Stop the Scream

The Scream.

I walk through the open doorway, from the hot bursting sun, into a small room.  The cool air from the air conditioning is a welcome change from the mid 90’s sticky heat, and I feel my breath come more easily.

Then I see it.

To my right, the familiar image takes up the entire wall. This recreation is even 3D and sticks out in all directions, begging me to feel every emotion.

Shock
Pain
Surprise
Horror

And then I turn around and within an instant, the Scream fades away as I stand in front of another piece of art, one I’ve never seen before. A face, looking at me….no THROUGH me, as if to say,

Take a breath.
You are ok.

The tension washes free, as I smile in a deeper knowing. I walk back out into the sunshine, and look back at the sign above the entrance, reading:

The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.

That seems about right.

 

What is your inner dialogue?

What do you tell yourself in your Creative Process?
Do you find yourself wanting to just Scream?

And when the voices get so loud you can only clamp your hands over your ears, do you just stop or persevere?

Many times, the voices in our head are our own worst enemy, especially if they are constantly holding you back and saying,

Nobody cares about your Art
This isn’t good enough to show
No one will pay for your work
You’re a fraud, not a real Artist

That’s enough to make ANYONE scream!  And ultimately, cause you to stop doing what you love, or just find yourself starting a LOT of projects but never complete.

Sound familiar?

Thankfully, there is an answer. And it’s something you can access at any time, at any moment, and never leaves you.  It’s with you right now, as you are reading this.

 

Last weekend, I experienced the magic of Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

“Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Opened to the public in 1992, it has rapidly become one of the premier cultural destinations in New Jersey, welcoming and enchanting nearly 2.1 million visitors since then. Founded by artist and philanthropist Seward Johnson, the nonprofit Grounds For Sculpture presents and conserves an exceptional collection of contemporary sculpture, offers outstanding programming for all ages, and provides seasonally rotating exhibitions in six indoor galleries.”

I was like a kid on the most amazing playground, taking in each artwork, posing for fun pictures, and loving the variety and scope.  I was in heaven.

My curiosity was especially peaked when I saw a small white hut with a huge recreation of The Scream on the outside wall. But it was the title of the work that really brought me through the open door, The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.

Inside the Scream rose on the right, and I found myself remembering so many moments I wanted to just open my mouth and cry out.

Being cut from a Broadway audition
Falling in dance class
Forgetting my lines in a performance

And then, in 2013,

Losing my home
Going through a divorce
Getting in two car accidents in one day…..

In those moments, I felt like I was failing, and the voices in my head felt like they were pulling me even further down.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and just yell to the world,

STOP!!

But, the thing that had been missing in my life, came into clear focus in 2013.  In the past, I would have just Screamed, thrown my anger and spiraled even more in blame…but now, I had access to what would turn my whole life and Art around.

My breath.

For the first time in my life, I had tools around grounding, around how to come within in the face of disappointment and pain.  And the vehicle for that was always there….it was my breath.

Take a moment, and check in. We can so easily rush through our day and forget this simple tool.  When we get upset, anxiety rises and our breathing becomes shallow.  Then our heart rate raises, and everything goes straight up into our heads.

We are trying to THINK our way out of our experience, and this just creates more anxiety and frustration.  The answer and antidote to this elevated state is to take a moment to ground back in.

How do you do that?

By connecting to your breath.

Close your eyes, place your hand on your belly, and place your attention on your breath.  Allow your belly to soften and fill your hand with your inhale.  Count to ten.

With each breath, allow the space between your breaths to lengthen.

By doing this, you are dropping from your thinking mind which has high-jacked your sense of safety, and come back home.  Home to who you are, not what is happening to you.

Yes, we will all have challenges in our Creative Lives, but the real spiral comes when we identify with the challenge, instead of creating some perspective.

You are not your challenges.

The biggest gift your breath gives you?
SPACE.

It’s in the space, you can take a moment and actually question whether that inner dialogue is true.  In most cases, it’s really just your fear talking.

And when we can ground back down, the urge to Scream leaves us, we remember who we are, and can get back to the work we WANT to be doing, living through our passion, and creating Art that has an impact.

So, place your hand on your belly, close your eyes, and breathe……

How do you feel now? 

 

Having a daily practice to connect with my breath allowed me to move through the worst year of my life, transform my performance, and give me the courage to launch my own business.

And most importantly, it’s brought love back into my life.  You see, going to the Grounds for Sculpture wasn’t my idea…it was my partner’s, and sharing the day with him was a dream come true…..one that I have been looking forward to for four years.

 

Inside the Chamber of Inner Dialogue, on the opposite wall was a open and peaceful face, with fingers raised in a mudra. Like the Scream, it also was 3D, emerging forward and begging me to feel every emotion.

When I viewed this, I remembered my breath.
I remembered who I am.
And I stopped screaming…..

You can too, right now, and at any moment.

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..