Beyond What’s Possible

Have you ever wanted something really BIG?

Maybe it even scares you little, because you have had some success, but this would be blowing it out of the water!

Maybe you’ve booked some shows at smaller or medium sized venues, but you really want to sell out a stadium.

Or you’ve self published a book or two, but you would LOVE to be on the NY Times Best Seller List.

Maybe you’ve sold some of your original art work, but you really want to have sales coming in non stop and see your work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

They are the BIG dreams!

Have you ever felt this?

Sometimes it can feel like a HUGE leap from where you are to where you want to be, and one of the most common questions I get is, HOW DO I GET THERE?

We can look at other successful Artists, see their glory and just wonder,
Am I missing something?
What’s the secret?

We can tie ourselves in knots, but what if the most important piece is far simpler than you think?

I know when I found this piece, my life changed.  I found myself fulfilling the dreams I was afraid to really ask for….I found them coming true, from a life partner after a devastating divorce, a house after losing everything, and a thriving art business after not working for a year. From the ashes, a new life. I was asking for something VERY big….and it came.

What is this for you?

I’m a bird watcher.  Yes, a lover of all things bird!  My parents were into birding for a lot of my adult life, but when my divorce went down, my parents gave me my first set of binoculars and I started going to birding festivals with them in 2013.

A huge nature lover, I was in heaven, watching them fly, seeing their vibrant colors and identifying all the species. I was hooked, and it was helping me heal from my divorce.

Most of the festivals I went to were in southern Virginia during migration season, and my parents and I would be there for 3 days.  As is common in birding, we would keep a list of all the birds we saw, counting each species.

The most species we would see would be about 70-80.  And that was thrilling!  So festival after festival, I would set the marker for 80 and look with earnest.  Sometimes, we would hit that and other times, it was less.

Until last weekend….

Last weekend, my parents and aunt all came to NJ for the Cape May Birding Festival.  In existence for over 70 years, this is one of the best birding festivals in the country.  Cape May is a hub for naturalists, conservationists, and ornithologists.  They flock to the shore to view, save, and protect the wildlife.  It’s very inspiring.

So, I couldn’t wait to share this festival with my parents after the years of them sharing their festivals with me.

I also had this feeling…I felt we were going to have an epic festival.  I knew Cape May was one of the top and we were going to be visiting at peak migration time.

I felt we could smash the old record.

And I felt we could do it together.

So, on Friday morning, as we were driving down to Cape May, I made a pronouncement to my family,
I think we can get 100 species this weekend!

My mother’s eyes got wide, and my aunt and husband were excited.  And then, my dad piped in,
I don’t know about that….

For a moment I doubted myself.  This was setting the bar high, so I made a compromise and said,
Ok, how about 90?

There was a general consensus in the car, and I thought,
Well, this will definitely happen!  No way we won’t hit 90!

I was playing it safe; managing my expectations of what was possible.

And then, my father burst out from the front seat,
Great Egret!  First species!

He dove in, and right away we all started looking out the window.  By the time we were to Cape May, we already had about 6 species.

After an amazing first day of birding and seeing a Seaside Sparrow and a Virginia Rail for the first time in my life, I knew there was something in the air.

And I turned to my family and said,
We CAN get 100 species this weekend.

It was on.  No more doubting. We were all in it together.

And it became this wonderful game!  My mother was keeping a master list and with each one, she would say,
40 species, 60 to go!

It motivated us all, and the weather was giving us gorgeous sunshine.  Birds flying overhead, birds perched in trees, birds singing their mating song….all coming together to be seen.

On Sunday, we went to the Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge and found ourselves trying to spot the elusive Marsh Wren, who was singing his loud song, and typically is impossible to see because he lives in the tall marsh grass.  And then he came out, and my mother said,
That’s 100!

So, we took this picture above. Holy moley…we did it!!

The most amazing thing?  We actually saw 6 more, so our total for the three days was 106.

We actually surpassed the largest number we THOUGHT was possible.

I can remember so many times in my life setting the bar low.  I imagined it would be easier to deal with the disappointment.

And yet, what was actually forming was a BELIEF that I could only go so far.

I could only earn this much as an Artist
I could only work at these theatres
I could only sing this high

Sound familiar?

What changed, was my BELIEF in myself.  Out of my divorce, I realized I had wayyyyyy more potential than I was giving myself credit for.

I remember the first time my coach said to me,
You know your dreams are possible, right?

It went through me.  And she was right.  I just needed to get out of my own way and give myself a permission slip to think bigger.

That was when I discovered something profound.  True for you and me,
You are limitless.

So, where are you with your BIG dream?
Have you put a ceiling on it to keep it safe?

What are you believing about yourself and your ability?

This is the single most important place to look.

Our beliefs run the show.  You can do all the strategies in the world, create the website, do social media, and NONE of it will matter if you don’t BELIEVE it’s possible.

So, the real question to ask is,
What do you believe?

And even better,
Is that working for you?
Is this belief getting you closer to your dreams?

Sometimes it can be awful and scary to come face to face with these beliefs, but it’s the first step. And the next step, the one that will really make the difference, is to ask for help.

My family and I came to 106 species TOGETHER.

Belief is powerful, AND it’s highly contagious.

So, what is your dream?
Say it loud.
Sing it out.

And build the team and support around you to make it happen.

Claim your power.

It’s all there within you. Waiting with wings to fly.

Effortless Inspiration

What lights you up?

What inspires you and just makes smile wide, wide, WIDE?

What brings you JOY?
What makes you want to go out into the sunshine and just DANCE?

As Artists it is so vital we have joy in our work.  We have so much on our plate! We have to think about,
Social Media
Booking gigs

And then somewhere in all of this is the actual CREATION.

This is the FUN part.
This is the juice!

So, how do we stay connected to the JOY when we are mired in all the to-do’s of being an Artist in today’s DIY industry?  How does our Art not feel like just another JOB?

Especially when we are juggling side hustles!  No more jobs, please!

Do you ever feel like this?

The magic sauce for Joy is in one simple word:

And it’s a vital ingredient for going Full Time and having a long and fulfilling career.

Last weekend I felt Joy.
Last weekend I smiled wide wide WIDE.
Last weekend I wanted to bound outside and just DANCE all over NYC.

The reason?

Seeing the Mark Morris Dance Group perform their latest premiere, Pepperland.

Set to the Beatles infamous Sergeant Pepper album, the dancers exploded on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stage in vibrant costumes.

What really struck me was the jazz interpretation of the album.  Ethan Iverson, one of Time Out New York’s 25 essential jazz icons, created this original score based off the Beatles songs.  Sometimes they were recognizable, sometimes they were so off the wall!  It was so innovative.  They had a full jazz orchestra and a classical baritone singing.

Not what you would expect, right?
And that’s the why it was so inspirational.

Somehow, Mark Morris and Ethan Iverson had taken this iconic album and given it a completely NEW interpretation.

I remember the first time I was introduced to Mark Morris.  I was in high school and saw The Hard Nut, his version of The Nutcracker.

It blew my mind.

Not only was the whole piece set in the groovy 60’s, but there was cross casting, and the snow dance was all done by men in tutu’s exploding hand fulls of glitter into the air. This was not the traditional Nutcracker I had danced in, or seen over and over on TV during the holidays.  It was so new.

And I was inspired.

So much so, I created my own ballet version of Hans Andersen’s The Little Match Girl for my senior project in high school.

The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite stories my mother used to read to me as a little girl.  It was a classic, and seeing what Mark Morris did gave me the courage and also the inspiration to put my spin on something that had brought me such joy as a child.

So, sitting in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House last weekend, all that joy came flooding back in.  I as in awe of what this team of incredible artists from the dancers to the choreographer to the composer to the lighting designer created off of their love of the Beatles.

Their inspiration.

It was a ripple effect…the domino from one artist to another to another to another.

So, what about you?
What inspires you?

It can be so easy to fall into believing we have to come up with original material ALL the time.  This can be an immense amount of pressure and I have seen so many artists get stuck, and actually never complete work because it’s just not good enough, or someone else is doing it.

Have you ever felt this?

But here’ s the gift.

As Artists, we are translators.

This is the super power we all have.

We look at the world around us, and translate it into our medium, whether that is
visual art

And ALL of this translation comes from a source…it comes from our inspiration.

And we have an endless flow within us.

Favorite songs
Artists we love….

It’s all there, waiting for you.

And NO one else will translate it like you, because there is only one you.

In a way, you’ve already won in this world because you’re the only one who can be you.”
-Fred Rogers

This is why Art is so powerful.

When I was leaving the theatre, the gentleman in front of me said,
Oh I loved this!  They were skipping!  Who skips anymore?  This makes me think of my grandchildren.

His inspiration.

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your own inspiration.
Get intimate with what lights you up.

Because when you do, you will tap into this endless flow with ease.

Come out into the sunshine and dance.
Your audience is waiting.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography