The Deep End

I’m falling
In all the good times I find myself
Longing for change
And in the bad times I fear myself
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

-Lady Gaga

 

A star is born.

And so is a fan, and not just any fan, but a super fan.
The kind we all desire as Creatives.
The fan who loves what you do, who GETS you, who purchases your work, and most importantly of all, tells EVERYONE about you.

They become your ambassador, and you didn’t even have to ask them.
They are doing it simply because they LOVE what you are doing.

This is the kind of fan, that when multiplied allows you to achieve the acclaim you desire, thrive in your art, and feel unlimited. They support your career.

You feel confident.
You feel Unstoppable.

So, I can hear you as you’re reading this saying,
Well, that Lady Gaga.  She’s a HUGE celebrity!  Of course she has super fans!  How does this apply to me, Nikol?
How can I find these super fans?

I’m glad you asked.

 

I’ve always admired Lady Gaga.  I’ve been at many parties and danced around the room to her hit songs, marveled at her costumes, but it wasn’t until recently that I really started to notice. Until recently, I never bought any of her music.

The change came when she decided to do a duets album with Tony Bennett.  I started to  SEE her, and hear her.  It wasn’t just electronic production in a studio.  I quickly heard this woman can really sing.

I was touched by her camaraderie with Tony Bennett and her innovation.  This wasn’t just about her little monsters…there was more underneath.

And then I saw her performance at the Superbowl two years ago and literally jumped out of my chair watching her sky dive from the top of the stadium, effortlessly landing on the stage and giving one of the most seamless performances I have ever seen.

She was fearless AND she was singing live.

Having sky dived myself and having 20 years of professional performing on stages across the world, I knew this was NO joke.

But it was last weekend that took me over into super fan.
And it was the song above that did it.

Lady Gaga is completely stripped down in this movie, doing full scenes with no makeup.  She plays Ally, a waitress in her 30’s who is completely frustrated with the music business.  She’s a brilliant singer songwriter, a knock out singer, and when she meets a rock star, he falls in love with her and ends up launching her career.

There is so much more to this movie, and I’ll leave you to experience it, but today, let’s stick with the mystery behind a super fan.

Not only does Lady Gaga give an incredible performance in this movie, but it’s raw,  real, and she wrote a ton of original songs for the film which she performs LIVE in the movie.

It’s not dubbed, it’s not sung by another singer because the lead actress can’t sing. There’s no bait and switch or cover up.

It’s her, singing HER words, and connecting to something we all feel very deeply.
Something I feel very deeply.

I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now

We don’t have to look far these days to see how deep things are.  The news has been littered with devastating actions, especially towards women.

If I learned anything from my divorce and this journey to creating a new life, it’s that I spent a lifetime desperately trying to STAY in the shallow end.

I relied on my outward appearance to boost my career.
I tried to be perfect in everything I did so I wouldn’t be rejected.
I pushed my strong emotions aside, and told myself they didn’t matter.
I kept thinking it was the NEXT song, the NEXT show that would make me happy as an Artist.

And then it all fell apart.
And I dived in.

I dived into the deep end.

The deep end that was actually my LIFE, everything that had been calling for me to look at.  What I found there was shocking, surprising, painful, and also miraculous.

I started writing again.
I found work I loved.
I found you, my brilliant.
And I met the love of my life.

This didn’t happen in the shallow.
It happened in the deep end.
It happened in ME stripping myself down, being vulnerable, taking off the years and years of stage makeup and just stepping forward, and saying,
This is me.

I had thought for years I would be rejected if I did this.

And I was wrong.

I became a super fan of Lady Gaga because I saw myself in her.  I was deeply inspired.  There was no smoke and mirrors.

And this is true for you too.

Your audience is STARVING for connection.
Your audience is starving for truth, honesty, and authenticity.

There is only one of you, so trust that.  It can be so easy, and I did this for YEARS as a performer, to try and do what everyone else is doing.  But, your real power as an Artist comes from your authentic expression, not being a carbon copy.

As a society we are far from the shallow.  Every day is a new disappointment in the news, and as Artists, we have the power to enrich our audience’s lives.

You have the power to enrich your OWN life by being honest with yourself.

So, what does that look like?

If you knew you had this Unstoppable force within you, what would you do differently?
What could be possible?

 

A Star is Born is a smash hit.  It’s giving me hope, and I know I’m not the only super fan that has emerged from this film.  This stripped down, and very REAL performance is coming at a time when we need it.

 

On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Lady Gaga said,

“I’m a survivor of sexual assault.  If someone is assaulted, or experiences trauma, there is science, the brain changes and literally what is does is take the trauma and it puts in in a box, and files it away and shuts it so that we can survive the pain.

But when she saw that Judge Kavanaugh was going to be put in the highest place of power in the judicial system of this country, she was triggered and the box opened.  And when the box opened, she was brave enough to share it with the world to protect this country.

 

We’re far from the shallow now.

So dive in.
The ground was an illusion anyway.
This is where we really create our most powerful work.

Entering the Labyrinth

Do you ever feel like you are walking in circles?

You see your Creative Dream in front of you, but no matter how hard you try, it feels like you will never GET THERE?

You were told to devote time to Instagram, so you spent all this time and energy, and it hasn’t converted to sales.
You were told to join this group of fellow Creatives and you feel like you have nothing in common with them.
You’ve read a TON of books and taken courses, and yet you are not seeing your income increasing.
And even though, you are spending time doing yoga, or meditation, you are still JUST as frustrated and devastated when you hear NO.

Any of this sound familiar?

All you want is for someone to just tell you HOW to make it happen.

You are so ready….why isn’t the universe answering your call?
Why aren’t you getting what you are asking for?

Is anyone listening?

I imagine it’s exhausting, seeing your vision in front of you, and feeling SO confused.

Can it just be a simple path laid out with a clear direction?

 

Two weeks ago, I was at the Lifebridge Sanctuary retreat center in upstate NY. I was there for a four day intensive on Non-Violent Communication.

I had A LOT swimming within me.  I just got married, was missing my husband, and had all kinds of fears coming up around making this marriage better than my last.

On a break,  I took a walk on the grounds and came across a sign,
Welcome to the Labyrinth.

I looked ahead of the sign, expecting to see entry to some high wooded walls, my mind already creating versions from Harry Potter or Stephen King novels.  When I didn’t see this entrance, I turned to my left and instead saw a ring of stones on the grass.

This was the labyrinth. Simple.

The sign read:
 “As you enter this ritual journey, may you deepen your understanding of what is means to be in the right relation with the magic that is in yourself, the environment, and the Universe….”

As I entered the labyrinth, what struck me was how CLEARLY I could see the middle, the end point. With no walls, it was visible the whole time.  So, I started at the entrance, seeing where I wanted to go.

Immediately, it was disorienting.  I thought I was going towards the center, but actually found I was moving towards the outside.

How could the steps moving forward be taking me further away from the middle as opposed to closer?

Have you ever felt this in your Career?

But, I kept walking, step after step, and found myself viewing the center from ALL angles.  Even when I thought I was close, the path would lead me away, suddenly swerving to the other side.

But, I kept walking…….trusting each step, even though to my EYE it didn’t look like the path was leading to where I wanted to be.

And then, there I was, in the middle, actually a step away from the entrance.
I had arrived.

I looked down at my feet, and at the crazy swirling path that brought me here.

I thought of how in the face of my divorce, I pleaded with the universe for it not to happen.
I thought of losing my home, my car, and just wanting it all to stop.
I thought of hiring a life coach for the first time thinking I would do more film & TV, and instead launching a blog, and a business that actually allowed me to be the Artist I had always wanted to be.
I thought of all the heartbreaking dates I went on, desperately wanting the next guy to be my man.

The path was NOT linear, although I wanted it to be SO badly.  I went ALL over the place to arrive in this moment, here, married to the love of my life and doing work I love.

It didn’t look like I thought it would, and many times, I felt like I was so far away from my dream and vision.

But I kept walking, in faith and trust, knowing CLEARLY what I wanted.

 

So, what do you want?
Is your vision clear?

 

We can really caught up in believing things are going wrong if the PROCESS isn’t what we expected.  But the truth is, you don’t know what you don’t know.  You are working towards something you’ve never had in your life before, so how could you know what is actually looks like to get there?

This is where you hire mentors and coaches who HAVE taken the path to guide you on the way.

 

I NEVER thought I would live in NJ, and here I am.
I ALWAYS thought the only way I would be fully fulfilled and feel like I “made it” was to be on Broadway, and yet the work I do now far exceeds any show I performed in.

I didn’t have this before, so I HAD NO IDEA what the path would look like. I had a lot of ideas about what I thought it SHOULD look like…and so really it was a journey of letting go of that, and just being open to the experience, all the while staying deeply connected to what is important to me.

All the while staying deeply connected to my life, every breathing moment. Every disappointment, every frustration, every heartbreak.

We will all experience pain along the way, but you have the power to determine whether or not you suffer in it.

Can you walk the twists of your creative life, and instead place your attention on something far greater?

Faith.

One of my teachers said,
You get in the boat, and set your course due east, but you have no control over the water.  It may be stormy with crashing waves, it may be calm as glass…that is not under your control. 

Release your iron grip on what the journey looks like, and instead place your focus and intention on your vision.  The raging storms are not proof you should stop, but merely a PART of the journey.

What is possible for you now?

 

Welcome to the labyrinth.

Here are a few guidelines:
1) Set your intention for your walk
2) Have no expectations
3) Pause and take a few deep breaths
4) Walk at your own pace
5) You may pass others, others may pass you.
6) As you reach the center stay as long as you wish; pray or ponder.
7) When ready, return on the same path to your starting point.
8) Please maintain silence

 

“Those who have walked a labyrinth with an open heart know the power of the experience.  Its path is a ritual journey from the threshold at the entrance to a more metaphoric threshold at the center – A path of discovery and self knowledge.”
– John Bloom