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

Order Switch

NikiCity_020

Wait, there has to be a mistake….I didn’t hear my name called.

I stood catching my breath, after just nailing the dance combination and singing my heart out at the callbacks for the National Broadway Tour of A Chorus Line.

And this wasn’t the first time I had been in.  I had been called back for the Broadway production, and was invited in by casting for the Tour.

I had done everything the same.  I sang the same song, I knew the choreography forwards and backwards.  I wore the same outfit, and I had nailed the infamously hard pirouette sequence.

So, why was I cut?

I just gave the performance of my life.
Was it not enough?

As I watched other friends and peers stay for the next round, I found myself blinking back tears, lowering my eyes as they started to sting.

I didn’t want to be seen like this.

As quickly as I could, I made my way to the dressing room, and changed out of my sweaty leotard and tights, and around me other dancers who were cut were voicing their disbelief and denial,

Why did I even come today?
I totally messed up the dance!
They weren’t even looking at me.
The show must already be cast.
Well, back to the day job.

And as I stuffed my leotard and feelings into my backpack, so many emotions rose in my throat, choking me off.  I was both angry and deeply confused.

I had thought for sure after being in callbacks for Broadway, I would book the Tour.

I was wrong, and I never did the show, and casting actually never called me back in.  I went from being seriously considered to no longer considered.

Just like that.

 

It’s Maddening, isn’t it?

You spend hours, days, weeks, years on your Creative Process and building your craft.  You put your heart and soul into your work and then you stand up, put it out there for your audience, and say,

HERE I AM!

You are giving your all, full of energy, hands open, eyes open, just waiting for approval, waiting for validation.

And what do you hear?

Next!
Nope!

Or even worse….crickets.

It feels completely unfair, doesn’t it?
It feels completely unbalanced.

You are giving so much.  Why isn’t it being returned?

 

Integrative Therapist and Coach Tom Tynan breaks down the world into two types:

The Givers and the Takers.

It’s pretty much exactly as you would imagine, the Givers always give first in order to receive, and the Takers take first in order to give.

So, what commonly happens?

Well, the Givers become exhausted.  They go through endless roller coasters of feeling good when they give, and then burning out when they are not recharged.  Basically, they give until they are empty.

Sound familiar?
What category would you put yourself in?

How many times have you given endlessly with your Creative work and saw no return?
Do you then feel motivated to try again?

So, what’s the answer in this cycle, since as Creatives, we so desperately want to give?

What do we do in that moment of crying out,
PICK ME PICK ME!

We need to learn how to RECEIVE.

I recently asked a writer in my tribe what it means to “Receive as an Artist”, and he couldn’t answer.

Bingo.

I know I never had an acting, dance or singing teacher give me tools or any teaching around receiving. In truth, it was a completely foreign word in my performance career. I kept viewing it all through what I had to give.

And even more so, we need to reverse the process so we don’t burn out as Artists, which means we need to Receive FIRST, and then GIVE.

So, what does this mean for you and your process?

There are two elements here to consider,

1) Having the quiet space before we go into action and into our work to actually receive our creative inspiration
2) Being able to receive what we are actually given by our audience, whether they are people hiring us or taking in our art.  Our audience is directly tied to our livelihood as Artists.

For that former dancer who was so heartbroken and frustrated at the Chorus Line callback, I didn’t have any kind of daily practice to recharge. I was pretty much operating on two extremes,

On and Off
Highs and Lows

Now I start my day with meditation, have a daily gratitude practice, and go to yoga weekly. I now have a way to open to receive BEFORE the action, to calm my monkey mind, a place of quiet.

And this may be different for you, but ask yourself, how do you recharge? And I don’t mean, distract. I’m not talking about binge watching Netflix or disappearing into social media for hours. This isn’t about escape, but about nourishing your Creative Being.

The powerful question is, how do you fill your Creative cup back up so you feel inspired?

Because the magic is, when we are able to recharge and fill our own cup, then we have the capacity to receive the rejection or being cut or experience the disappointment and use it as information.

Information instead of judgement.
Evidence to continue, instead of give up.

For whatever reason, the creative team behind A Chorus Line decided I wasn’t right for their show, and if I had these tools at that time, I could have taken a step back and known this was not a reflection on my ability.

But it was a reflection that I was burned out. And it was information to move on to the next opportunity and the next creative team who would value my talent.

We can so commonly get caught in the belief that we are not enough, that our work is not enough, but for all you givers out there, I have a gift instead:

Receive first, and then Give with your Creativity.

And ask yourself the simple question,
How AM I enough as an Artist?

Next time you find yourself caught in the frustration and feeling like no one cares,  make a list of how you are enough.  When you phrase the question this way, it can only be positive.

Because it’s from that place of knowing what you actually bring to the table, that your greatest work will occur.