Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ten Tips for Artists/Family Mis-fits to Make it Through the Holidays!

Let's face it. Artists and the otherwise creatively self employed do not have an easy path in this culture. We are constantly asked to work for less than we're worth. Very few of us grew up valued and validated for our creative gifts. Instead, the messages we may have gotten ranged from " That's nice, Dear, now what are you really going to do with your life?" to " Artists are crazy, drunk and broke."

To stay devoted to a creative path as a life time practice and endeavor takes enormous determination and resilience. We often see others with steady pay-checks enjoying "extras" like regular vacations which we may have had to do without.

Fluctuating income is a constant state of life for many artists and may last for more years than we ever imagined when we began chasing our dreams in earnest. 

Personally, I have always found the holidays a particularly triggering time to deal with, in many ways because of this. Basically, for my business, cash flow stops for two plus weeks every year at this time. While those enjoying their paid time off do not feel this change, some of us may feel it accutly. Especially, as it is also accompanied by the endless obligatory pull to spend more and more money on gifts that we may or may not feel inspired to buy. Also, the pull to participate in family rituals that we may not resonate with can be overwhelming.

Artists are often also the family "mis-fit." That can make family get togethers uber-stressful. Many artists strive to break convention as part of their lives on a daily basis. Being in a creative mind-set opens one to different possibilities in every aspect of our beings. Going home and interacting with family of origin, may mean feeling like you have to shove your square-peg self back into a round hole, once again. Just like you did when you were a kid. Ugh.

Personally, I do not emotionally resonate with the holiday rituals. Interestingly, I have detached from them more and more as I have embraced my own sense of spirituality. The connection I feel to light and spirit, has nothing to do with the way Christmas or Hanukkah are presented. As much as I have tried, the ritual, dogma and processions leave me empty. The one thing I love, is spending quiet time with my partner and daughter and cooking us up some warm and comforting meals.

I have gone around and around with these dilemmas for years. And what I have come to learn that it is a great time of year for me to practice as much self care and self compassion as humanly possible.  

Here are some of my own practices in terms of remembering that I deserve as much love as anybody, and I cannot control other people, but I can offer it to myself.

Get back to Basics:


1)Drink lots of water, particularly lemon or lime water. Not only does water alkalize the body, it gives our brain what we need to stay energized and clear-headed. It de-toxes us and nourishes everything from the skin to brain. 

2) Take your supplements. Magnesium/calcium, Vitamin C, B-Vitamins all help the body manage stress. When I am in a bad place and begin to abandon myself, the first thing to go is drinking enough water and taking vitamins. I generally also begin to drink more coffee to compensate which wipes out my adrenals which makes me crave more sugar. An addictive cycle, which, while appealing in the moment as a quick fix, always wipes me out in the long run. A multi-vitamin goes a long way. This year I've also added tumeric and cinnamon capsules as both are supposed to be cancer and heart disease preventatives. 

3) Eat well. You know the drill. Fruits, nuts and vegetables at the top of the list. Protein and whole grains if that works for you. Gluten has been shown to be pretty toxic for most everybody.If you must have some holiday treats, make sure they're gluten free. We have a GREAT gf free bakery here in Santa Fe called Momo and Co...Here's their website. Check them out if you are in New Mexico 

4) Use Essential Oils. Nothing is more soothing to me than the smells of certain oils. I use lavender to soothe tension, eucalyptus to open sinuses, lemon to lift my spirits and oregano to support my immune system. The sense of smell can be so overlooked and yet, it can be so nurturing and sensual to make these wonderful oils part of our lives. When I had an acute panic disorder diagnosed many years ago, a friend brought me oils which contributed to my healing and eased some of the the terror I was experiencing. Now, I always have a few in my purse and by the bed. Certain oils, including cinnamon, clove and basil also raise our immune function and kill germs naturally.

5) Hot baths with epsom salt/baking soda: My doctor told me years ago that this is a great detox and super soother. And, a therapist once told me that if I am emotionally overwhelmed, to get myself into a tub of water pronto. Evidently, it helps the body/emotional body contain and reorganize itself. For me, there is not much more soothing that a detox bath and a candle. 

6) Juicing: When I started to go into menopause a few years ago, my skin started to break-out worse than when I was a teen-ager due to hormonal activity. I tried several products on the market to no avail, so began to research diets that might help my skin. Turns out that juicing veggies and fruits is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It was a huge turning point for me to become willing to buy a juicer and juice daily. My skin began to improve dramatically when it began to get the nutrients it needed and turns out that juicing can help with hormonal balancing as well. Our local Whole Foods makes fresh juices at the counter. And, I bought a cheap juicer at Target last year that is going strong. My favorite juice recipe is: green apples, lime, ginger and celery. 

7) Re-Read Old Favorites: For me, there is nothing like taking a mini-holiday curling up in bed and  re-reading a favorite book. If I am in a tender spot, I like to go-back and re-read classics I love. Everything from memoirs, to cook-books, to childrens' books like Charlotte's Web or A Wrinkle in Time. Especially nice with hot chocolate or tea beside the bed!

8) Writing: There is nothing like getting in onto the page. Journal, do free-writes, write visions of what you would like to create, set intentions for the New Year, fantasize, start a dream journal, write bad poetry, plan a class you would like to teach, start a blog. Write by hand or on the computer. Let your mind and hand wander into some uncharted waters. Remember that you are an artist. You are a creator. During this down time or even during a family reunion, take some time to yourself to express who you are and what you want.

9) Connect: It can be easy to feel dis-infranchised over the holidays. Isolation and depression can really take hold. So, it is most important to connect to someone or something other than ourselves. This someone may be a dear friend, partner, community member or simply a walk in the mountains or on the beach to connect to our own souls.

10) Remember the Bigger Picture:  For me, I make a point to remind myself, that I am blessed and lucky to have a creative life and an authentic path, whatever the ups and downs. It's an enormous privilege and I know that I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Devotion to my Path as a Solo Performer~

I remember putting pencil or crayon to paper and the sweet relief I found from my own sense of isolation that seems to have followed me into this lifetime: a deep aloneness that I have never really shaken. For me, writing was about expression and connection right from the start. I would wake up early and write my mom a poem and slip it under the door before breakfast to surprise her.
It was sacred, it was a gift, it was an offering.
Some of my earliest memories are of writing. My mother, who was an elementary school teacher, taught me to read and write before I went to kindergarten.
She always tells me, that as soon as I could string two words together, I was obsessed with writing stories and poems. Forty plus years later, she still has some of my early attempts at storytelling as evidence. She has an upstairs drawer in a guest bedroom filled with little scraps of construction paper with my seven and eight word tales written on them.
By the time I was fifteen, I was ensconced in the world of theater. There was rarely a time when I was not in rehearsal for a show, both in and out of school. Theater became the defining center of who I was. It had already sheltered me through the death of a beloved grandfather. Early on I noted its emotionally transformative powers. It was a lifeline in an otherwise drab suburban landscape.
I went on to study theater professionally in college and at an acting studio in NYC.By the time I was in my twenties, I was becoming disillusioned with the offerings of the conventional American theater. I went to see “The Heidi Chronicles” by Wendy Wasserstein on Broadway. And though the character of Heidi was being touted as an archetype of the contemporary woman, I found very little to relate to in her high strung, over privileged neurosis. Then, I was cast in the second production in the U.S. of The Kentucky Cycle. It was an ensemble piece that explored the coal-mining communities of Kentucky through several generations. All the actors played multiple roles in the six hour production that played over two days for audiences.
Though undeniably brilliant, the play did not resonate with me or the issues I wanted to explore in theater. The female characters were all secondary to the men’s roles and although the play had just won The Pulitzer Prize, it did not speak to my heart and soul. And, as I had just devoted a year of my life to this show; that in and of itself was the beginning of a wake-up call for me.
My heart continued to return to an experience I had, in a small theater, when I was nineteen years old and studying acting in Boston. That was when I had seen Spalding Gray perform one of his early monologues. He sat on a stage and shared parts of his life with us that evening. It was fresh, it was raw; it was simple and it was honest. Above all, it gave me the feeling of connection that I so craved, even as a small child. He offered his humanity, even the embarrassing parts, as a way to create a feeling of intimacy. There was none of the artifice that hangs around most all traditional theater. I had carried the dream since I saw him perform and met him afterwards, that the personal monologue format he shared, was what I wanted to do, more than anything else in my life. And, I had no idea how I could possibly do it.
As I began to seriously contemplate turning the dream into a reality, some very basic questions emerged. How could I write my own shows when I didn’t write? And, how would I find the courage to stand onstage alone and offer myself to an audience? I figured that I would deal with the first issue first.
By this time, I was living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Our small town is a hot-bed of creativity and turned out to be the perfect place for me to find my writing voice. One night, I was invited to a small coffee shop/bookstore for a reading of an author from Taos who had a new book out on creativity. The book was “The Artist’s Way” and the author was Julia Cameron. I bought the book and the journey was formally underway.
The next four years were devoted to daily writing. I wrote morning page. I wrote in my journal. I wrote poetry and read at poetry readings around town and in Taos. And, I began to write monologues.
During this same period of time, a local producer began to bring in solo performers from NYC to Santa Fe for shows (thank you Kol Heggerty!).. I saw John Leguizamo in “Mambo Mouth,” Anna Deavere Smith in “Fires in the Mirror,” Reno, Karen Finley and several more shows by Spalding Gray. It was as if I designed my own graduate studies program in solo performance and I was immersing myself in the curriculum. I might add that this was all happening in the early 90s and there were no official grad programs in solo theater, unlike the ones that are offered now.
I also immersed myself in other experiences that supported this path. I read Anne Lamott and May Sarton. I went to see Ntozake Shange, Simon Ortiz and Judyth Hill read their poetry. All of these people were exploring, in their own ways, intimacy. On the page and on the stage.
The other thing that was important in this mix was going to therapy and dealing with some emotional issues that had haunted me and blocked my full expression for much of my life. These parts of myself wanted to keep me smaller than I am and needed to be addressed if I was ever to realize my dreams of performing my own material. I think, that as creative beings, we all deserve to explore where we come from to truly discover what it is we most essentially need to say.  Also, for many of us, therapy or other forms of healing can be critically important when it comes to taking the brave steps required to offer our work to the world.
So, in 1994, between writing my own material and integrating my understanding of various structures, I wrote my first show. I was referred to a director, Wendy Chapin, who had a good instincts about what worked and what did not onstage. She challenged me constantly to write and rewrite for which I am now very thankful.
She understood the parts of the script that needed to be either deleted or transformed. Many of these passages were personally healing for me, but could be potentially seen as self-indulgent to an audience.
This is where the importance of voice and expanding my voice became the next step for me that was necessary in my process. It turned my personal material into something stage-worthy. I now see the same process happen or not happen with all of my coaching clients. And, when it happens, this is when we have a worthy public offering. Before this, it is still essentially a personal process.
Understanding this difference is part of moving from novice to professional is. For me, point of view or voice in its truest sense is where we marry our creativity, imagination, sense of humor and/or wisdom with our personal stories. It is where we have the opportunity to rise, for ourselves and others, to view our humanity with a bit more inspiration and levity.
In this place, we can fully claim ourselves as an artist.
Here’s the good news and the bad news. The good news is that this work of finding our voices, claiming our unique point of view, writing memoir, performing solo shows, facilitating others and all the other wondrous twists and turns our own paths can lead us into deeply satisfying, rich work of a life-time. For me and for many others I know, it is a joy, a devotion and a blessed, beyond dream come true.
And here is the bad news: There are no short-cuts in this work. There are many, many stages we each need to go through to claim ourselves in this intimate and powerful way. Your path may include many classes and workshops; it may include daily writing practice for one year or ten before you are ready to throw your hat into the proverbial ring, it may include acting lessons, it may include meditating and cutting out drinking or sugar. It may include watching every solo performance on Netflix you can get your hands on.
And then, there is the one illusive variable that separates those who end up having a creative career that moves past personal expression to one that is an offering to humanity. It’s called “Your Consciousness.” It cannot be duplicated and cannot be faked. It will show in your writing and in your presence. All the work put together plus your own earnestness and goodness of spirit must be included in this one thing for your life to truly soar. I have no hard and fast rules for you to follow to take ownership of this illusive, yet overarching energy. But I do know that it is absolutely essential to the soup. It is the secret ingredient. Only you can uncover it—and when you do—you will have a sublime and invaluable gift to share with us all.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Radical Trust of the Soul:Making All Creative, Business and Life Choices from the Inside Out~

Twenty- two years ago, when I left NYC for the unknown life that called to me from Santa Fe(where I had never been, by the way), my decision was seen by most all who subscribed to conventional wisdom as shooting myself in the foot in terms of my career in theater.

But, it was what my Soul wanted, and for me, following my Soul's calling has always trumped everything else. Even when decisions seem like they have a high price tag. Like, for example, the loss of a career in the field I love, perceived safety or financial security.

Of course, making decisions like this has not always gained me approval in the world. Lovers and a husband who I had set up shop with have been shocked and devastated if my Soul tells me "to go" and I listen.

But in retrospect and now, at forty- nine years old, I see the great good fortune of having my inner process. For, I have rarely made major decisions based on approval seeking (even though I like approval as much as the next person) and have generally trusted myself and my own inner directive, even when it seems to go against critical thinking or what may look rational. Or when others may judge me.

In time, the truth of who we are is seen or not seen by others.. People judge you anyway so why bother to try to please? It's a losing game.

Yes, my Soul has been designing a perfect life for me. One that nurtures the whole being of who I am. One that allows me to do the work I love the most, in an awake community that I love. I truly need to live in natural beauty to be at my happiest. Had I stayed in NYC, I would have compromised big chunks of myself. Likely, I never would have had a child there as the thought of raising a child in the city was horrifying to me. My sixteen year old daughter is the most important part of my life. And contrary to popular thinking (in Time Magazine no less) having a child ultimately made me MORE creative, more financially successful and more engaged in a larger purpose than I was before I had my daughter.

But I also didn't raise her in an environment that Time Magazine presumes nor in a prescribed way. Again, in terms of raising her I listened to my Soul. Not American parenting guidelines or AMA guidelines. But, that's another story!

Again, listening to directive from the inside out rather than the outside in allowed my Soul to gather all the puzzle parts that were most important to me to be happy in all ways.

And yes, it took a long time to bring in all together. And, I see that had I settled for half life decisions or quarter life decisions, things might have seemingly come together "sooner" But for me, I see how my Soul was driven for me to not settle for less than my total joy.

Now, all the essential puzzle parts for me have been gathered and I feel myself walking (and dancing) into the best time in my life with the opportunity to continually deepen in all creative aspects of my life. Because they are all "in place" so to speak.

Well, in all honestly, I'd like to find a way to travel more and do need to attend to saving/investing more of my income. But for me, this is minor and an organic addition to all that is already in place and flowing.

Some additional thoughts:

* Had I ignored my Soul, I would have stayed in NYC and likely ended up in perceived competition with other people in my field...all fighting over the same piece of the pie. Instead, moving to Santa Fe forced me to reach deeper into myself creatively and out into the bigger world business wise. Now, not only do I make more money for my services than the vast majority of my peers, but I get in amazing clients from all over the world, many who have dreamed of traveling to Santa Fe for years! Win/win/win

* Had I stayed in mediocre relationships, I would not have learned the lessons I needed to learn about myself. I would have settled for less and missed out on attracting a true Soul-Mate

* NYC is so expensive. I would never have never been able to afford to take the time off I did in my twenties to devote to my writing. Those 4 years where I wrote everyday and took writing classes constantly, helped develop the confidence, voice and understanding of theatrical writing that I needed to develop my shows and my business. Doing that process over that long a time span also allowed me to understand subtleties and blocks in others creative process that would prepare me deeply to coach and teach down the line.

To run a soul based business, one must life a soul based life and be committed to a soul based process however long it takes.

So, how do I do that;

1) that small still voice. Make time to get to a quiet place, in nature, in a zendo, on your meditation cushion. We all must quiet the mind so we can hear our inner guidance.

2) Wisdom Writing: This is like journaling, but instead of focusing on your stories, focus on asking yourself questions and receiving answers. I am devoting an entire chapter to this concept in my upcoming book on solo performance. In the meantime, if you are confused or disturbed about something, write a question, the freewrite on the answer. Be open to learning something and letting go of your struggling point of view. The process of receiving information is supported by your willingness to let go of control or thinking you already "know"

3) Trust yourself. Trust your Soul. Trust your heart. The more you are able to put aside fear and trust your inner process, the more you can create the life that really lines up with who you are. In my experience, it will not happen overnight or be entirely linear. Continue to practice faith and trust. That's part of the coming together process.

4) Write your highest vision for your life. Let it be a living document. Change it and update it as you change. Keep refining what's most essential to you and what you can let go of.

5) Breathe. Walk. Read. Dance. Swim. Sit in the sun, drink really good coffee, make yourself a other and enjoy the process as it continues to unfold!

Sending you Soul to Soul Support and upholding the vision for you~ Love, Tanya

Thursday, August 29, 2013

As Promised: Soul Based Business Tips for Creative People~ #1 It's All Connected

When I was five years old, I began writing poetry and short stories.

When I was thirteen years old, I became an actor.

When I was twenty six, I began writing again, in earnest.

When I was thirty, I wrote and performed my first solo show

When I was thirty four, I taught my first solo performance class

When I was thirty six, I created a Therapeutic Monologue Process for healing

In conjunction with that event, I began creating my business to offer, well, all of these offerings.

That was thirteen years ago. Here's some of what I have learned about business on the journey so far:

If business is approached with the same intention, the same creativity, the same kindness, the same spirit of generosity in which we create our art, hold space to coach and teach, then business can be something wonderful. The business of art merges in a way that is an extension of our authentic energies. It is not  not separate, cut off and removed from our "real" offerings. It is as much the offering as anything else.

And to me, there is one word, more than any other word, that embodies what I am speaking of. That word is service. If you have surrendered yourself to the concept of service, then everything has the possibility of being an offering to yourself and others. For underneath the concept of service, is the recognition of the soul and the connection of all things and everything.

From this position, form is less important. One gives their heart and soul to the audience when they are performing their solo show. But, one also offers the same energy in a call with a business prospect.

When I offer free consultations, the main thought in my mind has to be service. What this means is that sometimes I take the call and book a new client who is a great match for me. And sometimes, I give 30 minutes of free advice to a young, broke solo performer who cannot afford my prices. But it is my job, if I am in service, to show up with as much information and kindness for that young, broke solo performer as a paying client.

It is not my job to determine who calls me and why. It is my job to show up with full presence in each conversation. Sometimes, that person may call me back in five years and be ready to work with me. Sometimes she may recommend me to someone in her acting class who may call me. And sometimes, I will never hear from her again. It does not matter.

Next point: Drop the concept of competition

There really is no greater illusion of the planet that the concept of personal competition. The world will try to tell you that there is not room for everybody. That some people's work matters and some doesn't. It's all a mass hallucination. No one can duplicate your energy, your unique way of doing things, your heart. Nor can you duplicate theirs.

You can offer a similar service yet offer it in an entirely different way. Trust that the clients who are yours will find you. They will be attracted to you the more you are yourself. The more willingness you have to show who you are, the better. That's how they can find you.

Being yourself may also lose you potential clients and that is ok as well. Let them go to someone who is a better match for them. There is enough. Dropping the concept of competition is not only a relief. It allows you to trust that the right people will find you and you will find them.

And nothing is more attractive to most people than to work with people who hold the energy of trust. Because we all want to feel that way and many people do not know how. So, you are modeling to them to how they want to feel.

Competition belongs to corporations, governments and egos. In reality it has no hold on you unless you buy into it.

Competition is also fear based and neurotic process. And people can smell that energy a mile away and it is not appealing.

Even though many people can make a living that way, my own awareness is that it sucks the joy out of everything.

I suppose the greatest difference between a fear based approached in business (still the dominant paradigm) and a soul-based approach(the emerging paradigm) is how joyful it is. How peaceful it is. And how integrated it is with the rest of your life.

I constantly strive to make my ethics in business the same as my ethics in the rest of my life. In many ways my business flows into my art, into my parenting, into my friendships and my teaching life.

In a holistic paradigm one flows more and more with the same energy into and out of various forms.

And that is part of creating a prosperous and productive business life and personal life.

Keep coming back to an attitude of service and I promise you, things will begin to really flourish~

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Good Story Isn't Enough....Why Point of View Makes or Breaks a Solo Show~

Hi All,

Here is a video I recorded yesterday on the importance of how you frame a story~

Big Love from Santa Fe on Indian Market Week-end 2013! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Business of Solo Performance (sorry, it actually involves business)

Let me be clear from the start of this post.

I grew up with all the illusions/delusions of most artistic souls. And had a family that reinforced these illusions/delusions from fear.

What am I speaking of? The beliefs that stop us from making a living as solo performers, writers, actors, coaches, directors and producers.

By the way, the above list is how I have made my living in entirety for the past thirteen years. I have been doing the work longer, but it is since then that I have kept the food on the table and the roof over the proverbial head by means of who I am in authenticity.

What were my personal belief's before this set that limited my thinking? Do you share any of these thoughts?

1) I will never become a professional theater person outside of NYC (false belief)
(TRUTH) I have made more money in New Mexico than I ever did in NYC. I now am hired to work in NYC at least once a year and others fly into work with me internationally.

2) I need to get a big break or be discovered by someone else to make a living (false belief)
(TRUTH) I have all the power I need to create my own opportunities.

3) I do not have a brain for business.
(TRUTH) I had not been trained in business in acting school, but I was perfectly capable of learning the skills to run a successful creative business. And yes, it took a long time.

I was well into my thirties before I began to make a living for basically being myself. At 31, I did my first solo show and actually made a few thousand dollars (no small feat in this small town)

But hardly enough to support myself or a daughter.

There were many skills I had to learn. But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention and I was under the gun when I got serious. I had no real marketable skills for a job. And even if I had, I didn't want one. I had a 2 year old at home with me in my small town in the Southwest. And I wanted to be with her. And in retrospect, I see how much my love for her motivated and inspired me to figure it out.

First I began to learn about publicity and marketing. I began to teach classes in solo performance (long before it was trendy or popular)

I continued to write and perform my shows using them as leverage to get people to take my classes. I began to get asked to direct.

From this I began to offer a more therapeutic monologue process and really put the work in to develop it and get the word out about this. From that I had a book published.

And it has gone on like this for the last many years. There have been ups and downs.

I have made many business mistakes, trusted some of the wrong people and sometimes lost money on shows or events.

But much, much more often than this, I have had great success's with shows, making friends and yes, making money.

One has to work hard, follow what one does well and build on that for success.

Let go of the illusions that you cannot make money on your true work exactly where you are with what you have.

I had no savings or investment's to put into my work in the beginning. But I kept going, through everything and it has worked out and continues to work out in a beautiful way that is in service to others and true to my own soul.

No regular "job" will give you that. Go do what you do, be who you are and be willing to learn step by step about the business of art and I promise you, you will be more than ok.

You will live your true life. And nothing beats that.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Professional Solo Performance/ Therapeutic Monologue Shows.How They Compliment Each Other~

Since I first encountered my mentor when I was nine-teen, the late great Spalding Gray and saw one of his early his autobiographical monologue's thirty years ago, I have been on a quest to explore story. Particularly story in a theatrical setting.

Before that experience, I was on the path of a professional actor in training and indeed, that was my first love. But when I encountered the personal narrative monologue in Spalding's work, my deepest love shifted. The shift wasn't so much from "acting" to "storytelling" but from "artifice" to "intimacy"

The words "intimacy", "authenticity", "transparency" drove me as my life's mission. I think they were so important to me because I experienced so little of them, both in my family or origin and the suburban landscape outside DC while growing up. The desire to experience them led me to my discovery of theater in the first place and then, later to the art of monologues.

By committing to exploring this particular newly emerging art-form as my life's work, I have thought deeply about what makes this form work, what makes it fail and the differences in intentions and out-comes between a professional "show" for general public consumption and a monologue as a once in a lifetime type experience to convey a particularly painful/challenging or archetypal life-story to a supportive audience with the intention of transforming it.

While there are many differing thoughts on these experiences and differing opinions on the legitimacy of one type of show or another, I consider them both, not only valid, but essential to the evolution of theater and the healing of humanity.

Character Driven Full Length Solo Shows:

Many folks with a professional theatrical back ground only seem to embrace what they see as the highest elevation of the form with character driven shows that showcase the actors talent. Their are many great performers in this genre including Sarah Jones, Danny Hoch and most famously Anna Deveare Smith. This theater, in the hands of a masterful and accomplished artist makes a strong commentary on contemporary culture and social issues. This work is utilized best exploring social issues. I have directed a few shows in this arena, most notably Michelle Vest's show Solo Survivor's in which she showcased and embodied four un-documented Mexican and El Salvadoran's workers.

This show will is an opportunity for intimacy with the stories of the characters, not the performer who is a channel and in service to the characters she/he has created.

Solo Performance Memoir/Confessional Shows

The most essential thing to success in this form is a strong, specific and unique point of view and voice. This is what makes Spalding Gray, Spalding Gray. This is what makes Mike Daisey, Mike Daisey. Now both of these men had/have very different focus's in their work and Daisey's is much more of an activist's voice, but both were/are very developed and comfortable in their own point's of view.

I have directed many, many excellent solo shows in this form including Gray's "BURST", a very humble, funny and earnest look at bi-polar depression.

The range of topics of shows that have been written and performed in this form are numerous. If one desires to offer these shows at a festival, theater or conference it is essential to work with a sharp and critically minded director.

For, this form's greatest possibility is also it's greatest potential pit-fall. It can either be manifested as powerful vulnerability or deep and painful self-indulgence. And if one is presenting for a public audience, charging admission and offering oneself as an artist, one must really rise to the occasion and show up with a monologue that in some way becomes Universal and transcends the limitations of the ego. One must do this show with the audience in mind, not simply as a tool for self expression. Though the joy of course is in the self expression.

The issues presented in terms of content explored need to be in some way satisfactorily resolved for the performer in this context. It is a direct affront to a theater audience looking at a professional show to be asked to do this awareness work for the performer. Issues that are still processing for the performer need to be resolved before it is offered as art. End of story.

It takes skill, honing and technique to offer a show of value. It also takes consciousness and clarity of mind and heart. Not to be undertaken lightly.

Now these are basically the two types of artistic/professionally intended solo shows I have immersed myself in over the years. As a writer, performer, coach, director and producer by the way so I have really seen this from all angles.

Therapeutic Monologues:

For the past fifteen years I have been working with "regular people" who have experienced trauma, loss of illness to offer personal monologue shows focused on various topics. Cancer, HIV/AIDS, veterans etc. (You can watch numerous monologues from these shows on my youtube channel, Tanya Rubinstein)

Now the way these shows are structured are for six to eight people dealing with the same topic each share a ten minute monologue they have written in one of my StoryHealers workshops.

The intention is different here. For me, in the StoryHealers process, the audience is NOT the main concern and this is what turns the process on it'd head from an artistically or professionally based solo show. The most important thing is the participant's opportunity for empowerment, healing and transformation.

The key to success in this process: Be clear with the audience's expectations. And let them in on their role in the process.

If they think they are coming to see a professional show, they must experience creativity, originality, talent, expertise of some kind. But if you let them in that these are non-professionals sharing a once in a lifetime experience and that their witnessing is part of the healing, they will totally go with you.

Solo performance as an art-form and solo performance as a healing process are both 100% valid and important in my experience.

Just do not confuse which process you are doing and be clear with your audience to manage their expectations. This way, everyone wins.

Oh...and if you're doing a full solo show, do not forget to get an intelligent and experienced  director or these waters will surely muddy~

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Empathy and Betrayal as a Creative Business Person~

I turned 49 years old last week. For someone who has this many years on the planet, you'd think I'd be used to the idea of betrayal by now. It happens. We all know it happens. We see it happen on a huge level all the time. In family systems and governments. Our politicians say one thing then turn around and do the opposite. We see the patterns throughout our own society and others.

And yet, when it happens on a personal or business level, it is shocking and unexpected to me every time.

Don't call me naive. Don't call me an idiot.

Instead, perhaps, call me an empath.

We empaths are a strange bunch. Sometimes prickly on the outside, because underneath, we cannot help BUT feel all of life's feelings, including other people's, on the inside. We care deeply about every person we encounter whether we show it or not. We tune into people's deepest wounds and because we actually feel them in a visceral way, it makes business like detachment next to impossible.

We are good at what we do as artists, therapists, actors, writers, teachers, coaches. We practice having boundaries though it is never really comfortable. We experience others in unity/oneness as our own selves. Developing compassion is much more challenging for ourselves than others who we easily and often uncontrollable access it for.

We are the people who fall in love with people's potential. And while the co-dependencey experts might say this is a dumb thing to do, it does not come from a dumb place. Rather, it comes from a place of genuinely feeling the very best in everybody. Seeing their potential means believing that they will develop strongly and beautifully and make choices to embody their best selves.

Um...not so much. Or at least, not so much every time. When it happens, celebrate it. But do not expect it. This has been my learning, but being wired in a certain way, I have had to learn it  over and over again.

When I was in first grade, I came home crying. When my grandmother asked me about it, through sobs I said "The teacher yelled". Surprised, she questioned "The teacher yelled at you?" "No" I replied. "She yelled at my friend"

So that's my starting place.

And in my internal life, the life that allows me to hold deep and sacred space for my clients, the space that "leans in" to every connection, that truly loves listening to stories and is able to offer safe and supportive suggestions and feedback. That inner reality believes and knows the good in everyone. It totally affirms their wholeness which is much, much bigger and deeper than any of experience of trauma. Deeper than any wound.

My inner empath is not only connected to my spiritual attunement of Oneness consciousness, she is one and the same.

But what I have had to learn is that it is not enough for me to know their wholeness. Even if they are leaning into an aspect of their wholeness as they are exploring this work, it is not always enough. If deep down, they are still most attached to their "wound story" they will act out on others in a way that can be experienced as betrayal.

Case in point. I worked with a man from Boulder, Colorado for over three years. First, he wanted to write the story of his father's suicide and his reaction to this event in a one man show. We did this work together and I produced his show at the first Santa Fe Solo Performance festival. As I am with all my solo show clients, I was a little bit therapist, coach and dramaturge all rolled into one. I also was the director.

The lens through which I saw him was as my star student in many ways and I viewed ours as not only a friendship, but a mutually beneficial long term relationship that was based on the desire for healing and stories.

 He came back to Santa Fe to begin working with me to do the StoryHealing work in his community. I was completely supportive and agreed to be on his Board of Directors and even allowed him to use my company name StoryHealers in Boulder despite the fact that he had not completed the work that would allow him to offer these workshops withe expertise and integrity.

After all, I knew him. Knew his pain. Knew his goodness of heart. How could anything go awry?

I had helped him write this show about his Dad's suicide and his daughter's birth. As a line in his show went "My people" as he thumped on his chest. We were bound by an openly acknowledged soul connection.

Through a series of events, he connected with a well known singer/songwriter who was open to working with us him to incorporate these songs into the show. I was open and invited them all down to my studio in Santa Fe to work. Then, I went up to Denver on my own dime and directed the show. We went on to take the show to Stage Left in NYC where I went and spent ten days, taking a great deal of time away from my own family and business with the understanding that we were going to take this show as far as we could go.

The fact that at this point, he continued to avoid a sit down in conversation with me as well as signing an official contract for what was now emerging as a substantial project between us worried me, but I continued to trust our deeper connection.

Through a series of events that included his wife getting involved in his new "business" and the promotion of the show, after an investment on my side that included a great deal of time, money and emotional connection, he cut me out of the project completely. And he did it without even a conversation. No sit down talk going over what had already gone well and what could go better, despite my attempts for this to happen. He took my name off his posters as the director, re-writing history. The manager of the singer became his "director" in the new press. And in press and stories, my name is never mentioned.

I fall in love a little bit with every client I have. I want them to succeed with all my heart. I offer everything I have to offer be it advice on what theaters to perform their show in to ways to look for funding, to giving everything I can to their script. This is the second time in my career something like this has happened. And the first time, it took me years to get over as it was with an actual business partner.

In both cases, people who I considered near and dear to me cut me out coldly before my heart even had the chance to miss a beat.

In some ways, I understand this as an occupational hazard when it comes to dealing with stories and people's wounds. It's a case of getting so close to the fire, you end up being the one who gets burned. And, I want to add that many times, many more times it does not happen like this. I've had many, many more positive experiences where the shows really do transform people and their hearts.

In this case,I got to be the negative projection even though at the end of the day, in my own Soul, I know I was his greatest ally. I also know the project will always be tainted behind the scenes because of the ugly energy. People can cut you out on the surface, but the Universe always holds us all accountable and unkind intentions always seep through the cracks.

For me, my lessons continue to be to get more support around the left brain issues that challenge me. Currently, I have begun to work with my own Board of Directors to help me get all my ducks in a row. Contracts are always signed at the beginning, not middle or end of a project or it does not happen.

I still may experience the world as an empath with compassion, but I strive to also hold the reality that not everyone cares so much. And it is not because they personally do not care about me. It is simply where their own would is holding them hostage.

Lastly, this is not a victim story. I am sad about this incident, but I am resilient. Moving forward with numerous projects, trainings and clients. And the possibility coming together for a show I will produce in NYC in 2014. Loving connections and more to come.

I have heard the expression that we can only truly betray ourselves. I pondered this for a while, but I do not always agree. Though, elements of denial or minimizing our red flags feelings can be an issue.

At the same time, an open heart is not a pathology. I can experience betrayal from the outside as many times as I need to, to learn about my human boundaries as the Universe sees fit.

But I refuse to close down my love and compassion, my curiosity and care for people. And I am grateful for so many blessings in my life~

I'd love to hear your thoughts on empathy and betrayal in your creative world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Looking for Purpose and Meaning in Your Professional Life? Become a StoryHealers Facilitator~

Twice per year, six folks came to Santa Fe from various parts of the country and world to participate in a StoryHealers Facilitator Training.

The purpose of these trainings is to learn to facilitate others who have experienced trauma, loss, grief, transition (in short...being human) in a mini-solo performance. In a 4 day workshop, people write a ten minute monologue based on what they most essentially want to express for the purpose of healing and transformation. This story is then performed onstage to a live audience of friends, community, family members and the public.

Here is a video showcasing bits of the monologue work over the years:

And here are clips from some of the shows:

Mary in "The Cancer Monologues 3"

Linda in "Core Witness" about her visit to Iraq as a witness for woman and children

John in "Core Witness' about his experiences as a Veteran

Abby in Mothering: The Monologues about her experiences as a lesbian mom

If you are interested in offering this theatrical/healing process in your community, please get in touch with me about the next training. My e-mail is I have offered this work publicly and successfully to the GLBT community, to people who have experienced cancer and HIV, Veterans, new mothers, fathers, hospice caregivers, people who have experienced homelessness and many more.

Here is a short introduction written in the StoryHealers International Facilitators Training Guide:
From me, the  founder of the Therapeutic Monologue Process:

This process is not mine. It was given to me, through me, by something greater than me. Alongside the birth of my child, it has been the greatest miracle in my life. To know ones purpose is a great gift and I do not take it lightly.

 I have been working at catching up to it for the last thirteen years. It came to me in a dream, after praying that my life’s purpose be revealed. It arrived complete with a vision and steps to take and I knew what do and how to implement it right from the start.

Oh, if only the journey had stayed so simple!  Over time, the process  has demanded that I look at every wound I had been carrying, every false belief, every trauma, every character flaw in myself and open to it’s healing.

The process has demanded that I become a person worthy of this process. That I learn how to walk in balance and integrity. I’ve had to learn to have clear boundaries and keep an open heart when my tendency would be to judge, take shortcuts or blame others.

Does this mean I am a perfect person now? Does this mean you will have to become one to facilitate the work effectively? Do we have to become  saints or bodhisattvas? Guru’s?

No, no and no some more! We can be human and imperfect while always striving to be a bit more compassionate, a bit of a better listener, a bit more creatively plugged into all of the Universe.

But this process, followed in earnest will teach you quite a bit about yourself. And the people who you work with will give you more in return than you can ever thank them for.

If I can ask one thing of you right from the start, above all remember this:

Stay in service to the people you are facilitating. Breathe often. Keep an open heart. Keep checking inside yourself to make sure you are present.

Because your presence is not only enough, it is actually everything. Be who you already are. Full presence, here to serve others in their authentic expression. If you can do this, everything else will fall into place.

I wish you all the very best that this creative and serving path can offer.

Tanya Taylor Rubinstein

Monday, June 17, 2013

StoryHealing, Narcissism and Ending the Victim/Perpetrator Paradigm~

StoryHealing, Narcissism and the Ending the Victim/Perpetrator Paradigm.

For the past 14 years or so, I have been at the forefront of an exploration of consciousness that has involved story writing and telling onstage and the effects this has on trauma, life challenges and the experience of illness.

What I have found in hundreds of workshops and monologue performances is probably what many other type of therapeutic and spiritual process's have identified. I have gotten to see it and feel it not in theory, but in practice. Here is my big revelation:

There are essentially two types of ways people experience their own stories. One way, the most common way, is through a lens of victimization and perpetration.  These people are attached to seeing themselves as special. Not one of the human race with the vast and infinite experience of all that is. Not one of the many who are dealing with the challenge of being alive and all that comes with it; loss, pain, health challenges, family trauma and the existential grief that accompanies the experience of being human. These people are stuck in the loop of their story that “I am a victim…my worst is worse than your worst. I am so special in my suffering, this happened to me and it is so bad and I did not deserve it”

And more challenging than this is that many of them turn around and one way or another use their suffering as a justification to act out on others with anger, rage or betrayal. The story goes “ I deserve it or I am entitled to this acting out because I have suffered”

Now here is the kicker to all of this. In my hundreds of workings with people and their traumas and their stories; it is almost more often than not, the people who have the more minor diagnosis or who have much greater financial resources or who have more opportunities to heal that are the ones stuck in the victim/perpetrator paradigm.

The people I have worked with who have suffered with the most extreme cancer diagnosis and are close to death, the homeless woman with her four children from Mexico, the veteran who has lost a child from his own exposure to depleted uranium. The ones with real “reason” according to worldly standards to bemoan their fate, offer clear and heartfelt stories that do not include feeling sorry for themselves. These are the people who stand up and take what life has offered them and find gratitude for whatever life gives them this day. Who truly offer wisdom and insight from the place of deep humanity and humility.

I have offered a space for many people to share their stories over the years, but these memorable resilient ones have been my teachers.

Years ago, I had the excellent fortune to sit with two guru type teachers who basically told me to get over myself. They said (or the way I heard them) was that service is the way to enlightenment. And that trust/faith coupled with a commitment to kindness is the only road to take towards happiness on this planet. Lastly, to know that yes, I am valuable. But not more (or less) valuable than any other person on earth. One of billions.  Showing up and living.That is all.

Wow; years later I see these teachings and lessons manifested in my work. And beyond it, I see it manifested on the planet.

I really no longer find the east coast neurotic brand of comedy that I grew up with funny. I am so over narcissism and it’s accompanying cleverness, whether it is offered by Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld. Over-indulgent “artists” who only work for their own right to “express” themselves are of no interest to me (truly, I lived with one). True artists who move beyond ego- based cleverness to a deep sharing from the Soul, whether pathos or comedic are of great interest and in deep service inspiring others.

As storytellers, healers or artists if our work is not done in the Spirit of service, what point is it? In the face of all that is happening on the planet, personally, I am so over narcissism. The world faces enormous challenges. Each of us faces enormous challenges. Honesty and authenticity are the way out of the loop. As are kindness and a well developed ability to set our own "limited" story aside to show up for others with good-will and a basic sense of caring.

Oh, and did I mention courage? Courage to let it go. Courage to make it not all about you. Courage to get over yourself and your triggers. At some point, don’t we just have to let them drop and say “enough”? Personally, I find people’s triggers, my own and others so boring. Jeez, show some strength of character. It is not all so damn precious.

I’ve led workshops where people’s legs have been blown off at the age of eighteen, where people in hospice are looking at how they will say good-bye to their Beloved daughter, where people live in places like Gaza which is essentially a dangerous, oppressed illegal holding tank for humans. A place where a young Palestinian girl just wants to be allowed to leave for college, a home, a normal life elsewhere but is forbidden.

You are I are blessed. If you are reading this, I know you and I know that you are blessed. You are American or Canadian or European. You have a computer. You have access to money and clean water. You have food and shelter. So, get over it. That is the real invitation. For all of us, myself included.

Stop indulging your story. Tell the truth. You are more than that victim story. You are free. You are freedom Herself.

I am so very grateful to those who rise above their own circumstances and triggers to show me a different perspective.

This week I moved into a new house with a second floor from which we can see the top of the trees. It was a great reminder that I cannot always see the bigger picture but if I can pause, I can get a view above the trees. Not on the ground running in small circles, limited in vision and scope.

Sometimes I just want to yell at the top of my lungs years something said to me years  ago by the teacher Gangaji “ Neither indulge your emotions nor deny them” Sometime I want to yell it to myself (and do!) and sometimes to others.

Think about that for a moment. Neither indulge nor deny. To me this is just meeting life on life’s terms allowing ourselves to be human and alive. Yes, we feel. But feeling is only the tip of the iceberg.

And the story is just a story and it too is always changing. That is the cycle of it all. And if you can go inside and check for one moment and find that you are bigger than your story, then the neurotic, damaging and unproductive narcissism fed to us by family and culture will recede into the background for good.

And then, you’ll have a real story to tell~

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lauren Weedman the Great! A Solo Performer's Performer...

Lauren Weedman is a funny, funny woman. She's also whip smart and insightful.

Last year I produced one of her shows out here in Santa Fe for a few nights. Her show was called "No, You Shut Up" and the audience(including me) was laughing so hard that we could hardly catch our breath.

This summer she is doing her new show up in Portland that has been commissioned by a Rep Theater. I think it's her 9th show or 10th.

In a perfect world, Lauren Weedman would be more famous than Louis CK and the like. But we don't live in a perfect world. But here she is in all her glory in a clip from one of her shows "BUST"

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why a Solo Show is Great for Business (even if you're not an actor!)

People come to me to do one person shows for many diverse reasons. I notice that different kinds of people come to me in waves.

Because I have been doing this work for so long, I have had waves of people doing solo shows for various reasons.

In the beginning and because of my own training I suppose, I almost got actors exclusively as clients. And there are still many many actors who have become aware of the fact that solo performance is an empowering way to showcase ones' talents. This is one of the reasons why Fringe Festivals and Solo Performance festivals are popping up all over the globe. Solo Performance IS the new paradigm of theater and the fastest growing in the world.

Because I live in Santa Fe, not NYC, LA or San Francisco , I get a unique cross-section of non-actors who are driven by alternative reasons for wanting to find a specific and powerful expression for creating and performing a show. Many are woman who want to feel their voice is being heard in a deep and creative way in the world.

In the last ten years I have worked with a shaman who wanted to express her spiritual journey, a former sex worker who was now a therapist, many business people and several cultural creatives doing interesting projects in alternative markets.

When people tell an interesting and powerful story in this forum, huge amounts of energy get stirred up. It's why I tell people it is a shamanic process. You literally cannot offer a show onstage to a community of people and not change and be changed.

It is a great way for like-minded people and people who can benefit from your business services to find their way to you.

I must say that particularly for people who do work with people; therapists, teachers, healers of one kind or another..the balance of sharing one's own story onstage attracts business.

It is a new paradigm. In a way, it is exactly how my path has played out. From solo performer, to teacher/facilitator to healer/director. It has all been how my brand has been formed. Not in a contrived way, but in a very organic way.

Solo shows are a wonderful, expressive and fun way to connect with your natural clients. It is putting yourself out there in a HUGE way.

And so the form continues to morph and expand....

Happy Spring to All! Love, Tanya

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Monologues to Change the World/ Israeli and Palestinian Peace Monologues

I am very excited that I have hired Bruce MacIntosh to help me by organizing and posting all my videos from shows over the last ten-twelve years.

Yesterday, he put up about 24 videos from 2 shows I did with young woman from Israel and Palestine at a peace camp. Each one tells their powerful and true story.

We worked with these girls writing and performing their monologues in 3 languages (Hebrew, Arabic, English) in 3 days. Yes, from the time they sat down to create their monologues til the time they stood in front of packed audiences here in Santa Fe, we had three days to facilitate this.

It was wild and amazing and ultimately very empowering for the girls, many who stated on their camp forms that standing onstage with "the enemy", being deeply heard, receiving flowers and standing ovations together was the highlight of their time in the US.

Please check out the videos below as a sampling of the work.

On this same You Tube channel (Tanya Rubinstein) you can sit back and listen to some powerful stories from the heart of Jerusalem and Gaza.

This December I will be traveling to do monologues with this same population of people on the soil of the Israel and Palestine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Makes a Great Therapeutic Monologue Facilitator?

As many people are expressing interest in training in the Therapeutic Monologue Process I offer, I thought I'd write a bit about what it takes to be a great facilitator in this work.

Successful facilitators need to do a great deal of preparation in order to facilitate the process. The first step is going through the process of writing and performing a therapeutic monologue in front of an audience. No one who has not walked through the process themselves has the “inner authority” to facilitate in my opinion, even if, as a therapist or other healing professional, they have the ability to hold space for others. Then, they need to facilitate a group under supervision and receive detailed feedback about their in the moment relationship to the participants and their stories. In an ideal world, the facilitators would have a strong background in acting/solo performance themselves, personal writing, be trained as a therapist as well as having a direct experience with their own Divine Nature. That, however would be an unusual person. All people I have trained as facilitators who are attracted to this work have at least some of these qualities or backgrounds. It is also possible and quite desirable to have two facilitators working together, one with more of a writing/theater background and one with more or a therapeutic background to collaborate. Knowing or having touched one’s own Divine nature supersedes the rest of the qualities. This direct experience prepares the facilitator to not buy into the victim or perpetrator story. This background allows the facilitator to sit and listen deeply and open heartedly yet without painful attachment  to people’s traumatic experiences which may include everything from rape to wartime experience to the loss of a child. It does not make the facilitator callus, but rather compassionate. This is not about dogma or imposing any belief systems on the group. Rather, it is simply the faith in knowing that something bigger than oneself is holding the energy of the group. From this place of deep knowing, an infinite container is created that can hold and transform any story from pain to wisdom, trauma to acceptance . This ability to create this container from a place of spiritual knowing is the facilitators greatest asset and indeed a necessity to do the deepest level of healing work.