The Artist’s Edge

Do you ever feel like you are on the edge of a cliff, scared to leap and fall headfirst into the ravine?

Do you desperately want to make changes in your Art, but find yourself rooted to the spot, frozen as you stare into the chasm?

I mean….it’s a looooong way down, and how do Artists actually MAKE it to the other side??

I remember this place. I’d walk out of an audition, crestfallen, after not being kept. I’d hear other singers, the voices soaring out of their mouths, effortlessly.

And yet, mine was stuck in my throat.

As I choked back my embarrassment and shame, I’d feel myself saying,

Why do I find myself here again?

Standing on the edge of the cliff, so confused and frustrated, I didn’t want to be here anymore.

How do I get THERE??

That place across the chasm, NOT on the edge of the cliff.

Have you ever felt this?

 

Four years ago, I went to visit my aunt and uncle in San Diego for Christmas. It was my first holiday season being divorced, and I was a mess.

I had just survived the worst year of my life and was licking my wounds from car accidents, robberies, and loss.

I was doing the best I could to find some seasonal joy, but really found myself asking,

What do the holidays mean to me now?

We went to Point Loma, this glorious monument overlooking all of San Diego.

The sun was shining
The wind was whipping through my hair…

I jumped up on the stone wall along the walkways and felt the wind moving through me. I asked my mother to take a picture of me, standing on the edge with the whole San Diego Bay behind me.

For one of the first times that year, I was feeling a sense of hope and freedom.

My mother nervously asked me to come down. I looked at the picture of myself, standing alone, and saw a new strength. Yes, I spent many days still crying, but standing on the edge of the wall, I was seeing something new.

Not just in the grand expanse of the San Diego Bay, but in myself.

Where are you right now in your Art?

What is wanting to be birthed in you?

Are you going to the edge to allow it to emerge?

It seems, that’s when it comes out. 

 

Just this past week, I found myself back at Point Loma, for the first time since 2013.

The San Diego Bay was there, the lighthouse, my aunt, and the beautiful expanse….

And something else. Something I could barely even imagine before.

My man.

As we walked around to the Pacific side, I saw a cliff overlooking the ocean.

I asked him to come out there with me, and for my aunt to take a picture.

What was captured in that moment was one of the most vital and moving pictures I’ve ever had.

Four years ago, I stood on the Bay side, wanting and hoping things would change.

I stood at my edge, scared and feeling doubt if Christmas would ever be joyful again.

And now, we sat together overlooking the Pacific Ocean….

On the other side.

I could have stayed trapped and comfortable, but I knew more waited.

Indeed, on that wall four years ago, something emerged…a longing, to not only find lasting love, but create an Artistic life that fed my soul.

And while I had NO idea how it would manifest, I stayed on the edge.

And I shared my voice as an Artist….with MUCH different results.

So what is crying to come forth for you?
If you stayed on your edge, what would emerge? 

What’s in your journey from the Bay to your Ocean?

Creature Comforts

Oh Dear GOD…

There it is.

My skin is crawling.  I’m not even sure if I’m breathing.  My hair is literally standing up on end.  There’s this sickening feeling in my stomach. I’m frozen in time, helpless.

In front of me, my deepest fear.

A spider.

Spindly, large, gross….a million words coming out, all to say,
AHHHHHHHHHH!!

What is it for you?

Snakes
Heights
Public speaking
Rats
Cockroaches

I mean, YUCK!

What makes your skin crawl and you do EVERYTHING in your power to avoid?

I get it, I ran from spiders for most of my adult life, convinced they were pure evil and would kill me.

I mean, HOW could a spider help me?

This was my fear.  This was something to AVOID, not walk towards.

Right?

 

In 2012, I was the dance captain for a production of the musical A Christmas Carol out at the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I loved this musical, and I loved the cast.

But my life was falling apart.

On Thanksgiving, my husband flew out to tell me he didn’t want to be married anymore and was in love with another woman.

I felt as if the world had opened wide, and swallowed me whole. I was in shock, and utterly devastated.

I wanted to scream to the world,
STOP!

I wanted to control the immense change that was happening.

This wasn’t what I planned.

I planned we would go old together.
I planned we would work through any issues.
And most of all, I planned we would have a family together.

In one conversation, I saw all of that disappear.

And I found myself facing my deepest fear,
losing my marriage.

Because, WHO was I if I wasn’t married and trying to have a child?

In December, we had a cast Christmas party, and the company manager brought in a company called.
Creature Comforts

I walked into the party room to large turtles crawling around, and walked over to my fellow dancers who had a giant boa wrapped around them.  I got out my phone to take a picture, as I think snakes are SO cool, and then out of nowhere, a man came up from behind and placed a spider on my friend’s head.

Not just any spider, A TARANTULA.

My whole body froze.  I stopped breathing.  This wasn’t just any spider, it was the mother of all spiders..the largest.

And then I looked behind this man to see a table with FOUR tarantulas in cages.

My worst nightmare.

I was just about to bolt from the room, when a small voice arose,
I always thought spiders were my largest fear, but facing divorce is far deeper.  Since I’m facing that and still breathing, maybe I can finally face this fear of spiders.

I saw an opportunity.

So I walked over to the handler, and asked him to place the tarantula in my hand.

When he first did, the spider started to scratch and crawl in my hand. It was freaking out!  I realized I needed to probably calm down because the spider was feeling my fear.

So, I took a breath.

The spider stopped moving, and was standing in my palm, it’s abdomen shaking, and I realized,
It’s just as scared as I am.

And then a wave of realization came over me.  The spider was NOTHING like I thought it would be.  It was actually soft, light, and fuzzy.

A huge smile came over me, as my fear dissipated, and my friend took a picture.

That picture became my profile picture for months on Facebook, because every time I looked at it, I was reminded,
If you can hold a tarantula, you can do anything.

And anything included,
surviving and healing from a divorce
launching my own successful arts business

Who knew the key was in my biggest fear?

In that moment, my arachnophobia vanished.  It literally disappeared when I realized what I had in common with the spider, and that I was still breathing and ok.  My fear vanished when I LET GO of the woman who ran from spiders.

Who was she anyway?  She was really just made up in my mind.  She wasn’t permanent.

So, what is your biggest fear?

WHO would you become if you no longer had it?
What would be possible for you in your Creative Life?

So often, we isolate and avoid our fears, but the real lesson lies in facing them.  We may have formed a massive belief the fear will harm us, but what we are really avoiding is the FEELING.

If your fear of heights or snakes was faced, and you found yourself still breathing as you skydive or pet a snake, then what other assumptions could be blown apart in your Art?

Perhaps,
No one wants my work
I’m a fraud
My work needs to be perfect to be shown
No one will pay that price for my work
I’m not ready

If these are no longer holding you back, perhaps you would find your fears are actually not harmful, but soft and fuzzy.

You just made them far larger than they actually were.

Maybe even as large as a tarantula.

 

Over the holiday weekend, I was staying at my boyfriend’s house in NJ.  I went into the downstairs bathroom, and caught my breath when I looked in the shower stall to see,

A giant spider.

Instead of running from the room, as I would have done five years ago, I sat down and looked at it. I could feel some of the hairs on my arm rising, the old pattern and memory of fear.

The spider was pretty huge, and I knew I needed to get it outside.

I grabbed a glass from the kitchen, and a piece of mail, and placed the glass over the spider.  As I lifted the spider closer to me, I became surprised at how small the spider looked up close.

It had looked SO large from a distance.

And I found the closer I was to it, the less scary it appeared.  I became curious, looking at it’s markings, as I carried the glass to the backyard.

As I watched the spider crawl in the grass, I marveled at the journey.  I could NOT do this five years ago.  I would have screamed, and ran from the room, shutting the door, and pleading my man to kill it for me.

And I thought of that woman five years ago, who really thought she was keeping herself safe.  And I gave her a hug.  I loved her.  She was doing the best she could.

And I looked at the yard of this house that will be my home, that will house my children, and I remembered that moment holding the tarantula.

Thank goodness for the tarantula.  My biggest fear actually set me free.

The way is always through.
You have everything you need.

 

Get curious around your fears, and turn towards them.  Hold them in your hand, and LOOK at them.

You can’t change what you can’t see.

WHO would you be without them?

WHAT could you create?

 

 

Top Photograph: Caitlin Cannon Photography