Reds, Oranges and Yellows

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The day before Thanksgiving.
The day before my whole life changed.

I’m pushing a full cart around Whole Foods in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I’ve just finished a full day of rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, and am ready to fill my fridge for the holiday. I want to have everything prepared, and special.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year! Hot chocolate, family, fun and laughter!

And this year needs to be the same.  How could it be any other?

My cart is full of pistachios, spaghetti squash, candles, doubles of everything, for me and my husband.  I load up the food and watch it go down the conveyor belt, seeing each item, grabbing a special card, some mints…..do I have everything?

The price arises on the screen at the cashier and my eyes widen.  I’ve never spent this much before, but it’s worth it.

After filling the cab’s trunk with my endless paper bags, I enter my room and lovingly place each item in the kitchen.

I take the bag of pistachios and empty them into a bowl, placing it next to the new autumnal candles.

All is set…….
Indeed it was, but not for the scene I thought would play out.

 

It felt strange to arise on Thanksgiving Day without my husband, but he was flying in, so I made the annual cinnamon rolls, and watched the parade with my fellow cast members.

We can’t wait to meet your husband!

And I waited in anticipation.

Upon his arrival, I was giddy like a puppy.  I showed him all the food I had bought, the candles, and placed the bowl of pistachios in front of him.

Something was off….

And while we were talking, he ate handfuls of pistachios…forming a giant pile of shells on the table, while his suitcase stood unpacked against the wall.

We had a quick turnaround before heading to the company Thanksgiving dinner my director was hosting at her home.  My husband secluded himself in the TV room, and watched football.  This was very odd behavior.  He was also an actor and usually so social.

After dinner, the group all decided to make gingerbread houses, and create teams, having a fun contest.  He declined, saying he wanted to watch football.

As I formed the house with each piece, spreading icing and creating the foundation, I saw his face in the opposite room, the lights of the TV bouncing off a distant expression.

Why was I forming a home without him?
It may have been made of gingerbread and gumdrops, but a tightness that had been building in me for months was rising.

And soon we were heading back to my apartment, leaving the gingerbread house to my director’s daughter who had such a fun time creating it with me.

And upon entering, I was invited to sit down to hear the words that would change my life, on Thanksgiving.

 

I don’t think I want to be married to you anymore
I don’t think I love you anymore

But the fridge is full.
But I bought special candles.
But I got you a bowl full of pistachios.
But….we’ve been married for 14 years.
But……..we’ve been trying to have a family………

And the ground opened up, and all I knew of my life began to burn.

In a fire so bright, flickering like the vibrant leaves falling outside in reds, oranges and yellows.

On Thanksgiving Day.

 

Two months later, I was sitting, weeping in a spacious apartment in New York.  The walls were so white, and the January wind blew outside the glass windows as I huddled in heartbreak.  A friend had introduced me to the apartment’s owner, a writer, who opened her home and invited me in for tea and support.

She listened with compassion to my story and shared her own journey from a deep depression to forming a new life and finding love again. There was so much to take in, I asked if she had any paper I could write down her wisdom on.

She handed me two bright yellow sheets.

I wrote furiously in between my tears all she shared, specifically a tool that had brought her out of her darkness.

Gratitude.

Every day, write down what you are grateful for. Write down your victories.  If your greatest accomplishment was folding laundry, then celebrate.

And so it began.

At first it was a memo in my phone.
Then a writing pad.
Then a journal, and another.

Every day, before closing my eyes, I would reflect on what I was grateful for and celebrate.

And then I started to begin my day with gratitude, turning off my alarm and sitting upright in the darkness, saying out loud, simply,

I am grateful for sleep
I am grateful for this bed
I am grateful for this apartment

And so it began.

The healing.
Building a new life.
Forgiving myself.
Asking for help.

And then Creation, pouring out of me in my performance, in my artistry.  The chakra system, that had been a distant understanding before my divorce, now glowed brightly as I held my belly.  And the color of Creativity?  Orange.

And finding my voice that had been locked for so long, now flowing so freely again in my written word.

Finding my Creative purpose, launching a global business and community to empower artists to success.

Finding and forming a life I never imagined, one so much richer than before.

Finding you.  All on this Thanksgiving Day.

 

I look outside the window of my bedroom at my parents’ house.  There is a giant tree in the front yard, and the sunlight is reflecting off the autumnal leaves, in vibrant colors like fire.

Reds, oranges, and yellows.

The red of that day four years ago, the burning of what used to be, the panic and fear of my former life.  The yellow of those sheets and the wisdom of the writer’s compassion in January of 2013.

The orange of my internal fire, my Creative center glowing in all it’s bright Chakra light.

And the tool that ties it all, and was there even before….when I used to arise with hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls.

The heart of why we gather on this day.

The heart of what I feel for this path.

Gratitude.

It saved my life.

 

Today, I celebrate you, and the path that has led me to you, in all it’s vibrant colors.

Today, I ask…what are you grateful for?

Expectation Hangover

Machu Picchu

“Is this it?” my father said.

My heart sank.  I’m at Machu Picchu. This is the moment I have been waiting for, one of the places on my bucket list.

My father’s words ringing in my ears, I wanted to quickly distance myself from his energy, and immediately get out my phone to start taking pictures.

To take THE picture.

You know the one.  It’s so many people’s profile picture.  Standing at the peak of Machu Picchu with the ruins behind; a symbol of achievement.

I’m here!
I made it!

The sun was blazing down hot, and I was feeling it.  When the first pictures were taken, the light was all off.  I was in shadow.  This isn’t what I wanted to portray. Thankfully, my aunt was there to save the day , and had a brilliant idea.

Face the ruins and look at the camera.

This way, the light hit my face AND you could see the expanse of Machu Picchu.  Soon, my parents were doing the same shot and the moment was captured.

I had THE picture.

But, where was the feeling?

I had expected to have this out of body experience, the clouds to part, and wisdom to reign down on me from the heavens.  Wasn’t this the place of enlightenment?  The site of ancient wisdom?

It was high season at the ancient site and it felt like the whole world had decided to enter the stony walls, walking in single files behind a never-ending amount of tour guides, their flags raised and voices ringing out.  I had to really get close to our tour guide to hear all the richness of the history.

As we walked through, the sun continued to beat down, and I was chugging an electrolyte packet to alleviate the effects.  It was gorgeous and the view was amazing, but it was feeling more like something else…

A tourist attraction.

Our guide had given us the option to stay behind and have some personal time amongst the ruins, but I was feeling the hot sun, and knew I needed to get some food, get out of the sun, and wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of taking the bus back by myself and finding my way back to the hotel alone.

As we exited the site, we walked through a stone doorway, and I felt a panic and sadness arise, and a voice asking,

Did I learn what I needed to?
Did I receive what I needed?

Then, I walked through the arch and said goodbye to one of the most famous destination sites in the world.  I did’t want to leave. I left wondering if I would ever return.

I left managing something that had been building in me since the trip was planned a year and a half ago…

Expectation.

 

Where have you formed the Perfect Picture in your Creativity?

Where have you entered a situation, already deciding it would LOOK a certain way?

This is the PERFECT job
This show will solve all my problems
This book will launch me to success
This gallery will make me famous
My audience tonight will all stand and go raving mad!

We can so easily attach an outcome to our plans, and decide is HAS to be; that what we have formed in our mind as a projection will be truth.

And in this expectation, we believe in permanence.
We believe things are unchanging.

And when it doesn’t look exactly as we planned, we feel a loss.  We feel sadness, and we feel dis-empowered.

How can we create from here?

Creativity by its very nature is an open space.  It’s one of possibility, not fixed.  So let me offer a different tool, instead of expectation, so you are not feeling the “hangover” of disappointment that leads to procrastination and burnout.  Imagine instead using,

Intention.

Intention is based in your needs, and isn’t about the outcome, but your energy in the moment.  It’s about the step by step, daily commitment to your Creative Vision.  Intention is based in what is feeding you moving forward, as opposed to bringing you to a stopping point.

Intention will bring you to growth, which is what we are all doing.  Every day, with every moment, we have the opportunity to learn, to try again, and to expand not only in our own Creative abilities, but in our audience, reaching more with our gifts and talents.

That sounds far more sustainable than believing it HAS to be a certain way.

 

On the last day of the trip, our guide made an offer to do a short walking tour of Cusco City.  I was already enamored with the European influence, and was hungry for more history.  I was loving my time in Peru, and wanted to learn more.

We walked around, and I was in awe of the Incan walls, perfectly formed and interlocking like puzzle pieces. There was no mortar used, and despite catastrophic earthquakes, and much of the city destroyed through the Spanish invasion, what still remained was the foundation…those Incan walls built back in the 15th century. The Incans possessed a quality that has not been duplicated by building engineers since,

Patience.

We walked into the Plaza De Armas and Cusco Cathedral loomed skyward.  I entered, and was instructed to walk to the sides as a service was going on.

And then it hit me.

That feeling.  A powerful energy, and I began to weep, gazing at the high domes.

As the tears fell on my shirt, I walked to the front of the sanctuary, and knelt in a pew.  The parishioners were singing behind me and their devotion was coursing through my blood, and as I bowed my head to my hands, all I said was,

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This was what I had expected to experience at Machu Picchu.  This moment of emotion, and a powerful experience.  It was unexplainable in the present moment, but I was allowing it, so grateful for it’s arrival.

My INTENTION had been to be open to what Peru could teach me.

And in a cathedral that we were never supposed to be in, in a place I had no idea I was going to visit…it came.

It wasn’t the picture I had in my mind, but the result was exactly what I had asked for.

Cusco Cathedral brought me back to a sense of home.  It resonated with my European upbringing, and visiting countless cathedrals in my youth. It resonated with my personal devotion to my own Zen practice, it satisfied my need for growth and learning about new cultures, and as I gazed at my parents and aunt who were on this trip with me, it brought me back to the incredible gift of family and connection.

And as far as my Creativity?  It’s here in every word to you.  I walked out of the cathedral and knew I would write about it.  In fact, I had absolute clarity about the whole trip and what I would create FROM it.

In Machu Picchu, I faced the ruins and faced my own expectations.  And the catalyst was Cusco Cathedral.  I actually got exactly what I needed.

Are you open to seeing this for yourself?

 

So come back to your Vision, and see what you’re holding onto so tightly.  Come back to your intention, and do your tasks from there.   Allow the intention to drive your actions, not a fixed picture.

You may find yourself on your knees, experiencing exactly what you have always desired, and doing so from a place where you are motivated and engaged; a place where you are connecting to your Dreams and your Audience.

A place where you are receiving what you need.

Cusco Cathedral