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Sunday, April 13, 2014

What to do when people don't support your dreams

Most creative people live in a world of the imagination of "what could be", of possibilities, of thinking of stuff that doesn't exist but if they got their hands on it, you better believe it would.

When it comes to dreams, creatives have many.  But why is it that when you tell most people your dreams, they get really uncomfortable? All of a sudden, their expression changes and they are at a lost for words.  Maybe they are worried that you might get hurt, maybe they don't think you can achieve them, maybe they wonder why they don't have dreams themselves? Whatever the reason, at that moment they crystalize into someone that either supports you or doesn't.

What do you do when people don't support your dreams?  You dig deep and ask if you believe in them yourself. Because the reality is that no one will wake up fighting for your dreams, no one will believe in you, no one will care. But that's okay.  As long as YOU are your own #1 supporter and you stand by your cause even if no one else does, this alone will take you farther than you think.

From there, it is understanding that actions speak louder than words so instead of telling people your dreams, just show them.  Be courageous and do the work. Stop turning back to wait for other people's approval or to see if your thing really made a difference. Just keep going. By taking action, we silence all of the voices around us and within.

And lastly, surround yourself with other positive and spirited dream chasers who are just as crazy and passionate as you are. This combined energy can move mountains.

Remember the best service you can do for yourself and for others around you is to pursue your dream and to live from your highest potential. Now go on and get started...

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dear Lazy

Dear Lazy,

I'm tired of you holding me down...of you saying that it's okay to just chill...that 'don't worry, there will be tomorrow' and that anything I do doesn't really matter anyway.

I've grown sick of you keeping me at bay, convincing me that going full force won't get me anywhere so why even try? You have kept me fearful of failure, even more fearful of success, and have essentially held me hostage to my greatest potential.

Hard work is coming for me and she's not letting me down, she's not letting go, she's pulling me hard this time by the strands of my hair and holding on for dear life to take me for a ride - a ride to a place where you've never taken me before; a place where dreaming and reality blur together as one; a place where I'm no longer tempted by your comfortable softness.

Staring at my reflection in the mirror, you slowly diminish and I'm not sorry to see you go.  I know there are millions of others that will continue to join you, honor you, and fill your space and time. They will feed you and make sure you're happy.  I can no longer do that.

All this time you knew hard work has been around, waiting in the wings, initiating bursts of energy but never sticking around long enough to really get to know me. How could she? You always crept up before she could even try.  It's okay though.  Hard work knew I wasn't ready.  It wasn't my time and she would silently and gracefully make her exit.

But she's back and hard work knows that I'm here to stay - that I'm committed; that I'm willing to engage, to give, to sweat, to push further, to live longer, and there is nothing more that you can do for me.  Hard work will keep me up at night, will wake me up in the morning, and will consistently reveal to me what I'm truly capable of.

When I was with you, I sat around thinking too much, over-analyzing, self-sabotaging, not caring, but I see now this has been a huge waste of time.  Hard work says her most important lesson she will teach me is about ACTION and that obstacles, fears, and any stumbles I experience along the way are my friends. You deemed them as my enemies. And I believed you.

I'm sorry to sound harsh but all this pent up energy is pouring out! Who knew I had so much to say?! One thing I will say is that without you, I would never know what hard work really is. So for that...

Thank lazy.
It's been real.

Hello Hard Work.
Let's dooooo this!

Yours truly,
Awakened Mind 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

True Artists Don't Just Hit Record

Living in a YouTube generation where it seems everyone has their own camera and editing program to make videos, it's easier than ever to create content and broadcast it online.  But how does this effect the number of people attending live performances when audiences can easily sit in the comfort of their own homes to watch some art?

Personally for me, nothing beats a live performance.

A live performance offers a human connection that a video will never replace.  Each night, a cast aims to deliver the best possible performance, a performance that will never be replicated again. Mishaps and all, history is made at that moment and an indescribable energy is transmitted across each person seated or standing within the space.

Trust Artists don't hide behind the lens. They have the ability to give you in-person goosebumps, can alter your perspective by just an extension of their arm, and can leave you feeling that anything is possible. Without the help of photoshop, auto-tune, or any editing program that manufactures the end product, they go beyond just hitting record.  They display their human imperfections offering a dose of reality.  As human beings, we are not perfect but it seems once the record button is hit, a (distorted) picture of perfection is displayed before us.  

Will live performance eventually die in our digital world?  I hope not.  I see it transforming to take on a new shape where innovators will need to think creativity to find new ways to build audiences while still maintaining the integrity of the art form and its' performers.  With commercial, big Broadway shows on the rise, so too are the local shows bringing in a connected niche audience.  Those in the middle may diminish as they will have to compete fiercely with other forms of big-box entertainment.

I recently saw the show Gimme One Riddim choreographed by the amazing Natasha Powell and Jasmyn Fyffe.  Inspired by the heart and soul of 'Ska' music - Jamaica's original voice of freedom - the show brought the heat of the island to the Toronto Harbourfront Centre.  I was dancing in my seat the whole time and a big fat smile was planted on my face.  I looked around and thought this is it.  This is a moment that I won't be able to play back ever again. Even if I watch a video of it at some point, it will never do justice to the feeling I experienced while watching the incredible dancers sweat, move, and pulsate to the rhythm, essentially giving everything to their audience.

It's that which makes live performance so special, so real, so human.

And I hope that will be enough to make it last.

Gimme One Riddim: March 29, 2014
Photo Credit: Christopher James Cushman 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fear is not real. Love is.

Fear.  What is it? Where does it come from and how can we conquer it?  As human beings, we all have fears and if we allow it, they can paralyze us and keep us stuck.

Dancers are often viewed as fearless creatures. They get naturally high off performing in front of large audiences when most people are afraid to even step foot on a stage. They believe in pursuing their dreams - so much that they sacrifice everything, though for many, just the thought of leaving their comfort zone puts them into a state of panic. And they consistently put themselves out there, repetitively facing rejection while most people can't even bare to hear the word "No".

And yet, (of course) dancers are human and have fears too.  Many fear failure, success, the unknown, not being good enough, the industry changing who they are, doing work in vain, freestyling, injuries, auditions, and taking classes in a foreign style.

If one can look closely at these fears, one would realize that they are not real. They are merely thoughts, memories of the past or images of the future that are played on repeat in the mind. An illusion some say.  The only way out is to live in the present moment.  

Or in other words, just dance.  If you are truly in your zone, time and space collapse, the mind stops thinking and the body moves freely. Be grateful if you can experience this.

This is where Love resides and it is real.

To help explore more of this idea and how fears can hold us back..

Next week I'm going to participate online: "On Being Fearless" 21-Day Meditation Journey Arianna Huffington. I invite you to join in so we can (hopefully) get closer to getting rid of fear and replacing it with more love.

Friday, March 21, 2014

THANK YOU - 100K in 4 days!!

I'm still in shock that a regular post I wrote late Sunday has reached over 100K hits in just 4 days! Never would I have imagined the kind of impact this would have on so many dancers and artists around the world.  I'm glad when the going got tough, I chose NOT to throw in the towel...

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time out of your day to read, share, and provide comments on the post "How to know when it's time to give up on dancing".  I hope that at the very least, it gave you some perspective and/or hope in some way. Feel free to check out the rest of the blog and comment with any of your ideas or insights.

I've got a Special Announcement in the next few days about a new inspirational project that you can be a part of!!  Make sure to add me on twitter to find out about it.


I'm very excited to share this with you all as I think it's something really needed in the dance world.  Here's hoping you can join me on the adventure:)

In the meantime, keep the fire burning.

Janet L. Castillo

Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to know when it's time to give up on dancing

To work and succeed in the dance industry is tough. It's one of the most competitive professions out there.  I give a hand to anyone that decides this as their path.

The flip side is that this world brings some of the most incredible joys and feelings of ecstasy that a human being could ever dream of.  But what about when the pain outweighs the joy?  As a dancer, when is it time to give it all up? To stop going to auditions, to stop living pay cheque to pay cheque, to stop training, to stop believing in the dream?

The thoughts and feelings go back and forth.  One moment you are on top of the world when called for the part and the next moment you are filled with bitterness and hopelessness, picking up those extra shifts at work wondering when you will ever get that big break.  The wavering feelings persist and the doubt sets in.

These struggles are real and yet if dancers were able to reframe their thought process, the journey may not be so difficult.  The truth is that being a dancer is not something one gives up. It is who you are.  It is something that is so deep and within you that even if you tried to stop, it would be impossible.  The human need you have to express through dance is a gift and cannot ever be taken away.  You never have to give it up because it's a part of you. It's breathing.  To give it up would mean not to breathe.

The industry tricks you into believing that it's the only world that matters.  That it's the place where stars are made and it's the only way to 'make it'.  Suddenly outside validation becomes more important than fulfilling the deeper need to move and express. Dancers feel doomed if they don't book that music video or that world tour after just a few years of trying and give up faster than they started.

Yet if dancers were to know that the very act of dancing is a journey within itself, a new light will shine and other opportunities begin to expand. There are so many other areas where dancers can thrive, feel fulfilled and contribute their gifts - from the world of heath & wellness, community development, education, science, psychology, and motivational speaking ... the list is endless. There are an increasing amount of areas where the skills and expertise of dancers are needed and can be utilized to innovate and bring forth new ideas, new inventions, and new ways of doing things. Basically, these are other ways of 'making it'.

This all boils down to a shift of thinking.  The sooner dancers can come to the realization that dancing is a deeper human need, the sooner permission can be given to move freely, to enjoy the process, to detach from the end result, and to discover parts of themselves they didn't know existed. "Giving up" then is no longer an option and what's left is the essence of an unstoppable, moving and magnificent spirit.

And that is what makes it all worth it.

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