Wholehearted Art

My heart is pounding.

I’ve stopped breathing as I scroll down my blood test results, looking for that ONE number.

The number that will tell me everything.

The number that speaks into every piece of food I have eaten in the past three months, every liquid I have drunk, and every supplement I have taken.

It speaks into every choice, and the swings of frustration and isolation I felt staring at fruit, pizza, beer, and cookies.

My A1C.

When I finally find it, at the bottom of the third page, I can’t believe my eyes.

I never expected THIS.

It’s the lowest it’s ever been.  It’s a total reversal.  My body chemistry has completely changed.

I stand in shock for a moment, staring at the number, just to convince myself it’s real. And I think,

Oh my gosh…I MADE it.

Have you ever felt this;  that feeling of arrival in your Art?

Do you believe in change?

 

You are pre-diabetic.

Even as the nurse on the other end of the phone was telling me this, I was in complete shock and denial.

I’ve been active my whole life, I eat organic, and I’m thin. How is this possible??

Her diagnosis was confirmed by a bio chemist nutritionist named Kylie Reiffert of KR Nutrition.

And I made a decision in that moment.  I wanted to be healthy, and I would do whatever it took to bring my blood sugar down.

I set my sights on a number, and started working with Kylie last summer.

In one fell swoop, most of what I was used to eating was taken off my plate. I had always had a dancer mentality around eating, and now my body was going to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.  I mourned my popcorn, chips, and crackers.  I said goodbye to craft beer, and had to learn a completely new way of eating.

I was hungry a lot, and felt really isolated going out to eat, as I struggled to find things on the menu I could eat.

Everything was turned upside down.

In three months time, we were able to bring my A1C down from 5.8 to 5.5.  The range for pre-diabetes is 5.6 – 5.9. This was a HUGE win, as Kylie shared she had never seen anyone do this before.

I went from being pre-diabetic to just under.  I wasn’t out of the danger zone yet, as pre-diabetic starts at 5.6, so the diet continued, and I stayed the course.

And then I plateaued.

The next blood test was exactly the same, and I cried.  It had been a rough four months for me, including getting a nasty stomach flu, and trying so hard to get back to a healthy weight.

But even more so…I felt so discouraged.

Why wasn’t my blood sugar number changing?
Why was it standing stock still?

Have you felt like this in your art?
Worked so hard towards your goal, and see the same results?
Do you set a timeline to achieve your goal and then find yourself at the date with no change?

It can be SO frustrating!

So, what do you do?
Do you believe in change?

 

I was recently listening to this brilliant podcast called the Dharma Ocean. The teacher was speaking into one of the greatest questions we ask, especially as we are working towards our goals.

The goals of,
Publishing your novel
Booking your dream gigs
Selling your Art
Producing your show

and ultimately,
Thriving in your Art.

His question was,
How do we create change?

The answer was very simple,
Commitment.

He spoke into a deeper commitment, a wholehearted commitment.  One that isn’t dependent on what you feel by the day or hour, but transcends swings in moodiness and experiences of pain and pleasure.

Unless your commitment transcends that, it doesn’t mean anything, and we won’t change.

The commitment has to be unconditional.  It means you leave the option to quit out.

It’s really LOVE.  Love for your Art, for your voice, and for the passion that expresses through your words, music, and brush.

This is why it’s wholehearted. 

He had a brilliant ship analogy, saying you get into your boat, you point your ship due east towards your goal, and head there. Your journey is not dependent on the water.  Storms may come and go, you may pass shiny islands with palm trees, but you stay the course.

It can be common to have commitment that is contingent, which translates to
I’m committing BUT leaving options open.

If our commitment is not wholehearted, we won’t make the journey.  And then we won’t experience the fulfillment and fruition of our efforts. In essence, we give up.

And I get it!  We go through SO much on this path.  Some days we feel inspired, and other days we feel we want to run ANYWHERE and hide.  I felt all of this in the last year, and it was compounded by other health issues like a neck injury, building my business, and also experiencing disappointment after disappointment in dating.

But the main point it, whatever we are feeling in that moment, we practice self empathy, allow it to pass THROUGH us, and then come back to the direction.

Come back to the goal.
Come back to the number that tells you everything.
Come back to the journey.

Stay in the Boat.

 

If I had given up, I would have diabetes.
If I had given up dating, I would never have met my incredible man and experienced the love I was hungering for.
If I had given up, I would not have doubled my business in one year and be writing to you.

In one year’s time, I went from 5.8 to 5.0.  This is a miraculous result. I could have given up at the plateau and said, It’s NOT working! It wasn’t easy, I went through some hurricanes, but I stayed the course.  Why?

Because underneath every wave was the belief in our greatest reality,
CHANGE.

Change is constant.  You are changing as you read this.  

And the beauty is,
YOU decide what that change will be.

Believe in change.  Nothing is permanent.

Set your sights on your goal.

And stay in the boat, with your whole heart.

 

 

 

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon

28 Days Later

On my fridge, there it is. Typed in black bold letters and highlighted in yellow.

It’s held in place by a bright purple clip, magnetized to the larger door, in plain sight for me to see. Maybe I had hoped the color would detract from the subject, and the creator of this document,

My doctor.

I’m doing something I’ve never done before and something I never thought I would…

A 28 Day Cleanse.

And to give you just a peek, I’m not allowed to eat dairy, sugar, nuts, coconut, eggs, or nightshades.

What does that leave?

Not much.

 

Last July I received back the blood test that changed everything with a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. It was right before my 41st birthday and you could have picked me up off the floor.

While my father was the first one in our family to have diabetes, he wasn’t diagnosed until he was in his mid 50’s.

All my life, I’ve had the dancer mentality of carb-loading for energy, and suddenly I was facing having to eliminate so many foods that had been everyday habit:

Fruit
Chips
Popcorn
Chocolate
Cookies

While I did eat organic, I had no idea that my habits of starting the day with sugar, whether it was a chocolate protein drink, or a banana or cereal, were actually the worst thing possible for me.

My body just wants to turn everything into sugar.

And I didn’t know this until I was 41.

I was clear I didn’t want to get diabetes, so I started working with a nutritionist and eliminated most of what I had been eating and replaced it with meat, vegetables and healthy fats.

The avocado became my best friend.

And my body started doing something remarkable and something I didn’t know was possible when I was a professional performer,

I began to burn fat for energy.

In three and a half months I was able to reverse my numbers and went from having 5.8 H1c to 5.5 (pre-diabetes is measured from 5.6 – 5.9, with 6.0 being diabetes). I was officially no longer pre-diabetic…..

But I was still very close.

So I continued the diet, and got another blood test in February only to see my H1c had not moved an inch.

I was frustrated and my nutritionist assured me this was a victory that I had maintained, but I wanted to be out of the danger zone, as my sugar metabolism was still way too high.

So, I was referred to a integrative medicine doctor who took just about every test possible on me to gain a full picture, and he agreed.

My numbers still needed to come down, and this wasn’t just about my sugar metabolism, it was also about my hormones.

I thought of what I want for my life moving forward…of the next 41 years…and that doesn’t include a dialysis machine.

I thought of my vision for my work, for the family I want to have, for the adventures I want to experience, and looked at my doctor and asked the question,

What’s next?

 

What is your vision?
What is it you truly want in your Art?

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you have?
Who would you be?

I remember moving to New York City with stars in my eyes. And what got me out of bed morning after morning for every audition, even in the face of rejection, disappointment, and fatigue was my vision,

To be on Broadway.

Do you remember why you picked up your brush?
Do you remember why you picked up your instrument, pen, camera, or dance shoes?

As Creatives we have a natural ability to visualize. We see in pictures, and step into our inner Dreamer with abandon.

So, what is driving you?

Or, the better question may be….what are you allowing to stop you?

 

I woke up this past Monday morning so nervous. I had loaded up my pantry and fridge with the FEW things I could eat, and knew this was it. I was about to enter into 28 Days of a very strict regiment, and my mind really wanted to race,

Will I be hungry?
Will I have enough to eat?
Will this even make a difference?

And I took a breath, and gave myself an enormous hug.

I made a promise to myself last July that I was going to turn this around. At the time, I honestly had no idea it would take so long, nor did I have any idea that this is actually HOW I eat now.

I’m sugar and dairy free.

The dancer who loved her daily banana and Greek yogurt….has changed.

And I continue to change every day.

That’s the real gift. You and I are the same in this. You are also changing every day.

Yes, I was nervous and feeling very squeezed as I looked at the intense amount of supplements I was going to be taking for the next three months…

..as I looked at the huge protein powder container…

..as I looked at the purple magnetic clip with the whole plan laid out, including a week and half where I can only have the powder in water and vegetables…

And what came back was my vision. The vision I have for my life. The vision I have for ZenRedNYC, for my art, and for the life I am building moving forward.

So, I took a breath, opened up my freezer and measured a cup of ice for my first smoothie.

Dear God…

 

So often we can feel squeezed in what is necessary to achieve the acclaim we desire. We can look at the plan, at truly attaining our dreams, and feel it’s too much.

But, what if this is just the next step?

This is why it is crucial to be connected daily to your vision.

And it needs to be real.

If you are not seeing the results you want in your Art, what did you decide was “too intense”?

I honestly used to look at fellow performers who were doing cleanses, and going paleo or full vegan, and think they were nuts.

Most of all, I never saw myself in them.

I didn’t think these choices applied to me.

And that may be part of the reason why I didn’t make it to Broadway. I had the strong vision, but wasn’t clear on what I really needed to do to make it happen.

Or probably more accurate, wasn’t willing to do what it took.

In truth I needed to claim my ability, and try a new approach.

Just like I am now.

Just like you can starting today.

Come back to your vision and step into your dreamer. The nerves and fear are a PART OF the process. They aren’t the reason to stop.

What’s something you’ve never done before and never thought you would?

This may be the change that actually brings you the results you’ve been waiting for.

And it could turn around in as little as 28 Days.