The Artist’s Road

Do you ever feel like you are going down the same road again and again?

Another rejection letter
Cut from another audition
Another Closed door in your face

You put yourself out there time and again, with your Art, and it feels as if your heart is being trampled.

You put so much of yourself into your work, so the sting of rejection FEELS so strong.

And it can be disheartening.

You imagine a different road…
One where the publisher says YES
One where everything flows
One where your fans are raving for your next piece of work
One where you are booking your dream gigs

That’s the road you want to be on, right?

So, how come with ALL your effort, you feel as though you are driving down the SAME road again and again?

You feel like screaming,
I NEVER want to be on this road again!

I get it…….I was just there……

 

Last week was a big moment for me.  I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. 

While it has been decades since I have been in this position, the nerves were still there.  I’m head over heels in love with my man, so I wanted everything to go well.

Thanksgiving has been a holiday of transition for me.  For years, it was the sources of family and love.  And then, five years ago, it turned into the darkest moment of my life when my former husband told me he wanted to end our marriage…on Thanksgiving Day.

I had spent almost 18 years spending every Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania with my former in-laws, and now returned to having the holiday with my parents in Virginia. In transition, it took 3-4 years for me to find joy on the day again.

This year marked the first time I would be spending the holiday away from Virginia, and with my new man.

The original plan was to go to his parents’, who live in upstate New York, but a month before Thanksgiving, his sister decided to host.

His sister lives in Pennsylvania.

The irony was not lost on me, and I thought how insane it was that after 18 years of Pennsylvania Thanksgivings, I was returning to a similar place…..in love…..but with a new man, and meeting a new family..

We hopped in the car from New Jersey last Tuesday and began the drive down the road to his sister’s.

Energy was high, and we cranked the radio, singing along to fun tunes.  We got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then I saw it…

The sign.

We were about to drive through the town my ex in-laws lived in.

I suddenly realized his sister’s home was only 20 minutes down the road from where I had spent most of my adult holidays.

I became very quiet, and could feel tears welling. I hadn’t been down this road in six years.

In fact, I had purposely done everything I could, to NEVER go down this road again.

This road was full of painful memories.
This road reminded me of the rejection.

And then I looked up and saw the hotel I stayed in with my wedding party……

And I burst into tears.

 

The next morning, I woke up, and just let everything out.  I allowed every feeling to arise, and began to have clarity.

When the divorce went down, only one member of my old in-laws stood up for me, fighting for the marriage.

Everyone else turned their back, and went silent.  That had been my family for 19 years, and I was devastated.  I wasn’t only losing my marriage, I was losing a huge family that I loved.

Driving down the road again, all of that came up, and it was made even more alive, because I was on the road to meet a NEW family….one that I deeply want to be a part of.

And I realized,
I have no control.

I have no control over what this new family thinks or does.
I have no control over what my boyfriend does.

So, while it scares me to my core that I may find myself at a crossroads again, my only choice is simple:

To love.

And recognizing my fear and releasing control brought a huge wave of relief over me.

And I was free, not only to have a deeply connecting Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, but release the past that had been choking me off.

Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania again, and yet COMPLETELY different.

Same road, different ME.

 

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss, who has sold millions of books, recently shared he was rejected by 27 publishers before his first YES.

Oscar Winning Actor Tom Hanks became an overnight success after 10 years in the business.

Rejection can be brutal, especially for Artists.

But the question is, what are you making it mean?
Who are you being IN the rejection?

What is on that ROAD you find yourself time and time again?

It can be so easy to AVOID what is right before us, instead of asking,
What is to be LEARNED?

I thought there was a cruel joke being played on me, as we whisked down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and yet, in hindsight, I see how re-visiting that road was the final piece of healing for me to fully embrace Thanksgiving again.

I NEEDED to go down that road.

I was scared to do it, and yet it brought me back to what matters, and allowed me to release control.

Rejection WILL occur.  Anyone who tells you otherwise, run the other way.

So, place your energy on your Art, and how you can grow, not on trying to control every rejection out there.

Your freedom as an Artist lies in your ability to grow, to change, and to persevere.

Your freedom as an Artist comes from connection to your heart, to your LOVE of Art.

This is what makes you Unstoppable.

Pay homage to your journey, and open to your road.  There is gold here for you.

 

Release control over the external rejection.

Same road, fearless YOU.

 

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

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?