In the Flow

I’m sitting on the bed, my heart pounding, and the crew guy looks at me to ask,

Are you ready?

I nod, exhale, and then am wheeled out onto a bright stage and a packed audience of over 2,000 people. The orchestra begins, and there’s no going back.

I pick up my suitcase, awash in the spotlight, and sing my solo. It’s really happening…..and all I can feel is the glory of the moment, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s score soaring as I sing, Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

The notes pour out of me, my nerves disappear, and I feel that magic of the stage, the magic of the moment, and the acknowledgement that I have made it.

I’m in the flow.

So, THIS is what it feels like…..

 

In 2005/2006 I was on the 25th Anniversary National Tour of Evita.  It was a dream come true, and my first National Tour.  The tour was overseen by Broadway icon Hal Prince and directed by the original Broadway choreographer, Larry Fuller. I understudied the mistress, and went through the tour with a smile plastered on my face.

This was a whole new level for me, and my favorite show. 

When I had the opportunity to go on for the mistress for the first time, I was very nervous.

And yet, when the bed was wheeled out at the beginning of the scene, something happened.

It’s almost as if time stood still, and I just delivered.  I sang from my heart, and stared into the lights and that huge audience.  Everything else just fell away.

I walked off the stage almost in a daze….not even fully understanding.

I was in the Flow.

 

Have you experienced this in your Creativity?

Hours go by with a new melody
Endless pages written on your latest story
A canvas coming to life
The photo shoot that you just keep seeing a new angle
The dance class where you are doing triple pirouettes with ease

It’s as if the muse just keeps whispering in your ear, and you are  saying,
YES!

All the other nonsense just falls away and you feel invincible, unstoppable, and free. What’s more, you are productive beyond your wildest dreams and getting things done!

Would you call this Creative Flow?
And what the heck would you call that moment when it all feels SO hard?

 

This week I had a really amazing conversation with a videographer who described Flow in these terms,

It’s the moment of challenge meeting repetition.

I felt like a light-bulb went off in my head when I thought of the combination of challenge and repetition.  In the case of understudying the mistress, it wasn’t just that I was performing a song I had sung TONS of times, and practiced for hours…it was the growth I was experiencing by playing a supporting role in a National Tour.  At that point in my career. this was a first.

And to do it in front of Hal Prince and Larry Fuller was an opportunity I had been waiting for.

The experience of singing was BOTH energizing and calming.  I went into Flow because I was growing and also singing a song I had been singing every day for weeks.

Now, what’s interesting, is my conversation with the videographer about Flow actually began with a whole other topic,

Focus.

And this is where the light bulb really went off.

The truth is, so many of us as Creatives are using a repetitive practice and really have no idea. The repetition comes in our practice of our art form.

The dance
The writing
The song
The brushstroke

But, here’s WHY it works….

It provides us with FULL INVOLVEMENT in what we are doing.  This doesn’t mean we are hyper-focused, but instead something far more powerful,

Single focused.

And what happens when we are single focused?  We are able to sing to a packed audience of 2,000 people and not miss a beat and actually ENJOY it.  We feel fulfilled.  We feel comfort, we feel joy and confidence.

The single focus ALLOWS us to go into Flow, and once we are there,that’s when the magic occurs.

Once in flow,  you can
1) Take risks
2) Release judgement on yourself and not worry what the audience thinks
3) Trust yourself in the moment

And when you are in flow, everyone else can FEEL it to.  You become in demand for your genius.

I can think of so many instances in my performing career where my voice was caught in my throat, or I tripped over my shoes. And now I can go back and ask,

Where was my focus?
How was I distracting myself?

I can look up at that list above and know quite clearly I wasn’t trusting myself and I was most likely in judgement of my ability. I was completely in my head worrying instead of being in my body and being FULLY INVOLVED in my performance.

It seem we can so easily distract ourselves in the process of putting our work out and trying to connect with our audience.  We so often can get off track and pulled in a million other directions, instead of staying in the repetitive practice that is actually going to get us where we want to BE.

If you are not seeing the results you want right now, ask yourself where your focus is.

Trust you don’t need the distractions, and come back to your task at hand.

Find those opportunities that allow you to bring your repetitive practice AND growth. Those opportunities that allow for your flow.

Then step into the spotlight, and sing.

Your audience is waiting to applaud.

Spotlight

sunshine-spotlight

I’m flat on my back, with faces all around me.
From absolute darkness, my eyes open.

Where am I?
What happened?

The lights are up and I’m laying in the center of the stage, and the whole cast is looking down at me….my director, the stage manager, my dancers’ heads forming a circle of concern as I gaze up and try to make sense of how I got here.

And then I feel it….my ankle, throbbing, and pulsing.

Nikol, are you ok? 

And it all starts to flood back….standing out in the audience watching my dress rehearsal of the musical, Little Shop of Horrors.  My Ronnettes standing up on the balcony stage left doing the exact choreography I asked them to do.  I realized I had given them some bad direction, so I went running down the audience steps to hop onto the stage to change it.

And because it was dress rehearsal, the lights were out in the audience.  The stage, however, was fully lit….so I ran completely in the dark.

And what I didn’t see was the orchestra pit was lowered, just one foot. Just one foot in the dark, and down I went.  I sprained my ankle so badly, I went into shock and passed out immediately.

And woke up on my back, center stage.

 

When we think of Center Stage, there is such a quick association.  You, standing there, feeling the glow of the lights on your face, your adoring fans cheering for you…

Or are the lights burning, and you hear only silence?

If we could truly inhabit a place of peace under the lights, one where we felt confident, and at ease, what would it take for you to get there?

How would you fill the seats, and how would you stand there knowing you had something WORTHY to say?

And most importantly, how would you stand there consistently, instead of feeling a quick flash and then finding yourself flat on your back?

I don’t think any of us are looking to be a One Hit Wonder, sell one big painting, write one book, or give one speech.  We’re actually having a real conversation around how to truly stand Center Stage over and over, without broken bones and broken spirits.

We’re talking about having a rich and prosperous life based on your Creative Gifts.

So, probably best not to go running in the dark…..

 

I grab my suitcase and walk through the open doorway, closing it ever so gently as the music begins lightly; Andrew Lloyd Weber’s soft ballad emerging from the orchestra pit.

I place the suitcase center stage, and sit down on it, taking a moment to look out at the thousands of audience members. Both spotlights are on me, I inhale, and then begin to sing Another Suitcase in Another Hall.

It’s 2005, and I’m on my first National Tour, the 25th Anniversary production of Evita, working with the original Broadway team, and tonight I am on for the role of the Mistress.

I practiced for this moment, rehearsing for weeks as the understudy, waiting to stand here and sing a solo to the largest audience I have performed to, and I wasn’t nervous.  In fact, I felt free.  I felt fantastic, and as each note emerged from my throat, I felt even more strength for my abilities.

Standing Center Stage, I sang.  Standing Center Stage, I claimed my spotlight, the one I had been working so hard for in my career, with all my training, and with all my heart.

And those 7 months on the road with Evita, to this day, remain some of the most magical in my life.  I was happy, fulfilled, prosperous, and doing what I loved.

Isn’t that what we are talking about?

It was a far cry from the 20 something who went running in the dark, blind to what twisted my ankle, blind to the floor falling out beneath me.

So, what are you blind to?

 

What if you could improve your sight and learn how to stand under the lights and gaze out at thousands of enraptured faces?

Well, now you can.  You can learn not only from my 20 years of experience on the professional stage, but from the top experts in the field, sharing all their knowledge on mindset, marketing, social media, strategy, and pricing.

You can learn how to prosper in this marketplace, and thrive in your Artistry.

You can learn how to truly make a living from your Creative Gifts, and earn what you are worth.

I’ve brought them all together for a very special event, so you don’t have to twist and fall as I did.  You don’t have to go through these challenges alone, or struggle with methods that promise a “quick fix” and then don’t deliver.

Take a moment with me, close your eyes, and feel the lights on your face.  Now imagine that under those lights you are happy, fulfilled, and earning a living doing what you love.

That’s Center Stage, and it waits for you.

Come join us and reserve your Free Front Row Ticket today.
CLICK HERE to sign up.

Bring your suitcase.  We’ve got your back. Let’s get you off the floor and standing tall.

Come learn how to be Center Stage and In Demand.

 

 

Photo credit: Caitlin Cannon Photography