Taking the Leap

Has fear stopped you when it matters most with your work?

Have you been right there, and the next step you need to take in order to go Full Time scares you out of your mind?

It may be,
Starting your Youtube channel
Submitting your manuscript to a big publisher
Hiring your first producer
Promoting your workshop
Raising your prices on your art
Launching a newsletter or blog

It’s that next level of exposure and action you KNOW you need to take, and yet you find yourself paralyzed.  You may feel like your feet are stuck to the ground.

Have you ever felt this?

And the fear can be intense…
It can feel so overwhelming, and you may be thinking,
If I’m THIS scared, I’m not supposed to do it!
Maybe I’ll just wait…
I’ll wait until I’m no longer scared.
If I’m scared, it must not be right.

So, you wait, and wait, and the fear never goes away…and your dreams of going Full Time are no closer.

How does that feel?
I imagine it can be devastating and really discouraging.

You are an incredible Artist.
You have so much to give and your audience is waiting for you…..
So, what’s the DEAL??

Why won’t the fear GO AWAY?

I mean, things would be so much easier if it did, right?

Wednesday night was a big night for me.  Almost four months after a serious calf injury, I decided to try leaping across the floor for the first time.

I had been back to dance class now two times prior since the injury and each time had felt even more solid, and I was actually really excited. 

Tonight is the night!  I get to leap!

And yet, right before I was about to go, I felt it…Fear.
This was exactly how I got injured in January.  It was the leaps across the floor.

For a moment, I could feel that voice coming up saying,
What if you’re not ready?
What if you hurt yourself again?

Have you ever felt this?

I was scared.  The last four months have been really challenging and I have MISSED dance so much!  The last thing I wanted was to have another injury and be out again.

But, something deeper was with me.
So, I leapt WITH the fear.

And I made it across to the other side of the room. A smile broke across my face, a wash of relief came over me.  My calf was tight, but I was ok. 

I was ok.

I remember in the very midst of my divorce, sitting in front of a Zen teacher with tears streaming down my face, sharing my heartache and weeping as I choked out my deepest question,
How do you let go?

He passed me a box of tissues and then asked me,
Are you ok without him?

This question stopped me cold.  Literally, it was as if a huge shift occurred in my body.

Yes, I was ok.
Yes, I was breathing.
Yes, I had support of family and friends….I was still alive.

I honestly had thought because I was SO afraid of being single, of being without the man I had spent 19 years of my life with, that ultimately I would NOT be ok.

This was unknown territory, after all.

And yet, here I was breathing and alive.
The ironic thing was I was the one who actually said,
I want a divorce.

He had asked for a trial separation, but there was no way I was going to give that to him. He was in love with another woman, and had shared he didn’t want to have kids. AND in couple’s therapy, he didn’t want to look at the deeper reasons he was leaving me.

There was no future here. I knew it, and I knew what the next step had to be, and it rocked me to my core.

So, even though I was terrified of never finding my partner, of never having children…I leapt.  It was scary as hell.

And I was ok.
I am ok. And that ability to leap WITH my fear allowed me to not only find my life partner and begin family planning, but also create my own Art business and find true meaning in my life.

Last week I saw a quote from one of my favorite women in the world, Marie Forleo
Fear isn’t the problem. Waiting to stop feeling afraid is.

And this IS the heart of it.

Whoever told you not to step forward because you are scared, lied to you.

It actually may be the least helpful advice given, ever.
We don’t grow when are comfortable, we grow when we are challenged, face it, and step INTO it.

The reason why?

Because when you are able to take steps WITH fear, you are building your greatest ally,
Self trust.

It took me losing everything to wake up to how strong I actually was.

And trust me, it wasn’t easy, and I didn’t do it alone.

Fear is actually just an indicator that it’s important to you!
Much like family to me, partnership, and dancing!
Dancing is VITAL for me, so OF COURSE I was scared to leap.

And I did WITH my fear.

Perhaps, this isn’t about letting GO of fear.

What if fear can come ALONG on the journey?
What if fear is just here to point to what’s important to you?

Take the leap.
The only way is through.

Fear is not your enemy…it may actually just be waiting for you to make friends with it.  Maybe your fear WANTS to leap across the floor and feel freedom too.

Because when you land there….you will realize, it’s gone.

Just like that. It’s disappeared, and there you are….landed from the air, alive.

You are alive.

The wait is over.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Stop the Scream

The Scream.

I walk through the open doorway, from the hot bursting sun, into a small room.  The cool air from the air conditioning is a welcome change from the mid 90’s sticky heat, and I feel my breath come more easily.

Then I see it.

To my right, the familiar image takes up the entire wall. This recreation is even 3D and sticks out in all directions, begging me to feel every emotion.

Shock
Pain
Surprise
Horror

And then I turn around and within an instant, the Scream fades away as I stand in front of another piece of art, one I’ve never seen before. A face, looking at me….no THROUGH me, as if to say,

Take a breath.
You are ok.

The tension washes free, as I smile in a deeper knowing. I walk back out into the sunshine, and look back at the sign above the entrance, reading:

The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.

That seems about right.

 

What is your inner dialogue?

What do you tell yourself in your Creative Process?
Do you find yourself wanting to just Scream?

And when the voices get so loud you can only clamp your hands over your ears, do you just stop or persevere?

Many times, the voices in our head are our own worst enemy, especially if they are constantly holding you back and saying,

Nobody cares about your Art
This isn’t good enough to show
No one will pay for your work
You’re a fraud, not a real Artist

That’s enough to make ANYONE scream!  And ultimately, cause you to stop doing what you love, or just find yourself starting a LOT of projects but never complete.

Sound familiar?

Thankfully, there is an answer. And it’s something you can access at any time, at any moment, and never leaves you.  It’s with you right now, as you are reading this.

 

Last weekend, I experienced the magic of Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

“Grounds For Sculpture is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Opened to the public in 1992, it has rapidly become one of the premier cultural destinations in New Jersey, welcoming and enchanting nearly 2.1 million visitors since then. Founded by artist and philanthropist Seward Johnson, the nonprofit Grounds For Sculpture presents and conserves an exceptional collection of contemporary sculpture, offers outstanding programming for all ages, and provides seasonally rotating exhibitions in six indoor galleries.”

I was like a kid on the most amazing playground, taking in each artwork, posing for fun pictures, and loving the variety and scope.  I was in heaven.

My curiosity was especially peaked when I saw a small white hut with a huge recreation of The Scream on the outside wall. But it was the title of the work that really brought me through the open door, The Chamber of Internal Dialogue.

Inside the Scream rose on the right, and I found myself remembering so many moments I wanted to just open my mouth and cry out.

Being cut from a Broadway audition
Falling in dance class
Forgetting my lines in a performance

And then, in 2013,

Losing my home
Going through a divorce
Getting in two car accidents in one day…..

In those moments, I felt like I was failing, and the voices in my head felt like they were pulling me even further down.  I wanted to curl up in a ball and just yell to the world,

STOP!!

But, the thing that had been missing in my life, came into clear focus in 2013.  In the past, I would have just Screamed, thrown my anger and spiraled even more in blame…but now, I had access to what would turn my whole life and Art around.

My breath.

For the first time in my life, I had tools around grounding, around how to come within in the face of disappointment and pain.  And the vehicle for that was always there….it was my breath.

Take a moment, and check in. We can so easily rush through our day and forget this simple tool.  When we get upset, anxiety rises and our breathing becomes shallow.  Then our heart rate raises, and everything goes straight up into our heads.

We are trying to THINK our way out of our experience, and this just creates more anxiety and frustration.  The answer and antidote to this elevated state is to take a moment to ground back in.

How do you do that?

By connecting to your breath.

Close your eyes, place your hand on your belly, and place your attention on your breath.  Allow your belly to soften and fill your hand with your inhale.  Count to ten.

With each breath, allow the space between your breaths to lengthen.

By doing this, you are dropping from your thinking mind which has high-jacked your sense of safety, and come back home.  Home to who you are, not what is happening to you.

Yes, we will all have challenges in our Creative Lives, but the real spiral comes when we identify with the challenge, instead of creating some perspective.

You are not your challenges.

The biggest gift your breath gives you?
SPACE.

It’s in the space, you can take a moment and actually question whether that inner dialogue is true.  In most cases, it’s really just your fear talking.

And when we can ground back down, the urge to Scream leaves us, we remember who we are, and can get back to the work we WANT to be doing, living through our passion, and creating Art that has an impact.

So, place your hand on your belly, close your eyes, and breathe……

How do you feel now? 

 

Having a daily practice to connect with my breath allowed me to move through the worst year of my life, transform my performance, and give me the courage to launch my own business.

And most importantly, it’s brought love back into my life.  You see, going to the Grounds for Sculpture wasn’t my idea…it was my partner’s, and sharing the day with him was a dream come true…..one that I have been looking forward to for four years.

 

Inside the Chamber of Inner Dialogue, on the opposite wall was a open and peaceful face, with fingers raised in a mudra. Like the Scream, it also was 3D, emerging forward and begging me to feel every emotion.

When I viewed this, I remembered my breath.
I remembered who I am.
And I stopped screaming…..

You can too, right now, and at any moment.