A Dancer’s Faith

Do you ever feel like you are stuck in between where you are and where you want to be?

You are doing everything you can for your Art, and you know you just have to STICK it out, and yet, you want to yell out,

When will I GET THERE?

We can have such a clear vision of our success, but the journey can be downright exhausting.

Could we just skip to the raving fans and thriving career?

Wouldn’t that be AMAZING!

But since this is not our reality, the question arises, what helps?

When we are feeling stuck…..what is there?

 

Back in early July, I found myself in excruciating pain.  My right shoulder was killing me, and what I would normally think was a tight knot, wasn’t going away.

Something was wrong.

I soon found myself staring at a large x-ray in my chiropractor’s office, with the diagnosis of swelling in my disks, arthritis, and my skull at a 9 degree angle off from center.

I had injured my neck, and now had to go into treatment.

And stop dancing.

I’ve always been a good patient, and showed up for all my adjustments.  I started to see improvements quickly, and after two months, started taking yoga again.  It was feeling so good to move my body, and then I pulled a muscle in my back.

And was back at square one.

Still no dancing.

It took another month of recovery before I could take class.  When I walked back into the studio, I was both excited and scared.  This was the longest time I had taken off from dancing in my whole LIFE.

I was shaky…..I was off balance, but I was there.

In the coming weeks, it was frustrating.  I didn’t have full range of motion, and it felt so strange to be in dance class, my place of joy and expression, and NOT be able to fully let loose.

My back was still tight, my neck still tight, and I felt like I was managing it all.

And I didn’t WANT to manage it…I wanted to just DANCE.

Have you ever felt like this? Constricted in your Art?

Dance hasn’t been my place of safety and conservation…it’s been my place of FREEDOM!

One week, we did a fast combo, and I found myself hunched over, desperately trying to get in enough air.  My stamina was in the toilet…..class was feeling HARD.  I was really questioning if I would ever feel the same in my body again.

I wanted to feel strong again.

But, with each week, it got slowly better.  I was still going for my chiropractic treatment, and feeling my neck loosen, my back widen….

Incrementally, I could feel the change.

 

Last week, we learned this really fast combo.  As we learned the steps, I felt full range of motion.  I was feeling alive and strong, and having a blast. I had no idea what the song was, but the movement was so much fun!

And then my teacher turned on the song…and I grinned ear to ear as the familiar guitar strum reminded me of my early teenage days….George Michael singing on my Sony Walkman:

Faith.

Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before you throw my heart back on the floor
Oh baby I reconsider
My foolish notion
Well I need someone to hold me
But I wait for something more
Yes I’ve gotta have faith
Unh I gotta faith
Because I gotta to have faith, faith, faith
I gotta to have faith, faith, faith

And then I danced…..

Five months after walking into the doctor’s office, I danced.

 

What does Faith mean to you?

Is it a part of your Art?

I see so many Artists struggle because they are stuck in their circumstances.  They can’t see PAST it.  They are disconnected from a larger picture.

The picture of their vision
The picture of their audience

The reason WHY they came to their Art in the first place.

What DO you have Faith in?

If we are going to take our work to a larger audience, we need to realize we are larger than our challenges. 

And I get it, it can be deeply isolating when you are in pain and struggling. I felt so self conscious being in dance class and falling out of turns, and doubled over from exhaustion.  But I kept showing up, each week.

If the only reason you are doing your Art is confined to your Ego, you will suffer again and again.

We ALL face challenges along our path,

Rejection
Disappointment
Loss

We don’t have control over people. There is a letting go here.

So, what can we CREATE and NOURISH to get back on the dance floor and be strong?

FAITH.

And this is personal TO you.

Two years ago, I interviewed four successful Artists that are dear friends.  They were at the top of their field, in choreography, performance, teaching and writing.  They were on Broadway, large films, and turning down work.

The common thread with them all?
Faith.

Faith in their Art
Faith in their audience
Faith in the larger picture of what ART actually is doing FOR themselves AND the world

You may be shaky and off balance in the process, but tap into something larger, and find the support that FEEDS you.

We are stronger together.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

The Artist’s Road

Do you ever feel like you are going down the same road again and again?

Another rejection letter
Cut from another audition
Another Closed door in your face

You put yourself out there time and again, with your Art, and it feels as if your heart is being trampled.

You put so much of yourself into your work, so the sting of rejection FEELS so strong.

And it can be disheartening.

You imagine a different road…
One where the publisher says YES
One where everything flows
One where your fans are raving for your next piece of work
One where you are booking your dream gigs

That’s the road you want to be on, right?

So, how come with ALL your effort, you feel as though you are driving down the SAME road again and again?

You feel like screaming,
I NEVER want to be on this road again!

I get it…….I was just there……

 

Last week was a big moment for me.  I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. 

While it has been decades since I have been in this position, the nerves were still there.  I’m head over heels in love with my man, so I wanted everything to go well.

Thanksgiving has been a holiday of transition for me.  For years, it was the sources of family and love.  And then, five years ago, it turned into the darkest moment of my life when my former husband told me he wanted to end our marriage…on Thanksgiving Day.

I had spent almost 18 years spending every Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania with my former in-laws, and now returned to having the holiday with my parents in Virginia. In transition, it took 3-4 years for me to find joy on the day again.

This year marked the first time I would be spending the holiday away from Virginia, and with my new man.

The original plan was to go to his parents’, who live in upstate New York, but a month before Thanksgiving, his sister decided to host.

His sister lives in Pennsylvania.

The irony was not lost on me, and I thought how insane it was that after 18 years of Pennsylvania Thanksgivings, I was returning to a similar place…..in love…..but with a new man, and meeting a new family..

We hopped in the car from New Jersey last Tuesday and began the drive down the road to his sister’s.

Energy was high, and we cranked the radio, singing along to fun tunes.  We got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then I saw it…

The sign.

We were about to drive through the town my ex in-laws lived in.

I suddenly realized his sister’s home was only 20 minutes down the road from where I had spent most of my adult holidays.

I became very quiet, and could feel tears welling. I hadn’t been down this road in six years.

In fact, I had purposely done everything I could, to NEVER go down this road again.

This road was full of painful memories.
This road reminded me of the rejection.

And then I looked up and saw the hotel I stayed in with my wedding party……

And I burst into tears.

 

The next morning, I woke up, and just let everything out.  I allowed every feeling to arise, and began to have clarity.

When the divorce went down, only one member of my old in-laws stood up for me, fighting for the marriage.

Everyone else turned their back, and went silent.  That had been my family for 19 years, and I was devastated.  I wasn’t only losing my marriage, I was losing a huge family that I loved.

Driving down the road again, all of that came up, and it was made even more alive, because I was on the road to meet a NEW family….one that I deeply want to be a part of.

And I realized,
I have no control.

I have no control over what this new family thinks or does.
I have no control over what my boyfriend does.

So, while it scares me to my core that I may find myself at a crossroads again, my only choice is simple:

To love.

And recognizing my fear and releasing control brought a huge wave of relief over me.

And I was free, not only to have a deeply connecting Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, but release the past that had been choking me off.

Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania again, and yet COMPLETELY different.

Same road, different ME.

 

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss, who has sold millions of books, recently shared he was rejected by 27 publishers before his first YES.

Oscar Winning Actor Tom Hanks became an overnight success after 10 years in the business.

Rejection can be brutal, especially for Artists.

But the question is, what are you making it mean?
Who are you being IN the rejection?

What is on that ROAD you find yourself time and time again?

It can be so easy to AVOID what is right before us, instead of asking,
What is to be LEARNED?

I thought there was a cruel joke being played on me, as we whisked down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and yet, in hindsight, I see how re-visiting that road was the final piece of healing for me to fully embrace Thanksgiving again.

I NEEDED to go down that road.

I was scared to do it, and yet it brought me back to what matters, and allowed me to release control.

Rejection WILL occur.  Anyone who tells you otherwise, run the other way.

So, place your energy on your Art, and how you can grow, not on trying to control every rejection out there.

Your freedom as an Artist lies in your ability to grow, to change, and to persevere.

Your freedom as an Artist comes from connection to your heart, to your LOVE of Art.

This is what makes you Unstoppable.

Pay homage to your journey, and open to your road.  There is gold here for you.

 

Release control over the external rejection.

Same road, fearless YOU.

 

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography