Care Taking

Do you feel frustrated that you are doing everything you CAN for your career and you are just not where you want to be?

Do you feel like your To Do’s to be a successful Artist have taken over your life?

I mean, what is the deal?

You are posting on social media.
You are putting yourself and your work out there.
You are doing ALL the things you are supposed to….and yet, you feel stuck, spinning in circles.

I imagine that is incredibly frustrating!

Watching your peers step into their success can be difficult when you know your talent is just as good.

So, what is the difference?
Why are you stuck and they are moving?

This was a question I had running on a LOOP in my head for years when I was a performer, and what stopped it really surprised me.

I’ve always been highly disciplined.  Growing up in a military household definitely set the bar high, and I was determined to meet it.

So, I practiced my violin every morning, did my classwork, was valedictorian, and placed very high value on
completing tasks, and having order in my life.

After all, that was what I was taught to do.

I remember when I was in my career, and had a running To Do list.  As I’ve always enjoyed cursing like a sailor, I decided to call it the F***ing To Do List.  It made me laugh, and also motivated me.

Get it DONE!
That was the mantra.

So, I did, and I did…..and I did, but I hit a ceiling in my career and couldn’t figure out why all my hard work was not landing me my Broadway show.

I was at first annoyed, and then angry, and eventually devastated.  I started to believe it wouldn’t happen, and even worse, that something was wrong with me.

And then my whole life fell apart, and for the first time in my life, I actually LOOKED at my life, and instead of it being through a lens of judgement and “what is WRONG with you?” it was through a lens of compassion and curiosity.

There was wisdom to be had here…..and I was ready to truly learn.

When I first found Zen and did their Intro to Zen Training weekend, part of the weekend was called Care Taking Practice.  During this 90 minutes, we were put in a group, and given a task.  This task was to be done in silence so you could just be present to it, and was some form of “taking care” of the monastery and their programs.

Taking Care.

I was assigned to helping with the Prison program and organizing correspondence to the inmates who were mailing back and forth with the monastics.

Tasks completed with care. 

I dived into training with Non Violent Communication,  a process for supporting partnership and resolving conflict within people, relationships and society. The teacher, Thom Bond was telling the story of recognizing the reason he kept his home so clean and neat was it actually met needs for self care.

As soon as I heard this, it went through me.

I looked around my little apartment in Queens and saw the order I had created.  For so much of my life, I had labeled myself as OCD, or been called that by others, or called myself controlling. But what if this was actually self care?

What if how I was in my life with discipline was actually care taking?

That day, I went into my F***ing To Do list and changed the name. 
I changed it to Care Taking.

And from there, I was able to create this successful business and rebuild my life. I was able to go Full Time, because I wasn’t being so hard on myself, and was actually clear WHY this work mattered to me.

Nothing was wrong with me….I was actually coming into contact with my heart and my desires.

And now I could actually take CARE of them, not punish myself.

Does this sound familiar?

How do you speak to yourself?
What have you labeled yourself?

True sustainable growth happens through support and love.

I imagine you can think of a teacher who really tore you down.  While there may have been some short term growth out of anger or fear, ultimately I imagine you stopped using them, because it just felt awful to be belittled so much.

Tearing someone down just damages them, and the same is true for self talk.

We all have different processes for our work, and really it is about finding what works for  YOU.

And then taking CARE of this process.
Taking CARE of you so that you can show up FOR the process, for your Art, and for your beautiful life.

Practice is essential for development of our craft AND we can approach this practice and building the business of our passions from a place of care.

Energy is everything.  I can look back at my younger self with so much love, and know she was doing the best she could, but truthfully, she was being waaayyyy too hard on herself and the taskmaster was running the show.

Now, it’s the care-taker, and what a difference.

So, what needs CARE in your career?
What needs CARE In your heart so that you can show up for your career?

Create systems that work in your career not because you should but because it will take CARE of the work that matters most.

Whenever you are in doubt, love is the answer.  Every time. You are a shining light and deserve your own love and affection. 

Care for your life, and watch it grow.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

The Needs of an Artist

Everything we do, we do as an attempt to meet a NEED.

What could those needs be?

Connection
Choice
Play
Well-Being
Meaning

In essence, your Needs equal your Life Force, it’s what you want in your life.

It’s what you want in your Art and Creativity.

When you think of your painting, or music, or words, what is the Need behind your Art?

When your brush hits the canvas, or you strum your strings, what is it you are truly needing?

Could it be:
Communication
Self-expression
Contribution
Discovery

The list is long, and energetic.  We can’t actually grasp “contribution” with our hands, but we can grasp the actions we take to achieve them.

That’s where Strategy comes in.  Strategy is what you do to meet your Need.

So, what the heck am I talking about?

Allow me to introduce you to something that will revolutionize not only your Art, but your Creative Life.

Non-Violent Communication, or NVC.

 

Two weekends ago, I sat in a large studio in midtown Manhattan with 50 other people for a NVC Discovery Weekend.

“NVC shows us a way of being very honest, without any criticism, insults, or put-downs, and without an intellectual diagnosis implying wrongness.”
Creator, Marshall Rosenberg

No insults, put-downs, or wrongness….oh wow, I know those!

The irony of the location of the workshop was not lost on me.  I was actually sitting in a studio I had auditioned in many times.

When I took a bathroom break, I walked by a room that was being set up with a clipboard outside that read,

Les Miserable Tour

Many memories returned, of standing here in this same hallway with my audition book, wearing my best outfits, hair and makeup done just right….all to walk into the room to dance or sing my guts out.

And for the first time, I had a new question for myself,
What were MY needs?

Or the even better question,
Were my needs being MET in my audition process?

The answer that returned, was a big NO.

Are YOUR needs being met in your Creative Process?

To walk down these hallways as a coach instead of a performer was slightly odd, and yet, incredible.  As I saw singers arrive for their auditions, I felt like I actually understood them better.

I felt like I actually understood MYSELF better, the past “me”  standing outside the audition room with my heart in my throat.

I definitely had strategies to meet those needs for my auditions, but I wasn’t fully aware WHAT my needs were.

I was shooting in the dark, and judging myself in the process. If I couldn’t relax and ground before going in to sing, I just decided something was wrong with me.  And while there were so many auditions I felt like I nailed and did fantastic, those really big “make it or break it” moments seemed so out of my control.  I would feel the pressure, and go out of my body, not singing or dancing at the level I was capable of.

Sound familiar?
Do you feel like you are banging your head against the wall in your Art right now and not seeing the results you want?

Here’s a lifeline:
There are 10,000 ways to meet a need once it’s been identified. And the way to identify your Need is through something we Creatives have easier access to than others….our Feelings.

The process breaks down like this:
1) Observation: take a pause for a second, coming out of self judgement and actually observe what is going on for you in the moment
2) Feeling: Identify what you are actually feeling.  This could be anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, or hopeless
3) Need: Identify the Need that is not being met
4) Request: Make a request of yourself or another to meet this need

 

A body in judgement feels very different than a body in connection.

A body in connection…YOUR body in connection is going to produce Art that resonates, collaborations that thrive, and an audience that returns again and again.

So, why wouldn’t you want to know what your needs are?

There has been a negative connotation around Needs, especially around the Arts.  Nobody likes to hear, “you are SO needy!”  Or we can attach a judgement on our needs that by having them we are actually weak.

But, I’m offering a new way to look at this.  If your Needs are actually the impulses of life, we are then connecting with what we are honestly longing for.

Imagine creating your Art from there.
Imagine how inspiring THAT energy will be for your audience.

Let me ask you, do you want to be the author of your life?

Take a look today at your Creative Process, the work you are putting out to the world, and ask,
Does this meet my Needs?

If not, look at your dissatisfactions and make decisions based on your Needs, based on your life energy. Imagine making decisions and implementing strategies that are non-harming to you, and free of judgement. No more beating yourself up!

Doesn’t that feel better?

We have enough challenges as Creatives in these turbulent times. Imagine a way to increase your ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection.

Isn’t that why you became an Artist in the first place?

So, consider this an introduction.

And, to help you in the process, here is the free NVC official Needs List: CLICK HERE

I have this sheet with me at all times, and it has been a lifesaver for me AND my clients.

Try it…next time you are feeling frustrated in your Art.  Grab the Needs sheet, identify what isn’t being met, and connect with a new strategy.

You may be surprised at what you find, and what you create.

Connection
Choice
Play
Well-Being
Meaning

Be curious.  In curiosity, you may actually get what you want.