Coming Home

I’m in a room.  The same I am in every morning at 6:30 am.  A brown couch behind me, and a TV in front. The door is shut and in the distance I can hear my brother playing Mozart in the living room.

I open my music stand, adjusting the height, my small fingers clicking the lock into place, and for a moment the overhead light flashes silver before I place a large book on top.

Suzuki scales.

Bending down, I open my case and take a deep breath, almost holding it, because all I hear as my hands lift my violin to my chin is a loud voice in my head saying,

I’m not good enough

And then my small bow hits the string, and I go through my practice, stretching my short fingers. Gotta get it in before I catch the school bus for second grade.

 

Remember childhood?

What was yours like? Did you begin your Art when you were young?

I grew up in a military household that was very musical.  My mother told both my brother and I we would take an instrument, and we could pick whatever that was. He chose piano.

For some insane reason I chose violin.

I used to always say that I never really excelled at violin because we moved around so much and each time we would come to a new military base, I would have a new teacher that would say,

Forget everything you’ve been taught. What you are doing is wrong. This is the proper technique.

But recently, I think I have been able to really get to the heart of it.  And I was surprised to learn that my violin and the feelings around it were actually the key to me moving forward in my Artistry and being successful.

I was a very artistic child, and was also in dance class and loved every minute of creative writing.

But the violin?

It always felt hard, and most of all, I felt like I couldn’t catch up or do it right.

What was it for you?
What was giving you that message as a child?
How has this affected you as an adult Artist?

 

I recently worked with a powerful coach named Tom Tynan, who led me through his process to uncover my core limiting belief, and when I wrote it down, I knew it was true…..even though it felt so cliche.  But there it was, in my own writing…

I am not enough

And in his process, he led me back to the child part of me that first had that belief, and guess who I met?

The 7 year old practicing violin every morning.

In all her glory, and with her best intentions to try and be lovable, and do right, be a good daughter and be a great musician…..she would get up every school morning to practice for 30 minutes.

But she never felt it was good enough. Her teachers weren’t reinforcing that, and it wasn’t joyful.

Not like writing…not like dance…not like singing in the church musical and playing a kazoo loudly for all to hear.

So, what did I do when I met her?

I hugged her.
I told her, “you are amazing!”

And she beamed, and hugged me back.  And then, I told her it was time to come home.  She didn’t have to be in isolation anymore. She could be a part of me and no longer feed the belief that I’m not enough.

Now, I could ask the question instead,
How AM I enough?

 

As artists and creatives we can have a very strong inner critic. And we have to ask the question, where did this begin from?

We are fully formed by the time we are 7 years old, and while the adults around us all had the best intentions and were working with whatever tools they had, our innocence can really suffer.

Especially with the Arts.

Our expression is very emotional, and can get tied up in our self worth.  We care so deeply about our dance, our music, our words, and art.

And the good news is, it can nourish us and feed us as we grow to create incredible work in the world.

But, take a moment to ask, what is that voice saying to you?

Or better yet, what is that voice truly asking FOR?

My career ended up being in musical theatre, and now with my business I use my writing a lot.  While I did choose violin as a six year old, it may have been because that is what was going to eventually open me to believing the most empowering belief,

I am enough.

And isn’t that what we are truly looking for as Creatives?

Enough to connect with our audience
Enough to put our work out to the world
Enough to stand center stage in the spotlight and been seen for all our glorious gifts
Enough to truly thrive and make a solid living doing what we love

And what’s more loving than embracing that inner child that has been calling to be seen?

So, take a moment and listen….tune in and get curious.  Close your eyes and see where your inner critic began….and find that child that wanted more than anything to express themselves with abandon, crayons in hand.

Give them a hug, and bring them home.

And then share your glorious voice.

It’s All in the Timing

The music swells, the lights dim, and every seat is filled with Tschaikovsky’s famous score.  This is the ultimate romantic fairytale, with a cast of fantastical characters…..

Sleeping Beauty

I lean forward in my red plush seat, the overture in full swing, excited for my first encounter with this famous Balanchine ballet.

And then it all stops…..and the conductor waves his baton to halt.

Let’s try that again!

Because this isn’t a normal performance….quite the opposite in fact.  Tonight, I am witnessing the final dress rehearsal of New York City Ballet’s production.

And there will be stopping.

This is bringing back memories…..

 

I’ve spent most of my adult life on stage.

Whether I was dancing or singing or acting, or doing them all at once…I often found myself in full costume under glowing lights with full makeup.

I may have been flipping my skirt in Buenos Aires, or grabbing my long cat tail in a junkyard, or singing under the sea with a glittery fin.

I’ve been up there so many times in the final dress, figuring out the spacing, the lights, my costume, and how to transfer the hard work I did in the rehearsal room to a live audience and no mirror.

Most of all…I found myself dealing with timing.

A show is like a well oiled machine, after all.  There are so many moving pieces, and they all come together for Opening Night.

They all come together to create that magic the audience experiences, and the magic I feel as an Artist.  It’s that knowing of exactly when to take each step within the story, like puzzle pieces coming together.

 

Watching the final dress of Sleeping Beauty was fascinating.  The choreography is some of the most intricate and challenging I’ve seen, and the tempos were brisk.

And not every dancer was keeping up. As it was dress rehearsal, some were still settling in, and there were missed steps.  The artistic director was on stage for most of the dress rehearsal giving notes and adjusting spacing.

So, the real question became, what was setting those dancers apart?  The ones who were on their game, and those who were struggling?

How was Aurora so poised and balanced?

Timing.

In ballet, and with Tschaikovsky’s driving score, there has to be absolute attack and understanding of what and where to place your body.

And really, how is this different than any other Artistic endeavor?

With your Art, do you know where you need to be and when?

Or are you just throwing your work out with no direction?

 

There were many moments in my career that felt like I was being stopped.  I felt held up. I would book a great show, and feel like that would get me to Broadway, and then blow a callback.  I would be in dance class and fall out of my pirouette…again.

I would witness the ease and flow of another dancer sailing through a triple turn and see quite quickly what was missing in my body…

Alignment and breath.

There was such a holding on, and pushing.  I wasn’t trusting my work and doubting.  I wasn’t trusting the hours and years I had put in, and placing my attention on the PRESENT moment.  I was too busy in the future, worried about what COULD go wrong, instead of placing all my energy in the execution of now.

So, my timing was off.

Start and Stop…..

My own inner conductor was waving his baton to say,

Let’s try that again!

A reminder to wake up and place my attention where it needed to be so I could deliver my most powerful performance and feel the fulfillment of my Art.

So, where is your attention?

What is your conductor saying to you?

Are you in the present moment of your Art or living in the failures of your past?

Perhaps that is why you keep stopping.

Your point of power is always the present moment.

So lace up your shoes, and let’s dance.