Overcoming the Heat

Are you feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do for your career?
Does it feel like the heat is ON, you are sweating, and getting no relief?

Here we are the beginning of August, and it’s the height of summer.  The air is THICK, the sun is HOT, and I imagine all you may want to do is just sit in the cool air conditioning, or just stay in the pool.

Temperatures can really soar this time of year, both internally and externally.

It’s hot outside, and when you look at your To Do’s, you just want to stick your head in the freezer.

I get it, deeply.

Remember when the sun was welcoming?
Remember when you made your vision at the beginning of the year and had so much joy and inspiration?

Does it feel like your “get up and go” has melted on the sidewalk in the mid-day heat?

So, how do you find relief with the heat?
How do you cool down and keep momentum going so the summer counts?

And most importantly, how do you stay connected to your dreams and juicy vision?

I really struggle in the summertime.

When I hit my 20’s I started to have some real issues in high heat and humidity.  At a week-long beach vacation with my family, for the first time, I got sun poisoning and heat stroke.  It was terrible.  I was in bed for two days, and was very physically sick.

After that, I found I started to have a real sensitivity to the heat, and it only increased in my 30’s and 40’s.

If I looked at the forecast and saw temps in the 90’s and above, I could feel my stomach tighten.  I learned quickly I had to cover my head with a good hat, and really minimize exposure.

And the reaction was very quick.

I would get light-headed.
I would feel like I was going to pass out.
My energy would plummet.

This was terrible, and kept me inside many times when friends and family were able to frolic and enjoy activities that I couldn’t participate in.

I felt really self conscious and alone.

Have you ever felt that?

I was convinced that if it was that hot outside, I would not be able to function.  No exceptions.

As this sensitivity only seemed to be getting worse, I imagined it would only continue to do so.  I couldn’t conceive it would change or be different, even though, deep in my heart, I really wanted it to.

Hot environment = suffering.
Period.

I found Zen and meditation in the winter of 2013.  I would go to the temple wrapped up in sweaters and socks, and cozy up on my cushion.

With meditation came peace, and at a time when I had lost so much in my life, it was a healing balm.  I began to build a new life, and Zen was the foundation of it all.

And then the summer came, hot as always in New York City.  I watched the temperatures rise, and became nervous to go to the temple because there was no air conditioning.

How would I be?

But because Zen was saving my life at the time, I went on a very hot summer day, and sat down on the cushion.

And a miracle happened.

I was ok.

In fact, I found that meditating actually brought my body temperature down.

I had found a way to be in the heat.
And what’s more, I realized my belief had changed.

In THIS environment, heat did NOT equal suffering.
Why?
Because I was concentrating on my breath, and working with my mind.

So, what happens when you get overheated?
What happens when the pressure of the sun is pounding down on you?

More than likely, you stop breathing.

It’s a very common response, and always accompanies overwhelm.

And then, when you stop breathing, your mind races.

And your mind probably starts to generate thoughts like
You never complete anything
You don’t deserve success
You can’t handle a thriving career

And this is all perfectly normal! 

But so is the heat. And on the journey of your amazing life and doing creative work that matters, you will always encounter challenges.

We can’t control the weather, but we can learn HOW to work with it and meet it.

It can be easy to think that when the heat is on with your career, it will ALWAYS mean you are stuck, or can’t complete.

But, what if that’s not true?
What if the heat is here to help guide you to what you actually NEED?

I now know that I need to wear a hat in the summer.  Also, if I’m going to be outside, I have a cold cloth or some ice to rub over my pulse points.  I make sure to check weather forecasts, and will be flexible with plans on those days the heat is really high. I avoid wide open spaces with no shade or covering.

So, what do you need when the heat is on?
What truly is HELPFUL to cool you down?

Perhaps, you need to take a quick walk.
Perhaps, pick up a journal and free write your frustration.
Perhaps, reach out to your coach or mentor or a close friend for some empathy.

But in all of these, stay CONNECTED.
Connected to what is happening in your body and what actually helps.

The reason?
Otherwise you will do the same thing over and over and find yourself stuck again and again.

Those big dreams?
You will believe with everything you’ve got they will NEVER come true.

We all have sensitivities.
There is no problem here.
It’s so easy to judge ourselves, but that judgement just generates more heat.

So, allow yourself some self compassion in the moment of sweating and cool yourself down.
Come back to curiosity.

Asking the question,
What is helpful?

Come back to your breath, and create the environment where you can handle the heat AND continue to take action towards your dreams.

This is where you are unstoppable, no matter the weather.

Coming Close to Your Audience

Are you frustrated by your audience?

Do you wish you could just shake them and say,
HEY! I’m amazing!  Don’t you see me?

I mean, you are doing SO much work and putting out your
music
words
art

Aren’t they supposed to love and cherish you?

Do you wish they would just do what you WANT?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have a magic wand and they would come eagerly running and buy all your work?

You may be scratching your head and asking,
How do the most successful Artists do it?
How do they have raving fans?

Because I imagine, you would love the answer. You could stop exhausting yourself and actually build an audience you love as well that nurtures and promotes your work.

So, how do we go from wanting to control our audience, and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to actually having them come running to US?

I have to admit something to you.

I have really struggled with wanting things to be different than they are.

For most of my 20 year career as a performer, I felt like I was waving my hand in the air and saying,
PICK ME, PICK ME!

Can you relate?

It felt like I was reaching out with my arms, seeking attention, my arms outstretched, all my energy going OUT.

And then when I would experience rejection, it felt so personal. 
Didn’t they see how badly I wanted this? 
Didn’t they know how much this meant to me?

I was so confused, and in this confusion my answer was just to try harder.  To want it even more…to SHOW them how hard I was working.

I thought if I just tried hard enough, I could control them.  I could WILL them to pick me. I would just place all my energy on being perfect and amazing, so I would stand out.

And I hit a ceiling.  This trying so hard only got me so far.  I thought the rejection would go away.  I thought I would finally book my first Broadway show.  And I didn’t.

I was devastated…..

Do you feel like you are doing this with your audience?
Do you feel like no matter how good you are, it doesn’t matter?

And this whole energy going out went on for years, and affected many other areas of my life where I struggled.

I would want people to be quiet on the train who were speaking loudly into their phones.
When I was dating, I would want the guy to specifically say what I wanted to hear.

And it even seeped into my meditation practice. In a quiet room, I would sit with my sangha in silence and meditate together.  Except sometimes people would fall asleep, or their legs hurt. It would drive me crazy to be sitting still and feeling my mind calm, to be completely distracted by the person in front of me fidgeting.

Oh man….even here I’m struggling.  I can’t seem to get away from this!

Until two weeks ago.

I did a weekend meditation retreat and it was the longest and most intensive retreat I’ve done.  My teachers had given a very specific instruction, which was when I felt myself wander, or difficult emotions arose to simply,
Move closer.

So, I settled in, and sure enough I had someone in front of me who was moving around.  I could feel that voice coming in, judging and saying,
Why are they doing that?
Don’t they know I need stillness?

And then I came close.  Literally….I shifted my energy on them and their actions, and came back to myself, sitting on the cushion.

And I felt something very different in my body, in fact I then had an awareness of how OUT of my body I had been in that moment and how QUICKLY I had gone there. My eyes had actually shifted up towards the person in front of me.

So, I came back to where I was, my actual experience, and lowered my eyes again.  Immediately the judging voice went away, and I felt a relaxation.

This happened again and again, and each time, I just brought myself back to me. 

Each time I would start to obsess on someone’s practice or actions, I would just come back to my breath, to my body in space sitting on the cushion.

And I began to remember and process all those moments as an Artist when I had NO awareness I was doing this,
When I would stay fixated on the choreographer who didn’t pick me
When I would stay fixated on the casting director who was looking at his phone instead of listening
When I would stare at the director during an audition, willing him to pick my headshot
When I would want the audience to cheer and they would barely clap

This was all actually OUT of my control.

And energetically, I was wasting my energy because what really ended up making the difference and caused me to have a total resurgence in my career was when I stayed IN my body and placed my attention more on my experience.

I had always heard my acting teachers say,
You can’t care about what they think…

And this always confused the HECK out of me!  But I DO care!  How am I supposed to audition or perform without my passion?

But, what I realize is they were actually pointing towards,
I can’t control my audience.

In fact, the largest lesson I learned in my divorce is, I can’t control another person.

That energy is wasted, which is why it exhausted me.

When we put all our energy on our audience, we are seeking validation, and validation is a one way trip to disappointment.  No everyone is going to like you or your work, and that’s OK.  This isn’t about pleasing everyone.

But most of all, when all of our energy is placed outside ourselves, we are lopsided.  We’ve all been in the presence of someone who is trying too hard, who just wants attention, and I imagine your reaction in that moment was to turn away.  It probably felt uncomfortable.

As Artists, we really need to learn how to receive, but in order to do that, we need to know how to BE in our bodies.  When you come closer, and stop obsessing about your audience, it means you are coming back home.

You are coming back to who you are as an Artist.  And you need to know who you are.  It may be the most important work you do.

Because when you can sit with who you are, with acceptance, then you will be relaxed.  When you are relaxed, then you feel safe to others.  And when you feel safe to others, they will come TO you.

Look at your marketing.
Look at how you are speaking and showing up to your audience.

Really assess where your energy is, and learn how to build lasting relationships that are healthy, not one-sided.
It begins with you.

Come close.

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon Photography