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.

The Validation Effect

Do you ever find yourself in front of your audience, and are completely confused by their lukewarm reaction?

Do you feel like you are doing everything you can, practically standing on your head, and yet the acclaim just isn’t happening?

What causes the cheers?
What causes the audience to get up on their feet and scream for more?

It can be very easy to start spiraling into,
I must be doing something wrong.

Or even more so,
I must not be very good.

And we watch these incredible Artists, who just seem to have it all:
Loving what they do, and thriving.

What is the deal??

 

On New Year’s Eve I went to see an incredible band I had never seen before at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ.  My man and I showed up, ready for festivities, and I had no expectations about the music.

As soon as they took the stage, I knew I was in for something special.

The musicians all came out, and started a rocking jam, and my whole body began moving in response.

Then, the three backup singers came out, and introduced the front man, who bounded onto the stage, picked up the mic, and launched into their first song, his voice exploding into the space.

And then I started screaming like a teenager, my eyes widening.

They were amazing!  The band was so tight, the lead singer capturing my total attention.  I could feel energy rising all over me, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

There were three backup singers, who came out and did solos.  The first was doing Beyoncé covers, and was off the charts.  She was fierceness personified…..

Again, totally captivated.

And then the second female singer sang her solo, and something changed.

I stopped dancing.  I wasn’t singing along.  I started to look around the room, and my mind began to wander. It was confusing at first, as the singer was gorgeous.  She was tall, blond, and stunning…..a beautiful package.  But something was missing…..

I went from feeling SO connected to the band and the singers, to feeling strange.  And as I took in the moment and how I was feeling, I remembered being on stage myself. I remembered belting my face off, and just not getting the reaction I wanted.  Even worse, I remembered losing my audience, and feeling so confused.

I used to be the pretty package too….

In the Fall of 2012, I was hired by a very up and coming choreographer to be a part of the new musical Zelda.  This was a HUGE moment for me, as I was going to be working with Broadway composer Frank Wildhorn.  There were plans to take it to Broadway eventually, and the cast was made up of some of the best in the business.

I thought, I’ve arrived!

We were doing an out of town production and I showed up for the first day of rehearsal so excited.  The choreographer came up to me and said,
We are so glad you are here!

They gave me this awesome solo vocal feature in one of the most exciting numbers in the show, where I got to strut down the center of the stage, and just let it rip.

I was beside myself. 

And yet…..it seemed to never work.  The choreographer kept giving me notes about this moment.  She must have changed it every time we rehearsed it, and I was so confused.

I felt like I was taking her notes every time, and yet I kept seeing her stoic face.  I kept feeling she wasn’t happy and this exciting moment just wasn’t happening.

And I knew it was me……

Yet, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing WRONG.

What had changed from the callback where the whole creative team was over the moon to have me, to rehearsal where I seemed to be falling flat?

All my insecurities about my singing came roaring to the surface, and I was doubting the moment and HOW I was performing.  I was doubting my voice, my ability, and my presence.

Worst of all, the choreographer became more and more distant from me.  Before the show began, we had spoken about collaborating on a choreographic project.

Once the show was over, she didn’t return my emails.

And I never worked with her again or Frank Wildhorn again.  In fact, the show fell away.  It never went on to Broadway.

And a month after the show closed, my whole life fell apart, beginning with my marriage.

 

The pretty package I had tried SO hard to keep together all fell away. And something really surprising happened…..

I found my true confidence as an Artist, and started to take real risks, no longer concerned with HOW I looked. I had a total resurgence in my career, and when my next vocal solo was given to me in a production of “The Little Mermaid”, I not only nailed it in my audition, but also in rehearsal AND in performance.

And the director?   We are still friends, and she was thrilled with my work.

I went from relying completely on external validation to trust and confidence in WHO I was at the mic.

 

What would it mean to you to have this with your Art?
How would this affect your life?

What would you finally be able to CREATE because you let go of the fear and just went for it?

New Year’s Eve was such a strong reminder of what sets apart Artists that make it, and the ones that are in a constant struggle.

The front man and the other female singer were so solid in WHO they were, that they were able to CONNECT with the audience from a place of partnership, not validation.

I wasn’t doubting them or their ability, because they were solid in their gifts.

They were pretty on the outside AND inside.  The package was WHOLE.

And this not only translated to them both singing their faces off, but me as an audience member LOVING every minute of it.

This is what I lived for on the stage.

And I remember the sting of isolation.  I remember feeling so unworthy, and the pain of self doubt.

Have you felt this?

 

Let the wall come down.  Know that you come to your audience as ALL of you.  Let them see you, and place your attention of building the relationship WITH them, not asking them to validate you.

Claim your power.  This is your birthright as an Artist.

Step to the mic and share your beautiful gifts this year.

I see you, and your light is brilliant.