Crack Open

How are you feeling about your career?

Are you where you want to be?
Is your audience growing and adoring you?
Do you have money coming in from your work and systems in place for much more to flow in the new year?

Take a moment….and truly ask,
How is it going?

As we near the end of the year, this is a big time for reflection, to ask,
What is working?
What is NOT working?

And as Creatives, we tend to get really caught up in what’s NOT working.  It can be devastating to put out so much of ourselves, our passion and craft, and not see the return we desire.

And wanting to put on the “brave face” makes it even harder, especially at this time of year when we have the pressure of holidays, family, and all the gatherings where people are asking US,
So….how’s it going??

It can feel like we are cracking, and coming undone.

And we can’t have that, right?  We have to keep it together. We may feel we have to:
look the part
fake it til we make it
appear confident

Isn’t that how success comes?

 

Oh my God……there’s a HUGE crack…..

I look down at my bowl in my bathroom and see this enormous crack in the clay.

I pick up the bowl and can feel a panic in my stomach.  As I cup the base, my mind starts to race,
I just GOT this

This bowl was made for my husband and I as a wedding gift from one of my Zen teachers and dear friends.  Using the Raku technique, she made us a ring bowl, which was used in our wedding ceremony.  My husband and I placed our wedding rings in this bowl when we made our sacred vows to each other.

There was deep significance to this bowl.

Deep significance to this marriage.

I went through a devastating divorce six years ago, and the journey to finding love again was quite intense.  I had a ton of healing to do.  I went on the first date of my LIFE at the age of 38, I had to learn all the ins and outs of online dating, in which I was a complete beginner and VERY awkward. I had to get in touch with my feminine, which had been completely shut down for years. I had zero confidence.

I worked with coaches, I signed up for videos and email lists, because I kept feeling SO lost.  I knew I wanted this with all my heart, but was struggling in the process.

I would get my hopes up so many times, thinking I was truly READY for lasting love, only to be disappointed again. And time was ticking….I was in my early 40’s and really struggling with wanting him here now.

How much time did I really have?

Have you ever felt this?
The urgency of time?

When I finally found my life partner it was a whole new level, one I never thought possible, and I found myself burst open with love. The life I had only dreamed of was coming true.  All the work I had done was now coming to fruition.

Our wedding ceremony was profound for me.  In front of closest family and friends, I took a deep breath, and felt the emotion rise in my throat as I ended my vows staring into the eyes of my beloved with,

20 years ago I stood before witnesses
believing I understood this act.
I honor and love that woman
who’s long sleep brought me to this day.
Today, I meet her on the shore
and turn to you whole,
my dear love.
I vow to awaken within our clasped hands and joined lives.
from the crickets song to the dying leaves.
Unfurled in the sacred space,
petals open for all to see,

I vow to love you,

Lights on and Awake.

 

The day was amazing.  The wedding was sacred and beautiful.  My husband and I brought that special bowl back to our house and placed it in our bathroom to hold our rings.

Deep significance.

And now there was a crack……
What did this mean?
I thought I had worked through all of this!
Wasn’t this bowl supposed to be a symbol of the healing, and the wholeness of finding each other?

I reached out to my teacher Hojin to ask if she could repair the bowl and she said she absolutely could.  Having just returned from India, she actually had this new technique of filling the crack with gold.

Within a short time, the bowl was returned to us and I had expected to just see the crack, and now saw a gold line throughout the whole bowl.  That wasn’t there before….had it cracked more?

When I asked Hojin about it, she said,
I had to break it open to fix it.
It had to come apart to be repaired.

And then I got it. All of it.

And I now saw the beauty, and honestly, how the bowl in it’s present state was actually perfect.

My whole life came apart in order to discover my true calling as an Artist.
My marriage came apart for me to discover what true and healthy love actually was.
My career as a performer came apart for me to create my own platform and work I love.

The WAY I WAS in my life broke open.
I surrendered, I asked for help, and my cracks that I had tried for YEARS to hide, finally broke me open.

And for the first time, I had deep connection with my audience and raving fans. I realized I had been going about growing my audience completely BACKWARDS.

The cracks had actually been there all along SHOWING me what wasn’t working.  They were pointing to where I was exhausting myself.  They were pointing to where I was trying the same thing OVER AND OVER and expecting different results.

Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

And how about you?

As you take this time to reflect on 2018, where are your cracks?
Are you more concerned with having it all together, then actually getting the help you need?

What do you need?
Do you even know?

Our journey as Artists is not linear.
Our journey was never meant to do alone.

It can feel deeply isolating in the struggle, but perhaps the struggle is there to HELP you….

 

Take a moment, without judgement and close your eyes.  Come into your body and connect to your breath.  Now ask yourself,
What do I MOST need?

Let this arise, cracks and all.  Allow yourself to see where you truly are.  Release the judgement that you have to do this by yourself.

Crack open.

And then place your attention on the REPAIR.  Fill the cracks with GOLD.  That means, actually addressing what you need NOW to build your career as an Artist and to grow your audience.

And by GOLD, I mean skillful.
I mean helpful.
I mean from someone who GETS you and can actually partner with you to create the results you want in your career. Someone who is either a professional or has been a professional.

 

Your career, this precious bowl…..what could it mean to repair what’s not working?
What would be possible for you then?

I’m standing for your dreams.
Gold in hand.

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.