Waving Through a Window

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?
‘Cause I’m tap, tap, tapping on the glass
I’m waving through a window
I try to speak, but nobody can hear
So I wait around for an answer to appear
While I’m watch, watch, watching people pass
I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

Have you ever felt this?
Feeling isolated and alone, watching life pass by?

Last week I sat transfixed watching Dear Evan Hansen, the Tony award Broadway musical, and every morning when I wake, all I hear in my head is,
I’m waving through a window,
Can anybody see?

And I knew I had to write to you about it.

I’ve been waiting to see this show for over a year.  It’s the hottest ticket on Broadway right now, rising in acclaim from a loyal fan base, and winning the Grammy for best album.But, what surprised me most was, I actually didn’t know what the show was about.

Somehow from some past conversation, I had thought the show was about bullying, so as I sat in the audience during pre-show, and watched the screens showing constant social media feeds, I thought,
Right…the effect of social media on teens….cyber bullying.

Then, the show began, and it was all too clear this was not about bullying.

The show is actually about teenage suicide and depression.

Not exactly what you would expect from a Broadway musical, right?
Aren’t musicals about happy people, dancing, and bursting into uplifting songs?

Why do so many people relate to this musical?
Why is it able to command some of the highest ticket prices and sell out every night?

Throughout the theater, the sound I heard was tears…crying….sniffling. And at the end, the entire audience was on their feet.

I’m waving through a window, oh
Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

I slam my dance clothes into my bag, holding back tears as I feel the hot sting of embarrassment.

I’ve been cut again.
It’s not fair.

I look at all the women being kept to sing, mourning my lost opportunity.
My voice is warm, I have my best song with me, and yet it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to hear me sing.

This won’t be my show. This won’t be my opportunity, and it’s back to another audition.

I see my colleagues, friends, all booking their Broadway show.  I feel like screaming,
Give me my CHANCE! Please!

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

And I jam my headphones into my ears, and walk out onto the city street.  I’m getting older, I’ve been professionally performing for over 15 years….and the question arises in me,
Will this ever happen?

Can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?

 

Three years later, I slam the bathroom door, and slide down the wall, curling into the smallest ball possible.
I feel the heat pipe behind me, and wonder if I hold my hand to it, would it burn?

Then I look at the bathroom window, and wonder,
can I squeeze through it?

This bathroom is three stories up……

I’m losing this home anyway.
I’m losing this marriage…..I’m losing this life.

Could I fit through the window?
And then, would all the pain I feel pass?

For a moment, I stare at the window and consider, and then I come back.  I come back to the fact my entire life is falling apart.  My husband is leaving me.  I’m not getting pregnant.  Everything I had planned has slipped through my fingers.

I feel the pain, and realize I’m still breathing. And I realize I want to live. 

I want a devoted husband.
I want a family.
I want a life in the arts that fulfills me.

And I realize it’s not happening here….it’s been crying out for years, and now the truth is here.

And I take a breath, wipe my tears….and get up.

And I start to speak….
I start to ask for help…
I start to write about all that has been trapped inside me.

And the biggest surprise of all?
People listen.
People come close.

And I realize, I’ve been WRONG all along.

We actually have far more in common than differences.

All my doubts, all my fears, my heartache and vulnerability are actually what I SHARE with others.

I had thought I would be rejected for my vulnerability and people would leave.  Turns out, this is what was missing all along.

 

And the writers of Dear Evan Hansen knew this too.
They knew it intimately.

We actually all just want to be SEEN.
We want to be HEARD.

Starved for connection in our present age…..we deeply want to BELONG.

Dear Evan Hansen isn’t talking about something new.  Teenage depression and suicide have been around for a very long time, but the writers are giving it a VOICE.  They are releasing the shame and stigma around something that millions of families deal with, to offer the simple message,

You are not alone.

As an Artist, the greatest gift you bring to the table is your HUMANITY.  It’s not your perfection….it’s what you share with your audience.

We all cry.
We all feel loss.
We all have hearts that break, and bend, and burst.

And as an Artist, YOU have the ability to translate that.

You have the ability to translate these aspects that can feel so hidden to your audience into,
song
word
visual art
photography
dance

This is your gift. And it allows your audience to touch their humanity, and to open to loving their life.

So, take a breath, and tap in.

Are you sharing your Humanity with your audience?
Are you focused on what you have in common?

Listen, speak to them, and share what you have in common.

That’s when they will listen.

As Evan sings,
Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found

 

We are stronger together.
Create your Art from our shared humanity.

Image courtesy of: Seattle Times

Meeting Elizabeth

Do you ever just wish someone would just tell you what you need to do to receive the acclaim you desire?

Do you fantasize of your own personal fairy godmother or godfather just appearing with a magic wand and waving all the frustration and overwhelm away?

They would say,
Voila!

Even better, what if that fairy godmother was a celebrity, some artist you have looked up to for so long, someone you LOVE everything they do, and would just DIE to have a conversation with them? Imagine having your burning questions answered!

Wouldn’t that be incredible??

Who is that for you?

For me, it’s best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, and last week, my dream did come true.  Not only did I get to meet her face to face, but she answered a very profound question for me.

One I imagine you have too…

One I think ALL artists struggle with.

 

One of my first friends that opened her apartment to me in the face of my divorce was a Broadway dancer named Nova. She was going out of town and offered me the keys to her place for two weeks.

It was January of 2013, and my whole world was falling apart.  I was trying to catch up with the fact that my 15 year marriage was over, that I had been lied to for months, and my dreams of being a mother were disappearing fast.  I was trying to wrap my head around mediation, selling my apartment, and extracting myself from a life that took 19 years to build.

When I arrived at Nova’s apartment, after she handed me the keys, she handed me something else, a book:
Eat, Pray, Love.

I looked down at the paperback cover, and all my former judgements came rising to the surface.  When the book was first released, I was a married woman, and remembered thinking,
I don’t need to read this!
I’m a happily married woman.
This has nothing to do with me.

The irony hit me square across the jaw.

Now…this book had EVERYTHING to do with me.

Tears in my eyes, I took the book, thanking Nova.
I read it cover to cover within days.

The part that went through me was Elizabeth’s 10 Steps to Letting Go.

I remember reading them, and thinking,
I’m not there yet….but someday I will be.

I got out a small yellow writing pad, and wrote them all down.  When I moved into my own place six months later, I placed this yellow pad on my desk, and would re-visit it every couple of months.

As I began to heal, I would slowly go through these steps…one by one…..until they were done.

I let go.

I let go of the deep heartache.
I let go of the self hatred.
I let go of the judgement towards myself and my ex.
I let go of my old life, that old wife.

I said goodbye…..and began to open my heart, ready to call in my life partner.  A far different man.

A man who would take me to meet Elizabeth Gilbert in person.

And then ask me to marry him.

 

My man gave me tickets to see her speak for Christmas, but it was only a few weeks ago, he shared there was a bigger surprise….the tickets were VIP and we would be able to meet her in person!

I was over the moon, and lined up with dozens of other women to have a few minutes with her before the general admission was allowed in for her talk.

The first thing she did was open her arms, and embrace me.  The hug was deep and genuine, and then I was able to pull back and say the words I have been waiting to say for five years,

Thank you.

I thanked her for Eat, Pray, Love.  I told her what a profound effect her writing had on my healing from my divorce, and then my man came forward, and I shared that she helped me call the love of my life in.

Her energy was so open, and loving.  She was fully present. We were able to get fantastic pictures with her, and then we exited the theatre, and BIG MAGIC occurred…..my man got down on one knee and proposed…..

And I said YES:)

 

Elizabeth gave one of the most powerful talks that night, and then opened up the floor for questions.  Directly to my left was the mic, and I saw my chance, to ASK Elizabeth my burning question.

Stepping to the mic, I first thanked her for the night, and then asked what was on my heart, what I imagine so many other writers and creators would LOVE to know,

Elizabeth, what have you found to be the most important part of your process that you would offer as a piece of advice to another writer?

Elizabeth took a moment, bowed her head, and then raised it with three words,
Do it Anyway.

She shared how important it is to release your inner critic, and just do it anyway.  Write the story, write what is coming out.  Who cares what anyone thinks?! Who you are when you begin the writing is not who you will be when you complete it.

Do It Anyway.

Create.

Put it Out There.

Let others say what they will…..do it anyway.

You will be changed by your expression…trust THIS.  Trust the process. Whether you are scared, terrified, or doubting yourself….do it anyway.

What have you held yourself back from creating?
What have you allowed the critics to keep you from doing in your Art?
What have you let Fear take over?

What is that story that is burning in you?

Elizabeth may be one of the most inspiring examples of absolute honesty.  What I found so incredible was how her writing and speaking were the same.  She really was very genuine, and her writing reflects that, as does her audience.

It’s no surprise the night was sold out, and the line to meet her in person wrapped around the theatre.

If she had not told her story, think of all those women who’s lives would not have been touched….
Mine would not have been touched.

We don’t know the future, so stop trying so hard to control it.

Get out your paper.
Get out your canvas.
Get our your camera.
Get our your instrument…..

Do it anyway.

 

Take a moment, and center back to WHY you became an Artist in the first place.  Release the craziness in your mind. You are not your fears.

Take YOUR 10 steps to let go,

And do it anyway.

And watch the BIG Magic occur.