While creating the piece Coffeehouse Zen, not many people knew the personal connection that I had to the creative process of this work. It all began with an unexpected career shift. Being a planner, I literally planned everything in my life from how I would run my rehearsals with my dancers to how I would plan my week. So to have this unexpected shift really threw me for a loop. I did not handle it well. There was something about the unknown that was more anxiety provoking than exciting. I was terrified and felt like I had nothing to fall back on. Even the words of loved ones didn’t bring much comfort.
That’s how I ended up in a coffeehouse. I had my journal to brainstorm my ideas and my laptop, opened to the performers application of Seattle International Dance Festival’s Art on the Fly. There were many questions… How many dancers are in your piece? Do you see your piece utilizing the venue? How will you accentuate the surrounding environment? Will your movement be traveling or will it be stagnant? The questions were endless. Once again, I had to plan. But instead of using logic to guide me, I used my emotions of anger, uneasiness, fear, and confusion to guide me. I was feeling lost and just started to find comfort in quotes that reflected my thoughts.
It was through these quotes that I saw the connectivity that they had with each other. It felt like I was reading a movie script that had a beginning that transitioned into a hopeful ending. Then I had my “AHA!” moment. What if I could create a work that revolved around 3 quotes, reflected in 3 individual pieces, and were executed like chapters in a book? The creative momentum started to unravel and there I was sitting for hours in that coffeehouse drafting out every emotion that I was feeling and translating it into art. It felt liberating.
This article is called “Finding Comfort During Transition”. I will be honest that although this creative process was therapeutic, I had to seek help for the feelings of anxiety that constantly showed itself. I pride myself of being able to be flexible but this somehow backfired. The ease to adjust suddenly felt like unbearable hurdles, like I was trying to jump over it but could never fully accomplish that challenge. I felt defeated. Having a perfectionistic mindset, I struggled with idea of failing my own plan. It was through a conversation with my father where he let me know that things were, in fact, okay. Sometimes you can’t maneuver life, it has to maneuver you. And that in itself was scary but kept me wondering of what opportunities would come if I just “let things happen”.
Let’s be honest, change is scary but the only thing that is constant is change. Technology is evolving. Rules/laws continue to be modified to match its present time. We have to acknowledge that change is constant. If nature goes through cycles, humans also continue to grow with cycles.
If you ever find yourself feeling uneasy, here are some things that might be helpful:
- Journaling – Write about what’s changing. Write about your feelings. Write about your thoughts and your fears. Allow yourself to write your most honest thoughts and don’t censor your emotions.
- Think of the hopeful possibilities that can come from change – Humans are resilient. We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We have survived horrible situations but yet we are here. Or if this is too nerve wrecking, try this next tip.
- Breathe – Find a time and place to concentrate on your breathing. Our breath is connected to our health. It is a no brainer that when we are anxious, we are more prone to a panic attack or an asthma attack. Breathing is essential and it has the power to center yourself.
- Be patient with yourself – We talk about how we can take care of ourselves but rarely do we talk about acknowledging how far we have come and how we should give ourselves more credit. Have permission to be okay with not being okay. Give yourself gentleness. If we can afford to give others patience and kindness, we should also be able to give this to ourselves.
We underestimate the power that we have within ourselves. Most times that means we have to put our mind over matter. We got this!