The Artistic Middle

Do you ever feel torn between your life and your Art?

Do you feel like they can’t exist together?

There are so many demands on us today, and we want to be present for it all.
Our living spaces….

We can look at a day, and feel so overwhelmed,
Grocery shopping
Day job
Doctors appointments

And then there is all that is necessary to be relevant today as an Artist:
Social Media
Fan/Client Service
Email Campaigns

I imagine your head is spinning!

Where in the midst of ALL of this, do we have the space for our PROCESS?
Our love and artistic flow?
Where do we get to play?


This week was a massive shift for me.  After 19 1/2 years of living in New York City, I moved down to the Jersey Shore, in with my man.

From apartment to house.
From subways to cars.
From urban energy to the suburbs.

And all of this fit into a 10 foot UHaul.

Even with rain last Sunday, the move could not have gone more smoothly.  We had friends helping with loading and unloading on both ends, and my mother flew up bringing all of her decades of experience and genius from moving my family almost 20 times.

I gave myself absolute permission to feel everything that arose with the move, and most of my close friends reflected back to me what I felt deeply with every ounce of my being,

This is a BIG move.

While packing and the days leading up to the big day, I felt sadness and grief, leaving my home, and most of all, leaving the safe sanctuary in Astoria that had given me a haven while I healed from the most traumatic year of my life in 2013.

It was time to leave the cocoon.

Once the UHaul was packed, I asked for some quiet time in my sanctuary and lit Paulo Santo wood.  As the smoke wafted into the air, I walked around the 300 square feet, watching it rise and twist, and all that passed my lips was simply,

Thank you
Thank you

I sat down in the bedroom in a dark corner, and tears fell down my face, as I thanked every wall for holding me these past 4 1/2 years.

And then, I rose from the ground, took a bow, and walked out of my apartment for the last time…..

My man drove the UHaul, and my mother and I drove his car down to the house, down to my new house. As I drove along the NJ Parkway, I felt like I was in shock.  I felt like I was in the twilight zone.

The city in my rear view mirror, it felt so far away.

There was city Nikól.
And now I was driving towards suburb Nikól.

How was this going to work?
I felt so torn….

I felt like I was leaving city Nikól behind, and even that I would have to give her up.


Have you ever felt like this?
Torn between the passionate Artist you are and the person who is living a “normal”life?

Two days ago we dropped my mother off at LaGuardia airport in NYC, and then my man drove me to the Upper West Side to my favorite Wednesday night activity,

Advanced jazz at Steps on Broadway, taught by Lisa Harvie.

My man has never seen me dance live, as we met after my 20 professional career, so this was a big moment for me.

Class was packed and so many of my dancer friends came clamoring to the door to meet him, eyes lit up, knowing how special he is to me, and having appreciation for the journey I have been on.

As the music began, and my arms stretched to the ceiling, I started to realize something very surprising…

The class didn’t feel different.
The class felt the same.
I danced the same…..

My dancing actually didn’t change because I now lived outside the city. In fact, it was just as strong as before, and was especially boosted as I turned and leapt for my man.

His face was beaming.

But, the real lesson was how I FELT.

Perhaps city Nikól and suburb Nikól are the same.
Perhaps they have always co-existed.

The separation was all in my mind.

And perhaps, this is just part of the journey for me.

It was necessary for me to grieve in the leaving of the city.  Last week when I took Lisa’s class, I felt panic inside.  And this week, I felt calm and peace.

I needed to approach my dance from the other side, to see it’s all connected.
From NYC to Jersey.
From Jersey to NYC.

All the same.

Meeting in the middle, where my dancing lives, regardless of where I am.


So, where is your middle in your life?

What have you decided has to be separate?

What parts of you have you been keeping quiet, or shutting down thinking they can’t co-exist in your “normal” life?

This may be one of the largest mistakes I see Artists make, and trust me, I did it ALL the time when I was performing.

I thought I was keeping things neat and tidy, safe and secure….but in truth, I was cutting off pieces of myself and that directly showed up in my Art and career.

And for us as Artists, being whole and integrated is one of the MOST important things we can place our energy on.


Because our Art IS an expression of our lives.

Our Art comes from within.

This is why there can be a room full of painters with one subject and you will see completely different paintings.

Why 20 singers can walk into a room with the same song, and your experience as an audience member is completely different.

Why the Brooklyn Bridge has come alive through the lens of thousands of photographers, each one different in its use of light, angle, and frame.

And if our inner life is in complete turmoil and separation…..this will translate in ALL areas of our lives, not just your art, but in your relationships as well.

How you do one thing is how you do everything.

It’s all connected.

So, bring all of you to your Art.
Find the support you need to bring your life into balance.

You, the Artist and your Normal Life coming together.
We just got confused thinking they were mutually exclusive.


It’s all there inside.

Find your middle; the place where your Art lives regardless of where you are.



Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Your Creativity Test


Which of the following multiple choice questions would apply BEST to the correct answer?

And you look at the clock.

How would you describe this situation BEST?

Shift in your chair, stare at the clock, scratch an itch, and sigh deeply. How many MORE of these do you have to answer?

Dear God….there are 155 questions and you’re only on question number 45. And you already want it be over.

And in it creeps.
I hate tests
Why do I have to do this
What is the point?

Have you been here?  Staring at a screen or blank piece of paper, finding yourself shutting down?

What if the test is something else, like meeting a writing deadline or submitting your creative work for consideration, or completing your project?

Tests come in many forms with your Creativity. They come in many forms in your life.

And the question we often find ourselves asking is:
Why the heck is it is taking SO LONG??


Last week I sat down to take an online test for my ICF accreditation. ICF is the International Coaching Federation and as I had completed all my hours and my mentoring sessions with my coach, this test was the last piece. I had an idea it would take some time, but felt pretty prepared.

I was excited. I had put in a lot of time with my studies and mentoring, and was looking forward to the official accreditation to validate my intentions and efforts, and take
me to the next level as a coach for my clients.

So, I dived in.

I had three hours to complete the test and thought,
There’s no way it will take that long!

And then I saw there were 155 questions.

It began smoothly, but I began to fidget and become frustrated with the questions. So many were written in corporate settings and all my training and experience has been in the private sector.

I wasn’t seeing myself in these questions.

I began to fidget.
And I began to get frustrated.

And I began to slow down.

I found myself saying the questions out loud, trying to make sense of it, and starting to doubt myself. And an inner voice started saying

Who are these questions for?
Why aren’t they including me?

And I slowed down even more.  I was coming up against a wall.

This wasn’t what I usually experienced! I was valedictorian in school, I practice meditation. Why am I having so much trouble?

And then I stopped and realized…THIS was the test.

Could I take a moment and be aware of what was getting in my way, take a breath, release it and then move forward?

Yes….it was just taking longer than I thought.

Two and a half hours later, I hit the final button and received the message congratulating me,

You passed!

Indeed. This had been the end goal.

What if I had stopped?
What if I had thrown up my hands and yelled and screamed?
What if I had spiraled down into the anger and belief I was being “wronged”, and didn’t finish in the three hours?

Maybe then I would believe I was a quitter. Maybe then I would just avoid it all together.

And what would happen to all that work and energy I had put into my training?

What happens to all the work and energy you’ve put into your Creative Craft?


Meet Billy Porter. He’s a Tony and Grammy award winning singer, been in countless Broadway shows, directs, composes, and is a playwright. He’s one of the most celebrated performers on the Great White Way today working across all mediums.

In a recent interview he said:

“For me as an artist, the best thing that ever happened to me was the lack of work. The best thing that ever happened to me was that it didn’t turn out the way I thought I was ENTITLED to have it be, because I was talented. You know what I mean?

Everybody’s talented once you get to a certain level. Everybody in the room can sing. Everybody in the room can act. Everybody in the room is cute.

So, what makes YOU different, what makes you stand out?

What makes you rise to the top above the rest?

It’s  about showing up.

It’s about having the courage to try new things, to create your own project, to create your own work. Right now I’m working with this director and we are doing plays in a living room. If you’re not interested in doing plays in a living room then you can’t be interested in doing a play on Broadway.

You have to be willing to do your work anywhere. You can not WAIT for anyone to give you permission to practice your work.

You have to be practicing all the time.”

All the time.

So, where do you stop and slow down? Can you view each challenge and moment of “this isn’t how I thought it would be” to act as information instead of feeding a belief you are not capable?

What if you showed up, regardless?  That belief you are not capable would probably get blown out of the water. You may star on Broadway, you may get a coaching certification, you may even decide to launch a business based on your Creative Spark.

This is YOUR test. Take a breath, come back to the practice, and rise.

Rise to the top and create anew.