Driving Your Art

I’ve been in a car accident.

I start to go into shock, as I stare out the windshield in front of me, and the thought that rises is,
Am I going to die today?

My whole passenger side bashed in, I’m up on the sidewalk, spun facing the wrong way.

I look down and see my legs.
They are ok.

I look down at my arm which hurts,
but is moving.

Behind me the driver of the huge Jeep that hit me is getting out and moving towards me screaming angrily.

I slowly get out of my car and a man hands me a small bottle of water, asking,
Are you ok? I’m a cop. I’ve called in the accident.  Help is coming.

As I walk around to the passenger side of my car, I see the entire side crumpled in…..my car is totaled.

I am BLOCKS away from my home….and the craziest part is,
I just left the scene of another accident I was in. Literally 15 minutes ago…I rear-ended a car that stopped suddenly on the highway.

I was in two accidents back to back on the same day.

WHO does this happen to?
HOW could this happen?

Am I going to die today?

 

I usually refer to 2013 as  my Year of the Flame.  It began with a devastating divorce, and then turned into a raging bonfire where I lost my home, was robbed twice, lost a dear friend to a heart-attack, and then this day; the day I was in two car accidents back to back.

It was November, and I was still in shock over the loss of my friend in September.  I had gone up to visit my best friend just north of NYC, and had spent the day playing with her twins, and being outside in the vibrant fall leaves, taking pictures of them gleefully playing in their swings.

I left her house smiling, so grateful for the time, and soon was entering back into Queens….and then BOOM.

When the first accident happened, it was more startling than anything.  Everyone was ok, and I immediately called my insurance to let them know.  The other drivers were pleasant, but I drove away shaken.

Coming into Astoria, just blocks from my apartment, the intersection was blocked by a double parked van, and I couldn’t see.  As I came into the intersection, a speeding black Jeep came barreling down and completely took me out.

After the shock wore off, I found myself faced with a larger problem.

I was scheduled to drive to my alma mater, Penn State the following weekend to see my mentor’s one woman show, and now I had no car.

I knew I could rent a car….but could I drive?
Did I feel I could?

Two days later, I went to see my acupuncturist to tell her about the accident, as I was experiencing back issues.

She said,
It’s a good thing you came in right away.  Fear and trauma will store in the muscles.  This way we can move it.

I lay on my stomach, and she placed a needle right in the heart of my back muscle that took the brunt of the accident, and I immediately started to weep.

My fear pouring down my face.
My anger, my sadness, my shock.

This year…..

 

Have you ever had a huge accident?
Have you ever had a huge disappointment that took you out of your Art?

When we create from the deepest parts of ourselves, it can feel like a huge black Jeep pummels us in the face of rejection or something not turning out as we wanted:

The rejection letter from the publishers
The booking agent saying no
The gallery not responding
The show that barely sells any tickets

Not to mention, an actual life accident that leaves you really questioning,
Am I safe?
Can I do this?

What do we do in that moment?

I remember really questioning whether or not it was a good idea to drive to Penn State, days after the accident.  While I did have some bruising, the biggest piece was my fear.

I was scared to get behind the wheel again.

My best friend and my mother both encouraged me to drive again, otherwise the fear would set in. It would become something larger.

I would make it permanent, and start a new belief that wouldn’t serve me,
I’m a bad driver.

And what would be possible with this belief?
Not much….I would probably never drive again, and not experience new roads.

And for you?

What is the belief you have formed in the face of your accidents?

Is it serving you and your Art?
Is it allowing you to get back behind the wheel, back in the driver seat and receive the acclaim you desire?

I fully admit, I was terrified to drive again, but I rented a car and drove to Penn State with no incident, and you know the biggest gift I received?

That I could DO it.
That I was CAPABLE.

The only way you will know this is by DOING.

We can spend hours, days, YEARS stuck in a belief and wake up one day staring at gorgeous Art that has gone nowhere….and realize we let fear be the driver.

But, what if you got back in the seat?
What is possible for you in your Art then?

What is possible for this ONE life you have?

The first step, is to FACE your fear head on.
Love this part of yourself.

Indeed, this part has believed it was keeping you safe.

This is not a moment of shaming or saying you are wrong…this is when you LOVE this part of you as much as possible.  Allow yourself to feel.

Hand over your heart say,
Even though I feel terrified, I deeply love and respect myself.

Watch the fear rise and then fall.

And then get back in the driver seat.

 

You CAN do this.
You are CAPABLE.

Turns out the accident didn’t kill you.  The rejection didn’t kill you.  It was painful….but here you are.  You are still breathing, and with that breath, you have the whole universe.

So take your car out of park, and enter your new road.

This is your Creative Life, how do you want to live it?

The Artist’s Practice

Can I get real ?  Overwhelm really sucks, doesn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Overwhelm was like a one shot deal where you experience it, and then it never returns?

Because when Overwhelm sets in, everything pretty much STOPS.

That feeling of joy in your process? STOPS
Creative Flow? STOPS
Inspiration? STOPS
Receiving the reward you desire? STOPS

Your whole head swells in mass confusion to a point where the ONLY type of input seems to be solitaire on your smart phone or binge watching the latest Netflix original.

And in the aftermath, you hear that voice in your head saying,
You did it again…
You’ll never succeed
No one wants your Art anyway
You can’t handle the spotlight

And there we are right up against a HUGE wall with flashing lights saying,
YOU ARE NOT ENOUGH

And how does this feel?
Is this helpful?
How is this working for you?

As my Zen teacher said to me,
Overwhelm is a kind of insanity.

So, how do we get sane and get off the crazy merry-go-round?

 

I’ll share with you, I have been feeling Overwhelm very deeply lately.

In the past four weeks, I’ve moved out of my apartment, moved out of the city where I’ve lived for over 19 years, set up a home, gotten engaged, and went through buying a car for the first time in my life.

Just a FEW life changes at once!

To say I needed some quiet time is a massive understatement.

Why? Because I could feel myself shutting down……..

So, I spent last weekend completely unplugged at a retreat on Manifesting Compassion at Zen Mountain Monastery.

When my teacher looked at me and a whole room and said,
Overwhelm is a kind of insanity

I felt it.
Intimately.

I thought of all I had on my plate, all that was important to me right now,
My relationship with my man
My clients
My tribe
My new home
Planning my wedding
Starting to try for a family
Learning how to be a car owner and take care of it
My health
Yoga and dance
Finding a new network of friends in NJ

SO much…..have you ever looked at all that is on your plate and wanted to go running for the hills?
So, what’s the answer?
What do we do when it’s all there and ALL important?

Sitting there intently listening to my teacher, he summed it up beautifully,
Let things stand in their place, one step at a time.

Practice the ground you’re walking on.

I frantically wrote these words down in my journal, my pen moving as fast as it could to fill the page.

What did this mean for me?

 

After the teaching session, we had dinner and an hour of silence.  My fiance was helping out in the kitchen, so I decided to go for a walk outside.

There was a light snow on the ground, and a path of stone steps leading up into the trees.I felt restless, and started to climb.  When I reached the top of the path, I felt torn.  I wanted to sit down, but didn’t see a place, so I descended again to a bench at the foot of the path.

I felt like a world was swirling inside me…dark and unknown.
I stared at the rising mountain in front of me, and watched birds land in the trees, their evening calls floating across the grounds.

And I checked in, asking
What am I feeling?

And what arose was,
I feel detached.

Instantly, I felt relief.
I felt something loosen.  The overwhelm started to lessen.

I heard my teacher’s voice saying,
Suffering can only arise in the GAP.  Get inside it.  Let things stand in their place, one step at a time. Practice the ground you are walking on.

I had detached in the overwhelm because I didn’t know how to move forward. I had stopped.

I’ve been given everything I asked for; an incredible man, a home, a car…..but what was not fitting was ME. It was my overwhelm, my frustration. In truth, it was me actually LIVING it.

It was hearing everyone’s congratulations and feeling ashamed at my overwhelm.  Why wasn’t I happy and at ease??

There was NO way I could know WHAT I would feel at this point in my life with all these changes UNTIL I was IN it.

Practice the ground you are walking on.

The answer lies in where you are now.
The ground you are on NOW, not before.

The former me, the single New Yorker isn’t helpful here. I’m changing, and the WAY I move forward, and end the Overwhelm is to practice where I am NOW:

Practice being engaged
Practice being a new homeowner
Practice being a car owner
Practice being a NJ resident

Not from OUTSIDE, but INSIDE, in the now.

One step at a time, with each standing in its place.

I was detaching because I was trying to approach these changes from who I WAS.
What I forgot is that change is constant, and who I was yesterday is not who I am today. I am becoming with every new experience.

And I can take a moment, take a breath now, and relax the perfectionist that wants everything neat and tidy. I can just practice…that’s ALL. Just practice…..what a relief.

And this is where Compassion comes in.

Because we are all human. We all do this.  Welcome to the party!

Compassion is your answer to Overwhelm.
There’s a reason you are shutting down.  Most likely you are trying to do way too many things at once, and you probably believe it all has to be perfect.  It all has to look a certain way.

But as you grow, as you receive acclaim, you are changing.  You won’t know what it’s like until you get there. ALLOW for this.

Practice the ground you are walking on.

Because this is where you create.
Not yesterday.
Not tomorrow.

Here.

 

So, check in.
What are you feeling?
What are you detaching from?

And let each thing stand in it’s place, ONE step at a time.
Release the perfection and what you felt it was supposed to look like. Come back to a beginner’s mind. All you have to do is practice.

Allow for the miracle, and watch your Art soar.