The Artist’s Edge

Do you ever feel like you are on the edge of a cliff, scared to leap and fall headfirst into the ravine?

Do you desperately want to make changes in your Art, but find yourself rooted to the spot, frozen as you stare into the chasm?

I mean….it’s a looooong way down, and how do Artists actually MAKE it to the other side??

I remember this place. I’d walk out of an audition, crestfallen, after not being kept. I’d hear other singers, the voices soaring out of their mouths, effortlessly.

And yet, mine was stuck in my throat.

As I choked back my embarrassment and shame, I’d feel myself saying,

Why do I find myself here again?

Standing on the edge of the cliff, so confused and frustrated, I didn’t want to be here anymore.

How do I get THERE??

That place across the chasm, NOT on the edge of the cliff.

Have you ever felt this?

 

Four years ago, I went to visit my aunt and uncle in San Diego for Christmas. It was my first holiday season being divorced, and I was a mess.

I had just survived the worst year of my life and was licking my wounds from car accidents, robberies, and loss.

I was doing the best I could to find some seasonal joy, but really found myself asking,

What do the holidays mean to me now?

We went to Point Loma, this glorious monument overlooking all of San Diego.

The sun was shining
The wind was whipping through my hair…

I jumped up on the stone wall along the walkways and felt the wind moving through me. I asked my mother to take a picture of me, standing on the edge with the whole San Diego Bay behind me.

For one of the first times that year, I was feeling a sense of hope and freedom.

My mother nervously asked me to come down. I looked at the picture of myself, standing alone, and saw a new strength. Yes, I spent many days still crying, but standing on the edge of the wall, I was seeing something new.

Not just in the grand expanse of the San Diego Bay, but in myself.

Where are you right now in your Art?

What is wanting to be birthed in you?

Are you going to the edge to allow it to emerge?

It seems, that’s when it comes out. 

 

Just this past week, I found myself back at Point Loma, for the first time since 2013.

The San Diego Bay was there, the lighthouse, my aunt, and the beautiful expanse….

And something else. Something I could barely even imagine before.

My man.

As we walked around to the Pacific side, I saw a cliff overlooking the ocean.

I asked him to come out there with me, and for my aunt to take a picture.

What was captured in that moment was one of the most vital and moving pictures I’ve ever had.

Four years ago, I stood on the Bay side, wanting and hoping things would change.

I stood at my edge, scared and feeling doubt if Christmas would ever be joyful again.

And now, we sat together overlooking the Pacific Ocean….

On the other side.

I could have stayed trapped and comfortable, but I knew more waited.

Indeed, on that wall four years ago, something emerged…a longing, to not only find lasting love, but create an Artistic life that fed my soul.

And while I had NO idea how it would manifest, I stayed on the edge.

And I shared my voice as an Artist….with MUCH different results.

So what is crying to come forth for you?
If you stayed on your edge, what would emerge? 

What’s in your journey from the Bay to your Ocean?

Winning the Prize

Are you tired of doing your best, and you or your Art still not being chosen?

Sometimes, it can be so devastating.

You put your heart into your work, hours and hours of effort, believing this will be IT.

You watch someone else
win the prize
get the award
book the gig
sell the art

And sometimes you want to scream,
Why isn’t it ME?
When is MY turn?

As  Artists, we know intimately that it’s not always about talent.  In fact, we can all think of several celebrities who have raging success to our complete disgust and confusion.

It just feels UNFAIR.

So, what do we do in that moment?

 

This past week, I spoke in front of 700 people at my coach’s big annual event, called The Zone.

I was one of 7 of her clients that was chosen for a Speak Off competition, where I could win $10K, for the best 4 minute talk.

The audience was deciding who the winner was.

I was OVER the moon for this opportunity and had only a week to prepare.  I actually had a really solid two minute talk to draw from and dove in with all kinds of cool ideas.

I decided to create a unique experience, and really put all of me into the talk, including using some small dance moves. I thought,
No one else is going to bring the stage what I do!

Have you ever felt that with your work?

I was convinced I would win, and was so excited for the chance to show up not only for my community in this way, but for all the people that were in attendance.

I wanted to make a difference.
I wanted to move the audience.
I practiced like crazy.
I asked for tons of feedback.
I performed it for several people.

And I was deeply passionate about the topic.

Ironically, the talk was about releasing competition and the radical effect this had on my life as an Artist…..

Yes, I was in an actual competition talking about the fact that we really only thrive when we RELEASE competition.

Definitely a head trip.

So, the big day came, and the talk was a HUGE hit.  The crowd roared, and then when the voting was done at the end, my coach said,

It’s a TIE!

So, I had to stand up there with the other speaker and be voted on again.

The crowd roared for us both, but my coach had seen the applause meter, and squeezed me around the arms, saying,
Nikol….

For a  moment, I thought,
This is IT!

And then she said,
We love you.  It’s not you.

I felt like I was in the end of the musical A Chorus Line, and hugged the other speaker and then stood on the sidelines while I watched her jump with glee and sign the huge check for $10K.

I heard my coach saying,
There always has to be a winner

And I could feel years and years of “not being chosen” for shows and roles I wanted so desperately rising in me.

My stomach turned into knots, and I clapped, and then exited the stage.

I had done my best, and it didn’t win the prize.

Have you ever felt this?

 

When I came back to my seat in the audience, so many people started to come up to me, smiling with large eyes saying,

Thank you for your talk!
I’m an artist too…that meant so much
You made me cry
That was incredible
I wanted you to win
I love dance!

The response was consistent, and it went on for two days, people coming up to me at the event sharing how my talk made them feel, and thanking me.

I stopped and LISTENED.

And I went back to my original intention,
I wanted to move the audience

In the midst of my disappointment, I was faced time and again with evidence that I actually had been SEEN.

My work was acknowledged and so many artists resonated with the talk.

So, while I didn’t win “the prize”, I did win.  I spoke to the largest crowd ever in my speaking career, and showed up the way I wanted to.

I truly did my best. In fact, I was “chosen” by hundreds that day.
And doing the talk, opened up a new thought,

Perhaps my $10K is coming another way….

And what about you?

What is the “prize” you are striving for in your Art?
Have you decided there is only ONE way it will appear?

So many artists become “overnight successes” after years in the business.

Why?

Because they don’t stop.
Because they don’t let rejection stop them.
Because they keep going, and recognize that there WILL be disappointments along the way.

That big check is waiting for you.  And it will come by staying in the game.

It will come by placing your focus on where your wins are TODAY, and staying connected to your audience.

Release the competition, and come back to your vision of what you want.  Take a breath.  LISTEN to what your audience is saying and asking for.

Stay on the stage and in the game, so they can find you.

Because, the truth is, they truly want what you have.

Your turn comes when you decide it’s coming regardless.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography