me.
What suggestions would you give to new Monk Manual users?
Enjoy the ritual of writing in your manual. Morning, evening, those are your minutes. It’s like a 10 minute meditation. Life flows by so quickly, it’s good to have these points of anticipation and reflection. The journals of the English actor Alan Rickman were recently published. He began as an art student and so decorated his lifelong journals with his own sketches. The facsimiles of some of those pages were included in the book. Too bad that costs precluded publishing Rickman’s journal intact with more of his drawings. Since I don’t draw, I am going to investigate getting that 2” x 3” photo printer suggested in another profile!
If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here.