The Artist’s Road

Do you ever feel like you are going down the same road again and again?

Another rejection letter
Cut from another audition
Another Closed door in your face

You put yourself out there time and again, with your Art, and it feels as if your heart is being trampled.

You put so much of yourself into your work, so the sting of rejection FEELS so strong.

And it can be disheartening.

You imagine a different road…
One where the publisher says YES
One where everything flows
One where your fans are raving for your next piece of work
One where you are booking your dream gigs

That’s the road you want to be on, right?

So, how come with ALL your effort, you feel as though you are driving down the SAME road again and again?

You feel like screaming,
I NEVER want to be on this road again!

I get it…….I was just there……

 

Last week was a big moment for me.  I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. 

While it has been decades since I have been in this position, the nerves were still there.  I’m head over heels in love with my man, so I wanted everything to go well.

Thanksgiving has been a holiday of transition for me.  For years, it was the sources of family and love.  And then, five years ago, it turned into the darkest moment of my life when my former husband told me he wanted to end our marriage…on Thanksgiving Day.

I had spent almost 18 years spending every Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania with my former in-laws, and now returned to having the holiday with my parents in Virginia. In transition, it took 3-4 years for me to find joy on the day again.

This year marked the first time I would be spending the holiday away from Virginia, and with my new man.

The original plan was to go to his parents’, who live in upstate New York, but a month before Thanksgiving, his sister decided to host.

His sister lives in Pennsylvania.

The irony was not lost on me, and I thought how insane it was that after 18 years of Pennsylvania Thanksgivings, I was returning to a similar place…..in love…..but with a new man, and meeting a new family..

We hopped in the car from New Jersey last Tuesday and began the drive down the road to his sister’s.

Energy was high, and we cranked the radio, singing along to fun tunes.  We got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then I saw it…

The sign.

We were about to drive through the town my ex in-laws lived in.

I suddenly realized his sister’s home was only 20 minutes down the road from where I had spent most of my adult holidays.

I became very quiet, and could feel tears welling. I hadn’t been down this road in six years.

In fact, I had purposely done everything I could, to NEVER go down this road again.

This road was full of painful memories.
This road reminded me of the rejection.

And then I looked up and saw the hotel I stayed in with my wedding party……

And I burst into tears.

 

The next morning, I woke up, and just let everything out.  I allowed every feeling to arise, and began to have clarity.

When the divorce went down, only one member of my old in-laws stood up for me, fighting for the marriage.

Everyone else turned their back, and went silent.  That had been my family for 19 years, and I was devastated.  I wasn’t only losing my marriage, I was losing a huge family that I loved.

Driving down the road again, all of that came up, and it was made even more alive, because I was on the road to meet a NEW family….one that I deeply want to be a part of.

And I realized,
I have no control.

I have no control over what this new family thinks or does.
I have no control over what my boyfriend does.

So, while it scares me to my core that I may find myself at a crossroads again, my only choice is simple:

To love.

And recognizing my fear and releasing control brought a huge wave of relief over me.

And I was free, not only to have a deeply connecting Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, but release the past that had been choking me off.

Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania again, and yet COMPLETELY different.

Same road, different ME.

 

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss, who has sold millions of books, recently shared he was rejected by 27 publishers before his first YES.

Oscar Winning Actor Tom Hanks became an overnight success after 10 years in the business.

Rejection can be brutal, especially for Artists.

But the question is, what are you making it mean?
Who are you being IN the rejection?

What is on that ROAD you find yourself time and time again?

It can be so easy to AVOID what is right before us, instead of asking,
What is to be LEARNED?

I thought there was a cruel joke being played on me, as we whisked down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and yet, in hindsight, I see how re-visiting that road was the final piece of healing for me to fully embrace Thanksgiving again.

I NEEDED to go down that road.

I was scared to do it, and yet it brought me back to what matters, and allowed me to release control.

Rejection WILL occur.  Anyone who tells you otherwise, run the other way.

So, place your energy on your Art, and how you can grow, not on trying to control every rejection out there.

Your freedom as an Artist lies in your ability to grow, to change, and to persevere.

Your freedom as an Artist comes from connection to your heart, to your LOVE of Art.

This is what makes you Unstoppable.

Pay homage to your journey, and open to your road.  There is gold here for you.

 

Release control over the external rejection.

Same road, fearless YOU.

 

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

The Zen of Art

You Need Meditation

The voice was pretty clear and distinct.

I was in tech for a production of A Christmas Carol out in Salt Lake City, and my life was falling apart.  My husband had just flown out and told me he didn’t want to be married anymore. I thought we were going to spend the holiday trying to have a baby, not end our 19 year relationship.

You can imagine, I was in a LITTLE bit of shock.

I had been practicing yoga for a while, and it was at the end of my practice, that the voice came in.

I had never had a meditation practice, and honestly, wasn’t even sure what it really meant.

All I knew was I was in a ton of pain, and I needed something new.  Something was missing.

Clearly, something needed to change.  I felt like my whole world was spinning out of control.

Have you felt this?
What do you do when life seems to cut you off from your Art?

Somehow I was getting through my performances, but felt like I was moving through a terrible nightmare.  I didn’t feel connected to my art.

All I felt was fear.

You can imagine, my performance career came to a grinding halt.

 

Two months later, once I had returned to NYC, and the divorce was under way, I went and took my first yoga class.

The holidays had been the worst time of my life, opening presents with a man who didn’t love me anymore, and I hadn’t been on the mat in weeks.  Today, I was starting to take the reins back on my life and what I wanted moving forward.

I went to the library with the intention to buy a book on Meditation.  Here we go!

A title caught my eye, and I pulled it out and opened to randomly read.

It was as if every word was jumping off the page, saying,
YES!

The biggest surprise was I actually had picked up a book on Tibetan Buddhism, not meditation.

Wait….I came here today looking for meditation…

This simple book (which I devoured in days, underlining and dog earring) opened the door to a whole new search, and I began to explore different Buddhist centers in the city.

Who knew I was actually seeking Buddhism?  Apparently I did…I just hadn’t heard it until NOW.

I tried many of them, and while all were helpful in some way, none seemed to feel like HOME.

Something was still missing.

Until I took an intro to Zen Training weekend up at Zen Mountain Monastery. I woke before the sun to meditate with many others in this beautiful monastery, the ceiling rising high above me.

In the stillness and dark of the early morning, as I counted my breath, tears began to fall. Tears of recognition, and tears of sweet relief.  This is what my body had been calling for.  THIS is what was missing.

A way to work with my mind.
An experience of true space.
The ability to actually HEAR what is rising and falling.

And the tools to let go.

I had gone through a career of holding on for dear LIFE my expectations, my perfectionism, and comparing myself constantly to other performers. And now, as I had NO control of the immense loss of my marriage, I was being given the tools I needed to face it.

And actually they were the tools I needed all along.

I just wasn’t listening to my body’s messages.

 

What are you holding on to?

What is your body calling for to help you become the Artist you truly want to be?

Can you even hear it?

In that moment of absolute pain, there was NO denying what I needed. I certainly didn’t think it was going to turn into becoming a Zen practitioner, but once I found the practice, my whole life fell into place.

I had a complete resurgence in my performance career.
I found the work I REALLY wanted to be doing as an Artist, and launched ZenRedNYC.
I built a business from scratch, doing work I love that makes more money than ever before.

I now could HEAR what I needed.

In having a practice that connected me to my breath and the present moment, my whole outlook changed.

We can so often get caught in the static,

No one wants your work
Artists have to starve
Making money is selling out
Claiming the spotlight is selfish

There is so much JUNK out there that we take in, on a daily basis not only from fellow colleagues who want you to join their pity party, but from parents, society, and the news.

What’s the answer?

SILENCE.

All that junk?  It’s just noise.  And it’s not helping you move forward and step into your full creative power. The junk is keeping you stuck and filling your airwaves with confusion.

If you are feeling something’s missing, then you haven’t had the clear open space to really hear what you need.

Today, you can begin to incorporate one of the most important tools as an Artist,
CURIOSITY.

So, take a moment today, and sit down for 5 minutes. Close your eyes, and come into your body.

Place your attention on your breath.

And from this experience of SPACE, simply ask,

What is it I most need?

It’s all inside.

Create the space, so you can hear.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography