The Zen of Art

Zen flowers

My alarm goes off and I can feel with my whole body,

I didn’t get enough sleep.

A slight panic starts to rise because I really needed to get quality sleep for today.

Somehow, everything is just taking longer, and I’m rushing around to get out the door. I’m running late, and today I can’t be late.

It’s Saturday, early morning and I even question the choice of subway.

Maybe I should Uber.

I open the app and am weighing the options, and then decide to wait.

It’s cheaper to take the subway.

Rooted in my original plan, I think it will be ok, because I’ll be able to sit and close my eyes on the subway.

And then the subway is packed.

I mean, today is historic and there’s a lot of people heading into Manhattan on this Saturday, including me. Millions will be marching world wide, the largest march in American history, and I want to contribute.

After my first transfer, I finally find a seat on the subway and have just enough time to eat the eggs and bacon I made at home, before the train is pulling into the Nevins Street stop in Brooklyn. I never got to close my eyes, and can feel my eyes heavy.

And the anxiety is mounting, as I don’t feel I have all I need.

And the dialogue is running through my head,
Why didn’t you go to bed earlier?
Why couldn’t I fall asleep last night?
Why did I wake up so much last night?

And then I look at my watch in amazement.

I actually got to Brooklyn from Queens in the fastest time yet….leaving Astoria late was made up by Gotham’s speeding silver tube.

I walk to my destination with enough time to grab a couple sipfuls of coffee, stretch and settle in.

Settle in to sit…..for four hours.

Will I be able to stay awake?

And what happened within the course of the next four hours was nothing short of a miracle.

 

In the face of the deepest loss of my adult life, my divorce, a voice came up stronger than ever,

You need meditation.

I was in such a state of shock and heartbreak, that I was willing to do whatever it took to move forward.

I wanted to survive.

So, come January of 2013, I found myself in the retail section of my yoga studio with the express intention to purchase a book on meditation.

That’s the first step, right?

I was staring at all the titles and one looked interesting, so I grabbed it and opened randomly to the opening pages.

Every word was jumping off the page, going through me, as if the writer knew exactly what I was going through.

What was ironic was that the book was actually about Buddhism.

Wait, I didn’t come here seeking Buddhism, I came seeking meditation.

But, maybe it was what was underneath the meditation that was being satisfied. Here were finally tools for the roller coaster and hopelessness I was feeling.

Here were finally tools for the rejection and loss of control, for all the frustrations I had experienced in my performance career, and the feeling that my whole life was falling apart and I was losing it all.

Have you felt this too?

That book was the beginning of my search for answers and it led me to Zen practice and led me to the Fire Lotus Temple in Brooklyn.

What I had no idea was how Zen would actually feed my Creativity and allow me to be the Artist I had always wanted to be.

That voice inside was far smarter than I knew.

What is yours saying?

 

“Somehow time had vanished for me. I slowly rose, aware that something deep inside me had shifted. The questions I had been struggling with during the workshop – all my life, for that matter – had melted away. I felt buoyant and joyful. The world was right; I was right. I didn’t even know whether I had taken a photograph of the old tree….”
-John Daido Loori

What if there was a way to unlock your Creativity and find freedom in our existence as Artists?

What if we could dissolve the barriers we’ve set up in our mind and open to the possibility of meeting life with spontaneity, grace, and peace?

Imagine your Creative process uncluttered and unlimited like a cloudless sky, fresh where everything is new, a sense of trust in your work, and a system to receive feedback from your audience that actually serves you.

 

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

I may have come to my cushion last Saturday sleep deprived, and full of anxiety, but I actually woke up in the process of sitting.

The fog lifted and I became incredibly clear. My problems worked themselves out, and I rose from my cushion quiet and sure.

After the four hour sit, we gathered for lunch upstairs and I sat next to my teacher who had led the sit and inspired me so deeply with his reminder of unity, and that our collective energy today was feeding the March.

He turned to me and asked,
So, what do you do for a living?

Thrilled to share, I smiled and responded,
I’m an Empowerment Coach for Artists and Creatives.

My teacher’s eyes sparkled and he said,
You know Zen master John Daido, the founder of our order here at the Fire Lotus temple was a photographer. He actually found Zen because he was seeking more purpose in his Art.

And I thought all along that John was a Zen teacher who found photography. Seems it was the other way around.

How many other artists was this true for?

Maybe he had a similar voice in his head like I had four years ago.

What is yours saying?

I walked out of the temple almost in amazement that I had entered so frazzled. But, there was a driving force that had said
Go, your answers lie here

And I reflected on how this practice that is actually steeped in the Arts was truly the balm I had been waiting for to open to what I could really bring forth in my Creativity.

It wasn’t until I found Zen that I had the most success as an Artist, and ended up trusting an unlimited sky….trusting my voice and empowering Creatives across the globe to do the same.

What was clear to me last Saturday as I stepped back outside from the temple walls was this,

Zen led me to this moment here with you.

So, what if you could dissolve the barriers that have held you back?

What would you create if you fully trusted yourself and were limitless?

Wake up.

Your True Creative Life awaits.

Reds, Oranges and Yellows

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The day before Thanksgiving.
The day before my whole life changed.

I’m pushing a full cart around Whole Foods in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’ve just finished a full day of rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, and am ready to fill my fridge for the holiday. I want to have everything prepared, and special.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year! Hot chocolate, family, fun and laughter!

And this year needs to be the same.  How could it be any other?

My cart is full of pistachios, spaghetti squash, candles, doubles of everything, for me and my husband.  I load up the food and watch it go down the conveyor belt, seeing each item, grabbing a special card, some mints…..do I have everything?

The price arises on the screen at the cashier and my eyes widen.  I’ve never spent this much before, but it’s worth it.

After filling the cab’s trunk with my endless paper bags, I enter my room and lovingly place each item in the kitchen.

I take the bag of pistachios and empty them into a bowl, placing it next to the new autumnal candles.

All is set…….
Indeed it was, but not for the scene I thought would play out.

 

It felt strange to arise on Thanksgiving Day without my husband, but he was flying in, so I made the annual cinnamon rolls, and watched the parade with my fellow cast members.

We can’t wait to meet your husband!

And I waited in anticipation.

Upon his arrival, I was giddy like a puppy.  I showed him all the food I had bought, the candles, and placed the bowl of pistachios in front of him.

Something was off….

And while we were talking, he ate handfuls of pistachios…forming a giant pile of shells on the table, while his suitcase stood unpacked against the wall.

We had a quick turnaround before heading to the company Thanksgiving dinner my director was hosting at her home.  My husband secluded himself in the TV room, and watched football.  This was very odd behavior.  He was also an actor and usually so social.

After dinner, the group all decided to make gingerbread houses, and create teams, having a fun contest.  He declined, saying he wanted to watch football.

As I formed the house with each piece, spreading icing and creating the foundation, I saw his face in the opposite room, the lights of the TV bouncing off a distant expression.

Why was I forming a home without him?
It may have been made of gingerbread and gumdrops, but a tightness that had been building in me for months was rising.

And soon we were heading back to my apartment, leaving the gingerbread house to my director’s daughter who had such a fun time creating it with me.

And upon entering, I was invited to sit down to hear the words that would change my life, on Thanksgiving.

 

I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore
I don’t think I love you anymore

But the fridge is full.
But I bought special candles.
But I got you a bowl full of pistachios.
But….we’ve been married for 14 years.
But……..we’ve been trying to have a family………

And the ground opened up, and all I knew of my life began to burn.

In a fire so bright, flickering like the vibrant leaves falling outside in reds, oranges and yellows.

On Thanksgiving Day.

 

Two months later, I was sitting, weeping in a spacious apartment in New York.  The walls were so white, and the January wind blew outside the glass windows as I huddled in heartbreak.  A friend had introduced me to the apartment’s owner, a writer, who opened her home and invited me in for tea and support.

She listened with compassion to my story and shared her own journey from a deep depression to forming a new life and finding love again. There was so much to take in, I asked if she had any paper I could write down her wisdom on.

She handed me two bright yellow sheets.

I wrote furiously in between my tears all she shared, specifically a tool that had brought her out of her darkness.

Gratitude.

Every day, write down what you are grateful for. Write down your victories.  If your greatest accomplishment was folding laundry, then celebrate.

And so it began.

At first it was a memo in my phone.
Then a writing pad.
Then a journal, and another.

Every day, before closing my eyes, I would reflect on what I was grateful for and celebrate.

And then I started to begin my day with gratitude, turning off my alarm and sitting upright in the darkness, saying out loud, simply,

I am grateful for sleep
I am grateful for this bed
I am grateful for this apartment

And so it began.

The healing.
Building a new life.
Forgiving myself.
Asking for help.

And then Creation, pouring out of me in my performance, in my artistry.  The chakra system, that had been a distant understanding before my divorce, now glowed brightly as I held my belly.  And the color of Creativity?  Orange.

And finding my voice that had been locked for so long, now flowing so freely again in my written word.

Finding my Creative purpose, launching a global business and community to empower artists to success.

Finding and forming a life I never imagined, one so much richer than before.

Finding you.  All on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

I look outside the window of my bedroom at my parents’ house.  There is a giant tree in the front yard, and the sunlight is reflecting off the autumnal leaves, in vibrant colors like fire.

Reds, oranges, and yellows.

The red of that day four years ago, the burning of what used to be, the panic and fear of my former life.  The yellow of those sheets and the wisdom of the writer’s compassion in January of 2013.

The orange of my internal fire, my Creative center glowing in all it’s bright Chakra light.

And the tool that ties it all, and was there even before….when I used to arise with hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls.

The heart of why we gather on this day.

The heart of what I feel for this path.

Gratitude.

It saved my life.

 

Today, I celebrate you, and the path that has led me to you, in all it’s vibrant colors.

Today, I ask…what are you grateful for?