The Validation Effect

Do you ever find yourself in front of your audience, and are completely confused by their lukewarm reaction?

Do you feel like you are doing everything you can, practically standing on your head, and yet the acclaim just isn’t happening?

What causes the cheers?
What causes the audience to get up on their feet and scream for more?

It can be very easy to start spiraling into,
I must be doing something wrong.

Or even more so,
I must not be very good.

And we watch these incredible Artists, who just seem to have it all:
Loving what they do, and thriving.

What is the deal??

 

On New Year’s Eve I went to see an incredible band I had never seen before at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ.  My man and I showed up, ready for festivities, and I had no expectations about the music.

As soon as they took the stage, I knew I was in for something special.

The musicians all came out, and started a rocking jam, and my whole body began moving in response.

Then, the three backup singers came out, and introduced the front man, who bounded onto the stage, picked up the mic, and launched into their first song, his voice exploding into the space.

And then I started screaming like a teenager, my eyes widening.

They were amazing!  The band was so tight, the lead singer capturing my total attention.  I could feel energy rising all over me, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

There were three backup singers, who came out and did solos.  The first was doing Beyoncé covers, and was off the charts.  She was fierceness personified…..

Again, totally captivated.

And then the second female singer sang her solo, and something changed.

I stopped dancing.  I wasn’t singing along.  I started to look around the room, and my mind began to wander. It was confusing at first, as the singer was gorgeous.  She was tall, blond, and stunning…..a beautiful package.  But something was missing…..

I went from feeling SO connected to the band and the singers, to feeling strange.  And as I took in the moment and how I was feeling, I remembered being on stage myself. I remembered belting my face off, and just not getting the reaction I wanted.  Even worse, I remembered losing my audience, and feeling so confused.

I used to be the pretty package too….

In the Fall of 2012, I was hired by a very up and coming choreographer to be a part of the new musical Zelda.  This was a HUGE moment for me, as I was going to be working with Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn.  There were plans to take it to Broadway eventually, and the cast was made up of some of the best in the business.

I thought, I’ve arrived!

We were doing an out of town production and I showed up for the first day of rehearsal so excited.  The choreographer came up to me and said,
We are so glad you are here!

They gave me this awesome solo vocal feature in one of the most exciting numbers in the show, where I got to strut down the center of the stage, and just let it rip.

I was beside myself. 

And yet…..it seemed to never work.  The choreographer kept giving me notes about this moment.  She must have changed it every time we rehearsed it, and I was so confused.

I felt like I was taking her notes every time, and yet I kept seeing her stoic face.  I kept feeling she wasn’t happy and this exciting moment just wasn’t happening.

And I knew it was me……

Yet, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing WRONG.

What had changed from the callback where the whole creative team was over the moon to have me, to rehearsal where I seemed to be falling flat?

All my insecurities about my singing came roaring to the surface, and I was doubting the moment and HOW I was performing.  I was doubting my voice, my ability, and my presence.

Worst of all, the choreographer became more and more distant from me.  Before the show began, we had spoken about collaborating on a choreographic project.

Once the show was over, she didn’t return my emails.

And I never worked with her again or Frank Wildhorn again.  In fact, the show fell away.  It never went on to Broadway.

And a month after the show closed, my whole life fell apart, beginning with my marriage.

 

The pretty package I had tried SO hard to keep together all fell away. And something really surprising happened…..

I found my true confidence as an Artist, and started to take real risks, no longer concerned with HOW I looked. I had a total resurgence in my career, and when my next vocal solo was given to me in a production of “The Little Mermaid”, I not only nailed it in my audition, but also in rehearsal AND in performance.

And the director?   We are still friends, and she was thrilled with my work.

I went from relying completely on external validation to trust and confidence in WHO I was at the mic.

 

What would it mean to you to have this with your Art?
How would this affect your life?

What would you finally be able to CREATE because you let go of the fear and just went for it?

New Year’s Eve was such a strong reminder of what sets apart Artists that make it, and the ones that are in a constant struggle.

The front man and the other female singer were so solid in WHO they were, that they were able to CONNECT with the audience from a place of partnership, not validation.

I wasn’t doubting them or their ability, because they were solid in their gifts.

They were pretty on the outside AND inside.  The package was WHOLE.

And this not only translated to them both singing their faces off, but me as an audience member LOVING every minute of it.

This is what I lived for on the stage.

And I remember the sting of isolation.  I remember feeling so unworthy, and the pain of self doubt.

Have you felt this?

 

Let the wall come down.  Know that you come to your audience as ALL of you.  Let them see you, and place your attention of building the relationship WITH them, not asking them to validate you.

Claim your power.  This is your birthright as an Artist.

Step to the mic and share your beautiful gifts this year.

I see you, and your light is brilliant.

True Artistic Freedom

I am free to think
wonderful thoughts.
I move beyond past
limitations into freedom. I am now
becoming all that
I am created to be.

-Louise Hay

 

How have your holidays been?

As the ball approaches dropping in a few days, how you you feeling about 2018?
Specifically, how are you feeling about your Art?

The holidays can be a time of great intensification.  Whatever we are dealing with, can be magnified under the bright lights and holiday frenzy.

While we crave rest most at this time of year, we are usually running around endlessly trying to cram in, and take advantage of the season.

I remember coming home from college and literally passing out as soon as I got to my bed, the build up of exams, not sleeping, and trying to get everything done before the break.

The break…..

So vital in the course of a college career.

And something I have come to deeply respect as a mature Artist.

The place of confusion I feel I was in for so long, was what I DID WITH that break.

There’s the cards, the gifts, the parties, the travel….the family gatherings.  Depending on our dynamics, being with family can be deeply connecting, or horribly triggering. Either way, it’s a lot for the system.

As Artists, we tend to feel very deeply.  Many of us are more sensitive, and empathic.

I spent many holidays, especially POST holidays, sick.

My body literally gave out.

And this year was no different.

I was at dinner with my family, the day after Christmas, and could feel my energy dropping.  I ate about half my dinner and my appetite just stopped. They all finished, and I took my dinner with me to the living room with the full intention of finishing it….

But I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and soon fell asleep.

I woke up just about 15 minutes later, and felt really nauseous.  We all had the same dinner, and they weren’t showing any symptoms.  The TV was loud, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick or not, so I came upstairs, closed the door, and curled into a ball.

And closed my eyes.

I really felt low….unsure…..and this is where I did something I NEVER did when I was a college student.

I said,
This too.

I hate being sick, especially nausea. And as a child I suffered from migraines, strange rashes, and many other odd ailments.  For so long, I fought what was arising.

But I had a feeling underneath all of this; the feeling my body was shutting down TO heal.

As I lay there, I could feel the EDGE of,
I can’t get sick right now!
I’m traveling in a few days!
WHY is this happening??

And in the space of all of this, I simply said,
This too.

An hour later, the nausea passed, and that night I slept solid with vibrant dreams.

And when I woke in the morning, I felt ready for my day.  I was able to be present for my family, had energy again, and was inspired to create.

Is this what you want?

 

When you look back at 2017 and your Art, how do you feel?

When you stack up your challenges, your failures, and your frustrations, how much are they impacting you moving forward?

We all have our breaking points.  We all have the moments when our body says,
ENOUGH!

But, as Artists, it’s vital what we are doing in that space.  Even more so, how we are treating ourselves in that space.

It’s such an easy choice to just disconnect, and make the choice NOT to feel, and beat ourselves up in the process.

But, if we keep disconnecting, we are robbing ourselves of truly regenerating.  And the reason regenerating is so important is simple:

We are the conduit FOR our Art.

For some of us, our actual bodies ARE our Art, and for others, it’s our hands, feet, and minds that create the Art.  Either way, we need to be nourished and fed to create. This is especially important to attract our audience.

We can’t be empty inside, and create a strong raving audience.

And what’s most important is knowing the starting point, a vital step BEFORE freedom, especially the kind that Louise Hay speaks about….

Acceptance.

This too.

Within our Artistic journeys, we will hit walls.
We will become overwhelmed.
We will be in high pressure situations that test us.

And we will experience the intensity of the holidays, year after year.

Your choice,
Your FREEDOM comes in HOW you approach it, and what you make it mean.

Acceptance is always the first step, and when the overwhelm hits, take a moment, and don’t fight.

Accept what has occurred this past year, and know you are not TIED to your history.

You are not tied to the nausea, the fatigue, and fear.

Change is constant.

This is a new day, one that has never been lived before.
This is a new year, one that YOU have never lived before.

So, if this is true…….what is possible for you?

 

I am free to think
wonderful thoughts.
I move beyond past
limitations into freedom. I am now
becoming all that
I am created to be.

3….2…..1…….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!