LISA Gormley is really quite the ‘Jill’ of all trades.
When she’s not performing onstage, the former Home & Away star can be found instructing a yoga class in the Huon Valley or teaching mindfulness to children in schools.
Growing up in the wilderness of Southern Tasmania, Lisa says she feels at peace when she’s back in the natural calm of the Apple Isle.
LOIS. writer Emma Graham caught up with Lisa recently to chat about how she finds balance in this crazy, fast-paced world.
Emma: I’ve heard you on a number of occasions speak so lovingly of Tassie. It must be such a contrast coming back here after the fast-paced world of Sydney?
Lisa: Growing up in touch with the wild really helps put things in perspective. The natural world has a calming effect on the nervous system. It has a natural ebb and flow. It takes a lot of work to calm the body and mind amongst the speed and noise of Sydney. It’s exhausting. As I have gotten older I have begun to really prioritise where I want to spend time.
E: And you are restoring an off-the-grid eco cabin here in the South?
L: I am slowly building myself a little eco cabin. It’s been a long-term art project but hopefully after this summer I will have a little place to call home. Since finishing up on Home & Away I have based myself back here in Tassie. Sometimes it’s only for short times between work on the mainland and sometimes I get longer. It’s good for the soul.
E: Since Home & Away you have spent some time working in theatre – can you tell me about your experience with the scene here in Tasmania?
L: I recently did a production of SHIT by Patricia Cornelius with Loud Mouth Theatre Company. It was definitely an absolute highlight in my career. The script was explosive and the cast and creative crew were dedicated and a blast to work with. It was the first time I’ve been on stage in Tasmania since Rosny College in 2003! I’d love to do more down here … the audience is very supportive.
E: You also returned to Home & Away recently for the spin-off series with the River Boys. What was it like to return to the role of Bianca after a couple of years away?
L: Kind of like riding a bike. After so long Heath and Bianca are very much part of my life and I love them dearly, so it’s easy to slip back into that role. The best bit is getting to walk back on set and see the faces of the crew that I love so dearly. They are the most hard working well humoured group of people I’ve ever met.
E: You are now a qualified yoga instructor … how long have you been teaching? Has yoga and meditation always played a big role in your life?
L: Yoga and mindful living came into my life out of pure necessity. It wasn’t working for me; this fast-paced, supercharged way of living life. I didn’t need more things or more success to make me happy so why was I running at this unsustainable pace? Trying so hard to live up to impossibly high standards I had set for myself based on an image of success and worthiness. I was broken and the only way was up and I needed tools to help me. I grew up in the natural world exposed to alternative ways of thinking and natural healing techniques; Reki, kinesiology, tarot, massage and aromatherapy. I found my way back to this way of thinking through Yoga and finding a connection to self that I had forgotten. I hadn’t listened to myself in a long time. I have been practicing for about 8 years and teaching for the last 3. It’s been an amazing experience.
E: I understand you’re also teaching mindfulness to children in schools … how are they finding the experience, considering their world is full of hyper-stimulation with technology?
L: I think this kind of work should be a standard in our education system. Slowing them down and teaching them how their brain works. It’s wonderful to see the effect a few minutes of deep breathing can affect the nature of children. And when young they are so open to learning and have no stigma attached to mindfulness. I’ve been teaching for 10 years now, it’s the most satisfying work I have ever done.
E: You juggle so many hats – drama teacher, yoga instructor, actor – is it important for you to have this variety in your life?
L: I think it’s important as an artist to have a collection of professions that you love doing to keep yourself challenged and fed! I am very lucky to get to do the work I do. It’s not always easy in the quiet times but I have learned not to worry too much, the universe tends to supply in one way or another!
E: You were recently announced as the Tasmanian Ambassador for Bravehearts. You mentioned in a recent interview that kids are growing up in a world filled with mixed messages. What advice would you give a child growing up in today’s world?
L: Be careful what you expose yourself to. Most advertising is designed to make you feel less than you should. Individualism is beautiful.
Take the pressure off yourself, you don’t have to have it all figured out yet.
E: I’m very excited to hear about the comedy you are currently shooting a pilot for – Early Retirement – here in Tassie. What can you tell me about the show? Is acting in a comedy a new experience for you?
L: It’s one of the best scripts I have read in a long time, hilarious concept. The ultimate clash of modern culture with old-fashioned values. Marni [Little] and Kate [Fox] have done a terrific job writing it. I really hope it gets picked up! I’m really excited for what is being created here in Tasmania. We have such a wealth of talent.
E: On Instagram you often talk about issues such as letting go of social expectations and walking away from what is ‘normal’. Can you explain this time in your life and what made you decide to let go of society’s expectations and embrace your true self?
L: I think it’s an ongoing exploration of what I truly value and what makes day to day living more manageable and enjoyable. I decided to let go because it wasn’t making me feel like a good person. I enjoy simple things and I was being made to feel like I should be striving for more. It’s not a journey anyone ever completes, we are constantly growing and evolving. So the idea of a true self for me is not attainable. But I can continue to learn and explore who I am and how I interact with the world and those around me. Sometimes it’s really not pretty but it’s good to remember that, ‘This too will pass’.
Written by Emma Graham