Effortless Inspiration

What lights you up?

What inspires you and just makes smile wide, wide, WIDE?

What brings you JOY?
What makes you want to go out into the sunshine and just DANCE?

As Artists it is so vital we have joy in our work.  We have so much on our plate! We have to think about,
Promo
Social Media
Classes
Submissions
Booking gigs

And then somewhere in all of this is the actual CREATION.

This is the FUN part.
This is the juice!

So, how do we stay connected to the JOY when we are mired in all the to-do’s of being an Artist in today’s DIY industry?  How does our Art not feel like just another JOB?

Especially when we are juggling side hustles!  No more jobs, please!

Do you ever feel like this?

The magic sauce for Joy is in one simple word:
Inspiration

And it’s a vital ingredient for going Full Time and having a long and fulfilling career.

Last weekend I felt Joy.
Last weekend I smiled wide wide WIDE.
Last weekend I wanted to bound outside and just DANCE all over NYC.

The reason?

Seeing the Mark Morris Dance Group perform their latest premiere, Pepperland.

Set to the Beatles infamous Sergeant Pepper album, the dancers exploded on the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stage in vibrant costumes.

What really struck me was the jazz interpretation of the album.  Ethan Iverson, one of Time Out New York’s 25 essential jazz icons, created this original score based off the Beatles songs.  Sometimes they were recognizable, sometimes they were so off the wall!  It was so innovative.  They had a full jazz orchestra and a classical baritone singing.

Not what you would expect, right?
And that’s the why it was so inspirational.

Somehow, Mark Morris and Ethan Iverson had taken this iconic album and given it a completely NEW interpretation.

I remember the first time I was introduced to Mark Morris.  I was in high school and saw The Hard Nut, his version of The Nutcracker.

It blew my mind.

Not only was the whole piece set in the groovy 60’s, but there was cross casting, and the snow dance was all done by men in tutu’s exploding hand fulls of glitter into the air. This was not the traditional Nutcracker I had danced in, or seen over and over on TV during the holidays.  It was so new.

And I was inspired.

So much so, I created my own ballet version of Hans Andersen’s The Little Match Girl for my senior project in high school.

The Little Match Girl was one of my favorite stories my mother used to read to me as a little girl.  It was a classic, and seeing what Mark Morris did gave me the courage and also the inspiration to put my spin on something that had brought me such joy as a child.

So, sitting in the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House last weekend, all that joy came flooding back in.  I as in awe of what this team of incredible artists from the dancers to the choreographer to the composer to the lighting designer created off of their love of the Beatles.

Their inspiration.

It was a ripple effect…the domino from one artist to another to another to another.

So, what about you?
What inspires you?

It can be so easy to fall into believing we have to come up with original material ALL the time.  This can be an immense amount of pressure and I have seen so many artists get stuck, and actually never complete work because it’s just not good enough, or someone else is doing it.

Have you ever felt this?

But here’ s the gift.

As Artists, we are translators.

This is the super power we all have.

We look at the world around us, and translate it into our medium, whether that is
writing
dance
visual art
music
sculpture

And ALL of this translation comes from a source…it comes from our inspiration.

And we have an endless flow within us.

Memories
Favorite songs
Artists we love….

It’s all there, waiting for you.

And NO one else will translate it like you, because there is only one you.

In a way, you’ve already won in this world because you’re the only one who can be you.”
-Fred Rogers

This is why Art is so powerful.

When I was leaving the theatre, the gentleman in front of me said,
Oh I loved this!  They were skipping!  Who skips anymore?  This makes me think of my grandchildren.

His inspiration.

One of the most important relationships you can have is with your own inspiration.
Get intimate with what lights you up.

Because when you do, you will tap into this endless flow with ease.

Come out into the sunshine and dance.
Your audience is waiting.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

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