The Heat Is On

I think I’m going to pass out.

The sun is beating down on me, sweat is pouring down my face. The heat index is in the 100s, it’s midday, and I’m on the open water.

Did I mention there are alligators in the water??

My little baseball cap seems like a small joke on my head, and even though I slathered 45 SPF all over my arms, they feel like they are literally burning up,

This isn’t what I wanted.
I want to enjoy kayaking with my family.
I don’t want to have this reaction.
I don’t want to be so sensitive to the heat.

My aunt, behind me in the tandem kayak, starts to speak to me, saying we can turn around, and go back to the dock.

I see my parents, and the tears start to fall, as I choke out,
I’m not doing so well.

Have you ever felt like this?
Had a reaction and strong emotion you don’t want to have?
Have you ever felt like you were stuck, struggling in the open water of strong emotions in your Art?

And there can be so many….emotions around rejection, comparison, competition, frustration that you are simply NOT where you want to be.  At the end of the day, you just DON’T want to feel it!

I mean, how can that possibly help, right?
So, what do you do?

 

I haven’t been kayaking in five years. 

It’s been a really fun activity to do with my parents, who love to be on the water.  I’ve never been especially skilled with an oar, but the views from the water are breathtaking. I was really looking forward to sharing this experience with them again.

We were all down in Santee, South Carolina, for the eclipse weekend, and I had been watching the weather forecast carefully, deeply concerned about the heat index.

High heat and high humidity is pretty much my kryptonite.

I’ve had sun stroke and heat exhaustion as an adult, vomiting and being sick in bed for days, plus many crazy rashes that stay on my skin for weeks.

Like I said, kryptonite.

We planned the kayaking last Sunday for 9 am, the earliest the company had available, and planned to be out for just a few hours.

This was MY plan, not what actually occurred.

When we arrived, we encountered the brother of the actual owner of the rental company.  He had come to just help out for the weekend, and was missing one crucial item,

The keys to the office.

In the office were the life jackets and the oars.  And his brother who had the keys?  He was out on the water giving a kayaking lesson with no cell service.

We were stuck.
I was stuck.

And I could feel the frustration and fear rising.  The day was only getting hotter, and the sun higher.

But most of all was the simple realization,
I have NO control over this situation right now.

So, the only question was,
HOW am I going to meet it?

How do you meet that moment when you have no control over what is happening?

How do you deal with the frustration and fear when it’s arising, especially when it’s something so important to YOU?

 

We didn’t get into the water until 10:30, and hour and a half later than planned.

As I watched the brother doing his best to problem solve, and dealing with all the crowds of people waiting to get their oars and life jackets, I sat in the shade and said over and over,

Even though I feel anxious, I deeply love and accept myself.
Even though I feel scared, I deeply love and accept myself.

When we pushed into the water, I desperately wanted to experience a cool breeze, and a relief.  I wanted to feel safe and ok to be on the water for the next 2-3 hours.

And I felt NONE of that.

Instead, everything intensified. My aunt and I were paddling as quickly as we could to get to the bend, and come into the inlet where there were supposed to be trees and shade along the water.

When we finally got to the shade, about 15-20 minutes later, I was a mess, overheated, and crying.

And then my family mirrored back to me the biggest lesson.

They met my pain with acceptance.
They met my pain with care.

They met my pain with unconditional love.

They didn’t make me wrong.
They didn’t diminish my experience.

My mother came alongside the kayak, and gave me her wide brimmed hat, and had me take my cloth and start to dunk the lake water over the head.

As I squeezed the water onto my scalp, the heat began to dissipate, and I exhaled through tears,

I feel self conscious.
I feel embarrassed.

And the intensity lowered, my breathing came back, and a breeze started to travel across my wet scalp and neck.

I knew I wasn’t going to pass out.  I felt so much better, and I knew I was safe.

 

Imagine meeting your strong emotions like this.

Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t make yourself wrong.
Imagine if you didn’t diminish your own experience.

Imagine if you met these moments with unconditional love.

We can so easily be shocked at watching someone throw anger and yell at another person.

But, how are you speaking to yourself?

What do you say to yourself when you are dealing with these challenging moments?

We can easily throw blame in a situation we are not happy with in our Art.  Especially because our work means SO much.

But, if you just blame someone else, or sweep your strong emotions under the rug, they will only appear again and again.

Why?

Because they are the child waiting to be loved.

Really, at our core, this is what we are seeking. And as Artists, this is paramount to not only our work, but our relationship with collaborators and our audience.

It all begins with you.

How you deal and speak to yourself in the most challenging moments, directly affects all other relationships in your Art.

If you are making yourself wrong all the time, what are you saying and doing to your audience, your customers, and your support system? Are they wrong too?

Judgement will only stop you in your tracks.  It will halt your productivity, stop your projects, and cut you off from growth and achieving the acclaim you desire.

So, the next time you feel like you are being baked alive in the heat of your emotions, take a breath, and connect in.  Meet your fears with LOVE.  Say what you are feeling, and ALLOW them to move through you.

Place the cooling water on your head, and RECEIVE your own unconditional love.  Challenges will always arise. We have no control over that.

But it you are able to meet them AS they arise, you will be able to keep paddling, and enjoy the true benefits of your passion. You will have the long and  abundant career you desire, making a living from your art, and creating an impact with your work.

I ended up being on the water for three hours, having quality time with my family, and experiencing the beauty of the cypress trees.  I was able to process the fear, and cool down the heat.

You can too.

The cool breeze on the water awaits.

Unconditionally.

Sweet Farewell

I wanted to tell you, I’m leaving.

Looking around my apartment, I’m envisioning packing up.  I’m thinking of everything that is coming with me, as I plan to move in with my man,  and begin a new life.

The decision has been made.  After 4 years in my special sanctuary in Astoria, I’m beginning the process to re-locate.

And the question that is arising is,
What am I bringing WITH me?

And what about you?

Have you ever gone through a big move, and packed up your things?
Have you ever gone through a big change and found yourself asking the same question?

I imagine as you are looking at all the items, and boxes, and lists, it can get really overwhelming.

If there was a way to strap everything to you,  maybe then you would have it all.

But, I imagine that would be really heavy, and cumbersome, and weigh you down.

Change can be hard enough, right?

How do we make it easy to navigate change and have everything we need as Artists?
How do we move forward without all the cumbersome weight?

 

Four years ago, I woke up in my hide-a-bed.  My brother was sleeping next to me, and I felt a sense of hope.

Today, I was leaving my married home for good. 

The new owners were taking it over, and my family was here to help me move my things to a friend’s for a month while I waited for my new apartment to open up.

I had barely slept, and had spent the last day breaking down every hour or so as I packed up my life.  Two of my closest friends had come to help me, hold me in between each wave of emotion, and physically help me to place tape on each box.

Today, we were taking all these boxes to a storage facility.  I had gone through and taken what I needed, and stayed true to the agreement.  I had survived each trigger, and now was going to walk out of this space of pain and loss.

I felt an extra bounce in my step, and hopped into the shower, smiling at my parents and brother, so grateful they were here.

When I came out of the shower, my mother looked at me, white in the face, and said,

Someone broke into your car. Your car door is open, and everything is gone.

I literally dropped to the floor in my towel, and had a nervous breakdown.  What had been in my car, was all the things I was taking to my friends house,

shoes
my audition book
my checkbook
my belts
clothes
legal documents
my meditation altar
my dance shoes

Even my underwear…..

All gone, just like that.

In the face of my divorce, losing my marriage, and now I had been robbed.  All of those things I had cherished were gone.

We called the cops, and somehow I made it through that day, and tried to wrap my head around the magnitude of change and loss that was occurring all at the same time.

This was my lowest moment.

The next day, at my friend’s, I sat in meditation, and saw a black lake in front of me.  I walked to the edge, and thought,
I could just dive in
I could lose myself forever in here

But, something held me back.  And I walked away from the edge.  I didn’t dive in, and instead turned back towards my life.

The strongest words I said in the face of my divorce came ringing back true and strong,
I want to survive.

What I never imagined was the GIFT of losing so much that day.  I was forced to provide for myself and go shopping that following week for very basic things, and the simple process of doing this brought to light the most empowering evidence,

I am capable.

Even more so, I was showered with gifts from friends and family who knew about my robbery.  One friend sent me a bag of clothes, and my aunt mailed me a box full of belts.

I rebuilt my altar, made a new audition book with songs that I actually wanted to sing, and found new shoes to fit my feet now.

The most amazing part was, my insurance reimbursed me completely for the $4K worth of goods stolen.

And I realized, I am provided for.

And there were things that didn’t need to come WITH me to my new life, post divorce.  Certainly not my underwear…..

 

So, take stock.

Grab a piece of paper, and write in the middle of the page,
MY CREATIVE CAREER

Now, create a Mindmap, drawing out from the center all the things you are working on right now.

All the things you think you need to have WITH you to succeed and receive the acclaim you desire.

Come back to center and ask this question,
What lives beneath all that I do as an Artist?

1) Are all the things you are doing and holding on to in SERVICE to that vision?

2) Or are you weighed down with boxes and items that are from your past and keeping you stuck?

Sometimes, it the action of releasing that ALLOWS for the new to enter in.

We create from our hearts.  This was never meant to be heavy work. But it does require courage, and inspired action.

 

This week I was on the phone with my mother, and talking about the upcoming move and starting to plan.  She suggested the most brilliant idea, and this woke me back up,

Make a list of what you are leaving BEHIND.

Oh yes…that’s right.

That moment on the floor was one of the most horrible for me and for my family to witness, and yet it opened a well of strength and reserve I had never accessed before.

The strength to let go.

And the belief that I actually had everything I needed.

This was a huge turning point for me, and allowed me to start building a creative life that was far more aligned than the one I was living before.

So, what lives beneath all you do?

Get intimate with this, and place it somewhere you can SEE everyday.  Come back to center.

Come back to your vision, and place your energy towards what will actually bring you the success you desire.

Make a list of what you are leaving behind, and release sweetly.

You create the life you want.

 

 

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon