Greg and I built a drum studio in our garage.  With the help of a contractor friend we tackled many parts of the project: framing, insulation, drywall, primer, paint, underlayment, heated tile, cork floor, baseboards, and window framing.

This was an extraordinary experience.  It took a long time and while it was happening it was as if everything else in our lives stopped, or at least got shoved firmly into the back seat.  Even on the lower activity days, somehow all of our energy went into to bringing the project (essentially the fulfillment of a dream) to completion.  It was gratifying but painstaking work, all the more so because we are not experts and we see this as a once-in-a-lifetime undertaking.

For me, when I take on projects that feel like a full court press, each day usually becomes a series of to do lists.  You simply finish one thing and move on to the next.  But during this project there were times when the work I was doing, particularly with my hands, guided my somewhat scattered mind to a place where it could really contemplate the great tectonic movements of life.  One of these moments happened as I was sanding and refinishing two amazing reclaimed wooden doors.

One of the more unique aspects of the human experience is making complicated choices, both consciously or unconsciously. It’s easy to envision the big decisions in  life as a series of doorways and thresholds that can lead to new beginnings, different destinations and even great transformation.    Though not always pleasant, they are unique and beautiful places to be because of the view they offer.  Here, we can see both where we are now and the new space we are considering entering.   It’s a unique space where one can check in and see the things in one’s self that have evolved, the things that have stayed constant, as well as what might become.

So, there I was with an exquisite one-of-a-kind door in front of me, sander and stain at the ready, preparing to go to task.  It was simple work, and I had everything I needed. I was protected in my particulate mask and gloves. I knew exactly what to do and was ready to get to it.  I wanted to check another thing off my list.  I was expecting the work to be pleasantly hypnotic, and it was at first.  But then I realized, as I envisioned myself passing through this door laid out in front of me,  that I was about to have the rehearsal space of my dreams.   I could feel the abundance that was all around me in a way that I’m not sure I believed was possible. I was beyond happy, but I was also hit by an epic wave of insecurity.  Once this space was ready, there really would be no excuses.  It would be time to get cracking and get on with the business of life, and I was not sure I would be able to do that.  It had taken so long to get to this place and I felt so exhausted by the process of seeing the dream through to its completion.  Maybe it was residual burn-out that was working its way out of my system.  I don’t really know.  I can say that it felt like a crisis of faith.

This choice of words may be off-putting or seem too strong, but I have chosen them after a good deal of thought.  In my yoga teacher training we talked about this concept called ishvara pranidhana.  It is a sort of discipline where one does not expend energy or life force on worrying excessively about the future, not just because the stress of it is bad for you but because it is essentially a kind of denial of faith.  The idea is that at a certain, healthy point (that I am still struggling to identify for myself) you let go and lay it “at the feet of god”, trusting that what you need will always be there for you.  You don’t lose sleep, you don’t move through your life and your interactions with others distracted and half-present.  You are your best self and give your best to others without this burden.

The doors have been finished for a few months now, and our studio is set up and in use.  Little by little our creative flow is coming back, aided by the challenging and creative projects that have already presented themselves for the months to come.  I am grateful for the studio and for what the process of building it has taught me.   Every time I walk through the door I worked so hard on I think about the decisions I’ve made and those that are still to come.

When the next door presents itself I hope savour all that the threshold has to offer rather than worry over it.  If this door is closed, I hope I try to open it.  If it’s locked, I hope I try to find the key before simply giving up and moving on.  If I believe a door is there, but I cannot yet see it’s outline, I hope I can bear to linger until it reveals itself to me.  And, if I know there is no door, but I desperately need there to be one, I hope I discover that I have the strength to create it.

This door helped me to understand something in myself that I couldn’t see the whole of.  I am glad that I took the time to smooth its surface.  I feel like some of its new lustre may have rubbed off on me.






The First Assignment is a Long Assignment

Timing is everything.

Our drum studio is finally finished. Not only is it  a great space to drum in, it’s a great space to practice yoga in as well. So when this perennial January through March window of time presented itself this year, I wanted to do something personally enriching.  And I was fortunate because the exact right thing came along: yoga teacher training (“Yoga of Patanjali”) through The Shala, the yoga studio I have been practicing at since this summer. It’s a perfect fit. This training course is Ashtanga focused, a stream of yoga which is physically demanding, breath-centred and heat-generating. It aligns beautifully with the intensity of playing taiko.

Our first written assignment, to describe what we think makes a good yoga teacher, did not immediately flood my mind with responses to this question.  It served only to remind me that I have spent a lot of time with all kinds of teachers in the course of my life: singing teachers, voice teachers, acting teachers, dance teachers, taiko teachers, and of course all of the academic teachers I have had the pleasure of learning from in classrooms and lecture halls. I am so grateful to all of them and especially to the teacher of this course, Melissa Wasserfall. The idea of now being a teacher myself is both exciting and intimidating because of the great respect I have for their expertise.  What makes a good yoga teacher?  This is a huge question.  All I can do is start with what I know to be true for me.

My experience with yoga this past summer was a quick, strong (and seemingly miraculous) infusion of exactly what I needed and what had been eluding me despite my best efforts.  I can’t help but have a reverence for it and the potential it has to transform a person’s life.  As I move forward as a teacher, the temptation is to be very vocal about this, effectively proselytizing to the practitioners in the room with every ounce of conviction that I have.  But, this is not necessarily what the practitioners in the room need or want from the person leading the class.

I believe that yoga is similar to taiko drumming in that it has a very physical component that is good for the body and also, for many, has a spiritual or soul-enriching component.  In both disciplines, the latter may or may not be of interest to the students who walk through your door.  It may become more important as they practice more, or they may not ever become interested in that aspect of the practice.  As the teacher, you need to be okay with either of these outcomes.

All this being said, I do believe that a yoga teacher is both an ambassador and facilitator.  I believe it works a lot like the actor-director relationship. One of the great things that happens in the theatrical process is getting a perfect note from a director.  For me, a perfect note doesn’t tell me the truth of a moment, but rather sets me in a direction where I discover the truth of it.  Discovery leads to a deep personal understanding.  Your senses and your being take in what’s happening around you, the mind processes it and you experience kind of knowing that is in your bones. It has deep truth attached to it.  I don’t believe I could ever experience this if the same knowledge was simply told to me, rather than my having to take steps to discover it for myself.  I believe that the act of discovery plays a big part in a personal yoga practice.  As a teacher I would never want to sabotage the process of discovery, and I hope to be able ‘give the perfect note’ when students need it.

Facilitating discovery is no small feat.  Not only do you have to have tons of practical knowledge that you can draw from, it requires a moment-to-moment awareness of what’s happening both in the room and within a student’s body.  It requires economy of language, clear speaking and clear instructions.  One needs to be simple, not flashy.  One needs to be specific and possess a considerable understanding of the asanas and how each vinyasa flows into the next.  One needs to keep drawing focus to breath and it’s integral role in practice.  One needs to understand anatomy and offer meaningful adjustments when appropriate to do so. One needs to connect, to make sure that everyone gets a bit of your attention, not just the keenest or most vocal student in the room. And, while all of these aspects are being highlighted and juggled, one needs to keep their own ego and insecurities out of the equation.  Despite your best efforts, your suggestions or adjustments may not land in exactly the way you envision.

Detachment from ego is not necessarily easy when you are standing at the front of the room. This forum can so easily build or diminish a sense of personal validation.  You want students to like your class. You want to inspire them to come regularly, because the more they work with you the more you know their personal practice and can help them.  The reasons that students walk through one’s door for the first time are varied.  But the reason that students will come back has a lot to do with how you teach.  If your explanations speak to them, if what you focus on resonates with what’s going on for them on their mats, if they see themselves progressing, they will come back.  If they like the atmosphere and environment that you create, they will want to experience it again.  If they feel good about coming to class and enjoy the experience of practicing, they will want to continue.  I believe that even if one focusses on neutrality, personality cannot help but reveal itself, even in the most disciplined of teachers.  You will draw people to your classes who are, at least in part, drawn to your teaching personality.  The altruistic goal is to have them come because of the teaching alone, not the personality at the front of the room is admirable, but it may not be realistic.  Following that, while the effectiveness of an adjustment is not to be used as a means of keeping score or grading one’s own innovative approach to teaching, it is something that students vividly remember, something that, if helpful, will make them want to work with you again and again.  In my experience, the ego loves to monitor things like this, but sadly it can lack the emotional distance required to critically examine how these things can be improved upon or deepened. Anything one can do to remain open but humble, neutralizing any defensive or protective feelings, is a good idea.

Egoic thinking can also cause problems for students in your class.  They can be overly critical of themselves, compare themselves to others in the room and end up pushing themselves too hard and possibly getting injured. You can’t stop people from doing this, but you can make a point of reminding the room to be kind to themselves, to remember that everyone is different and not foster this kind of competitive, goal-oriented thinking.  Share one’s own challenges with the practice, past and present, to highlight that it is a journey. It is very helpful to understand that all time spent on the mat is good: ‘status quo’ days, ‘slight improvement’ days and the very rare ‘great breakthrough’ days.

Once a practice is established, the practice works.  As a teacher I believe my job is to be the clearest transmitter of how to practice safely and effectively that I can be, because it will impact everyone, regardless of level and commitment.   A teacher serves as an anchor or a touchpoint on a student’s journey, however long or short.  Ideally one should strive to be inclusive and welcoming to all.  I never want anyone to feel like their effort on the mat is not as impactful, authentic or meaningful as the 20-year vegan practitioner who is next to them.

It’s a lot to remember and a lot to think about. I’ve tried to encapsulate these ideas by making a list of things that will hopefully inform my decisions when I begin leading classes.

  • Allow the class to be what it needs to be for each student.
  • Facilitate discovery rather than define meaning.  But do so without being passive or vague.
  • Speak clearly, give clear instructions.  Be confident so that you serve as an anchor, or a touchstone as they move through the class.
  • Engage students, watch students, and interact authentically with them based on what’s happening in the room and the bodies in attendance (not just a script).
  • Recognize that all bodies and (body histories) are different and that life demands vary from student to student, while also recognizing the common threads.
  • Validate their work.  Acknowledge their breakthroughs as their own achievement. (not yours).
  • Hold safe, neutral space for your students. You don’t know what people are bringing into class or why they chose to come through the door.
  • Be kind, be neutral.  As people work through the sequence things like frustration will come up and the teacher is the obvious landing spot for these feelings.  You have to approach this with neutrality and recognize that it’s not about you.  Don’t allow yourself to be caught up in it or to become defensive.
  • Don’t assume that they believe everything that you believe about the practice and the philosophy of yoga. Be respectful of their beliefs, their space and their skepticism (if they have any). Let the practice do its work. Remember that students can feel alienated when a teacher is being too dogmatic.
  • Be humble, keep learning as the teacher.  The students will teach you too.  You also should keep track of your own progress on your personal yoga journey, so that you remember how involved and challenging it can be.  Continuous learning makes you a better teacher.
  • Remember what worked for you and what kind of environment or instructive approach was the most helpful to you in your learning.

Yoga is a wonderful, transformative activity. It creates strong, flexible and integrated bodies.  It harnesses the power of breath.  It clears the mind and also provides it with some resonant philosophical terrain to explore. It makes way for rich meditative experiences. I believe that if I teach with joy and keep these aspects in mind, hopefully students will enjoy their practice too, which is, after all, the most important thing.  And, of course, my teaching will evolve and change as my experience grows and I continue to learn.

So, what makes a good yoga teacher? I suspect my answers to this question will change as time goes by, but continuing to ponder this question is likely a big part of the answer.





20170803_171329 copyI had circled August 17th on my calendar and promised myself that I would make post in honour of that auspicious day, exactly six months from my last day of work at my old job.  Here I am, well into November and just now getting to it.  Those six months flew by, but they were filled with some hard-won insight.  This transition into a new life was more difficult than I had imagined.  I was struggling a bit to find my footing.  I was waiting for a great revelation, an epiphany, that would spur me on to the next step, but it seemed my inner voice had grown quiet.  I was trying to write and to compose and nothing was coming.  I seemed to have nothing to say, and yet I knew in my heart this was not the case.

As my morale began to sink, I caught myself saying that I was unemployed, even though I was performing regularly and being paid for it. Not only that, when I wasn’t performing, I was putting a good deal of energy into cultivating a rich creative practice and building a studio. I had to stop doing this. If I couldn’t get past calling myself unemployed when gigs were so abundant with large projects waiting on the sidelines, what on earth was I going to do when things slow down later in the year? Some soul-searching was in order. I had to ask myself, where does this undervaluing of my work come from?  Insecurity?  Uncertainty?  Why won’t I wear the choice to be an artist proudly?  And furthermore,  why am I so jammed up artistically?  Why aren’t things happening?  Where is my drive?

Truth be told, I was expecting to be able to sit at a computer and just start typing, to walk over to the piano and drums and just start composing. I had cleared the way after all. I had made available to myself all the time I needed.  But somehow, I just couldn’t start. I was so confused because I had experienced such a sense of urgency in making the decision to change my life. I wasn’t expecting it to be so eerily still on the other side of that decision.  But, I have since come to understand that it takes more than time to create, and I had more work to do before I could get to it.  I had to let go.

I figured the best way to start was by owning the path I have chosen and communicating authentically about it. I’m not sure I’m truly speaking with confidence yet, but I am now saying things like: “I’m trying to be an artist full-time now.” or “I’m trying to do my artist thing full-time now.”  Still, a lit bit of  diminution, but not an outright fallacy.  It’s  progress.  And the more that I say it, the easier it gets, because I am the only one who is heading down the road of judgement and scrutiny.  Pretty much everyone that I share my news with is really happy for me and offers their congratulations.  I am incredibly grateful for this encouragement.  I am looking forward to a time when “I’m an artist.” will roll off my tongue without a thought and not feel at all like I’m speaking a foreign language and trying to pronounce the words correctly. I have to release old patterns of thinking and embrace what lies in the here and now.

Not surprisingly, where my mind wandered my body followed.  I would tell myself that I felt fine, yet I knew that somehow things were not quite right. Not only that, having just suffered a serious case of burn out, I was tired all the time.  I also wasn’t eating properly.  In fact, I learned I had an iron deficiency.  Worse yet, I was worried about my left wrist. It hurt a lot, pretty much constantly, a result of too much time spent at a computer in the old days of the job. I was managing it with ice, holistic ointments and wearing a brace when it acted up. Nothing really seemed to help and I was scared that it was going to impact my drumming. Fortunately I ended up having an opportunity to do a lot of yoga.  It was ashtanga style and even though I knew it would be wrist heavy, I went for it anyway.  It proved to be exactly what I needed.  By doing this body and breath work I was able to release a lot of tension and realign my body.  The instructors suggested that to alleviate pressure on my wrist I really concentrate on rooting down through my whole hand, right to the tips of my fingers.  It worked. As I continued to practice, my wrist sorted itself out. Not only that, tightness in back and hips that came from spending so much time sitting at a desk went away. I slept better and my body felt both flexible and strong. I could feel myself coming alive again and this impacted the kinds of food choices I was making.

Ashtanga yoga has practitioners doing the exact same sequence every time. As I continued to practice, I could see myself getting better at it. I realized something obvious had been eluding me: anything that is a practice should be practiced and practiced regularly. I needed to establish a daily routine that would get me to do the actual work of creating. I needed not only to start, but also keep myself going.  Luckily, just as I had help from my teachers in my yoga practice, I could get help with my creative practice from others. I didn’t have to do everything alone.

I found a weekend boot camp in late September for playwrights at Workshop West Playwrights’ Theatre in Edmonton.  In fact, I believe this wonderfully spent weekend may have helped me turn the corner on all of this and actually changed my life for the better.  It’s certainly put me in motion and that is a truly wonderful feeling.

This photo was taken in Kleskun Hills, Alberta on a beautiful August morning after a festival gig the day before.   The sparse beauty of this place inspires a sense of one-ness and connection.  As I leapt in the air I remembered something a dance teacher once said to me about jumping.  Don’t think about pushing off the ground.  Think about the sky opening up and making way for you.  For me, practice is about maintaining the courage to leap and the belief that a space is waiting for you.


Knocking Opportunity

Finding myself in a somewhat fluid state in terms of how I’m spending my time, I’ve been thinking about how fortunate I’ve been with the many things that have been presented to me over the years under the label of opportunity.  I can’t say that I have always been the best of judge of what separates the good ones from the not-so-good ones, but I am pondering what a great one would look like for me right now.  I have to. I believe that  because I have made space and time for it it’s bound to come knocking. And I am heeding the warning, “Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it.”

So what is it about this loaded word? Its origin is the latin word opportunus. The Middle English version is actually opportunity, just as it is today.  It is an old word.  This makes sense to me.  It’s strangely comforting to think about human beings needing to have a word that recognizes good fortune, and to have it expressed so aptly that the word is used often enough to becoming dated or obsolete.  Perhaps this constant presence in everyday language indicates that recognition, pursuit and commerce of opportunity is part of the human condition.  We have certainly been talking about it for a long time.  I looked up its meaning via and three definitions came up:

1. An appropriate or favourable time or occasion

Timing is everything.  If something comes your way, but it’s not the right time, you really have to consider whether a move or a change is the right thing.  I’ve tended to put pressure on every single decision I’ve ever made concerning opportunities on both the day job and arts fronts.  I have an ingrained belief that saying no to something means that nothing else will ever follow.  I have not considered whether it was the right time for me for that opportunity.  I didn’t really think about whether it was a good fit for the other aspects of my life or who I am as a person.  If it was going to arrive at some sort of success or advancement, that was all I needed to know, and, sadly, this was because I didn’t think I deserved the opportunity and that soon everyone would know what an imposter I was.  Not surprisingly, this pattern of belief has added  stress to my decision-making, and pushed my decisions into the realm of the head rather than the heart.  Simply put, there’s been too much thinking and not enough listening, because logic and intellect have been ruling the roost.  Having just made some pretty big changes in my approach to life, working from a place of intuition, rather than intellect, feels a lot different.  It’s certainly more holistic.

2. A situation or condition favourable for attainment of a goal

Because I’m reading these words as a definition of opportunity, the first image that cheekily jumps into my mind is “corner office with a window” or “lead role in a Hollywood blockbuster”.  Fortunately, there’s much more material to mine here.  The environments we create for ourselves and that we choose to spend time in feed directly into how we work and what we work at.  I’ve been going on about needing mental space around my creative work, but the physical space is important too.  For me, I simply do better when I have a sense of the natural world around me.  Plants are good.  Bird feeders.  My garden.  I also don’t like clutter, or too much visual stimulus.  I feel better in cozy candle light or a sunbeam through a window.  I like inviting spaces that seem to ask you enter.   By making the work seem easy to start, the right space helps create the right conditions to start a project and see it through.  It all sounds very obvious, but functional spaces help you to function.

I’ve done without good work space in the past, and, in the thick of it, it’s been easy for me to dismiss its implications.  I have a tendency to over-focus that has enabled me to block out any distractions around me.  It’s helped me to succeed in a lot of different situations, but the act of focusing has also taken energy away from the work I’ve been doing.  Going forward I envision being in conditions that inspire integration and flow, rather than the obstacles and barriers I’ve grown accustomed to.  It’s early in the game, but I’ve already noticed that it’s satisfying to have energy moving efficiently.

3. A good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success

Of the three definitions of opportunity that provides, this is the one that I think best represents how this word is used today.  In fact, one could argue that when people or organizations are putting opportunities for others together, they quote directly from this definition.  I’ve heard many of these phrases as a performing artist, as a temp and in my full-time permanent positions.  They come up every time I’m asked to perform for the ‘exposure’ at event that has no budget, or when a colleague is short-staffed and thinks I can possibly be of help.

I have noticed that many requests tend to be framed as opportunities by the person or party making the request.  I think this approach is taken because it just doesn’t work to say, “I/we need help and I/we am hoping you can come on board.”  Perhaps there’s just too much soft underbelly exposed.  Better for the object of the ask to come in thinking there’s something wonderful in it for them, other than the satisfaction of being of help by doing a day’s work and any remuneration for it.  Is the thinking that the person approached will be more likely to come on board and do a better job because they are now motivated to advance their position/status?  Or, is there a fear that this person is so wrapped up in pre-existing obligations and responsibilities that doing something just to do it or to help someone out isn’t enough of a reason?  Does ego make the presence of an opportunity a mandatory requirement? It makes me wonder if most of us don’t enjoy working just to work, or, worse yet, helping others just to help.  If so, what does that say about the time we live in and how our communities function?  If this is true, why is the thought of working so terrible?

Fundamentally I believe that human beings are wired to want to be of service to each other and thrive when they have a feeling of belonging.  But there’s no denying that it’s easy to lose this thread.  We get distracted by the shimmer of more money, prestige or the promise of advancement.  I know that I have been drawn into this web, and in the past the word opportunity would make my ears perk up.  But now, as I’m restructuring my life, I’m finding myself shying away when I hear it. I don’t think it triggers the kind of impulses I need as I go about this process of creating a new life.

As I go through the opportunities that I’ve taken hold of and those I’ve let fall by the wayside, I recognize that some of the most transformative experiences in my life have been those I’ve made for myself.


Talking the Walk

When I still had my day job, I walked to work everyday, even in winter.  I liked the fresh air.  I liked that it got my blood moving before those long hours of sitting at a desk and looking at a screen began.  It took me about 18 minutes to get from the door of my house to my office, so it was really very manageable and a pleasant way to start the day.

20160916_082131As a performing artist with a day job, the job was a means to an end, something I had to do as opposed to something I wanted to do.  I came to view the walk as a gift, and I took full advantage of it.  Instead of my job, I made a point of envisioning myself heading out on foot on the first day of my vacation in a place unknown to me.  It was funny how ordinary life would become just that little bit sweeter.  I seemed to move faster, but I was more relaxed.  I was mentally present during the walk.  I was captivated by things like bird song, if something was blooming, if someone was walking a cute dog, if a small child smiling at me.  If someone showed me a small kindness, I was able to do the same.  I found wonder in small things.  And I felt very, very clever because of it.  After all, I had devised my own coping mechanism.  I had found an action that made something that I found terribly unpleasant, dreaded even, more than bearable.

This was a short-term fix. As time went on, I realized the obvious.  What really needed to happen was for me to go on a real vacation, rather than pretend to be on one.  But because of the volume of work, the multitude of pressures and obligations to others, I never felt like there was a time that I could safely do so, when my absence would not impact my coworkers and cause a very problematic backlog for me.   The idea of leaving work completely behind for a week or two only to return to an even more imposing and impossible pile was terrifying to me and not at all feasible.  I felt like I was drowning already, so I didn’t want to ‘drown harder’.

And so, my  lovely imaginary vacation tactic evolved into something much less pleasant, a kind of pep talk that was broken down into segments.  Because I was exhausted, the first 6 minutes of my walk were spent simply waking up.  Putting one foot in front of the other did what the coffee I had drowned myself in could not – it cleared the cobwebs away.  The next 6 minutes were then spent by my now conscious brain making lists of all the things
that I had to finish from the day before, all of the emails I had to read and write, the paperwork I had to process, the people who were waiting for information from me, and the meetings I had to go to.  It was list after list and always ended in panic, sometimes full on anxiety.  The last 6 minutes of the walk were spent in shallow breath.  I would talk myself down.  “Just get through today. It won’t be as bad as you think. You don’t need to do this forever. It will slow down soon. Just 8 hours.  You can do 8 hours. When it’s done you can go home and fall into bed.”  No more bird song, no more smiling children, no more experiences with nature.  It was harder to be kind.

Institutions love it when their employees find mechanisms and tactics to help them cope with stress and continue to perform well.  They even provide you with opportunities to learn how to do so.  If you’re good at mastering these skills you start to collect adjectives like flexible, adaptable and are considered to be a good organizational citizen.  And the more adjectives you acquire, the more you are given to do, because you are capable.  At least, that was my experience. I realize now that my two tactics, the imaginary vacation and the pep talk, contributed to me arriving at a full-on case of burn-out.  And right before it hit, I couldn’t have imagined a state of being that was less flexible or adaptable.  I felt completely constrained, and barely present in my own life.  I was exhausted.  Alienated from colleagues and my family.  Everything seemed difficult.  Nothing gave me joy-at home, in my creative projects, or at work.  I had so little energy to give that what I had was beyond precious to me, and it was painful to see it spent on something that gave me so little in return in terms of happiness.  I had lost my way completely.  I was definitely not on my ‘true’ path.

I took a six-week stress leave and was lucky to have an employer who supported it. This time allowed me to put my receptiveness to self talk to good use.  I could speak to myself from a place of authenticity, that wasn’t bound by the constructs of my obligations, but the truth of my heart.  I came to understand that if I wanted to make things better, I had to make a fresh start and actually discover who I am and identify the things that are really and truly important to me.  Leaving the job was both a terrifying and exhilarating decision to make.   Probably not what my employer had in mind, but I believe it to be one of the most important choices of my life.

I’m still learning.  I haven’t decided, outside of my creative practice, what I’m going to do next.  But I can say this: I would love to become a person whose self talk in times of stress results in understanding and transformation, rather than survival.  I’m not sure that this is possible or realistic, but it is the place I’m working from as I move forward.


Why Fearless

For most of my adult life I have been juggling two careers.  I am a performing artist (actor, writer, musician) who has a day job in an office.  I have never had the means or the courage to pursue my creative practice exclusively, but I have made the decision to do so now.

It was hard for me to get to this point.  Let’s face it, generally speaking careers in the Arts, while highly satisfying, don’t necessarily provide a comfortable living.  And, as one gets older the appeal and mystique of being a starving artist starts to lose its lustre.  Sometimes life also throws you curve balls (in my case a partner who suffered a minor traumatic brain injury) and one simply has to step up and make sacrifices so that you and yours can survive.  I put my creativity on the back burner, for what I thought would be a short time.  Five years later, the injury is still resolving, so my decision to leave the job that has, up until now, kept us afloat, was not taken lightly.  A lot of fear needed to be addressed.  How will we survive?  Will we be able to make ends meet?  Will we ever be able to take a vacation again?  Retire?


We hear the expression Life is short all the time.  That’s because it is.  And, right or wrong, we are inundated with the idea that there is a true path for all of us, something we are meant to do.  If you don’t feel like you are on course, it doesn’t matter how well you do at whatever you are doing. It doesn’t feel like you are contributing to the world around you in the way that you were meant to, and there is great longing and disappointment in that.  I worked hard at my day job.  I became very good at it, but I never felt like I was where I was supposed to be.  There was no authentic expression of self in it for me, no passion.  And a conversation with a dear friend and mentor has helped me to realize that once you have been an artist, and you tap into passion and creativity as your primary driving forces, you need them or you feel empty.  They are the conduits through which you experience the joys and sorrows of life.  You cannot live without them.

I’ve finally figured this out in my mid-forties.  I don’t know where this realization will take me, but I want to live differently, to experience the world in a way that enriches me.  This blog will focus on this next phase of my life and hopefully express the insight I gain as I face the manifestations of fear while leaving my gilded cage.