Held Back to Leap Free

To be honest, Nikól…..you dance in an affected way.

As my heart started to wrench, I took in Linda Haberman’s words.  I had just been cut from Rockette auditions, after nailing the combination.

I wanted feedback, so I had gone up to her and asked.  Linda was the director of the Christmas Spectacular and head of all the companies.

What stung most was, I was not a newbie.  I had two years of working for Radio City under my belt, hired first as a singer in the ensemble, and then as a Rockette.

I thought I was part of the “club” and had proven myself in performance, by not missing any shows, and by giving 100%.

And I was being cut because I danced in an “affected” manner? This felt unfair in so many ways.

I felt surprised, startled, and unsettled.

Have you ever felt like this?  Worked so hard for someone only to find out they don’t actually like your style or effort?

Have you felt like your best Creative work is being judged?

As I walked out of Radio City music hall, past the women who were kept to dance, feeling embarrassed….I felt like I was 12 again.

The year I was told I wasn’t good enough.

 

When I was ages 10-12, my father was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in England.  Once a week, my mother drove me to Bury St. Edmunds to take ballet.  The school was using the Royal Ballet curriculum, and there were levels.  I was at Level III, and had to wear a maroon leotard.

Level four meant I would get a new color leotard.

But it was about more than the leotard, it was about feeling like I was growing.

I loved to dance!

My mother always said I wouldn’t come out of the delivery room until the lighting was right.

And yet, taking lessons at this school was not joyful.

I was the only American there and felt like an outsider.
I felt like no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do it right.
I felt like the teacher didn’t like me.

And then we received the news.

We are holding your daughter back another year.  We don’t think she is good enough to go on to the next level.

And they didn’t do this to me once…they did it two years in a row.

I was heartbroken, and my mother was outraged.  She deeply believed this school and teacher were not helping me, didn’t agree with the evaluation, and even more so, felt this teacher was harming me and my potential for growth by holding me back.

So, I stopped going.

And I didn’t take ballet for a whole year. While I did have a blast in 7th grade, crushing over Scott Ray and enjoying my handbells and violin, something was forming inside around my ability as a dancer.

A belief I wasn’t good enough.

Have you felt this in your Art?

 

The following year we were stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, and I was taking ballet from a studio on base once a week and got my first pair of pointe shoes.

I was over the moon!

I felt so special being on pointe.  I really liked the teacher and laced up my shoes with glee.

We were only going to be living in Heidelberg for one year, and then moving to Montgomery, Alabama, where I was hoping to attend an Arts and Academic Magnet School. The school was grades 7 – 9, taking in 12 to 14 year olds. I would be entering as a 9th grader.

In order to attend, I had to send in an audition tape, so I could be placed in either Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced Dance.  As an Arts student, I would be taking dance for two hours ever day, five days a week. Yahoo!

So, the tape was made, sent off, and I made the assumption I would be placed in the advanced class.  I was on pointe!  Plus, I was 14, so it all made sense to me.

When I received news I had been placed in the advanced level, I felt validated, and so excited.  I had never had intensive training before, and was ready to really dive into dance.

So, I show up for the first day of school, leotard on, pointe shoes in hand, hair pulled back, and was hit slap across the face one stone cold truth….

I was one of the weakest dancers in the class.

The 12 year olds were dancing rings around me, doing fouetttes on pointe, way more advanced.

And all I could think was,
How did I get here??

And yet, it lit a fire under me. I worked the hardest I had ever worked.  I threw myself fully into my studies, and something magical happened.

I grew.

The reason?

The teacher.

At the end of the year, I was awarded Most Improved Dancer and was given a solo on pointe for the end of year recital.  My solo was short and simple, but it meant the world to me.

I went up to my teacher , Mrs. Caruso, and asked her,
Why did you put me in the advanced level? I was one of the worst in this class!

She looked down at me, and smiled wide saying,
I saw potential in you.

 

Our teachers, coaches, and mentors are invaluable to forming our Creative gifts.  The beliefs we form as Artists can be tied back to those formative years when we were excited about leotard colors.

My dance and any growth could have been cut short when I was 12, but thankfully, I was blessed with amazing teachers that saw the burning desire and love inside.

I knew I loved to dance, but I had no idea how quickly I could improve. I had no idea of my own potential.  I needed her for that.

Mrs. Caruso saw this, and because of her, I kept dancing through high school, and then decided to get a BFA in Musical Theatre, and follow my heart to having a 20 year professional career in the theatre.

Thanks to Mrs. Caruso, I still dance every week, and leap and turn across the floor with abandon.

I know I always will.

And I know that with the right teachers in my life, I can achieve anything.

So, who believes in you?
Who is holding your potential high and reminding you of your brilliance?

Creativity was never meant to occur in isolation.  Who we are as Artists is constantly shifting and growing.  Many times, we can become so short sighted in our limiting beliefs and past failures, but it’s our teachers and mentors who remind us of what is possible.

Our teachers and coaches aren’t viewing our work through our personal blocks.  They view us through our potential and brilliance.

It’s in there.  It may just need illuminating.

So, who is guiding you?
And who HAS guided you?
Are they holding you back or causing wings to sprout from your shoulders?

What is truly serving your growth as an Artist?

I remember that 12 year old who was told she wasn’t good enough, and am taking a moment to hug her and love her. She really was doing the best she could, but she needed stronger guidance and better technique.  She wanted to grow as a dancer, and needed a teacher who could SEE that pure desire.

Linda’s words at the Rockette audition did sting me, but they also brought to the surface the vital importance of who I choose as a teacher.

Of course we are going to face challenges as we learn and grow, but it’s vital to have a teacher who MEETS you there and encourages you through the process.  One that has not only the knowledge, but the compassionate skill to truly help you OWN your greatness.

The proof is always going to be in your results and progress. 

So ask yourself,
Are you where you want to be?

 

The days of teaching through humiliation and shaming are behind us.  Thriving in our Creative Joy today comes from compassion, commitment, and collaboration.

If you want to see lasting results and the type of change that brings your Creative Dreams alive, give yourself the gift of teachers who will actually help you get there, and release the rest with grace.

Stretching Your Voice

I’m losing my voice.

My throat is sore and scratchy, my energy is low.  I feel crappy.

This wasn’t supposed to happen today. Not this week….I can feel my vocal cords swelling and absolute confusion mounting, as I ask myself

How did I get here?

And the pain underneath of,
I don’t want to be sick.
I don’t have time for this.
This is soooooo unfair!

I don’t want to be where I am.

 

Have you ever felt like this?

I’ve been sharing with all of you my health journey over the past year, and most recently, I completed a very intense 28 Day Cleanse.  My last day was a Sunday, and I had been looking forward to it for weeks.

I imagined a wonderful celebration at the end.

I imagined an inner ticker tape parade, my blood and organs all standing tall, cheering saying,

We DID IT!

Instead, I started to feel sick the evening of my last day.

I had planned to wake up Monday morning, excited to add back in eggs, nuts, and coconut, ready to move back to some level of normalcy.

And instead, I woke up feeling sick and went into management mode, trying to ward off what felt like an impending cold or infection.

I gargled with salt water.
I took tons of natural supplements.
I drank lots of tea.
I made sure to get solid sleep.
I stayed in Astoria, instead of venturing into Manhattan, and didn’t take dance or yoga.

I did everything right….didn’t I?

And yet, come Thursday, after waking up feeling really fantastic and convinced I had beaten off the germs….I started to lose my voice.

Ironically, it happened while having lunch with my voice teacher.

And the panic started to rise.

I had big plans for the weekend.  I also had lots of clients and my business IS my voice.

But, with each sentence, I could feel my vocal cords swelling even more, and my voice getting raspier and raspier, and by Thursday night….it was completely gone.

Despite my best efforts, my voice was done.

So, I stopped speaking.

For DAYS.

I re-scheduled clients, and doubled down on rest, steaming, hot tea, and echinacea.  I started a Z pack, tried a whole new regiment I found from another singer who had lost her voice, and stayed in as much as possible.

And then the cough began.

I felt like I couldn’t cut a break.

Wasn’t I doing everything right?

It was SO frustrating to put in so much effort and healthy intention, and feel like I was moving at a snail’s pace.
Have you ever felt like this?

Been working so hard on what matters in your Creative Passion, and feel like the pace of your results doesn’t equal the level of what you are putting in?

Have you ever wanted to scream,
Can we just BE there ALREADY??

I imagine it feels like you are staring at a chasm.  You SEE your Vision, your goal of what you want to achieve.  You can even hear your raving fans, your completed novel, or hear that gorgeous symphony….

And yet, the question remains,

Why am I not there YET?

Maybe the chasm is there for a reason, though.  And perhaps the real question to ask yourself in the moment is something all together different.

What if in that moment, you took a breath, checked in, and released the death grip?

What if the chasm is actually PART OF the process and there to test you?

What if your Dream simply takes more time?

We all desire the quick fix, but at the end of the day, the test of having to stay in the process is really going to bring to light the most powerful tool we have as Artists,

Your commitment.

And by this, I mean your commitment to your work, and to your audience who is in witness to your expression.  Your commitment to the role Art plays in your lives, how it opens your heart and brings you to song.  None of us became Artists for trivial reasons.  This work is far deeper, and feeds us unlike anything else.

Music
Dance
Art
Photography
Writing

We are all changing lives, and it begins with honoring this within ourselves.

This isn’t automatic.  It’s deeply human, and this kind of work takes cultivation and intention.

When you are in the midst of the struggle, come back to your vision, and come back to your commitment.

Because the truth is, you have NO idea what tomorrow will bring.

Tomorrow,
Broadway may call
Your book may make the Bestseller List
The booker may book your band
A new collector may ask to buy your whole collection

You honestly can’t KNOW the future, but you can CREATE it.

You can wake everyday and continue to put in the effort from a place of honest intention, and doing the work it takes.

So your voice can be heard.

YOU decide.

 

This past week, my voice began to come back, slowly but surely.  My cough subsided, and my throat infection cleared.

It took way longer than I wanted, but I knew I had to stay in it, every day and take care of myself.

And my commitment?

You.

While I may have lost my physical voice, my commitment is that you never do.  And it gave me time to really reflect and come back to why I created my business in the first place and decided to empower Creatives across the globe.

My commitment to remind you of your brilliance, and remind you to stay IN it.

I’ve only lost my voice twice before in my life, so it was scary and frustrating to experience, but it also reminded me of what I’m capable of, and the moment of illness was temporary.

I imagine how scary it can be to start believing you won’t “make it”, but the truth is, with every day you ARE.  You are becoming in every moment, with every stroke, picture and note, the artist you desire to be.

Every day is a new day, one you have never lived before. And the list of “overnight successes” really is speaking to the night it all came together, after consistent work and effort.  In truth, most of these artists just stayed IN the process, no matter what. Tom Hanks was an overnight success after 10 years….take that in.

Live in the stretch and stay committed to your Art.

You create the life you want.

Share your glorious voice..