Crisis No More

Have you ever had a shocking setback in your career?

Something that just came out of the blue, out of nowhere, and swiped you off your feet?

Were you moving forward and feeling SO good about your Art, really feeling like you were rocking it out, only to have this enormous blow?

The rejection letter
Losing your voice
An injury
Getting sick
A team or band member leaving

It can be so devastating!

Before this happened, I imagine you were thinking,
It’s happening!
Everything is working out!

And then, BOOM…..you’re down, and you just feel confusion.

You felt like you had this amazing momentum going with your Art. You felt like you were finally making it, and then this THING happened, and that voice comes up in your head saying,
I told you this was too good to be true
Obviously you haven’t made it yet
This setback means you are doing something WRONG.

And the kicker…
You’re just not good enough

And the heartbreaking piece is, you WANT to be.  You want to be successful as a full time Artist.  You LOVE what you do, and just want to know HOW to make it happen.

So, what do we do in the face of setbacks?
How do we stay the course when we feel so discouraged?

And most importantly, what does the setback actually MEAN?

I’m on the side of the room in dance class, about an hour into class.  We’ve done the full warm-up and are just getting ready to do leaps across the floor.

I feel great.  Energy is up, body feels good! 

I do a chasse to prepare for the leap and as my legs come together in the air, I feel a sharp pull in my right calf.  Burning, it clenches tight.  I know something is wrong.  I don’t leap, and when I get to the other side of the room…I can’t put my weight on my right leg.

My calf has completely seized, I can’t roll through my foot.

The front desk gets me ice and I immediately call my husband, as he’s an Occupational Therapist.  He tells me I will need to ice for 15 minutes with the calf elevated, and it starts to dawn on me….I’m on the Upper West Side of Manhattan….and somehow I’ve got to get home.  I’ve got to make it all the way back to the Jersey Shore…..and I’m by myself.

And the question pops in,
Can I walk?

My husband says,
You’re going to need to take a cab to Penn Station.

When the 15 minutes was up, I realized I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg.  I hobbled very slowly to the elevator, and caught a cab right outside the entrance. When we arrived at Penn Station, the driver had let me off very close to the escalators down to the train station.  With my regular mobility, I would get to the entrance in under a minute….but not tonight.

It felt like an eternity hobbling from the sidewalk to the escalator.  I became aware for a moment of a man staring at me, but stayed present to the moment, and to what I needed to do next…which was get to the train.

Which I did….slowly, holding onto the railing, keeping weight off my right leg. 

Two hours later, I arrived home, after driving from the train station, gingerly flexing my ankle on the gas pedal, staying focused on the road.

One step at a time.

I closed the front door and looked at my husband and said,
I made it.

He set me up on the couch, got me ice, and said,
You’re going to need to be completely off your leg for 48 hours.

I had all kinds of plans for the next 48 hours, and I got out my phone and started to send emails to change those so I could work from home.

And over the next 48 hours, I crawled around on my hands and knees in my home.  I had to put knee pads on because my kneecaps were getting sore.  I was going up and down the stairs on my rear end like a toddler.

Not what I expected.
Not what I planned.

Certainly not ideal…..and yet, as I was staying off my feet, I took a moment to recognize what didn’t happen.

I didn’t panic. 
I didn’t go into doomsday thinking, attaching meaning to my self worth as a person.

I didn’t say,
This means you are BAD.
This means you are WRONG.
This means you should stop going into the city to dance.

And I used to…ALL the time!  When I would experience setbacks, injuries or disappointments in my career, I would panic and spiral in the moment. I would think the setbacks meant I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t meant to be successful, and that I was doing it all wrong.  Because, if I was doing it RIGHT, then everything would work out, right?

If I was doing it right, then nothing bad would happen and everything would FLOW…right?

Have you ever felt that?

I know I did and it led to all kinds of suffering and ultimately kept me stuck from truly owning my voice as an Artist. It kept the voice alive in my head that I wasn’t good enough.

So, what changed?

I now have the tools to deal with crisis.  I now have the tools to deal with the unexpected, and because of that I am back up on my feet, standing at my desk writing you right now.

In the face of a setback, I can stay PRESENT.

Why is this important?

Because what commonly happens in setbacks is we go into future thinking.  We think everything is going to fall apart.  We think everything is ruined…when the fact is you don’t KNOW what the future is, and it’s how you DEAL with the setback that makes all the difference. Your mind will race away and start to create a reality that actually isn’t TRUE, it’s just something that’s been fabricated in the moment because you are feeling scared.

And that’s human. 

But, if you want to be able to have a career that lasts, you have to learn how to deal with setbacks.  Because they will happen.  We can’t control other people, in fact, we can’t control anything. 

My Zen teacher recently said,
A lot of people suffer….but many don’t grow.

These setbacks are scary, and we suffer in the face of them, but can you stay present in the moment to LEARN from them? 

What if the setback is here FOR you?
What is this is the perfect time for you to learn how to rise above your inner critic?
What if the setback is actually opening up an even better opportunity or pointing you towards where you need to place your attention this year?

When I got really quiet a few days after the injury, I realized that I actually had two calf spasms in my right calf within the last six months.  With moving to the suburbs of NJ, I wasn’t taking dance class as regularly and also wasn’t walking as much, so I imagine this means my calf was weakening.

I realized, I needed to add more weight training or something during my week to keep my calves active.

But here’s the most important thing….when I came to the action step….it wasn’t making myself WRONG.  It was actually coming from a place of LOVE; from a place of how this is going to HELP me live the life I want.

And what about you?
What has been a setback you experienced recently?

How did you handle it?

What could be possible if you had tools to move easily and faster through your challenges?
What if this is the year for you to learn how?

What if you are actually Unstoppable?

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

What’s in a Name?

Have you gone through name changes in your career?

Have you agonized on what to call yourself as an Artist,
your band
your show
your brand
your pen name?

We look at some of the most iconic artists who had those BIG names that just stand out, and wonder,
How did they do it?
Was it the NAME that brought them so much fame?

Madonna
Woody Allen
George Orwell
Lady Gaga

We get so much advice around our NAME, and sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice to just ASK our audience…
does this matter?

Do you ever wonder if your own name is enough?
What’s in a Name anyway and how does that really play into growing your audience?

I’m asking because today is a big day…I’m actually at the Motor Vehicle office right now as you are reading this doing something I didn’t think I would EVER do again….and I wanted you to be one of the first to know.

I’m changing my name.

 

I remember when I got engaged the first time.  I was 21 and had stars in my eyes.  I was in my second to last year in college and preparing to move to the city and pursue my career full time as a professional performer.

I had grown up with Peterman as my last name, and had never really felt much connection to it.  Especially as an actress, I didn’t think it had that “ring” to it.

My soon to be married name?  That had flair!

Nikól Wolf.

It sounded exciting, a little dangerous, and edgy.  Nikól Peterman was going to become Nikól Wolf and I couldn’t wait to go into my first audition with this name.

I got new headshots, created my resume and moved to New York City, booking work so much I was turning it down.  This new name was GREAT!

 

Until it wasn’t….I started to really struggle with so many aspects of the industry.  The rejection was starting to wear on me, feeling like I had to have it all together all the time, constantly comparing myself to other dancers….and then even with my husband, who was also an actor.

He was a natural comedian, and even though I usually got cast as the funny character…I doubted myself.  My husband was the funny one, not me.  I had taken his name….this wasn’t mine.

I even created a personal email address that was “the other Wolf”…..I really wasn’t owning it.

I remember a teacher telling me,
when you walk in the room with your red hair and bright voice, people expect you to be funny!

I knew he was right….and it terrified me…because I didn’t think I was. I was starting to put up a mask, saying everything was ok, when it really wasn’t.  I started to panic.

And then the man who I changed my name for left me.

The name disgusted me….
It felt like something dirty I wanted desperately to wash off.  I had to wait for nine months before my name would officially change back to my maiden name, and in the meantime, I went by my middle name, changing my social media to:
Nikól Bardol

When the divorce was legal, I started the very long and arduous process of changing my name…it took YEARS.  For months, I would walk around with my divorce papers in my bag because everyone seemed to need to have them faxed, scanned, or look at to change my name.

With all the hassle, I swore I would never change it again.

And then something magical happened, I started to really get to know who Nikól Peterman was….who she had been, and who she wanted to be.

Out of the fog of extreme loss and pain, I started auditioning again, with headshots and a resume that had the name I had for the first 22 years of my life.

And I found out something radical….
She was funny
No, I mean she was REALLY funny!
And she was strong, quick, powerful.
She actually didn’t have to compare herself to anyone, because she was now clear what made her stand out.

And it had nothing to do with her name. It actually had to do with something far deeper….something that was constant no matter what name she had…..

I remember getting my new drivers license with Nikól Peterman on it, and being so taken by the wide smile of peace on my face.  I showed it to my therapist who asked to see my license picture that had been taken just months before my divorce.  She looked at the two pictures and said,
Wow, there’s a big difference.  The old picture you look so foggy. In this new one I can actually SEE you.

Oh.

Yes……in my new picture I was clear.  My eyes were bright staring straight into the lens with confidence.  Why?

Because I was no longer afraid to be seen….all of me.  I knew it didn’t matter what others thought…I knew who I was.

And it took re-connecting to my birth name to realize it never WAS the name.  I just needed to discover that I actually had all I needed within.

So, ironically, I was cast a TON with the new name.  I was cast as hilarious characters and stepped onto the stage OWNING my voice.  Broadway directors gave me free rein to PLAY, and I loved it.  There was no more mask.

In releasing the mask, I found peace in Peterman, and launched my company ZenRedNYC.

And then I met Chuck. And I fell in love.  Things were getting serious, and the question arose,
Will I change my name again?

I really took my time with this.  When we got engaged, I stared at the ring and opened the possibility.  I found myself remembering the headache of contacting endless platforms and providers to change my name…the pieces of mail that were STILL coming with Wolf on them and how I hated seeing that.

Maybe I would just stay with Peterman….

Then in June, I went on this epic trip to Alaska with my family to go bird watching, and started to have strong reactions to smells.  I spent a day in bed because I didn’t feel well, and my father looked at me and said,
I think you’re pregnant.

My hopes skyrocketed, and my fiance and I went to get a test….which was negative, and then I got my period. But something about feeling the possibility of life stirred something even deeper.

The next day, we were at the main gift market in Anchorage, and I looked straight at Chuck and said,
I want to take your name.

His face lit up like a Christmas tree.  He had never asked me to do this, but clearly, this was his vision. And I knew it was mine too.  My vision has always been a family name.

And now that I knew who I was, it didn’t really matter what my last name was.

On September 16th, I stood in front my closest family and friends and vowed to love Chuck every day, eyes open and awake…..much like that photo taken of me after my divorce.

In truth, this was the vow I made for my LIFE.

And that is what allowed me to finally be at ease in front of any audience of any size, and grow globally. That is what allowed me to connect to you.

 

So, what about you?
What does your name mean to you?
Have you made it more than a name?

Who are you REALLY as an Artist and are you claiming that and owning it?

 

As we approach the end of the year, take stock.
Change is constant.  What do you really need to grow your audience in 2019?

This is deeper than the “perfect” name, or a Facebook ad, or learning the latest algorithms.

Because at the end of the day, you are able to grow your audience when you are clear who YOU are.

So, I’m excited to announce and share with you this special moment.

 

Hello, my name is Nikól Rogers, and I’m so grateful to see you.
Truly SEE you.

Eyes open and awake.

 

 

 

Photography by: Dag Photography