Stage Fright, or What Eminem Taught Me about Fighting The Nanas

A few weeks ago I opened my sixth of seven solo art shows in the past 18 months. You would think with that many openings that it gets easier, that I improve my process, that I am—if nothing else—less nervous about it.

But you would be wrong.

The week before I was so stressed. Working late hours to get ready, trying to get through my to do lists. Trying to remember the things I remembered and forgot to write down. My breath tends to be shallow. I’m nervous. Shaky. Intellectually, I know I will be fine—but my physical self is on high alert. It’s hard to unwind. Harder to sleep.

So I’m in that space and I’m driving late one evening. My phone is plugged in and randomly going through all my songs, which ends up with unusual juxtapositions like the Kelly Willis and Black Eyed Peas and Christmas Songs and Kendrick Lamar and Mozart. And then it landed.

Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.”

I turn it up. All the way up. The truck thumps as I drive through the dark and rainy night.

“Look
If you had
One shot
And one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted
In one moment
Would you capture it or just
Let it slip?”

He asks me. He is speaking to me. This show is a great opportunity. It’s a popular shop. My work will be up for at least a month—not just a one night art walk. It was the opportunity. But then his words come back. The reality sinks in. Yes, this opportunity and all of a sudden

“His palms are sweaty—
Knees weak—
Arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already—Mom’s spaghetti—
He’s nervous
But on the surface
He looks calm and ready
To drop bombs
But he keeps on forgetting what
He wrote down
The whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth
But the words won’t come out
He choking how
Everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out
Time’s up
Over blau.”

That’s me. That’s me with a Case of The Nanas. Getting ready to walk into a gallery. To meet other artists. To give a talk. The Nanas. It’s stage fright. It’s the most brilliant text I’ve read about stage fright. The lived experience of it. They way the mind can go blank as your body fails you, betrays you. The pressure overrides your mind. Few artists talk about it outside the performing arts. So many visual artists are introverts, which is partly why this medium has such an appeal. It’s a place for us to hide, to restore, to refresh with just the rhythm of the brush on the canvas, the feeling of joy that comes from seeing a work of art emerge from the layers of self expression.

Don’t get me wrong. I know Eminem is misogynist AF but this song. This song is incredible. It gave me a way out. A way to fight the stage fright. He told me exactly what I needed to do.

“You better
Lose yourself, in the music, the moment,
You own it
You better never
Let it go.
You only get one shot,
Do not miss your chance to blow
’Cause opportunity comes once in a lifetime
You better
Lose yourself
In the music
The moment,
You only get one shot,
Do not
Miss your chance
To blow
Cause opportunity comes once in a life time
You better
You can do anything you set our mind to, man [sic]”

The answer was right there. I needed to lose myself in the music, the moment. To get out of my head, out of my body, and into the zone—connect beyond myself—where the music is. And in that moment “Lose Yourself” became my walk up song.

What’s a walk up song? In professional baseball, there’s a tradition of batters getting a song played each time they walk up to bat. It helps set the mind, shake off nerves, gets them pumped, and ready to connect the bat to the ball. It was just the technique I needed.

Now when I feel the Nanas approaching, I put on my headset and turn up the volume and lose myself. Works like a charm.

 

“Lose Yourself” is written by Jeff Bass, Luis Resto, Marshall Mathers

 

 

See—this is why the walk up song works. Get lost in the music and then I’m ready for the show! Thanks to Classic Consignment in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle for the show opportunity.

See—this is why the walk up song works. Get lost in the music and then I’m ready for the show! Thanks to Classic Consignment in the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle for the show opportunity.

Green purple dark blue

The works in "What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?" are inspired by suggestions from people in my life and those who follow me on social media. I ask for inspiration and in return I paint images designed to refresh and restore. The works are small and prices for collecting multiples. Comment below and let me know what three colors bring you joy!

What 3 colors bring #joy? One person said green purple dark blue.

This 5"x7" piece is 95.00 (includes mat and shipping). PayPal accepted. Comment "WANT" to purchase or comment "MORE" to commission your own 3-color work and I'll message you.

"We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil."--Jack Gilbert, Refusing Heaven

Green purple dark blue. Acrylic on paper 5"x7" 95.00 (matted and shipped) 

Green purple dark blue. Acrylic on paper 5"x7" 95.00 (matted and shipped) 

New in the store: MT. RAINIER

After weeks of previewing my work in progress on social media, I'm pleased to announce that Mt. Rainier is complete and available in the store!

Mt. Rainier has a power and vibration like no other I've known before. When I first visited Seattle in 2012, I found the mountain (actually a volcano, but we'll stick with mountain for this story) kept popping up when I least expected it. Almost every time, I screamed or startled when I saw it on the horizon. I couldn't decide if it terrified or thrilled me. A believer in signs, I had no idea how to read this one: what did it portend? I decided in the end that it foretold a great adventure--a decision I made just as we made the decision to move to Seattle. Every sunny day in Seattle, I see the mountain and it brings me joy. This painting portrays the emotional impact of this beautiful mountain.

April Challenge!

I'm getting ready for a solo show in May. I have 25 paintings but I need to paint at least 75 What 3 Colors Bring You Joy paintings to get to an even 100! And I NEED YOUR HELP WITH INSPIRATION!! Please post what 3 colors bring you joy in the comments below. Share with your friends and ask them to post too. Thank you!! #aprilchallenge #75paintings #💯

Yellow pink red 5" x 7" Acrylic on paper (c) 2017. 95.00 USD matted and shipped in US. 

Yellow pink red 5" x 7" Acrylic on paper (c) 2017. 95.00 USD matted and shipped in US.