Want to write a one-person-show? Do it now!

Longnow
I've been working on my one-woman-show for the last year, and I'm
really excited to let you know it's going to be featured in the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival in September!  It's called The Punchline,
and it's all about my dream of being a famous comedian and the things
that get in my way…  I've had lots of help from some really talented
and generous people, and I'd like to share with you some simple ways to
get started.

So, here are five easy steps to get started now on your one-man-show, a one-woman-show, a solo-transgender show, or a
very long monologue from someone of unspecified gender… 

Step one:  Decide
to tell your life story.  (This is what all first works are
about–first albums, first books, first drinks…  You can write about
politics and stuff when you've gotten yourself out of the way.)

Step two:  Write your truth, and tell it from the point of view of all the characters in your life (or all the characters in your head.)

Step three: Book
a show two months from now, and tell everyone you know to come see
you.  Publicize!  (This ensures that you'll really do it.)

Step four:  Get
some studio time and a director to give you feedback and incorporate
it.  Then, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  (Don't ask your wife or your
boyfriend or your dog what they think of your work.  They won't be able
to give you helpful criticism until they see the show on opening night.)

Step five:  Perform! 
Take your due on stage, strut your stuff, and tell your story for
real–be the most you-est you you've ever been, share your story in a
way that lets the audience fully see who you really are.  (Hint: the
less you care how good you are, the better you'll be.)

In another blog, I'll let you know about some good teachers, directors, and other resources for solo shows.

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So, do it now!  "Yesterday is rarely too early but tomorrow is frequently too late." 

Compare and despair? Or just be you.

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It's so easy to look at others who have "succeeded" in their careers or their creative work, and compare ourselves and feel like we're not good enough in comparison.  But hindsight is 20/20.  Look at how each of your hero's choices brought them closer to their goal.  Where they are today shows how obvious and clear their path was.  And yet, at the start (unless your hero is Arnold Schwarzenegger) they had no idea where their path would take them.

I like to look at Woody Allen, for example.  I love the trajectory of his career.  He began writing for television, then did standup comedy for a few years, then he began writing, directing, and acting in his own films.  He's in his 70's, and he's still making a new film every year.  But I don't compare myself to him anymore, because I've realized I want to carve out my own path. Each of us, especially people whose creativity is at the center of their lives, makes a beautiful and unique meandering toward our deepest truth.  And we do it without knowing if or when or how it will "all come together".  This reminds me how we're part of the great mystery of life! 

I'd like to propose that the people you admire were not actually aiming for Success or Getting Things Right or Looking Good so much as really being curious about and exploring themselves and the world around them.  They were becoming themselves, and the opportunities that arose came out of a willingness to take the risk of really knowing who they are.  And things "all come together" at exactly the moment when you decide you're ready for it, and when you decide you really really want it.

So, take a moment, look around, and recognize that you have chosen (consciously or unconsciously at a deep, soul level) exactly who and where you are in order to learn something at Earth School.  And relax into the knowledge that you are exactly where you need to be on your very own path.  And then, make some new choices.  Take some new risks.  Make some new mistakes!

     "The Path that leadeth on is lighted by one fire-the light of daring burning in the heart.  The more one dares, the more he shall obtain."

     -Helena Petrova Blavatsky

The Possibility Tree

Treeinhand
So, you've got a clear vision and a CPR (a statement of the results you want from your work , what your purpose is, and the context you'd like to pursue your results in.) Now, what, Ms. Creativity Coach? If you're at all like me and like to create big visions for yourself, you can get awfully excited and awfully overwhelmed by it all.  Questions arise, like, "Where do I start?" and "Which is the best, most effective task to perform at this moment?"  The intensity of the wonderful vision you have created for yourself can become another block to having what you want if you let it overwhelm you! (It's easy in moments of overwhelm to lose sight of goals and get lost in distractions like over-checking email…)

So, take some time to brainstorm the steps that will bring you from where you are now to where you want to be breaks everything up into manageable chunks.  And if you are someone with a lot of different goals and a lot of different projects all in play, drawing a tree of possible courses of action can be really helpful in visualizing what steps you need to take to arrive at your aims.  Then, you can choose which "branch" you want to focus some time on, take specific actions, and see measurable results.  And whenever necessary, you can re-assess.  Perhaps you're a violinist, and you know you want to get more work playing the violin.  One possibility branch for getting more work would involve networking with other musicians at parties or at the symphony…  Another possibility branch would involve building a website, posting examples of your work online, and attracting customers through internet searches.  Yet another possibility branch could be learning new pieces of music and auditioning in different cities.  Of course, the knowledge of your tree branches will evolve as you grow, but you will create a great picture of how to achieve your goals.  And then you can build a treehouse.

"Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars."  -Les Brown

Your Daily Action Partner

Integrity
In my creativity coaching work, one of the most common things I see is that people have a vision, but they sabotage themselves in carrying it out.  Your integrity with yourself, that is, your ability to think, act, and speak in alignment with your vision is your magic key to carrying out your vision.  When you make an agreement with yourself to do something in line with your vision, you need to guard that agreement with all of your being.  (Therefore, don't make agreements you aren't willing to keep!)  When you break an agreement with yourself, there is a breach in your integrity that must be repaired.

You have to do this for yourself, but you don't have to do it by yourself.  One of the best tools for staying aligned with your integrity is having a daily action partner.  This is a person with whom you make an agreement to call every morning (set a time to call by) and outline what your actions will be for the day.  Each of you take five minutes or less letting the other person know what steps you are taking today.  An action partner can inspire you, fire you up, and hold you accountable for following through on your dreams.  Take turns listening and be compassionate when there is a break-down.  All that needs to happen when you break a commitment is that you speak what happened, what the cause of the breakdown was, and a statement of what you are re-committing to.

        "When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself." 

        -Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

Dressing the Part

In order to illustrate a few points, I'll tell you a bit about me today…  When I was in high school, I dyed my hair every color of the rainbow.  Green was my favorite.  I pierced my ears, my nose, and eventually I even pierced my lip. As a filmmaker and standup comedian, my image was a powerful statement.  It certainly helped me on stage at a time when I wanted to feel assertive and commanding.  My punk aesthetic was a way to stake my claim for freedom and individuality and playfulness.   

Circusoh
Several years ago, I started a circus and took it on tour across the country.  My circus's gypsy aesthetic of the motley tribe of wanderlusts sent me fishing through antique clothing stores to invent my ringmaster costume…  It was another avenue for creative expression that was powerful and unique in a new way. 

Aliciaindia_headshotRecently, I traveled in India for several months.  I spent time at ashrams, learning yoga, meditating, meeting new people.  I packed one pair of jeans and a few t-shirts from home.  It was with a delicious contentment that I gathered beautiful, flowing scarves and punjabi pants at each stop along my dusty journey.  I had removed my lip ring and let my hair grow, and it's now past my shoulders.  For many years, I enjoyed playing with people's perceptions about appearance, knowing all along that the essence which radiates from deep within is more true than what clothes I put on, what shape my body is, where wrinkles have settled in from smiling, or what color my skin is.

Alicia_headshot
And today, I enjoy a sense of confidence, creativity, and freedom that I wear along with my long hair, high heels, and a new brown jacket.  I am having a ball dressing in a commanding way, and fully inhabiting this new space.  My interactions with people feel unfamiliar.  Along with a sense of power, I also feel a sense of responsibility with the power I'm commanding, and a desire to increase my humility, my grounding, and my compassion to root myself. 

How we present ourselves is a manifestation of how we see ourselves, and a wish for how others might see us.  I encourage you to experiment with your appearance.  Step outside of your comfort zone. If you always wear suits or dresses, try putting on a crazy hat and wearing your clothes backwards to the park.  Creativity is about exploring possibility, and it's fueled by your willingness to be in the unknown. Are you ready?

        "When one lives with concepts one never learns.  The concepts become static.  You may change them but the very transformation of one concept to another is still static, is still fixed.  But to have the sensitivity to feel, seeing that life is not a movement of two separate activities, the external and the inward, to see that it is one, to realize that the inter-relationship is this movement, is the ebb and flow of sorrow and pleasure and joy and depression, loneliness and escape, to perceive nonverbally this life as a whole, not fragmented, nor broken up, is to learn.

        -Krishnamurti

What is success for you?

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How many times has your concept, your idea of "success" actually gotten in the way feeling fulfilled?

Often, at a young age, we have a peak experience of freedom, aliveness, love, or fulfillment that occurs during an activity we're doing.  And our young, child mind develops the concept that this feeling, plus this situation, plus the people around me who confirm this story, equal success. 

The truth is that the activity is the portal, the context through which we experience that expansive feeling.  And yet, as humans often do, we associate that feeling with the activity we're doing.  Suddenly and unconsciously, it's not, "I surrendered my body and mind to my activity, and I felt alive!" it's, "I hit the winning home run, the entire crowd cheered, and I felt alive!"  We begin to form a concept about succeeding at baseball as the source of our aliveness.

Perhaps, years later, you "awaken" feeling unfulfilled (hopefully not, but if so, keep reading!)  Perhaps you have had a successful baseball career and yet never touched the heart of your original peak experience.  Or, you may have struggled for both success and fulfillment.  I often speak with comedians who are talented, funny, and accomplished (who also make lots of money at comedy and perform frequently), yet there is a lingering emptiness.  Often in America, we shy away from looking at this emptiness and want to leave it as soon as possible.  And yet, if we are willing to dive into the center of the "hole" in a safe context, we can come out the other side with our heart's treasure.*

One way you can begin to release of your concept of success is to invite yourself to play again.  Set aside an hour with no interruptions and set out an open-ended activity that brings you joy.  You could play guitar, paint, make a collage, sing, roll down a grassy hill, skip rocks…  Find a way to re-create the joy, even for a few minutes, of a time when the activity was more important than the outcome.  And before you go back to your day, write about what happened during your experience and what thoughts or voices arose for you.   

        "Success is getting what you want.  Happiness is wanting what you get."

        –Dale Carnegie

*For further reading: A. H. Almaas, The Diamond Approach

It’s never too late!

Butterfly
"This isn't what I meant to do!"  "This isn't where I meant to be!"  "What the heck happened to all those years?"

Often in our lives, through a series of conscious and unconscious choices, we find ourselves in a different place in our lives than we had once imagined we would be.  We reach a milestone age, or we see friends or even public figures accomplishing something, and as we compare ourselves, we feel a poignant mixture of jealousy, desire, regret, and hope about where we are.  Many of us will take the exit ramp right there, and drown in these thoughts and emotions.  Some of us divert ourselves from even feeling the emotions by watching television, drinking, eating, falling in love, etc…

Yet no matter how we try to avoid that call, that little phone will keep ringing.  Picking it up, even when it's yapping about what's wrong, is in fact a great step to take!  This is a really powerful moment of choice, and it's important to listen to the deeper message beneath the surface.  By identifying and dealing compassionately with the "chatter", we can get to what's really important.  Notice the voices that say, "If I really was meant to be successful, I wouldn't have wasted all this time." "I shouldn't have taken time off from my career while everyone else was getting ahead."  "There are so many people who want to succeed in my field more than me, how can I possibly make it?" 

Make a list of what all those voices say, and then put it aside for now.  Next, take a few deep breaths and quiet your mind.  What is the deep desire beneath your fears?  What is your spirit longing for?  What does your heart whisper to your ears?  This wish will never be extinguished. And even if you discover it in your last breath, it won't have been too late.  Each twist and turn along your journey has brought you to this perfect moment, and your soul has its own perfect way of fulfilling its purpose right where you are, right now.  Everything you need is available to you now. 

Could you summon the courage to surrender to your own spirit, just for this moment?

        -"The greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing."

        -Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working."

Creative Heart Welcome!

I'm looking forward to sharing insights, tools, and action steps for living your creative vision!

As an artist and comedian, I have direct experience pushing past creative blocks.  In my creativity coaching practice, I help artists move beyond creative blocks and support them to access the well of creativity, uniting meaning and money.  I support you to be your gift to the world.

-Alicia

       “And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” -Walt Whitman