Category Archives: Internal

Begin Again

They may be the two most important words in an artist’s life.

Begin again.

Every time we step away from our creative work, we risk it being the end.

Begin again.

We return to the keyboard, the canvas, the clay, the rehearsal, the notes. And every fear that has ever thrown its weight against us steps up. Every reason to not continue argues for its right to live. Every ounce of fatigue, doubt, boredom, discontent tugs at us: “Not in the mood.” “Not feeling inspired.” “This is crap.” “Another day.”

Begin again.

There is more at stake than us being artists.

There is more at stake than the work not getting done. It’s NOT about us. It’s not about our talent. It’s not about reward, or recognition, or accomplishment.

It’s not about us.

The art we are called to make, the stories we are called to share, the music we are called to express — it needs us.

It needs us, because there is something more at stake.

A heart somewhere, just one perhaps (one is enough), will see, read, hear what we have allowed to be expressed through us. A heart that, in that moment, will recognize something of itself.

Whole lives are turned on the point of that moment.

Minds changed.

Hearts encouraged.

New perceptions experienced.

Dreams born.

That point. That still, small point, one second in time, when the Light of our art enters a soul and changes it. It is no small thing, my friends.

Begin again.

It matters so much more than you can ever imagine.

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On Light, Darkness, and Healing

What themes have captured your attention lately?

Light and darkness. Our relationship to them. My relationship to them. How they define each other, and what role they play in creative soul healing. How they create contrast and how we use them to shape our perceptions. I have a good friend, Chris Estes, a brilliantly intuitive photographer (Different Breed Photography); the other day he was playing with self-portraits. He mentioned how he uses the Light to hide what he doesn’t want others to see. That struck me. I’ve always thought that it’s the Darkness that hides things, but he was right. Where we shine Light creates the hiding places for the things we don’t want to see. Or don’t want others to see. Or for what doesn’t want to be seen. Conversely, I have found that there is much to be seen in the serenity of the Dark. The Dark can be a form of Light to the mind and spirit. Which leads to this whole question of revelation and what is revealed and whether it is revealed in the Light or in the Dark, or whether we should be revealing as much as we do these days to public energies. But that’s another issue.

As a writer, I don’t work with visual light and darkness in my art (it plays out in emotions and contrast for characters). As a spiritual guide and healer for combat veterans, I deal with Light and Darkness in the depths of energy, wounds, and transformation. We tend to think (or at least I used to) that what is hidden in the Dark must be revealed in the Light in order to transform and heal. And there are certainly wounds that do need Light to heal. On an energy level, Light diffuses dense, stagnant, stuck energy. But Darkness is where Life begins, and it’s in the Dark that growth and transformation occur most fiercely.  It’s also where distraction falls away and our senses become more perceptive. It isn’t a bad thing to be in the Dark; in fact, it may be what nourishes you the most. And that’s a very freeing concept for many people to realize.

The whole concept fascinates me and continues to challenge the assumptions I have.

How does Light/Dark relate to healing?

First, we need to define healing. Healing is new growth that restores a sense of well-being and reconnects a person to their innate power. It is NOT erasing wounds or undoing anything. You damage your body, and it doesn’t “undo” the damage, it grows new cells to fill in the gap, reconnect, or transform. The same is true with soul wounds. It’s very important to know what you mean by healing before you try to do anything with it. Healing is transformation. It’s becoming someone new, because wounds and pain and trauma change you. You must start from where you are now — not where you were before you were wounded.

In healing, Light and Darkness are synonymous for Being Seen and Remaining Hidden. And in woundedness, there is a need for both. Too often, we push people to Be Seen, exposing them in a fairly harsh and glaring manner, thinking that if Light shines on their Darkness, healing will automatically occur (the reality is that many times we’re just scared of their Dark). Light can actually be damaging. If the soul isn’t ready to Be Seen, the vulnerability of exposure can be overwhelming and even traumatic. For soul wounds to be ready to Be Seen, there needs to be a high level of trust, safety, and respect by someone who offers genuine care and unwavering acceptance.The heart listens all the time, and responds like a flower to the sun, pulled toward Life by the power of Love and Acceptance. You respect someone’s pain, and hold up a vision of them whole and empowered, and they rise to it. This respect and nurturing is what allows people to come to a place where they can tell their stories, and express what happened to them, what they experienced, or what they caused to happen.

Being Seen, when a soul is ready, is therapeutic because it reconnects you to your sense of belonging. Our stories matter. Every story matters. And each is as valid as any other. This is why creative arts are innately healing, they allow the soul to reveal at its own pace what it needs to express. There is no forcing, no expectation that someone is waiting for you to “get it out” — it emerges in the safety of its own perfect timing. And what needs to Remain Hidden is given full permission to stay in the Dark. It may eventually need to Be Seen, or it may need the safety of the Dark — but either way, the soul can heal when it has the support and permission to do so.

As creatives, we get wounded. Sometimes more from our own ruthlessness toward ourselves than anything else. It’s a constant challenge. We are continually sinking our roots down deeper and pushing forth toward the sun. All the while buffeted by criticism, self-doubt, being misunderstood, and not understanding what Spirit wants to express through us. We need the Dark to protect what is not ready to emerge, we need projects that we permit to remain Not Seen, so that we can heal in the Dark. We need the Light to allow the parts of ourselves that need to Be Seen to have their place in this world. And to show us what our own Light looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

What If…???

What if it all works out?

What if it turns out better than you imagine?

What if every moment spent in fear and doubt isn’t wasted, but necessary to grow faith and confidence?

What if you make what you want to make?

What if you say what you want to say?

What if no one actually has the power to stop you?

What if you stop worrying about “what if’s”?

What if you being you is all that actually matters?

What if you say “yes” before you get over the fear?

What if there is nothing to overcome, and only everything to become?

Yes. What if.

 

Why You Need Something to Believe In

When was the last time you thought about what it is that you believe in? I’m not talking about religion (though relevant), but that essential belief that, at the end of the day, gets you through the doubt and fear inherent in creative life? That one thing that gives you the strength to pick yourself up after rejection, doubt and uncertainty have thrashed you to pieces and left you in a bloody heap. What do you believe in? Luck? Fate? Karma? God? Success? Hard work?

We don’t often think about it, but it matters; because the creative life isn’t for the faint of heart. And no matter how much others encourage, praise, award, buy, and respond to our work, at the end of the day, every artist is alone with the work, with his or herself, and with the decision to get up or stay down.

Tenacity is what is required; but tenacity built on sheer will power won’t last. It’s the thought that you refuse to stop believing in that will either keep you in or out of your power.
What is that thought?

If you’ve never thought about this, I encourage you to take some time for yourself and ponder it. It doesn’t matter if you are starting off on your creative journey or if you’ve been on it for a long time. Now is the time to pause and consider:

1. What you believe in will determine where you go. It’s so easy to externalize the beliefs for whether or not we achieve what we set out to do. The market, competition, circumstances, budgets, rejection, misalignment with representation — they may make the journey tougher, they may cause us to change course, but they can never prevent us from creating the work itself. If you believe in these external factors, you give others the power to determine your identity. You may easily see your dreams and your voice die at the hands of others.

2. Success isn’t strong enough to save your artistic life. Success tempts us to believe in it as our source of strength. If we succeeded once, we should again, right? This sounds comforting and logical, but it’s not necessarily accurate. Past performance cannot predict future performance. Why? Because the challenges change, the stakes grow, the qualities that helped us succeed before may not be the ones we need to succeed in the future. Relying on a belief in past success sets us up for giving up too easily when the future presents challenges that we need to grow into.

3. What you believe in will determine the quality of your experience. This comes down to our power to choose our perspective. If you believe in something greater than pleasing others or hinging your value on others’ opinions, then joy will be yours even in the midst of pain. You will find satisfaction in the process of creation no matter what the commercial result may be.

4. Your beliefs are the ONLY thing that can crush you. What we believe in is the only thing that has true power over us. While we may feel as if others’ beliefs determine our journey, that in itself is just another belief we continue to believe. We always live what we truly believe. That’s why some people can achieve high levels of success and appreciation by others and never be able to embrace it and feel it – their own beliefs about their success prevent them from enjoying it. It’s also why some people are incredibly happy continuing to create art even when they find little commercial success.

5. You can choose your beliefs. That’s the good news. When you examine what your beliefs are, you can choose to change them. You can let go of beliefs that no longer serve you and try on new ones. Left unexamined, you’ll go on believing whatever it is that you default to and it may or may not support you as an artist.

If we put so much effort into learning our craft, and become highly skilled, shouldn’t we put as much effort into making sure our own beliefs are the ones that will truly support us?

Ultimately, you need something to believe in. And that something is you. It may be you supported by a higher power, but it is you. Because at the end of the day, your faith in yourself is the only thing strong enough to pick you off that floor, wipe the blood away and start again.

What’s Next for You? The Danger of Success

After climbing uphill for what seemed like forever (in reality it had only been a matter of months) I had achieved a milestone in my business. I was at the top of the mountain. Looking around, enjoying the view. Taking deep breaths. The climb had not been without struggle.

Like anything that requires us to grow out of our comfort zone, it had been a battle of spirit and mindset. A battle fought in the landscape of my mind. My faith. My ability to increase my risk tolerance. My ability to keep saying no to fear and keep saying yes to being bigger and achieving more than I ever had before. And here I was, hardly able to realize that, yes, indeed, I had achieved it.

Then a Town & Country magazine arrived in the mail and a title on the cover couldn’t have jumped out at me any louder than if the editor herself had shouted:

“What’s Next for You?”

I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I had been so busy climbing a steep incline that I hadn’t had breath nor mental space to consider just what might be over the other side of the mountain. And now, staring back at me in big bold print were the words my spirit needed to hear, needed permission to consider:

What’s Next for You?

It wasn’t burdensome or results-driven or pressing. It wasn’t a don’t-stop-here-because-there’s-more type of thing. No, it was freedom. It was permission to explore beyond the confines of what had been the previous Great Big Dream, and the delicious realization that not only could I stop climbing this current mountain, I could choose to climb any other mountain that I set my sight on.

Expansion. Possibility. Life. The pressure of one Great Big Dream now abated. The wide open potential of another – of anything I could imagine – out there, before me.

It was deeper than ecstatic joy. It was personal. Not what’s next for your business, what’s next for your family, what’s next for your profession, what’s next for what everyone else expects you to do at this stage of your career – no. What’s Next for YOU. That meant ME.

And that’s the part we often lose track of as artists.

Ourselves. Yes, even in our creative professions as writers, actors, musicians, artists, we get caught up in the identity of being an artist and lose track of ourselves.

We start to climb mountains because those are the mountains people who achieve success in our professions climb. We start to set safe goals for our creative work. SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound). We mix up the results-and-profit-driven mandate of business with the process-discovery-say-something-that-means-something-in-this-damn-world calling of creative work. And our creative work starts to look not much different to us than any other profession. Yes, we may enjoy it more; yes, we find it fulfilling, but in the midst of it all… we are as at risk of “losing our souls” as any desk-bound, cubicle-dweller (forgive me, desk-bound, cubicle dwellers).

You sink too deeply into your identity as an artist and you start to go blind.

Blind to the massive power that lies within. Blind to the reality that the only thing that keeps us stuck is our inability to see that we can, at any moment, drop what we’re doing and change. That the confines we create around the body of our work, our careers, the expectations people have of us – are self-created and self-sustained.

We start to lose sight of our potential.

Is it boredom? No. It’s something more than that. It’s the false perception that once you declare yourself as an artist, and you’re good at it, you’re stuck with being that for the rest of your time here. It’s the false assumption that we should be stable, safe (even if “safe” means you’re the artist known for pushing the envelope), that once you reach a certain age or a certain level of success, you close the doors to what you could have been.

We do make choices, yes; saying yes to one path, means saying no to others.

Or does it?

“What’s Next for You?” is a powerful question. Powerful because it reminds us that we’re not limited. We’re not stuck. It may be humbling to find yourself back at the “who do I want to be when I grow up” question, but it is a necessary question. We need to keep asking it.
Change may not be the easy route, but it may be the necessary one to keep our souls aligned with who we really are.

And blessing the world with the gift we have to share. That gift is ourselves.

What’s Next for You is all about alignment. Being in the energies that light you up. Realizing that you are not replaceable. Sift out those things that anyone else could be doing and focus on the things that ONLY YOU can bring into this world. That’s where you find the answer to What’s Next for You.

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