I think I’m going to pass out.
The sun is beating down on me, sweat is pouring down my face. The heat index is in the 100s, it’s midday, and I’m on the open water.
Did I mention there are alligators in the water??
My little baseball cap seems like a small joke on my head, and even though I slathered 45 SPF all over my arms, they feel like they are literally burning up,
This isn’t what I wanted.
I want to enjoy kayaking with my family.
I don’t want to have this reaction.
I don’t want to be so sensitive to the heat.
My aunt, behind me in the tandem kayak, starts to speak to me, saying we can turn around, and go back to the dock.
I see my parents, and the tears start to fall, as I choke out,
I’m not doing so well.
Have you ever felt like this?
Had a reaction and strong emotion you don’t want to have?
Have you ever felt like you were stuck, struggling in the open water of strong emotions in your Art?
And there can be so many….emotions around rejection, comparison, competition, frustration that you are simply NOT where you want to be. At the end of the day, you just DON’T want to feel it!
I mean, how can that possibly help, right?
So, what do you do?
I haven’t been kayaking in five years.
It’s been a really fun activity to do with my parents, who love to be on the water. I’ve never been especially skilled with an oar, but the views from the water are breathtaking. I was really looking forward to sharing this experience with them again.
We were all down in Santee, South Carolina, for the eclipse weekend, and I had been watching the weather forecast carefully, deeply concerned about the heat index.
High heat and high humidity is pretty much my kryptonite.
I’ve had sun stroke and heat exhaustion as an adult, vomiting and being sick in bed for days, plus many crazy rashes that stay on my skin for weeks.
Like I said, kryptonite.
We planned the kayaking last Sunday for 9 am, the earliest the company had available, and planned to be out for just a few hours.
This was MY plan, not what actually occurred.
When we arrived, we encountered the brother of the actual owner of the rental company. He had come to just help out for the weekend, and was missing one crucial item,
The keys to the office.
In the office were the life jackets and the oars. And his brother who had the keys? He was out on the water giving a kayaking lesson with no cell service.
We were stuck.
I was stuck.
And I could feel the frustration and fear rising. The day was only getting hotter, and the sun higher.
But most of all was the simple realization,
I have NO control over this situation right now.
So, the only question was,
HOW am I going to meet it?
How do you meet that moment when you have no control over what is happening?
How do you deal with the frustration and fear when it’s arising, especially when it’s something so important to YOU?
We didn’t get into the water until 10:30, and hour and a half later than planned.
As I watched the brother doing his best to problem solve, and dealing with all the crowds of people waiting to get their oars and life jackets, I sat in the shade and said over and over,
Even though I feel anxious, I deeply love and accept myself.
Even though I feel scared, I deeply love and accept myself.
When we pushed into the water, I desperately wanted to experience a cool breeze, and a relief. I wanted to feel safe and ok to be on the water for the next 2-3 hours.
And I felt NONE of that.
Instead, everything intensified. My aunt and I were paddling as quickly as we could to get to the bend, and come into the inlet where there were supposed to be trees and shade along the water.
When we finally got to the shade, about 15-20 minutes later, I was a mess, overheated, and crying.
And then my family mirrored back to me the biggest lesson.
They met my pain with acceptance.
They met my pain with care.
They met my pain with unconditional love.
They didn’t make me wrong.
They didn’t diminish my experience.
My mother came alongside the kayak, and gave me her wide brimmed hat, and had me take my cloth and start to dunk the lake water over the head.
As I squeezed the water onto my scalp, the heat began to dissipate, and I exhaled through tears,
I feel self conscious.
I feel embarrassed.
And the intensity lowered, my breathing came back, and a breeze started to travel across my wet scalp and neck.
I knew I wasn’t going to pass out. I felt so much better, and I knew I was safe.
Imagine meeting your strong emotions like this.
Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t make yourself wrong.
Imagine if you didn’t diminish your own experience.
Imagine if you met these moments with unconditional love.
We can so easily be shocked at watching someone throw anger and yell at another person.
But, how are you speaking to yourself?
What do you say to yourself when you are dealing with these challenging moments?
We can easily throw blame in a situation we are not happy with in our Art. Especially because our work means SO much.
But, if you just blame someone else, or sweep your strong emotions under the rug, they will only appear again and again.
Because they are the child waiting to be loved.
Really, at our core, this is what we are seeking. And as Artists, this is paramount to not only our work, but our relationship with collaborators and our audience.
It all begins with you.
How you deal and speak to yourself in the most challenging moments, directly affects all other relationships in your Art.
If you are making yourself wrong all the time, what are you saying and doing to your audience, your customers, and your support system? Are they wrong too?
Judgement will only stop you in your tracks. It will halt your productivity, stop your projects, and cut you off from growth and achieving the acclaim you desire.
So, the next time you feel like you are being baked alive in the heat of your emotions, take a breath, and connect in. Meet your fears with LOVE. Say what you are feeling, and ALLOW them to move through you.
Place the cooling water on your head, and RECEIVE your own unconditional love. Challenges will always arise. We have no control over that.
But it you are able to meet them AS they arise, you will be able to keep paddling, and enjoy the true benefits of your passion. You will have the long and abundant career you desire, making a living from your art, and creating an impact with your work.
I ended up being on the water for three hours, having quality time with my family, and experiencing the beauty of the cypress trees. I was able to process the fear, and cool down the heat.
You can too.
The cool breeze on the water awaits.