Your Personal Screen

Do you ever get to the end of your day and feel like NOTHING got done?

It can be so frustrating, right?

You are staring at your Creative Projects, and feeling like they are just in stand still mode. You woke up this morning with the best intentions, you woke up inspired and ready to take action on your Art and truly be Unstoppable…..

And then,
Email
Texts
Laundry
Shopping
Facebook
Unexpected Family Issue
s
Phone Calls

All these OTHER things pulled you from your Art. And the voice rises up so loud,
You’ll work on this WHEN these other things are taken care of.
There’s TOO much to do!
Let me just take care of this one more thing now…..

You feel like a ping pong ball, scattered in a million directions and end your day frazzled, overwhelmed, and no closer to receiving the acclaim you desire. And your inner critic is having a parade in your head saying,
This will NEVER Happen!

Have you ever felt like this?
How do we turn this around and actually have our days work FOR us instead of against?

 

I’m settling in more, living in New Jersey suburbia.  My body is settling too, and I found myself putting on some weight.  I realized the pace of running a business out of a home is very different than running a business out of an apartment in NYC.

The biggest thing missing?
The walking of public transportation.  NYC is a place with exercise built in, the streets, the subway steps…something I had taken for granted, until I was living in a home and had a car as transportation.

So, last week, I found myself at a gym, and as I climbed onto the elliptical, what struck me most were all the TVs plastered across the walls above the mirrors.

So many of them with blinking screens and flashing lights…
Talk Shows
24 News Channels
Reality TV

Close Captioning bold letters moving across the screens,
Trump’s latest Tweet
Rain Expected for Days!
Fatal School Bus Crash

And I could feel my chest tightening.  I could feel the initial urge to want to read every word. And then I looked down at my elliptical machine screen, and saw an option,
Courses.

When I clicked on this, I saw I could choose a course titled :
Grand Staircase Hike.

As I am a HUGE lover of outdoors, I clicked right away and found myself immersed on a hike through the National Parks of Utah.  I felt my chest relax, and realized the course was taking me on a path.
One single path.

Every now and then, I would gaze up at the TV screens calling me to get involved in Russia, Weather systems, or endless footage on a continued repeated loop of an angry tennis player smashing a camera. My path was still laid out in front of me, and yet these other screens were taunting me with their headlines.

And in that moment I thought of you.

 

Distraction is the destroyer of productivity.

And it comes in SO many forms today.  We have devices and screen ALL around us vying for our energy.

And while we wake every day WITH energy, we only have so much, and that tank is dependent on how much sleep we got, our general health, our mental well being, and our nutrition.

As our day continues, that tank lessens and lessens before we need to recharge again with sleep.

So, how do you want to use your energy?
How are you beginning your day when your tank is most full?

And most importantly, what is your path?

What is your vision, that juicy desire that brought you to your brush, your music, your dance, and your pencil?

Too often, we just throw ourselves into our work with no real vision of what we truly want.  Since we aren’t connected to what’s most alive and important to us as Artists, we will get easily distracted.

And there is a LOT of garbage on those screens.

Take stock, and ask yourself,
What helps me stay focused?
What inspires me to stay on my path of receiving the acclaim I desire?

And check in with your body.

What causes constriction?
What pulls your mind in a million pieces?

I can say for myself, News Channels are a one way ticket to a black hole.  I can feel every creative element in me shut down.  Reality TV does this too.

Having visual inspiration is vital for our Art, as most of us are visual learners, however, our minds can only focus on ONE THING at a time.  Multitasking is actually a fallacy.  It’s exhausting your brain, overstimulating your nervous system, and putting you into overwhelm.

And how does that affect your Creative Flow?
It shuts it DOWN.

So, if you only chose one screen…..what would be playing?

And my invitation is to turn the others off.

I used to have a DVR so full, I literally couldn’t catch up on all the shows I thought I “had” to watch.  In truth, the hours I was spending every night in front of the TV were just distractions keeping me from the fact my whole marriage was falling apart, and I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my performance career.

When the bottom fell out, one of the first things I laid a boundary on was the TV.  I shut out all the crazy noise so I could actually connect back with what was most important to me.

So, what is most important to you?

Recognize the distractions for what they are, and come back to your path.

 

What is your path that inspires you and energizes you?

Turn off the other screens.
They were just draining you anyway.

Walk on your Grand Staircase, and ENJOY the single view.

The Magic of the Pause

Do you ever feel like there are just NOT enough hours in the day to get everything done?

So much is involved in being an Artist today, and it can feel overwhelming keeping up with social media, promotions, your friends and family, and then there’s the actual CREATION part…

You have this finite amount of time to
write the chapter
paint the canvas
choreograph the dance
plan out the show
edit your footage

So, what happens when you go to sit and actually DO your Art, and nothing comes?

Your mind is racing a million miles a minute going through a laundry list of To Do’s. You find yourself literally listing out groceries instead of being able to create.
Inspiration has gone OUT the window…

It can be so frustrating, right?

This is the FUN part!  This is the part we live for as Artists….so why does it dry up?

And more importantly, what can we do in that moment so we can actually create our best work and actually deliver to our audience?

How can we connect back with our Muse and feel that glorious flow again when we are so stressed OUT?

 

Last weekend I went to one of the most delicious and affirming workshops.  Led by master writing teacher, Christian McEwen, she led us in a one day retreat titled,
Learning to Pause.

In front of us, she offered a thick pad of drawing paper surrounded by colored pencils, pastels, and wax crayons.  One by one, we each tore a crisp sheet from the wire binder and were instructed to fold it in half.

On the left side, she wanted us to draw what a Frenzied State looked like to us.  Then on the right side, she wanted us to draw our state of flow and ease.

I had picked many colored pencils for the right side, but when I thought of the Frenzy, there was only one pencil that made sense…..
black.

The left side of my paper was colorless, marked by strong black circular shapes forming a huge exhausted eye, the lack of sleep and wrinkles in hard lines. I found myself drawing arrows pointing down, and black tear drops.  This was frenzy to me.  Black, colorless, heavy……a giant dragon eye drooping under the pressure.

Then, I picked up the colors and drew my place of inspiration.  Waves of water, rays of sunlight and energy, pulsing over smiling lips, and spirals in vibrant blues and purples.  Nature in all her glory, opening me.

I was struck by the stark contrast, and then Christian spoke about what happens in between.

Because this is the REAL question, right?

We all experience the tired black dragon, the darkness and hard lines in our life.  How do go from the frenzy to the flow?

The answer lies in the fold of the sheet we were drawing on, the crease we had formed from one to the next….

The answer is in the Pause.

It’s when we can stop all the insanity, and just connect back with the world around us.

Take a moment right now, and connect to your five senses.
What is the environment around you? Take in the details around you.
What do you smell right now?
Whirl your tongue around your teeth. What do you taste in your mouth?
What do you feel on your skin?
Close your eyes, and open your ears.  What sounds are around you?

And what happens in that moment when you place your attention on your single sense?

You come present.
The whirlwind in your mind takes a break.

And it’s in this break, this magical pause, that you re-set.

And in the re-set, the Muse comes in.

“Art is the means we have of undoing the damage of haste.  It’s what everything else isn’t.”
-Theodore Roethke

 

We can so easily forget how important a moment of pause is to our livelihood as an Artist.  This class was a huge reminder for me. I literally walked in 10 minutes late, breathless from booking as fast as I could to the workshop doors.  I felt self conscious, embarrassed, and frustrated.  This workshop was about Learning to Pause, and I was in a frenzy to get here!

Clearly I needed this……

Christian gave us 30 minutes to go outside on the Brooklyn street and noticed up to 8 things, writing a free form poem or short writing.

This felt like a huge gift.  I walked out, and found myself falling in love with so much on the street….a plastic cup, a worn out Toyota, a house sparrow chirping noisily in the tree….I realized inspiration was ALL around me.

And 8 poems emerged….in only 30  minutes.

Why?

I was taking the pause.  I was coming present.  There was no rush, AND I was open to take in my environment. All the other To Do’s fell away, and the Muse came in.  In fact, she had never left.  Now I was actually open to see her, walking alongside me on the concrete of Brooklyn.

J.K. Rowling conceived Harry Potter on a stalled train.  She was forced into a pause, and one of the most popular characters of our time was born.

And the beauty is, we all possess this ability.

And I want to be clear, this is not about disconnection or distraction. I’m not talking about binge watching or playing candy crush.

The pause is coming back to your actual experience NOW. It’s bringing your senses back on line; getting out of the monkey mind of your past and future fears, and actually taking IN your reality.

So what is that for you?
What is your moment of pause?

When you think of a sheet of paper with Frenzy on the left and flow on the right, what nourishes you?

Take out a piece of paper, and write these down.  Place them somewhere you can see them, and re-visit.  Place them by your instrument, or in your studio, or on an inspiration wall.

And now, give yourself permission to take a pause, today, and for this next week.

We need to return to the basics.

 

The Muse enters in when we take a pause.

So look up.
Smell.
Taste.
Touch.
Feel.

Your life is a miracle.

Take in the wonder around you…..then express what is most alive in you.

 

 

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon