Your Artistic Mother

What is your first memory of your Art?
How old were you when you first found your medium?

Was it,
starting music lessons
dance class
playing with crayons
the school play
playdoh or paint by numbers?

What did your small hands do?

Do they still do this now?
If not, what stopped you?

What messages did you get early on about your Art?

 

I remember being six years old, and my mother stating I would take an instrument.  I could choose which one, but I would learn an instrument.  I chose violin, and also played in my mother’s handbell choirs.

Our home was filled with music, whether it was classical records playing during dinner, or my brother and I practicing early in the morning.

My mother was a musician. Her love for music was passed down to my brother and I. She instilled not only an education, but a respect for learning the craft, every key signature, theory, and incidental.

But music was not the only piece.  My real passion?  Story.  It came out in my dance, and then I I picked up a pencil.

Third grade Creative Writing was my happy place. In leaded cursive flow, I would pour my imagination into stories, relishing the scratch of my pencil onto the lined paper.

I remember writing one story about a teddy bear that came back to me with a huge “A++”.  I didn’t think it was possible to get a grade this high!  My teacher was elated and really encouraged me to keep writing.

I brought the story home to my mother and her tears welled, and then fell.  She said it was the best thing I had ever written…..

And she said to me,
Keep writing.

As I got older, I started getting more serious with singing, dancing and acting, and was really finding my voice and success there.  As a teen, I stopped taking violin, and started honing in that I wanted to have a career as a musical theater performer.

The writer?

She was fed by my high school English teacher who taught me how to write poetry.  A basketball coach, and well over 6’5″, he stood tall in the class room one day, with a white piece of chalk in his hand, drew a circle on the floor and proclaimed,
This is the Poet’s Circle!  Are you IN or OUT?

I remember exclaiming out loud,
I’m IN! I’m IN!

Yet, even in this proclamation, my energy was really going towards my performance, not my writing.  I got an A in English, and did every assignment, but my belief was built around a performance career.

Why?

I believed my father when he told me,
You can’t make a living with your writing.

So, my creativity was channeled into my performance, and my choreography.  My love of story was expressed in my dance, and the writing turned into yearly Christmas poems for my family, and poems as presents for close friends.

And as I grew in my performance, I heard my mother say,
You should write a book.

I was having success in my performance, why was she saying this to me?
Didn’t she see I wasn’t doing that?

So, my writing became less and less……
My journals had months between entries…and then years.

Has this every happened to you? Your Creative outlet starts to run dry because you don’t think it matters or has value?

How have you felt when you stopped giving time to this piece of you that thrived naturally as a child?

 

In 2013, my whole life burned to the ground.  In one year’s time I went through a devastating divorce, lost my home, was in two car accidents, robbed twice, and lost a dear friend to a heart attack.

I questioned who I was at the identity level. And I questioned if I was still an Artist.

But in this time of deep grief, I picked up a pen and began to write daily.  At first it was writing down daily victories.  Then it was starting a gratitude journal, then keeping a dream journal….poetry started to flow out in a way it hadn’t in years.

At a very healing and cathartic yoga retreat where I had a transformative experience with a Mayan Shaman, he looked me straight in the eye and said to me,
You will write a book on healing.

And in that moment, I knew he was right.
And I knew the title.

My mother’s words ringing in my ears, after all those years.
Perhaps she had seen something I wasn’t ready to own.

Not until now.

 

At the beginning of 2014, I began to work with a life coach, and one of the first things she had me do?
Launch a blog.

And that blog was called,
ZenRedNYC.

And this blog, my writing birthed into a business.
It birthed into a platform where I felt fulfilled as an artist, and doing work I love.
It birthed a relationship with you.

And when I created my new business cards, I added something new to my personal description,
Writer.

She was in there all along…..

Still sitting at the desk in third grade English, with stories to share; waiting patiently for me to wake up.

In America this weekend, we are celebrating Mother’s Day, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my mother for always seeing this in me.  When I launched my blog, she couldn’t stop smiling.  Her encouragement that confused me as in my 20’s and 30’s was suddenly clear.

And today, I want to thank you mom.
You saw it, always.

And I also want to acknowledge that I got very conflicting messages as a child around the value of writing.  And I imagine we can all relate to this!  Whether it’s been a parent, friend, or teacher in our younger years, it’s so common to hear them recommending we put our intelligence to other “stable” pursuits. This can be super confusing to navigate, especially if we just want to please and be loved by these caregivers.

So, in the spirit of Mother’s Day, who encouraged you in the early days?
Who saw your raw talent, your authentic expression?

Who was your Artistic Mother?
Reach out to her or him today and thank them.  Acknowledge them for seeing you fully and encouraging you to develop and take the scary leap to be an Artist.

Many times we have to be told a million times our strengths, before we wake up to our own power.  It took me decades!

Now, ask yourself,
What came SO easily as a child?

And is this still alive today?
How can this be revived and integrated?

 

Come back to the third grade table.
Pick up your pencil.
Let that early Artist thrive again, and LISTEN to those early encouragements.

You were being seen and nourished.
You were being mothered and loved.

Now, let that child play again.

The Rising of Art

Do you ever look around at all the budget cuts towards the Arts and feel discouraged?

Do you look at where money is being poured like honey, and wonder,
Why isn’t this going into what matters most to me?

Sports teams having NO problem paying their players millions of dollars, and you walk by another busker on the street begging for change or a dollar, for their incredible music.

Why this HUGE discrepancy?

How are we as Artists to make a living when we feel so devalued by society?

Where are those thriving communities that not only value the Arts, but are committed to growing and investing in them?

Does it even exist?

 

In 2000, Bruce Springsteen wrote a sobering song about Asbury Park, NJ, his adopted musical hometown where he began his career at The Stone Pony bar in the 80’s.

Named, My City of Ruins, he lamented on the sad and dismal state of what was once a thriving arts scene,

Young men on the corner
like scattered leaves
the boarded up windows
the empty streets

At one time, the Rat Pack filled concert halls, and the boardwalk rumbled with vibrant visitors.  Riots and waste had transformed the landscape into a ghost town, questionably safe, and decaying.

His heart was not alone in breaking.  In fact, many investors were eyeing this shore town, and seeing potential.

And something began to take shape.  A revitalization……and a transformation.

In 2015, from the same stage, Bruce introduced a new song, Atlantic City, musing,
“But maybe everything that dies someday comes back. Maybe Asbury Park is back?”

 

Packing up and leaving New York City after living there for 19 years was a lot for me.  I love the city.  And one of the TOP reasons it resonates with me so much is the culture seeping out of every street.

You can throw a penny and hit some kind of theater, music venue, museum, or sculpture.

People travel from all over the world to see
Broadway Shows
NYC Ballet
The Metropolitan Opera
The Guggenheim Museum
Carnegie Hall

And it’s not just established artists, there are TONS of opportunities for new playwrights, Off Off Broadway productions, small galleries to showcase new artists, and music venues for those just growing their fan base.

The city is about developing your Artistry AND showcasing it.

Moving down to the Jersey Shore, I found myself asking,
Will I find inspiration down here?
Will I find culture down here?

Most of all,
Will I find community down here?

My fiance had spoken about Asbury Park, and while we had experienced an amazing New Year’s Eve party at the Asbury Hotel seeing local band Remember Jones, I still had not had the chance to really explore.

Last weekend, we drove into Asbury, and what took most of the time was finding a parking space.

Asbury was packed.

Packed with all ages, twenty somethings on dates, older couples having a night out together, and families walking along the boardwalk.

I was enchanted, but here was the part that stood out to me the most….
The number of live music venues and galleries.

They were everywhere and opening up new.  Indeed, Bruce posed a powerful question back in 2015 that was being answered with a resounding YES.

Asbury Park is back, and even more so, being funded by patrons, and investors that see the value of Art.  They are specifically putting their energy into what lights people up.

And walking along the boardwalk, staring at the full moon, I felt my inner light shine brighter.  Inspiration was here.  Art is alive here.

Art is valued here.

And all I want to do now is tap into this community and create.  It’s nourishing.

Do you have this in your life?
What is your community like?
How does that affect your Art and making a living from it?

What would it be like if you DID have this?
What could be possible for you then?

Back on that shocking election day in November of 2016, I sent out an email titled,
What Trump means for your Creativity

The response was enormous, and the cry unified.

I have watched Artists galvanize in ways they never had before in the face of their livelihood being threatened.

And the call was,
We need Art more than ever now.
Your voice matters.

Walking along the streets on Asbury, it wasn’t just the fact that so many new venues were opening, it was the fact that they were FULL.

Full of audiences hungry for Art.

There is a demand here.

And all I can hear is Bruce’s famous song, The Rising.

 

For us to thrive, we need to have community, and have an audience that not only GETS you but VALUES you. Find your community.  Isolation only leads to further suffering.  We don’t get there alone.

The lead singer of Remember Jones, Anthony, shared with me his 13 piece band has grown to profit specifically on the fan base built at Asbury.
Morgan, a theatre professional, is renovating an old downtown vaudeville theater, the Savoy, into a performance space, with 64 micro-apartments on the floors above for musicians and artists.

If you are in a small town, or community that doesn’t have culture, look to communities that do.  What’s incredible about the internet, is the ability to reach people across the world with your Art.

Know they are out there, and they are hungry.
Know people are lining up on streets to see great work.
Know investors are seeking the next great space to blow up with creativity.

We are stronger together.

Revitalizing the power of Art.