Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Waiting Game

I'm currently in the middle of an extreme round of the waiting game.

I've been playing this version of the waiting game for ten weeks.  Which, of course, feels like an eternity.  Many days, particularly during the last three weeks, I say to myself, "today will be the day I get the call."  Some days I do get a call, but instead of a definite answer, they are a request for another presentation of another skill.

It's possible the start date of this project is now one week away.  Did I mention that this project involves being away from my home base for many months?

It's a challenge.

Here's how I am managing:

1) Keep living.  Like I said in this post a few years ago, carry on.  Do the work of the day, like writing this post!  You know what really works for me?  You are going to be so surprised.  Creating.  I've already written two songs.  Practicing music takes me away.  As does exercising. I run to both these days.

2) It's not about me.  Decisions as big as this one are giant puzzles with many pieces.  I recognize I am merely one piece of that decision.  I've done the work that is my responsibility. I've prepared for meetings as requested and given my presentations.  I need to give the decision-makers time to make the best decisions.

3) They aren't doing this to be mean to me.  This is an ancient response in my gut, fed by years of "you don't deserve this", "other people get to live the life of their dreams, not us" and my personal favorite "if you were really talented, they would snap you up right away".

4) Put work associates on alert.  Since mine are in the same industry, they understand the situation.  They are willing to wait with me.  Beyond that, I've confided in a few trusted souls.  I haven't posted to social media at all. There's no reason.  That will only bring more angsty energy.  I don't need that right now.

5) Remember that this is a fantastic experience.  I am meeting new contacts in my business at a higher level.  I am learning new skills.  If that is all that comes out of this, I'm fine with that.

6) Look at all of the marvelous lessons I am practicing.  Living in the moment.  Taking care of what I can take care of. Even if I don't get this project, practicing these lessons again is of great value.

Wow.  I'm glad I wrote this all down.  I knew this has been a positive experience, but I didn't realize it was this positive.

Monday, August 15, 2016

And There's Nothing You Can Do

Jill came to her session reporting on the disappointment of a recent audition.

"As soon as everyone started singing, I could tell the director wasn't interested in me.  Then he called back the two women who looked nothing like me.  Well," she huffed, with a hint of disgust in her voice, "I could see where this was going."

So could I.  Another artist too personally invested in aspects of their professional career that are out of their control.

And this attitude is not exclusive to the arts. Plenty of us invest too much of our self-worth into  institutions - schools, universities, corporations, non-profits, any business actually - thinking this is a key to a fulfilling life.

Let me state this as clearly as possible.  There will be people who are not interested in what you have to offer.  And there's nothing you can do about it.

Actually, that's not completely true.  There IS something you can do.  There are two things you can do:

#1 - develop the ability to be less personally invested in business outcomes.  Jill hasn't yet recognized that casting decisions are not always based on talent, desire ("God, I hope I get it") or personality.  Therefore, every time she doesn't get cast, she feels personally rejected.  This is not only emotionally exhausting, it is flat out unhealthy. 

In fact, I find this is one of the main characteristics that separates those that work from those that don't.  Those that work have found the ideal investment level.  They know the circumstances that are in their control (finely-tuned skill sets, consistent attention to opportunities, the best materials/portfolio available to them) and those that aren't (appropriate skill sets, decisions made by others, timing).  If they're not hired for a project, they let it go and move on to the next possibility.

Is this challenging?  Yes, I think it is, particularly for creative types.  So many of us were first recognized as unique, talented people because of our creativity.  So we get used to the adoration and the acknowledgement.  Learning how to grow beyond that initial buzz ("You love me, you really do"), to have confidence that your creativity is of value, even if you don't get hired, is vital if you want to survive as a real human who creates for a living.

#2 - focus your energy on finding the ideal projects for you.  

Let's imagine you run an online interior design service, specializing in upscale condos located in major metropolitan areas. Would you market your services in rural Kansas?  No!  You can see the absurdity in that immediately.  

Let's imagine you write a novel about an early 20th-century integrated baseball team traveling through the South.  Would you market that book to Donald Trump supporters?  No!  Another absurdity.

Yes, you see the absurdity in both of these examples, yet I encounter creative people all the time who use incredible amounts of their energy to focus on projects for which they are not right.  Actors, singers, writers, composers - I can think of examples of each one.

Get smarter about the opportunities you pursue.  Take a serious look at your strengths and weaknesses.  Seek the opportunities that play to your strengths first.  Research as much as possible to find out if an opportunity is the best one for you.  If it isn't, let it go.  Use that energy to find a better opportunity.

Simultaneously, work on turning your weaknesses into strengths.  If you're a writer who can also illustrate, pursue writing projects first, but don't let your illustrating skills atrophy.  If you're a dancer who can sort of sing, seek out dancing roles first. This is tricky work to balance, but crucial. You never know when those secondary skills become the difference between you getting the project and someone else getting the project.

It is true that figuring out where to focus your energy can be tricky. What am I best at?  Where do I belong? But you know what I say.  If you're not sure, find an expert in the field, pay them their fee and get their ideas and opinions.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Still Magic

This post, first released globally in January of 2014, contains tremendously exciting updated information. Read on -

It isn't very often that I get to say I have a magic pill for you.  I have one today.  A pill that is free, yes, free! A pill that will greatly improve your life.  A pill that doesn't add calories to your diet.  A pill that is available to every person on the planet.

You ready?  Naw, I'm going to make you wait.

I personally started taking this magic pill on a more regular basis about one year ago.  I didn't notice a difference right away.  I also noticed that taking this pill wasn't always easy.  Darn it.  But about 6 months into taking this pill, I started to notice a positive difference.  I was mentally clearer.  I didn't feel as stressed.  I wasn't eating like a maniac or drinking too much, at least not as frequently.  I felt stronger too.

Okay, I'll tell you now.


That's right, sleep.  Of course you sleep.  We all sleep. But do you sleep enough?  Did you know that adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep every night?  Did you know that insufficient sleep is now being considered a factor in all kinds of diseases, like diabetes, depression, even cancer?  I have your attention now, don't I? Here.  I found the data for you.  Reading this might make you fall asleep.  CDC Report on Insufficient Sleep

I've always loved to sleep.  I'm one of those people who could probably sleep for most of the day.  But even I was not getting enough sleep.  So, motivated by Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project(she says quality sleep is one of the keys to happiness) and my friend Susan (who has a life as full, if not fuller, than mine,  If Susan can find the time to sleep more, so can I), I decided to try to get better sleep.  I had already banished screens from the bedroom, as well as keeping the bedroom for sleeping...and maybe one other activity (wink, nod).  I knew that those were both important steps.  So I added going to bed earlier.  Not super early, but earlier.  Like 15 minutes earlier. I also started regulating my sleep - going to bed and getting up around the same time every day.  Going to bed earlier wasn't too difficult.  Getting up around the same time was hard, especially when I didn't have to get up.  I did it anyway.

Guess what?  As I said above, about 6 months in, I noticed I was much fresher when I woke up.  I didn't wander around the house like a zombie every morning.  I could actually talk to people and complete sentences within 5 minutes of waking up.  I also noticed that I wasn't getting as irritated with the small stuff. I felt stronger, both physically and mentally. While it's true that I was making other changes in my life, I'm pretty sure the added sleep was the bigger factor.

Recently, I was talking about sleep with fabulous yoga instructor Meg Townsend, .  Our conversation was so fascinating I had to ask Meg to contribute to this post.  Here's what she has to say:

When looking at creating healthy sleep habits, it can’t be “one-practice-heals-all” as we are all different and there are so many different types of insomnia! My study and practice of Yoga and its sister science Ayurveda have been the most helpful tools for me in improving the quality of my sleep. Here are a few scenarios that might sound familiar to you and my suggestions for what you do about it. One thing I always tell my students: improving your sleep is just like building muscles. You have to keep working at it, the body likes routine, and these things take time. Be patient and keep working on giving yourself great care!

  1. I can easily fall asleep, but I wake up repeatedly throughout the night, usually around 2-6am. In Yoga and Ayurveda, we look at this as a lack of the grounding/nourishing energy. Try to establish more routine in your morning and your evening. Rub warm oil on your feet and wear cotton socks to bed. When you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t get out of bed, instead work with the “Miracle Breath” detailed below and see if that will help you fall back asleep.

  1. I have such trouble falling asleep! Usually by 2am I’m tired enough to get a few hours of shut-eye. It’s time to take a look at your evening routine. Are you feeling tired around 8-10p and ignoring that natural call of your body to go to sleep? Are you staying on screens too late (computer, TV, iphone, tablet) and keeping the mind stimulated? Turn off those screens by 9:30pm! Read a boring book that lulls you to sleep. Listen to relaxing music. Don’t burn that midnight oil!

  1. My sleep seems fine, but I’m always exhausted, what gives?! Your mind and body might not be getting the deep, restorative sleep that it needs. Consider deep relaxation practices in your waking hours such as restorative yoga, guided relaxation exercises, and meditation.

Next time you have trouble sleeping, try this breathing practice: the “Miracle Breath”

Establish effortless 1:2 breathing (exhale is twice as long as inhale)
Then take:
8 breaths lying on your back
16 breaths lying on your right side
32 breaths lying on your left side

Here’s to no more counting sheep and getting amazing sleep so you can live your amazing life with lots of energy and inspiration!

Heidi here:
Now that you've gotten some excellent ideas from Meg, I am going to shamelessly promote her work.  She works privately and in groups with people who want to use alternative healing modalities to get great sleep! You can and you should, check her out right here.