The Artist’s Injury

Are you feeling like you are pulled in a million directions with your Art this year?

Here we are, January is coming to a close, and that feeling of New Year is fading.  Perhaps it is being replaced with anxiety and overwhelm.

Are you looking at all you want and need to get done to make money with your Art and feeling like the list is a mile long?

What comes first?
Where do you begin?
Is one thing more important than the other?

In our DIY industry, it can feel so overwhelming.

Do I place my energy on social media?
Do I place it on promotion?
Do I place it on my website?

And you may be coming back again and again to the question of,
What will actually WORK to grow an audience that promotes and nurtures me?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have a magic wand and KNOW?
There are only so many minutes in a day….what if you were using your precious time on things that actually grew your career and made you money as a Artist?

I remember being so frustrated as a performer, realizing I hadn’t booked the big gig I wanted.  Here I was, taking dance classes every week, taking voice lessons, doing networking with casting directors, keeping my resume updated with really great head shots, having a strong website….I mean, what the HECK?  Wasn’t I doing all I needed?  Why wasn’t I where I wanted to be?

Have you ever felt this?

I’ve been in a place of really listening lately.  My calf is taking way longer to heal than I would like.  I was really encouraged going to the gym and riding the bike with no pain, so yesterday for the first time, I got on my yoga mat to test it out.

My calf was not happy.  Downward dog was too much of a stretch and I coudn’t be in child’s pose for more than a second.  The compression was really painful.

It was pretty clear to me I wasn’t going to be able to take dance class this week, but after my body’s response last night, I was now thinking class may not happen next week either. The initial timeline of 7-10 days to get back up on my feet and be healed?  Pretty much tossed out the window.

My calf is talking to me.
It’s being very clear what is helpful and what is not.

Bike?  Great
Ultrasound?  Fantastic
Non-weight bearing exercises?  Wonderful

I’m still in the ACUTE part of this injury, and I’m clear what I want.
To heal fully and be able to dance and do yoga.

And because I am so clear on this, I am willing to do what it takes.  And trust me….I’m missing yoga and dance like crazy.  I feel vulnerable, I feel disappointed, and I would LOVE to done with this NOW.

Can you relate?

Being a dancer my whole life, I’ve always understood how important it is to treat an injury at the time it happens and do it smartly.  My livelihood depended on it!  I always needed to return to work, and be able to dance again, not only to fulfill my contracts, but because I LOVED it.

But something wasn’t clicking.

While I was good at addressing the swollen ankle, or pulled back muscle……there was a pain that kept arising again and again.

I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my career.  I would come into January and feel this anxiety because I didn’t know why I was STILL here.

So, I would go back to spending my time the way I thought was going to change things, and kept seeing the same results.  In a sense, there was an injury I hadn’t addressed, and I kept pushing it under the rug.  And it became chronic, year after year.

I would ride the roller coaster of believing if I got the show or the job, I was good enough.  I was basing all of my success on what my audience thought, and was constantly putting them on a pedestal.

And it wasn’t until I lost everything that I finally saw what the true injury was.

I didn’t know how to create lasting relationships.

I learned it didn’t matter if I had the appearance of “having it all together” or “looking perfect”.  It didn’t matter if my resume was impressive or website savvy, because underneath I was terrified of what my audience thought of me.  Ultimately, I was powerless.

In the face of my divorce and not booking a single job in a year, I finally turned towards the injury and started to listen.

I hired a coach, I got help……and in the very ACUTE phase of losing all I knew, I placed my energy and precious TIME where it would have the greatest impact,

I became fearless, and finally understood that building relationships was the most important tool I needed to learn.

So, take a moment right now.

What is missing for you?
If you were to get quiet, and really listen, what is the injury under all your efforts as an Artist?

Treating an issue in the acute phase, means you have the quickest turnaround.  When something becomes chronic, it will repeat until the issue is really addressed. Where do you want to be next year at this time?

What if this is the perfect time to finally create the change that will make THIS year the year you grow your audience and make more money with your Art?

So, how do you feel about your audience?
How do you feel about yourself in front of your audience?

What is that part of your Art business that hasn’t been working for a LONG time?

And most of all, what do you really want?

Just like my calf, your Art is talking and it’s telling you what is helpful and what is not.

Open your ears and listen.  Do this with an open heart.  This isn’t about punishing yourself anymore. Clearly that hasn’t been working.

What if this is the year you finally get the help you need to turn it all around?

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

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…’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