Interdependence Day

Happy Interdependence day!

Here in the U.S., we celebrated July 4th yesterday, which is normally marked by fireworks, barbecue, and outdoor concerts.

It’s also commonly referred to as Independence Day, marking our country’s Independence with red white and blue plastered everywhere.

Many words are passed along during this time such as

And while there is great benefit to these, our country’s history and the path to this celebration has in fact been incredibly bloody, including claiming rights to lands that actually never belonged to us.

What is really going on there and is it really serving us as a whole?

Something I value about you, as a part of this global community IS the fact you are all over the world.  The ZenRedNYC community is represented by about 20-25 different countries.

I grew up mostly in Europe as a child, as my father was a fighter pilot in the Air Force.  This introduction to diversity from day one really led me to living and falling in love with NYC.

Somehow in NYC we have learned how to live together.  All shapes, sizes, colors, and ethnicities ride the subway standing shoulder to shoulder.  There is a section of Queens that is actually has the most diversity in the world within a mile radius.

All together in a relatively small space.

When I lost everything in 2013, the most radical change I made was to ask for help.  I had actually wanted help for about four years, but the belief that held me back again and again was I would be rejected.  I thought it was far more important to “have it all together” than to admit I was actually really struggling.

In other words, I didn’t think anyone would understand.

Have you ever felt that?
I have to do it on my own.
I can only do it on my own.
I am alone.

And yet, when I stepped forward and asked for help, it came in more ways than I could have ever imagined.  When I shared my shame and vulnerability, I found not only did it bring people closer to me, it opened up a magical space for them to share their vulnerability as well.

I actually had been wrong all this time.

I realized I have far more in common with those around me than differences.
Shared humanity.
We are in this together.

And all those who came to help me at my darkest hour helped me to build a whole new life.  One where I woke up to how much more connected I am to the world around me.

Last week I was down at the beach to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

My family is small and very spread out, so it’s rare for us all to be together. In fact, it’s been 10 years since we all gathered in the same place.

For my parents’ anniversary, I really wanted to create something special. I wanted to create something that would honor our family, and all the beautiful things my parents’ union has created in my life and the life of my immediate family.

So, I asked for help.

I reached out to my Aunt Bonnie, who owns her own design company in San Diego.  We put our creative brains together and came up with a glorious idea.

A custom engraved wooden box that would house a set of 50 cards.  On each card would be a single thing I was grateful for.

My aunt designed beautiful cards.
I found an amazing artist on Etsy who created the personalized box.
I went to Michaels, Staples, and AC Moore for ribbons, accessories, flowers, and a glue gun.
My sister in law glued the moss and wooden dowels to keep the cards in place.

This gift was a collaboration.
It didn’t happen alone.

And when I stood in front of my parents to present the gift and express my gratitude, tears welled in their eyes.

The gift would never have been possible without the 43 years of memories I have FROM my parents.

between; among; mutually; reciprocally.

On the giant table we all sat at was a golden sign reading,
Love is sweet.

What if this is what we all share?
What if this is what truly connects us all?

The moment of standing in front of my parents to present this gift wasn’t about me, it was about what we have all created together.

It can be so easy to isolate with our art.  Each of our processes are so unique, and we are creating work that is personal and deeply expressed.

But where we cut ourselves off is by thinking we have to do it alone.

For years I would cry in the shower, beating myself up and so afraid to be seen.  I was convinced I had to isolate and put on a “brave face”.  Makeup perfect, lines exact, I actually was practicing independence in the most destructive way……self hatred.

Waking up to interdependence radically changed my life. It changed my art, and it allowed me to create a team that nurtures and promotes my work.

I know many of you have incredible visions, and they include,
Becoming a best seller
Playing in large sold out venues
Having a raving fan base who buys all your original work

Your career doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

And most importantly, your art doesn’t either.

Your art is an expression OF your experience. 
OF your humanity.
OF the people, places, and influences that have shaped you into the incredible light you are today.

So, Happy Interdependence Day.Today, I am grateful for you in my life.
I am grateful for this connection you and I have.

Know you are not alone.
And know it what we create together that brings us most alive.

Love is sweet, indeed.

Taking the Leap

Has fear stopped you when it matters most with your work?

Have you been right there, and the next step you need to take in order to go Full Time scares you out of your mind?

It may be,
Starting your Youtube channel
Submitting your manuscript to a big publisher
Hiring your first producer
Promoting your workshop
Raising your prices on your art
Launching a newsletter or blog

It’s that next level of exposure and action you KNOW you need to take, and yet you find yourself paralyzed.  You may feel like your feet are stuck to the ground.

Have you ever felt this?

And the fear can be intense…
It can feel so overwhelming, and you may be thinking,
If I’m THIS scared, I’m not supposed to do it!
Maybe I’ll just wait…
I’ll wait until I’m no longer scared.
If I’m scared, it must not be right.

So, you wait, and wait, and the fear never goes away…and your dreams of going Full Time are no closer.

How does that feel?
I imagine it can be devastating and really discouraging.

You are an incredible Artist.
You have so much to give and your audience is waiting for you…..
So, what’s the DEAL??

Why won’t the fear GO AWAY?

I mean, things would be so much easier if it did, right?

Wednesday night was a big night for me.  Almost four months after a serious calf injury, I decided to try leaping across the floor for the first time.

I had been back to dance class now two times prior since the injury and each time had felt even more solid, and I was actually really excited. 

Tonight is the night!  I get to leap!

And yet, right before I was about to go, I felt it…Fear.
This was exactly how I got injured in January.  It was the leaps across the floor.

For a moment, I could feel that voice coming up saying,
What if you’re not ready?
What if you hurt yourself again?

Have you ever felt this?

I was scared.  The last four months have been really challenging and I have MISSED dance so much!  The last thing I wanted was to have another injury and be out again.

But, something deeper was with me.
So, I leapt WITH the fear.

And I made it across to the other side of the room. A smile broke across my face, a wash of relief came over me.  My calf was tight, but I was ok. 

I was ok.

I remember in the very midst of my divorce, sitting in front of a Zen teacher with tears streaming down my face, sharing my heartache and weeping as I choked out my deepest question,
How do you let go?

He passed me a box of tissues and then asked me,
Are you ok without him?

This question stopped me cold.  Literally, it was as if a huge shift occurred in my body.

Yes, I was ok.
Yes, I was breathing.
Yes, I had support of family and friends….I was still alive.

I honestly had thought because I was SO afraid of being single, of being without the man I had spent 19 years of my life with, that ultimately I would NOT be ok.

This was unknown territory, after all.

And yet, here I was breathing and alive.
The ironic thing was I was the one who actually said,
I want a divorce.

He had asked for a trial separation, but there was no way I was going to give that to him. He was in love with another woman, and had shared he didn’t want to have kids. AND in couple’s therapy, he didn’t want to look at the deeper reasons he was leaving me.

There was no future here. I knew it, and I knew what the next step had to be, and it rocked me to my core.

So, even though I was terrified of never finding my partner, of never having children…I leapt.  It was scary as hell.

And I was ok.
I am ok. And that ability to leap WITH my fear allowed me to not only find my life partner and begin family planning, but also create my own Art business and find true meaning in my life.

Last week I saw a quote from one of my favorite women in the world, Marie Forleo
Fear isn’t the problem. Waiting to stop feeling afraid is.

And this IS the heart of it.

Whoever told you not to step forward because you are scared, lied to you.

It actually may be the least helpful advice given, ever.
We don’t grow when are comfortable, we grow when we are challenged, face it, and step INTO it.

The reason why?

Because when you are able to take steps WITH fear, you are building your greatest ally,
Self trust.

It took me losing everything to wake up to how strong I actually was.

And trust me, it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t do it alone.

Fear is actually just an indicator that it’s important to you!
Much like family to me, partnership, and dancing!
Dancing is VITAL for me, so OF COURSE I was scared to leap.

And I did WITH my fear.

Perhaps, this isn’t about letting GO of fear.

What if fear can come ALONG on the journey?
What if fear is just here to point to what’s important to you?

Take the leap.
The only way is through.

Fear is not your enemy…it may actually just be waiting for you to make friends with it.  Maybe your fear WANTS to leap across the floor and feel freedom too.

Because when you land there….you will realize, it’s gone.

Just like that. It’s disappeared, and there you are….landed from the air, alive.

You are alive.

The wait is over.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography