Care Taking

Do you feel frustrated that you are doing everything you CAN for your career and you are just not where you want to be?

Do you feel like your To Do’s to be a successful Artist have taken over your life?

I mean, what is the deal?

You are posting on social media.
You are putting yourself and your work out there.
You are doing ALL the things you are supposed to….and yet, you feel stuck, spinning in circles.

I imagine that is incredibly frustrating!

Watching your peers step into their success can be difficult when you know your talent is just as good.

So, what is the difference?
Why are you stuck and they are moving?

This was a question I had running on a LOOP in my head for years when I was a performer, and what stopped it really surprised me.

I’ve always been highly disciplined.  Growing up in a military household definitely set the bar high, and I was determined to meet it.

So, I practiced my violin every morning, did my classwork, was valedictorian, and placed very high value on
completing tasks, and having order in my life.

After all, that was what I was taught to do.

I remember when I was in my career, and had a running To Do list.  As I’ve always enjoyed cursing like a sailor, I decided to call it the F***ing To Do List.  It made me laugh, and also motivated me.

Get it DONE!
That was the mantra.

So, I did, and I did…..and I did, but I hit a ceiling in my career and couldn’t figure out why all my hard work was not landing me my Broadway show.

I was at first annoyed, and then angry, and eventually devastated.  I started to believe it wouldn’t happen, and even worse, that something was wrong with me.

And then my whole life fell apart, and for the first time in my life, I actually LOOKED at my life, and instead of it being through a lens of judgement and “what is WRONG with you?” it was through a lens of compassion and curiosity.

There was wisdom to be had here…..and I was ready to truly learn.

When I first found Zen and did their Intro to Zen Training weekend, part of the weekend was called Care Taking Practice.  During this 90 minutes, we were put in a group, and given a task.  This task was to be done in silence so you could just be present to it, and was some form of “taking care” of the monastery and their programs.

Taking Care.

I was assigned to helping with the Prison program and organizing correspondence to the inmates who were mailing back and forth with the monastics.

Tasks completed with care. 

I dived into training with Non Violent Communication,  a process for supporting partnership and resolving conflict within people, relationships and society. The teacher, Thom Bond was telling the story of recognizing the reason he kept his home so clean and neat was it actually met needs for self care.

As soon as I heard this, it went through me.

I looked around my little apartment in Queens and saw the order I had created.  For so much of my life, I had labeled myself as OCD, or been called that by others, or called myself controlling. But what if this was actually self care?

What if how I was in my life with discipline was actually care taking?

That day, I went into my F***ing To Do list and changed the name. 
I changed it to Care Taking.

And from there, I was able to create this successful business and rebuild my life. I was able to go Full Time, because I wasn’t being so hard on myself, and was actually clear WHY this work mattered to me.

Nothing was wrong with me….I was actually coming into contact with my heart and my desires.

And now I could actually take CARE of them, not punish myself.

Does this sound familiar?

How do you speak to yourself?
What have you labeled yourself?

True sustainable growth happens through support and love.

I imagine you can think of a teacher who really tore you down.  While there may have been some short term growth out of anger or fear, ultimately I imagine you stopped using them, because it just felt awful to be belittled so much.

Tearing someone down just damages them, and the same is true for self talk.

We all have different processes for our work, and really it is about finding what works for  YOU.

And then taking CARE of this process.
Taking CARE of you so that you can show up FOR the process, for your Art, and for your beautiful life.

Practice is essential for development of our craft AND we can approach this practice and building the business of our passions from a place of care.

Energy is everything.  I can look back at my younger self with so much love, and know she was doing the best she could, but truthfully, she was being waaayyyy too hard on herself and the taskmaster was running the show.

Now, it’s the care-taker, and what a difference.

So, what needs CARE in your career?
What needs CARE In your heart so that you can show up for your career?

Create systems that work in your career not because you should but because it will take CARE of the work that matters most.

Whenever you are in doubt, love is the answer.  Every time. You are a shining light and deserve your own love and affection. 

Care for your life, and watch it grow.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.
Period.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Why?
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.