Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit
Dana: Hello, Hello, my friends. How are you? And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. And if you are new here, welcome. If you’re a returning listener. Welcome back. I have a treat for you all today. Holy smokes. My guest on this episode is Martha Nichols. She is a dear friend and she is a bright, bright, light, fascinating human being. We laugh a lot. You will learn a lot. I really don’t want to keep you too long from this interview, but it is customary on the podcast. We always start by celebrating wins and this week my win is small, but really important. Actually, technically my win was about one and a half by two feet cubed. Um, does that make sense? It doesn’t really make sense. This week, my win is a box. I have had a cardboard box full of miscellaneous items in my living room, like right in the middle of my living room in plain sight, like an eyesore every single day for the last, like probably three months, it’s been there on my list of things to do, but nowhere near the top. You know, one of those type of items or areas in your house, you might have an area like, um, a junk drawer or a room. Some people have a full like junk room. Um, or a basket or a suitcase full of stuff that you just haven’t looked at or thought about for a long time. This was that box for me. And a few nights ago, I just sat down with my phone to take some photos of these remarkable items and a big glass of water. And I was like, I will get all the way to the bottom of this box and everything will either have a new home or will get donated. And I felt really, really good about that process. Most of the things in this box by the way, were artifacts, (um, underline the art part of that) from a project that I started back in 2015, 16. Oh yeah. I talk about it in this episode, actually. Um, I think it was back in 2015 into 2016. I started a company in Northern California. Well, where I was living at the time called The Bureau of Nonverbal communication. We were a fake government that was meant to kind of take place in the period, Late seventies, early eighties, we carried badges. We invented, um, all sorts of tools to measure dance. We were there to defend, protect, and investigate all things. Non-verbal. Um, actually because of that project started learning ASL American sign language. We did shows, we made videos, we trained, we had an absolute ball and you know what? After going through that box, I’m thinking about maybe, maybe revisiting the bonk, the Bureau of non-verbal communication. We might need a Los Angeles branch. We might need a branch in your city wherever you’re listening. If you’re curious about the Bureau of non-verbal communication, you can go ahead and visit @the_BONC on Instagram, THE underscore B O N C. You are really in for a treat. All right. That is my win today. I got all the way through that box. I found some stuff that made me smile. I found some stuff that made me want to cry. Everything found a home. And if that is not worthy of a celebration, I don’t know it is all right. Now you go hit it. What’s going well in your world.
Awesome. Congratulations. I’m proud of you. Keep crushing. It. Keep winning. Even if it’s just little wins every single day, it really adds up. Really matters. Celebrate yourself. Okay. Speaking of celebrations, y’all this episode is a party, Martha Nichols, and I have known each other for a very long time. You can hear it in our voices, the enthusiasm to be connecting and we connect on a lot. Uh, we also dig in to some difficult questions. We talk process, we talk humor, we talk music. Um, we talk a lot, so let’s go ahead and get right into it. Enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Martha, Nichols,
Dana: Martha freaking Nichols welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here,
Martha: Dana freaking Wilson. Thanks for having me. I’m so pumped.
Dana: I’m pumped. I’m jazz. I’m ready to get into what is sure to be a very bright and I mean that in so many ways conversation. Um, but before we do, I it’s, it’s, uh, routine on the podcast that I ask all of my guests to introduce themselves. That is on you. What would you like us to know about you?
Martha: Ooh. Wow. Um, I am an artist who believes in humanity and faith and the spiritual aspect in all things, which opens the door to faith and hope in all things. I love to create in the expansive, um, sense of the word, whether it is creating art or creating safe spaces, creating conversation, creating safety within other people. Um, yeah, I am a creator. I am an artist. I am somebody who loves Jesus.
Dana: Yes. That is you. That is Martha Nichols. That is the Martha that I know today and have known for a really long time. So it will give the listeners a bit of context because I’m sure people will be. Um, if they’ve listened to any other episodes that I have made, if they’ve listened to them. Um, I think relative to previous episodes, I expect in some ways, um, a deeper dive here with you today. And in some other ways, there will probably be way more cackling than usual. So I’d like to shed a little bit of light on our history because that I think will inform people as do I there’s so much laughter. Um, so let’s see, Martha, I don’t actually remember when we met like our first, our initial meeting. Do you? I’m not offended if you don’t.
Martha: I think it was, I mean, honestly I think it was at a function at Tammy Faye’s house.
Oh my God. Okay. That far back. So the year probably 2006, maybe.
Yeah. Somewhere in 2006, 2007.
Okay. So tell me this. What year were you on So you think you can dance?
And how’d that go?
Um, it went.
Up? Down? Spirals?
Um, I would say for me personally, it went according the first, not according to plan and then according to plan, um, I never wanted to win. I honestly thought I was going to get cut early on and my hope was to go ahead and get cut so I could go back home. Um, and then I kept not getting cut. And then once I made top 20, I literally thought to myself, maybe we should try. Like you like you’re here. And despite you trying to not be here, you’re here. And there are people who wanted to be here, who are not here. So figure it out. Don’t take this for granted, actually apply yourself and try. Um, but for some reason I just was like, I don’t want to win. I think it’s more beneficial to build relationships with the choreographers, the producers and directors. So my personal goal was to come out with a good relationship with the people who are truly wanting to work with and to make top 10, and that’s exactly what I did.
All right. So really loved that. I don’t know how it is. There, I guess I suppose, is a similarity in the sense of humor that you and I share for sure. Um, but uh, I’ve talked about on the podcast before a serious silliness. Um, and I would love to hear, because I think that you’re somebody that takes their work very seriously. Where, where do you find space for humor? Is it in the work? Is it in the process? Is it everything in between?
I think I find humor everywhere except in intention. Hmm. Explain. Um, cause I think with intent, actually, I just listened to you and Dexter’s podcast, shout out to Dexter Carr where you were talking about, um, what you, uh, wow. English, Martha, what you learned from, uh, the paint, painters and like sculptures and how there’s not a neutral stroke and how it either adds or takes away. Um, and I feel the same way with words and words are language. Art is a language. I think it’s the same thing in my personal process in creating. So like the by-product of intent can be humorous like, Oh, this might be funny, but in intention it’s like, no, I take my intent very seriously. So it’s like the intention itself, there’s humor in that for me. Process, I want to laugh. I want to laugh. I love it. I like to have a good time. As far as like me creating something and saying something, I need to know what I’m saying. I need to have a clear understanding of it because words either build or destroy, there is no neutral and I don’t want to unintentionally add, even if it lands differently than the way it’s launched. I still have to have a clear understanding of where this sits.
This is something I’ve been rapping with for a while now. Um, and I talked about it on my episode with Taja as well, which is this concept of words and their meaning and when they are flexible, when they are rigid. And I really do think that words, and this is like, this is where the wrestle happens. That words are very important and, and they are also neutral because they’re only as important as the person receiving them, believes them to be like, if you say something with words, your very deliberate words. And I think that they’re a lie, or I think that they don’t matter to me, or I think that those are your truth, not the truth. Then all of a sudden they become very light. They don’t they’re they’re, they’re not binding or rigid to me at all. So in, yeah, I I’m wrestling with it.
I wrestle with that as well. I think for me, they are definitive. And I’ll say that because I think words have two meanings. There’s a universal understanding. And then there’s a personal understanding. I think we get into dangerous territory when we allow the personal understanding to maybe erase the universal understanding. I think there’s a world where both have to be respected. Um, and so I cannot worry too much about how it’s personally going to be received because that I can say what I want,
It’s out of your control.
Yeah. It’s outside of my control. But for my part, it’s like, if I’m saying anything, I need to know what it means and if it’s heavy to me or if it’s a way to, to me, I need to know that that is my personal experience with that word, but somebody may not have it, but I think there is a universal definition. It’s like in the dictionary, this is what this word means. And then everybody has their personal understanding and relationship with that word.
With what it means to them. Or just say like, Oh no, that, that, that doesn’t work for me. This is interesting. And on ongoing. And certainly not one of those, like the answer that I land on today will be my answer forever. And it should be everyone’s answer. This is just one of those things that we could talk about forever to everyone all the time. And I’m always fascinated in this conversation. Um, okay. Speaking of fascination, I, and speaking of words, actually, this is a perfect segue. I did not plan by the way. I don’t know if I’ve said this out loud yet, but I have no plan in this conversation. Um, but this is a beautiful segue because one of the things that I have always admired about your movement is your ear. So let me elaborate. If you are not a person that is familiar with Martha Nichols, with her dancing or with her choreography, there is a heavy focus, a heavy a super-strong spotlight on music, on instrumentation, on composition of the actual sounds. Um, and so I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about your creative process. Do you like is music King, are words is a message King or queen, or like what’s the most important thing to you while you are making?
It fluctuates. It definitely fluctuates, um, really the spirit of it all. The spirit is the most important to me in all aspects. Um, and so in process I’ve actually recently switched my process to something that I’d never done before, where normally I have a song and I know the song kind of in and out, and this is what this is. Um, this is what it sounds like to me. And then I kind of see it musically in movement phrases, as in like these notes are higher. So this shape should elevate or, um, this sound is a timpani and not a bass drum, a timpani has a rounder sound. So, okay. This needs to be somewhere in circular space. Um, yeah. Usually music is kind of like the first with the intent of what it is I’m trying to say, and then movement comes. But recently I had to choreograph something over zoom, which personally is an enemy to all things musical.
Oh we can, we can go into that.
I don’t like it here. Like I don’t like this, but I also do love a challenge. Um, but choreographing over zoom. I was like, okay, like this act like low key, this sucks because I want to do all these things, but I don’t know y’all, I don’t know if y’all know how to dance. I don’t know if you can hear the music. I don’t know if you’re on or off. Um, and then me being a slight perfectionist and by slight, I mean, massive I’m now looking at the time in between the shapes to understand if they’re rushing or not. And so I’m like, okay, it was like Martha, you can’t do this. You’re going to drive yourself nuts. So I actually created movement to random songs and then challenged myself to create a piece of music, myself that fit what I’d already choreographed. Um, and I loved it.
That’s great. Wow. That is awesome. What an incredible solution to all of those, I don’t knows. Like, I don’t know if you can hear the music. I don’t know if you understand this timing. I don’t know if you understand this rhythm, but I do know myself, my capability, my vision, my aptitude for, you know, creating a sound space and then you did it. It is brilliant. Martha, congratulations. I love, um, okay. So where your understanding of music come from, because I don’t think I’m far off in my guess that you have a deeper understanding of music than most dancers. Um, do you, do you have a background in singing or in musical groups or is it church or where does your understanding of music come from?
All of the above, my entire biological family is musical. Mandatory coming out of the womb. Everyone sings and everyone plays an instrument. Those are non-negotiables, you can dance, you can play basketball, you can draw, but those are secondary to everyone is singing and everyone is playing an instrument. Um, both of my parents played instruments. My mother was a vocal coach. She played piano and organ at the church and was always a minister of music. So I could actually read music before I could read, because she would take me to whenever she would go teach, but she also taught at schools. And so she would have me instead of me coloring in like coloring books and whatnot. I was coloring in the musical staff. Like there was always, and if somebody in class didn’t have an answer, she would look at me like you should know this answer. Um, like there was no nothing about it. Um, and so once I got into like middle school, you choose instruments and I wanted to play saxophone. They make you start on clarinet. Um, and I just was like, ah, I don’t want to do any of that. Actually. I want to play drums. And my mother was like, no, I said, okay, it’s a very elaborate answer. Um, can I get a why? And she said, no. And after about two or three months, I was like, no, I really wanted to play drums. And she was like, you’re not going to take class in something that you can teach yourself. And I was like, yeah, but people study that. She’s like, yeah, but that’s not you. So in class you have to go learn another instrument. You can teach yourself drums. So I started on clarinet, um, highly competitive, got to first chair, all the clarinet players were going to saxophone. I thought I already beat y’all. I don’t want to do this again. So I switched to bassoon, um, super competitive. And I also wanted to learn bass clef because a clarinet is treble clef and bassoon is bass clef. Um, and once I got to sixth grade, my mother was like, have you been paying attention in your band classes? And I was like, why? And she was like, because you can learn to play anything if you just pay attention. And so she talked the church into buying a drum set, and we would go early on Saturday mornings and she would say, figure it out. And she had perfect pitch. She had great tempo. So she would just check me on things. And whenever we’d go play at other churches, she’d be like, pay attention now, go play what you just heard. Um, and so, yeah, got a drum set at home and I would after school play music and just play along to what I heard. And that’s how I learned drums, but still played bassoon all the way through high school, still have my clarinet. Um, and then I can figure it out keyboard. Um, yes. There’s always been like, like I love music actually still have a drum set. Um,
Like legit, I have a drum set. yeah, like music has always been this, like this like safe Haven. It’s like curiosity, the known and the unknown music is like, she’s my girl. She’s one of my besties. I love her. And my whole family, everyone sings.
I don’t sing. You probably know this about me actually. There’s another, there’s another circle back. I remember a, um, uh, Las Vegas afternoon, maybe a lunch break. I was in a car with you and Matt Carroll. And we were going to get food somewhere and you guys started singing whatever it was on the radio. And you instinctively harmonized with each other and started talking about the harmonies, like, Oh no, go a third higher. Or like you were using language that I didn’t understand. And I had this moment of absolute awe and it felt like I was listening to people speak a different language. I didn’t know what you were communicating or how you knew to do what or to meet each other in those places. But I knew that it sounded beautiful and I had never done that. I had never had that. Um, I tell you, what I do have is vocal nodules. So singing, not so much happening for me these days, but a lot of cup bubbles. So we’re working through it. We’re training. Um, I love this, this like underlined idea that your mom instilled in you, which is like pay attention, look around and listen up and pay attention. And that was always, I, you know, for as much fun as you and I like to have, or you and I and Logan Schuyvink or You and I and Pam, or you and I, and Ben Susak, like, we like to have fun. But when, when I think about you in those rehearsal days, you were the person that was like, y’all pay attention. People, listen up, pay attention, people, pay attention, pay attention. That might be the title of this episode. Pay attention! Okay. So where are you when you’re not paying attention? Like what’s the flip side of pay attention. And is there any value there?
Um, I don’t think I know that place, um, because if I’m not paying attention on this, I’m paying attention on something else. Um, yeah, so I’m always paying attention to something. I may not be paying attention to what the people around me are currently focused on, but I’m always paying attention to something. Um, cause there’s a lot to learn.
Oh my gosh, the world is so vast and we’re newborn babies. We know nothing. Okay. So let’s start learning things right now. You and I, um, I am wondering, I it’s this incredible thing that I, it happened to us just today, before we got on this call, I was extremely frustrated. I’ve had an, a very technically challenging day where all of the things that I expected to take 20 minutes have taken two hours. And all of the things that I told myself, just accept it. I look at, and I’m like, I can’t accept that. I have to try again. I, you know, nothing seems to be going as planned today. And until I jumped on this call, that was eating me alive. I was nasty in my self-talk. I was nasty in my outside talk. Um, before we hit record, there were several an F bomb. Um, and it wasn’t until I verbalized that to you and to my technical assistant Riley, who is invisibly, who is listening. It wasn’t until I shared that, that I really belly laughed and genuinely was entertained by my circumstances instead of was wrestling them. I was like, I even in the moment before we started rolling, I was like, let me turn on some way I walked just four feet, four feet is all I had to go. And it tripped on my purse and spilled out all the contents. My hand sanitizer, the gum is now everywhere, which means like it, my life is everywhere right now, but it wasn’t until I started talking about it. That that was fun to me versus a threat to me. So I guess if I have a question, it would be like, what is your process of going through it? Like, do you, do you go through it in a dark place with like swearing and cursing and pressure? Or do you call up a friend and laugh? Like what’s the way that you go through it?
Oh, the way I go through it is I’m very, I’ve learned the cerebral. I kind of knew about myself, but a lot of my friends have said it even where recently it’s like, I’m extremely cerebral. Like I am all in the mind. I could sit and have a three hour conversation in silence by myself, on my couch without anything,
No stimulation, just
No stimulation. Like I’m just sitting in a moment in the dark candles lit and let’s process it. Um, so going through it for me is kind of giving myself therapy. Um, and also, yeah, it’s just like, where, where did these thoughts come from? What, like, what are you actually mad at? What is it really? And who are you mad at? Are you mad at them or are you disappointed in yourself for allowing this even happen? Okay. So that’s on you. Why are you disappointed? Because you didn’t exercise boundaries. Got it. Why didn’t you exercise boundaries, Martha, like, it’s me just like going down all the way through it. Um, and then usually it gets not dark big. It’s a little heavy because I am extremely hard on myself. Um, and so what brings me out legit is the Bible. It’s like, okay, so how are my thoughts right now in this moment, whatever they may be in alignment with God’s word. And if it’s not, I need to throw them away. Like I can process them, but I’m not supposed to hold on to that because it’s not serving me. Um, and also if I get in such a dark place, I can’t help other people I’m best to other people when I’m best in myself. So yeah, a lot of silence, a lot of just like me on the couch, staring at my screensaver. Um, and then journaling. Hmm. Yeah. And just to write, like, what, what is it, what are you going through right now? How did you get here? Yeah.
Giving it a name, understanding it, and then owning it,
Owning it. I am all about individual accountability, I’ve gotten in arguments about it this year, but like individually accountability, like the responsible let’s be responsible. It’s your life. Yeah. And
And we share the planet, right. We share spaces. Yes. But it is, uh, you know, all those individual contributions really, really make a massive difference. So be responsible for your contribution.
Absolutely. Like you can’t understand communal responsibility. If you don’t understand individual responsibility, the community is made up of individuals,
That’s it. By definition, that is what it is
Like verbatim. So you have the individual responsibility of it all. Um, like yeah, just ownership, ownership. What did I do? Like Martha, you keep having this issue. You’re the only common denominator. So its you.
That’s hard, hard truth right there. Okay. So I, I, relate and I understand, and actually you and I talked recently and had this moment of like absolute agreement in this realization, which is the source of our results in our life stems, from the way that we are thinking period, the end. So, um, I would love to talk a little bit more about that and figure out, um, you know, find some, some good life hacks for our listeners out there who might find themselves in, um, common and undesirable results perhaps, and maybe guide through like some, some quick fixes on how a mindset shift might be the solution. Um, but before I do that, I do want to check in that last time that we talked, you told me that you have retired from dance. And then when we were scheduling this conversation, you were like, I have a rehearsal. I can’t, I can’t be there. So I’m wondering what is going on in your world right now?
Right. I know we’re also quite an extremist, so there’s that, um, yeah,
I’m here for it, I am really patient. So you could retire and get, and come back to the workforce. The workforce is that where we call it? You can retire 15 times my friend and I will still be here ready to hear what you have to say.
I’m like, I’m here, I’m back. She’s back. Um, retired from who I thought I was going to be and who I wanted to be.
Say that one more time. You’ve retired from the expectations of yourself?
Yes. I’ve retired from the expectations of who I thought I was going to be and who I thought I wanted to be.
And who was that?
Well, A. lost there’s that? Ooh, reel it back girl. Um, I realized that like, I wanted accolades, but didn’t want to do the work. So like, somebody was like, Oh, like, do you want to do Broadway? And I was like, I want it on my resume, but I don’t want to do eight shows a week. Yeah. I don’t, I, I know for a fact, I don’t want to do eight shows a week. I don’t want to do that. Um, and if I’m this passionate about not wanting to do it, I’m not going to do it. And even if I did, it would not be up to my own standard. Um, so yeah, really sitting with like, what are you retiring from? Like, okay. And, uh, I think all I’m retiring from old mindsets of what dance was to me as well. So I think I’ve had a deep recalibration with my relationship with dance, like put the shoes up for like eight months. And I was like, you don’t get to dance until you figure out why you do it anymore. Because I realized my old understanding and reason for dancing was kind of expired.
What was it? And what is it now I’m asking the hard questions, girl, but this is for you and for the listeners.
Um, I know we’ve already sat with all these questions for sure. Well, before it was definitely fun, only fun. And I danced and created because I didn’t have the words. It was a way to say what I couldn’t say. And over the past year and a half, I’ve been working on the words and I love the words. Like I love writing. I’ve always loved writing. And so I came a point where I was like, well, now that you have the words, what point, what purpose is dancer?
So especially if it had stopped being fun somewhere along the way.
Yeah. So it’s like, you’re just physically moving your body in empty space, which means you’re not dancing. You’re just moving. You are just aimlessly out here taking up space. You need to sit down. And so you figure out what you’re doing, sit down, you don’t get to participate. Um, and so now it’s definitely like, woof, I create, because I have something to say, um, and is a gift. And if the Lord gives you a gift, it’s not my job to judge it. It’s my job to share it, my job, to work on it and elevate it and expand it and to use it and to wield it as a weapon. Um, so yes to that. So it definitely retired from like the industry. I like went and like quit every job for a moment there. Um, this is like, take me out and remove my face from the website, take it off. Like I remove it all. Um, I’m now in a place where I realize that I’m going to sum it up this way. I’ve been writing a lot about the difference between destinations and doorways. And I always thought that dance was the destination, when I realized it was the doorway I was moving and acting in this world, like it was the destination. And now it’s shifted is that I’ve not only understood that it’s just the doorway. I’ve also internalized and I’m shifting everything in my life to move according to what it is now. And so with it being the doorway, I love creating. Like dance is a medium, a medium that I love. Sometimes she loves me. Sometimes she doesn’t. Um, sometimes I love her and I don’t get that love back and it’s okay. You know, growth. Um, but, um, yeah. Now dance is, this. It’s, It’s still deeply spiritual on a selfish, personal level. It’s a moment for me to say, thank you for having a body for having the medium, for being able to use it, um, for being giving the opportunities to train and to study and to master certain things. Um, so it’s always a moment of gratitude now in a place where I’ve fully learned. And I understand that if my spirit is good, then I can properly steward whatever project, room, group of people are in front of me and dance is the bridge that like opens the door. Dance is a doorway for them and their art for me to them, from them in themselves. It’s like, it’s a doorway. Dance is a bridge, it’s a doorway. Um, and so I went from being like, I’m not doing anything I’m quitting to Ooh, A. you don’t get to quit yet.
Not as long as you have a body and you have ears in the world makes music
Yeah. Like you, yeah. Like, no, you’re not doing it, Martha. Um, so now fully creating again and recalibrate it, my thoughts about creation and what it is I’m creating, why I’m creating it, how I’m creating it. Um, so I have been commissioned by Kyle Abraham’s company AIM to do a new work. And so I’m in rehearsal for that right now.
Awesome! Can you tell us anything about it? What’s your inspiration or what, what do you want the audience to be left feeling after this year?
I don’t quite know yet. Um, I would say questionable.
Like a sense of curiosity. Um, I think always a sense of peace, always a sense of, uh, what I’d like to create a safe space for you to dive into areas that you may not know necessarily go into. But I like to always package you back up before I send you on your way. Um, yeah.
Something, something easy. I don’t mean simple. I mean, full of ease.
Um, I, I remember seeing your show, um, I don’t remember what it was called though. So help me. What was your show called?
The Wider Sun.
Wider Sun. Yes. In New York city and that was out, Oh, this is going to be fun. Oh, this is going to be so much fun. Um, and I remember just feeling like it was easy to watch and digest and it looked good. Like the sounds sounded, and I could imagine what it felt like to be dancing it, and that felt good. And I, from, from the feedback that I heard from the audience around me, which granted were mostly dancers, even those who weren’t like, even those who don’t know what it feels like to be dancing, those grooves or in that mood seemed transplanted to that mood and seemed to like, get some residual feeling of what you had intended. Um, so Kudos to you and to that show. And I’m gonna like kind of sidebar, Um, and talk about, uh, Myself, Because this is important. And actually it’s something that I am working, um, with a lot of my peers and clients on is this idea of jealousy, um, or the concept of jealousy. So I know, uh, you’ve talked a bit about processing, right? Especially the darker corners of yourself or the unwanted feelings or feelings that we’ve been told are undesirable. And I think jealousy is top of that list. Um, you know, when we’re children we’re told, like don’t be jealous just because she, you know, has a nicer car or Sketchers or whatever it is that you’re jealous of. Don’t, don’t be jealous was always the message. And, um, I remember sometime in 2016, when I decided to rewire that, uh, message and get really curious about jealousy and start to use it as a map, I cannot fully take credit or any credit at all for this concept. Um, Julia Cameron, who is the author of The Artist’s Way, has an exercise in that, um, in the artist way called the jealousy map, where you look at somebody who you are jealous of and you really work your way down to the actual seed. That’s at the core of your jealousy. It is usually not the person. Um, it is. So anyways, long story short, I now look at jealousy as like this check engine light that comes on in, um, not in protest of something going wrong, but it, that starts blinking to help me look at something that needs my attention. And I want to let you know, here live on the podcast. You are one of the first people that I ever jealousy mapped, and it was shortly after you had won the, the ACE awards. Um, and I think you’ll probably relate to this I in the moment that I received that news, I, I got the news scrolling through Instagram one day and I saw that you had won and I scrolled right past it because I got that ping. That was like zeal, you know, somebody is doing something awesome. And it wasn’t you that moment always, always ready with that hot poker. So I got that hot poker and it was, as I was learning about jealousy and I was like, Oh my God, go back, look at that. What was that? So I asked just like you had talked about like sitting on your couch and conversing with yourself and talking yourself down, like off of all the cliffs and into the belly of the beast of what is going on. And I, the way that the jealousy map works more or less is you ask the question why over and over and over and over again as if you were a five-year-old. Yeah, basically. Well, I’m, I’m taking that away and I actually really love the way you seem to be parenting yourself at all times, all times. I don’t know if being a parent is on your list of things to do, but I think you’d be great at it because you’re, you’re constantly parenting yourself. Okay. So we’re back to the jealousy map. I see this post you’d won the ACE awards and I became jealous and I asked myself, why, why are you jealous? Do you want to win the ACE awards? And I answered that question. No. And then I asked myself why. And I was like, well, because I don’t really want to be a choreographer. And then it was like, okay, so why are you jealous? Is it because, um, that distinguished panel of judges thinks that Martha’s good? And then it was like, well, no. Cause I think I know that distinguish a panel of judges thinks that I’m good too. I don’t need them to think that I’m better. Okay. So why, like, I didn’t even submit, like, I didn’t even put my name in the hat. So why, what is going on here? And after like seven rounds of asking why I found that I was jealous of the bullet point, the line item on the resume, um, I was jealous of the visibility that that would probably afford you, you know, it probably meant a magazine article or a cover or a, something like that. It definitely meant you got your own show. That was part of the prize of winning that. Um, so even more visibility and in that moment, uh, that moment by the way, was, I think it was 2014 maybe, or must’ve been 2014 or early 2016. Okay. So I was still in, I was living in Sunnyvale at the time I was away from Los Angeles away from my usual work network. I had not, I had not gained any new resume bullets in quite some time. I was feeling invisible. Yeah. And that feeling Is what I responded to when I saw that good thing happen for you. So instead of swiping it away and just writing Martha off as a person that I’m jealous of, I started getting into the idea of visibility. I started getting into the idea of credits and work, and if I wasn’t working, why wasn’t I working? It’s certainly not because, um, the industry wasn’t busy. It was because I wasn’t putting my name into hats of projects I wasn’t creating. So at that time I decided to make a project. Um, I made a performance piece with my company at the time there in Sunnyvale. I reached out to all of my contacts in the world that write articles. I became visible simply by reaching out simply by. And I, I gave myself more bullets. I also redid, uh, shortly after that epiphany redid my, um, reel. So all of the existing work that I had done became more visible. So thank you for being on my radar and being part of my check engine light that helped me nurture this vehicle. That is my creative life. Um, and I really encourage anybody out there listening. Who’s ever done that rapid swipe to make things go away that might be causing temporary discomfort. Don’t swipe those things away because if you do, you will experience almost certainly experienced some mandatory suffering later down the road. So, um, I’m so grateful for you and that moment, um, and I don’t know, I, I guess that I’d like to open the floor to you and as a person, especially a person who’s a perfectionist, a self-proclaimed perfectionist. How do you deal with those with, with jealousy maybe, or with imposter syndrome or with, um, anything else that’s on the quote unquote unwanted side of the emotional spectrum. So what do you do when you don’t get what you want?
I asked myself why I want it. Um, so case in point I was choreographing this musical and there are, ee do I share this? Do I not? Okay. Yeah. So I..
You can use code names too, if that is helpful.
Okay. Work. Um, I love research. I love research. I’m always reading something like I love, yeah. I love information. I love to learn. I am a student of life and everything. Um, and so in looking up awards that I wanted to win, I was like, okay, because we will always be like, Oh, do you want to be famous? And be like, Ooh, I don’t want to be famous. I want to be respected. I don’t wanna be famous. Um, and so it’s interesting that you’re like, Oh, the visibility and that’s something I’m like, Ooh, I don’t, I don’t need to be visible. I just want to do what I do. And if people like it, they like it. If they don’t, they don’t, but I’m just mind my business over here. Um, so looking up certain awards. So, cause it’s like, I have goals. Like I am ambitious as it’s like, Oh, I want to get one of those. I want to get one of those. Well enough if I would’ve went to Tony, um, for choreography, because like you’re not dancing anytime soon, like on Broadway now that you know of. So what would be the way,
Because you don’t want to do eight shows a week.
Because I don’t want to do eight shows a week. So like, you can’t want something and not, and, uh, you can’t want like this thing and not be willing to do the work required to get there. So I know
You can, but you’ll just suffer miserably. What do you, when you don’t get to have it,
I’m a huge fan of acceptance. So Martha accept the fact that like, that’s not your way. There could be another way. So I was like, ah, I would love to choreograph and direct on Broadway. Love to. Um, and then I was handed this musical and I was, Oh, this is amazing. And at, just kind of like in my season of recalibrating, it’s like, I’ve been a part of the musical for over a year. And uh, after the year it’s like a recalibrating this year and it was just like, I need to quit that I need to quit this blah, blah, blah. And so I put everything, but the musical and the whole time, I just kept questioning myself. Like, are you supposed to be doing this musical? Or are you not like, are you, are you, are you supposed to like take a seat from everything in the current moment and then be reintroduced to it a little bit later? Or are you supposed to hold onto this? And I remember walking in my grandmother’s driveway, just like it’s at my grandma’s house. That’s the only place I have this quiet and alone. So I’m like pacing up and on the driveway. And we’re thinking to myself, it’s like, well, yeah, you want to do the musical, Like you enjoy it. The cast is amazing. The creative team is epic. And if I was to be a part of any project, it would be this, like everything checked, the boxes, content, people, music, all of it. Um, and then I thought to myself, Oooooh, you’re only doing this musical because you want to want to Tony. And that’s the way to get the Tony. But did the Lord asks you to do this musical to begin with? And I went, Oh, okay. So sit back down, sit back down, Martha and respectfully declined and stepped away. And it was just like, honor to be here. I would be doing you guys a disservice if I stayed. Um, but it took me a second to be like, do I like, what, what is this actual feeling here, Martha? What, what is going on here? Um, so again, like quiet time and reflection. And I taught, I had talked to myself all the time. Um, fun fact when we were filling out the psycheval for, so you think they asked like, do you hear voices? And I remember like having a moment being like, well, I mean, I do, but like its me, but like
Probably should say no, but if I’m to be honest, then hell yes, absolutely. The majority of the time. Yes.
But they’re all mine. So I don’t know. Yeah.
When you say voices,
Can we elaborate on that?
I love this.
Yeah. So like when I sit with like, I question myself all the time, all the time in everything I do, why are you creating this? Why are you friends with this person? Why are you taking this job? Why are you in this situation? What are you, what, what are you getting out of this? What are you adding to this? Um, and so those negative or not so fun kind feelings I sit with as well. Like, there’ve been a few friends where I’ve been jealous of. I’m insane. I’m just like, but why are you jealous? Like you don’t even want that. So what is lacking within you that this is a trigger, go sit with that.
Or what are they doing well that you’re not doing well? What is that? What is it that’s a hook in you right now because there’s something to be learned. And, Oh, I forgot to mention this in the jealousy map, once you get to the very kernel of why that person or that thing that they are doing is speaking to you so loudly, there is right at the core, an action that you can take now, right this second, that will get you closer to it once you understand it. But if you, you know, if you just keep swiping and ignore, then, then you won’t get any closer to solving that riddle or, or gaining that, um, that win whatever it is that, that they’re winning at that you think you’re losing at. Yeah.
Yes, yes, yes. I think, I mean, Yeah.
So I think I cut you off. And I think, I, I think I totally hijacked your thought when they went back to the jealousy map. I’m sorry.
No, you’re good. I’m still kind of like sitting in that space of just like, yeah. I, I feel like I I’ve always had the tool of why and growing up, it was annoying to most adults and teachers. Um, but now it is serves me like now it comes in handy. Um, and it was definitely, I’m realizing a lot of things that were spoken over me in my childhood were misunderstood. And those are the very same tools that actually helped me advance now.
Like why and what else?
Like why. And, uh, sometimes I kind of like think clearly I can think objectively, which sometimes is some people comes off as cold.
Copy that. I’m getting it a lot lately. Matter of fact, which when you’re warm, like bubbly people, like we are even neutral can read as cold relative to our normal mode, which is like sunflower. Copy that. So I want to talk really quickly about visibility and about respect because, um, you know, I mentioned visibility showing up in my jealousy map. And you mentioned this idea of respect when you decided that you wanted to win a Tony. So I would put visibility and respect as being absolutely relative, subjective and like feeling seen, feeling visible is a feeling, feeling respected is a feeling it’s very possible that you could win a Tony and feel totally disrespected and creating that same moment. So those like, you know, and me making the piece to feel, you know, visible or whatever it means putting a call out to dance magazine is not the thing that made me feel visible. I think in that moment, like really looking at myself, helped me to feel seen. And so that kind of speaks to your ability to walk away from this project is by knowing that that project doesn’t equal respect. I mean, even, even if that project equal to Tony, that project doesn’t actually equal respect, um, especially not of thyself. So, uh, speaking of respect, I respect you for making that decision. That is huge. And I think especially in quarantine times, which is where we are speaking from right now, the, the word, no with regards to work doesn’t happen a whole lot. Um, so it’s, it sounds like you are really, really dialed into the things that matter to you. Um, and, and I, I commend you for that. That’s awesome.
Yeah. Um, okay, Martha, I just, I simply think the world of you, I could talk to you forever, but I, I do want to send you back into your evening of what, whether it’s drumming or creating or sitting silently to yourself. Thank you so much for sharing with us. I just, I think the world of you,
Love you Forrest Gump! Thank you.
Um, wait, can we like demystify that story really quick? Why are you in my phone as Jenny with like eight A’s and why do you call me Forrest? Like where did that come from? I think it was someday on, In the Heights.
I have no idea. I think it has something to do with running and then I yelled forest and then, you yelled Jenny.
Um, okay, so there’s there’s room to still go deeper as there is in all things, in all areas, in all lessons yet to be learned. Um, and I hope you, and I get to do this again very soon and you’re awesome. This was awesome. I think the world of you. Thank you. Love you.
Thanks for having me. I love you so much.
You’re welcome. I love you. Bye.
All right, everybody. What do you think that believe it or not was the, uh, abridged version of our conversation. Um, Martha and I will absolutely be doing a follow-up tune into the Instagram, the Instagram tune into the Instagram. We will be doing an Instagram live tomorrow. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is Thursday, but we do save those lives to the Instagram account @wordsthatmovemepodcast So you can check in there. Um, here, our followup with Martha Nichols and so many of our other guests from the full from the whole year, almost a year, you guys, Oh my gosh. I hope you’re still loving the pod. I hope that if you do, you are downloading it so that you can have it with you at all times. I hope that you are leaving reviews and ratings if you are so moved to do so, it really does make it easier for other people to find the podcast sharing is caring. That is what I believe. I care about you. Thank you so much for caring about the pod. All right. Y’all that is it for today. Get out there, pay attention and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. Bye.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website. theDana wilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me. Remember. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.