Ending the Setback Cycle

Have you struggled to come back from a setback in your career?
Has it taken WAY longer than you thought?

We deal with a LOT of rejection in the creative fields, and sometimes it can be really hard to pick ourselves back up.

In the face of the setback, it can feel like we will never return, and that is deeply discouraging.  You may feel injured.

And this setback may have been an illness, family emergency, a job or gig falling through….sometimes it can feel like we are climbing a mountain to be in that place we deeply want…which is everything FLOWING! 

I imagine you love what you do, so you want to actually enjoy the process!
Because, nothing beats that feeling, does it?

The pure JOY of creation, of being full time doing the work you know you are meant to do, expressing your heart and being cherished and adored by your audience!

I’m smiling just typing it.

So, what do you do when you are in the middle of the setback?
How do you get back into the flow and not let the setback take you out?

Last night was a really big night for me.

I went back to dance class for the first time in three months.  Right after the New Year, I strained a tendon in my right calf and hobbled out of Steps on Broadway barely able to put weight on my right leg.

It was very scary.

It was very scary because I’ve never injured my calf before.  I’ve been dancing my whole life and I think I’ve injured just about everything in my body…except the calf, so when it happened, I really tensed up.

My husband is an Occupational Therapist, and dove into incredible care.  He first said,
7 to 10 days

I thought,
Well..that’s not so bad!

And then those 7 to 10 days turned into weeks, and then those weeks turned into months.  I had to keep changing my expectations, and release my timelines, which was a huge challenge as I LOVE to dance.  In fact, dance is a an incredible stress relief and my main source of expression next to writing.

To not have it for three months felt like a part of me was cut off.

Have you ever felt this?

But during those three months, I kept asking for help.  My husband gave me a huge education on calf injuries, and I followed his guidance.  I first returned to movement with an incumbent bike, then yoga…lots of yoga.

And I kept checking in with my body.

I wanted to return to dance SO badly.  For three weeks, I would quietly sit and check in with my body, asking
Can I return to dance?

For weeks, the answer was a solid NO.
And then last week, the answer was mixed…almost like a 50/50.

And I noticed something was creeping in….fear OF returning.

I was feeling amazing on the yoga mat, had taken a month of classes with no tension and my body was saying I was ready to return.

Where was the joy?
Why was I feeling trepidation upon this return I had wanted so badly?

Even my husband, after massaging my calf, on Monday night said,
You’re ready

So, why was I feeling so scared?
I’ve come back from injuries time and time again…what was different here?

Have you ever felt this; the fear of returning after the setback?

Waiting to go into class last night, I was greeted by a friend I haven’t seen since the injury.  She smiled with joy to see me and said,
Take it easy

I stood in the back of the class, feeling vulnerable and foreign as I always stand in the front.  My dance teacher came up to me and gave me the deepest hug saying how happy she was to see me and also said,
Take it easy

And class began.

It was a whirlwind…..I found my mind was working overtime, managing my weight and checking in with my calf.  Warm up was ok, I opted out of leaps and pique turns, and started to actually feel some flow when we got to the combination.

My calf was tight, and my balance was off….and I walked out of class feeling a little shell shocked.

I was ok…but still feeling uneasy.
There wasn’t the relief I was hoping for, or the great release.

And it wasn’t until this morning I began to have some clarity.  I woke up feeling really good actually.  I had prepared myself that I would be VERY sore.  My husband iced my calf last night, and we both agreed I should take a day off of any exercise.

And then I put my leg down on the floor this morning upon waking, and it was a little tender…no searing pain….no incredible soreness.

Maybe I was better than I thought.

And my fear of returning began to open.

I’ve never injured my calf before and the recovery was a HUGE learning experience for me.  I felt like what I knew before with other injuries didn’t apply here.  So, even though I have returned to dance class from injuries MANY times, and known it’s always a process….this felt new.

More to the point, it felt unknown.
And that was scary.

I’ve injured my back a few times, so when I came back to class, I had experience to draw upon.
I’ve injured my ankles more times than I can count, so when I came back to class, I had experience to draw upon.

Where I was disconnected, was thinking the calf was different.

In fact, what applied WITH my ankles and back all applied WITH my calf.

The steps were the same.

* Get help from a professional who KNOWS the injury or setback
* Educate yourself on what will be most helpful to return
* Check in with your body, listen to those messages, not your limiting thoughts

And most importantly,
Take it easy upon your return.

In every career, there will be setbacks.

In fact, the most important work you can do FOR your career, is learn how to face them.

And it’s so vital that the setbacks are not swept under the rug.

Every year I take my clients through a powerful Wheel of Reflection and ask them to list their failures.  After that they then list their wisdom.

Wisdom doesn’t come when everything is going great.
We never question anything when things are going well.

It’s only when we are challenged, we question.
And when we question, we have an incredible opportunity to LEARN.

You have an opportunity to learn you are actually FAR better than you think.

You actually have all you need within you, and this setback is here to show you your strength and give you the opportunity to learn what you need to take your career TO the next level.

What if the setback is here FOR you to point your towards your inner strength?
What if it’s your purpose to stand strong?
What if your setback has a hidden gift you’ve been waiting for?

You are not alone, and there is a gift waiting for you.

Ask for help, educate yourself, and learn to connect with your whole body, not just your whirling mind.

Maybe you never left at all…..
Maybe this is just the next step on your glorious path.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography

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