Rising From the Fall

I fell down the stairs….

All the way from the top to the bottom.  I was rushing coming down the stairs and had an empty laundry basket in one hand, and my laptop in the other.

A scream cried from my throat, the laundry basket smashed into my skull, and at the bottom of the stairs, my laptop went flying out of my hands into the entryway.

My socks had met the carpet and created a long slide where I couldn’t stop myself or the fall, until my body was at the bottom in a heap.

My fiance came running from the kitchen immediately and crouched at my side, his face contorted in concern,
Are you OK??

I heard the water still running in the kitchen from my fiance doing dishes……and then just went still.

Quiet, I asked the most important question to myself,
Am I ok?

 

The summer after I graduated Penn State, I was hired to be the dance captain and play one of the supporting roles in Stephen Schwartz’s musical Children of Eden for Centre Stage Theatre.

I loved this musical!

Our director was the brilliant Jack Parkhurst, who returned for the professional production after helping us with the workshop two years prior.

There was a lot of dancing in the show, and we were rehearsing one of the largest numbers, where I was wearing heels.

I had a history of weak ankles, and sure enough…..rolled over my ankle, twisting it horribly.

I went down immediately, started crying from the pain, and could feel all the fears coming up,
Did I break it?
Will I be able to dance?
Can I still do the show?
What is everyone thinking of me??

Have you ever felt this when you fall?

The director came rushing over, and took off my shoe, saying he actually knew Reiki.  I had never heard of Reiki before, and he placed his hand on my ankle and said,
I want you to let all your pain flow into my hand

I looked at his hand, and did as he requested.
And something magical happened…..I felt the area loosen, I felt the pain dissipating.

How was this happening?

He had me sit on the side for a bit with ice, but by the afternoon, I was back on my feet again.  The swelling went down, and I was able to dance.

 

What happens to you when you fall?
What’s the first thing that pops into your head?

And falling can look many ways in our Creativity.

It can be rejection.
It can be something going wrong and ruining your work.
It can be set backs, and cancellations.

At the root of a fall, is the feeling of fear.

When we fall, we have lost control.  Things aren’t going the way we want, and most of all, we are dealing with surprise.

At the core, we are dealing with SHOCK.

One minute you are up and the next you are down.
It can be deeply unsettling.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we are up, and everything is going our way, that is STAYS that way?

Yet, this does not seem to be the case, and as we grow in our careers and take more risks, we find ourselves falling.

So, what can you do?
How can you deal with the SHOCK and the FEAR and be able to get back up and dance again?

How do you go from the crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs to walking again?

 

My fiance’s face was looking down at me with deep concern, and I didn’t move.  I stayed still and checked in asking,
Am I ok?

After checking in, I knew I hadn’t broken anything, but my body was in shock from the fall.

So, I said yes to the Shock, and remembered Jack Parkhurst holding my ankle.

I let the shock roll through me, and began to shake.

All the fear and energy that had gathered in my body as I slid down the stairs started to dissipate.

I let it go. I let it move through me, and once I was done shaking, I moved to the floor and lay on my back, and then the tears came.

I cried.  I expressed my fear to my fiance, the fear of falling down the stairs, and my deep desire to feel safe in this home I’ve only lived in for five months.  I let all my fears and desires come to the surface.

And then, once the tears stopped.….my fiance lifted me, and I took my first steps.

So often in the moment of shock, we want to jump to something CERTAIN. We’re scared, and don’t like being in this place of not knowing. And trust me, I get that!

What if you just FELT the SHOCK?
What if you let the shock move through your body and let your body shake it out naturally?

Shock is usually the first response, and then comes the emotion.  What commonly occurs is we ATTACH to the emotion that arises OUT of the shock and believe that’s the answer. We believe the emotion is fixed and will be there forever.

This hurts, therefore it will always hurt.
I’m in pain, therefore I will always be in pain.

I’ve been rejected, therefore I will always be rejected.

But I have a gift for you today.

Change is the constant.  You are not a fixed being, you are a creative force.  That means that in every moment you are changing, you are shifting.  Your cells are realigning.

Your body WANTS to be whole.
And in this wholeness, comes your most powerful expression.

So, next time you experience shock from a fall, try this instead,
* go quiet and give yourself space
* check in with yourself and ask, Am I ok?
* let the shock roll through you
* allow yourself to shake and process
* say yes to the powerful emotions and express them in a skillful way to a loved one or using journaling.
* Slowly rise, and take a new step

 

The way is always through.

When you take that first step, you get to begin anew. The fall is now is the past, and here you are.
How will you use this moment?

I’ll meet you at the bottom of the steps, holding out my hand.

Tap into your limitless resources, creativity, and flow.

Slowly rise, and take a new step.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Are you afraid your audience will Boo you?
Do you find yourself in front of your audience tongue tied, dry mouthed, and so nervous on how you will be received?

Do you find yourself working on your projects again and again, hoping it will actually work and be adored?

You look at other artists and performers who seem to have the Midas Touch, where everything they release is a HIT!

How the HECK do they do that?

Our audience can feel so elusive….have you ever felt like this?

What would be possible for you, if you really knew?
How would it feel to look into your audience’s eyes and see not only joy, but that you have moved them?

 

Alright Rogers, you’ve got the floor.

1969, Fred Rogers was testifying in front of a Senate committee, headed up by the very gruff, Senator Pastore.

The future of PBS lay on the table.

Nixon wanted to cut public funding, and $20 Million dollars was at stake.  With this, PBS could continue it’s programming.  Without it, it would disappear.

Senator Pastore had spent the last two days closed off, unconvinced, and PBS had saved their most valuable speaker until the end, Fred Rogers.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood had been on the air for over a year and was radically different than all the other children’s programming. Instead of cartoons showing violence, and pies in the face, Fred Rogers was writing and performing content that dealt with much larger issues, like childhood anger, and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

Fred began to speak, and share what made his program different.

Our show is about a Neighborhood expression of care, helping each child to realize he is unique.  At the end of every show, I say, “You’ve made this day a special day, just by being you.  There’s no one else in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

If we, in Public Television can only make it clear that Feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.

I think it’s much more dramatic to show two men working out their feelings, much more dramatic than gunfire.

Senator Pastore had become transfixed, quiet, and a change was occurring over his face.

He was softening.

He was listening.

Fred then shared the lyrics to a song he wrote called,
What do you do with the ‘Mad” you feel?

And then he spoke,
I’m supposed to be a pretty touch guy and this is the first time I’ve had goose bumps in the last two days.  You just got your $20M.

 

Why was Fred Rogers able to turn the tide when other men had not?
What was different in his performance?

In 1969, it was not common to have a grown man talking about feelings, and talking about self acceptance.

But, this was absolute truth for Fred.

He was CLEAR.
He knew WHAT he was talking about.
He believed deeply in what he was standing for.

Fred Rogers had great conviction, but he also had great respect. He never spoke down to the Senator, and included him the entire time he was speaking with him.

But, the piece that resonated most was WHAT he was speaking about.

Humanity.

He wasn’t trying to be clever or pull tricks. Fred wasn’t making something up on the spot, he was prepared.

He looked at Senator Pastore and spoke to him, not as someone on a pedestal…but just as another human being.

For years, as a performer, I would give all of my power to my audience. I would place their opinion over mine, put them on a pedestal, and meekly HOPE what I was presenting was worthy.

Where did this get me?
Years of frustration, resentment, and feeling like I wasn’t enough.

The incessant voice of
Will they like me? was exhausting.

Without even realizing it, my deep desire of approval was actually putting up a wall and repelling the very people I wanted to connect with the most.

Everything turned around when I placed the audience on the same level. I felt joyful because I now experienced my audience as equal.

In truth, we have so much more in common than differences with our audience.

I imagine when Senator Pastore heard the song about dealing with anger, he was recognizing how that was alive in him.

Because this is what our audience does….they look for what you SHARE. They are listening to every word, every note, reading every word to see,
Is this like me?

Because underneath it all, we really want to BELONG.

And Art allows that.

Your stories
Your talks
Your music
Your dance
Your paintings
Your photography

It brings you AND your audience to a place of belonging.

Or as Fred Rogers said,
An expression of care.

 

So, where are you placing your audience?
How would it feel to be on the same level and just SHARE what you have in common?

When you transform from within, your audience will do the same.

This is when they will be WITH you, and your confidence soars.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

This feels much better.