Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.
Period.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Why?
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.

See You On the Beach

Are you looking at your dreams and wondering if you will get there?
It’s halfway through the year, how is it going?

Do you sometimes feel if this ONE thing was different, everything would change?

Maybe it’s getting an agent
Finding a publisher
Selling out your next concert

I know I went through this many times in my career, and there was also those things I wish would change in ME.

I had an overactive inner critic.
I would doubt myself when I needed to deliver my best performance.
I would beat myself up when auditions didn’t go well.

Have you ever experienced this?

I was getting caught up in these habits, HOW I reacted, WHAT I was saying to myself, and WHAT I believed. And it felt like a crazy merry-go-round.

In my heart, I didn’t know how to get off.

Until life gave me a crash course, and the whole machinery fell apart.

And I finally found the tools to help me go Full Time.

That’s what I want to give you today.
What if the answer is simpler than you think?

Last month my family and I went to the Cape May Birding Festival.  For those who are new here, I am an avid bird watcher and huge nature lover. I wave that flag high:)

The first event we went to was on an early Friday morning, to Cook’s Beach.  As we approached the sand, I saw many birders with their binoculars up to view the amazing red knots running back and forth in the surf and then looked down and caught my breath.

All around my feet, close to the incoming waves, were tons of horseshoe crabs.  This was a nesting site for them, and I had never seen so many in my life.

I was mesmerized by their slow and methodical movements, and the patterns they were making in the sand, as they burrowed in to lay their eggs.

One of the guides told me the horseshoe crab will molt 16 times BEFORE it is able to reproduce, meaning these crabs had been through a LOT.

16 molts.
16 changes.

And then bearing new life.

When my machinery fell apart in the face of my divorce, the largest thing I learned was,
Change is constant.

I learned about impermanence and started to see how so much of my life I believed was FIXED, meaning it I doubted myself in the most important moments, I would ALWAYS doubt myself in important moments.

Have you ever felt this?

If I got cut at the final callback of a Broadway show, I would ALWAYS get cut at the final callback.

And yet, here I was, witness to everything changing ALL at once.

My marriage I had thought was permanent
My career I had thought was permanent

And in this, I began to experience deep change.

I began to take risks in my performance
I began to share my vulnerability
I began to release my perfectionism
I began to ask for help
I began to forgive myself and be far kinder in the face of disappointment
I began to empathize with others’ pain
I began to meditate…

The list goes on and on.

I was molting.
Releasing layer after layer of these aspects of myself I thought were permanent.

Turns out, they weren’t.

And when the molting was complete, I was able to birth a new life.
One where I was Full Time.
One where I was deeply fulfilled by my work and confident in my voice.

One where I met you.

As Artists we are changing all the time.

In every moment you are becoming.

Think of some of the great masters, like Picasso.
His early works look NOTHING like his later works.

Why? Because he was changing, his voice and his expression.

We can fight natural evolution, or we can let go and allow our growth to take place.

And this applies not just to your art, but most of all to YOU.
To your being.

After all, as Artists, we are merely expressing our being.

What if your inner critic can transform into your biggest fan?
What if your self doubt can be released?

What if these parts of yourself you think are holding you back are actually pointing to what will allow you to go Full Time?

If change is constant, then what is possible for you?

Allow the molting to occur, so you can birth the work you are meant to do.

See you on the beach.