Momentum

Oh, for the sake of momentum
I’ve allowed my fears to get larger than life
And it’s brought me to my current agendum
Whereupon I deny fulfillment has yet to arrive

And I know life is getting shorter
I can’t bring myself to set the scene
Even when it’s approaching torture
I’ve got my routine

But I can’t confront the doubts I have
I can’t admit that maybe the past was bad
And so, for the sake of momentum
I’m condemning the future to death
So it can match the past.

-Aimee Mann

Keep moving.
Keep going.
Don’t stop.

This was what was playing in my head over and over again. 

I had my routine.

Snooze once or twice in the morning. 
Take a shower and listen to the radio.
Do some light stretching.
Warm up my voice. 
Set my hair in hot rollers and put on my makeup. 
Pin my hair into place, pack up my backpack with my audition book and dance shoes, and then grab my headphones and blast music into my ears as I walked out the door. 
Drown out the outside world, and then come home at the end of the day and watch 2-3 hours of TV.

Day after day.
Audition after audition.
Dance class, voice lessons, on camera classes.

Callback…..don’t book it.
Callback…don’t book it.
Callback….don’t book it.

I had come to New York City to be on Broadway, and come close SO many times, and yet it remained elusive as each year went on.

I worked in every other venue there was, Off Broadway, National Tours, National Commercials, Regional Theater, and yet…this was my ceiling.

I was so frustrated.

But I couldn’t stop.
I had to keep going.
I had to go to the next audition and the next, and keep up my classes, because that was what was going to GET me there.

There was great momentum behind me, and I wasn’t going to slow down.  Time was swiftly passing by.  I was approaching my late 30’s and freaking out.  And what was playing over and over again in my head was a record saying,
You should have BEEN there by now.

My marriage was falling apart, but I had to keep going.
I was drinking too much, but I had to keep going.
I was trying to get pregnant and it wasn’t working, but I had to keep going.

Until it all fell apart.

In one year’s time, everything I knew of my life changed.  I went through a divorce, was robbed twice, lost a dear friend to a heart attack, and was in two car accidents.

I didn’t work in my profession. There weren’t any Broadway auditions.  No one was calling, and even if they did, I was a mess.

I remember going in for a regional production and having to sing the classic ballad, My Funny Valentine.  The words choked in my throat, and I barely made it through the song.  The casting director knew I was going through a divorce and came out after to give me a hug.  Everyone in the biz knew, I was so embarrassed, and I thought,
Will I be able to sing again?
Will they ever hire me again?

The momentum of my life came to a screeching halt, and something radical came in.

Silence.
Quiet.

I started asking for help, and found Zen Buddhism which taught me that,
Change is constant. Nothing is permanent.

I started to meditate, took the headphones out of my ears, and truly took the time to ask,
HOW did I get here?
What led to this?

I stopped snoozing my alarm, and found I actually had time.
Time to understand the WHY and HOW of my journey.
Time to face my doubts and fears, and actually transform them.

And time to wake up and make new choices.

I realized I had been condemning my future to look JUST like my past, by not stopping and actually asking the question,
Why am I here?

And when I finally had the support to ask this in a loving way, and had skillful guidance to move forward, my life transformed.

I started singing again, and sang the best I had in my whole career.
I booked a ton of work.
And the industry now saw me for ALL of who I was, and most importantly, they saw me for my strength, not the ordeal I had gone through.

The fear that I would never “make it” literally disappeared, and in it’s place was just inspired action and creating a new life that fulfilled me.

I stopped chasing the dream, and instead woke every day to create it.

So, what is your routine?

What have you decided will just “always be”?

Complacency can be deeply destructive, and rob you of your confidence, and the longer we try to shove our fears and doubts under the bed or into the closet, the larger they become.

They don’t go away until we acknowledge them.

And that begins with the single most important tool you can cultivate to create change,
Compassion.

We first have to FEEL the disappointment in order to transform it to powerful action.

We can’t skip over this step, because it’s always running underneath and playing out in subconscious ways.  It’s playing out in your small audience, in colleagues who are untrustworthy, in low-balling your prices and never asking for what you are actually worth.

So, what if this momentum is purely driven by your actions?
This is great news, because it means you have the ABILITY to stop it.

You have the ability to CHANGE your actions.

You have the ability to make different choices.

What if your future could look different than your past?

Start by acknowledging it and allow it to be a teacher.  Allow your past actions to point to what hasn’t been working, and most importantly, accept this with compassion. This isn’t about making you wrong or bad.

There is no problem here.
You are just waking up, and that’s when you access your power.

Today is a new day, one you have never lived before.

With compassion and skillful guidance, stop and ask,
How did I get here?

The answers are within you, as is your greatest power.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Halloween Transformation

Happy Halloween!

What are you dressing up as this year?

This may be one of my favorite times of the year, because it’s when everyone gets dressed up in fun costumes!  My mother says I wouldn’t come out of the womb until the lighting was right, so the dramatic flair has been present since day one.  And then, I went into a 20 year career dressing up for a living!

Except, Halloween was actually the time when my creativity went dry.

Do you ever feel this?

You would think I would be coming up with amazing new costumes every year, right?  Wouldn’t the stage performer just thrive in this holiday?

Yet as an adult, I was finding myself stuck year after year dressed as the same thing, and having NO idea why I wasn’t inspired to change.

It wasn’t until I lost everything that Halloween changed for me, and in turn transformed me.

And caused me to actually ask,
What do I want to be for Halloween?

I remember the day so vividly.  I was at college and Halloween was coming up.  I wanted to dress as something different and went to the costume shop just off campus.  I looked into the glass counter and saw them, fake vampire teeth.

My heart skipped. I loved vampires and was obsessed with author Anne Rice and her whole Interview with the Vampire series.  It felt powerful and exciting and I decided that year to dress up as a vampire.

I got a sexy outfit, a blue wig, and fake blood capsules so I could have my latest “meal” running down my cheek. It was so much fun and I got tons of compliments that night on my costume and how realistic the teeth were. I put them in a soft black bag in my jewelry box to return to for the next year.

It was a success, why not just repeat?

Year after year, I would go to that little black bag, grab the blue wig, and wear something black.  Years went by, and I just thought,
Well, I know what I’m going to be this Halloween, so there’s no need to change. I’m a vampire.

Party after party, wearing the fake teeth, and playing out the same role…..for over 15 years.

And as time went on, I was also feeling frustrated I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my career. I had hit a ceiling and couldn’t figure out how to break past it.  What was in the way?

Can you relate?

And then everything fell apart.  In one year’s time, I lost my marriage, my home, was robbed, and lost a dear friend to a heart attack.

Nothing was the same, and for the first time in my life, I asked for help, and I found Zen Buddhism.  I started meditating, and one of the largest lessons I learned was,
Change is constant.

When Halloween came around, I looked at the little black bag and did something radical.
I threw it away.

And I asked the question,
What do I want to be for THIS Halloween?

I found myself looking at the blue wig I had worn as a vampire, and asked,
Is there another way to use this?

And my inspiration hit.

I decided to dress as an Auror.  According to the Harry Potter universe,
An Auror is a member of an elite unit of highly-trained, specialist officers. They are trained to investigate crimes related to the Dark Arts, and apprehend or detain Dark wizards and witches.

I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan, and I was re-connecting with what inspired me, plus, realized as I was re-building my life, that I was actually magical.

I walked around all day with my wand, casting spells, and felt something shifting around the holiday.
Fun was returning.

The following year, I asked the same question again,
Who do I want to be for THIS Halloween?

At this point, my life had radically changed.  I was in an apartment I loved, meditating daily, working with a coach, and had a complete resurgence in my performance career.

I had made the decision to become certified as a coach and was actually dating again.  Many of my friends were calling me something that really resonated, as I was building my life from the ashes,
A Phoenix.

So, I dressed as a Phoenix for Halloween.

The next year I was a dragon.
Then HIndu goddess Shakti.
Then Game of Thrones Mother of Dragons, Daenarys Targaryn

Every year it changed, and Halloween became a reflection of who I was at that moment.

Because I had learned, I was capable of change.
I was becoming and changing with every year.

And Halloween became a celebration of that.

So, who do you want to be this Halloween?

What if Halloween isn’t about being someone else, but actually celebrating your strengths and your inspiration?

Take out a piece of paper and a pen, and write down all the characters you have dressed as.  Now, write down the values and qualities you love about them.

When we see these qualities in others, it’s actually a reflection of our own inner power.  Those qualities you have written down are also what you own in yourself.

That first year I was a vampire, I was empowered and really wanting to celebrate that.

But, then, I lost connection and stopped checking in.  I became more concerned with putting on an act and looking like I was powerful, then actually accessing my true confidence. I got stuck, and dressing up as a vampire was really a reflection of how disconnected and scared I was.  If I wasn’t a vampire, who was I?

I lost track of the simple fact,
Change is constant
I am capable of growth
I can change

This may be the largest gift you give yourself.

What if the challenge you are in right now is there FOR you?
What if where you are stuck is calling you to make a new step?

Thank goodness I lost everything. It woke me up and cleared the deck so I could really see what was going on.

I wouldn’t be here with you, and I would have never connected with the fact that I am, and have within in me,
Magic
Wings
Fire
A Dragon
A Goddess

So, ask yourself this question,
Who ARE you?

You don’t need to pretend anymore. 

Let Halloween be the invitation to celebrate ALL of your glorious magical strengths.