Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What you give away, will come back to you tenfold

And in the end, the love you take is equal to.. The love.. You make. 
                                                    - The Beatles, "The End"

There is a growing struggle for us who are of the generation born prior to the millennium babies...Some of us endure in silence, some of us endure in anger and frustration, and some of us attempt to endure in the giving of our knowledge and awareness...

This age of quick fix, insta-satisfaction, I want what I want and I want it now...There are those who do not understand or engage in the concept that what you receive, is equal to or greater than that which you give. Business has always had its moments of " What can you do for me"... But the foundation of proven success has always had a context of "how can I serve you?" Now more than ever have I experienced the heartbreaking fact that we are in a take what you can now because you never know what will be available later mentality. It's destructive, shallow, temporary, and a disconnected way to exist let alone do business.

Honestly you want to ask yourself why you are so exhausted, why are you so drained and why at the end of the day we feel like we've put out all we've got, yet we feel empty? What we do not realize is we are either holding ourselves back from what we can give or have been on the other end being withheld from what we can receive. Some call it hustling in jest but truth be told if your idea of networking and marketing is all about telling the world what you do, and that's it...There is a reason why no one is biting your line. It has nothing to do with the competition, it has little to do with how educated you are, and little to do with how "business savvy" you are. It has to do with your way of being and generosity about what you want to give to the world. This directly correlates back to "why" you do what you do.

Think about it this way: Say you are in conversation at a party. You meet a "celebrity makeup artist". You start a conversation and in that conversation you talk about the struggles you are having with your business. The celebrity artist's response to most of your story is accolades on what they've done with so 'n so celebrity, and by the way they are teaching a workshop/seminar/webinar that you should sign up for because they will cover all the answers as to what to do in that situation. You were not opposed to getting more education about it, but in that moment you were looking to share info and not drop $500 to learn from someone that you have no idea what their teaching style is or if what they teach will be worth that kind of money. An alternative scenario is this: you engage in conversation with this person, and they listen and ask you questions to find out more. They tell you they understand your scenario because they've been there. They give you a little nugget of information that gives you some perspective and then offer you to attend a webinar or seminar that might help them in that scenario. You feel kinda connected to that person now so you are inspired. When you ask how much it costs, they say free. You feel elated and relieved someone with so much experience is offering this and you say yes immediately. Now out of the two scenarios, which of the two would you be more willing to buy more education from?

Another scenario... Let's put you on the other end. You meet a woman at a party. She is an up and coming actress. She shares with you she has the worst luck with makeup artists. They all either don't know what they are doing, or they don't get who she is and what she wants to look like. Version one of you sees this as an opportunity for a job and whips out your card. You tell her how long you've been doing makeup, what type of makeup you specialize in, and who you've done makeup for. She takes your card, and thanks you. Version two: you sympathize with her saying you hate when people don't listen to you or get who you are. You ask her what is the kind of makeup does she like, or what's the image or brand she is going for. You listen to her and make an effort to understand what her story is. After she is done you try to internalize what she is going for, show her some images on your phone of ideas you have. You share with her WHY you got into makeup in the first place, because people like her should be expressed as the best version of themselves inside and out, and you love being a part of that. You start to create a connection. Then you offer her to meet up for a trial, as you want to show her some ideas you have. You tell her you will give her a discounted price because you understand that finding a good makeup artists is not easy, and if she likes you then great, perhaps you can work together further. If not, then as least she doesn't pay through the nose to find out, but you are almost positive she will be happy. Now again, which scenario is more likely to a) get a phone call and create a new client , and b) have that person feel more confident in doing business with you?

The issue people have with both these scenarios on the "giving" side is they are often worried about being taken advantage of or wasting time. What if the seminar sucks? What if the actress never hires you? Well I get it, but the truth is you are more likely to gain trust from your potential client and/or give trust to your potential educator because you get both of you love what they do and neither are just doing it because they want money. When people take the time to connect with you, that is a form of giving, and finding out the best way to possibly serve you. It doesn't mean you dumb down your rates or your self worth. It means you produce such quality services you are willing to give some of it away to show you are confident they will agree with you. They not only will then believe in your business and buy more from you at the value its worth, but become a loyal reoccurring client. In reality, if someone feels like they are doing business with a human being and not a money hungry ego drone, they feel more comfortable spending money with you. Its considered and investment. People want to give their business to a company, brand, or proprietor who comes from the context of a giving heart. As my friend Simon Sinek says:

 and further more...

So ask yourself, what of my gifts can I give? What are some unique ways I can connect with people in regards to WHY I do what I do? Here at BoA, we believe in telling your story in an inspiring, colorful, unique way.  We believe in supporting our community in telling their stories so others are inspired by their gifts. That why we write this blog. That's why we do some free seminars, and we are always an open door to create space for empowering and inspirational opportunities that assist you in growing YOUR purpose. So think about it... how can you gift someone a piece of yourself?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

80% of this simple thing is the first key to success...

I have been teaching Body Painting at the Make Up For Ever Academy this week, and as per who I am, my teaching is never just involves talking about technique. The students and I got into a discussion about ways to be successful as an artist whether you are a makeup artist, hair stylist, fashion designer, painter, writer, musician, or any creative trade…

I began to talk about the concept of not being afraid to fail…To keep doing the work knowing you will fail a few times, in fact if failure doesn't match in percentage to success, you probably could work a lot harder. A student raised her hand and asked “While developing yourself in this industry, we hear so often ‘be a harsh critique of yourself, and only show the very best work you can do. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Because of that I feel I always need to second guess my work, and it paralyzes me. How do you get through that and know what's good and what's not?”

I brought up my favorite quote by Andy Warhol on the screen:

Then I proceeded to tell her and the class what I know to be true as an artist… The key to success is obsession, not perfection. And 80% of success is just showing up (Woody Allen said that.) Most give up or stop their own process because they tried once and failed, and they allowed the pain and embarrassment of rejection, or the fear of not being good enough, to stop them. But if you are OBSESSED, and you keep showing up, keep writing everyday, keeping painting everyday, keep playing everyday, out of 50 tries you not only could get 20 successes, but 40 awesome lessons in what does NOT work (what you might call a FAIL). This is how you become an expert. I asked the class… DID YOU BECOME AN ARTIST TO GAIN OTHER PEOPLE’S APPROVAL? UM...NO. (Well maybe you did, some of us have some issues to work out). Hopefully we became artists because we were so powerfully pulled from our gut that this was something we wanted to do, this was the medium in which we could express our gifts, and seeing the difference it made in people gave us just a good a high if not better than any drug we could get our hands on. But just like any relationship, when you first start on the road to making your obsession into a profession… you realize the sparkles and lose a little bit of its luster when you realize it IS work to maintain. And just like a committed relationship it is not the world’s responsibility to make it better for you, its up to you to TRANSFORM yourself to make it work.

In meditation (which so many find so difficult), a successful practice does not start with being in perfect zen, 15 minutes of pure quiet focus, and inner peace...a master will tell you it starts with showing up to the pillow everyday.  We are in an age of such immediate satisfaction, that if we do not see the result here and now, we give up, move on, find the next cheaper and faster thing that serves temporary fast results that will not stand the test of time.

People… you cannot become a master at ANYTHING with quick and fast. Everything has its season it must progress through to create a true foundation: a birth/new beginning, a childhood/an exploring phase, a vocational practice/the process on doing it religiously and making it you, and a master/elder level, taking your knowledge and giving it back. You cannot skip from birth to master…you cannot become an expert without ever making a mistake...without making a shit ton of mistakes. We live in an age of thousands mediocre artists, but a choice few masters, and there is a reason. Because the masters looked beyond having perfect work, and just wanted to do it everyday, not giving a sideways glance at the mistakes they made. All the while the mediocre artists sit and complain there isn't enough work, or they are not making enough money. They end up quitting and do a job they don’t love because they do not have the obsession to make their passion a living. 

Do you know how many people I have met who swore up and down they would be in my next workshop, or leadership program and never show up? Know how many people I’ve mentored who say they want to be a leader in this industry, and be a success, but cannot take an ounce of constructive feedback without getting offended or defensive? (they say they want to change, but don’t have the cojones to show up). Promises to build their portfolio, promises to assist people, promises to learn Photoshop, learn a new language, learn to play the piano… but they never show up?! Even when you don’t feel like it, even when the passion falters, even when you doubt yourself (especially when you doubt yourself)...just show up to the pillow, and be there to receive and do the work. The day you miss class, might be the day that vital information was available that could change your life.

So just show up. Follow your commitment, not your feelings. Showing up no matter what builds strength, character, accountability, confidence, and mastery. Mastery also comes from making lots of mistakes, so take risks knowing you will make them, and they will serve you in becoming the expert in the thing you love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Artist Summit Continued: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Last we spoke I left off telling my account and experience of the Artist Summit in PTown back in the beginning of October. I specifically stressed the details of what I took away from my friend Charlie Wan's topic "Finding Your Everest".

I'd like to take a moment to delve deeper into the account of my "experience"... And how it applies to many of us in what we are currently experiencing: a seemingly full earthquake within the foundation of what we know and what we can count on when it comes to our careers.

As I had mentioned last time, Charlie's talk took us through several iterations of his career.

Charlie 1.0 was an Art Director of Digital Moving Imagery, Charlie 2.0 had a career in Fashion Photography, and Charlie 3.0 came about after a spiritual part of his journey brought him to his true calling, music. Unfortunately, as his presentation was limited to only 90 minutes, he did not get as in depth as he would have liked. However, for a few of us, we would not only get to hear the full story...we got to experience it.

On Thursday morning I sprung up from my bed with no alarm at exactly 6:30am. This was insanely miraculous being that I went to bed at 2am. Totally in a "happy place" from crooning for hours at Purgatory Karaoke with the gang, there was definitely a divine influence in my energy and purpose. My mind immediately remembered there was going to be a sunrise meditation on the breakwater rocks with Charlie. Luckily that was practically right outside the back door of my room. So I scrambled from bed, threw on whatever was lying on the floor including warm hoodie scarf and hat and ran outside. I tiptoed out to where the group was, about a dozen people including Stephanie Flor, Joe Dellude, Mahasin Phillips, Marlu Soria, Aga , Ahbi Nishman and a few others from the summit. I took a spot right next to Charlie and sat in silence as this beautiful euphoric music filled the air from his tiny bluetooth speaker. As I got present to my view, the sun was still hidden behind the horizon but the sky was already lit up with this open dreamy light that went from a cool violet to saturated pinks and corals. The highlight of fiery neon orange yellow began to rim the edge of of the clouds right above the sea.  What amazed me was the music was in perfect sync as though a soundtrack had been perfectly composed to evoke the feelings of the changing light. As the colors transformed, so did the music. The music seeped into my body, having my energy match that of the rising sun. As the sun finally broke and kissed our faces the music intuitively climaxed a resounding echo of strength and vulnerability.  I couldn't believe how well matched it was with what my eyes saw...but more importantly grounded and fused me with the message of a new day, new possibility through my heart and soul...such a deep vibration tears welled up in my eyes.

It was shortly after this moment Charlie began to tell us about the real call to his 3.0, his purpose, and how the Hilary Step of his journey was a pinnacle point where it almost didn't happen.  

He had been composing for a while, and knew there was a draw to creating music but wasn't connected to why, or what purpose it served other than he liked doing it and he could make music that sounded "cool".  After a while he began to feel disappointment in what he was created.  He didn't think it was "special" or "that good", and maybe this was not what he was supposed to be doing, and he should perhaps just go back to what he was good at and find fulfillment in that. So he made a decision to quit.  But he decided he would compose one more piece. This he would do on a Sunday, and after that, he would put it away forever. But this last time he decide to compose from a different place. Not from a place of what he thought sounded cool, but a deeper place. He decided to compose from his heart, and let the music tell the story of his feelings and emotions in this process.

It only took him 4 hours to finish the piece. The process had taken so much out of him, he decided to put it on an MP3, email it to his lyricist/vocalist Danielle for her feedback, and went straight to bed.  He arose the next morning at around 6 and opened his email. Danielle had wrote him back and attached another MP3. She was so taken and inspired by this music she stayed up to write and sing lyrics to the piece, recorded it and immediately sent it back to him.  When he opened the file and listened to it, his heart filled up with overwhelming emotion. It pulled on his heart in a way that he began to cry.

As he told us this part he began to get emotional and choked up. He said that he had almost given up on his calling and his "passion", but if he hadn't pushed himself through this Hilary Step, to battle the conversation in his head, he would have not created that piece and discovered his calling to create music from the heart. 

At this point I began to cry. Not just because I felt compassion and empathy for his experience, but because he was telling my story. To think that the music I just "experienced" might have never existed had Charlie given in to the conversation in his mind, and ignored the conversation of his heart. The fact that almost happened made me begin to recognize all the challenges and obstacles I have encountered in the last year, all the times I questioned myself and my ability of how big I could grow, how many people I could touch with my art, my mentor ship and my vision. How every time I took committed action on growing bigger some crazy thing would happen that would shake my foundation and set me back to the previous "base camp" on my Mt. Everest. And I'm not talking about little things... I'm talking about HUGE things (My family going through the hardest times we've ever encountered, a 10 year legal battle that keeps resurfacing that continually have to spend my savings on, turning a two man company into a global entity). I remember there was a moment last year in December I sat in the middle of the streets of Chicago right after I had done a training, crying my eyes out to my mentor/friend/coach on the phone that maybe I shouldn't have a Leadership Program, because it was just too damn hard, and too much is going on in my life to handle it. He assured me that things will undoubtedly fall apart a few times while you are creating something big...and if its not, then your are doing something wrong, or not working hard enough

But this my friends has been my Hilary Step. To keep my eye on what I love, and stay OBSESSED with it. If I give up when it gets hard, who knows what would never be. I need to remember hard times are a sign to work harder, look at discovering ways not only to move past obstacles, but adapt to changes, and find ways to excel.  You just need to change your mind about it,  educate yourself, find support, and listen to your heart with a dash of sensibilities from your head.

So those of you who are feeling the real impact of a changing the "makeup App takeover"...the Glamsquads, the GlamApps, BeGlammed (seriously, can't they come up with more original fucking names? LOL)... you need to take a deep breath and know that the first plane that broke the sound barrier shook VIOLENTLY and seemingly almost fell apart before it popped through to smooth sailing breaking every record of speed known to man. There were many tries before, that freaked out the pilot so much he landed the plane out of fear for the turbulence and losing control.  But the one flight that made it, the pilot held his seat, tried something different, and pushed through, not giving up.  (true story check it out:

So hold your seat friends, these times are a changing, and we need to become more educated in business and create intimate relationships with our clientele through excellent customer care, followups, gift, blogs (um HELLO), newsletters, smart social media with solid marketing and branding presence, and continuing to stay on point and on game with tools, techniques, trends and what problems a client needs you to solve as an artist. Such that someone will rather pay more to have you, then do a quick fix on an app.

Breathe deep my friends, the Hilary step is real, and happening to all of us now. The question is are you committed to reaching the top no matter what or how long it takes? Will you be looking for other ways to circumvent the obstacles, or will you take the long trek backwards because it gets too hard? And if you do that's ok. Just know the journey to your heart and fulfillment is a vulnerable journey, but we are all on it trust the process.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Looking Back on the Artist Summit: Your Hillary Step : Part 1

So it's been a few weeks since I got home from Provincetown...I had an amazing week being inspired and being a part of a collective of people who want to motivate and inspire others.

No matter how much time passes from that experience, the lessons I learned at the ARTIST Summit are more profound today than they were when I was there and I want to have the opportunity to share them with you.

First of all I'd like to acknowledge Michael DeVellis and James Vincent for continuing to elevate what the ARTIST Summit is and has been. I was at the Artist Summit in 2013 as an educator (not keynote), and although there were other events in the past called the "artist summit" provided to you by The Powder Group, in 2013 the event formed into was the first ARTIST Summit in its full capacity of what it was meant to be. THIS year however, the event got even deeper, and more rich with context, as each presenter though focusing on different topics, had this eery yet divine flow and connection within each other as to what we all intended to get out there. Here was influential industry leaders coming together to speak not on "how tos" or skill techniques, but on the personal experiences in our journeys that got us where we are and has informed who we were meant to be. This is followed by two days of hands-on education with some of these instructors. And all of this was in the magical location of Provincetown Massachusetts, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Let me give you a very brief history of Provincetown and why this place is so special. If you look at Provincetown on a map it is actually the tip of Cape Cod, curving up to a point and facing the wide open ocean towards Europe. In fact some people say it looks like a middle finger as this would be the first place settlers called home after escaping the tyranny of monarchs. (You know me, give me a good F.U. any day, and I'm all about it). Provincetown has such rich and diverse history, known especially for the people who came to find refuge where in other places they were not accepted. For example, many slaves settled in the area after the Civil War. It has since become the leading artist colony in the United States. Artists dating back to the 1800's have come here to paint the amazing light that P town offers. The artist communities that formed went on to generate artistic movements. If you have seen any of the sunrise or sunset pictures I have posted you’ll understand that this place has light like no other, evoking artistic inspiration from deep within. I think it was Aly Haug who turned to me and said the light is like a permanent “perpetua” filter from Instagram. Every time I roll into P-Town down Commercial Street, and look to my left and see the light dancing on the harbor water, my heart wells up with overwhelming gratitude and inspiration for all the art that I have not yet created but have the blessing of every moment to begin. I try never to miss the sunrise while I'm in P-town.

Now getting back to the ARTIST Summit. It's vitally important to understand that just being there in P-Town starts to open your heart to creative possibilities. There is an unspoken spirit that moves you while you receive the information that the ARTIST Summit provides.
So what I love about the context James and Michael set up with each presenter when it comes to delivering at the ARTIST Summit is that they are to give a talk on a subject that has little to do with the techniques they use as a creative professional. They asked us all to speak on the subject matter of vital importance in our industry that we have embodied with the lessons we've acquired throughout our personal journeys. This already takes the context of the three days several levels deeper as it touches something in the heart and soul of every person in the room. In fact, in my experience of talking to others there is usually one or two presenters that have the exact perfect message that one person needs to hear in that moment. It hits them like a ton of bricks and starts to open their heart in ways that they never imagined.

Even though I came to the ARTIST Summit to present the importance of leadership and influence in our industry, I am always a student. The talk or the "experience " that hit me the most was Charlie Wan's Finding your Everest. Charlie Wan is a long time friend that I met through Mari Shten (fellow TPG Pro Member, Evolutioneer, amazing and creative woman and artist).

I met him as the fashion photographer which he would describe to you as “Charlie 2.0”. Charlie went on to describe the accounts of his life in the different phases that he journeyed through to get to the point where he is now. This journey consisted of poignant shifts in his career, changing from what he was really good at and made lots of money with to where his passion and his heart are. He refers to these versions of himself as phases Charlie 1.0, Charlie 2.0, and Charlie 3.0. You compare these phases of his life to the journey one must take if they decide they want to reach the top of Mount Everest. If you look it up it's not as straightforward as you think; In order to acclimate your physical and mental being to survive the high altitudes of the “summit” or top, you must do many trips forward, and many trips back before you can move ahead. But the most perilous part of the journey is the very last trek to the top. It's called the “Hillary Step”, aptly named after Sir Edmund Hillary. He was the first person, along with Tenzing Norgay, to scale it on the way to the summit. This leg of the trip is the most difficult because it is the highest elevation and it takes about 15 breaths to accomplish each step, and the pressure at that elevation is indescribably intense. People have died climbing Hillary Step, and some need to return to base camp several times before they make it to the top. Charlie Wan described the journey to his 3.0 as his Hillary Step.

Charlie’s calling to the passion in his heart is that takes someone from their head to their heart. Interestingly enough, Charlie’s talk at the summit was so rich with info he ran out of time before he could fully tell us about this “3.0” part of his journey. But what's so perfect and even better...two days later, as the sun rose on the breakwater rocks, a group of us gathered and watched the sunrise while we listened to Charlie’s music in silence...which was a perfect soundtrack in every he was composing it in that moment as the colors of the sky changes. As the sun broke the horizon, the music changed, filling our souls with light and breath and possibility. My whole body was buzzing with emotion. As the sun surpassed the horizon, Charlie began to tell us the story of how he transitioned into Charlie 3.0, and how during his Hillary Step, he almost gave up. To think that something that can so profoundly move someone from their soul with no words, and it almost didn't happen...

The thing is, we all have a Hillary Step. Each one of us will experience the most harshest challenges on the path to our dream and our calling, things that will make us question if this is really what we are supposed to do. I myself have had one of the most challenging years of my life. But when I experience these things, I know it's because I am on the precipice of something great, and I just need to travel that Hillary step to get to the summit. I have been hearing how so many people are afraid of losing work due to these APPs that keep popping up, seemingly taking work away from them…that it’s making their career too hard, and they may need to give up and take another job. But this is not a sign to give up! This is a sign to shift, change how you do things, to expand... to push yourself, even though everything around you says you should quit….

Next time I’ll tell you the story Charlie told us on the rocks, and my experience presenting and how it shifted me, and how all of it ties into who you get to be, and things you can do to push yourself through your Hillary Step. How you can take committed action on your career and your dream so that no one can threaten to take your work away….. Until next time folks...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Being a part of something bigger: Taking a stand with my art

Why are you here, on this earth? I’m genuinely asking you to pause for a moment to consider. What’s important to you, what do you stand for? How do you express that? What are you going to say with your life?

Helping people, pragmatism, and self expression are important to me. I stand for the spirit of giving, and for people overcoming their obstacles. I’m excited by colors, sparkles, and clean line work. I want people to know they are capable of creating a life they love, and it’s my mission to experience this life to its utmost capacity.

My art is one of the best tools I have to get people to really hear my ideas (aside from showing some skin...people tune into that quickly too). Body painting is bright, unusual enough for a second look, and so alive that it craves interaction.

When the Desnudas hit the news, Dani was very vocal with me about her opinion of the whole thing. Body paint in the media, and it gets portrayed like THAT?! I knew I was dissatisfied with the mixing of the art form I love and cherish with the “cause celebre” of public nudity. We vented about it to each other at length. The masses don’t get how beautiful, colorful, detailed, and magical this art form can be...they just see boobs in paint plastered all over the news stories. What the Desnudas do it fine. It’s valid, it serves a purpose...But what they do is not what we do. They make tourists stop and stare; We make art. I wanted people to know the wonders that body paint can be outside of this gimmicky nudity conversation.

Dani decided to coordinate a team of colleagues to create an installation of body paintings in Times Square, using incredible artistry to bring a positive spin to body art. The project would be called Art Transcends: Changing the Conversation about Art in NYC. Our goal was to create art what would “transcend nudity, gimmicks, and politics.” When Dani asked me to be on the lead crew of painters, I was quite tickled at the invitation. And also nervous, because she was asking artists with far more fame than I have. Athena Zhe, Yvonne MacInnis, Kyle Harder, and Suzanne Winwood would all be on the team. As the days neared, and things with the project started to go wrong, my nerves became increasingly palpable. It would have been really convenient to be “sick” the day of the project...which totally crossed my mind. But I knew I’d be there, because that’s what I was committed to - standing for my art form.
I hoped to make some great art, especially because I didn’t want to flop in front of peer artists...but great art was only a fraction of the project. The point was the tell a story, add our voice to the conversation, make people stop and see something in a way they hadn’t seen it before.

And it truth, I didn’t love the art I did that day. But oh my goodness, I loved the people. I loved the spirit in the room while we were prepping our models. I loved the Christian woman that came up to Dani and expressed her disapproval of public nudity, but said our project was great and no one would notice the nudity anyway. I loved the raucous approval on social media, the storm of likes and commentary debate that came through. I love that Michael Devellis from The Powder Group was so blown away by our project that he chose to share it with his makeup community via an article in On Makeup Magazine. We definitely had people talking, and finally about something other than painted ta-ta’s. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! #ArtTranscends!

This project and it’s message was so much bigger than me. My minor existential issue was a mere footnote of that day. And at the end of it, I’m so glad I let it be a fleeting thought instead of a meltdown. My b.s. was so petty in comparison to the things we created that day. I was about to hold “not looking bad” as a higher priority than our mission. Instead I checked my commitment, and remembered I had something to say that needed to be heard.
Stand for what you believe in,

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The "healthy busy person" is not a mythical creature

As we embark on yet another fashion week, where some of us beauty art professionals run ourselves ragged, I find myself inspired by the BoA Lp 3 team (aka Heart 2 Heart) who have made it their mission to inspire others to be aware and take actionable steps to improve their health and wellness.  This is a focus out project they have been creating for the past month and it has certainly got me thinking. I for one have had fashion week seasons where at the end I feel like the bottom of someone's shoe (after walking through Canal Street on a slushy winter day), and some seasons where I feel like I could go for round two. What is the difference you may ask? When I put concerted effort toward keeping atop my wellness during a busy time, the hangover most of us experience is significantly less treacherous.  

We have the excuse that we are "too busy" to be healthy and take care of ourselves. Only problem is that a repeat performance of this excuse and the ignorance it comes from can cause irreversible damage on our bodies as we get older. The kind of damage that had we known while we were doing it we'd give anything to go back and do it differently.

So in this article I'd like to share some tips to staying healthy and being centered while we have an insanely busy schedule.

1. BE a healthy person, do not "try" to be one.

Creating the mindset that will get you through a crazy few weeks is the essential foundation to feeling good. Without grounding yourself in being a person who is healthy and makes healthy choices, all the rest quite frankly doesn't mean shit. If you think you will only be healthy when you're eating more greens and exercise more, well there's a back door to sneak out of if I've ever heard one. How about coming from a place that you are healthy NOW, therefore the choices you make continue to support the healthy being you are. Like those bracelets that say "What would Jesus do?".... Well change that to "what would a healthy person do?" .... When they open the fridge... When they look at a craft service table... When they go for drinks after a show instead of getting extra rest...when they choose to smoke that cigarette or chew some gum etc.

2. Water is life. *Drops the mic*

Ugh! I am the worst water drinker but when I get into a habit of drinking it incessantly, especially when I'm busy, I notice a difference in my energy, my skin, my joints, my digestion...everything. It's vitally important to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day otherwise you risk being more tired than you would be if you were hydrated. Being tired from the day before carries into the next day and domino effect to the final day of fashion week when you want to just fall through your ass right where you stand. Good thing is most all craft services provide you with water. In fact the very first thing you should do when you wake up is have one glass of water. I know I know! For most of you your brain is saying 'coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee'. But while you are waiting for that coffee to brew you could be drinking a nice cold 8oz glass of water. Remember, coffee dehydrates you. So where you think in the middle of the day your 5th cup of coffee is going to get you through, it's not only a temporary rush but makes you more tired by the end of the day because you are dehydrating yourself. So make a conscious decision to replace coffee with water. You can take some vitamin B 12 via drops, pills, gummies, or chewables. This will give you a burst of energy without all the side effects and is longer lasting. In fact if you make it a habit to drink a glass of water before every meal and a glass of water midway between every meal, one when you wake up, and one before you go to bed you're only one cup away from the daily suggested intake. Unless you are a heavy coffee drinker, which means you may need to take in one glass of water per every cup of coffee you drink. Just try it... Even as an experiment...

3. But they only have bagels and donuts at the craft service table...

Yes I know. Being gluten intolerant has made me vastly aware of how inconsiderate people can be when deciding what to serve the hard-working people backstage. I for one am lucky that because of my allergy I cannot eat some of the stuff backstage.Yes, I said lucky. If they have fruit or yogurt I go for that.. If they have sandwiches I usually need to pull out the middle and eat that. Being forced to not eat all the carbs has definitely helped my energy levels. Those of you who do not have an allergy may also want to consider the intake of carbs throughout the day and how much energy your body takes to break it down and process it. I've also noticed other artists bringing little bags of healthy snacks in their bags to sustain them like almonds or cranberries or power bars. This of course is not sufficient meal replacement but may stop you from visiting the craft table 10 times. Also anytime you have the opportunity to eat green food, veggies or fruit... do it! Your digestive system needs these types of food to cleanse and filter out the toxins in your body. Toxins that remain in your body not only make you more tired but will affect your thinking and create a sort of fog that has you be less alert. 

So I hate to say it, but stop being lazy - think a couple of steps ahead. Prepack some small sustainable snacks, and do your best to make the best healthy choices backstage. 

4. Kick and streeeeeetch, and rub rub rub

Now that we've taken care of the inside of your body it is also important to take care of the outside of your body. Carrying a kit up and down and up and down and up and down stairs not only stiffens your joints but creates lactic acid in your muscles which if not stretched or rubbed properly will turn into an underground city of knots in your shoulders and legs. Just like exercise you need to take time every day to stretch every muscle that your utilized throughout the day. Sometimes you are bending over models, sometimes the arm you hold your brushes with is constantly being in use. These are the aches and pains you get when the week is over because you did not do your due diligence to stretch out those muscles or rub the forming knots. Put into practice doing a short stretch series when you wake up maybe even in the shower, one in the middle of the day, and definitely one before you go to bed. Rub down your legs with some lotion to keep the blood flowing and release the lactic acid that will become stasis if not treated. Put some warm wet towels on your shoulders to loosen up the muscles or take a hot bath (preferably with Epsom salts and/or lavender bubbles). This will loosen and treat your muscles so you can rub them easier. This will also help to minimize your stress levels.

5. To party or not to party, that is the question...

Yes I know fashion week has the most fabulous parties that we all love to go to to see who's-the-whatsits designer or celebrity, and meet all the amazing people you can network with. Trust me I know what it's like to balance working hard and partying hard. But in truth that's not really balance because when you party hard on top of working hard your body suffers. In our 20s and early 30s this is a little bit easier to recover from. But in our late 30s and 40s The rubber band doesn't snap back it just breaks. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about taking opportunities to have some fun and meet some amazing people, but this doesn't have to be every single night and definitely not on a night that I have to be at a show at 6 AM in the morning. You also don't need to drink or stay as long, but that's up to you. I say take a look at your whole fashion week or busy schedule and pinpoint the gaps that makes sense where going out and have an epic time won't annihilate you. I know the hardest thing to do is in the moment when someone says 'hey what are you doing tonight ? Let's go to this party' which you know will consist of you staying out later than you should and drinking tons of alcohol, getting hardly any sleep and essentially making you feel like crap the next day. If you're in a place where you're having the 'fuck it's' and you can responsibly will deal with the consequences then go for it! But if your vision for yourself is to be healthy and feel better at the end of the day then it's OK to say no. There will be other parties darling!

6. Give yourself time to de-stress.

Your mental and emotional well being need as much care as your physical well being. If you are overwhelmed with your schedule take 5 minutes to ground yourself and create intentions for the day. You are a superhero for sure, but not the kind that can defy the laws of gravity and circumvent the time/space continuum (at least not while you are awake). So be kind to yourself and do the best you can possibly do with the 24 hours you have. Make sure to give yourself time to unwind, shut your phone off when you get home, let your mind rest. Write down things you need to do on paper so you don't have to keep them in your head. Even be mindful of what you feed your brain ie: the magazines/books/newspapers you read, the TV shows/movies you watch, the conversations you have. Subject matter with high intense energy or negative content has the capacity to drain you more rather that let you rest. We are very attuned to the energy around us, so only pick up what you want to keep with you during this very busy time.

All in all my friends, changing habits does not happen overnight. It starts with awareness, commitment to change, and a vision of how you get to feel and be. We as makeup artists in NYC can get very busy. Often we suffer from things like fatigue, stress, ulcers, high blood pressure, varicose veins, migraines, bad skin, achy joints and a myriad of other things. As we get older these things turn into conditions that are difficult to reverse. Start now and take one step at a time to take care of yourselves. Remember there is only one you. We cannot get another one from the store if you break. Also there are so many more things in our lives we get to focus our attention on. Why waste the time on being sick or inhibited by an ailment? After all, our health is the foundation upon which we function. Be grateful you have it, and do what you can to take care of it. If you don't, who will?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Power of Vulnerability

In the many years I have been developing myself as a leader and a business owner, and the many consecutive years I have been supporting other artists in honing their leadership skills...there is one value many have struggled with time and time again. This value is often misconstrued in its meaning and impact. Because of this misconception, not only do people struggle more than they should have to, but they miss an amazing and freeing opportunity to strengthen their artistry and their business. This value is vulnerability.

When people hear the word "vulnerability" they often think weakness, or exposing the underbelly of who they are such that they become susceptible to being taken advantage of. The most unfortunate misconception is that vulnerability requires us to trust people that could be considered “dangerous”. But in truth, being vulnerable can be one of the most powerful ways of being that will have people trust YOU.

Two nights ago I realized how far I've come with practicing vulnerability while on a conference call with some of my most esteemed body painting colleagues. We are planning a project together that - if successful - will bring a great deal of awareness to true artistry in NYC. I was to propose my ideas prior to our call so we could discuss it during our phone conversation. For me, us working together and agreeing on a vision and concept was of the highest importance. When getting on the phone with them, I was given feedback that although the concept content was exciting and had potential, the details and ideas I had come up with were not quite there...lacking of utmost potential for impact. I will admit my ego stung a bit for a second and in a moments choice I took on vulnerability and opened my heart and mind to a bigger possibility. In truth my ideas were not fully in alignment with what I wanted to convey...and if I kept my ground out of stubbornness and protecting my ego I could have not only missed the mark but also lost the interest and respect of my peers. By the end of the call we were all pumped and agreed on a concept that excited all of us.

So how do you become aware of and practice the benefits of vulnerability? Brené Brown, a storyteller and researcher has examined vulnerability from the inside out. Her TED Talks presentation shows her personal journey in understanding the power of vulnerability. Some great insights for anyone looking to grow exponentially in personal potential, creativity, and business.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

When you don't feel like doing sh@#....

There are going to be moments during building your business when you quite honestly would rather chew glass than sit down at your computer and do all the tasks you know you need to do to push yourself forward in your business. This lull in motivation could be for a number of reasons; Perhaps because you're lacking inspiration, or you've been working tirelessly day in and day out to move progress forward, but you're not experiencing enough success. These are the times where you'd rather avoid or completely surrender to distraction. So what do you do when you plainly just don't feel like getting shit done, even though the rate of your success depends on it?

Well, you can take a hefty sigh of relief because this is absolutely normal. In fact if you say you have never experienced this you either have not been in business long enough or someone else is running your business for you (that would be nice). I've said it before time and time again that running your own business is one of the hardest jobs you could take on, however it reaps the most satisfying rewards. It is not for everyone. But in those times that you hit a stonewall where you seriously cannot get yourself to send out another social media post or make another sales call, I have some tips that have worked for me in the past. I'd love to share with you what will hopefully get you through the times you don't feel like doing shit.

#1. Give yourself a f$&@ing break!

First of all, if you start to go in that place of "I suck, why can't I stay motivated?" Just stop it. Like I said, we all go through this and it just means "Yes, that's right. You do own and run a business. Congratulations." This happens. So acknowledge yourself for working hard, and being human. Does it mean you need to quit because you are experiencing these feelings? HEEEEEELLLLL NO! Do you cut your finger and run to the hospital to get your arm amputated? I think not. So relax, it's not that serious.

#2. Take A Day Off!

Think about trying to use a marker that's running out of ink. That is what it's like when you try to push yourself to work when you have no steam or stamina. The integrity of the work suffers. Now when things are due, you may need to push yourself over the deadline, but there are days when you may just need to take the morning or the day off. Go to the beach, a movie, a museum...replenish your ink. Sometimes as freelancers even when we design our own schedule we spend everyday working or worrying about/on our business, but don't schedule time to recharge/regroup/or replenish. So do it! Just don't make a habit of it such that your business suffers.

#3 Motivation Loves Company

I'll guarantee you that you're not the only business owner you know who struggles with motivational issues. Creating a buddy system or an accountability partner can sometimes push you and someone else farther than if you were going to do it by yourself . It sounds crazy but having an accountability partner really does make a difference. If you gave your word to complete certain tasks but you are the only one holding yourself accountable, it's so easy to slack. But if you share that commitment with somebody else such that they will check in on you to make sure you stuck to your word, and you them...There is a certain urgency created because it's not just you. My Chief of Operations, Caitlin is my accountability partner. We check in with each other at least three times a week to make sure that we are on task. Of course I pay her, but if you're exchanging this service with another entrepreneur, it could be valuable for you both in the support you give each other.

#4 Create Office Hours 

When you work as a freelancer where your office is in your home and your studio is everyone else's location, your schedule can be kind of erratic and doing the necessary background work for your business can seem overwhelming. When you work a day job you go to the office have a lunch break and then at the end of the day go home and hopefully leave your work at the office. Essentially you clock in and clock out and you know what times are set for productivity. But at home I find it sometimes difficult with the distractions of everything else in my life to nail my butt down to the chair work on contracts, books, marketing and branding, and customer relationships. So I created a set of office hours for myself and I base them around times of the day I feel the most productive. 

I get up between seven and eight, go for my run, come home, shower, and call Caitlin to discuss our workload. By that time it's around 11 AM which is my high productivity time frame where I am most motivated to work. Whether it's blog writing or website updating I do not stop working until 1 PM. At that time I give myself a snack or lunch break and do something non-work related. At about 2 PM I start working on customer relations (my calls or answering emails), or giving attention to the leadership program. Around 4 I switch gears to do something more creative like face charts or designs, or photo shopping pictures. These are things I enjoy to do but is also great for end of the day wind down type activities. I also happen to work really well at night time so if I do not have a webinar or conference call I also take about two hours in the evening after dinner to do some last minute things.

Now on a day that I have a job obviously the schedule gets shifted to another free day of the week. This of course gets more challenging the busier I get such that when I do have a day off the last thing I want to do is office work. This is where I create a set of priorities that need to get handled first versus last such that the more important things get handled but I don't screw myself up.


My latest fun organization system is writing all my tasks down on post its and sticking them to my desk. I reorganize the Post-it's in order of priority such that the ones that need to be immediately handled are at the top and the ones that can be flexible at the bottom. As I finish a task or goal I crumple up that post it and throw it out and re-organize the order. That way I do have a busy week the moment I sit down at that desk I don't have to rethink the wheel and remember what it is I need to do. Motivation is much easier when you need to use less brainpower to get it going. So create a system for yourself that allows you to breathe easier and think less.

#6 Celebrate even the little things

Now I'm not one to pat myself on the back for every little tiny thing that I accomplish.  However sometimes when you don't feel like doing shit, it's because you're staring at the pile of overwhelming crap that you still need to do, and a game of candy crush with two glasses of wine seems extremely enticing (in my case this is creating five Dubsmashes or snap chatting aimlessly for an hour). It's time to look at all the things that you have accomplished as opposed to the things that you haven't. Focusing on the things that you haven't done is a recipe for taking the wind out of anybody sails. So in the grand scheme of what you get to accomplish for your business, look at how far you've come and look at all the hurdles you climbed over. When you complete even a minor project - whether its doing the books for the month, paying the bills, finishing cleaning or packing your kit - take a moment and celebrate the completion of one less thing you get to do. Where you focus your energy makes a huge difference how you feel about what you need to do.

In the end I know that when someone says to me "you're so lucky that you run your own business",  the first thought that runs through my mind "if you only knew". The struggle is real but in reality you're not the only one to goes through it. Everyday there are millions of us out there who have taken a strong amount of courage and the commitment to be their own boss do for a living what they love to do. I emphasize the phrase "get to do" versus "have to do", because in the end, being your own boss is a blessing, and a gift. Not many of us have the stamina to do it. But being grateful and thankful for that gift will take you a lot farther than cursing it every day you "don't feel like it". So remember to give yourself a break, replenish and refresh, know that you are not alone and that you can find partners to support you. Don't be a victim of your grungies (the "I don't feel like doing shit" moments), but create a system that will help push you through them, and celebrate with gratitude every day you get to create the work you love.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Power of the F#%k It

I was in Chicago this weekend, and I was having breakfast with my former student and friend Kate Johnson. We were discussing a lot of our plans for visions of our future careers and ways we wanted to really make a difference with what we do.  I was telling her the premise of our upcoming The Body of Artists Leadership Program and how it differed from other programs. The subject came up of what actually stops people from reaching their goals, from having the ultimate success that they envision for themselves. We both agreed that on the surface it is people's internal dialogue about money, about time, about their self worth. We talked about how each person has experienced the world differently and it's been a series of events that have occurred in their lives that give them evidence of how "life is". Based on these experiences and evidence people form their behaviors around trust, responsibility, integrity, communication, self worth, abundance, and connection. People are not born dishonest, lacking confidence, thinking they'll never make enough money, or not trusting people. These are learned behaviors.  The only way to truly breakthrough these seeming limitations is to first practice changing your mind about it, then take actionable steps towards proving the opposite of the original belief, creating new evidence.

Easier said than done, right? How do you go sky diving when you are petrified of heights? How do you get up on a stage to make a presentation when the thought of speaking publicly makes you want to puke? How do you go for an interview at your dream job when you do not think you have what it takes to do the job let alone land it? How do you meet the right person and get married when you have had your heart smashed? 

Well the method is easy. It fact anyone who has ever been inhibited from their dreams and goals by their fears and reached them anyway, has used this method. It's really no secret. The method is beholding this very simple concept. If there is a thing you want more than anything, yet you can't seem to get past your own shit to get it...then you need to say to yourself "OH WHAT THE FUCK, DO WHATEVER IT TAKES!" Or in short, get a good healthy case of the Fuck-its.

Now I know this in itself sounds reckless to some.  Coming from a promoter type personality, this is the jam to my toast. But there are things I too have been trepidatious about because of past beliefs and if it weren't for me going against my screaming psyche's advice and exercise a healthy FUCK IT, I wouldn't be here blogging to you right now.

What exactly is a "healthy FUCK-IT"? Well in my experience, when one has a seeming obstacle, a road block between them and their goal, and all the safe ways of circumventing this obstacle have failed, it's going to take a level of courage to be and do something out of your box...something outrageous, to jump this hurdle. This thing may be risky, but as long as you know all the risks involved, and are prepared to deal with whatever comes, and you go for it anyway...that is a "healthy fuck-it". For example, when I was going to leave my part time job to start my freelance career and company in 2003/04, I knew my finances would be challenged. I knew I was going to lose my stream of revenue that I could automatically count on. But if I didn't take this risk, I couldn't reach my goal of becoming my own boss and creating the company that is now The Body of Art. So to be responsible, I did save a little, and started talking to many others who did freelance about what to expect...and then I plugged my nose, walked the plank, and jumped ship into seemingly shark infested waters. I had to say to myself "Oh what the fuck, do whatever it takes". Another even funnier story: a friend/colleague of mine (who shall remain nameless) really wanted to not only make it in the industry, but make it big. She idolized Crystal Wright, and followed all her work, her talks, and scoped out her programs  She didn't just want to be educated by her, but she wanted to learn from her personally, and create a relationship with her. So she sent her emails, called her...but to no avail, she could not get a response that would open a door for them to personally connect. Now I do not recommend this to everyone, because it definitely could backfire, but the brazenness in my friends fuck-it moment blew my mind.  She decided one day she would show up on Crystal's doorstep, and personally introduce herself. So she found out where she lived, and at a reasonable time of the day...showed up to her house. Now responsibly she prepared an intro that would hopefully disarm Crystal of thinking she was totally nuts and a crazy stalker. Apparently Crystal was at home that day and did open the door.  I do not remember exactly how it went, but today they are close friends, and my friend is a huge support and advocate of the PYP program, not to mention an amazing visionary, entrepreneur, and makeup artist.

So on the other hand, you may be wondering what an "unhealthy fuck-it" is. Simply, it is being reckless in your decision making and actions, which in short means you do not educate and prepare yourself for what might happen should the risk you take go awry. If you are not responsible about your risk, and you incessantly get yourself into scenarios where you throw yourself into the sea with no protection, you will probably over time lose a limb or two, and you have no one to blame but yourself. The difference may in fact be caring about the result, and not caring. Caring does not mean being overly cautious, just like not caring means being brave. If you educate yourself on what to expect into the ocean of your risk, you can go into it with the knowledge of what's out there, maybe in a cage, maybe with a knife, a bite proof suit...The reward is you can discover some really beautiful things. You don't become Jacques Cousteau by looking at the sea from the edge of a boat. You say "fuck-it" and take the plunge with the intention of going farther than any other man has gone before.

They say courage is not being without fear - It's having fear and doing it anyway. That is the beautiful moment of a "fuck-it". The ultimate human experience. Freeing yourself from worry with the intention of reaching your potential. So what have you been holding back on because there is a seeming obstacle between you and the very thing that will elevate you? And what is a healthy, actionable "fuck-it" you can embark on to have that liberating breakthrough? Come on in...the water is amazing! Just please make sure you learn to swim first...or at least wear your swimmies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Talk - Action = Bad Gas

I have to give props to this excellent blog article that caught my eye with its fabulous title the other day: Talk - Action = Shit by Bradley Richardson ( As we are coming up with our new leadership program in July, where being your word is the quintessential cornerstone to running a great reminded me how on both a personal and business level people use the the Internet as a veil to talk a big game, but when it comes down to the action of their words its just a cloud of 'gas'.

On a business level, there are thousands and thousands of online businesses popping up everyday.  I look at their cookie cutter formats and promises, and self proclaimed accolades and quite honestly it gives me an eye-rolling headache. As an educator who has been teaching since I was 17 years old, it really makes me sad when one day someone out of nowhere claims to be "the best deal, for the most value" or have "everything you need to learn to get started as an industry professional", or "top celebrity makeup artist teaches you all their secrets"... I'm sorry, but where is the list that these people "top" artists are at the top of? And what part of the industry are you providing "everything" someone needs to get started?

Ok, so now let me push the pause button on the rant fest. Verbal vomit is great for authentic expression and momentary awareness but it really does nothing if you don't apply it introspectively. Being your word and turning talk into action is one of the most glorious experiences a human being can have. And let's be honest, the experience is probably even more amazing because in the secret hidey-holes of our souls, we all - including myself - have at some point bullshitted ourselves expertly. I have made claims on what I stand for and what I will never do, and have had my own fall-off-the-wagon moments. It's humanity. And truthfully, unless you are a monk/nun/recluse and can rid yourself of all the distractions of life, there are moments where you'll have the "fuck its", throwing your ideals to the wind. I do it personally (more often) and in my business (rarely). There have been occasions we'll cut a corners as long as it seemingly affects no one..But in the end it always affects someone. 

Someone somewhere is always being affected by cutting a corner, falling behind in their word, falling short. Usually the person is ourselves.

The beautiful thing about this is at any given moment, we can restore this integrity. In fact I have had more respect for a business owner that has fucked up, and with amazing customer service has fixed the situation and acknowledged its affect on me, rather than one that just sweeps it under the rug. You need the action to match your claims, otherwise no one will trust you... As a friend or a business.

If you are going to tell you're friend you will come to their birthday party, work function, private social engagement (fill in the blank)... and you keep dropping out, even if it is "not your fault", or "out of your control" ... It is still your responsibility to acknowledge the impact it has on your friend and make good on your word. If you are going to make claims in your business that you have the best education out there and are creating the most value for your students, then you had better be prepared to receive feedback on all ends to make sure you match that claim. It's a huge responsibility and if you want to hold that claim, you need to cross every "T", and dot every "I", double and triple check yourself. If there is something that will come across to your audience as bullshit or "hot air", then own it and fix it. We need not to strive for perfection, just excellence. Best not to claim to be the best, let others claim it on your behalf because you were too busy being it to talk about it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What is Leadership?

If there is a question I ask myself every single day, sometimes unintentionally, it is 'what is leadership'? I may not even ask it in those precise words. I may not even ask it in the context of a group of people. But in order to take on the things I do, and the things I want to accomplish, every day this question must be posed.

Leadership is often a term people give prestigious status. It is often looked at as something only people with certain gifts can obtain. But in reality, it's something we can choose to take on at any moment. In the moment we are presented with a situation, we can choose to handle it from a context of Leadership, or not. This choice is neither right or wrong, good or bad. It simply is a choice that delineates a result with a lasting impact, for a larger vision, and likely benefit more than oneself.

I am sitting on the train this morning daydreaming of my upcoming day and what I need to get done. At a stop, a group of people walk on and I am still in Lala-Land. I notice the person next to me gets up and I see he is offering his seat to a middle aged woman. Not old per say, but older than he and I for sure. I looked to see the pleasantly surprised look of gratitude on her face as she sat next to me. He gave the woman a brief smile and held on to the bar. It was nothing to him, almost an automatic decision to give up his seat. He also did not get off soon; he was on the train for many more stops, standing. There was nothing especially unique looking about this guy. He was just a guy, but in that moment he was a leader. Why? Because he inspired me. He made me step outside my box and consider things next time I have the opportunity to bring a pleasant surprise of joy to someone else, someone I don't know, for no reason at all except to be able to. And I'm sure I'm not the only one he inspired in that moment. His act may have also opened up something for that woman, who knows.

In dealing with my clients, I have come across a plethora of situations where I not only have to ask myself what a good business owner do, but also what a leader would do. In many of these situations, a decision that may be wise for my business may not necessarily be the one a leader would make. In the end I always have to ask myself... What is the situation with a win/win? Does it mean I may need to take responsibility for something that makes me uncomfortable but in the end will have everyone benefit? Or will it be better for my business if I just choose the easier decision, and walk away knowing only one of us has won? Will I always wonder if I could have handled things better.

Leadership as whole, when integrated into my home, work, and life may take more effort and focus but has proven time and time again to manifest stronger relationships, stability, abundance...and it empowers me. It also has been known to inspire others around me to not only trust me but step up and take on a leadership context in their own lives. It sounds like a responsibility that no one would want to take on, but the point I am making is you already do, like it or not. That man probably didn't wake up and say to himself, 'I'm going to be a leader today', but by giving up his seat he was one, without even knowing it. If he did not, would it have been bad? No, of course not. People's lives would have gone on just the same as they always have. Trust me, choosing the leadership context is not something I do all the time - I'm a human being. There are days when I don't feel like it, and the world around me doesn't change. But the more I choose it, the easier it becomes, the more rich my life is, and the more I attract the people who are also leaders living in integrity.

This became such a stand, such an intoxicating way to live, that I came up with this idea...a crazy plan to take my talents, my gifts, and use them to share this idea of leadership. It's my way of improving the planet. Because as long as anyone can be empowered by a choice, a choice that may inspire greatness and potential in others, why not spread it?

Our industry was in need of support and guidance when it comes to building a business from a place of Leadership. Thus for the past 4 years I have built the The Body of Artists Leadership Program, a creative community of artists committed to growing and giving through Leadership. We are about to start our 4th program in July. I'm so proud of the artists that have come through it already... Making the world a better place with their art and integrity. I could not as a teacher and mentor, and quite honestly as a human being, ask for more.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How do you know you are on the right Path: World Malaria Day Project Conclusion

I'm sitting here with fingers paused above the keys because there is just so much to tell you, so much to share, I almost don't even know where to begin...

So let's start with a review. The past few months I have been sharing my thoughts on how you know you are on the " right path". Concurrently I have been describing my journeys in Africa working on this World Malaria Day project as an example of events that give me signs that I am in fact exactly where I'm supposed to be. In review, the key essential points I have touched on are as follows:

1. Set clear visionary intentions or prayers as to what you want to create as though it's already on its way to you.

2. When things fall apart, know that it is sometimes a bigger plan at work to bring you closer to where you are supposed to be, even if you do not know what it is in the moment.

3. Every vision and road to being on your right path has a lot of hard, committed, challenging, work to get it to be where it is considered off the ground and a success.

4. When you combine faith with committed action, everything around you conspires and aligns to open doors and free channels towards your desired result.

These all have shown up at different times and several levels of extremes throughout the journey. Especially the one that talks about when things fall apart...ha, we could write a movie script solely based on that one. There are only two more vital key points to check in with. And I'm not sure I even truly got them all until this last trip.

Upon our arrival in Nigeria for the 3rd time I soon learned our schedule for our art pieces needs to be drastically altered...this was based on a series of miscommunications, and not doing our triple check list as thoroughly as we thought. I could say it was how things work in Nigeria, but after being in Nigeria for a total of 4 weeks prior, we really cannot use that excuse. But truth be told, it was divine intervention because the way the schedule ended up was actually better than what we had planned. (No surprise).

As a result we were scrambling, as we had to find new venues for our pieces, build a model roster with a limited budget, work out a ton of logistics and get enough sleep to function. When things get down to the wire, people's tensions are high, exhaustion starts to take its toll, and emotions are raw. This last week was by far the most challenging leg of the project. Breaking down and crying at some point was inevitable. Signs you are up to something big.

But when things get this intense, and it seems like all your plans are on shaky ground, you know you are on the right path when two things happen: the very people who will be the ultimate support to getting you through to the finish line are either already around you or will show up exactly when you need just need to ask.

There was a point where we were struggling to find models for our installations and fashion show. We had met some really amazing models who had been apart of our journey already from the beginning, but these were seasoned professional models who often get paid a decent agency rate. With as many hiccups as we have had, our budget was not what we would have liked it to be. We had been blessed to have had many vendors offer us discounts and donations, but we were still very limited. So I was given the task of procurring models, good ones, with only a small stipend for incidentals. I know more than anyone that in our industry models are always being mistreated and taken advantage of especially when it comes to rate. So not only did I need to handle this delicately but also was challenged to figure this out in another country. I did at one point start to panic when on Wednesday we only had 2 people confirmed when in fact we needed 12-20. So I took a deep breath, reminded myself this is all going to happen, I just needed to see with different eyes and approach with a a faithful open heart. So I first picked up the phone and called my friend Lola Maja...One of the best makeup artists in Nigeria who had come over prior to help me with production. I told her I needed both makeup artists and models and was stuck with knowing where to get them. She immediately assured me she would work on it and not to worry. Then I picked up the phone and called every model I had met up to date to connect with each about the project, and humbly request they be involved despite our lack of funds. I realized the only way this would work is if I had already created the relationship with them where they would trust who I was and what I stood for. Slowly I got in touch with at least 5 models and each one not only agreed to be 100% in but moved schedules in order to be there. By Thursday were still short quite a few and I still had not heard back from Lola. In fact I now couldn't get a hold of her at all. Simultaneously we had just found out our location for one of our biggest pieces decided to pull out because someone else offered them more money for the same time slot. So while Robin was spending three hours of our very limited and valuable prep and planning time fighting to get our slot back, I was at the apartment with Caitlin one day before our show having a major "oh shit" moment.

Just when I was literally about to pull my hair out, I said aloud to Caitlin "How the f@*%# are we going to do this without models?" Not a second later my phone rang. It was a Nigerian number, not programmed into my phone. When I answered, a woman named Bola introduced herself. She said she had bumped into a friend named Lola Maja that day and she had mentioned to her about our project, which Bola had actually heard of.  Bola happened to own a small modeling agency and she would be more than honored to supply us with models. I stared at the phone in pure awe, and started to laugh. After thanking her profusely I asked her to send specs of the people she had available to my email address. I hung up the phone and looked at Caitlin, and said "Wow."

I called Robin immediately to tell him, not just because we pretty much had our model situation handled, but to share that experience of "ask and you shall receive". Robin seemed not to be surprised, and just concurred that we were meant to do this show and everything would work out. Oh and by the way, through his own version of coercion, managed to get our space back. Biggest sigh of relief up to date.

To say everything went smoothly after that would be a nice fairy tale ending, although not true to life in the slightest. But here is the catch: Through every thing that didn't go as planned and then turned out anyway, through every disagreement we had that came to a compromise, through every epic fail that turned into an ingenious divinely designed all brought the biggest blessing and piece of evidence that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I knew without a shadow of a doubt because I felt so alive. That surge of energy I spoke of in the beginning of these accounts never went away. It ebbed and flowed continuously throughout this journey and stays with me and propels me even after it's over. If you do not feel utterly alive in all that you choose to do, then it's time to make different choices. Further, the energy of life comes from the movement of ups and downs, not predictable flatlines. If you take anything away from this know that life is an intricately designed wave of fabric that brings a perfectly intertwined mix of surprises and soulful knowing. Our wisdom comes from learning to ride this wave with as few attachments to how it's "supposed to be".

I know you have been waiting patiently to learn about these projects, so I'll end this blog with some amazing behind the scene pictures and subtle description of what we accomplished. Hope you enjoy it and will be walking away with assurance that your right path is the one you are standing on. You get to look for the signs as to which direction to take that will lead you to your purpose and bliss.

Piece 1: 1000 kids

In order to illustrate the horrific statistic that Nigeria loses 1000 kids a day to malaria, we decided to take on the challenge of photographing 1000 kids together in one shot. Seen here are some behind the scenes images of us capturing this beautiful image in Bathagary. This was the 2nd of two attempts to get this shot. Our intention was to raise this image on a gigantic banner on the side of the road by the 3rd Mainland bridge where over a million people a day pass by in traffic.

Shot taken by the amazing Reze Bonna, and copy edited by Mike Gibbs.
©Reze Bonna
(The little girl in the middle is my favorite.)

Piece 2: Malaria Moves

To illustrate the fact that Malaria is everywhere, we created a moving installation by body painting what are called skater boys with our 1000 kids statistic, while having some wear a sweat stained skull face, and others in our famous Moskeeto Mask. These boys skated through traffic throwing fliers in the windows of cars. The fliers brought awareness of the statistic that the mosquito carrying the malaria virus bites as early as 4:30pm. We also painted on another actor a rendition of death, who walked around with two ambiguous mosquito characters in everyday African scenarios. We ended up at the third mainland bridge where we watched our banner get raised while we spent time with the locals speaking about the project.

Piece 3: Mother Africa loses her Children

Inspired by Michelangelo's haunting Pieta statue, we wanted to recreated a body painted marble rendition of Mother Africa weeping over the loss of her child taken from her by the Malaria disease. Onlooking and observing were 9 female Mosquitos (females carry the virus) and two male. These masks were conceptualized by myself, but sculpted, molded, and cast by my amazing partner Suzanne Winwood and her awesome team, while they were painted by my self in Africa with local artists including Lola Maja, and Cass Koncept. The skater boys lured passing foot and car traffic outside into our Silverbird location by handing out flyers that said "Every 45 seconds, a mother buries her child". Eventually the skater boys became part of our installation as well.

Piece 4: Moskeeto Armor save Lives

The eve of World Malaria Day we had a fashion show primarily for press to show the wearability and versatility of the Moskeeto Armor, conceptualized and constructed by world renown designer Mai Atafo.  He spoke of how malaria affected his baby daughter and how it was not a question of if he wanted to be involved in our project, but a only a question in what capacity...