Beyond What’s Possible

Have you ever wanted something really BIG?

Maybe it even scares you little, because you have had some success, but this would be blowing it out of the water!

Maybe you’ve booked some shows at smaller or medium sized venues, but you really want to sell out a stadium.

Or you’ve self published a book or two, but you would LOVE to be on the NY Times Best Seller List.

Maybe you’ve sold some of your original art work, but you really want to have sales coming in non stop and see your work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art!

They are the BIG dreams!

Have you ever felt this?

Sometimes it can feel like a HUGE leap from where you are to where you want to be, and one of the most common questions I get is, HOW DO I GET THERE?

We can look at other successful Artists, see their glory and just wonder,
Am I missing something?
What’s the secret?

We can tie ourselves in knots, but what if the most important piece is far simpler than you think?

I know when I found this piece, my life changed.  I found myself fulfilling the dreams I was afraid to really ask for….I found them coming true, from a life partner after a devastating divorce, a house after losing everything, and a thriving art business after not working for a year. From the ashes, a new life. I was asking for something VERY big….and it came.

What is this for you?

I’m a bird watcher.  Yes, a lover of all things bird!  My parents were into birding for a lot of my adult life, but when my divorce went down, my parents gave me my first set of binoculars and I started going to birding festivals with them in 2013.

A huge nature lover, I was in heaven, watching them fly, seeing their vibrant colors and identifying all the species. I was hooked, and it was helping me heal from my divorce.

Most of the festivals I went to were in southern Virginia during migration season, and my parents and I would be there for 3 days.  As is common in birding, we would keep a list of all the birds we saw, counting each species.

The most species we would see would be about 70-80.  And that was thrilling!  So festival after festival, I would set the marker for 80 and look with earnest.  Sometimes, we would hit that and other times, it was less.

Until last weekend….

Last weekend, my parents and aunt all came to NJ for the Cape May Birding Festival.  In existence for over 70 years, this is one of the best birding festivals in the country.  Cape May is a hub for naturalists, conservationists, and ornithologists.  They flock to the shore to view, save, and protect the wildlife.  It’s very inspiring.

So, I couldn’t wait to share this festival with my parents after the years of them sharing their festivals with me.

I also had this feeling…I felt we were going to have an epic festival.  I knew Cape May was one of the top and we were going to be visiting at peak migration time.

I felt we could smash the old record.

And I felt we could do it together.

So, on Friday morning, as we were driving down to Cape May, I made a pronouncement to my family,
I think we can get 100 species this weekend!

My mother’s eyes got wide, and my aunt and husband were excited.  And then, my dad piped in,
I don’t know about that….

For a moment I doubted myself.  This was setting the bar high, so I made a compromise and said,
Ok, how about 90?

There was a general consensus in the car, and I thought,
Well, this will definitely happen!  No way we won’t hit 90!

I was playing it safe; managing my expectations of what was possible.

And then, my father burst out from the front seat,
Great Egret!  First species!

He dove in, and right away we all started looking out the window.  By the time we were to Cape May, we already had about 6 species.

After an amazing first day of birding and seeing a Seaside Sparrow and a Virginia Rail for the first time in my life, I knew there was something in the air.

And I turned to my family and said,
We CAN get 100 species this weekend.

It was on.  No more doubting. We were all in it together.

And it became this wonderful game!  My mother was keeping a master list and with each one, she would say,
40 species, 60 to go!

It motivated us all, and the weather was giving us gorgeous sunshine.  Birds flying overhead, birds perched in trees, birds singing their mating song….all coming together to be seen.

On Sunday, we went to the Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge and found ourselves trying to spot the elusive Marsh Wren, who was singing his loud song, and typically is impossible to see because he lives in the tall marsh grass.  And then he came out, and my mother said,
That’s 100!

So, we took this picture above. Holy moley…we did it!!

The most amazing thing?  We actually saw 6 more, so our total for the three days was 106.

We actually surpassed the largest number we THOUGHT was possible.

I can remember so many times in my life setting the bar low.  I imagined it would be easier to deal with the disappointment.

And yet, what was actually forming was a BELIEF that I could only go so far.

I could only earn this much as an Artist
I could only work at these theatres
I could only sing this high

Sound familiar?

What changed, was my BELIEF in myself.  Out of my divorce, I realized I had wayyyyyy more potential than I was giving myself credit for.

I remember the first time my coach said to me,
You know your dreams are possible, right?

It went through me.  And she was right.  I just needed to get out of my own way and give myself a permission slip to think bigger.

That was when I discovered something profound.  True for you and me,
You are limitless.

So, where are you with your BIG dream?
Have you put a ceiling on it to keep it safe?

What are you believing about yourself and your ability?

This is the single most important place to look.

Our beliefs run the show.  You can do all the strategies in the world, create the website, do social media, and NONE of it will matter if you don’t BELIEVE it’s possible.

So, the real question to ask is,
What do you believe?

And even better,
Is that working for you?
Is this belief getting you closer to your dreams?

Sometimes it can be awful and scary to come face to face with these beliefs, but it’s the first step. And the next step, the one that will really make the difference, is to ask for help.

My family and I came to 106 species TOGETHER.

Belief is powerful, AND it’s highly contagious.

So, what is your dream?
Say it loud.
Sing it out.

And build the team and support around you to make it happen.

Claim your power.

It’s all there within you. Waiting with wings to fly.

Preserving The Moss

Do you find yourself stuck in the same patterns again and again?

There you are again….
procrastinating on completing your projects…
Getting to the end of the day exhausted with NOTHING done on your To Do List

Or even worse,
The gig you wanted falling through
The person who was supposed to hook you up going AWOL
Opening another rejection letter or email

It can be so disheartening!

And I imagine, you may be thinking,
This will NEVER change.  I will be STUCK in this pattern forever!

This can feel so discouraging and really take a toll on our inspiration, and our motivation.

You may be thinking,
There must be something wrong with me.
I’ll never make it.

I get it.  I remember bawling my eyes out when I blew a callback for Sister Act on Broadway.  I had wanted it SO bad, and at this point it was another in a looooong line of disappointments where at the final moment when I needed to deliver, I would choke. It was as if I couldn’t sing….I literally froze and when they went to test my range, all I heard in my head was,
“You can’t do this”

I was really believing I would always do this.
I was really believing I didn’t have what it takes to sing at that level.

And indeed, this belief kept me stuck.

Can you relate?

I would marvel at my friends who were booking their Broadway gigs, and just ask, from my absolute depths,
What am I missing?
What are they doing that I’m not?
And why the HECK can I not deliver when it matters most?
What is holding me back?

Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

I thought of you last weekend.

I was at a three day intensive up at Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskills, the place where my whole Zen journey began six years ago, and where I was married last September.

The theme of the intensive?
Wholesome Action.

As part of the daily schedule, we do what is called Care Taking, which is typically an hour to 90 minutes of taking care of the monastery and grounds, doing various chores like
Kitchen prep

All of these activities are done as a way of taking care of the space that is taking care of US.  This is our giving back.  What’s most important about this process is, we do it in silence.  It becomes a meditation, so when we get distracted, we come back to the task at hand; back to what we are doing in the moment, and cultivating not only the single focus, but the appreciation for this very special and sacred place.

I was chosen to help out with Cemetery Duty and headed up the hill in the woods with five others, bringing buckets and pads for our knees.

Our care taking?
To preserve the moss.

I had never been to the Cemetery before, and was taken by the beautiful enormous altar, and the peaceful setting.  There were stone pathways, gravestones, and lots of moss…..except the moss was covered.

My job was to pick up the sticks and the pine needles that had fallen and were choking off the moss.  And there was a LOT…in fact the needles seemed to be everywhere.  So, I got down on the ground, and began to gather the needles.

According to Basic
“Mosses play a vital role in being among the first colonizers of disturbed sites. They stabilize the soil surface, thereby reducing erosion, while at the same time reducing the evaporation of water, making more available for succeeding plants.”

They come to disturbed sites, stabilize, and make space for new growth.

Stabilize and make space for growth.

In the face of my divorce, my whole body felt like a disturbed site.  My heart was breaking deeper than I had ever experienced and I felt like my whole life was burning to the ground.  In this space, I asked for help, and it came.

I learned tools around my mind.
I learned how to let go.
I learned tools around self compassion.

I was able to look at each “needle”, each “stick” that had fallen over time, over years of these pattern; these needles and sticks that were essentially my beliefs.

And what I came to realize was that underneath all I had labeled as “bad” about myself was actually something good.  And it was innate.  This goodness wasn’t affected by my heartbreak, by my divorce, by all the rejections I had endured in my career….it wasn’t affected by all the times I choked when I wanted so desperately to sing my best, or wanted to hear YES.

It was my moss.
And it needed to be preserved.

In fact, at that point, I was 37 and realized I had never placed my attention there.

Perhaps this was why I felt stuck….

And when I placed my attention on my moss, I had a radical shift in my career, a complete resurgence and ended up building a global fan base.

I was doing care taking…for the first time.

What are your sticks?
What are you needles?

What have you allowed to fall and cover up your beautiful moss?

What have you believed is real and will always be the same?
Is this helping you to go Full Time with your passion?

What if you are whole and complete?
What if the answers are actually all there, you just need help uncovering them?

There at your disturbed site, is actually an ecosystem waiting to bring you back to life in the face of disappointment and rejection. It’s there to stabilize you and create new growth.

You are actually far more powerful than you know.

Take care.
Preserve your moss.