Illuminating the Dark

I used to be terrified of the dark.

I was thoroughly convinced the boogeyman existed, and he lived in my attic.  As the sun would set, the dark shadows would envelop the door outside my room, and I imagined his glowing eyes waking and staring at me, his teeth bared, and his wicked grin widening in response to my terrified eyes and shortened breath.

And it wasn’t just the attic….underneath my bed held it’s own playground of demons, aliens, and misshaped creatures, who’s tentacles and long fingers would wrap around the edges of my comforter.

Did you ever feel like this?
What did you do to ward off the demons of the night as a child?

My defense was stuffed animals, and I had them on BOTH sides; piled high so no matter where the monsters arose from, I was protected. I would disappear under my sheets, because here it was safe.

Safe from the dark.

While I would love to share this fear fell away as my Barbie’s were sold, it actually dug in.

I remember seeing M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller, Signs, and barely sleeping after seeing it, waking my then-husband in the middle of the night to walk to the bathroom with me.

I was 27.

This fear of the dark stayed with me, for ten more years, until I had to face what the dark was really about for me….loss of control.

 

At 37, I lost my home, marriage, my car, a dear friend, and many belongings that were stolen.

All of this was out of my control.  I felt like I was swirling in a tsunami. I didn’t know who I was anymore…
Who was I without these things?
These identities?
Mother to be, wife, artist?

I sat face to face with a Zen master and sobbed my deepest question which was hounding my days,
How do you let go?

He looked at me, gently handed me a box of tissues, and asked me the most powerful question,
Are you ok without him?

As if snapped awake from a terrible dream, an energy released in my body.  Indeed, I WAS ok.  I was sitting here breathing, my basic needs were being taken care of.  I was alive.

And something crazy began to happen.

I began to take solace in the dark.

I would come home from a busy day, or a disappointing date, and leave the lights off in my apartment.  I would sink down onto the floor and just sit in the dark, the vibrant city alive outside my window…and me, taking a moment.

Turns out there was no boogeyman waiting in my closet, or alien under my bed.  This space that once held such fear and uncertainty was now actually comforting.

The dark was just darkness….nothing else.  Now that I had realized I am ok within it, I was willing to spend more time there.

Being in a place of not knowing and releasing control actually was HEALING. I had spent so much energy in feeling I had to KNOW every step, control every aspect of my life, and that had only exhausted me, and stolen my ability to show up most powerfully as a performer.

I wanted to believe for the first 37 years of my life that things were permanent….and that I could control that. My year of loss taught me differently.  And to be honest?  It was a huge relief.

Maybe there was far more magic occurring.  What if I took my hands off the wheel and tried something IN PLACE of control….what if I tried TRUST?

Was this what was waiting under the bed for me all along?
What’s waiting for you?

 

Where do you control in your Art?
What monsters have you convinced yourself are waiting in the dark for you?

What is YOUR dark?

The creative process is full of magic and mystery.  And it requires we release control to allow not only the muse, but to enjoy it!

I watch so many Artists stop themselves because they get caught in uncertainty.  And trust me, I get it!  I could have won a prize for how many times I did this in my professional career. But, the dark was not what I thought it was.

I thought letting go of control would harm me.  Instead, it freed me.

Letting go of control freed me to take risks, to play stage roles I could have never played before.  Letting go of control freed me to launch a business, build a global fan base, and get back to my childhood love of writing.

 

What if the uncertainty is actually your gateway to powerful creation?

And if you released control, what would you do differently?

You may peek under your bed and see simple dust balls piling under the bed frame…..and beyond that?

That’s where the real discovery lies.

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Waiting for the Train

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How do we navigate impatience?

How do we navigate disappointment when our efforts seem to be squashed again and again, even with the best intentions?

Weren’t we supposed to BE there by now?

You look up at the clock and all you see and feel is that tick tock….tick tock. And you can feel so hopeless, and that you literally have no control over your dreams.

You can feel like you are in the midst of so many moving pieces, not getting the results you want. And you are frustrated.

So, what’s the answer?

I was walking through a crowded and busy subway station today. Under the belly of New York City, all shapes, sizes, demographics, and ages come together for that speeding train to take us to our destination.

And everyone seems to have a different pace.

Me?  I was moving fast.  I wanted to get to the end of the platform to catch my train and was very focused on this task.  Along the way, I side-stepped those moving slowly, those distracted by their phones, and those walking two by two with a friend.

Those at a different pace than me.

The train came into the station quicker than I expected, before I had reached the end of the platform, so I turned quickly and waited at the door for those to exit, and sat down in the cool air conditioned car. I wasn’t where I wanted to be on the train, but I was on it.

I was going to make it home, just from a different place.

And the question arose,
“Where am I in all of this?”

I began to think of all my years of professionally dancing, and having to constantly be aware of the other performers on stage.  While we had rehearsed and spent a lot of time to perfect the show, spacing was everything. I needed to be aware of my spacing in regards to the other dancers.

I needed to learn how to be a PART of the ensemble, and still accountable for my role.

I had to hone my periphery vision, much like the subway platform.  This is how I got on the train. So, how are you boarding?

When the impatience arises, what is YOUR role in it?

Are you pushing it out of your way, and cursing under your breath?
If you were on the crowded subway platform, would you shove those aside that are moving at a slower pace?

We can’t control others, but we can learn how to be in a world of constant shifts and changes. We can move with the flow, instead of fighting it tooth and nail.

Because what we resist, persists. And change is a constant.

And in truth, the fight is within.  We aren’t battling with the “others” on the subway platform.  We are battling with our perception of our ROLE in it.

You can make a choice in the moment to get caught up in all that is holding you back from putting your work out to the world, and start blaming all the external circumstances.  OR, you can make another choice, one that isn’t grounded in beating yourself and others around you up.

One that is grounded in freedom.

Freedom for your Creativity
Freedom for your Artistry
Freedom for your Dreams

And what if, with all of this, we took a moment and recognized we actually ARE on the train….

We can allow each other, and most importantly ourselves to move at our own pace, and take comparison out of the equation.

We can be accountable for OUR role, and be aware of the space between us and our fellow passengers on the train.

We are all making our way there.  It just may be from a different subway car than you originally expected.

But our Creative Life is happening, every day and the train is moving. Time continues. Your point of power is the present moment. That’s all we really do have.

So choose the role that actually feeds that.