Self Care for Artists During Self-Isolation

Sometimes, after years of being in the arts professions, we have to get reacquainted with ourselves.  We are not the actor, the dancer, the comic, et al, we were a year ago, much less five or ten years ago.  Hopefully, we’ve grown.  Sometimes, we have growing pains.  With arts imperiled by corona virus, artists of all disciplines can lean into this cultural and social pause and do some self-care.

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Starting last year, I went through a period where I felt I needed to take stock.  One of the things my self inventory yielded up was the need to forgive and release past experiences on stage and screen.  #MeToo and #TimesUp have us sharing our stories, and I also came to the conclusion I needed to re-write, by releasing and forgiving, my narrative of myself, particularly in my profession.  I also needed release negative, defeating beliefs about “how things are”.  This is what I came up with for myself:

“I release myself from all past and present pain in acting.  I release myself and surrender times of overwork, over-stress, humiliation, body image issues, hurtful and invalidating comments and all other pain and trauma I’ve experienced during my life as an actor.

I embrace a vibrant, creative life that I love, where I do the acting work I’ve always wanted, needed and been called to do.  I am a happy and healthy artist who’s thriving.  I love communicating verbally and non-verbally to the best and peak of my abilities.

I release all negative, harmful, self-defeating patterns and thoughts around acting.  I am a sane, healthy, happy, holy person who makes art.  I am loving, kind and compassionate and that radiates throughout all my performances.  I honor my unique needs and challenges and honor the needs, challenges and contributions of others.  I am here, now, today, firmly rooted in the reality of my chosen profession.”

Artists, if you’re not already, utilize this valuable time.  Practice, create, innovate and experiment!  So often we’re too rushed and rely on technique and well-honed skills and don’t have the precious silence that cocoons inspiration.  There are gifts in this experience.  It’s also a great time, to challenge your beliefs and get present to yourself, the artist today.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1.  What assumptions do I make about myself based on my age, gender, etc., in my field?
  2. Do I have a teacher, coach,mentor in the arts, that I have hurtful memories with?  What did they say or do?  What toxic lesson did I learn from that?  How do I re-frame this to empower me, now, today?
  3. What are my culture’s harmful beliefs about my arts profession?  Stereotypes?
  4. What are my family’s harmful beliefs or invalidating comments about my arts profession?
  5. What do I feel I lack as an artist?  Discipline?  Depth?  Re-frame that belief.
  6. What do I truly desire for myself in my arts career?

Identify patterns.  Re-frame your beliefs to empower you.  Claim the power in the present–whatever the present may bring.

May you be happy, safe and well, now and always.

 

Too Much…Too This…Too That

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Too sensitive

Too bossy

Too loud

Too emotional…

If you’ve ever had the word “too” weaponized against you, you know how baffling and painful it is.  So many women have felt the pain of this three-letter word. I have and I am not allowing it to hurt me anymore.  Not now, not today, not ever again.  Someone’s hurtful use of the word “too” is now my marching orders to go further in that direction.

It’s brave to be who you are, as you are, in a world that says, “You’re too much” and yet never enough at the same time. Ladies, I am sorry that someone tried to dim your light.  I am sorry that someone tried to quiet you down.  I am sorry that someone tried to stunt your leadership growth.  I am proud of you that you kept shining, kept speaking and kept growing in spite of a world that says confusingly, often at the same time, that “you’re too much,” and will never be enough.  I’ve had enough of it, personally.

This International Women’s Month, this is my focus:  to reclaim the parts of me that were “too much” and to shush the nonsense monologue in my head that says I’ll never be enough for this romantic partner, or that job, or that level of income.  It’s time to kick “too much” and “never enough” out of our lives.  They’re two-word poison pills we keep swallowing that stunt our growth, joy and potential.

You are never too much.  You are beautiful and brilliant just as you are AND always enough.  Wishing you a healing International Women’s Month.

 

 

Keep it Simple

Take a deep breath…and now another….and another…another.  Now, tell yourself how you really feel.

It may surprise you.  Too often, we have a lot of external markers of being a “good person”, a good wife, a good business partner, a good…whatever.  There’s a lot of expectations that we take on and try to accommodate and negotiate.  It’s painful when those expectations are in conflict with each.  How often, though, do we acknowledge when those expectations are in conflict with what we really want or need? We make a lot of dirty bargain to get ahead, to get closer and those pile up, until the weight of our decisions, a pattern or self-neglect and self-abuse, becomes habit.

Does life feel dry?  Does it feel like things aren’t moving, no matter how hard and consistently you push?  The problem may be YOU, but not that you’re inherently flawed or unworthy or unequipped.  The problem may be that you’re repeating effort just to repeat effort and get your gold star for the day.

If life is feeling dry, ask yourself when was the last time you did a little self care, whatever that is for you.  So many of us are excellent caregivers, good friends, listeners, helpers, and we fail ourselves in the self care department.  It’s time to turn some attention back on you.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity (1) The notion of “self care” has become very Instagram-able.  Self care, though, doesn’t have to be expensive, hedonistic, excessive or even complicated.  If the idea of self-care stresses you out, that’s not self care.  Can you get a few moments with yourself today, where someone is not asking you for something?  Would listening to your favorite music as you work be a viable option for you?

Self care is a great idea; it’s a necessary idea.  As ideas popularize, we are asked to “buy into” them.  If money is a stressor, you don’t have to buy your self care.  In fact, you should try not to.  Spend a few minutes identifying areas of your life where you don’t feel whole or nurtured or perhaps you feel frantic and unsettled.  That’s where you probably need self care the most.  Then, find the smallest ways possible to bring some care of yourself to those areas.  Start small.

Sometimes, we discount the smallest, simplest solutions because they seem too easy or not big enough to be consequential.  Experiment, even if it seems silly.  At least with silly experiments you might get a good laugh.  Keep your self-care simple, actionable and look forward to your discoveries.

 

Weighty Self-Worth Issues

This week, I had a lesson in how valuable I am.  From time to time, we say to ourselves, “I’m valuable.  I’m important.  I have something to offer,” etc.  It’s easy to pay lip service to those affirmations, but it’s a whole different matter when we actually have to calculate our worth in real terms.  Yesterday night, I was crunching a bunch of numbers regarding some of my business ventures and I realized that I had a good sense of my worth.  I wasn’t asking “Who would want to pay for that?”  Instead, I was asking, “Who wouldn’t?”

Not everyone has had the epiphany I’ve had though.  It’s been well documented that skinnier women get paid more than heavier women and all women are touched by the gender pay gap in some way as well.

Freek Vermeulen explains:

Various studies have shown that overweight people are seen as less conscientious, less agreeable, less emotionally stable, less productive, lazy, lacking in self-discipline, and even dishonest, sloppy, ugly, socially unattractive, and sexually unskilled; the list goes on and on.* The stereotypes run so deep that even obese people hold these same discriminatory beliefs about other obese people.

It’s hard to stand up for what you’re worth as a plus size woman in the world.  It’s hard to fight years of stereotypes, especially the ones we’ve internalized and had used against us.  The saddest thing to me is that people with weight challenges do often hold these beliefs about others with weight issues.  I know I too struggle with this and I have to check myself.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity.pngToday’s the day to really ponder what you think you’re worth.  Are you short-selling yourself because you’ve told your body makes you “less than”?  You’re important and valuable whether you’re a size 0 or a size 5X.

Also, don’t forget to measure value in more abstract terms too.  Real dollars and cents make sense, but are you treated well at your work?  Do you feel valued and important?  Your paycheck may be adequate but the emotional cost of your work environment may be too much.  There are some things money can’t buy, and one of those things is a happy heart and an ebullient spirit.

I think one of the most freeing things that can happen for anyone struggling with body image issues is to get to that head space where you have “zero f**ks given”.  You’re just doing you.  That’s the zero you ultimately want to achieve.  Zero is not a size to achieve but an attitude to aspire to, where you know what makes you happy and you’re not allowing others to dictate to you what you should think and feel about yourself and others.  So that’s the zero that I wish all people get to–not a teensy weensy size but a big, bold attitude of self empowerment and self worth.