Your Creative Team

Do you have a part of you that you wish you could get rid of?
Do you have a part of you that it would feel SO amazing to just put them on a permanent vacation?

Perhaps you feel it gets in the way of your Art.  Maybe you’ve even given it a name, like:
Inner Critic
Procrastinator
Perfectionist

Maybe it’s a voice in your head that slows you down when you really want to GO, or speeds you up and causes you to get overwhelmed when you really want to just take it slow or watch Netflix.

It can be really frustrating, right?

You may see you are not where you want to be with your Art, and all you have is this pattern of disappointment and it can be super easy to just BLAME this part of you.

That’s what’s wrong, right?
If this was FIXED and just went away, all would be perfect!

So, how come every time we try to banish this voice away, it just comes back, sometimes stronger than before?
Will this cycle ever stop?

Last weekend I had a first.

I did my first ever weekend-long silent meditation retreat.

I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist.  Zen saved my life after a devastating year of loss back in 2013, and I’ve been practicing ever since with the Mountains and Rivers Order, mostly in Brooklyn at the Fire Lotus Temple.

This meditation retreat is called a Sesshin and means, “touching the heart-mind”.

I’ve been wanting to do a Sesshin for two years, so this was a long time coming and I entered the temple last Friday very ready.  Ready to sit.  Ready to be with myself.

It’s been an intense time for me, and feels like it’s been non stop for longer than I can remember with moving to NJ last year, planning and getting married, planning a huge online event for thousands, and then creating four more big events and workshops culminating in a full class of my signature program for professional artists, the Fearless Academy.

Did I mention in the middle of all this I also sustained a nasty calf injury, and got incredibly sick?
Did I mention during this time of stress I couldn’t dance or do yoga as stress relief?
Did I mention I’ve had a cough now for over 5 weeks?

Oh….and I’m also family planning.

Just a few things going on.

In the face of all this, I was VERY ready to just sit in silence.  I knew I needed space.

The first night was a healing balm and I slept deeply Friday.  We woke up at 4:20 am and I was on my cushion by 4:55.  This was where I wanted to be, and I could feel my whole body and mind relaxing.

But there was something that was plaguing me….the real reason I was here.

When I had face to face teaching with my teacher, I sat down across from him and said,
I have a question about my inner taskmaster.

He smiled right away and said,
Ah yes…..also known as the Controller.

I immediately felt myself tighten.  I hated that word. 

My teacher spoke into parts of himself that come up for him, and he referenced his inner Protector, which is him as a young boy on the streets of NYC with a knife.  He shared his Protector is fierce. Then he asked,
What do you think your Controller wants?

I said,
Faith.
Trust.
She wants to know everything is going to be ok.

My teacher looked at me, and said,
Are you sure?

He started to ask me if she actually wants love, and I could feel myself getting even tighter.  I thought of my incredible husband, and how much love he gives me.  I could feel myself inside screaming,
She doesn’t want LOVE, she just wants everything to be in order and OK!

I was getting even tighter.  This was hard for me.  Control had ruined my life, my former marriage, and so many aspects of my professional career. In the face of my divorce, and losing everything the biggest lesson I desperately wanted to learn was how to LET GO.  Trying to control my ex, my career, and people around me was exhausting and ultimately tore my life in two.  Clearly it didn’t work.

I didn’t WANT her here anymore.  She had ruined so much in my life.

Can you relate?

My teacher spoke into how his Protector will always be there. And as I sat there struggling, he asked me,
If your Controller doesn’t want love, then why is she such a bitch?

And then I got it…..I was actually making my Controller wrong.  I was saying she doesn’t belong. 
Oh my gosh….she actually did just want to be loved.

I went back out into the Zendo to sit with the others and we chanted the Identity of Relative and Absolute. My voice completely lodged in my throat as I couldn’t speak,
Each thing has it’s own intrinsic value
And is related to everything else in function and position

My mouth was forming the words I knew by heart with no sound…tears were streaming down my face as I realized,

My Controller has her own value.
She allows me to get things done.
She helps me with discipline and organization.
She helps me with deadlines, and is really the reason I have built my business to six figures.
AND she is related to ALL the other parts of me!

She is related to my creative goddess, my Zen practitioner, my feminine flow….
and they all co-exist inside me.

They don’t cancel each other out.  I can have her there WITH the others. She’s doing her job and they are doing theirs and it’s the unified effort that allows me to create the life I want.

All having their value.

And the reason I was suffering so much, was because I was making her wrong.

And I thought of what I have said to all of you so many times,
It’s not about cutting off pieces of yourself and making them wrong, it’s about bringing all of you into wholeness and integration.  This is where you will have your greatest power as an Artist and create the greatest connection with your audience.

Perhaps I say this to all of you, because I need to hear it again too.

So, what part of you have you wanted to banish?

If you stepped into that part, what do you think they want for you?
What are they here to help you with?

If you could bring love and acceptance to this part, and allow it to work WITH your other parts, what would this free you to be, do, or create this year?

What if your greatest work actually came from using ALL of you?
Did you know you actually have a team within you now to pull from?

What if you knew HOW to use them effectively?

Start with love.
It can really be that simple.

“Seek Delight in All”

Your Creative work is an expression of the whole.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Coming Home

I’m in a room.  The same I am in every morning at 6:30 am.  A brown couch behind me, and a TV in front. The door is shut and in the distance I can hear my brother playing Mozart in the living room.

I open my music stand, adjusting the height, my small fingers clicking the lock into place, and for a moment the overhead light flashes silver before I place a large book on top.

Suzuki scales.

Bending down, I open my case and take a deep breath, almost holding it, because all I hear as my hands lift my violin to my chin is a loud voice in my head saying,

I’m not good enough

And then my small bow hits the string, and I go through my practice, stretching my short fingers. Gotta get it in before I catch the school bus for second grade.

 

Remember childhood?

What was yours like? Did you begin your Art when you were young?

I grew up in a military household that was very musical.  My mother told both my brother and I we would take an instrument, and we could pick whatever that was. He chose piano.

For some insane reason I chose violin.

I used to always say that I never really excelled at violin because we moved around so much and each time we would come to a new military base, I would have a new teacher that would say,

Forget everything you’ve been taught. What you are doing is wrong. This is the proper technique.

But recently, I think I have been able to really get to the heart of it.  And I was surprised to learn that my violin and the feelings around it were actually the key to me moving forward in my Artistry and being successful.

I was a very artistic child, and was also in dance class and loved every minute of creative writing.

But the violin?

It always felt hard, and most of all, I felt like I couldn’t catch up or do it right.

What was it for you?
What was giving you that message as a child?
How has this affected you as an adult Artist?

 

I recently worked with a powerful coach named Tom Tynan, who led me through his process to uncover my core limiting belief, and when I wrote it down, I knew it was true…..even though it felt so cliche.  But there it was, in my own writing…

I am not enough

And in his process, he led me back to the child part of me that first had that belief, and guess who I met?

The 7 year old practicing violin every morning.

In all her glory, and with her best intentions to try and be lovable, and do right, be a good daughter and be a great musician…..she would get up every school morning to practice for 30 minutes.

But she never felt it was good enough. Her teachers weren’t reinforcing that, and it wasn’t joyful.

Not like writing…not like dance…not like singing in the church musical and playing a kazoo loudly for all to hear.

So, what did I do when I met her?

I hugged her.
I told her, “you are amazing!”

And she beamed, and hugged me back.  And then, I told her it was time to come home.  She didn’t have to be in isolation anymore. She could be a part of me and no longer feed the belief that I’m not enough.

Now, I could ask the question instead,
How AM I enough?

 

As artists and creatives we can have a very strong inner critic. And we have to ask the question, where did this begin from?

We are fully formed by the time we are 7 years old, and while the adults around us all had the best intentions and were working with whatever tools they had, our innocence can really suffer.

Especially with the Arts.

Our expression is very emotional, and can get tied up in our self worth.  We care so deeply about our dance, our music, our words, and art.

And the good news is, it can nourish us and feed us as we grow to create incredible work in the world.

But, take a moment to ask, what is that voice saying to you?

Or better yet, what is that voice truly asking FOR?

My career ended up being in musical theatre, and now with my business I use my writing a lot.  While I did choose violin as a six year old, it may have been because that is what was going to eventually open me to believing the most empowering belief,

I am enough.

And isn’t that what we are truly looking for as Creatives?

Enough to connect with our audience
Enough to put our work out to the world
Enough to stand center stage in the spotlight and been seen for all our glorious gifts
Enough to truly thrive and make a solid living doing what we love

And what’s more loving than embracing that inner child that has been calling to be seen?

So, take a moment and listen….tune in and get curious.  Close your eyes and see where your inner critic began….and find that child that wanted more than anything to express themselves with abandon, crayons in hand.

Give them a hug, and bring them home.

And then share your glorious voice.