Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Are you afraid your audience will Boo you?
Do you find yourself in front of your audience tongue tied, dry mouthed, and so nervous on how you will be received?

Do you find yourself working on your projects again and again, hoping it will actually work and be adored?

You look at other artists and performers who seem to have the Midas Touch, where everything they release is a HIT!

How the HECK do they do that?

Our audience can feel so elusive….have you ever felt like this?

What would be possible for you, if you really knew?
How would it feel to look into your audience’s eyes and see not only joy, but that you have moved them?

 

Alright Rogers, you’ve got the floor.

1969, Fred Rogers was testifying in front of a Senate committee, headed up by the very gruff, Senator Pastore.

The future of PBS lay on the table.

Nixon wanted to cut public funding, and $20 Million dollars was at stake.  With this, PBS could continue it’s programming.  Without it, it would disappear.

Senator Pastore had spent the last two days closed off, unconvinced, and PBS had saved their most valuable speaker until the end, Fred Rogers.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood had been on the air for over a year and was radically different than all the other children’s programming. Instead of cartoons showing violence, and pies in the face, Fred Rogers was writing and performing content that dealt with much larger issues, like childhood anger, and the assassination of Bobby Kennedy.

Fred began to speak, and share what made his program different.

Our show is about a Neighborhood expression of care, helping each child to realize he is unique.  At the end of every show, I say, “You’ve made this day a special day, just by being you.  There’s no one else in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.”

If we, in Public Television can only make it clear that Feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.

I think it’s much more dramatic to show two men working out their feelings, much more dramatic than gunfire.

Senator Pastore had become transfixed, quiet, and a change was occurring over his face.

He was softening.

He was listening.

Fred then shared the lyrics to a song he wrote called,
What do you do with the ‘Mad” you feel?

And then he spoke,
I’m supposed to be a pretty touch guy and this is the first time I’ve had goose bumps in the last two days.  You just got your $20M.

 

Why was Fred Rogers able to turn the tide when other men had not?
What was different in his performance?

In 1969, it was not common to have a grown man talking about feelings, and talking about self acceptance.

But, this was absolute truth for Fred.

He was CLEAR.
He knew WHAT he was talking about.
He believed deeply in what he was standing for.

Fred Rogers had great conviction, but he also had great respect. He never spoke down to the Senator, and included him the entire time he was speaking with him.

But, the piece that resonated most was WHAT he was speaking about.

Humanity.

He wasn’t trying to be clever or pull tricks. Fred wasn’t making something up on the spot, he was prepared.

He looked at Senator Pastore and spoke to him, not as someone on a pedestal…but just as another human being.

For years, as a performer, I would give all of my power to my audience. I would place their opinion over mine, put them on a pedestal, and meekly HOPE what I was presenting was worthy.

Where did this get me?
Years of frustration, resentment, and feeling like I wasn’t enough.

The incessant voice of
Will they like me? was exhausting.

Without even realizing it, my deep desire of approval was actually putting up a wall and repelling the very people I wanted to connect with the most.

Everything turned around when I placed the audience on the same level. I felt joyful because I now experienced my audience as equal.

In truth, we have so much more in common than differences with our audience.

I imagine when Senator Pastore heard the song about dealing with anger, he was recognizing how that was alive in him.

Because this is what our audience does….they look for what you SHARE. They are listening to every word, every note, reading every word to see,
Is this like me?

Because underneath it all, we really want to BELONG.

And Art allows that.

Your stories
Your talks
Your music
Your dance
Your paintings
Your photography

It brings you AND your audience to a place of belonging.

Or as Fred Rogers said,
An expression of care.

 

So, where are you placing your audience?
How would it feel to be on the same level and just SHARE what you have in common?

When you transform from within, your audience will do the same.

This is when they will be WITH you, and your confidence soars.

Won’t you be my neighbor?

This feels much better.

True Artistic Freedom

I am free to think
wonderful thoughts.
I move beyond past
limitations into freedom. I am now
becoming all that
I am created to be.

-Louise Hay

 

How have your holidays been?

As the ball approaches dropping in a few days, how you you feeling about 2018?
Specifically, how are you feeling about your Art?

The holidays can be a time of great intensification.  Whatever we are dealing with, can be magnified under the bright lights and holiday frenzy.

While we crave rest most at this time of year, we are usually running around endlessly trying to cram in, and take advantage of the season.

I remember coming home from college and literally passing out as soon as I got to my bed, the build up of exams, not sleeping, and trying to get everything done before the break.

The break…..

So vital in the course of a college career.

And something I have come to deeply respect as a mature Artist.

The place of confusion I feel I was in for so long, was what I DID WITH that break.

There’s the cards, the gifts, the parties, the travel….the family gatherings.  Depending on our dynamics, being with family can be deeply connecting, or horribly triggering. Either way, it’s a lot for the system.

As Artists, we tend to feel very deeply.  Many of us are more sensitive, and empathic.

I spent many holidays, especially POST holidays, sick.

My body literally gave out.

And this year was no different.

I was at dinner with my family, the day after Christmas, and could feel my energy dropping.  I ate about half my dinner and my appetite just stopped. They all finished, and I took my dinner with me to the living room with the full intention of finishing it….

But I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and soon fell asleep.

I woke up just about 15 minutes later, and felt really nauseous.  We all had the same dinner, and they weren’t showing any symptoms.  The TV was loud, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be sick or not, so I came upstairs, closed the door, and curled into a ball.

And closed my eyes.

I really felt low….unsure…..and this is where I did something I NEVER did when I was a college student.

I said,
This too.

I hate being sick, especially nausea. And as a child I suffered from migraines, strange rashes, and many other odd ailments.  For so long, I fought what was arising.

But I had a feeling underneath all of this; the feeling my body was shutting down TO heal.

As I lay there, I could feel the EDGE of,
I can’t get sick right now!
I’m traveling in a few days!
WHY is this happening??

And in the space of all of this, I simply said,
This too.

An hour later, the nausea passed, and that night I slept solid with vibrant dreams.

And when I woke in the morning, I felt ready for my day.  I was able to be present for my family, had energy again, and was inspired to create.

Is this what you want?

 

When you look back at 2017 and your Art, how do you feel?

When you stack up your challenges, your failures, and your frustrations, how much are they impacting you moving forward?

We all have our breaking points.  We all have the moments when our body says,
ENOUGH!

But, as Artists, it’s vital what we are doing in that space.  Even more so, how we are treating ourselves in that space.

It’s such an easy choice to just disconnect, and make the choice NOT to feel, and beat ourselves up in the process.

But, if we keep disconnecting, we are robbing ourselves of truly regenerating.  And the reason regenerating is so important is simple:

We are the conduit FOR our Art.

For some of us, our actual bodies ARE our Art, and for others, it’s our hands, feet, and minds that create the Art.  Either way, we need to be nourished and fed to create. This is especially important to attract our audience.

We can’t be empty inside, and create a strong raving audience.

And what’s most important is knowing the starting point, a vital step BEFORE freedom, especially the kind that Louise Hay speaks about….

Acceptance.

This too.

Within our Artistic journeys, we will hit walls.
We will become overwhelmed.
We will be in high pressure situations that test us.

And we will experience the intensity of the holidays, year after year.

Your choice,
Your FREEDOM comes in HOW you approach it, and what you make it mean.

Acceptance is always the first step, and when the overwhelm hits, take a moment, and don’t fight.

Accept what has occurred this past year, and know you are not TIED to your history.

You are not tied to the nausea, the fatigue, and fear.

Change is constant.

This is a new day, one that has never been lived before.
This is a new year, one that YOU have never lived before.

So, if this is true…….what is possible for you?

 

I am free to think
wonderful thoughts.
I move beyond past
limitations into freedom. I am now
becoming all that
I am created to be.

3….2…..1…….

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!