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.
Family
Friends
Our living spaces….

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

And then there is all that is necessary to be relevant today as an Artist:
Website
Social Media
Crowdfunding
Marketing
Networking
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.

Why?

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

Moving Day

I’ve been talking about this for months, and now the time is here.

I’m leaving.
I’m packing up all my things.

This is it.

After over 19 years in New York City, I am moving out of the city.

And even though this is something I have always envisioned,
even though this is ultimately what I want,
even though this move is bringing me closer to the life I have been working for, for SO long….

I’m terrified.

Have you ever felt this?

Worked so hard towards your Artistic Dream, towards the acclaim you desire and a life that is deeply fulfilling doing work you love where you thrive….and THERE it is, right in front of you…and yet, you feel paralyzed?

We so commonly hear the conversation around Fear of Failure, but what about Fear of Success?

What do we DO when all we want is right in front of us, and we feel overwhelmed?

 

I moved to NYC back in 1998, fresh out of college, newly married, and ready to “make it”. I grabbed my Backstage paper, and went to as many auditions as I could, booking work very quickly.

After five years in college, I was ready for the hustle and bustle, and felt grounded in being married.

My focus was on my career, but family was always in the future.

I used to declare that one day, we would move out of the city, fantasizing about a real house on the Hudson River.

I was clear I didn’t want to raise a family in the city, and this was where I needed to be while I was building my career.

For live theatre, NYC is the place.

So, I stayed…and I worked, and I hit a ceiling.

My dream of Broadway felt out of my grasp.  So many close calls, final auditions….and meanwhile, my marriage that had felt like the calm in the storm was starting to crumble.

I remember doing a production of Romance Romance in the summer of 2010, and my grandmother came to see the show.  We were sitting on a bench in the heart of Cape May, NJ in the early evening summer sun, and she inquired around if I was planning on starting to have a family.  She grabbed my hand, and squeezed it, looking right through me saying,
Don’t wait too long.

I had just turned 35, and was feeling a panic.  I had always thought I would have the family by now….the Broadway show…this wasn’t the timeline I imagined.

My grandmother passed about 7 months later, and on my 36th birthday, I officially got off the pill and started trying.

Except it wasn’t working.  I was taking my temperature every day, writing down on charts, going to acupuncture…and nothing.  I began to think I was “one of those women” and something was wrong with me.

But, my body was actually protecting me.
My body knew what was coming.

Four months after my 37th birthday, my husband knelt in front of me to share he didn’t want to be married anymore and didn’t want to have kids.

And just when I thought I was going to be moving out of the city and starting a new life….I lost my married home, and moved into a very small 300 square foot one bedroom.

Everything I knew of my life burned to the ground, and I questioned if I would ever have a family.
Would I ever have that home?
Would I ever have a partner that wanted children?

As I turned the key in my new apartment, I walked into a reality I never saw coming.

And then something magical happened…
This new apartment became a cocoon.
This new apartment became a sanctuary.
This new apartment gave me quiet, and the space to create a life I couldn’t conceive of before.

I learned who I really was beneath all the criticism, self judgement, and comparison that had been running the show for so long.

And I healed my heart, learning to love again.

And I met a special man…..who came with a home.

And he lives outside NYC.
Everything I said I wanted.

So, here it is right in front of me….MOVING DAY…..and I’m terrified.
It’s pretty crazy, isn’t it?
Why do we do this to ourselves?

What is REALLY at play underneath the fear?

 

As Artists we work so hard.
We GIVE, and we give so much of our hearts in the process.  Our art is literally an expression of our desires, our fears, and what matters most.

We sing
We dance
We write
We create,

And all of this flows from within us, with the hopes and dreams we will evoke strong emotion in our audience, be fulfilled in our work, and create great art that allows us to thrive.

We are on output SO much, creating endlessly. Our desire so strong to receive the acclaim we desire.

So, what happens when it starts to occur?
What happens when our fans start to rave?
What happens when you are in demand?

You taste that sweetness of being seen, of being heard, of FINALLY an audience that GETS you.

And where do we go?

We get scared it will LEAVE.

As my brilliant therapist so succinctly put it,
With attachment comes fear of loss.

I have literally spent the last five years with one goal in mind,
to find my man and start a family.

With my whole being and heart I have wanted this, and it has been a birthing on a scale I didn’t even know I was capable of.

So, naturally, I am terrified it will slip through my fingers…
just like my last marriage.

And yet, here is the miracle.

This came into my life because I stayed IN it.  It came because I gave energy to it, day after day. This move is a manifestation of my efforts.

And now the next chapter begins.

And just like the woman who felt so lost and terrified five years ago, I know what is most important.

The fear is PART OF the journey.

And maybe that home I had been seeking for so long, was in me all along.
Maybe connecting to my inner home, was really the grounding I was needing.

Because that home….never leaves.

“Big challenges stretch us beyond our self-image to something deeper.  Who we think we are won’t win this challenge, but who we really are can”
-Robert Holden

 

So, what grounds you in your life?

It’s from this “home” you will create your best work, and have the CAPACITY to deal with the fear as it arises. I stand here today and share with you I’m scared AND I am moving WITH that fear.

The fear hasn’t stopped me from moving.  I may lose it all, and that’s the chance I am willing to take.  In fact, I know life has an end point, and it’s because I know it will end, that I am FREED to take action.

This is your life.  How do want to live your days?

 

What would be possible if you moved WITH your fear?
What action would you take in your Art?

Pack up your things, it’s moving day.

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography