The Gift That Changed My Life

It was the worst Christmas of my life.

I remember getting out of the cab with my luggage and seeing my husband.  I had just flown back from a six week contract doing A Christmas Carol out at the Pioneer Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was still reeling from his Thanksgiving proclamation he no longer loved me anymore.

He had basically refused to go into it over the phone, so here I was back home….praying this could be saved.

He greeted me at the cab, and every muscle in my body tensed.  As he helped me with my bags, I thought…could there be a miracle?

When I walked into our home and saw he had actually decorated, a surge of hope came up in me, but underneath was something far darker.

This may look like Christmas from the outside, but it was not reflective of our truth. Yes, there were lights and a tree….but they were covering up immense pain.

Actually, this was the real reflection……pretty lights covering up something that was, and had been broken for years.

I went into the bedroom, and curled up into a ball and began to cry.


With everything falling apart, we didn’t travel to see family, so on Christmas morning, we woke to each other, from separate beds.

Christmas day had always been a day of great celebration.

As a child, my parents would have my brother and I wait while the lights were turned on, and we would rush down the stairs to see what Santa brought.

There would be music playing, my parents standing by the tree with arms open, and Santa hats on their heads.

Christmas morning was always filled with LOVE.

This Christmas I woke up in great fear, anxiety and pain.  I prayed for a miracle.  I prayed that the day would end this nightmare, and we would have a happy home again.

Everything felt upside down.  We were exchanging gifts and all I wanted to scream out was,
Why are you giving me this if you don’t love me anymore??

My stomach turned with confusion and anger with everything he gave me.

Thankfully, there were other gifts there.

I opened one from my parents, and soon was holding in my hands beautiful black binoculars.

For years, I had gone on hikes with my parents and borrowed theirs when we were bird watching, so they had finally bought me my own pair.

So that I could see on my own.

I held them for a moment, feeling something very different building in me. A different view.  Turning them over in my hands and bringing them to my eyes, I realized I could see farther.

Farther than my small living room in Queens, and my immense pain.


Have you ever been in a really challenging situation in your Art?

Have you felt the dark cold of rejection, and loss?

What’s more, has this happened during a time when everything and everyone around you is celebrating?

It can be so difficult to put on a “show” or a happy face when inside everything is falling apart.

And we feel this deeply as Artists.

In fact, it affects our art directly, and our ability to attract our audience.

The holidays can be especially challenging as there is a pressure to be celebratory ALL the time.  So, what tends to occur is two extremes….
Extreme Jingle Bell Cheer
Silent Night Shut Down

Neither one is sustainable.  It’s the roller coaster. 

So, what do we do in these moments when our hearts are breaking? How do we continue in our work that is so personal and means so much?


This past week, I led my clients through a powerful Native American Medicine Wheel.

We began with our Successes, then made our way around the wheel to our Surprises, our Failures, and finally our Wisdom.

The wisdom was crucial, because it gave all of my clients the deep a-ha as to their next steps.  They left the call feeling empowered and excited for 2018.

What was most fascinating, was on the wheel, the wisdom comes OUT of the Failures.

We can only SEE the wisdom, when we take the time and space to see what didn’t work.

What is most key to this process, is a space free of judgement.

A space of love.

Do you have this?
Do you know how to create this for your Art?
Is anyone helping you with this?

That Christmas day, I had asked for a miracle, and it came.  It didn’t come in the form I expected, but as I turned over the binoculars in my hand, I was being given a new gift…one that had been sorely missing in my life.

The gift of sight.

Maybe there was a way to view this devastation and gain wisdom.  Wisdom that could lead me to action.  Lead me to a VERY different life… that wasn’t covering up pain.

In this life, the lights would illuminate everything.


OH MY GOSH!!!  He’s SO Beautiful!!

Staring in disbelief at a stunning Cooper’s Hawk just sitting in the tree above my head, I raise my binoculars to my eyes.

Taking in his long feathers, and golden stripes, I smile ear to ear.

Here, honey, take a look!

I hand my binoculars off to my man, watching his mouth open in wonder. I take in his beauty and form, and am overcome with gratitude for his presence and the love he has brought to my life.  Love I prayed for.  And my heart bursts with gratitude for this journey.

From failure to wisdom to action.

Five years later.

As my Zen teacher said to me back in 2013,
You are in the same room you were always in, but now the lights are on.

For this Holiday, I wish you the gift of sight .

Raise your binoculars.

What do you see?

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.


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,


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?

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… 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.