Editing

Editing a documentary is a tedious, painful, and glorious process. My editor and I have been watching hours upon hours of footage of Invisible.  This is not only my documentary filmmaking debut, but I am also a character in this personal film.  Invisible traces my search for knowledge regarding the little known, often debilitating syndrome called Fibromyalgia. I’ve had the good fortune to interview my mother, meet four other amazing women to chronicle, and investigate the syndrome by speaking with hundreds of patients, experts, and physicians. From all of this incredible information my editor, co-writer, and I are attempting to carve out a cohesive, focused story.

As an artist, I am continually making corrections or changes in my work. When in flow, I allow creative projects to ebb in and out without attachment. When I am not flowing I feel stuck, angry, anxious, and overwhelmed. Ultimately,  I have the opportunity to shape my life by being my own editor. As a multidimensional creative, I try my hand at something that might feel scary because something that I’m currently doing just doesn’t feel right.  It is like one of those “choose your own adventure” books from  childhood. There isn’t one right story; there are only options.

I can even edit how I see life. My personal daily “sadhana” practice guides me to my inner compass. Every morning I practice asana (postures) and sit in meditation to listen to my highest self. When attentive to that guide, the Great Creator, I  bring consciousness to my heart’s desire and knowledge to where it should be edited and focused.

Exercise 1:

Edit your wardrobe! Take everything out of your closet. If you have not worn something in a year, pull it aside. It will not come back in style. It just won’t!  Then go back to the remaining clothes. If you do not LOVE an article of clothing, get rid of it!

Exercise 2:

De-Clutter your life with the trash bag challenge. Take a single trash bag through your home and fill it with items to give away. If you are questioning an object, ask yourself a most simple question: “Does this bring me joy?” If you hesitate, let it go. You will be surprised by how fast the bag will fill up!

The Good Will or any other reputable charity is happy to take your edits and offer you a tax donation letter in exchange!

Exercise 3:

Now that you have created space in your home, take a trip to that local thrift store or five and dime. Give yourself thirty minutes  and a financial limit (Mine is $20). Scan the store for anything that inspires you. Once you unearth it, transport it home and offer it a special space or place of prominence. Perhaps even write a story, compose a song, or create a piece of art inspired by it.

A Prayer for Creative Manifestation

A Prayer for Creative Manifestation

O Great Creator,

Give me strength.

Allow me to begin without fear or judgement.

Help me explore with humility and humor.

Introduce me to new possibilities.

Deliver calm to my resistance.

Focus energies.

Enable sharing of the creative force.

Grant courage to take direct action from a new angle.

May abundance flow.

Let gratitude be the mantra.

Trust Your Instinct

As an artistic child, I created on blind trust. I colored outside the lines, took two toys and positioned them together to form something new, wrote plays that were non-linear, and choreographed new dance steps.

Around adolescence I was taught critical thinking. The Little Nick in me desperately wanted to be the best. I believed my teachers and was rewarded. I learned techniques that sharpened my skills. I grew.

But over time, the little instinctual voice I honored as a child was taken over by The Big CT. He was a sensible adult, and his voice grew with intensity, becoming opinionated and loud. Eventually he brought a chorus of voices with him. Because of this cacophony of sound, I could no longer hear or express my truth. I lost my guidepost. Until I discovered the gut brain.

In the Tantric system, the third chakra (Manipura Chackra), is located just above the solar plexus. The yogic theory is that there is great intelligence in this area.  Personal power, self-esteem, and self-discipline all reside within this part of the body, as does your instinct.

Even western medicine is beginning to explore the concept of a second brain in the gut. Known as the enteric nervous system, there are neurons embedded in the walls of the alimentary canal, the long tube of your gut.


“The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system”,  says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. “This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to feel the inner world of our gut and its contents.”

Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and bio behavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, says, “The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon. A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut.”

When I feel butterflies in my stomach, for example, it is my nervous system’s response to psychological stress.  That is information. And once I start paying attention, by noticing the sensations and feelings, I have an understanding of myself. I can apply that to all areas of my body. That knowledge is the key to intuition. When I listen to that quiet instinctual voice within,  I can make fruitful decisions.

Does this sound overwhelming?

Start small. Ask yourself a simple question. “Do I like cantaloupe?”, or  “Is my favorite color blue?”  Where in the body do you FEEL the answer? Is there tightening, or is it at ease?  Over time, you will begin to understand the signals of the body. Then you can respond accordingly.

Another technique is to try five minutes a day of mindfulness meditation. Sit quietly either on the floor or in a chair with your back straight. Close your eyes and follow your breath. When a thought comes up, notice it. Then allow it to pass.  Try not to form judgement or opinion about anything that you observe.  Over time, you will be able to discriminate between what is noise and what is truth.

Trust is a daily practice. When I listen to my body and the wise inner voice, it leads to art in a playful and authentic way. With the freedom to explore, I co-create with the Great Creator.

Inspiration

This week I’ve been questioning the origin of inspiration. The root of the word “inspire” means spirit, and to take in or to draw breath.  In yoga that it is referred to as “prana” the sustainer of life, also known as my “life-force”. If breath is everything, maybe every little thing can inspire me?

In my youth, the film Xanadu taught me about imagination. In this movie musical, nine muses visit the earth to help motivate others to pursue their dreams and desires. One of the muses (Olivia Newton John) is incarnated as a girl named Kira, and with the assistance of Danny, (Gene Kelly) a man she inspired forty years before, they guide artist Sonny (John Travolta)  to open a roller disco. I loved this horrible film!  I sang and danced on our shag carpeted living room floor to its soundtrack and choreographed new dances to its disco beat.  Most importantly, it taught me that creation might come from beyond me.

I have been told there is no such thing as originality and only seven stories exist that are retold in different ways. Therefore, I’m drawing from the collective unconsciousness. Perhaps it is the dance of my breath with that of the universe. People find all sorts of ways to tap into this unconscious dance, such as prayer, meditation, yoga, singing and running.

“I actually tend to be moving in some form when I am being my most creative with new ideas”, says Broadway actor Josh Davis. “I could be driving or walking or playing fetch with my dog, but the movement allows my mind to think of other stuff while my sub conscious can go snooping for creative ideas.”

My multi talented writer-actor-educator friend Daniel Lendzian says, “Anything can (and does) inspire if you allow it. I try to focus more on opening the channel, looking at things from different angles, and allowing myself to be vulnerable.”

I tend to access that channel in the shower. There is something about the relaxation of the body, the trickle of the rain-like water, and the soothing sound that places me in an almost meditative trance. I often wish I had a pad of paper and pen in there!  It feels like the dance of co-creation.

In this crazy world you are constantly bombarded by images and sounds, with more coming daily. That’s an abundance to absorb, but it allows for ideas to arrive more frequently. How do you choose from so many options? The idea will be so nagging that you can’t help but write, paint, or compose it. If it doesn’t nag, you shouldn’t do it. Let that breath be someone else’s muse.

Exercise:

Keep an Inspiration folder on your computer. Anytime something thrills you, put it in there. It can be images, websites, articles, mems, or anything you truly love. When you are lost for the next idea or project, simply open the folder and find a treasure trove of possibilities.

Exercise:

Take a bath. Perhaps add some essential oils or lavender. As you lie in the tub, begin to notice your breath without attempting to change it. After a few rounds of breath, begin to lengthen the inhalation and the exhalation, taking a pause at the end of both. Allow the water to surround you, but do not pass out!  Let whatever thoughts come as they may, but do not focus on them. Once you have entered a relaxed state, and something sticks, you know the muse has found you.