Matt Lackford & Nathan Johnston

on men’s mental health and life changing experiences.

An honest and candid chat with two inspiring dance artists – Matt Lackford (also Sam’s husband!) and Nathan Johnston. Matt and Nathan are passionate about promoting mental health, particularly for men, and are using their creativity to explore this. They also chat about life changing experiences and what this means for them. An important conversation full of openness and compassion.

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Show Notes

Content warning: cancer, mental health experiences.

For support on living with cancer or supporting a loved one:

Macmillan Cancer

Cancer Research UK

CLL Support Association

Blood Cancer UK

Men 2 Health Instagram – men who talk

Nathan’s Instagram

Matt’s Instagram

Guest Info

Nathan Johnston

Originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, Nathan graduated from London Contemporary Dance School in 2010.
Nathan has performed professionally for the past 10 years, touring both nationally and internationally. His career is now focused in Choreography, Movement Direction and Teaching.

Matt facing the camera and smiling on a white background. He is wearing a grey top with the words Curious Motion on it in green.

Matt Lackford

Matt has been working professionally in dance for ten years, as a facilitator, performer, and choreographer. He has a keen interest in floor work and works with people of many ages and levels of experience. Matt is passionate about accessibility and inclusion and believes that dance is for everyone! He is about to embark on a new project – The Living With Project – opening up conversation around chronic illness.

Transcript

Sam McCormick:

Hello there. I’m Sam McCormick, and welcome to Curious e-Motion. This week, we are joined by two more brilliant dance artists, Nathan Johnston and Matt Lackford. Matt is also my husband. We met whilst training in dance many years ago, and he is naturally closely involved in our work at Curious Motion. Nathan is a good friend of ours, and I wanted to interview them because they’re both really passionate about opening up conversation around men’s mental health, and this is shining through in their artistic practices too.

Sam McCormick:

They’ve both worked as performers, choreographers, teachers, and the many other roles that dance careers often have. But recently, things have shifted for both of them. This is a really honest and candid chat. Both Matt and Nathan share with us some very personal experiences today. We do chat about some things that you might like to know about in advance, so check out the show notes before listening.

Sam McCormick:

Let’s meet them. Okay, so how are you both doing?

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, I’m all right, actually. A little bit tired, but I’m all right.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, quite a ridiculous question in the middle of a pandemic, isn’t it?

Nathan Johnston:

Well, yeah, lockdown number two.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, lockdown number two. So are we midway through lockdown number two at the minute? I don’t know. No, I think we’re only a week in.

Nathan Johnston:

We’re only a week in, yeah.

Sam McCormick:

By the time this goes out, we might be out of it. Completely out of it.

Nathan Johnston:

Fingers crossed.

Matt Lackford:

Today it’s of lockdown two.

Sam McCormick:

Lovely Big Brother impression there, Matt. Thank you.

Matt Lackford:

You’re welcome. So , yeah, I’m okay.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah. So with you both working freelance, and in dance, and the arts, it’s been quite a change, hasn’t it, this year? There’s been a lot of change for a lot of us.

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah.

Sam McCormick:

So how have you been coping? Nathan, what have you been up to since COVID hit?

Nathan Johnston:

Not much. Not as much as I’m used to anyway, I guess. I don’t know, it was mad. It was so unexpected. I’ll always remember this, when COVID started to appear, there was stories about COVID happening. I was working with a performer that was from Hong Kong and every morning we’d have a check-out and she was freaking out about Covid and telling me all these stories. And I was like, “All right, chill out. I don’t think it’s that serious.” Literally, I was like, “It’s not a big deal. Why are you bringing it up every day?” And then it hit, and I was like, “Wow. Yeah, okay.”

Matt Lackford:

“I am very sorry.”

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, exactly, “I apologize.” I was one of these people that didn’t think it was that much of an issue. One of these people that would say it was just a bad flu, one of them. But then when places started locking down, you go, “Oh, hold on.” And then jobs started to disappear and then it was just… The day we all got in a lockdown and months and months of work just gone, it was devastating. It was absolutely devastating. So it was a massive change, like you said, for everyone. And then also getting used to online because we all had to get used to it, I guess.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, so how did you cope with work being canceled? What was that like?

Nathan Johnston:

At first it was just annoying. At first it was like, “Oh, yeah, that’s annoying.” And then it was weird. It kind of went from annoying to, “Oh, great. Time off.” I’d go game and do what I want for… I think one of the biggest realizations that I had is how much I need work. I’ve always considered myself as being really good at being lazy. I’ve always said I’m so good at it. I’m the laziest person ever when I can be, but that’s because I usually work so much and so often I need that time to be lazy. And it’s a big realization for me to realize how much I need to work for myself mentally more than anything else.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, I think that’s particularly common in the arts because it’s tied in a little bit, well, a lot, into our identity, I think. And have you been able to re-imagine some things, get some other work going?

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, there’s been a few things that have happened, actually. I kind have taken this time… It’s been something that has kind of been in the back of my head for the past two, three years. And I did a little short tour just after lockdown, an outdoor tour. And I was two days in, into rehearsals, started warming up, and then I just had this light bulb moment and going, “Yeah, I don’t want to do this anymore.” And it didn’t come from anywhere specific, but I was just in the room, warming up, getting ready to rehearse as a performer and made the decision not to do it ever again. Or not to do it ever again, I don’t want to say that because I never say never, of course.

Nathan Johnston:

But it’s definitely, definitely not a focus of mine. It’s not my main focus anymore. So switching lanes, rather than switching careers completely, just popping over and focusing more on teaching choreography, movement direction type stuff. Which I’ve realized is quite common at the moment. A lot of people seem to be doing that. I’ve had a few conversations with people and they said they don’t know if they want us to start back up because of being out of performing for so long, it’s weird to go back into it, right?

Sam McCormick:

I was going to ask, what is it that is the thing holding you or people back from going back into performing? But I wonder is it is it’s that sort of mindset and the lifestyle, I suppose, which is quite tough, isn’t it, really?

Nathan Johnston:

I think there’s a massive realization that, especially with the furlough scheme and the self-employment support scheme, the government support is so sided on the furlough of the employed. And one of my biggest thoughts has been like, “I never want to be in this position again as a self-employed person and struggle this bad, or at least not the way that I have.” If I am self employed, then I want to be earning a lot more so that if this happens again, I’ll actually be okay rather than being on a performer’s wage, which can be great. I was earning enough to survive nicely, but I don’t want to survive nicely anymore. And this has just been a big realization, I think.

Sam McCormick:

And Matt, how about for you? It’s quite different, isn’t it? And obviously I know the answer to this because we live together.

Matt Lackford:

Id be worried if you went, “And, yeah, so I’ve completely not got a clue what’s been happening with you the past two years.

Nathan Johnston:

“No idea about you. Tell me [crosstalk 00:07:24].

Sam McCormick:

“I’m just going to pretend that I don’t know you.” Haha! So I think, Matt, I would say… You can totally tell me if I’m wrong, but I would say you’ve had a very similar experience, but not just because of COVID. So you’ve had years of, since we moved from London to the North, that is quite a massive change in itself, isn’t it?

Matt Lackford:

So I think I had a similar realization to Nathan in sort of like the last I’d say year, year and a half. Before we left London, I was like, “Hmm, performing is not ticking the box for me. Teaching is ticking the box.” I was very fortunate at the time to be working for the Place almost week in, week out, two or three classes a week. Actually going in and having sort of people support me and focus on my development, which was nice and refreshing. And that change, again, not changing career, but changing focus or changing lanes was sort of really refreshing. And then when we moved up here, it all sort of dissipated. It didn’t disappear, and it was never a choice of anyone to… If you’re not there, people don’t constantly think about you or you become a little bit more difficult to access in terms of travel, accommodation.

Matt Lackford:

The requirements to have you increase dramatically. Whereas we could get someone who’s just down the road… I say down the road. In London, everywhere is an hour away. It’s the same sort of difference. So my focus changed a lot from that. But I was very fortunate. I had quite a bit of teaching at Northern. I had the absolute privilege of being part of a dance/film/movie/magic experience with a up and coming choreographer and movement director of the name of Mr. Nathan Johnston.

Nathan Johnston:

[inaudible 00:09:28], actually.

Matt Lackford:

And that was one of the last times, for me, that I’ve actually performed. And then, yeah, it slowly started to sort of take a step down each time and I’ve rediscovered myself a few times just going through bits and pieces. But I’ve always been creative, I think. That’s always been a focus of mine. I always have to be doing, or making, or contributing to something. So I’ve done websites, I worked for a local business where we I made stair runners, or rugs, and other bits and pieces. I took up woodwork, I made furniture. So it’s always fundamentally a part of me.

Matt Lackford:

And then a couple of years ago after a particularly, I’d say a particularly difficult six months, it felt like I thought I was just getting older. I’m not as young as I used to be. And I thought like my body starting to take a couple of steps down in terms of my strength and my available energy. And I was a bit lethargic and a bit tired all the time. And I was just, “Right. Okay, cool. So I’ll go to the doctor and I’ll just get a checkup.” Little did we know. So out of that, I was preliminary diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and that was just before Christmas, 2018. It only feels like yesterday.

Nathan Johnston:

It really does. It really does.

Matt Lackford:

That was a very stressful Christmas having to sort of keep that together and wait out for my biopsy and all this stuff. And then in the January, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. So it’s an incurable disease and my life changed overnight. Well, I should say our lives changed overnight.

Sam McCormick:

But yours particularly.

Matt Lackford:

Yeah. So from that, I started to do a bit of research into the disease and how it’s going to affect me. So most people diagnosed with my disease are over 55. The mean age, I think it was 76. So for me to get this disease was extremely, extremely rare. And I have only known of one other person, who was diagnosed about three or four months after me, to be diagnosed at this age. From there, I was very lucky. I signed up to a clinical trial and the three treatment options that were going to be decided for me by a computer were standard chemotherapy, Ibrutinib, which is the drug I’m on. And I want to say the other, the third option, was a combination of Ventoclaxin and Ibrutinib.

Nathan Johnston:

Is that another drug?

Matt Lackford:

Yeah, it is. My doctor and my nurse really had their fingers crossed that I’d end up on Ibrutinib because the results are incredible. So when I was diagnosed, I was Stage III out of III. Stage III is three or more of your lymph nodes contain cancer cells or are visibly swollen. I had a CT scan and every single one of my lymph nodes was swollen. I was very fortunate to be… I feel like I was awarded this Ibrutinib. And within three days I started to feel a bit more like myself again. And early on, there was very little in terms of side effect. But now I’m… What am I, a year, a year and a half in?

Sam McCormick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Matt Lackford:

I’m definitely aware of some side effects, which again has affected sort of how productive I can be. I’m working with fatigue. I suffer with joint pain, severe abdominal discomfort, I think is the nicest way to talk about this. Yes, you can both giggle [crosstalk 00:00:13:21]

Nathan Johnston:

We are. We both know.

Sam McCormick:

We know. We know you too well. Please spare all the listeners the detail, Matt, because they don’t know you like we do.

Matt Lackford:

I don’t think anyone should be punished by knowing me that well. As soon as I was diagnosed, I always knew I wanted to do something creative with this. I always knew that there can and there can’t be sort of like a timeframe with my disease. Luckily, we caught it at the right time and I’m on the right drug, but I always knew I wanted to contribute in a way that if I could do something just to make it that little bit easier for anyone else that comes after me, I’m happy with that. As difficult as that can be in terms of scope and-

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, you’ve been very open with people about sharing your experience. One of the things I was really keen to talk to you both about is men’s mental health. And, Matt, we both made the decision, didn’t we, that we felt that it was of greater good to be open, when possible?

Matt Lackford:

Yeah, it’s been a big part of my recovery. I think finding out, just after my 31st birthday, you’ve got an incurable cancer, which is like falling into a black hole, really. You just got married. You’ve not long bought your first house. All of these little life goalposts or markers that you hit all of a sudden just disappear. That the focus just seems to be on, “Okay, so this is what it is. Let’s crack on. Let’s deal with this. Nothing else matters. Just focus on the here and now, the everyday kind of thing.” But, yeah, I just cannot stress how amazing the team that supports me is.

Matt Lackford:

I have a Macmillan nurse, her name is Rebecca Ramsden, and if she ever listens to this, she has been absolutely amazing. Anytime I’ve had a moment, or a side effect, or a feeling or sensation that has not sat with me, I pick up the phone and she will always call me back. Always. And any of the team over at Calderdale Royal Hospital, yeah, they are incredible. And I have had two clinical psychologists, which was a steep learning curve. Trying to get used to not only talking about how I’m physically feeling, but also opening up and being quite honest about how I’m doing mentally as well.

Sam McCormick:

Before that happened, and before you were diagnosed, do you think you were as open about how you were feeling emotionally and mentally? Or do you think you’ve learned?

Matt Lackford:

No, I’ve definitely learned to talk and be more open, being open and honest. It’s really easy to just go, “Okay, so, look, this is what is and I’m fine.” To be open and just to have that sort of momentary vulnerability of going, “Do you know what? I’m not okay.”

Nathan Johnston:

Honestly, over the past year, I’d say, me and you might have been probably the most open we’ve been in the 10 years we’ve known each other.

Matt Lackford:

Yeah, absolutely.

Nathan Johnston:

A hundred percent.

Sam McCormick:

Is that Matt’s diagnosis particularly? Is it COVID? Is it everything? For me, Matt’s diagnosis definitely changed how I saw things generally in my life a little bit as well. And, yeah, would you say it’s from that point?

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, I think it’s a couple of things. I think definitely Matt’s diagnosis really, as I assume it did with you, kind of made me look at things very differently.

Sam McCormick:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah.

Nathan Johnston:

I don’t know if you know this, Sam, but I’ve definitely always been a closed book pretty much. And I come from a family where sharing is not something we do. We hold everything in and I’ve done it my whole life. And it’s common, especially with men as well. They tend to hold on to things. But it was very rare that I open and share much. I think that a friend of mine specifically had a very good way… Elliott, his name is, had a very good way to ask me stuff, or ask me questions, which would make me open up without me knowing it almost.

Nathan Johnston:

And I found that whenever I talked to him, some things that I wouldn’t even think about going on to talking about just ended up coming out. And then lockdown happened. And during lockdown, what happened is Elliot started a men’s mental health page on Instagram called Men2Health. I think nearly every day he’d have a new guest on, a male speaker. And the page was just about being able to be open and share and be honest and give. And it’s an open conversation between him and someone else. And I’ve watched quite a few episodes. I was a guest on there twice and it completely changed the way I thought about mental health.

Nathan Johnston:

He’s not trained or anything. He’s not trained in mental health, but he just wanted to listen. And this was so important. And it helped me, not even just during lockdown, but now the way that I approach is so open and so honest, and I very rarely keep anything in. I’m human, so it’s still going to happen. But I think that plus everything else, I think it’s just allowed me to be much more open with my friends and the people that are really important to me. And also know what’s not good for me and who’s not good for me, and being able to make them choices for me and my mental health.

Sam McCormick:

Setting boundaries, and all that sort of stuff. I learned that in the last couple of years, I would say, as well, is who’s worth your energy and to sort of tune into yourself a bit more. I think as people who come from a dance background or something movement related, you have some form of probably an increased connection, physically, to your body. But I’ve learned even more, in the past couple of years, about how much my instincts and my body actually really know. They’re really trying to tell me something. And a lot of the time I just ignored it. So it was Elliot just giving you that space where he would actually listen?

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, exactly. And that’s something I really applaud him for is his ability to listen. And it’s something that I’ve been trying to practice myself and something I feel like everyone should just have a focus on listening. Because listening is so powerful and so important that sometimes you don’t have to say anything. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you say. Because you always, and I do it myself, it’s like when you hear someone that has a problem and they come to you, you try and find a solution because you want to help. But sometimes that’s not what you need. Sometimes you just need to sit and listen, that’s it.

Sam McCormick:

The sitting and listening, yeah, I’ve learned that. And, Matt, you even said that to me once. I don’t know if you remember, that you just needed me to listen not to fix it. What was your experience, Matt, with that? Do you still feel comfortable sharing, being open?

Matt Lackford:

Like Nathan said, I don’t think I’ll ever close that book again. From my diagnosis and moving forward, you’ve both touched upon a couple of things that I was thinking about listening to you is, yeah, I’ve learned to channel what energy I have towards the people and the friends and family that are worthy of your time. I think it’s easy to say, I’ve lost friends from my diagnosis. My friendship circle got smaller. And, yes, it was sad, and it is sad, but also, it’s part of life. You don’t always have to be friends forever and there’s nothing out there that’s saying, “I’ll never be friends with them again.” We all have markers in our life and we all go through experiences and we change and we evolve. And I think having those people that listen… Nathan is definitely one of them.

Sam McCormick:

What I hear from both of you is that you have very strong, key friends you know you can call when you need it. And the fact that you have that sounds to me the key thing.

Nathan Johnston:

Yeah, I couldn’t do this alone. My mind is not good on its own. When it comes to situations or thoughts that are negative or bad, I can’t do it alone.

Sam McCormick:

What would you recommend to particularly other men about finding that place where you feel like, “Okay, I’ve opened my book now and I’m not going back.”?

Nathan Johnston:

Do you know what helped me, that really, really helped me? It’s listening and watching other men do it. It really, really helped me because, for example, when I said I was a guest on Elliot’s page, I definitely wasn’t one of the first. Nowhere near, because I was like, “That’s never going to happen.” And I’ll always remember when I messaged Elliot, because he never asked me to be on it. And I messaged Elliot saying, “If you need a guest, I’m here.” And he was blown away because he knows me. He knows that I’m not a sharer, he knows that. And his response is, “I’m honored that you feel that you could share.” And it is because I watched other people do it.

Nathan Johnston:

Everyone has their own thing that they’re dealing with. But what was massive is that I’d seen that. By watching and listening, I realized that, “Oh, I do that. I think about that.” Or, “That connects with this that I think about.” And it made me realize that a lot of these things are so shared, the things that we think about. And it just made me feel a bit more like we’re all in it together. So it felt like I wasn’t judging this person by him opening up. So it made me feel more confident that I wouldn’t be judged because actually you’re not judged as much as you think you are, but your brain will tell you you are, right?

Sam McCormick:

Oh, definitely. Yeah, that’s so true.

Matt Lackford:

I think the hardest thing to sort of accept is you are alone, you are an island, you are the things that you need to exist. But that only gets you so far, I think. So I learned, working with my clinical psychologist, learning to be open just came from finding a safe space, I think.

Sam McCormick:

So you found the professional support from your psychologist particularly helpful. And I know that’s directly because you’ve had a cancer diagnosis and therefore it’s an essential element of your recovery.

Matt Lackford:

Yes, yeah.

Nathan Johnston:

Matt, how many times have I said to you that I want to go see a therapist? I just think it’s such a good thing to do. It’s so important. And you’re right, I think most of us should go. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy, and I’m doing the air quotation marks that you can’t see. But that is the stigma around it, “Oh, you go to see a psychiatrist? Ooh.” And it’s so ridiculous. It’s a ridiculous thing.

Matt Lackford:

Yeah, learning that all of these little things that you’ve been told, “Oh, you’re a man, you shouldn’t be doing that.” Or, “Oh, I wouldn’t say that out loud. People will judge you.” But those little thoughts, all of those little comments, they’re completely normal. You’re not the only person that thinks like that. You are not an island. You are an island in an archipelago of just hundreds of thousands of other little islands. Some of them have bridges out. Some of them you can get to over the air, like we are now given the current state of the world. Yeah, you are not alone. And normal, understanding normal, was a really big step for me. But also learning to go, “Okay, that’s enough.” So self-reflection and self-soothing is still a massive part of sort of my journey and my learning is knowing that I can share, I can support. But to be able to do that, I need to look after myself as well.

Nathan Johnston:

And that’s a super important thing, right? It’s being honest, if someone’s coming to you for advice or to help or something and being honest and going, “Look, I can’t give you that today.” And if someone does that to you, it’s just knowing that they need that. And they will be there for you when they can, but if they can’t, it’s not nothing personal. And it’s something for their mental health that they need.

Matt Lackford:

Lockdown was productive for me because I sort of finalized and firmed up how I’m going to refocus my energy into helping other people. I think that’s what came out of that.

Sam McCormick:

So you’re now channeling your energy into helping others through your art and through your creativity.

Matt Lackford:

I’ve always said I wanted to be creative with this. And if I can make anyone’s transition or anyone’s day that little bit brighter or that little bit better, I’ll be happy with that. So ultimately I want to demonstrate what it’s like living with a chronic disease. That is fundamentally what I want to do. I want to show how creativity helped me recover and has helped me learn to adapt my life. I want to look at the power of imagination. And I want to interview or have questionnaires, Covid safe, and I want to see how people take to having cancer treatment. I want to see what people need to keep them going through these difficult times with these difficult periods. I don’t want to take that information and turn it into a stimulus to make a dance piece. And that it’s going to be a… We’re going to turn it into a video. And then I will then showcase that work back to the Macmillan Center, to the patients who have contributed into helping make that work.

Sam McCormick:

So you’re at the early stages in terms of getting funding and doing all of that joyous stuff that comes before making the work.

Matt Lackford:

Yeah, so just before second lockdown, I had written my first application. I’ve finally got all my drafts done. Then second lockdown came in, so we’ve had to reevaluate the project a little bit, reevaluate the budget, reevaluate timeframes, just to make sure that not only are the dancers and the people I’m going to be working with safe, but also I need to be safe as well. So reflecting on how I can safely continue my work as an artist, but also have that safe space to be able to facilitate the creation of something is going to be interesting.

Nathan Johnston:

I’ve got to say as well, Matt, just while you were talking, then I do think that you have helped me not understand cancer but be able to talk about cancer much, much more easily than I ever have done before. Because I was one of these people that was, as soon as I heard the word cancer, I was like, “Oh, shit,” and I can’t talk about it. And I think your approach to being open with me in terms of your cancer really has helped me. I think you were talking about your goal with creating this is to help people be able to talk about it, right?

Matt Lackford:

Yeah.

Nathan Johnston:

And be open. And I think this is something you’ve done personally for me. So I think that this project is so important to help so many more people be open. And it’s just a great thing that you’re doing.

Matt Lackford:

Oh, cheers, guys.

Sam McCormick:

So Nathan, where is your work going next? I’ve actually asked a lot of people this, and I feel really silly every time I ask it because we’re in a pandemic and things keep changing, but-

Nathan Johnston:

I don’t know, Sam. [laughter]

Sam McCormick:

Okay. [laughter]

Nathan Johnston:

No, I do kind of know. Like I said, this kind of shift in direction. So my teaching work has come up quite a lot. I’m teaching more now than I ever have. So that’s great. I’m teaching at London Studio Center and Mountview as well. Which is interesting to teach non-dancers. Well, they’re still performers, but they’re actor/musicians, actors. So that’s really interesting. So I was planning on doing a master’s in dance education, but the course fell through. But I’m waiting for that to start back up and I really, really want to get that master’s in dance education. Because, for me, in the dance education there’s a massive lack of focus on outdoor work, and outdoor work is something that has been the focus of my career. Most of my performances have all been outdoor work. And I think it’s an incredible platform to view all types of work, not just dancer circuits.

Nathan Johnston:

And I feel like there’s a massive gap in dance education where we don’t know about outdoor work. And there’s been times where I’m talking to my students about GDIF, which is Greenwich and Docklands International Festival. And they’re like, “What’s that?” And I’m like, “How do you not know what this is?” So that was a massive realization for me. So that’s a focus that I want to start to push and develop. A course, a package, something that we can kind of push into universities. And then choreography wise, as a choreographer and movement director, I will be applying to the Arts Council, developing a creative practice to kind of help me develop my choreography in terms of opera. So just before lockdown kicked in, I was a remount choreographer at Scottish Opera doing the choreography for Nixon in China. And it was amazing. I loved it. And I think that I would like to do more of that, for sure. It’s a different world, different kettle of fish.

Nathan Johnston:

So I want to kind of retrain my choreography brain to kind of fit in that world. I think, as a choreographer and movement director, anyway, I don’t want to run my own company. That’s not what I’m interested in anymore. I want to kind of go in and help someone with their vision to create something. And that’s where I really excel. Because when everything is left up to me, I get a bit overwhelmed and my ideas become a bit watered down and all this. But when I kind of see what someone wants to do, I’m good at helping that work rather than coming up with my own thing.

Matt Lackford:

Just before we finish, can I just say that this has been very important for me and my journey with all of this. This is the first time I’ve ever publicly shared and gone through my journey. Having this platform to be able to be supported and encouraged to share has been absolutely wonderful. And there’s just two little things, if I could just add these out there. So perspective, again, these bad times on these hard times, they will pass. So just try and focus on the here and the now, take a breath, have a moment accept that these feelings and these signs are what they are, but they will pass.

Matt Lackford:

Just take a moment for yourself. I think that’s the other thing is just find that moment. Go for a walk, listen to your favorite song, dance around your kitchen, dance anywhere, sing your heart out, play a game with some good friends. Get on Zoom, get on FaceTime, just have those moments for yourself and allow yourself just to relax and find those little moments of joy, I think, are absolutely fundamental in just starting this journey of opening up. It was for me. And I thought that might help.

Sam McCormick:

Yeah, definitely, moments of joy. There’s always joy, even if it’s fleeting and very small. Thank you. And it’s really exciting to see what happens next with your work. So we’ll have Nathan in all the operas and, Matt, your work. and let’s just keep our fingers crossed for some funding positivity in 2021.

Matt Lackford:

Yeah.

Nathan Johnston:

Absolutely. A pleasure being on. Hopefully, we could do it again.

Matt Lackford:

Thanks, bye bye.

Sam McCormick:

Do you want to say thanks in a normal voice, Matt, just to put it in the edit, or not?

Matt Lackford:

No [laughter]

Sam McCormick:

Okay, I’m going to stop recording, then [laughter]

Sam McCormick:

A huge thank you to Matt and Nathan for their honesty and vulnerability. It takes a lot of bravery to put your story out into the world, and I’m really grateful they chose to do that with us. Matt’s story is obviously very closely linked to mine and it’s a continual journey for both of us and everyone around us. However, we both believe that talking about cancer, other illnesses, or other challenging life experiences is really important to reduce the isolation and stigma that often results for those of us experiencing these things. So we’re doing what we can to open up these conversations. And I hope that this podcast is a place where you can come to for reassurance, inspiration, and connection whenever you need it. I’m really excited to see what both Nathan and Matt get up to next year, sending lots of hope and optimism their way.

Sam McCormick:

Do keep an eye on their work and have a look at the show notes to find out more. We’ve got one more episode coming up this series. Next week, we meet another friend of Curious Motion and this time it’s the amazing Nuno Silva. Nuno is a dancer and performer who was part of the original team that created Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End. Nuno chats to us about how the team have navigated their own wellbeing since the devastating closure of theaters this year. And we also find out about his personal journey in the arts. You don’t want to miss it. Until then, thank you so much for listening and remember tune into your body, be kind to yourself, and stay curious. Bye.