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.

Wholehearted Art

My heart is pounding.

I’ve stopped breathing as I scroll down my blood test results, looking for that ONE number.

The number that will tell me everything.

The number that speaks into every piece of food I have eaten in the past three months, every liquid I have drunk, and every supplement I have taken.

It speaks into every choice, and the swings of frustration and isolation I felt staring at fruit, pizza, beer, and cookies.

My A1C.

When I finally find it, at the bottom of the third page, I can’t believe my eyes.

I never expected THIS.

It’s the lowest it’s ever been.  It’s a total reversal.  My body chemistry has completely changed.

I stand in shock for a moment, staring at the number, just to convince myself it’s real. And I think,

Oh my gosh…I MADE it.

Have you ever felt this;  that feeling of arrival in your Art?

Do you believe in change?

 

You are pre-diabetic.

Even as the nurse on the other end of the phone was telling me this, I was in complete shock and denial.

I’ve been active my whole life, I eat organic, and I’m thin. How is this possible??

Her diagnosis was confirmed by a bio chemist nutritionist named Kylie Reiffert of KR Nutrition.

And I made a decision in that moment.  I wanted to be healthy, and I would do whatever it took to bring my blood sugar down.

I set my sights on a number, and started working with Kylie last summer.

In one fell swoop, most of what I was used to eating was taken off my plate. I had always had a dancer mentality around eating, and now my body was going to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.  I mourned my popcorn, chips, and crackers.  I said goodbye to craft beer, and had to learn a completely new way of eating.

I was hungry a lot, and felt really isolated going out to eat, as I struggled to find things on the menu I could eat.

Everything was turned upside down.

In three months time, we were able to bring my A1C down from 5.8 to 5.5.  The range for pre-diabetes is 5.6 – 5.9. This was a HUGE win, as Kylie shared she had never seen anyone do this before.

I went from being pre-diabetic to just under.  I wasn’t out of the danger zone yet, as pre-diabetic starts at 5.6, so the diet continued, and I stayed the course.

And then I plateaued.

The next blood test was exactly the same, and I cried.  It had been a rough four months for me, including getting a nasty stomach flu, and trying so hard to get back to a healthy weight.

But even more so…I felt so discouraged.

Why wasn’t my blood sugar number changing?
Why was it standing stock still?

Have you felt like this in your art?
Worked so hard towards your goal, and see the same results?
Do you set a timeline to achieve your goal and then find yourself at the date with no change?

It can be SO frustrating!

So, what do you do?
Do you believe in change?

 

I was recently listening to this brilliant podcast called the Dharma Ocean. The teacher was speaking into one of the greatest questions we ask, especially as we are working towards our goals.

The goals of,
Publishing your novel
Booking your dream gigs
Selling your Art
Producing your show

and ultimately,
Thriving in your Art.

His question was,
How do we create change?

The answer was very simple,
Commitment.

He spoke into a deeper commitment, a wholehearted commitment.  One that isn’t dependent on what you feel by the day or hour, but transcends swings in moodiness and experiences of pain and pleasure.

Unless your commitment transcends that, it doesn’t mean anything, and we won’t change.

The commitment has to be unconditional.  It means you leave the option to quit out.

It’s really LOVE.  Love for your Art, for your voice, and for the passion that expresses through your words, music, and brush.

This is why it’s wholehearted. 

He had a brilliant ship analogy, saying you get into your boat, you point your ship due east towards your goal, and head there. Your journey is not dependent on the water.  Storms may come and go, you may pass shiny islands with palm trees, but you stay the course.

It can be common to have commitment that is contingent, which translates to
I’m committing BUT leaving options open.

If our commitment is not wholehearted, we won’t make the journey.  And then we won’t experience the fulfillment and fruition of our efforts. In essence, we give up.

And I get it!  We go through SO much on this path.  Some days we feel inspired, and other days we feel we want to run ANYWHERE and hide.  I felt all of this in the last year, and it was compounded by other health issues like a neck injury, building my business, and also experiencing disappointment after disappointment in dating.

But the main point it, whatever we are feeling in that moment, we practice self empathy, allow it to pass THROUGH us, and then come back to the direction.

Come back to the goal.
Come back to the number that tells you everything.
Come back to the journey.

Stay in the Boat.

 

If I had given up, I would have diabetes.
If I had given up dating, I would never have met my incredible man and experienced the love I was hungering for.
If I had given up, I would not have doubled my business in one year and be writing to you.

In one year’s time, I went from 5.8 to 5.0.  This is a miraculous result. I could have given up at the plateau and said, It’s NOT working! It wasn’t easy, I went through some hurricanes, but I stayed the course.  Why?

Because underneath every wave was the belief in our greatest reality,
CHANGE.

Change is constant.  You are changing as you read this.  

And the beauty is,
YOU decide what that change will be.

Believe in change.  Nothing is permanent.

Set your sights on your goal.

And stay in the boat, with your whole heart.

 

 

 

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon