Driving Your Art

I’ve been in a car accident.

I start to go into shock, as I stare out the windshield in front of me, and the thought that rises is,
Am I going to die today?

My whole passenger side bashed in, I’m up on the sidewalk, spun facing the wrong way.

I look down and see my legs.
They are ok.

I look down at my arm which hurts,
but is moving.

Behind me the driver of the huge Jeep that hit me is getting out and moving towards me screaming angrily.

I slowly get out of my car and a man hands me a small bottle of water, asking,
Are you ok? I’m a cop. I’ve called in the accident.  Help is coming.

As I walk around to the passenger side of my car, I see the entire side crumpled in…..my car is totaled.

I am BLOCKS away from my home….and the craziest part is,
I just left the scene of another accident I was in. Literally 15 minutes ago…I rear-ended a car that stopped suddenly on the highway.

I was in two accidents back to back on the same day.

WHO does this happen to?
HOW could this happen?

Am I going to die today?

 

I usually refer to 2013 as  my Year of the Flame.  It began with a devastating divorce, and then turned into a raging bonfire where I lost my home, was robbed twice, lost a dear friend to a heart-attack, and then this day; the day I was in two car accidents back to back.

It was November, and I was still in shock over the loss of my friend in September.  I had gone up to visit my best friend just north of NYC, and had spent the day playing with her twins, and being outside in the vibrant fall leaves, taking pictures of them gleefully playing in their swings.

I left her house smiling, so grateful for the time, and soon was entering back into Queens….and then BOOM.

When the first accident happened, it was more startling than anything.  Everyone was ok, and I immediately called my insurance to let them know.  The other drivers were pleasant, but I drove away shaken.

Coming into Astoria, just blocks from my apartment, the intersection was blocked by a double parked van, and I couldn’t see.  As I came into the intersection, a speeding black Jeep came barreling down and completely took me out.

After the shock wore off, I found myself faced with a larger problem.

I was scheduled to drive to my alma mater, Penn State the following weekend to see my mentor’s one woman show, and now I had no car.

I knew I could rent a car….but could I drive?
Did I feel I could?

Two days later, I went to see my acupuncturist to tell her about the accident, as I was experiencing back issues.

She said,
It’s a good thing you came in right away.  Fear and trauma will store in the muscles.  This way we can move it.

I lay on my stomach, and she placed a needle right in the heart of my back muscle that took the brunt of the accident, and I immediately started to weep.

My fear pouring down my face.
My anger, my sadness, my shock.

This year…..

 

Have you ever had a huge accident?
Have you ever had a huge disappointment that took you out of your Art?

When we create from the deepest parts of ourselves, it can feel like a huge black Jeep pummels us in the face of rejection or something not turning out as we wanted:

The rejection letter from the publishers
The booking agent saying no
The gallery not responding
The show that barely sells any tickets

Not to mention, an actual life accident that leaves you really questioning,
Am I safe?
Can I do this?

What do we do in that moment?

I remember really questioning whether or not it was a good idea to drive to Penn State, days after the accident.  While I did have some bruising, the biggest piece was my fear.

I was scared to get behind the wheel again.

My best friend and my mother both encouraged me to drive again, otherwise the fear would set in. It would become something larger.

I would make it permanent, and start a new belief that wouldn’t serve me,
I’m a bad driver.

And what would be possible with this belief?
Not much….I would probably never drive again, and not experience new roads.

And for you?

What is the belief you have formed in the face of your accidents?

Is it serving you and your Art?
Is it allowing you to get back behind the wheel, back in the driver seat and receive the acclaim you desire?

I fully admit, I was terrified to drive again, but I rented a car and drove to Penn State with no incident, and you know the biggest gift I received?

That I could DO it.
That I was CAPABLE.

The only way you will know this is by DOING.

We can spend hours, days, YEARS stuck in a belief and wake up one day staring at gorgeous Art that has gone nowhere….and realize we let fear be the driver.

But, what if you got back in the seat?
What is possible for you in your Art then?

What is possible for this ONE life you have?

The first step, is to FACE your fear head on.
Love this part of yourself.

Indeed, this part has believed it was keeping you safe.

This is not a moment of shaming or saying you are wrong…this is when you LOVE this part of you as much as possible.  Allow yourself to feel.

Hand over your heart say,
Even though I feel terrified, I deeply love and respect myself.

Watch the fear rise and then fall.

And then get back in the driver seat.

 

You CAN do this.
You are CAPABLE.

Turns out the accident didn’t kill you.  The rejection didn’t kill you.  It was painful….but here you are.  You are still breathing, and with that breath, you have the whole universe.

So take your car out of park, and enter your new road.

This is your Creative Life, how do you want to live it?

The Artist’s Road

Do you ever feel like you are going down the same road again and again?

Another rejection letter
Cut from another audition
Another Closed door in your face

You put yourself out there time and again, with your Art, and it feels as if your heart is being trampled.

You put so much of yourself into your work, so the sting of rejection FEELS so strong.

And it can be disheartening.

You imagine a different road…
One where the publisher says YES
One where everything flows
One where your fans are raving for your next piece of work
One where you are booking your dream gigs

That’s the road you want to be on, right?

So, how come with ALL your effort, you feel as though you are driving down the SAME road again and again?

You feel like screaming,
I NEVER want to be on this road again!

I get it…….I was just there……

 

Last week was a big moment for me.  I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time. 

While it has been decades since I have been in this position, the nerves were still there.  I’m head over heels in love with my man, so I wanted everything to go well.

Thanksgiving has been a holiday of transition for me.  For years, it was the sources of family and love.  And then, five years ago, it turned into the darkest moment of my life when my former husband told me he wanted to end our marriage…on Thanksgiving Day.

I had spent almost 18 years spending every Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania with my former in-laws, and now returned to having the holiday with my parents in Virginia. In transition, it took 3-4 years for me to find joy on the day again.

This year marked the first time I would be spending the holiday away from Virginia, and with my new man.

The original plan was to go to his parents’, who live in upstate New York, but a month before Thanksgiving, his sister decided to host.

His sister lives in Pennsylvania.

The irony was not lost on me, and I thought how insane it was that after 18 years of Pennsylvania Thanksgivings, I was returning to a similar place…..in love…..but with a new man, and meeting a new family..

We hopped in the car from New Jersey last Tuesday and began the drive down the road to his sister’s.

Energy was high, and we cranked the radio, singing along to fun tunes.  We got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and then I saw it…

The sign.

We were about to drive through the town my ex in-laws lived in.

I suddenly realized his sister’s home was only 20 minutes down the road from where I had spent most of my adult holidays.

I became very quiet, and could feel tears welling. I hadn’t been down this road in six years.

In fact, I had purposely done everything I could, to NEVER go down this road again.

This road was full of painful memories.
This road reminded me of the rejection.

And then I looked up and saw the hotel I stayed in with my wedding party……

And I burst into tears.

 

The next morning, I woke up, and just let everything out.  I allowed every feeling to arise, and began to have clarity.

When the divorce went down, only one member of my old in-laws stood up for me, fighting for the marriage.

Everyone else turned their back, and went silent.  That had been my family for 19 years, and I was devastated.  I wasn’t only losing my marriage, I was losing a huge family that I loved.

Driving down the road again, all of that came up, and it was made even more alive, because I was on the road to meet a NEW family….one that I deeply want to be a part of.

And I realized,
I have no control.

I have no control over what this new family thinks or does.
I have no control over what my boyfriend does.

So, while it scares me to my core that I may find myself at a crossroads again, my only choice is simple:

To love.

And recognizing my fear and releasing control brought a huge wave of relief over me.

And I was free, not only to have a deeply connecting Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, but release the past that had been choking me off.

Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania again, and yet COMPLETELY different.

Same road, different ME.

 

Best-selling author Tim Ferriss, who has sold millions of books, recently shared he was rejected by 27 publishers before his first YES.

Oscar Winning Actor Tom Hanks became an overnight success after 10 years in the business.

Rejection can be brutal, especially for Artists.

But the question is, what are you making it mean?
Who are you being IN the rejection?

What is on that ROAD you find yourself time and time again?

It can be so easy to AVOID what is right before us, instead of asking,
What is to be LEARNED?

I thought there was a cruel joke being played on me, as we whisked down the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and yet, in hindsight, I see how re-visiting that road was the final piece of healing for me to fully embrace Thanksgiving again.

I NEEDED to go down that road.

I was scared to do it, and yet it brought me back to what matters, and allowed me to release control.

Rejection WILL occur.  Anyone who tells you otherwise, run the other way.

So, place your energy on your Art, and how you can grow, not on trying to control every rejection out there.

Your freedom as an Artist lies in your ability to grow, to change, and to persevere.

Your freedom as an Artist comes from connection to your heart, to your LOVE of Art.

This is what makes you Unstoppable.

Pay homage to your journey, and open to your road.  There is gold here for you.

 

Release control over the external rejection.

Same road, fearless YOU.

 

 

 

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography