Ep. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #66 Money March Pt. 4 Q&A with Dancer and CPA Julia Grubbs
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What are the biggest mistakes an independent contractor can make? How important is it to file quarterly?  What can you do to get on the same “money page” as your partner? 1099’s… there are so many, what do I do with all of them?  THIS episode is all of your money questions… ANSWERED! Thanks to my very special guest, Julia Grubbs, Dancer, Aerialist, Personal Trainer, and CPA!

Quicklinks:
Find Julia HERE: Juliagrubbs.com  and on IG @jwgrubbs
Money March Worksheets: https://www.thedanawilson.com/product/money-march-worksheet-bundle
The Money Book by Joseph D’agnese and Denise Kiernan: https://amzn.to/3spNgol

Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome. I’m really jazzed about this episode as usual, always jazzed about the episodes. Um, but today is special because we are rounding out Money March with a really special question and answer episode. Uh, today I will be joined by the lovely Julia Grubbs, who is not only a dancer and aerialist and personal trainer, but she is also a CPA super bonus points to you. If you know or remember from the vocab in episode is 63. What does CPA stand for? Yes, you are right. CPA stands for certified public accountant. So for the next almost hour, Julia CPA, and I will be answering the money questions that listeners have submitted over the last like three or fourish weeks, um, during the course of money March, but first let’s celebrate some wins. We’ve got massive wins around here. And, uh, the one that I would like to celebrate today, I can’t even get it out without laughing. I am celebrating that. I have finally, I’ve been wanting to do this for like years. My friends, I have finally enrolled in clown school. Yes, the clown school to be exact. The Clown School was based here in Los Angeles, but they have an online program, which I should mention right out the gate. This is not a paid promotion. In fact, I have not even started yet. So I don’t know if this course is any good at all, but it came recommended to me from people that I think are funny and talented. So that was good enough for me. I’m jazzed about beginning, um, and that in this week, and now I’ll pass it off to you. What is going well in your world?  

I’m jazzed for you. So stoked. Please keep winning. You’ve got this. Okay. Now, before we get into this conversation with Julia, I want to let you know that my team and I have put together a special PDF companion for all Money March episodes. Actually we do PDF, um, companion, like interactive worksheets for every single words that move me episode. They’re all available in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop But we put the four money March episodes together in their own little bundle, because we really think that this information is important. And specifically these last four episodes are doubly useful. If you have that reference point that actual, you know, digital or tangible, I guess if you print it out place where you get to actually learn these things, instead of simply listen to these things. So, um, that special money March bundle of PDF worksheets is available to you thedanawilson.com/shop And, um, now we’re going to talk about that, that sensation, that you’re feeling in your chest right now, and the kind of tickling that’s happening in between your ears, that my friends is the desire to learn about money. Yes. So let’s get into it right away. Grab your pen, grab a paper, grab your words that move me worksheet or grab QuickBooks. I dunno, grab chalk and a sidewalk for all I care, but you definitely will want to be taking some notes. Um, all right. Without any further ado, everybody enjoy your money questions answered with Julia Grubbs. 

Dana: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome my guest today, Ms. Julia Grubbs Julia Hi, thank you so much for being here. I’m really excited about this episode. I’m very grateful to have you thank you so much for making yourself available.  

Julia: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.  

Dana: Yeah. Um, okay. So this is how it works on the podcast for better or for worse all of, for better. Is that how you say it for better or for worse? Not for better or for worst, but for better or for worse? I have all of my guests introduce themselves. Now you are a woman that wears many hats. So this might be an interesting challenge for you, but, uh, let us have it. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Julia: Yeah, I know you do this, so I’m just a little bit prepared, but not over-prepared. Um, my name is Julia Grubbs. I am from Paducah, Kentucky, um, small town. I live in New York City. I am a dancer and aerialist, a personal trainer and a writer, but most importantly, I am a CPA or a certified public accountant, which I know have told your listeners. 

Dana: Absolutely Indeed. Um, I’m thrilled that that combination of titles exists in one person because it would be very difficult to organize the schedules of all five of those people to have a podcast episode about money and finance for dancers. So I’m thrilled about you and your skillset. Um, and I’m really excited to be asking you some questions that I have garnered from my listeners over the last, uh, three weeks or so of podcast episodes that were specifically focused on dancers, choreographers, the way that we earned money, the amount of money that we earn and what we do with that money. So I’ve got a boatload of Qs to A and I’m thrilled that I don’t have to do it by myself. Um, so I suppose we might just get into it, shall we?  

Yeah, why not? Okay.  

I think you’re probably better suited to answer this question than I am. Um, because I know that you work with a lot of small businesses. You work with people who are, self-employed the question coming from listeners is what is the biggest mistake that an independent contractor can make?  

Honestly, I think it’s just not being prepared for tax time or just with a general plan for your money at all. Right. So often as dancers, we have money coming in sometimes, but not other times, um, irregularly from a lot of different sources. So really just having a plan and an approach to what you’re going to do with that money when it does come in, uh, making sure that some is set aside for taxes, some set aside for bills, you know, general emergencies, um, you know, for all of our expenses that we have, as well as making sure that there’s fun money in there as well, but just having an approach to it, instead of saying, great, I got $2,000, what do I do with it? Right. We want to make sure we have an approach.  

Um, do, do you mind if I ask what is your personal approach?  

Sure. So, um, I am a full-time employee as, uh, as an accountant, as a CPA. Um, so I do have regular money coming in, but as for my dance income, you know, there’s a couple of different approaches you can have, there’s a 50, 30, 20 rule sometimes that people have or a one number approach. So the 50, 30, 20 is what you would say 50% is going to our fixed expenses, you know, 30% for fun. And then 20% is going to what I would call future you. Right? You’re saving, you’re investing. Um, so that works well for some people. And they’ll kind of do that on a monthly approach. Um, the one number approach is a little bit different. It makes it easier because it’s just one number that you have to remember. Um, so the idea is to calculate, you know, how much money you can afford to spend on flexible costs, right?  The things that we have to actually make decisions about, not our rent that’s kind of fixed. Um, and then you only have to remember that one number on a date day basis. So you can start with your total take home pay that you expect to earn during the month. Right. We know that can be different as dancers, but you’re going to subtract all your monthly fixed costs, things that we know that, um, have to go, you’re going to set aside the money for future you and then, um, money for your non monthly expenses. You know, Christmas gifts, things kind of like that. And the money leftover is your flexible spending money. So you’re going to divide that number by 4.3, it’s the average number of weeks in a month. Um, and that’s your one number. So then you can go out into the world and spend money on things, you know, as you do. And all you have to do is check and make sure you haven’t hit your one number for the week. Right? So that’s, um, a good approach that some people like to use. 

I love that approach that is different than my approach. Um, I talked a little bit about, um, a dancer and a dancer spending in, uh, two episodes ago now. So I think episode 63, and I got this incredible gift of a book called the money book for freelancers, independent contractors and the self-employed and they, they talk about the divine trilogy of savings accounts. So I made a habit of 10% going to an emergency fund and by 10%, I mean of every check and that’s even my residual checks that are for like $2 and 74 cents, 10% goes to emergency fund, 10% goes to retirement fund and then 15% goes to a tax fund. Um, and by fund, I actually just mean online savings account that has a pretty healthy interest yield. So, um, I made habit of that way back in 2016, it is absolutely what I do once all that money is done. And once my, um, monthly fixed expenses are paid, everything else is freedom money. And what I find is usually, um, I feel best about putting that freedom money also into one of those savings accounts versus leaving it in the checking account where earns 0.01% interest, which is the biggest buzzkill ever. Um, so that’s sort of my game plan, but I like this one number. It seems like less math and I know for most dance types, math, isn’t our favorite thing. So maybe less math is more good. Um, thank you for shining light on those couple of options. Um, okay. So our next question, I love this question when negotiating contracts, what are the phrases to avoid? What’s the best thing to bring up an ask? What are the best questions to ask, um, in terms of a negotiation and I might head this one up, um, I’ll speak specifically to dancers and choreographers because that is the world of negotiating that I know. And actually in full honesty, I have had a dance agent for 15 years. I have never had to negotiate the terms of my own contract. Um, 

Wow, amazing. 

But every year my general service agreements with my agent comes up for renegotiation. Most GSS or general service agreements are for the term of one year. And I think it’s an important thing to note, that’s the contract that dancers will sign most often. It’s a GSA, it’s a general service agreement of some sort. You’re usually you have one with your agent, you have one with a manager, you might sign a GSA for a particular job. That’s addressing some sort of agreement for usage or something, but we, we, the dancer don’t sign the SAG-AFTRA contract, you know, or we don’t stipulate the terms of every working agreement that we’re on. We we’re, we’re not writing that language.  Those contracts already exists. Our agents sign them on our behalf, or we will sign paperwork on the day. Um, but the, the contract that you’ll wind up signing probably the most often outside of paperwork that says, yes, I work these hours, um, is the GSA and what I would love to, um, underline for this, for the person asking this question, and for everybody listening is that general service agreements are standardized, right? That’s why they’re called general, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be adjusted or modified or changed in some way. Um, you absolutely have the rights and the ability to suggest and offer changes to that GSA. And I’ve, I’ve never made amendment to a GSA that wasn’t accepted. Or every time I resigned my GSA with my agency, they send me a copy. I Mark it up in red. I send it back. I say, is this okay? They say, yep. And we sign. And in one more year, we do it again. Um, there was an awesome course offered by SAG-AFTRA. I think it was called understanding your GSA. And it’s one of the many perks of being a union member. You get to take this free course. And I learned all the jargon, Oh, sorry, circling back. Um, the question asks for what are some phrases or things to look out for things to avoid in perpetuity? My friend in perpetuity means forever for all time. I really encourage, anytime you see the word in perpetuity forever, you ask if that’s, um, uh, yeah, that’s a point where you might be able to set a term instead of in perpetuity forever. It’s for the next five years. It’s for the next 10 years. It’s until the usage changes, at which point we renegotiate strongly recommend looking out for that language in perpetuity forever.  Um, but yeah, these, the, the terms of contracts are important. In other words, the amount of time that they cover, um, always make sure that you’re filling in all blanks. You don’t want to sign your name on something that has open blanks that other could fill in numbers that you didn’t necessarily agree with. Um, on GSAs specifically, that will usually be a percentage number or, um, a length of time. You definitely want to make sure that you don’t leave any, any important fields like that open. Um, and then I guess my, my only other encouraging factor would be simply to ask if you don’t understand language it’s I know it might feel embarrassing to not understand what a word means or what it means in this specific context, but contracts are not designed with dancers in mind. Most of the time, there is no shame in asking for the meaning or a breakdown of legal ease of this jargon that can sometimes be intentionally confusing. So I really encourage you ask questions, either asking to your agents or from production, just for a little additional clarity. Hey, what does this mean? Um, and then of course there’s the good old fashioned habit of take a photo, take pictures of all of the things that you sign, um, and then put them someplace on an encrypted hard drive. Uh, but I, I, I see it happen often for myself and for others, is that something might come up long after the job has happened. You don’t remember what you earned. You don’t remember the hours that you worked. There is some sort of discrepancy and you have to call on that information. So, uh, yeah, that was, uh, a long way of wrapping up that question. Um, when you’re negotiating contracts, the phrases and terms that I would look out for are the length, the term of the contract.  Um, some specific language in there, for example, in your, GSAs your general service agreement with your agent. They’ll usually say I Dana Wilson here by give, enter name of agent or agency permission to act as my __ words come after that. You just want to make sure that those words are agent not, not necessarily representative legal, anything. This is I’m looking for an agent. That’s what I want to make sure that the word that follows there is, you know, the actual word that you’re looking for. Um, so there’s that, what else today? I think I covered that whole question. Best thing to bring up is anything that you don’t understand always. Okay. I think I did it. Julia, do you have anything that you would add to that?  

Um, sure. You know, uh, you know, contract negotiation, I won’t say is my entire specialty, but I will say, especially in New York, I know I’m not sure as much about LA, um, but some might not realize that agents will be happy to represent you on a particular deal, even if they don’t represent you generally. So especially if that deal and you know, is a union job or a job that pays well. Um, but regardless of who represents you, you know, one clause that possible to negotiate is the so-called favored nations clause. So basically that ensures that a performer is paid the same as others on the show. Um, so, you know, say you’re doing a certain show and you’re on in the ensemble, and we’ll just to make sure that all the other ensembles, what, whoever negotiates basically the highest, if this is great for an unrepresented actor or dancer, um, that whoever maybe might represented, negotiates the higher rate that you get this same pay as they do. And then you can negotiate that in terms of salary or in terms of terms and conditions, um, all sorts of things,  

Definitely important to bring up that the, the concept of favored nations certainly can work to your favor as you’re an up and comer. Um, but if you’re a person who’s used to negotiating above scale or has a specific day rate for yourself made by yourself, based on your experience and skillset, that’s, you know, above average, then looking at favored nations language is, is not going to be such a friendly thing to, to, to behold. And of course there is always room for a conversation. I think that all too often dancers and creative types in general, except what’s on the page as like I have to say yes or no, there is a third option, which is, I can say yes if or yes, when, and then go from there. Um, Oh man. Oh man. And I think in addition to having a bounce board for my ideas, my feelings about work, you know, my calendar in general, I love having an agent because of that, because I do not like being the person that negotiates, I like being the person that dances and teaches and moves and choreograph. So, um, yeah, I think that a handful of a lot of the questions that I got were, um, coming from a place of a dancer or choreographer who is not yet represented, I cannot stress enough the value of that relationship. And, um, I know right now, specifically, right now being March of 2021, a lot of agencies, uh, that represent all sorts of talent are doing virtual submissions, not a lot of people holding auditions in person these days. So it might be a really awesome time, even if you’re not living in a big city or hub to get the attention of some of these people who are sitting at their computer all day long, looking for new talent in, in, under rocks that might not have been lifted up before. So if you’re out there looking for representation, don’t be shy. Come forward. The world is ready for talent  

And thousand percent. 

Okay.  Uh, let’s keep it pushing. The next one is interesting. I have an idea about this and I would love to hear your thoughts. My listener asks, what are the practices or tips or tools that you would recommend for getting you and your partner on the same page with money? Um, having two incomes in one household, in other words, and I’m fascinated by this, my husband and I have been married for, uh, five years, almost six years. And 

Congratulations 

Thank you so much. We root that is a win, especially because I am so in love. Um, and especially, especially because I haven’t like left in over a year, we’ve been in a house together for over a year and I am still smitten. Um, so I’ll, I have a couple of them. I jotted down a couple of the things that we do that work. And I’m not saying by any means that I am a professional at this. Um, but one of the things that my husband and I have adopted and I see tremendous value in is that we treat our goals, financial and otherwise like a business. And we treat parts of our relationship, like a business. We have a weekly meeting where we sit down and talk about the nuts and bolts of it. Right. Um, and I think it helps to build trust. We talk about financial goals. We talk about updates in our financial lives. We check on accountability. Like, did you send our CPA this? Or was I supposed to do this? Or did you pay this? Or, you know, it, it really helps keep clear who’s in charge of what, um, and what’s been done and what is yet to be done. Um, uh, yeah, that, that is one thing I really am a huge proponents of is the weekly meeting that’s set. It doesn’t happen over the dinner table. It happens over Skype. He and I are both in separate places. It’s standing on the calendar. If we cannot make it, it gets rescheduled. Like this is kind of coveted time. Um, the other thing that we do at least once a year is we really put it all out there, look at every single account, how much is in it, how much was in it, how much do we want to have in it? And we, I have a Floor to ceiling mirror in my dance studio area. We get a dry erase marker and cover that thing with just all the numbers really helps build trust and get a clear idea of the big financial picture instead of what comes up in our weekly meetings, which is usually kind of, kind of short term. So that’s, that’s another one. Um, and then in terms of like the actual structure of our money, I don’t know much about this, but my husband and I have a, um, yours, mine, ours approach. He has his money that he earns and he uses, I have my money that I earn and I use it and we have really different spending styles. Um, but we then have an account that is ours. It’s for our goals, our trips, our dream purchases, our, you know, shared items and emergency things. And that sort of like the, I guess it’s not a divine trilogy anymore. Cause I have, I have, I have taxes, emergency retirement. And then DanDana, which is our joint account. And every check I get, some of it gets shaved off and put in there and that, and when you have two people doing that, that account grows pretty quickly so that I would super recommend. Um, and then, Oh, one more thing, celebrate, celebrate the small things and celebrations don’t have to be expensive. I think what my husband and I have started to do is establish what we what’s important to us. Um, since the quarantine actually a cool change is that we found out that neither is not important to either one of us to eat out. Um, I much prefer his cooking to most of the restaurants in my area and I prefer efficiency speed. And I love like I love not spending more money than I need to be spending. I found this awesome farmer’s market. I get a box for 25 bucks every single week. I know that’s become a definite fixed number for me. And when I find myself spending the same amount on one meal than I do on my entire weekly food, I’m just like, Ooh, I don’t love that feeling. So we’ve decided like certain things are not important, eating out for example, but certain things are for me, one of them is travel. So I am willing to save scrupulously in other areas so that I can spend in the areas that really light me up. My husband’s the same. He’s like I do not need new clothing ever. He will wear his clothing until it does not cover his body anymore, but he will absolutely be buying new tools, new equipment. And my husband is an engineer. His tools and equipment are not like the cost of a new pair of shoes in my world. Those are my tools, my equipment, right? These are like thousands of dollars of, you know, machinery and stuff. So we save where it matters and we spend where it matters and we celebrate meeting our goals. That is my advice for the couplage in the world. And, and Hey, five years, um, I’m celebrating, I’m celebrating, but it’s not 60. I mean, get out there and ask that question to every couple that, you know, that’s such a smart question. And I’m, I’m really curious. Um, Julia, I’m curious to hear your input, but I would pose that to any couple that’s listening. Like what do you do? I want to know, send me a DM. Words That Move Me podcasts, holler, Julia throwing it to you.  

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as much as people say dancers might be frivolous. The system that you just described was so detailed and you know, you’re making that systems based approach that everyone needs to have success and this area of our life, right. As dancers, we know how to hustle. We are hustlers like no one else, but in our financial world, you know, sometimes we don’t do that, but you are showing that we can. We do have the skills to be able to do it. We just have to apply that same kind of energy we have in the rest of our lives. Right. Um, yeah. So, you know, the weekly check-ins, those are amazing, you know, a yearly check in. I would answer these questions for yourself. I would say on a scale of one to 10, you know, how much, how much you worry about money or how much, how often do you think about, or talk about money?  Um, and then you want to take a forward-looking approach and say, what does our most amazing life look like? Right. Let’s see each person answers that individually. And then we’re going to come together and see, okay, what do we want our life to look like? Right. Um, where do you want to be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years. And once we settle on what we want, then we want to take a systems based approach of how to get there, right? Automatic saving, investing, right? Like you’re talking about automatic debt payments. If we are in debt, know our exact debt payoff date the year and the month, so that we can have a date to look forward to and then use all of those skills that we are all of those systems that we’ve built to get us to our most amazing life in the future. Right. What do we love spending money on? What do you hate spending money on? We’re going to cut costs, mercilessly on those things that we don’t really care about and spend a ton of money on the things that we love spending money on. Right. That’s going to make us a generally happier person, happier couple in general. Right? And we, each person in that relationship might have different answers to that. And so they can then just act accordingly, right? I like spending money on convenience, having my groceries delivered to my door. I love cooking. So I don’t eat out as much, but I just love having all of my groceries delivered, you know, having a personal trainer, I could, um, create my own workouts. Right. But I outsource it to someone who also trains dancers and does that for me. Um, so we work to find out what we actually care about and not what other people care about, right. What our person and our relationship cares about.  

That’s huge. Um, I love this idea of forward thinking and then kind of reverse engineering back from that point. Like I know that if I want to be fully debt-free by X date, then I want to be half debt-free in half of that time. And it can get pretty practical and reasonable and drama free when you just look at the numbers and really focus to hit your marks. Um, okay. Now let’s actually, let’s sidestep from the math of it, the, the math part, and just talk a little bit about mindset or what I like to call drama. Um, and, and it’s funny because money, which is math has such a hold on our heartstrings on our thoughts on our, on, Ooh, it’s deep. It is very deep. So I, I would like to talk a little bit about mindset and I know that you, um, specialize in this department. So I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Uh, I have a listener asking what is the suggested mindset for an artist who’s looking to increase their earnings and kind of achieve a more sustainable minimum. Um, and I think the caveat here is like, while still doing fulfilling work, what do you think about that? A money mindset? What’s the, what’s the mind, what’s the type of thinking that will get you earning more without necessarily having to sell your soul to the devil? 

Well, I, I think you can’t really address the problems with money until you address the psychology behind money. Right. So what is your money mindset that you had growing up? What did people in your household talk about? Right. Did they not talk about it at all? You know, I always felt like I had somewhat of a scarcity mindset and that there would never be enough. So it might help to start to journal and, you know, unravel well, why you might have that certain mindset and tap into that emotion and that it makes you feel and combat it by saying I’m not a child anymore. You know, I don’t have my parents’ fears. I don’t have, I don’t need to bend to that fear anymore. And I am in control of my current money beliefs. But in order, in terms of, um, increasing your earnings, you know, I often think about how happy future me will be if I am not worried about money, right? Money is people’s top sources of stress. 73% of people said that they, if they felt clear about money, then they would report being less stressed. So if I feel less stressed about having everything covered for me currently, and for future me, then I can focus my time and my energy on things that do artistically fulfill me. 

That’s huge. So in other words, You’re taking on now, which something that might be maybe just an uncomfortable conversation, right? Like something as simple as asking for a raise or something as uncomfortable as asking for what you actually think you’re worth versus giving the homie deal to everybody right. In the moment that might be uncomfortable, but your future self will thank you because your future self will be that much less burdened by, uh, a scarcity mindset or a money struggle moment.  

Yeah. And going back to that, um, that what we talked about with couples, you know, we, that forward thinking approach, what does my most amazing life look like? Let me backtrack and how can I get there? Okay. I need to make more money in order to get to that. Cool. I’ll start doing that now. Right? It’s all about consistency over time, as opposed to just, you know, one, one thing right now, I’m going to increase one paycheck that I earn right. We’re looking to do it over a long period of time so that we’re successful successfully set up financially.  

Yeah. Small bits, making big difference. This idea of like compounding interest over time, a small change. Even if you ask, you know, let’s say you’re a dance teacher and you ask for $5 more per hour, small change in this one conversation that we’re making. But over time, a really, really big, a big shift. That’s huge. I appreciate that. Um, another listener asks, uh, I feel very motivated to work on projects that fulfill me artistically, but I’m less motivated to work on the sufficient income type of projects. And that might even fully mean a day job. What do you think about that dancers taking on a day job outside of, um, their, their creative work? Is this something you see with clients often?  

Absolutely. Yes. I think some people have, especially right now during this past year, I think people are spending their energies developing side businesses, side hustles, as well as just, you know, um, nannying part-time things, um, in order to kind of cover those bills. 

And is that something that you, um, I guess the followup to this is like, is that something you encouraged, do you see, do you see creative clients of yours achieving some degree of financial freedom, thanks to say Starbucks or, you know, having, having some other regular income?  

Yeah. I think it depends on what your goals are. So, you know, my goals are flexibility so that I can go to any audition I want to go to. It’s not limited by time because I can work on my own whenever I want. Right. Others might have to work the morning shift at a gym and so that they can go to an audition later, um, or work on contracts later. Uh, I think it depends on the person and what they’re willing to do. You know, um, oftentimes there’s kind of a negative stereotype. I think between a lot of people would come to the city and bartend and then not be able to wake up for their 8:00 AM audition cause they were bartending till 3:00 AM. Um, and if that’s, if that starts to take away from what they actually want to do, then it might be time to invest, uh, their skills that they, they definitely have into a different side hustle.  

Awesome. Thank you for making that distinction. I worked at urban Outfitters when I first moved to Los Angeles and for a full calendar year, I rocked that opening shift from 6:00 AM to 3PM and that, and that worked for me. I was a person that thought like talk about money beliefs. I believed that that stability helped me in my life. I believe that like the regimen, the order, the, uh, certainly the health and the health insurance that I was provided, all my taxes were automatically taken out of my check. I found, I found great convenience and comfort in that it didn’t bother me at all. And so I think the combination of the job itself, which provided a little bit of flexibility and hours, that didn’t really conflict, that mixed with thoughts about it made that a totally reasonable thing for me to do at 18 years old, living on my own for the first time in my life, you know, but there, but that, but that’s not everybody’s experience. This is not a one size fits all fits all type of answer. You have to really get, get real with yourself about what you’re thinking this side hustle means to you. Um, because there are ways that it can fill your cup emotionally and financially. Um, if it’s the right gig, man, I, I really enjoyed my Urban Outfitters gig. I’ll tell you what it made shopping for my audition outfits, much easier and more fun, and cheaper I soaked that employee discount up for as long as I possibly could. Um, okay. So maybe the side hustle conversation is a good segue to my next question, which is one of my favorites. It goes like this, I love it so much. 1099, How do I deal with all of them? And I have this exact same question.  

Yeah. I mean, a ton of, uh, dancers will come to me and say, Oh my gosh, I have so many, 1099 nines. My taxes are going to be so difficult. And my answer kind of is that doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes are going to be that difficult. I will say. Um, all it is is basically a couple of extra data entry, you know, in order to get all of that uploaded into the system. Now, if they are in different States, which often happens, you know, if they’re working in different regional theaters across the country, those kinds of things that can make it a little bit more difficult and we can get into that a bit later, but basically 1099. And I know California also has AB5 that makes independent contractor versus employee. Um, yeah, I know we don’t, we don’t, we don’t love it, but, um, if you are getting 1099, then that means that employer not the right word, but, um, considers you self-employed. So when you are self-employed you then will file a schedule C and then you conduct deduct business expenses against that. Right. So you’ll then pay self-employment tax on that the, which is the employer and the employee share of social security and Medicare. Um, but half of that is deductible. So basically all the 1099  

Back up, back up, back up. Yep. So half of Medicare and self-employment tax are deductible  

On the front half of the 1040, well, the 1040 is now just kind of technically one page, but yes,  

I’m just underlining that for everybody that’s listening because that’s very important. Carry on.  

Yeah. So yeah. So if your income is all W2, um, then you won’t file as self-employed and then you don’t get to deduct business expenses against that. The only way you can is on the state return, if those, if that state allows it. So I think New York, California, Pennsylvania, and a few others have a combinations that still allow showbiz expenses. Um, but not all States do. Okay.  

Here’s a question from me specifically about this subject on a normal year. I might, I do a combination of W2 and 1099 work. Let’s say I teach at four different summer intensives. I go set choreography on a couple of different studios. I am in a couple TV episodes and I teach on a convention. So a mixed bag, right? And while I’m working during the year, I’m not thinking about which ones of those will be W2’s and which ones of those will be 1099 nines. So I find myself at the end of the year, wondering if I have all my documents ready to give to my CPA, I, it never fails. I will send all my tax documents to my CPA. And then two weeks later, I get three more from this dance studio or this project or whatever. Um, do you have a system, a recommendation for tracking projects as you do them that helps you kind of line item yourself and, and know when you’re ready to be like when you’re done at the end of the year, um, or when it is tax time, how do you know that you’ve got it all?  

Alright. So the deadline for the, um, employer to send those documents to you is January 31st. Um, so technically they should mail those all to you as of that date, right? That’s when they have to submit it to the IRS. And technically, technically, if they have paid you more than $600 for each project, then you will, are supposed to get a 1099. W2, any amount of money that they pay you. Um,  

Question for clarity, $600 per project, or $600 total. Let’s say, let’s say I go to a studio two times in a year. Is this per visit or is this in total?

In total for the year. 

So they have to send something by January 31st. And if they’ve paid me more than $600, they have to send me a certain thing. And then what happens?  

Yeah. So that is the 1099, um, which they have also sent to the IRS. So if you get a 1099, that means that he’s also sent that to the IRS.  

Okay. So they told the IRS, Hey, I, I paid Dana this much money. And then if Dana doesn’t report receiving this much money from them, then the IRS goes warning warning, look closer, which we don’t love that. Right. Um, so that’s why it’s important to make sure that you are reporting all income as what it was, right. Be it W2 or 1099, or, um, even interest earnings and stuff like that. Correct. Okay. So to answer this person’s question. 1099 nines, how do I deal with all of them? I personally scan them all into one document. I call it 1099s, and then I send it to my CPA. But what if this person is doing their own taxes?  

Uh, so whatever, however, they decide to file. So if you do make under 72,000, anyone can file for free on the IRS website. Um, and some States allow that as well, Free File. Yes. And then there’s a couple different softwares. I believe that you can choose to do that. So if you are doing that, basically, like I just said, it’s going to be just a little bit more data entry. Each 1099, you have to enter in the EIN how much money was received, those kinds of things. And also it was new for this year. We got 1099 NECS instead of 1099 miscellaneous. I don’t know if anybody noticed that this year, but yes, that was different. I didn’t know.  

I did I noticed that this year and I didn’t know what it meant.  

Yeah. So NEC non-employee compensation

Look how much learning I’m doing! Thank you for that. Okay, cool. Um, let’s move forward. Our next question is, do dancers get paid royalties? This is a great example of there. Isn’t a yes or a no. Um, if we look really broadly, I could show you many dancers that do get paid royalties. I could show you many dancers that don’t the distinguishing factor is the type of work they’re doing and the type of contracts they are on strongly recommend taking a wander back to in the show notes to episode 63, which is the first it’s part, one of Money March. I do talk about residual structures and SAG-AFTRA contracts. Those are, uh, dancers appearing on film or television and a new media. Um, many of those contracts do, uh, include residual structures and we love that. Um, right. Yeah. So answer to that question is Yes, and if you’re doing that type of work, um, and next question, how, and when do I negotiate pay? Again, this more or less depends on the type of work that you are doing because I have an agent, my agent is always the one that negotiates my pay and, um, I, I always seek for that to be done before my first day of work. You want to know what you’re making before you’re on the job. Simple as that, I am making it part of my money practice to talk about money first and frequent. If the terms of the project change while it’s happening, we’re going to talk about money again, before I signed the dotted line, we’re going to talk about money first and frequent is when, uh, you should be discussing your money. That’s my, that’s my answer. Anything to add to it?  

No, that’s, that’s got it covered. You know, we have to make sure that this is, it is a big part of our lives, right? So we have to make sure that it is in the conversation, um, frequently, as you said. 

Which actually also helps it, it becomes less of a big deal when you’re talking about it more often. It’s yeah. It’s, I guess it’s kind of like fouette turns in that way. Like it used to be a really, really big deal before I knew how to do them. And when I didn’t do them very often, it was like, Oh, here we go. We’ll go. And then when I learned how to do them and did them all THE TIME, unstoppable, you could not keep me from doing four to turns in my kitchen. I will be doing for tutorings everywhere. Video coming soon. 

Do you do them now? 

Um, it’s been a long time since a fouetté turn, but I bet I could still, I could still hit a footy turn right now for sure. Um, okay. Julia, talk to me about IRAs. I’ve gotten a lot of mixed information about which type I should have, um, be it a Roth or a CEP. Um, I I’ve gotten overwhelmed with this question and my, my dives on the internet of trying to find a simple answer were not so simple. Um, so I’d love to hear from a dancer, what, what you recommend for obviously everybody is different, but what would you recommend for the average dancer when you take it out? At which point tax rates might be much higher because you know, people say, what goes up, must come down. I have noticed that it’s not entirely true. Uh, I have not seen taxes actually go down. Have I, I don’t know, honestly, I don’t pay that much attention, but it’s an important thing to consider when you’re making that call. With a traditional IRA. Are you only able to withdraw funds and earnings from that account after you’re 65? Or is it a number of years from when you started it? What’s that? What does that timeline look?  

Um, for traditional the withdrawal ages 59 and a half. Um, but there are, uh, ex exceptions, you know, if you’re buying a first-time home buyer, you can you can withdraw up to $10,000, um, for a home purchase and you don’t have to pay  tax or penalty on that. Okay.  

Oh, that’s important. First time only asks the woman that owns her condo. Okay.  

Now, if it’s not a residence, you know, and you’ll maybe own property that you don’t live in there, you know, you have to look into that a little bit, but if it’s your first full time residence, then, then you can do that. 

Cool. Awesome. Thank you for that. Okay. Um, a couple of questions now coming from me, I’m really curious about the, this is me just trying to, um, trying to get all the goods without having to do all of the work. I’m wondering what are the quick fix type questions that you get often? Like somebody comes to you with this big deal. They’re like, dude, this is so hard. I don’t understand, blah blah. And you’re like, actually it’s really easy. All you have to do is blah. Like what what’s that? I want to know the answer to that or those questions if there are more than one.  

Yeah. I think as you said, sometimes it’s, it comes to be drama maybe. Um, but when it doesn’t have to be basically, uh, people say, Oh my gosh, I’m a dancer. And I have so many, 1099s. And so tax time is so hard and it’s stressful, right. Basically keep a spreadsheet and total it for your accountant. If you do that. Um, or, you know, if you’re going to do it, keep all your receipts and say, okay, how much did I spend on my website on, you know, um, any kind of marketing materials, headshots resumes, any of those kinds of things, um, and then just keep it all together. So that way, when it comes to tax time, you have everything that you’ve done, right? As soon as you bought classes, you might have all of receipt of all classes you paid for in one year, take that, put it into your spreadsheet, say, cool. This is how much I spent on classes this year. And the answer is done.  

Could you give a rundown of, in your eyes, which are in, in your CPA dancer eyes, what are the categories that you, what are you, what are your itemized deduction categories? I remember struggling for years trying to decide what to call certain things. And I would call, let’s say, I called, um, apparel. Let’s say I called it a uniform one year. And then the next year I was calling it, um, maintenance and maintenance and upkeep or something like, I really, I got very confused about where to put what, because in this way I do think we are unusual, like me buying this new pair of sneakers is not for vanity it’s because I danced holes in my other pair of sneakers and I danced in sneakers. So that isn’t, you know, I, if you could just take us through a gentle walkthrough of like the big categories and examples of what might go in each category of deductible expense.  

Sure. Um, yeah, so these aren’t the itemized deductions, but these are on the schedule C when we deduct, um, our business expenses, right. As a self-employed individual, um, anything from advertising. So I would say website, uh, headshot, resumes, you know, anything that goes in there, um, you have a decent amount of leeway, um, in that other deductions category at the bottom to put something and then just call it that, that year. And then when you go to do your taxes the next year, right. You can just move it on over, you know, you just keep it simple year to year. Right. And so if you have that say Google sheets spreadsheet that says, okay, this is where I put everything last year. Cool. Move it over and just do it the same thing this year. Um, but yeah, those things advertising, marketing, you’ve got your, um, auto expenses, you know, if you’re driving those kinds of things or travel in other respects, um, yep. There is repair and maintenance as well. Uh, professional fees, um,  

Like your, like your union dues, things like that. Where would you put bodywork massage, physio, acupuncture, meeting with a dietician.  

Yeah. I would stick it in that other detections category, um, other, the, you know, health and wellness, that kind of thing. And just put it under all of those.  

Okay. I have a feeling our listeners will want to be knowing a lot more about a lot of this stuff. So don’t let me let you out of here without leaving a way that could find you and, and, and potentially work together. Um, okay. So the opposite side of that coin, like the easy fix question is what are the questions that you wish nobody ever asked? Because they’re so complicated and dense and difficult to answer. And will you answer those questions so that we so that we don’t have to ask them so that we don’t have to ask you individually?  

I would say honestly, the biggest challenge, and it’s hard to answer without going into each individual person’s experience is each state, right? If you’re working in multiple States, each state has completely different laws and you’ll have to see if your state conforms to the federal laws. And that’s really a big deal right now with COVID and all the tax changes that are going along with that, you know, some States tax, all the income you earn, and then you get a credit for taxes received. Um, some States tax only income earned in that state. And or if it’s under a certain moment, it’s not, you don’t have to file. Um, you might have to file in multiple States. I know that’s a question that comes and can be difficult. I always had a file in Pennsylvania. And then the one year I thought it was not going to have to file in Pennsylvania. I had to file in Pennsylvania again, and I was just talking to filing that’s something.  

Okay. So it’s that there is no, yes, there are rules and there are a lot of different rules and it’s okay to not know all of the rules. Um, but it’s not okay to break all of the rules. So you must find somebody who knows what the rules are or find a place to look things up. Um, I’m guessing that would just be the state.gov or  

Yeah. The department of revenue usually. Um, you can find it on the department of revenue website for any state. Yeah.  

Okay. My move, because I believe I am a unique and individual snowflake is to work with a CPA that understands unique and individual snowflakes. I have not tried to file my own taxes since I was probably 17 years old. I did it once. I cried so hard and I’m not going to lie. I still cry when it’s tax time, because I feel stupid when I don’t know how to do things or the answers to things. I had a little chuckle to myself when you were talking about, um, a Google sheet and like, just do it the same every year. I not only have a Google sheet now, but I have also a Google doc that reminds myself the answers to the questions that I always ask, which is like, where does the individual, or does my LLC pay for my health insurance? I have the answer to that.  Cause I w I ask it every single year. Um, where do I put this? And I write the answer to that. So as you’re asking questions and getting answers to them because taxes are, Oh, I have another question for you. I was just about to say, because taxes only happen once a year. And then that made me look directly into your eyes, Julia, and ask, how important is it to file quarterly? Cause I’ve got my boxing gloves on. I don’t, I, if taxes are going to ruin my life, let it be once a year, not four times, I get really stressed out at this time of year, certainly because of the way I’m thinking about it, obviously, but I get really mixed information. Like it’s going to save you money. You should definitely file quarterly. And then all of a sudden when I don’t file quarterly, cause I’m like, you know what? I I’d rather pay more and worry about it less that I’m fine with this. But then I get to the end of the year and you’re like, why didn’t you pay quarterly? Now we have to pay penalties now, like talk to me quarterly WTF. What’s that?  

It definitely just depends on, this is another one of those BS answers I’m going to give you depends on your situation and year per year. Right. So how much did you earn last year? How much tax did you pay last year? That’s going to affect, you know, um, estimated taxes this year. Um, as well as just, um, what was I going to say? 

Filing quarterly? Should I do it? Should I not do it? What does it depend on? What is the answer to that question? Depending on, yeah.  

You know, as well as just, um, how much 1099 income you’re getting, right. If you’re getting a bunch of taxes taken out from your W2’s, you might not have to worry about it as much as if you filled out, you know, that little spreadsheet that they give you at the beginning to say how much you want to deducted Right? So if you do have some W2 income and you can have more taken out of that, so that it covers, um, maybe some of your 1099 income, right? There’s a nice little worksheet that you can do on the IRS to see if you’re being withheld enough from the W2 income that you do have.  

Oh, that’s exciting. Do you see how I just went from being like hot and sweaty and enrage to like genuinely curious and interested in something because you called it a worksheet. So I get excited. Um, okay, well, that’s, that will be added to my master document of questions answered. Although I don’t know that I will ever become a person that pays quarterly, unless I have to, like, if you tell me that I have to, I will definitely do it. 

Not telling you that, 

Oh, drats. I wish somebody weren’t somebody, you know what? My, my poor CPA might listen to this someday. And he’s like, Dana, literally, I am telling you that you have to. 

Listen to him. 

Uh, I don’t know what my deal is with that, but I’m working on it and becoming a person that is not like it. The world doesn’t come down on my actual head. I get a little grumpy when I have to pay taxes, but don’t wheel, I’m not unique in that way. We are all of,  

And this year, just so we make that clear, the filing deadline has been extended this year until May 17th. So you don’t 

By like, I’m. Well, I’m annoyed. Like we had a dumpster fire of a year. These are my thoughts. I’m getting so hot. I have to take my shirt off, not my, not my whole shirt, just my outer outer shirt, 2020 happened. Right. Nobody can deny that 2020 happened and we’re pushing our tax deadline back 30 days or like 32 days. I’m sorry. That does not seem sufficient to me, but I started early. I’m prepared. My CPA is also prepared. I’m going to be okay. You’re going to be okay if you don’t think you’re okay. Here is where you can find Julia Julia on your Mark. Get set, go. Where do we find you?

You can find me at Juliagrubbs.com Um, my, all my contact info is there. Um, I’m on Instagram @JWgrubbs. Um, two B’s. Um, yeah. So any of those you can there’s I have a contact form on my website. You can feel free to send me an email. I love answering questions, helping dancers, you know, feel better  


Thank goodness for you. I appreciate that so much. Thank you for making yourself available to me today. Me and all my thoughts and feelings about money. And, uh, I, I do think I will be reaching back out with a few more followup questions. That is all I have for you today, but in, in my life as a curious dancer person, I’m sure you will be hearing from me again.  

Absolutely. Can’t wait! 

Thank you for coming. My friend. I’ll talk to you later. All right. My friend, I hope that you learned as much as I did, and I truly hope that you visit Julia with any other money or tax related questions that you have. I am certain that I will be. Um, so she won’t be shocked to hear from you lovely words that move me listener. Thank you so much again for being here. Um, just a few more things before you run off and go organize your 1099s. Um, I will be holding a free career coaching session via zoom coming up in April on Wednesday, April 14th. Now that time is TBD. So if you are not already following me on Instagram, I’m @Danadaners D A N A D A N E R S, or the podcast on Instagram, which is words that move me podcast. Um, all one word, no spaces or underscores or anything fancy like that. Um, but make sure you follow us over there because we will be blasting this information loud and proud free career coaching, a group call on zoom. It’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to share what I’m all about. Um, tremendously valuable tools here that we’ll be sharing with you. Now go get out into the world, keep it organized, keep it financially free and flowing. And of course, by any means necessary. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. 

Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.
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My goal for this episode is NOT to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money, or even THAT you should or shouldn’t think about money.  My goal is to  hold a safe place for you to explore, and discuss your RELATIONSHIP with money.  By the end of this episode, you’ll understand your beliefs about money, how (long it takes) to make a billion dollars AND the very significant role your emotions play in managing your wealth.

Quick Links:

Columbus and Billionaires: https://www.truthorfiction.com/if-you-made-5000-a-day-starting-in-1492-would-you-still-have-less-money-than-jeff-bezos/

Transcript

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello. Hello.  Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked. This episode is a really, really special one, a subject that is very close to my heart, question mark.. I take that back immediately. Um, close to my mind, at least pretty close to my mind. Most of the time, um, today we’re talking about money mindset. This is part three of money March. We’ve already discussed dancer specific dollars. In episode 63, episode 64 was all about choreographers and the unique challenges that we are looking at in our industry right now. And today we are talking about your mindset about money, and I’m very simply put separating the math from the drama and I’m jazzed about it. But first we’re going to talk wins, and I love my win this week. I’m very excited to share. I’ll tell you mine, and then you will take the floor and share with yourself, or whoever happens to be around you, uh, something that’s going well in your world.  So here we go. Uh, this week I am celebrating that there is finally an in theater and HBO max release date for In the Heights, which of course is Jon Chu’s feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and  Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Tony award-winning musical coming to the big screen. Holy smokes. You guys, I’m extremely emotional about this one. Um, for, for much of 2019, I lived in New York city and was an associate choreographer along with Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal, and Eddie Torres Jr. Um, working under the fearless leadership of dance and choreography champion, Mr. Christopher Scott and wow friends. I cannot wait for you to see this film. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with some of the team in the last few weeks. And that is my win. I am. I’m simply smitten with admiration and awe and pride, um, at being a part of this team and a part of this project, I am thrilled for you to see it. Okay, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I commend you for your grind. Please keep going. There are important stories out there that need to be told, and they are demanding and they’re calling for you. So keep going, keep winning and dammit. Even if you’re losing lose forward. I think the more eloquent way to put that as fail forward, but just, just keep going. All right, congrats. You got this. 

Now my aim for this podcast, for every single words that move me episode is to help you listener become more informed and empowered and capable and actively creating more than you consume in terms of value in the world. Um, but my goal for this specific episode is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money or even that you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore and, um, discuss. And in general, become more aware of your relationship with money. Uh, I suppose you might think of this as, as a relationship counseling session, but since money doesn’t have thoughts and feelings about you, this is going to be a pretty one-sided session. Now, before I get too deep into it, uh, the lovely Riley Higgins, who is my assistant engineer on the podcast, she creates interactive PDF worksheets for every single words that move me podcast episode, the worksheets are designed to be a companion to each episode, a place where you can really apply and study what you are learning, what you’re listening to really recommend you check those out worksheets are sold in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop And we are making a special deal and bundle out of the money March episodes. So all four parts of our money March series will be turned into worksheets, bundled together thedanawilson.com/shop And they will exist for you there forever. Um, so that you can keep your financial flow locked in and lovely. I love alliteration. I really can’t help it. Um, I really do encourage you to go check that out. Especially this episode’s worksheet will be particularly useful because today I’ll be asking for a lot of crowd participation. Um, I’m going to ask you to look to yourself for a lot of answers to questions instead of to me or to my guests. Um, I suppose I should also make a quick warning that this conversation can bring up a lot. 

Yes. Money. When I think about money, I think about my dad. I think about my childhood. I think about this country. I think about my car. I think about my house. I think about homelessness. I think about inequity. Wow. I mean, this subject of money is loaded and we’re going to start unpacking it. We’re going to unpack it because it can teach us so much about ourselves and our world. Now, before we even unzip to unpack, let’s talk about the suitcase that we’re unpacking. I am very interested in social and economic justice yet. This episode is really not directly about redistributing wealth from the haves to the have nots from the oppressors to the oppressed. This podcast assumes that you are listening to this podcast, which means that you have a phone or some sort of device, possibly a computer or tablet. And you have wifi. This episode was created with an audience whose basic human needs are already met in mind. All right, let’s jump right into it. Shall we? The first idea that I want to introduce is this concept of a relationship. I already touched on it once already, but whether, whether you’ve said yes to that relationship or not, you are indeed in a relationship with money and just like in a friendship or a romantic relationship, your thoughts and beliefs about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which Holy smokes let’s be real is so good. I have a loaf, the sourdough bread on my counter right now. And it’s so, okay. We’re back. Money, money, not bread, money, not bread. Oh my God. Money, bread. Okay. Moving on. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since something great, you probably feel wonderful about being in a relationship with them, or perhaps you think that your partner is cheating on you. And that makes for a very different experience of the relationship. You might even be able to remember a relationship where the harder and harder you to get the interest of someone, the less interested they became is this a, is this a scary parallel for money or what it might be? It might not. The point is the thoughts and the beliefs that you have about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. So let’s uncover your current beliefs about money. I’m going to start by asking three questions and I’ll leave a little bit of space here for you to answer. If you’re using the words that move me worksheets by all means have a heyday. If not a plain old pen and paper or note in your phone should do just fine. 

Question number one is this, what comes to mind when you think about money?  What comes to mind, when you think about money? Do you think about catch phrases? Like money equals power or time is money or you have to work hard to make money? Or do you think more personal thoughts? Like, Oh, I’ll never be a millionaire as a dancer. When you think about money, do you think about the stuff that money buys do you think about the people who have it? Do you think about the people who don’t have it? When you think about money, do you think about disparities, pay gaps and equity? What comes up for you when you think about money, make a list of all your thoughts, or I suppose you could simply think them, but we will be coming back to this in a moment. Feel free to take a little more time if you would like. 

Question number two is a two-parter part one. Do you have a lot of money? And why? Part two? Do you want a lot of money? And why do you have a lot of money and why? And do you want a lot of money and why? Yes, my friends, we are doing it. We are uncovering your beliefs about the greenbacks. Okay. Next question. What were you taught about money from your parents, from your teachers, your role models, leaders, key figures, and even friends in your life. What were you taught about money? Were you taught that, that you need to hold on tight because you might lose it at any time. Were you taught that it takes money to make money? Um, were you taught that high risk equals high reward? What were you taught about money? Of course you can take as much time as you need here, but I’ll keep moving. 

My fourth question is simply what is money factually? What is money? Not your thoughts about money, but what actually is money. Of course I consulted the internet and the Internet’s definition of money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and bank notes. Yep. That’s it. Coins and bank notes. Uh, current medium of exchange money. Factually is neutral. There’s nothing in that definition that says money is good or money is bad, or even money is essential. It is a piece of paper or a coin that humans have all collectively agreed is worth something. Imagine an alien descends on earth lands here and finds a $100 bill on the ground and a dime. And let’s say a crushed up Carl’s Jr cup. They would have no idea which one has more value because humans have invented the construct that is money and humans have a lot of different thoughts about what it means.  Do you love that? In that scenario, I made this subtle assumption that aliens are real and that money is in fact neutral money itself by itself is a circumstance. It’s not until we think about it, that it holds any rank or pull on our lives. We think that it’s essential for survival. We think that we don’t have enough of it or that other people have too much of it. You can, and you probably do think many different thoughts about money than I do. We, the universal we, will all think different thoughts about money. And that is a beautiful and slightly scary thing. But the bottom line is that most of us think thoughts about money, not facts about money. The facts are the simple math, but the thoughts are usually simple drama. You know, that friend who makes everything extremely dramatic, nothing is okay. Everything is either amazing or awful. Yeah. That might be you a little bit with maybe it’s possible. So let’s focus on separating facts about money from thoughts about money. Take a look at your answers to the questions that I’ve asked. What comes to mind when you think about money, do you have a lot of it? Why do you want a lot of it? Why, what were you taught about it and look closely at your answers there? How much of that is money math and how much of that is money? Drama.  Challenge yourself by asking is this is, this is what I’ve written here really empirically true, or could someone else think something differently? Could someone else even with similar circumstances think differently. In other words, I’m asking, do you have a money problem or do you simply have money drama? No matter what the answer is to that question, the good news is that both the circumstance of money and your drama about it can be changed. Check that out. Pretty sweet. Huh? I think so. 

Now I want to deconstruct a very popular idea. This idea, that hard work putting in your time, saving up your money and making a budget will make you rich.  Time does not make money. Hard work does not make money. A budget does not make money. It might save money, but the only thing actually makes money is value. Value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service. And my friends, we definitely want to create benefits just like we want to reap the benefits, right? So how much benefit are you providing? How much potential do you have to create value in the world? What skills do you have that the world could use? What ideas do you have that the world is begging for? You can go ahead and start a list for that too. I love that list. Now, as a demonstration of this fact, this idea that time doesn’t make money and hard work definitely does not equal money. As a demonstration of that fact, I am going to call on a, um, a tweet that was made back in 2019. If you used Twitter or the internet in 2019, you probably this tweet floating around. I think the original author of it was Zach Walls. Um, he, he, he wrote, if you worked every single day, making $5,000 per day from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you’re reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Yikes. Let me just call that back. If you worked every single day for $5,000 a day from the time Christopher Columbus sailed to America, which was, I believe 1492. If my rhyme serves me correctly, um, until today, quote unquote, which was sometime in 2019, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Well, my friend, there has been some pretty intense fact checking and math mapping on that tweet. And at least the first part of it is still true to this day and will be true. The first part of it, um, meaning $5,000 every day from 1492 until today, you still would not be a billionaire. That part is true and will be true until 2054, indeed. It would take about 562 years at $5,000 per day to become a billionaire. So what does that tell us? Well, a, it tells us that Jeff Bezos has an almost unthinkable amount of money. Um, and that if you’re a dancer earning the 2019 median average hourly rate of $17.49 per hour, that’s about $139 and 92 cents per day, which is a far cry from $5,000 a day. Um, yeah, if you’re a dancer making the average median hourly rate, you’re far from becoming a billionaire, unless you think outside of the billable hours in a day, let’s take a look at Oprah for example, always let’s always look at Oprah. For example, Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by increasing her day rate or her hourly rate and simply working more hours. She did it by creating value that works and earns even while she’s sleeping, that my friends is the dream, no pun intended. So yes, do everything you can to build the skills that earn you top dollar in your field, create and contribute benefits in the world. And yes, and also look for or create ways that your money can make money without you lifting a finger. This might mean licensing your choreography. Shout out to last week’s episode or writing a book perhaps, or selling a product, or of course, keeping your money in a safe place with a high interest yield instead of under your mattress. I suppose, in, in the words of my dear friend, Marty Kudelka what I’m trying to say is work smarter, not harder and let your money do the same. 

Now, the next thing I want to talk about is emotions. Dana, why are you talking about emotions? This podcast episode is about money. Well, chill out and find out. I want you to take a moment and list all of the emotions that you associate with money, either having it or not having it doesn’t matter. A couple of examples are settled, safe, or struggling, glamorous, guilty, happy, scared, embarrassed, um, proud, free, greedy, accomplished, jealous, indulgent, superior inferior. Just rattle them off all of the emotions that you associate with money.  

Now I’m going to say something that you might not like money cannot make you feel any of the things on this list. Now you might be thinking, uh, no Dana, for sure. I’m telling you. I swear to God. If I had money and could pay my rent, I would be happy. I would feel safe. If I can just pay my rent again, I’ll ask you to challenge yourself here, strip away the drama. You think you would be happy if you could just pay your rent, but is it possible that you could pay your rent and still be very unhappy? Is it possible that someone with a lot of money paying their rent could feel unhappy or insecure even? Is it possible that someone with very little money could feel happy? Yes, of course it is. I like to think of, um, Bernie Madoff. When I talk about emotions and money, Bernie Madoff, I can remember his last name because he is the financial advisor slash market maker slash fraudster who, I think that’s a word, but I’m not sure. Um, who made off with a bunch of people’s money. He’s the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Um, the amount missing from his client’s accounts was almost $65 billion. And we’ve already talked about how much a billion is now. Here’s the thing. Bernie’s clients felt great investing their money with him because they thought keyword, they thought their money was in good hands. Their money was long gone, nowhere to be found, but they felt fine until they found out their money was gone and enter the drama. PS, Bernie Madoff must be in his eighties by now and is still in prison. So yahoo. Now of course, money itself, coins, paper. They don’t affect our emotions, but if you happen to believe that money and your emotions are directly linked, you may actually be avoiding money to avoid the feelings that you don’t want to associate with. You might actually be avoiding money to avoid feeling greedy or indulgent or self-centered or ego maniacal, or you may be chasing money thinking once I have it, I can finally feel free or happy or glamorous or proud or accomplished. And this is a problem. This is a problem because all feelings are available regardless of money. Period. I know some very, very wealthy people that are very, very unhappy and extremely insecure. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck that are thrilled with their lives, Joyful, grateful, generous, giving. These are just two examples of the evidence that money itself and the having of it is not directly correlated to your emotions. So are you avoiding money because of the way it makes you feel? Are you avoiding looking at your checking account or balancing your books or emailing your CPA because you feel stupid when you do it? Past itself raises hand. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, but these are two really important questions to ask yourself, are you avoiding money because of the way that it makes you feel or are you chasing it because of the way you think you’ll feel when you have it? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, take a super pause and really zoom out, actually better yet. Zoom in, zoom in to that feeling that you’re, that you can’t handle feeling or zoom into that feeling that you’re chasing that you think is sitting there with the pot of gold under the rainbow. Zoom in on that feeling. Can you feel it? Can you imagine what it feels like in your body?  I bet you can feel that feeling right now. This, my friends is why managing your emotions is an excellent first step to managing your money now to show the importance of the way that you’re thinking with regards to money, we’re going to do a little experiment. 

Notice the difference in the way that you feel. When I mentioned these different scenarios. Imagine you go to the store and you buy $10 worth of food and drink or anything that $10 can buy. All right. That’s scenario one. How does that, how does thinking about that scenario make you feel? Scenario two is a little bit different. Let’s say when you went to the store, you had a $10 bill in your back pocket. And when you got to the store to buy the stuff, the $10 bill is not there. It’s fallen out. You’ve lost it. You’ve got all your stuff up on the conveyor belt, $10 not there.  How do you feel? Next scenario. Let’s say you’re eating out with a friend and they have lost or forgotten their wallet. So you say, dude, no worries. I got you. It’s just 10 bucks. You from your friend, your friend, 10 bucks for them. Yeah. How does that feel?  Say this next scenario, you pay $10 for an online class. This is a teacher that you love. You get a great class. How does that feel? Notice the difference you feel when you think you are losing money versus spending money versus lending money versus investing the actual math of it is all exactly the same money goes out. That’s what happened in all of those scenarios. You bought things at the store, you lost the $10 bill. You covered your friend, you loaned your friend $10. Um, you paid $10 for an online class. The math is the same $10 out. The rest of it is drama. The drama says I should get something. When money goes out, the drama says that when you lose money, you get nothing but inconvenience in return. The drama says that when you loan money, you’re helping and that feels good. And depending on the situation, you might even think you’ll get it back.  The drama says that when you invest, you think you’ll get it back plus some, but all are simply money out. So what if you could think of the dollar falling out of your pocket as paying for a lesson, maybe not a dance lesson, but a lesson in where to put your money. What if you could think of the money falling out of your pocket as lending money to someone else thinking that you’re helpful? Certainly it feels better than thinking that you’re reckless or that the universe is somehow unfair and his targeted you. What, if you could think that you will absolutely get that $10 back someday, 100%. That’s going to come back to you. If you truly believe that you would get that $10 back, I bet the way you treat the person at the checkout counter, when you realized your $10 was gone would be different. I bet the way you talked to yourself in that moment would be different. I really encourage you to start noticing the language that you use with yourself. When you think about money, not just the money out, but the money in as well.  Think about making money versus earning money versus creating money. Do those generate different, different feelings in your body, different modes of being. For me It sure does. When I think about earning money, I am absolutely thinking about working. But when I think about creating money, there’s all sorts of different possibilities. There, possibilities that don’t necessarily include me busting through the cartilage in my knees. 

Now, while we’re on the subject of trying on new words and new thoughts, when you’re thinking about money, you may notice that I have not yet mentioned abundance mentality and his entire episode about money mindset. I haven’t talked about abundance mentality. That is because I think there is a lot of, uh, excuse me, bull*** around the power of positive thinking. When it comes to money, taping a $100 bill to your ceiling and looking at it every morning and night will not make you rich thinking that you are a millionaire, doesn’t make you a millionaire, but thinking like one and then taking massive action, sometimes massive risk. Well that might help you to become one.  The numbers are the numbers. What you earn is what you earn, what you spend is what you spend, what you have is what you have. And what you’d like to have is what you’d like to have. That’s all math, everything else is drama. And it’s optional. Please. Don’t forget to take a look at the worksheet companion to this episode and the rest of the money March episodes. I’m really hopeful that they will help you gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings around money. They are also a very interesting time capsule type project, a really cool thing to do once, maybe twice a year returned to reference back to, and really kind of clock how those thoughts, feelings, and yes, the math changes over time. Highly, highly recommend, okay, everybody that is it for me today. Next week I will be joined by not only a dancer, but a CPA as well. And yeah, that’s one person I’m super excited about next week’s episode. It’s entirely Q and A. So anything that’s come up for you in this episode or in the last two, all things money March, bring your questions about money, bring your questions about contracts, my guests, and I will do our very best to answer all your Qs. Get out in the world. Everybody be kind, and please Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit  TheDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS
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Let’s talk ORGANIZATION! Choreographers and their teams (assistant choreographers, associate choreographers, co-choreographers etc.) along with production assistants are the ONLY category of workers on Film/ TV/ Commercial sets that do not have Union representation.  What does that mean? It means no minimum daily rate, no Health & Pension contributions, no residual structures, no penalties for overtime, or turnaround time.  Why does that matter? Because DANCE and the people who make it are pillars of popular culture (to say the very very least). 

In this episode, I talk to two time Emmy award winning choreographer, Kathryn Burns and Craig Baylis.  Craig is a former dancer who has gone onto work in damn near every sector of entertainment from Artist Development & Tour Marketing to Product Management and even SAGAFTRA member and Staff.

In this episode we scratch the surface of several deep and delicate issues from daily minimum rates (and what’s so great about em) to supply and demand, licensing, and even copyright of choreography.

The learning curve set ahead of choreographers is steep.  We must teach ourselves AND the record labels and studio big wigs on the other side of the negotiation table what we do and what that is worth.  Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to study up!

Quicklinks:


Choreographers Alliance: https://www.choreographersalliance.org/
Dancers Alliance: https://www.dancersalliance.org/
Sagaftra: https://www.sagaftra.org/

Transcript:

Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS
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Dancers are unique in many many ways, not least of which is our income.  It comes from MANY different places, at inconsistent intervals, it’s often not taxed… and then there’s the actual numbers!  We might make $17.49/ hour, we might make over $1k per day, we might make $0.00 in a month, we might make $250,000.00 per year. Still interested?  Yea, me too.  In this episode, I break down the rates, tips, and trades that helped me understand and OWN my full financial picture.

Quick Links:

DA Rates/ Working Conditions: https://www.dancersalliance.org/da-rates

TV/Theatrical 2020 Summary: https://www.sagaftra.org/files/sa_documents/SAG-AFTRA_2020TV-Theatrical_Summary.pdf

For super bonus extra credit: Understanding Residuals SAGAFTRA: https://youtu.be/p4U7CRtmdVM

Understanding IRAs: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/learn-about-ira-accounts

SAGAFTRA Music Department (for all your Music Video needs):  (323) 549-6864 

Money Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6705806-the-money-book-for-freelancers-part-timers-and-the-self-employed

Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana, jazzed that you’re here stoked about this episode, even though it is about not my favorite subject. Yes, it is money March on the podcast. And in this episode, we are talking about the money side of dance life. Um, we’re going to focus specifically on dancers. We’ll talk about choreographers next week, but if you are an actor, a singer or another type of creative human or performer, um, or the parent of one for that matter, keep listening because there is a metric boat load of information about personal finance, uh, for people who do not so regular work. Uh, but first we’re going to talk wins. I have a very not money-related win today. I have taken ballet class three times in the last eight days, which is more than I have taken ballet class in the last eight months.  And it’s feeling very good on my body. Um, I think this particular brand of ballet is a compassionate one. I’ve been taking class from the fabulous Spenser Theberge, and, um, I’ll be real with you ballet, and I have have had a rocky past, uh, we’re we’re not known for getting along and Spenser acts as such a marvelous mediator for me in that relationship. So if you’re looking to get back into a, a ballet class or a ballet practice, I really do recommend Spenser Theberge’s class. He’s been teaching on zoom lately. I don’t know how much longer that will continue. Um, but I will link to Spenser and some more about where to find him in the show notes for this episode, Shout out Spenser. Thank you so much, my friend. All right, Now, it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world. 

Awesome.  I’m so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re winning. I’m glad that we’re here winning together. Um, and this episode togetherness is important. Having it together is important. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the uniqueness of a dancer’s income and exactly what a dancer’s income might be. Um, we’re going to talk about the importance of a solid money system. I’ll give you a few tips there. Um, I’ll give you some essential vocab and I will also give you a very broad stroke outline of what kind of dollars you can expect to be making. When you’re working as a dancer in movies, TV shows, commercials, music, videos, industrials tours, and live shows. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah. Even student films, um, and projects made for the interweb. So this episode is full and it is for you buckle up.  

All right. I want to start off by saying that I think it is fascinating that most dancers and choreographers for that matter, who decide that they want to pursue a career in dance do so without having the slightest idea of how much a dancer or a choreographer makes. I think that actually most creatives are in a similar boat. Um, most of us don’t pursue this creative career. This self-employed life for the money, right? We don’t do this for the money. We didn’t get into it for the money yet. Chances are that if we quit, if we abandon this creative life, this freelance life, it’s probably because of the money. So let’s get a grip on that. Honestly, it’s wild to me, but it is real. I packed up my Volkswagen bug and moved across the country without a clue about the money I would make or without a clue about how much it costs to be alive in Los Angeles.  It was my first time living under my own roof. I paid all my own bills and I had no clue what to expect. And that’s not necessarily for lack of trying. It’s actually pretty easy to look up estimated incomes for various professions, but you’ll find that the range of income for a dancer or a choreographer is extremely broad yet the numbers for salaried professionals like software engineer or a nurse or a pilot, for example, those numbers are pretty firm. And I think that people who decide to become doctors, pilots, pharmacists, whatever they do so, considering that number, and they probably have an idea of that number when they’re pursuing training. But do you, my dear mover and shaker busting your balls for a career in dance. Do you have any idea how much a dancer makes in a year and to all my more established movers and shakers, do you know how much you made last year?  

You might because it’s tax season, but do you know how much you spent? Could you tell me that number without running and grabbing your last year’s tax returns? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, where there are two other dancers? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a, on a theatrical contract where there were eight or more other dancers, I’ll give you a hint. Those numbers are different. Now, listen, there is no shame game here. No shame at all. In fact, I had to look half this stuff up as I was preparing for this episode, but simply put, I have to say this stuff because in the intro to this podcast, I say the words, if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then stick around blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I should’ve said is if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, stop being afraid of money, stop being afraid of looking at your balances and your bills and your contracts, and start talking about reading, about learning, about making and managing money.  

This episode exists to help you do exactly that at very best. It might be boring to you, but I’m going to start with some cold, hard facts today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the dancers in the workforce made less than the average American in 2019, the us census median individual income. So the average American individual made a little over $40,000 in 2019. The median hourly rate, I always say rage. I say rage on accident, but I don’t know if it’s an accident. The median hourly wage for a dancer in 2019 was $17 and 49 cents an hour. That’s $36,501 and 63 cents for a full-time year. Now let’s be real. Most dancers don’t work full-time. So if the average full-time American is making $40,000 in a year, and the average full-time dancer is making a 36,000 a little more than 36,000 in a year that median hourly wage $17 and 49 cents leaves you at a little less than $700 for a 40 hour work week. Discouraged? Maybe, but don’t get discouraged, get deliberate, get deliberate about how you earn, spend and grow your wealth. I’m going to give you a little encouragment moment. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of entertainment professionals is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. That is faster than the average for all other occupations. What does that say? It says that people want to be entertained and they always will. It also says there’s a chance. So you’re telling me there’s a chance. What was all that one in a million talk?  I digress, man. I love movies. Um, let’s see, in case you need a little more encouragement as of today, which is March, 2021, a dancer hired as a soloist or part of a duo on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, theatrical, by the way, it means films. AKA features that dancer will be paid a minimum rate of $1,030 in one day. And that’s just for the initial work. That’s not including the residual payments. It will get into, uh, the terms in the contract, specifics of all that in a moment. But for now I’ll wrap up this section by saying, dancers are unique. For many, many reasons. One of them is that dancers might make 700 per week, or we might make over a thousand per day, or we could make zero in a month or we could make 250,000 in a year. I would love to see dancer rates and dancer employment go up. But I don’t only think there’s an income challenge here. I think that most of us self-employed dance types actually have a cash flow challenge. Um, I think we never learned how much we ought to be charging. I think we never really learned how to manage it once we make it here are, if you other things that make us really, really unique, um, other than our exquisite fashion sense and physical superpowers of course consider that the traditional employee has their taxes paid automatically. When they receive their check, their taxes are already gone. They’re taken out already like Macavity. They’re not there. Sorry, Cats. I can’t help it. Wow. Movies shown up a lot for me today. Um, also traditional employees receive health and pension plans through their employer. Imagine that they get paid vacation, sick days and personal days. They have a fixed income that usually comes from one place.  We do not. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, you’ve got money coming from a lot of different sources for varying amounts on a super irregular basis and through different money channels. For example, PayPal, for all your zoom classes, residual checks from SAG-AFTRA direct deposits from your agencies, um, direct deposits from productions and various payroll companies like media services, entertainment partners, dance studios, all of it. Oh, and if you have an LLC, if you are a single member, LLC, then you’re hopefully also receiving payroll from yourself. So well, this can make tax season really woo exciting. And that is exactly why it’s important for independent contractors like us to organize our money lives and to our own personal financial systems. And that is whatever works my friend, because we truly are unique, little dancing snowflakes. And um, Oh, I wonder if the sugar plum theme music is creative commons. I should be playing that right now. I could probably use that anyways. What I’m trying to say is that we, we independent contractors have to be more disciplined than the average nine to fiver in order to keep all of this creative freedom in our daily lives. 

Okay. So let’s get into some vocab, shall we? Um, I mentioned already the median average dancer hourly rate, and I want to make sure that I’m explicitly clear about what that means. Um, it means that half of the data points fall below that number, that $17 and 49 cents per hour and half of the data points are higher than that. So if Sarah let’s say, makes the median average dancer rate of $17.49 an hour, she makes more than half the dancers in the workforce. And half of the dancers in the workforce are making more than she does. So to revisit math class for just a quick second, the median number is the number smack in the middle of all the data.  The mean average in this case would be, um, every dancers hourly rate added up together and then divided by the number of total dancers. And the mode average is the number of most commonly occurring. Great math. We did it. Um, okay. Now let’s talk about some fun acronyms. Let’s start with SAG-AFTRA, shall we, SAG-AFTRA is the labor union that represents 160,000, probably more than that. Right now, actors, announcers broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild, which then merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. There you have it, SAG-AFTRA. The stage equivalent of SAG-AFTRA is called Actors’ Equity. They represent more than 51,000 actors and stage managers. 

Now let’s talk DA. DA stands for Dancers Alliance, a group of dancers, including myself who advocate for equitable minimum rates and working conditions for all non-union work. That’s any gig that falls outside of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. For example, Paul Mitchell decides to do a hair show. This is not on camera. This is not a Broadway or off-Broadway show it. This might be taking place in Austin, Texas. For example, that work would fall under the jurisdiction of Dancer’s Alliance. Now let’s talk about a slightly less sexy acronym. I R A or individual retirement account, which is kind of like a savings account, but you can’t use the money quite yet. And it has tax advantages. We’re honestly, we’re not going to talk much about IRAs today, but I will link to a really helpful video on the subject, um, in the show notes of this episode, enjoy that. Okay, let’s talk P and H. P and H is V important. Um, P&H stands for pension and health. These are contributions that go to a pension fund and healthcare.  In my case, I received these through SAG-AFTRA now because dancers are typically young and healthy. Most of us don’t care too much about P&H, but Wowza, if this last year is any evidence, we can all become sick. We can all become injured and you cannot dance if you don’t have your health. So I strongly encourage you start recognizing the benefits of health and pension benefits. All right, let’s talk CPA’s. A CPA is a certified public accountant, and I’ll be real with you. There are a lot of online services that boasts the ability to save you money on your taxes. But I find that working with a real human being CPA, whose name’s Jeremy shout out Jeremy, um, on my taxes every year is really the only way to go. I have a lot of that software out there isn’t designed to handle the uniqueness. That is me and you.  So that’s a CPA certified public accountant. Now a CB as in bargaining, a CBA stands for collective bargaining agreement. This is the agreement between the union and the employer that you work under when you’re a part of a sag after contract, for example, uh, people who support collective bargaining and unions in general, believe that employees have a better chance at getting what they want in terms of rates and working conditions. When they negotiate as a collective, as a union, rather than individually. Now, when we talk about SAG-AFTRA contracts or CBAs, we’ll discuss four broad categories of work, TV, theatrical, commercial, and new media. Oh, another fun acronym, S V O D subscription video on demand like Netflix, Apple+, Hulu, Amazon, all of those guys, they’re making this conversation very interesting. Okay. Now, when I get into talking about SAG -AFTRA commercial contracts, I’ll go deeper on the concept of residuals, but just for the purpose of this vocab section, a residual or royalty payment is sometimes known as a use payment.  That simply means that an additional compensation will be paid out when a production is shown at, beyond its original covered use. The rest of it is not so simple. Okay. That was not simple. I’ll be real, but we’re going to get into residuals in just a second. Now I’m not a financial advisor. I am not a fiduciary, but I do financially advise you to purchase this financial book. It is called The Money Book for Freelancers part-timers and the self employed it’s by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Um, um, it is in the show notes for this episode and it is very well-written. You will laugh. You will likely cry, but that’s not because of the writing. That’s because you love moving your body. You think it’s fun. And this book has nothing to do with moving your body.  

Um, but it has everything to do with moving you towards financial freedom. I owe a lot to this book, which now that I say that out loud is really funny because the book itself is only like $15. And I paid for it all at once. So I know I owe nothing to this book yet. I know yet I owe so much to this book. Honestly, it’s like a handhold. It’s like a financial partner all the way through guiding you. Uh, I honestly, I got straighter answers from this book than I have gotten from previous CPAs and financial advisors who wiggled around concepts for hundreds of dollars. And this book was 15. So there you have it. Oh, and it was not paid to say this, by the way, uh, the money book outlines system for organizing your financial records, it helps you get a clear picture of how much you earn what you spend and what you owe, which by the way, with just a few hours of very focused time, you could probably, and should probably do that today.  

Um, the book also explains how you might prioritize paying off debt. It helps you evaluate not only the number side of your business, but also encourages you to evaluate how good you are at doing what you do and kind of offer some ideas about how you might do it better, truly awesome. Um, but there were three massive takeaways that I, that I gathered from this book, and I want to share them with you. Number one, I learned the importance of web only banking. I moved most of my money to a web only bank, which means they have no storefront. They have no like in-human exchanges there. Um, but this web only bank had a much better annual percentage yield, which by the way, the yield is how much the investor, in this case you receives from the investment, the amount of money that you have sitting in the bank, the interest rate on my old checking account at the Bank of America, shame on you was 0.01%. When I switched over to the web bank that I use, which is ally, I got 1% on that same amount of money. I got 1% interest. Now for math sake, let’s say I had a thousand dollars in that account. At B of A, in one year, that thousand dollars would have made me 10 cents of money that the same thousand dollars in my ally account would have earned me $10, 10 cents versus $10. And when the amount of money in the account goes up, that disparity goes up a lot as well. .01 and 1% are really different at the end of the year. Um, for the record, I should state that ally at the time that I signed up boasted that 1% interest rate, um, at the sign-up time. But I believe now it’s dropped 2.5%. So I might be shopping for a new bank holler. Let me know what you know.  Um, Oh, I also have to tell you while we’re talking about interest rates, high interest rates on savings accounts, high interest rates on savings accounts equals good. High interest rates on credit cards, however, equals bad because the cash is flowing in the other direction there. Um, for a credit card, you are paying the interest, not earning it because in that, in that case, you’re the borrower, not the lender. Okay, there we go. So that’s lesson number one, the value of web banks and higher interest rates on savings accounts. 

Lesson number two, what the book refers to as the Holy Trinity of savings at the time that I read this book, read it, wow. At the time that I started, um, I started shaving off 10% of every check that I made. Every single check I received. Hence percent of that money went directly into an account dedicated for emergencies.  Another 10% got shaved off and went over into a retirement account, which would later be shipped off into an IRA. But let’s skip that for now. Um, where were we? 10% to emergency fund. 10% went to a retirement fund and then 15. And when I say fund, I mean savings account, and then 15% of each check went to yet another web bank savings account to be paying my taxes. So, yeah, that’s 35% of each check that I would ship directly off to a high interest yielding savings account. And each of those accounts has made me hundreds of dollars. Yay. Great. Oh, on the subject of those of the Holy Trinity of savings, I also learned the value of naming your accounts. Most banks, especially online banks will let you give a nickname to your savings account. I am here to tell you that you are more likely to feed a savings account called the house of my dreams or my first film versus a savings account ending in numbers. Right? Um, but you could call yours whatever you want. You could call it F You, Uncle Sam, whatever makes you feel funky, whatever inspires you to throw money in that direction, you could get very creative here. See there is creativity to the financial side of the dance life. Um, okay. So all of that is to say there are a lot of small changes you can make on your own that will really change your big financial picture. But I do want to underline the importance of having a solid team, um, throughout the rest of this episode. You’ll hear me say, ask your agent or ask your CPA a lot again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about money. It’s okay. If you don’t know, in fact, it’s your CPA’s job to know more about taxes than you do, and your agents exist not only to send you on auditions, but to help you understand the terms of your contracts, to make sure that you are agreeing to a fair wage. And then yes, of course, to make sure that you are receiving that fair wage. Um, super shout out, by the way, to all my friends at CTG clear talent group and to Tim O’Brien and Misha Goetz specifically who joined me in episode 34, that one is must listen, go ahead and give that, uh, give that a listen. Okay.

 Moving right along now, I’m going to move into some more gig specific numbers. I want to say that I have advocated for unionizing in the past. I helped unionize music videos and when a union contract for a tour, but this episode is really not about union versus non-union work. Um, and while we’re on the subject, I really want to address this common misconception that union contracts are about making you more money. Um, this is just simply not true. Union contracts don’t mean more money, but it also does mean more protection and more support in terms of what’s covered in terms of where the money goes like health and pension contributions.  And it also means that you’ll have much more support to make a dispute in the event that something goes wrong or the terms of the agreement aren’t met. All right, here we go. Dancers and dollars. Mind you. This is specifically dancers as in dance performers, not teachers or studio owners or choreographers. Also keep in mind that these numbers do change over time. I’m recording in March of 2021, and I’m using the numbers relevant to today. Also, just to keep it focused, I’m only going to discuss rates, not penalty fees or working conditions like dressing rooms, warm up spaces, releases, breaks, turnaround times, et cetera. So we’re going to start off by taking a look at the industry standard rates for non-union projects. I’m referring to the Dancers Alliance website, which is dancersalliance.org That will be in the show notes, um, which is by the way, super user-friendly and all of this is there in plain English. I really encourage you to do a little deeper digging yourself. All right, Dancer’s Alliance live shows industrials and non-union music videos. Your rehearsal rate with agency fee on top of these minimum rates would be $175 for a one to four hour rehearsal day. That’s a half day at $175. Anything over that four hours becomes time and a half a full eight hour rehearsal day would be at $250. Anything over eight hours becomes time and a half for a show day or a shoot day. We’re looking at a $500 minimum. The, the rate for a rehearsal on the same day as a show is open to negotiation. You would expect to receive $150 minimum per travel day or retainer day. If you’re working outside of your hometown, you would also receive per diem. On top of that travel day, pay a per diem, by the way, is a Latin phrase that translates to by the day.  This term also refers to the amount of money paid to employees for different types of daily scenarios. Um, most common uses for per diem are tips, food. Um, you know, other odd incurred costs that you have when you’re out there in the world, working away from your normal workspace in Los Angeles. The average per diem rate is $66 per day. In New York, It’s $76. In Las Vegas, It’s $61. In Atlanta and Miami, that’s both $66. There is a full list of those on the Dancer’s Alliance website. Go check that out. All right. Now, if performers are requested to supply their own costumes, uh, including footwear wardrobe items will be compensated at $25 per outfit. That’s total, not per day and $15 per pair of shoes. Ah, while we’re on the wardrobe, subject fittings outside of a rehearsal day will be paid at $50 per hour.  Fittings on a rehearsal day are applied to the time that you’ve worked. So most fittings usually happen on record. Okay. If the terms that I just stated, aren’t met on a project, talk to your agent, simple as that. Now music videos are now covered by SAG-AFTRA. Yeah, yes, we are celebrating this because music videos used to be the Wild Wild West, and now they are slightly less wild. A dancer, It’s it’s not common that a dancer would be paid in food like in pizza and beer to perform in a music video. Now, dancer rates are determined by the video budget. Um, dancers make a minimum of 500 for a 12 hour shoot day for all videos with a budget of 50,000 or higher all performers receive safety, provisions, health and pension contributions and usage fees. This is great. Now the DA website has a super helpful cheat sheet on their website that I have included in the show notes as well. Um, but because I mentioned safety provisions, I want to talk about that for just one second. Although it deserves an episode entirely unto itself, music videos have language for quote, extraordinary risk circumstances and quote. This is AKA hazardous conditions. Um, anything from dancing on unusual surfaces to aerial work or trampoline work, or even wearing gear that’s not made for dance like ski boots or skis or a head dress or mask that compromises your vision. All of these are considered extraordinary risk circumstances, but on a music video, even significant floor work on concrete may be considered hazardous. So on a music video specifically with a budget of a hundred thousand or less dancers are entitled to an additional $50 per day videos with a budget of above 100,000 are entitled to an additional one, $100 per day. Now, no matter what the project, if you feel that the work you’re being asked to do is a threat to your safety or wellbeing, talk to your agent period, the end. Um, and also the next time you open your phone to scroll through Instagram, just go scroll through Dancer’s Alliance website instead. Okay, the end, moving on.  

Okay. Moving on SAG-AFTRA contracts, as I mentioned for dancers, these usually fall up or four main categories, but there are so, so, so many more like dubbing, voiceover, um, news broadcast, et cetera. There’s a lot, but, um, we’re going to focus specifically on TV, theatrical, commercial and new media. Now it bears mentioning, there are a lot of changes going on, um, especially in the TV and theatrical contracts, like literally as we speak. So even if you’re a person who works on these contracts regularly, you should consider taking a look at the, 2020 TV theatrical summary, which is linked in the show notes of this episode, and absolutely be standing by for the new net code contracts. Um, but for now we’ll give a brief outline of these four categories and their rates as they stand today, we’ll start with theatrical because let’s face it.  Everybody loves the movies. Theatrical means film or feature. There are basic theatrical agreements, low budget agreements, modified low budget agreements, ultra low budget agreements, short project agreements and student film agreements. Um, each of these contracts, if you couldn’t guess is determined by the budget of the project, um, they’re each slightly different, but pretty well outlined on SAG-AFTRA’s website. If you’re curious about those, um, uh, I suggest you go take a look, but I’ll tell you about the dancer rates for the basic theatrical contracts here. If you are a solo or a duo being hired on a theatrical contract, you’ll be making $1,030 per day. If you’re in a group of three to eight performers, your rate per day would be $902. And if you’re in a group of nine plus, your rate will be $788 per day. All of those are at a $607 rehearsal day rate.  Now weekly rates are higher, um, obviously, but significantly less than all of those numbers. I just mentioned times five. So, uh, bears taking a look if you’ll be on a weekly rate versus a daily rate, um, all right, let’s move into TV contracts. Whoa. This can feel really, really confusing because a contract for scripted episodic, um, like Big Bang Theory, for example, are different from non scripted network shows like competition shows ie. Dancing with the Stars. So you think you can Dance, World Of Dance, um, and award shows like the VMAs or the Oscars or the Grammys. Those are all non-scripted shows and those will fall under what is called the NETCODE or network code. Um, the other slightly muddy element here is that there are countless episodic or scripted series shows now being made by and for SVODs. Do you remember what that stands for? Scripted Video On Demand?  

Yes, we did it, or we did it. We did it together, anyways, actually at this point in the quarantine is hard for me to name five shows that are not Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or Apple+ originals. These are TV shows in air quotes that are not on TV. Um, to simplify this a little bit, your TV rate and your TV contract depend on the budget of the production, the number of episodes and the episode length. For example, if you’re being hired for, um, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is an Amazon original because of its high budget and the episodes are longer than 20 minutes, you’ll be on a TV contract. But if you’re hired for a YouTube series or another streaming show with, uh, with a script, um, that has a budget of less than $1 million, you’ll likely be on a new media contract, which we are talking about next again, I truly do suggest that you ask your agent what type of contract you’ll be working on if they haven’t already told you before your first day of work, simply so that you know what to expect.  

All of these contracts are slightly different now, new media contracts for all streaming platforms, whether they be Amazon or Instagram, whether they be film spots, series’s or commercial spots, as long as the budget is between 50,000 and 1 million, it will be on a new media contract. New media rates really fluctuate depending on the scale of the budget. And, um, again, to be sure if you are on a new media contract or not check with your agent, um, so that you can know how much you should be expecting to make this is important stuff. Okay? Lastly, the coveted commercial contracts, which let’s be real, there are no less complicated than the TV contracts, because so many commercials these days are intended exclusively for online use. So they fall under the new media contract that I just talked about. But if you’re a commercial, your piece of media is intended for TV.  Then there are different classes and different rates of agreements. Class A is the most popular. That means the spot will air in over 20 cities. Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to 20 cities. But if New York is one of those cities, the rates will be higher. We’ll talk about that more in a second, um, class C commercials, these are the least used contracts and they apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. Okay. Last but not least, there’s the wild spot. The wild spot is a commercial that is aired in over 20 cities like the class a, but these are specific cities. So, um, let me think of an example. Okay. A commercial for In and Out for example, is not going to be running on the East coast because there aren’t any in and outs out there. So these commercials don’t run on specific networks, per se. They run in specific regions and for specific markets. Um, so all those contracts are slightly different, but in one way, they are all the same. They have a rate for first use. That’s what you get paid when you shoot it. And that rate covers the initial usage of the spot. Then the more, the spot airs you will be paid in a residual payment that is of course, unless a buyout was negotiated. Again, we’ll get to that in just a second. Let’s talk class A for a second, if you are a Class, A on-camera performer, that means there’s less than three of you. Your rate is $712 per day. If you’re on a Class A contract and there’s three to five on-camera performers, that rate would be $521 and 20 cents per day. If there are six to eight of you, the rate would be $461 per day. And if there are nine or more performers, that rate would be $381 per day. So you see how that goes. The more performers there are, the lower the rate, the final group nine plus is also known as group nine. Now we’re going to touch on wild spots for a second, just a quick second, because the rates are the same as the Class A rates, which makes sense because they’re also aired in 20 plus cities. So if you want to know what you make on a wild spot, rewind 10 seconds and you’ll have it. Um, okay. Class B rates, they vary depending on whether or not New York is one of the places your spot will air. So that’s fun. Um, but the rates are much higher. If New York is one of those cities, uh, a principal might make $1,347 and 14 cents per day. But without New York as one of those cities that same performer would make $1098 and 75 cents per day.  Fortunately, the numbers get a little easier from there because if you’re in a group of three or more New York or not New York, doesn’t matter. If there are three to five performers, you’d be making $857 and 96 cents. Six to eight performers, you’d be making $758 and 66 cents per day and a nine plus we’re looking at $620 and 24 cents per day. That’s our class B which again, not very commonly used because you can imagine that. Or at least I can imagine that why use that contract with all those fancy New York adjustment, higher, higher rate adjustments when it could just be made on a class, A contract. So I’m so curious about if that even gets used. Really curious, anyways, moving right along. Class C, okay. Class C on camera principals, we’re talking $654 77 cents for the first day. For first use per day, a group of three to five, we’re talking $567 and 44 cents.  A group of six to eight performers is looking at $504 and 33 cents per day. And your group nine is looking at $412 and 39 cents per day for the first use. Of course, all of those rates I just mentioned are for the initial use. That’s what you’ll be paid for the shoot. Now, the rest, rests with the residual gods. Again, a residual payment is simply additional compensation, which is paid once the production is shown beyond its original use covered by the initial compensation. For example, for theatrical film, residuals would be triggered once the film is released anywhere other than theaters, the theater release is the original use. So residuals would start coming in once the film is released as a DVD or aired on TV or online or something like that. Now that is a very grossly, gross get it, gross pun. Um, not gross, like nasty, but gross as in like total. 

Okay. Just to go one tiny layer deeper, there are two different types of residuals. Fixed residuals, which are based on the run of the spot. Um, these exists for TV and new media contracts only. So the amount that you would receive are based on how you were initially paid, and they’re tied to the number of reruns they’re due within 30 days to four months. And that is your fixed residual. The more popular residual structure is a revenue or gross receipts based residual structure. This one’s the most popular it’s tied to sales. Um, they’re due quarterly, or as soon as funds are sufficient enough to cut checks to the entire cast, which by the way, I have been on the receiving end of 1 cent residuals. So I guess that number is substantial enough to cut a check, um, that sort of thing happens. It’s really actually incredible.  Um, so these type of these revenue based residuals, um, they’re based on time and salary units. So the person with the smallest residual is probably the performer who, who worked maybe one day at scale on the project. The bigger slice of the residual pie would go to the person who worked at or above scale for multiple days. And so those, those residuals scale accordingly based on time and salary units, I hope that’s been helpful in, in your understanding of how residuals work. If you are into a deeper dive, I’m going to point you in the direction of, um, a video starring SAG-AFTRA’s own Jennifer Gaudry, it really gets into the nuts and bolts of residuals. Um, if you’re interested in that, God bless you find the video in the show notes. Um, I do want to heads you up though. I usually watch YouTube videos at 1.5 X speed. Um, I watched this one slow and multiple times to understand it. Definitely some layers of understanding here. Now, since we’re here talking about residuals, it’s worth mentioning that most non-union commercials and new media contracts can form to industry standard rates and safety measures, but they do not offer residual structure. Instead you’ll likely receive what’s called a buyout, AKA a usage fee that is a flat rate one-time payment usually bundled in with your initial fee. Um, and it’s intended to cover all additional uses in perpetuity.  I’m not thrilled about buyouts. If you can’t tell, I am thrilled, however about these contracts and the fact that they are always getting slightly better, thanks to the work of our brothers and sisters over the union. It truly is an incredible thing to watch progress happen over time, and to watch the benefits of these contracts start being rolled out. Very, very cool thing. Um, also I want to point out with regards to these SAG-AFTRA contracts, All of the numbers that I just mentioned, all of the numbers that you see on the rate sheets on SAG-AFTRA is website. Those are minimums. There are performers who have their agents negotiate above scale, and I want you to be one of those performers. I want you to become so capable, so exceptional that you are an exception to the minimum. I want to see you not only working, but working above scale, absolutely working above that median $17 and 49 cents per hour. And I believe that you can. Now we are dancers, not mathematicians. Although I do know several dancers that are very, very good with numbers. We can all count to eight at least. And we know how to add. We especially know how to add value. So please danclings know your worth, know your rates. And if there’s something that you’re confused about or concerned about, or don’t understand, choose curiosity, instead of confusion, refer to DA’s website, check the SAG-AFTRA website, check Actor’s Equities website, talk to your team of agents, talk to your team of friends, choose curiosity, get that information, get a clearer picture of your financial life and what you should expect. And then of course choose compassion always for yourself and for others, especially set as things can get heated, especially when we’re talking about money.  Remember that when you’re on a gig, you represent a part of the professional dance community and being treated and paid as a professional comes along with behaving professionally. All right, my friends, I truly hope this episode has been helpful to you. Um, it has been helpful to me in making it, I have learned so, so, so much now, uh, go take these resources and run with them. Do deeper dives, do deeper digging and do make good habits of understanding your contracts before you sign them. All right. Now, go get out into your day, keep your money on your mind. Keep your mind on your money and yes. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later  

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon, Bye!

Ep. #50 The Voice Doctor: RAab Stevenson

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #50 The Voice Doctor: RAab Stevenson
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When I asked RAab Stevenson (vocal coach extraordinaire) “what makes a GREAT singer?”, his answer was not what I was expecting… Listen in as we talk greatness, training, lifestyle, myths about the voice, and warnings about the recording industry.

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Liv’s Music Video, “OVER” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmEXH0oHAR0

Work with RAab Stevenson: https://kimadproductions.com/?page_id=50

Voice Goodies:

Throat coat tea: https://amzn.to/37ORrRF10:23

Throat comfort tea : https://amzn.to/2K1tcY710:24

Menuca Honey: https://amzn.to/2VQfwBW10:24

Airwaves Gum: https://amzn.to/37MX0jy10:25

Grethers: https://amzn.to/3qDyoCe

Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello. How are you? Welcome to the podcast. I’m jazzed that you’re here and yes, I’m jazzed for this episode. Oh my God. You’re in for a treat today. My guest on this episode is Rob Stevenson, vocal coach to the stars. And this episode lines up perfectly with my win for the week. This is my win. If you’re new to the podcast, by the way I do wins every week. It’s how it starts. I start then you go, so get ready. Okay. My win this week is that I have directed my first official music video and it is out there in the world. Ready to be enjoyed by you or by anyone with access to the internet. I suppose, um, the, the recording artist responsible for said, video goes by Liv, shout out Liv if you’re listening. Um, and live is one of Rob Stevenson’s clients. So the world is truly a tiny little acorn. My win this week is live and my guest this week is lives coach. So cool. So excited to get into it. I do want to dig into this win a little bit more though, because I would be a fool to not talk about all of the things that I got to practice on this gig and just kind of take stock for myself, but also for you. Um, one of the things that I got to practice that I really encourage you to be practicing and be mindful of as well, is this, um, the, the ability to scale a vision in your head in accordance to the budget of the project. Uh, for example, in this case, do we use my busted projector from Amazon or do we use a 20,000 lumen projector that comes with his own projection operator?  Um, shout out projector, Paul, what up! Or, or do we go with the 30,000 lumen projector that weighs 200 pounds and might look better, but would also take like 45 minutes to move in between shots? Like, do we pay for the lumens or do we pay for the time? Um, another thing that I got to practice on set of this video is editing fast. I rescaled some of the video files for our projectionist. Like in real time, as we were shooting I’m scaling, um, the video files, it was a really awesome kind of higher pressure editing environment than what I’m used to. Um, obviously we were on a clock, obviously we’re on a budget and that really applied pressure that I have not been used to, um, before. So it was, it was super fun meeting that with a willingness to fail publicly willingness to, um, willingness for it to not be perfect on the first go round.  Another thing I got to practice is is this decision-making tool of when to budge and when not to budge, in terms of your vision, something like fighting for the dream location, for example. One of the other things I got to practice is preparedness. Just call me Sergeant Spreadsheet because I love a spreadsheet. I love a schedule. I love sticking to the schedule. Um, yeah, my spreadsheets, my shot lists definitely helped me deliver under schedule. Um, so did my kick butt team! Shout out to the, my new VIP DP, Luke Orlando, um, shout out to Artifact Content, the production house, responsible shout out to Arian. My buddy who helped me with the edit, um, super shout out to AJ, Harpold and Ivan Koumaev for being the management team that gets creative vision. And that gets the role of movement for recording artists. Um, and of course, super thank you to Liv for being the reason all of this came together. I could not be more thrilled, super win, super winning. Oh, that’s my hat. Super wining. Okay. How about you? What’s going well in your world. What are you celebrating today?  

All right. Congratulations. I am so glad you’re winning really truly. You’re crushing it. Keep going. Just keep going. That’s all you have to do. Keep winning. I got you. All right. Oh, I shouldn’t be whispering. You’ll find out why in a second. All right. So this episode is going out to all of my art types with a voice that is actually all of you. Um, but specifically vocalists recording artists, voice actors, speakers, or shouters. If you’re a director or a first assistant director, um, people with a voice all across the globe, this episode goes out to you. It goes out specifically. It goes out to anyone interested in using their voice and using it for a long time. The timing of this episode is absolutely perfect for me because just last week in my interview with Martha Nichols, we talked about my vocal nodules and my absolute awe of people who can sing. Um, and by the way, that includes Martha and almost all of the people that I work with all of the time. So I, in, in my life and my creative life, I feel a little bit like a black sheep, um, on the vocal front. And it is a huge point of insecurity for me. Um, my inability to sing or even in most cases hum the melody that I’m choreographing to, uh, anyways, well, we’ll talk about it later. I don’t want to spend so much time on the woe is me, but I do want to tell you that I am shifting my thoughts about my voice after this conversation with RAab and you might as well. So whether you are a super pro songstress or a person who is interested in becoming a song person, a songbird, this episode is absolutely for you. So go grab some tea with honey. He will tell you what kind of honey, by the way. So listen up for that, um, and grab a cup of water and a straw. If you would like and get ready to meet Rob Stevenson and get ready to meet your new and improved voice. Enjoy.  

**cup bubbles**

RAab: Hey, somebody has been practicing.  

Dana: Do I sound like butter? Thank you, RAab. Thank you! Gentle, easy-peasy okay. Everybody. I am so excited today. I cannot explain my enthusiasm and my history with this individual. My guest today is RAab Stevenson. I am thrilled, RAab, thank you so much for being here. Um, so it’s par for the course on the podcast. All of my guests always introduce themselves. RAab, what would you like us to know about you?  

RAab: Um, my name is Robert Stevenson. Um, my artist’s name when I was recording and putting out music myself, we called me RAab. Some people call it Ray-ab, uh, R with two As one B and the quick story behind that, we was just trying to find something to be cool. And one day we had a friend who was acting as a personal manager for me at the time Mike Berry, we were sitting behind a car that’s named a Saab and I was like, Hey man, how do you pronounce that car’s name? He said, Oh, that’s a saab. I was like, that’s it Rob Saab Raab. So I got back with the label and I was like, look, everyone just called myself. RAab was like, no, that’s not, that’s not deep enough. I like, no he’s gonna spell it. R A A B. And then the guys that the label, they were, um, part of the nation of Islam, it’s like, Oh man, we’ve got to keep the Quran and get deep with this thing. And I was like, we don’t have to. And that’s how the spelling came Large R Large A lower case a lower case b. So they put all that together.  

Dana: Like you think, you know, somebody and then you find out where their name came from. That’s so cool. Um, all right. So Rob, we met on my first world tour. Uh, it was Justin Timberlake’s Future Sex Love Show tour way back in 2007,  

RAab: 2006.  

Dana: Whoa. So I was, I was either 19 or 20 when we met. And you were a background vocalist on that tour code a shorthand for a background vocalist. We co we affectionately call them BVs. So you were a BV on that tour. Um, the show was in the round. You can watch it on HBO shameless plug. It was beautiful. And y’all BVs were all over that stage.  

RAab: We were dancing. Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, it was crazy. You guys had us all over the place as background singers. You normally don’t get that much attention. We’re normally stricken by just wearing all black sit in the background, basically seeing behind the curtain don’t get in the way that the artists do whatever they want to, but then you guys y’all show up. You Dane, you Dana AAJ, Marty, you know, comes coming to picture. It’s like, no, y’all got to be, get down everywhere. And sure enough, we went from one end of the stage to the other underneath the stage, singing and dancing, popping out, doing all the cool stuff. We were heavily involved in that. And, um, the thing that was really crazy is that which really helped us and, um, was, um, uh, the other vocalist Denosh Bennett. You know, she came from the world of, um, you know, broadway and, and dancing heavily and performing in music videos from Mystica to mystical, to Aliyah she’s she was heavily involved in that and she transitioned it to being a vocalist on that tour. So she was constantly in the background helping us out when you guys were out doing your thing with the artists, Justin as well. So it was really a big help. And, and what was crazy is that on the first tour Justified Tour that’s where I met Robin Wiley. She was a voice coach for Justin Timberlake, as well as the kids on a Mickey Mouse club. And, um, I would always ask her because we would have asked her, could I come to her hotel room, which was where we were staying at and we would have, um, vocal rehearsals there. Could I come in, just ask her a bunch of questions about the voice, never trying to be a voice coach, but just trying to be a better singer for the gig, you know? So I would be able to last and keep my job basically. Yeah. So she, she, um, after that tour, it was a success after that tour, leading in the Future Sex Love Show Tour, we had the promotional tour where we was doing all the club shows and stuff like that to kick before kicking off the arena tour. And, um, she fell ill and I was teaching people off of the CD that she gave me to warm up Justin or myself or the other singers when she wasn’t around. And I still carry that in my backpack in honor of her. So anytime I feel like I’m not good enough, or I need help, I’ll just put that in and I’ll listen. And she’s still giving me these little nuggets, you know, over the years. And that’s been since 2006, which is amazing. And, um, you know, at that point she fell ill. And one day we was here doing the club show here in Atlanta, believe it or not, which is where I live at the Tabernacle.  And my friends were coming to the show. I was so excited and I’m outside hanging with my friends and, and, uh, Big-E, Eric, Eric Burrows, I’m the head of security for Justin. He calls me, he said, Hey, what are you doing? And I was like, ah, my friends I’m getting, you know, bringing them into the show. And he was like, J needs you. I was like, is everything okay? He was like, yeah, he needs you to warm him up. And that was the very first time I started warming Justin up and I winded up, warming him up every single night for that whole tour. That was my job.  

Dana: I did not know that’s how that all went down. It seemed like such a natural progression to me. Um, and I suppose it may be, I mean, you, you alluded a little bit to trying to keep the gig. And I would imagine that for vocalists, like for dancers booking a tour is like kind of winning the lottery and they, there aren’t there aren’t 45 BVS on a tour. There are four or two. So it seems it must be a pretty competitive, um,  

RAab: It’s a, it’s an extremely competitive gig. And not only, not only just booking it, you have to be pretty, pretty, pretty talented to be able to sing multiple parts. You know, you gotta be able to sing a Soprano or Alto or Tenor. You gotta be really dynamic as a vocalist to be able to book a gig and really keep it. And in that case, it wasn’t like I was trying to be a brown nose or anything like that. I just wanted to do whatever it took to help because, you know, Darrell Diesel, who, unfortunately we lost this year, he passed in February. And, uh, he was how I got hired on that gig. I was in Atlanta and most people that get hired from gigs in LA, you normally have to be there in LA when you get the cattle call or, or a music director is looking for singers, dah, dah, dah, dah. And it’s a small window, you know, and just so happened. Justin was in Virginia Beach, finishing up the album with Pharrell and Chad and the engineered new diesel, you know, had them come by. They took them out to dinner and then that’s how he got hired. And then Justin had him to call and find the other guy. And when he called me, I was in a whole different space. I wouldn’t even thinking about coming on tour with anybody. I was trying to get back into the music industry, but my journey back in there, I had rededicated my life to Christ to God. And I was trying to move back to Orlando, which is where I’m from. So when he called, he was like, Hey man, you know, you’ll never believe who I’m working with. He was like, Justin Timberlake. And I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s amazing.  I’m so happy for you.’ And he was like, I was, I, my response to him was like, Hey, if you see his manager, Johnny Wright, let him know. I’m getting ready to move back to Orlando. And if I have to take out the trash at the compound, I’ll do that to get back in the game, you know, with, um, with that being said, he didn’t see Johnny Wright. But he, he asked me, he said, Hey man, but the guy, you know, Justin asked me to find the other guy to come on tour with him. And I was like, Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Who are you going to call? And he was like, you, you big dummy.  

I’m calling you. This is the call.  

Nine days later. We were in LA on the microphone singing. Like I Love You get ready to do a promo run that we got there that Tuesday, Wednesday had a, uh, a single release party. It was Jay Leno. We did his show. It was, it was-you know how it works. It was pandemonium. It was crazy.  

Okay. So, so obviously that was a long time ago. A lot has changed since then. 

2002

Oh my goodness. So, okay. I know this is a tough question. I’m sorry to do this to you, but what would be, what would you say are the biggest changes in your life since then?  

Well, one of the biggest changes was on that particular tour. I was doing some really crazy stuff with the money I was making off of that tour. Like a lot of people that get on the tour, the first time I was buying all these shoes, I had a suitcase just full of shoes and another suitcase. At that time, they would let you have 70 pounds in a suitcase. And the other one had an outfit to match every single out, you know, a pair of shoes and I was getting money and I was just giving it away. I had nothing to show for it. That changed on after- on the future sex love show to them, you know? And I was like, okay, something’s gotta be different. That was one. When I met my wife, you know, when we was doing the I’m Loving It, promo tour over in Australia. So working with Justin, I met my wife, we had a baby, you know, it’s been a blessing. Yeah. So with all of that being said, um, that changed, um, by me working on that first tour and following Robin Wiley around, I would not be where I am today as a voice coach. During this pandemic. And I feel really bad for a lot of my friends that are in the industry and I constantly get other opportunities and pass them on to other people to help them out because I know it’s not easy right now, but had it not been for the stuff I did with Robin, it wouldn’t have led me down this path of being a voice coach where I’ve been able to work with a lot of big artists, you know, and young artists, new artists, and, um, un-signed artists, you know, COVID hits and we’re all stuck at home, but because of my business and because people are, you know, in this creative space where they’re writing and working on albums, I’m still able to coach. 

But you do more than just coach. I think this is unique. And I want to ask you about this, um, because you also develop artists, you’re working with a couple, couple artists on the come up. Um, and I’m curious about what artists development looks like to you. How does that, how does that look to you?  

Uh, for me as an artist, when I was doing the artist thing, I was 18, 19 writing songs. You know, I was given an opportunity by a guy that saw me outside practicing dance moves for a talent show. And I was just grabbed some guys that I thought could move this guy named Tyrone Wilson. He pulled over and saw us practicing. And he was like, Hey man, um, I see you guys are in a group, but we would like to, you know, um, you know, basically they were auditioning us right there on the side, asked us to sing something. And I was like feeling bad because I knew my group. We couldn’t do, they couldn’t harmonize. And they asked me to sing. And then at that point they asked me to be in their group, the two older guys, but they took me under their wings, developed me as a songwriter, um, a ranger and all of that stuff, um, gave me my first opportunity in a recording studio. And that changed my life. It really did. And so what does artist development look like for me is, is that a lot of times artists, you know, artists, they feel like once they get a manager, the manager or the label should do all this work, things have changed in so many ways. And I feel like for me, the artists is responsible for their career. If you’re waiting on somebody to do all that stuff for you, shame on you, shame on you. You’re only setting yourself up for one failure to let in your own self doubt, putting your career in the hands of somebody else to do what they want with it. Only for it to not work out. And you blame them for it. No, it’s your fault. You did it. You gave them the keys to your porche and they wrecked it. So I get artists that comes, that’ll come to me and talk to me about managing. And I’m like, I will not manage because I understand the challenges of management, you know, the frustrations of management and sometimes the artists and management, they have good intentions, but then a lot of times they’re bumping heads because they’re so different from each other, you know, and have different perspectives on how that particular artist needs to conduct their career. Now, I’m not saying they don’t need each other, but sometimes at the early stages, I feel like the artists can learn so much. If they, they, they get good counsel from someone. And for me, I just, I just say, okay, these are the things you need because I’m in these meetings a lot of times with the artists that they aspire to be like. You know, they welcoming in a lot of times, I’m in a room getting ready to warm them up. And then what do you think RAab? I’m like, man, don’t be asking me none of that. No, but seriously, what do you think? So I have those moments as well. And then I’m like, this is great information and great advice that I can pass down to a lot of these newer artists or artists that are signed, that are making, you know, really crazy decisions regarding their career. It’s just like, if you’re performing and you want to be like a Justin or a Rihanna or, or any of these artists that sing and dance, you need to start building a team around you that does those things. You know, we’re working with one right now, Dana, you know, and she’s amazing. And she’s a hard worker, but I would not have ever introduced her to y’all if I didn’t think she had what it took to do those things. And the funny thing is what sold me on her was that we were finishing up the, um, uh, Man of the Woods tour last year. And I got a phone call from a friend saying that dah, dah, dah, here’s this girl she’s talented. Me and her talk. I had to look at her in the eyes on, on the camera, like, ‘Hey, what’s up,’ you sure about this. You really want to do this. All right. I’m at this show right here. This weekend. If you can get here for me, it’ll show me how serious you are. Her and her mom was on the next plane. Next flight out met me there. We worked during the day, came to the show, saw y’all and it’s crazy. A year later working with you guys.  

Yep. I’ll say, okay. So Rob is talking about a young up-and-coming recording artist named Liv. I started with, I started working with live in January of 2020, I think. And let me tell you the moment that I knew other than she already has a good team around her, which, you know, the co-sign comes a little easier when you see the, the people that are surrounding her, but uh, come lockdown. She stuck that out the entire time, the entire lockdown, definitely a committed person. It’s inspiring to see that. And it’s so it sounds like you’re like me on the subject of movement coaching. I simply love sharing the information I’ve learned. Like, what good is it if I just keep it for myself.  

Right, right, right, right, right.  

Yeah. It’s part of why I started a podcast is part of why I love movement coaching so much is, you know, simply sharing. I do believe sharing is caring and I care about, I care about those people with the people that I work with. Um, okay. Question for you now on the, on the kind of relating what I do and what you do, one of the ways, but not the only way that I can tell a good dancer from a phenomenal dancer is their ability to multitask. Like in the moment they could be dancing Like I Love You and cracking jokes with JT on the side, like mid chorus, or they could be having a conversation during rehearsal while reviewing the steps it’s like happening almost in the background, um, versus somebody who’s new to dance or not quite to that level yet it would require 100% of their attention to do. Like, I Love You top to bottom without messing up. I think I could probably do, like, I love you bottom to top or without messing up while having a conversation. That’s partially because I’ve done it 4,000 times and because it’s my favorite, but, um, you know, that’s, that’s one of the things for me that tells the difference between good and great. Is there a tell for you and a vocalist? How do you, how do you tell good from great.  

You know what? Work ethic, Work ethic every time I’ve, I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented vocalist in the game. And the sad part about it is some of them that don’t have that work ethic, then they just go straight off of their talent. Like I’ve got this.  

So what happens then? What happens?  

They’re like, I’m good. And then they crash and hit it real hard. And then they’re quick to blame everybody else around them. And a lot of times, um, artists, they they’re like, Oh, why are you so you just blatantly honest with me and I’m like, I, how else should I be with you? You want me to sugar coat and lie to you? And I do it with a smile on my face. I’m not going to be angry. Now when you don’t practice it, do what you’re supposed to do. I get upset, but I have to do that. I have to tell you, this is you. These are your goals. These aren’t my goals. You know, I know what to do, but these are your goals if you want to be better. And so when I see an artist, it can be an artist that’s not a strong singer at all, but I’ve seen, I’ve had a kid from Australia. Parents found me, his name is Ky. They found me from Australia. The was on, America’s got talent and he’s a dancer tap dancer. Incredible. But he wants to sing. The mom calls me, Oh my gosh, we were talking to RAab Stevens about it. I was like, why are y’all fanning out? I’m just Raab. It’s all good. And she was like, Oh my gosh, we didn’t think you would answer it. And I was like, yes, this is my business. I haven’t gone to it. And it was like, Oh my gosh, my son he’s the, he was number five. And uh, Australia’s got talent, all this other stuff. And she was like, uh, well, my son wants to sing. We want to work with you. And I said, Oh, I said, okay. She said, well, he’s terrible. The mom is so honest too. And I was like, okay, you know what, let me talk to him.  I don’t want to talk to you not being disrespectful, but I need to talk to him and see how, if he’s focused to be able to do this kind of thing, because I’m going to not, I’m not going to treat him any different. I’m going to push them. Just like I would, if I was in front of a superstar, I’m like, because I want him to be that. Or then some, you know, and the kid was so focused and he did everything I asked him, if you hear this kid sing, now you’d be like, Oh, he always had that. No he didn’t. 

Um, I really dig that approach to a decision about taking someone on, not being about where they are, but about where they want to be and their determination to get there. Um, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve worked with actually, some of my favorite people to work with are people that have zero dance experience and they are a blank canvas and they’re here and they’re hungry. They don’t have any bad habits I’m telling you. It is such a sweet spot. Um, actually, maybe we stick on that topic for a second. If somebody with no experience came to me and asked, can I teach them or will you teach me to dance in one week? I would probably laugh at them. But then I would like, there are drills and techniques and there is, there are some building blocks. There are tools that I would give them a place to start that in one week could probably do a lot of good. Um, is there something similar in your realm? Like, is there like a crash course to using your voice?  

Do you know what, I think it’s so funny when, um, when record labels or management, they’ll come to me and they’ll say, yo, we heard about you. We want to do this and get our artists this way. Blah, blah, blah. No, they’re like, yeah. I’m like, when’s the show? Uh it’s tomorrow. Oh, I’ve had that. I’ve had the shows next week. How, how many sessions do you think it’s going to take? The tour is in a week and a half from now. Why are y’all waiting? Why are y’all waiting now? What are y’all doing? Yeah. And then it’s like, I’m like, yeah, for what we do for a living, this is a ongoing regimen. It’s almost like saying, and I’ll give them, uh, you know, my LeBron James thing, I was like, okay, so you think LeBron’s high school coach was all he needed in order to sustain him in it, to win this many championships, let alone go to nine NBA finals, you know? And I’m like, no, his coach, he set him up for excellence in high school, but somebody else had to pick up the ball when he got into the NBA. And that’s what it is. But I’m just saying, so it’s the work ethic, you know, preparation, all of that stuff. So I’ve had artists that are really talented and they, they do, they’re focused and they’re driven, you know, you know, like the artist I just told you, I just finished working with, I mean, she ain’t touring right now, but me and her in here three days a week and she’s killing it, you know, along with other artists, they’re recording, they’re putting out new material, you know? So that stuff inspires me. It really does. It gets me going as well.  

Um, the, the, the training conversation reminds me of a quote. It’s been attributed to several different people, um, like an anonymous Navy seal, and then like Aristotle or someone, I don’t know where this actually comes from. But the sentiment is that you will not rise to the occasion, you will fall to your level of training. And when you train all the time, you don’t need to worry about falling you’re there. Right. And I think that that’s, you know, one of the other things I love about being a coach, especially with somebody who’s willing to go in multiple days a week, because that’s when you really start seeing benefits. Not, not one week for two days a week, not, not one month, every like once a week, but I mean, we’re talking long game and it’s so, so rewarding to see those, to see that improvement.  

It is. Yeah. So when I see that it inspires me because I was that kid that when I stayed with my mom, my sister, or the Bixler’s, who is this family that took me in, when I left home at an early age. I was constantly practicing. Always some allowed me to do my thing. Some was like, RAab, could you just please just give us a minute. Could you please just take the night off? And at that point, I always tell my kids, if your parents aren’t complaining about you practicing all the time, you’re not practicing enough.  

Oh, I love that metric.  

They should be like, please shut up, give us a break. I mean, we love you. We love you. You’re super talented. I love you so bad, but can you just give mommy or daddy a little break for now? Can you go in the basement basement and close all the doors behind you, but that’s when you know, they’re they want it. Yeah. And I think that the depressing side of things is when I work with artists, that I have to constantly push and try and motivate and inspire them. And they really don’t want to do that. They’d rather just be in a studio and write and call that a day.  

Oh, I’m glad that you mentioned that because I said a second ago that if somebody asked me if I could teach them how to dance in a week, I would laugh. I would, I would laugh first. But the truth is, if you don’t want to, then the answer is no, no matter what, this is really something you have to have a desire to do. Um, and then also the desire, not, not the desire necessarily, but, um, uh, a pleasure or a joy for music. I know a lot of people that tell me, I have no rhythm. I have no rhythm. I, I can’t even find the downbeat. And I’m like, but do you like music? And if the answer is yes, then I’ll tell them. And now it will be telling the truth that yes, I can teach you how to dance. You want it, if you, if you want it and you enjoy listening to music, absolutely. I love it.  Um, okay. I want to segue a little bit. Um, I want to talk about before we get into some myths, some common misconceptions about the voice. Uh, I want to talk about like overall health, because I’ve been finding, especially lately it’s odd. And some people might be surprised by this, but I know a lot of dancers with very unhealthy lifestyle. Dancers in general, we like to party. We like late nights. Um, drugs and alcohol are not uncommon in the dance space.

And the singing world 

Okay. Okay. So we share that. Um, and I, I wonder, like, what would you say is the role of fitness and a healthy lifestyle for a vocalist?  

Well, it’s funny. I always have this thing saying when I’m around, especially my male, um, clients, like what’s happening, good doctor, how you doing? And they all start laughing and uh, every now and then they’ll ask me why you always call me the doctor. I’m like, cause you got the medicine for other people. They look confused. I’m like, yeah, your lyrics, your song, it’s ministry. You don’t have to be in the church to minister to somebody. You know what I’m saying? So if you can’t get up there and do your job, you’re not going to be a minister. You’re not going to be able to save somebody’s life. Because I got trust me every night when I’m working in the, in the arena and the artist is on stage and I’m walking around the arena, taking notes on my iPad. I always find those, those, those, those, those people that are being drugged to the concert with their friends and don’t want to be there.  And when you sit down and talk with them, they’re like, yo, I’m glad I came. I was thinking about committing suicide tonight. Really it’s very powerful and it was somebody that was, uh, it could have been a dancer. I ran into it to dance dancers, people that, you know, either got injured and can’t do it perform anymore. But by them watching dancers on stage, move the way they do it just took them back and brought joy back in. You know what I’m saying? So I see those things. So when I say the ministry of what singing does for people, you know, I try and remind artists that, that. 

Okay, so that’s so, so what we do, what we, and now when I say we, I mean performers. What we do. I mean, yes, I’ve heard, you know, we’ve all heard dance saves lives or music saved my life. And I think that that, yes, in some cases, that is absolutely true. Um, but what would you suggest for, for us entertainers? How do we save our own life?  

So a lot of times when I come out and I know certain artists like to drink or like to do drugs, like the party and I come in and I, the same thing, you know, good doctor or I’ll say, Hey mama, how you doing? What’s happening, mama, why you keep calling me mama? Ain’t got no kids. I’m like, yes, you do. You have 135 people on staff. Don’t you, you’re their mother. You’re responsible for all of their households, not how they do, not how they conduct their households. But if you get sick and you go down, are you going to pay them their full salaries when they’re down? And a lot of people don’t want to hear that. Especially the people that are close to that circle, you can’t talk to them that way. I’m like, no, you shouldn’t party with them that way you shouldn’t do it because you’re contributing to the whole problem.  You know what I’m saying? I’m not saying the person can’t celebrate and have fun, but at what cost, what is it going to cost you? Because logistically speaking and having to reschedule a show and come back months later, if they do it, that’s month, that’s the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe even millions. It’s a lot of money to deal with that. When you could save that, if you’re going to do a little bit of a party, if you like to drink, just understand what drinking is going to do for you. You know, drinking is alcohol. It’s going to dry you out. Well, does it reach the vocal folds? All right. You sit there and you inhale alcohol through your mouth all day long. Those vapors get on the vocal folds and it’s going to dry it out. Oh my gosh. I’m so dry. You in Florida. It’s humid down here. What you’ve been doing?  

Okay. This is, this is a perfect segue. Then let’s talk about these misconceptions because a few years ago, I, I lost my voice for several days in a row. I didn’t have a voice for seven days. This came after a stint of, uh, uh, I think it was two or three days and I taught 16 classes. So throwing my voice over loud music while moving, being exerted. And I, I suppose I never learned exactly how to do that properly. Um, so I, I learned that I have some damage, some vocal, I have a vocal nodules. Uh, I got a voice pathologist. I got a vocal coach and I started working on, well, number one, just awareness. Like not speaking my sentences all the way out in the end until I have no breath. And now I’m straightening and I’m still talking. I’ve started keeping an eye on that. Um, I drink warm water all the time. I’ve definitely tampered my alcohol intake. Um, okay. So here is my list of myths that I would like to be busted, or I guess some of them are just kind of questions. Um, is coffee bad for your voice?  

Coffee is a natural diuretic. It will dry you out. It’ll give you a boost of energy, but for every cup of coffee, you have to have three bottles of water to dilute it. There you go.  

Love it. Um, okay. Is Tea I mean, some teas are natural diuretics as well, I guess, but is there a kind of tea that is better or worse for your voice?  

Uh, I liked throat coat tea. I like, um, throat comfort tea. I like putting menuca honey, not the one from whole foods, but menuca 5-50. They have a 5-60 plus I like using that from New Zealand. Take scoop of that and put that into the tub, the tea, if the singer is still dry while singing that put a little, a few drops of licorice root oil in there, and drink that  

You crushed one of my other ones. So honey does help or certain types of honey.  

So I like certain types of honey. If you dealing with like severe allergies and certain regions during spring and fall, you know what I’m saying? So if you’re dealing with that, I will use localized honey because a lot of times that’s the remedy for whatever is setting off your allergies in that area. 

The bees are the secret. Yep.  As always, uh, okay. This one. Oh, my fingers are crossed about the answer to this question. I think I already know is dairy bad for your voice?

All right. So dairy, here’s the deal with dairy? I used to always think, man, every time I drink dairy, it messes up my voice, especially because I’m lactose intolerant. So that’s a bigger effect on, you know, for those that deal with that. But dairy, believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, dairy the particles are too big to get to the vocal folds. They never touch the vocal folds if they do, you’re choking on it,  

Which is bad for your voice, by the way, don’t be choking. Okay. This is excellent news  

Now. So you’ll have, you’ll have phlegm in the back of your throat as a result of it. And one way to get rid of that is, uh, get some salt water, warm water, and gargle with that. And then it’s out.  

Thank you, doctor. Okay. A few others, um, cold water superior to warm water. I think this one’s obvious, but  

Alright so cold water. I love cold water. I do. When I’m working out, do not give me room temperature, water. Uh, yeah, but um, anytime you’re performing, room temperature is always best because it takes your body more work to heat the water up to your body’s temperature. So you don’t want to have to deal with that. You got it.  

Hm. Okay. Interesting. I love it. I’ve since working with a voice pathologists, I started drinking warm water and I love it. I don’t ever want to stop. I love it. It’s my favorite thing. Um, oddly, okay, so we talked a little bit about honey question about cough drops. Do they work? I know you have a favorite.  

Okay. So, um, when you’re dealing with cough drops, you gotta be really careful. I mean, you know, let me, let me go down my little list. So let’s say for instance, like if singers are dealing with congestion or, you know, um, huge congestion in the nose, of course you want to consult with your doctor, but what I’ve always found that work is Mucinex sometimes Tylenol Severe Sinus. You know, it has a little bit of Mucinex then it has a four hour release in it. You take two of those and, um, I have this stuff, um, you, if anybody knows anything about doTERRA products. Yeah. So doTERRA has this oil, this little blend, and it’s a respiratory blend, which is really cool. And, um, it has Melaleuca in it. So like when you use you eustachian tubes by your ears, get impacted with mucus, from blowing your nose too hard. I always have singers put that around their ears. Uh, my mom, as a kid used to put what do you call it.. Vicks! Oh my gosh. Put it all on my nose, on my chin, on my neck and my chest,  

Uh, that lights you on icy fire. 

I know, right? Yeah. I have oil all over my face, but, um, that’s all, she, she, she knew at the time, but this has peppermint oil. Eucalyptus and all that other good stuff. You put it on your ears. And then, um, there’s a particular gum that, um, you know, I was put on to, by another friend of mine, um, from the UK, they sell it in the UK and all over Europe, but not here in America, coincidentally, and it’s called airwaves. And you can order it through Amazon. It takes about a week to two weeks to get to you, but you’ll chew on two pieces of that and that’ll open up your sinuses like that, like really causing the drain. Yeah. But don’t do the sniffles, just let it fall forward and then slightly blow 

Okay. Thank you, Rob. Those are all my, my myths. Did I, did I miss anything? Oh, I do know that. I do know that whispering is bad for your voice.  

Whispering is bad for your voice. It dries out the vocal folds and causes voice to fatigue really quickly.  

That is a good one, especially when you’re losing your voice. Don’t whisper 

Yeah. And for singers and dancers that like to eat after show food, laying down after eating cause you’re tired, you did a lot of work and you’d to get on their lap and laugh and laugh and laughing. If you fall asleep under three hours and you find yourself with heartburn or anything like that, try not to do that. Try and wait at least three hours or limit the amount of after show food. You eat, especially pizza. And there’s some tourists that are just give this the people, you know, singers the crew, Hey, just eat this pizza and call it a day and you’re hungry and you’ll eat it. But the tomato sauce and the pizza will trigger the reflux as well. So just be careful.  

I think that’s important. You mentioned that the amount of hours between eating and resting, but also the quantity over eating anything. Even if you’re eating good food, natural foods, not, not tomato, crazy sauce or anything like that, any time when you’re overdoing it, that reflux will kick up. For sure.  

It will definitely get you.  

Oh my gosh. You didn’t know you were getting into it like a health health lesson today. Um, okay. Rob, I know you keep a tight calendar, super tight schedule. So I just want to finish off by asking if you have any words of wisdom or thoughts, thoughts for aspiring vocalists out there. Um, eh, any last remarks,  

Listen, if you’re going to be in this music industry as a dancer or a singer, don’t wait for somebody to invest in you to do it, figure out a way to invest in your own self. And also don’t just get into industry because you want to be the star. You know, you want to get into industry, I’m going to be this star. Uh, you set yourself up, you know, and I’m not telling you this, a perfect opportunity to have a plan B. Go in there because you are, you love the industry. You want to be a part of that. If you’re going to be on broadway, you go all out and study all the great don’t just study your favorite study. The ones that have been, you know, in West Side Story for all these years and why they’ve had continual success, you know, don’t just study w just wicked that comes through your town, find out the history of all of them.  You know, you know, Disney is good about doing stuff like that, but you know, you just gotta be a student of the craft of singing. And one way to do that is to invest in your own self. If you want to work with an artist or work with a coach like Dana or myself, you know? Yeah. The rates may be a little higher in your eyes, in my eyes. I try and keep my rates at a certain way, you know, to where everybody can afford it. But in that particular instance, it’s worth the investment. You’re not only going to get good coaching, but you’re going to get the same type of coaching that you see these other artists that are out there, the same type of attention, the same type of love, you know, that’s going to be poored into you. Why not spoil yourself with that? You know, that’s important, you know, so that’s, that’s what I got. Keep God first. Definitely. Yeah.  

Thank you so much. That was brilliant and beautiful. And I’m inspired to go do some more cup bubbles. It’s honestly, it’s a part of my daily routine. I love the way my voice feels afterwards. It’s amazing. Um, okay. Thank you so much. I will absolutely be linking to you and all of your amazing work in the show notes of this episode. So go find RAab, RAab, thank you so much again for being here. Um, I have, I get to talk to you again soon.  

Thank you. Good to see you, Dana. All right.  

OKay. That is RAab. And that is one of the most talented and kind people that I, that I think I know I’m so happy to have introduced you to RAab and so hopeful that you will be becoming introduced to your new and improved voice. I really think that this man has so much to teach and that we all have so much to gain from taking care of ourselves in our voice. So I hope you’re as inspired as I am to take care of yourself. Um, your audience depends on it and I will be linking to RAab’s business in the show notes of this episode. Should you be so inspired that you decided to, uh, find him and seek him out for some coaching. Oh, and if you are at all interested in coaching with me on the movement front or otherwise, I have some very special news come 2021, which is not that far away. You will be able to do exactly that in a number of different ways. So stay tuned for more updates on the Words that Move Me Membership front. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon, everybody.  

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 theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball changeover 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. 

Ep. #49 Pay Attention with Martha Nichols

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #49 Pay Attention with Martha Nichols
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 For Martha Nichols’ creative process, music is King and spirit is Queen.  In this episode Martha and I dig into that process and the beliefs that guide her in life and in art.  She reminds us that if you want the accolades you have to do the work, and that if you want a happy and healthy community, you must start with YOU.  You must be responsible for managing your mind and your behavior.  You MUST pay attention.

Transcript:

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? 

2006 

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,  

Oh, legit! 

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. 

Awesome. 

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. 

Thank you. 

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. 

It was, 

But why?

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. 

Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence
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 The subject of today’s episode is GRATITUDE and INDULGING.  Specifically, indulging in celebrations that DON’T clumsily step on other cultures OR leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. This episode is absolutely NOT holiday-exclusive or Thanksgiving specific. But if you allow yourself to indulge in the list of simple pleasures laid out in this episode (instead of the traditional holiday key players: Food, Booze, and more food), your whole life can become a little more like a party!

Quick Links:

Black Friday Sale: https://www.thedanawilson.com/shop

Promo Code: JAZZED (Limited time offer from Nov 26th – Dec 4th)

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Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. How are you? I’m doing very well this morning. If you are listening to this podcast on the day of its release, then Thanksgiving is tomorrow. American Thanksgiving. That is, and we’re going to talk about it, but before you listeners that are dropping in from way out there in the future, stop listening before you hit pause. Let me just tell you that this episode is absolutely not holiday exclusive or even really Thanksgiving specific for that matter, actually Thanksgiving and several other American holidays are a really hot button issue right now. And, um, you know, therefore this podcast episode will not be discussing what Thanksgiving is about. Um, I’m going to stick with what I know, which is certainly not US history and or the genocide of indigenous people. Today. I am going to be talking about gratitude and simply celebrating and indulging in natural human pleasures that don’t, uh, step clumsily on other cultures or leave you and the top button of your pants completely undone. So whether or not you will be celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, this episode is full of really good stuff. Stuffing good stuffing. Sorry. I will not do that anymore. I promise. Full of really, really good stuff for you. But first wins. If you’re new to the podcast, by the way, I start every week talking about some wins, that can be very, very big or they could be very, very small. And after I go, you go, so start thinking about your wins. Okay. This week, my win is that I stepped out of my comfort zone and actually stepped out of my house for that matter. After my bedtime, which is approximately 8:30 PM apparently. I don’t know about you guys. It is the middle of November and I am still really struggling to adapt to this new sleep cycle thing. Okay. Anyways, it’s 8:30 and I am going on a night photography walk with one of my very best friends.  

The one, the only Tony Testa. If you don’t know Tony Testa, I feel bad for you. Please go do some digging. You are in for such a treat. All right. So way, way back in episode two, I talk a little bit about my gear, all of the gizmos and gadgets that I assembled into. Basically my everyday carry when I was doing daily videos, way back in 2014, that is actually a really fun episode. I do recommend you give it a listen, but I’ll cut to the chase very quickly because I’m pretty sure you want to know the best camera for night photography and the best camera for dance videography and, or, you know, action shooting or high-speed, whatever, whatever I’m going to tell you right now, the best camera, the absolute best camera for all of those things that are just mentioned is the camera that you have. And the camera that you know, how to use last night is a perfect example. So last night I was shooting on my Sony A6000. If you’re fancy, you call it a Sony A6. It’s my favorite mirrorless camera. It is definitely my favorite camera that I have. I usually use it for video. If you are a Sony fan, you know that the, A series is just the coolest, what I didn’t say, Siri, you punk. Interrupting the podcast like that. Jesus. Um, such a great set of cameras, really, really big fan. Now last night, I was also using a custom lens that my husband put together, my super dreamy, wicked smart optical engineer of a husband. And, um, I swear every single photo is out of focus, but I’m celebrating it as a win because I got to exercise my eye for composition. I got to relearn this franken lens and start dialing myself back into it. I usually, when I shoot video, I usually use my zoom lens and everything’s on auto. That was not the case last night. Um, so really it was, it was a brilliant night. I got to spend time with somebody that I, that I deeply love and respect. I got to relearn my camera. I got to be behind it for the first time in a long time. And in front of it occasionally. So much fun. Maybe, maybe I’ll share a couple of the images from that night shoot throughout the week. So, so, so much fun. Um, all right. I have taken up enough of your Siri and I have taken up enough of your time now it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world.  Hit me.  

Okay, great. Congratulations. Um, so whether you’re winning, keep winning, keep doing all of those winning things. All right. Now, today we’re talking about gratitude and giving thanks and appreciation all the little shout outs to the lovely bits of life that you might be taking for granted. It’s about indulging in those things instead of indulging in a handful of other things. Now on any given holiday that centers around food and family and togetherness and mostly food and drinking, which let’s face it is many of them. I find myself usually uncomfortably full by like 4:00 PM. And then I stay about that full for the next few days of grazing on the leftovers. Well, this year on Thanksgiving and every day thereafter in perpetuity forever, I am committed to changing the way that I celebrate instead of indulging in Turkey and pie and wine and wine. Um, I’m going to indulge in the simple pleasures of life that do not affect the way my pants fit. And I would encourage you to join me. The following is a list of some of those simple human pleasures, natural pleasures, no matter who you are, no matter where you are, chances are, you can have at this list. Um, and if you really, really pause to enjoy them, they can make your whole life feel a little more like a party. Let’s get into it. 

Item number one, showers. Yep. Like in your bathroom, showers grooming in general, but let’s just talk a really good shower for a second. Thank you. Beeping noise, telling me it’s time to think about showers, the way the water hits your skin. Just think about the posture that you take when hot water hits your skin or your scalp, and you get to massage shampoo in your scalp and maybe give it a good scratch. And then the soap washes a way, then you do it all over again with conditioner, and then you get to rub your body with soap or a loofa or one of those weird little scratchy pairs of gloves. Or maybe you use a sea sponge if you’re au-natural. I don’t know what it is that you do in the shower. But I do know that if you really pause and take a moment to focus on the sensation of the water, hitting your body of your hands, touching your body or the loofa or the weird scrubber, whatever, that can be such a tremendous moment.  

And I think all too often, we blaze through that moment because we’re running late or we’re trying to get to the rest of our day. I’m not suggesting that you take a 45 minute shower. I’m suggesting that you tune into your five minute shower or let’s be real, probably your seven to 10 minute shower. Um, yeah, you don’t need to indulge by over showering, but simply tune into your body and the sensations in it, on it as you’re taking your shower. Now I know that some people, uh, do love a multitask. I know a lot of people listen to podcasts in the shower or in the morning as they’re getting ready, um, or listen to music in the shower, sing in the shower. I’m I’m here for all of it, but for your first go, after listening to this podcast, try it in silence. Just let yourself focus on the sensations of your body.  

Okay. I guess I’m going to kind of go in chronological order here up next is lotioning your body. Shout out to my husband who does not wear lotion and thinks it’s crazy that I wear lotion all the time. Um, think about, I don’t know if you’ve ever put baby lotion on a baby, that’s going to get a little weird for a second. But as you do, usually you kind of coup at the baby and you’ll talk to them and you’ll tell them how much you love their tiny feet. And look at these perfect little toes. And you know, you’ll, you’ll give them a tiny little gentle baby massage. What if you did that for yourself every day? Look at these tiny little fingers. You do such a good job typing all day. I love you knee caps, knee caps. You’ve been causing me a little bit of pain lately. I’m going to take care of you right now. I’m going to give you a little massage. It’s going to feel great. You’re going to love it. Feet. Holy smokes. I know you pups are howling. It’s going to be another long one, but I’ve got you right now pumping you up. You going to make sure you’re ready for the day. You too calves. I got you back. Speaking of back, it’s hard to reach, but I’m going to try, take a moment to love on yourself. Like actually verbally love on yourself while you’re putting on your lotion, such an awesome way to celebrate yourself. I honestly, I guess I could broaden the whole lotion bit to say, taking care of your skin, whether that’s your face. Um, take care of your nails. I don’t know if, if, uh, you guys are like me since the lockdown. I certainly haven’t had any professional manicures, but I really love painting my own nails. Something about it is meditative to me. I get very quiet. I try to be very still, I focus on one thing and that is not to paint on my cuticles. And it’s, it’s so calling for me. So weirdly and wildly restorative. Oh, and then because I have wet nails usually for the following hour or two, it’s pretty low impact in terms of my activity. I might be reading a book. I might do a little, um, you know, surfing the internet or watch a movie. But in the moment when I paint my nails, the reward is much longer than simply the moment of painting my nails. So that’s kind of a bonus. 

Okay, we’re moving right along. Now. Let’s talk, getting dressed. Specifically, wearing clothing that fits and feels good on your body. Now you could go a step further by, by dressing up in things that make you feel fabulous better than — better than your average bare naked person. But I, I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s that. I grew up a dancer with a seamstress for a mom, and I love a good costume, but I really love looking forward to and walking around the world in an outfit that I love. So I don’t know if that is something that you might need to be out there in the world looking for, or if that’s something that you keep in reserve in the closet only for special occasions. You know what? Today is a special occasion. Go put it on, look and feel. Fabulous, simple pleasure. 

All right, now this next one is a good one. And I must admit I have some work to do in this category reading, especially in quarantine times, this one is clutch. And really when you catch yourself in the clutches of a good book, you get transplanted. You get put somewhere else, another world, another time, it can be as good as a vacation. Go ahead and fight me on this. But right now I would say it’s better than a vacation because it does not require leaving your house and putting yourself and others at risk. Read a good book today. I challenge you instead of that second or third or fourth piece of pie or glass of wine, grab a freaking book, take yourself in your mind, your imagination to another place where you can indulge in having an imagination where you can indulge in knowing that somebody wrote those words on that page likely a very long time ago, and they have no control over how you decide to see them in your mind. I think that exchange is just so magical and cool, freaking awesome. Grab a book. I’m talking to myself now. 

Okay. Let’s keep it pushing another one. Not a big, not a big hit in my household, but nevertheless, an excellent go-to, especially in holiday together times instead of grabbing an extra plate of food, grab a board game or a card game.  Actually, my family used to be big on the speed and a game called BS, a game called BS. We loved this game. Um, also poker has some roots in my family. I remember learning Texas hold ’em when I was like 12 or 13. So much fun. Engage the mind, engage each other, play a freaking game. Oh my gosh. Scrabble. You guys really, really good one because well, fun one for me because I love words, but I am a terrible speller hence podcast right now. I know there are several other games that I’m not mentioning right now. Some that like actually bring you into some physicality, uh, like twister, for example, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend eating a bunch of food and then playing twister that could go way wrong. Um, I’m sure I’ve left out some of your favorites. I would love to hear what they are actually, because I would love to stock up the games in my house. It might be time to make this house game house. 

Uh, all right, let’s keep it pushing. Hear me now. I do not work out for fun, but I work out so that my body can dance better. Also. I do admit it does feel really good after the fact, but while I’m in it, I’m not chances are, I am not having fun unless I have a really, really awesome playlist. (don’t worry playlists are coming up.) Um, I do think that exercise falls on this list and I do think that you can indulge in it. I do think that being in motion, um, whether it’s a yoga flow or a Pilates mat, this doesn’t need to mean this doesn’t mean that you need to go on a several mile run. Um, but I do think that being physical and getting your heart rate up is an indulgence that, yeah, I think a lot of us don’t really tune in tap into as often as we could, or maybe as often as we should. One thing that we almost certainly don’t do while we’re in the exercise moment is to take stock and give thanks of our working bodies of all the things that are working. Usually I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I’m working out, I’m telling myself work harder, work harder. I’m not telling myself thank you for working. Thank you for working. So on your, on your post Turkey workout or on your next workout. Give that a try. Thank you for working. Thank you for working during your workout.  I can’t wait to hear how it goes. 

All right, here we are favorite favorite guys, listen to music, listen to it loud, listen to it. Often listen to it alone. Listen to it with friends, listen to it in headphones, listen to it in your car. I mean all of it, but while you’re doing it, really focus on how incredible it is that humans made those sounds in that composition, in that order, in that tempo, in that structure, with that style. I mean come on, it is just the coolest thing in the world. And when you’re a dancer or a choreographer, you wind up listening to music all day long for your job. I’m not saying that takes the pleasure out of it. I’m saying it’s very easy to forget how much pleasure is in it. So let that be a focus, get grateful for your ears and the way that they work.  Get grateful for the sounds coming out of whatever that whatever the, um, noise maker is that you happen to be digesting your music through, get grateful for the noisemaker. I mean, this I’m, I’m tearing, I’m tearing, just talking about it, go grab you some music. You know what actually blows my mind to think about because of the nature of what I do. I listen to music. Absolutely every single day, but not everybody does. Like I had that realization recently. There are probably people that go several days without hearing music. And I’m like, well, I don’t know how, I don’t know how that works, but I do know that I, that I slip into music for work more often than I would like to. Um, I’d like to bring back the balance of music for pleasure and music for work. Um, I’d like to offer that you do the same.  

All right. Now, an obvious next step, or maybe not so obvious next step to listen to music is make music sing. I am not a person with an excellent or even decent for that matter singing voice. And I still love it. Especially when I have a thorough vocal warmup, shout out by the way, upcoming episode, I can’t even wait. I’m so excited. I cannot actually wait. I will be talking to my dear friend, Mr. Raab Stevenson, vocal coach to the stars. I cannot wait. I’m so excited. 

Okay. We’re back on track next step, because I’m following a theme here. Listen to music, make music, sing and dance. Not for work, not for a daily video, not for a, tik-tok not for the gram for fun. Dance for fun. You’re like, what’s that? No, really just music or no music and boogie and right when you want to stop, keep going and see what happens. Just see what happens. See what comes out. And I’ll revisit the same theme that we, uh, that we touched on when I talked about working out as you’re dancing, celebrate every moving bit of that body, because it is worth your gratitude. It is a worth a celebration. Get into it.  

Okay. Up next. And this is another one that I don’t, um, indulge in as often as I would like to, but I always have a really good time when I do painting something about getting your hands dirty and something about rolling up a sleeve, rolling down a tube of paint and just getting bright for a second, make something beautiful, make something ugly, make something, make anything. 

Speaking of getting your hands dirty. This next one is a favorite of mine. Potting plants. In general, I find that getting my hands dirty is one way to clean out my mind. It is possible to celebrate yourself well, caring for something else, right? You’re like getting ahead of the next harvest. Oh, by the way, if you are an avid listener of the podcast, I should tell you that my tomato plant is thriving. Making lots of little tomatoes. They’re still green, but there are a lot of them. Um, and my Basil is still my Basil it’s overflowing. It’s everywhere.  Moral of the story is plant something, get some fresh air, feel the soil in your hands, nurture a tiny little plant life and feel like the same that you are. I mean, come on. Does it get any better than that? No, it does get worse though. When the plant dies, you feel awful. That’s when you can plant another one or hit the Google and start finding out what you’re doing wrong. That’s what I did recently.

Okay. The next one again, might sound really obvious, but I think it definitely deserves a mention showing affection, right? Gratitude, affection, they’re cousins. So it makes sense that in an episode where we talk about gratitude, we talked about showing affection that can be written, spoken or physical. Now we are still encouraging social distance here on the podcast, but do not forget about the importance of physical contact, perhaps with a roommate or a parent. Um, if you feel a need, maybe you ask for that back rub or that foot rub, or maybe you offer one before you ask for one. I think that so many of us forget about physical connection, especially when we are uncomfortably full and probably don’t want to be touched. So what if the next celebration you’re at you save that little, little, little bit of room you have that you always reserve for, for dessert, but fill it up with a hug. I know it happens all the time husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, boyfriend/boyfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend, don’t care who the relationship is between couple plans for a romantic evening, couple overeats or over drinks, couple falls asleep before romantic times.  So try as hard as you can to remember how good it feels to be physically intimate and save a little room for that instead of seconds or thirds or desserts in general. 

Okay. Last step on the list. And this is maybe because it’s fresh on my mind. I’m not going to lie this one. Isn’t really a natural pleasure because cameras are not natural fruits of the earth, but take pictures. Yes. Take pictures. This is a really, really, really good excuse to be just about anywhere and do just about anything. Let me explain what I mean by that dancing alone in a parking garage somewhere kind of odd, right. But put a camera there or a camera crew and all of a sudden that makes total sense. Oh duh. Yeah. They’re making a thing laying down in the middle of the sidewalk. For example, wouldn’t recommend it. But if you do it with a camera attached to your face pointed at a skyline, I totally get it. That totally makes sense. Might be totally unsafe, but I totally get it.  Now other than the fact that a camera just seems to be this passport, this like ticket to go anywhere and be anywhere and do anything or talk to anyone besides that. The other reason why I love taking pictures as an act of celebration and gratitude is because obviously it feels really good in the moment, but it also captures that moment. It captures the moment in a way that you can see it. You can duplicate it. If you print it, you can touch it, hold it, you can edit it and you can revisit it any time. It’s so incredible. It’s so special. So this holiday season, I hope that you spend more time in your camera app than an Instagram or Tik ToK create more than you consume. That is what it’s really all about. 

That’s my list. It is by no means exhaustive. In fact, I would really, really love to hear from you. What are some of the other natural ways that you love to indulge and celebrate life? That doesn’t mean you wind up kind of bulging over the top of your pants. I do think it’s interesting that indulge rhymes with bulge. Alright, so reach out to me with all of your favorite ways of celebrating of indulging in natural pleasures on Instagram, at words that move me podcasts, I cannot wait to hear what you have to add to this list. I hope that you find ways of celebrating. I hope that you get really grateful for all of the natural pleasures of being a human this holiday season and every season for that matter. And if you do decide to indulge in some not so natural human pleasures, like for example, shopping. Into the plug, I am giving all of my listeners a 10% off coupon code for everything in my store, on the website, theDanawilson.com/store  

That means words that move me stickers. That means keep it funky shoe bags for stinky stinky shoes. That means digital downloads that help you manage and get inspired about your creative projects. Ooh, and we just added a daily creative prompt calendar for 2021. That means every single day for all of next year, you will have a creative prompt so that when you’re sitting, thinking I have no ideas, you’re wrong, you’ve got at least one idea. It is right there waiting for you at thedanawilson.com/store Um, our daily creative prompts calendar. I think it’s super, super cool. Shout out to Malia Baker for putting that together and a great idea by the way, this 10% off coupon code applies starting black Friday and goes all the way through a full week until December 4th, to use the 10% off to get your 10% off, select your items, then click on the little shopping bag.  It’s the cutest little icon I’ve ever seen. Click on the little shopping bag in the top right corner. And then finally type the word jazzed J A Z Z E D in all caps where you see the words coupon code, then click apply coupon and get your 10% off every single purchase. Every single thing in the store, no limits, I mean have at it so much fun. So much a natural pleasure. Holy smokes. Um, perhaps the most fun of all though, you guys is hard to even talk about this because I am smiling so big. I have to tell you, hopefully by black Friday fingers are super crossed. I will be releasing my first ever words that move me. T-shirt in collaboration with my good friend, Jesse Soyer’s over at Getting Unlocked. Jesse, by the way, is a phenomenal tap dancer. She’s more than a phenomenal tap dancer. She is a, a visual musician. She’s an instructor and a coach and an advocate for mental health and body positivity. She and Getting Unlocked her company, um, which is an apparel and art company that really really champions self-acceptance and inclusion above all else. She is doing great things. She is an incredible person and it was so much fun to collaborate on this. T-shirt um, if you follow me, Dana Wilson, the human on Instagram, you have absolutely seen one of these t-shirts it says, I welcome your differences on the front. It is a message that I love getting behind. Literally every single time I put it on. And I hope that you do to super special edition words that move me plus getting unlocked. I’m jazzed about it. So be on the lookout for that on the story as well. We’re offering more than 10% off on that. So use the same coupon code jazzed in all caps for that. And um, yeah. Holy smokes. Now I think I’ve talked about, uh, natural pleasures for as long as I’ve talked about natural pleasures. So, uh, let me stop. I’ll let you go decide for yourself how you would like to indulge and celebrate your Thanksgiving. So yes, please do go to theDanawilson.com/shop It’s a great way to support the website and support yourself with some pretty, pretty sweet stuff. If I do say so myself, but most importantly, this holiday season and every season, tap in and get grateful for the natural and almost free pleasures of being a human. Thank you for listening. Everybody get out there, keep it safe. And of course, keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.  

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 theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way that moved me limber. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done now. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos
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What happens when the commercial industry doesn’t make you happy anymore… Reinvention, that’s what!  My guest this week is a pro at exactly that.   Diana Matos bridges the space between street and commercial dance.  She dives into the importance of using her creative voice, and the challenges of having a company with members all over the world.  We also go deep on the difference between SELFISH and… SOMETHING ELSE, so do a spinal roll down and a few jumping jacks to get yourself warm, and LET’S GO!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Diana Matos: https://www.instagram.com/dianamatos/

Motus the Company: https://www.motusthecompany.com/

Fenty Show: https://www.amazon.com/Savage-Fenty-Show-Vol/dp/B08JQNCY8R

Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Dana: Hello! Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. Welcome. Welcome. If you are a first time listener and welcome back. If you are a returning mover and shaker, I am so glad that you are here today. I am thrilled to share this interview with you. I think it is simply solid gold and a very fun listen. But before we get into it, I want to draw your attention to a couple things, because I am seeing some new daily doers out there. I want to make sure that you guys know, I offer some support on my website in the form of an interactive PDF that can help you with your daily projects. If doing daily is a new concept to you, go back and listen to episode one and two. But if you are a daily doer, I do so strongly encourage you. Go visit theDanawilson.com Take a look at the store in there. I have a downloadable PDF that helps you organize your project and really make the most of this daily creative challenge. So want to make sure that I say that before I forget. Um, also before I forget last week’s episode was so much fun. I did my first ever live Q and a via zoom. And so many of my listeners were there with me asking questions, interacting. It was just so much fun. Um, go back and listen to that. If you have a chance, if you dig it, if you’re loving it, please do download these episodes and leave a review. If you’re moved, if it was helpful, give us a rating, leave a review. It makes it so much easier for other people to find the podcast. And that is definitely important to me. So thank you in advance for doing that. 

Okay. Let’s get into it this week. As my win, I am celebrating the reconnection to old friends. I probably am not alone in that during the lockdown I have indeed locked in. I’ve gotten I’m pretty self focused, and I think this is a very important win today because in this interview with our guests this week, the lovely Diana Matos, we talk a lot about being self-focused or selfish and the difference between the two. So my win. This is that I, I reached back out to a network of friends that have supported me for a really, really long time, but also to new friends, people that I’ve met during the course of the quarantine during the course of this time, since having a podcast. Um, and I definitely am feeling connected. I am feeling supported. And of course I’m feeling so grateful to have you and this forum to share. So yes, my win is my connection to my friends. And I would love to encourage you if you haven’t in a while to reconnect to yours. All right, now you go, what is going well?  

Awesome. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. Keep on crushing it. All right. My friends, I don’t want to spend too much time. Preambling here pre rambling here. I want to get straight into this interview. My guest this week on the episode is the one, the only Diana Matos in my eyes, an untouchable dancer, um, an incredible presence and incredible friend and an incredible role model. I’m so excited to share what she shared sharing on sharing. Um, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. Please. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. She is @DianaMatos on Instagram. D I A N A M A T O S. If you do not already know her, or aren’t already familiar with her work, please do go get an eye full. All right. And with that, let’s get into it. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Diana Matos.  

Dana: All right. Holy smokes. Let’s do this Diana Matos, everybody. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being here. 

Diana: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure. It’s an honor. You are an inspiration to me and to everyone around me so down always. 

Oh my gosh. Uh, likewise and I’m, I’m honored, lucky, count myself extremely special to have been able to share the stage with you before we’ve gigged a little bit, nowhere near as much as I would like actually. Um, you are now a person that you have your own company. You’re still crushing it in the industry. Most recently performed in Rhianna’s Fenty fashion show, which I do want to talk about. I want to talk about all the things, but before we dig into it’s, uh, it’s commonplace here on the podcast that all of my guests introduce themselves. So tell us anything you would like us to know about you.  

Diana: Hi, my name is Diana Filipa Pereira Morais de Matos Koumaev originally from Lisbon Portugal, I have lived there till I’m was 21, uh, danced trained, um, moved to London 2011, started working commercially and 2014 moved to LA. Um, yeah, I’ve been working since then, uh, hugely in the industry, but also very important to me that I stay true to myself, to my voice, to how my body moves what feel as good and organic to me and trying to build from there, especially right now at this stage of my life.  

Okay. So let’s talk stages then if your, if your dance life was a book, what would the chapters be? What do you chapter it out by like Portugal, London, LA, or is there like training, touring, stage? Like how does that get compartmentalized in your brain? How do you think about your dance life?  

I think to me, it definitely, I definitely com uh, compartmentalize it, uh, it being Portugal, it’d be in London and it being an LA. Um, also because to me it felt like a restart every single time professionally and personally, I have to reinvent myself, I have to drop everything financially, everything. It just, it’s always like a big step where I really, I go through a really rough time and then things finally start happening. Um, and especially within that time, there’s crazy amounts of growth personally and professionally. Um, so I would say that’s the way I sort of, you know, separated looking back. Um, I guess I was a little bit lost in Portugal. I learned a lot very limited, but at the same time, I found a way to sort of teach myself and reinvent myself because it wasn’t a lot back then. And, you know, there was no social media, there was YouTube and it’s a really, really small, town. So I had to work with what I had. I had to sort of re reinvent myself, which those are tools that till this day I use, um, me moving to London, it’s me, you know, finally breaking through. I barely spoke English at that point. So it’s also me understanding, you know, the language and how to talk to other people, how to, how to network, how to audition, how to even submit for an agency, all those things. Um, and then eventually coming to LA where I felt like it was sort of like my last attempt to have a career. I really thought I was maybe only coming for like a year or something. And then maybe going back to Europe and truly that’s when my career exploded. Yeah, exactly. You know? Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s, I would stage it.  

I love that. I, and I think that a lot of the people listening can relate to this feeling of starting new and being leveled, being baseline, trying to navigate, trying to transition and really trying to skill up as fast as possible and by any means possible. So this like this hungry student in you has been there for every single chapter and, and even as currently, and now you are attracting hungry students, um, with your company, talk a little bit about motus, what’s the mission, um, to tell me everything,  

Um, motus, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to create, right? Because as much as I believe in training and, and, and being in the room with as many choreographers as I could, and to, to sponge as much knowledge as I could through my journey, um, huge, uh, on, on understanding where my voice is as an artist, right. And I’ve always felt that I had that and very much so because of one, my life journey into my culture, um, which is half Portuguese, half African from Mozambique. So, um, motus has always been something in the back of my mind where I wanted to create a group of people that I’m able to, to utilize my voice into create this voice in the industry. Right. Um, not only that within the, the, the, my experience as a professional dancer, I’ve understood that we sort of have two options, which is to be an artist behind, uh, to be a dancer behind an artist, or to be a teacher slash choreographer, where you travel the world or you do conventions or right.  And those are like the two big options that you have to me is start after, you know, after a, while it started feeling a little bit like, Oh, this, this is all I have. Um, as an artist, if I don’t necessarily want to dance behind an artist anymore. And if, either I don’t want to teach, uh, or if I, choreographing is not my thing, where do I stand? You know? Um, so I think the industry sort of lacks specially for commercials commercials slash street styles, there’s a huge gap when it comes to, if I just want to be an artist as a dancer, where do I fit in? So I think motus, motus, motus’ goal is to create a company where artists can come and can sort of create a career off of it, where they travel. You’re getting paid, they’re dancing, they’re exploring their artistry, but not necessarily either in the commercial world or they don’t have to, you know, there’s a lot of people that are not teachers and they end up being teachers because that’s really the only option, which is not a good thing, you know? Um, so I think motus down the line, the big, big picture is to create, to have a company commercial slash, uh, streets out a street styles company that, um, that we can, can give a voice and give a space to all these dancers and artists.  

Cool. I, 45 follow-up questions. I’m going to start with this one. Um, so does the company, or do you envision that the company performed together? I know at this point it’s a training based company and the people that become members, the people that get involved, get their butt kicked. I know that this training goes above and beyond what somebody might expect to find in an in-person masterclass. Um, but tell, tell me about how, like, how is this next level training and do you visualize in-person performances with a company in the future?  

Definitely visualize performance companies. I think when motus started with me with COVID in quarantine and lockdown happening and me, um, understanding, okay, truly this is a time for me to, for me to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I was never really able to, cause I was just overwhelmed with, you know, job here, rehearsal there. Um, so it’s time to do this, but now I’m limited with the circumstances that I can do it. So it has to be online based. So it has to be as for now and is until I’m able to train these dancers to be able to, uh, create whatever I can with no limitations, I have to train them. So right now in this first stage is very much so a program, an online program, um, where not only you train with me heavily, Um, two times a week, 

Oh, I’ve seen the videos, it’s heavy training. I like I sweat and I’m sore as I watch. It’s incredible just to watch incredible, by the way, do you take drop-ins because I have got to do these moves. I need a full 45 minute warmup and then I need to do the moves.  

Absolutely. You’re allowed to actually, that would be a great segment to this. If you would come in and film like your whole experience. Good idea. Love it. You’re  

So down. So now coming soon, coming soon. 

Um, so you’re not only trying to heavily with me, but also, um, you ha we have a grounding, uh, class 30 minutes before mine to prep and to sort of, uh, condition your body for all this training. And then on Sundays you have a different style, every single Sunday different style. And that goes from foundations, from like Afro, from, um, whacking, voguing house, popping, locking, like all of it and stuff that actually we don’t have access to often. And, and, and with the variety that, you know, also at the same time that we can have people from Switzerland to, to South Africa, we also have teachers from everywhere in the world. Um, so that’s huge,  

Massive. I love that silver lining of this moment. It’s remarkable. And what’s odd. I mean, it’s not odd at all. It’s been there for years. I mean, zoom has been there for years, but we only see what’s right in front of us and now we’re looking bigger. We’re zooming out and it thrills me to no end. Um, and so it’s, let me just  

Let me just add that. It’s actually really good in the sense that it created this, this almost like this relationship between me and the members and the sense that, you know, if it’s a regular class, you come in, there’s 60, 70, a hundred people who teach, groups, thank you for coming. The zoom It’s so personal. I’m looking at Dance, I’m looking at you dancing individually. Like I’m stopping you and saying, you see how you did that leg. You see how you did that weight. Wasn’t right. It’s such a personal relationship so much more than a regular class.  

I agree. I know there are several people that disagree that think that the screen, the layer between is a disconnect. I couldn’t disagree more. And because you and I are people who, whose work does show up on screen a lot, actually understanding how you look on a screen is an important element that you might not achieve in a, in an in-person class. There is a difference to those dynamics to the way that your shapes and your lines look. So, although it might be technically easier to correct someone in three dimensions, like in person, hands on corrections, you might not have seen the thing that you want to correct in person because the dance on camera element, at least to me, is hugely important. And so appetizing, I love working in this medium. 

Its so detailed. 

I love it so much. So let’s talk about the beginning of modus. I would love to hear what was the most challenging thing about making it?  

I would say one, understand how to keep people engaged. A lot of these people, we have people from South Africa to Australia, to New Zealand, to Europe, to London, right? Um, there’s people taking class at 5:00 AM that just barely woke up in their little living room or their rented room, you know? Um, so how to keep people, cause also we’re challenging people so much to after three, four or five weeks, you feel drained almost right. So to me was how to give a lot and how to really push these people with information, with the level, with the how to keep them motivated, uh, to want to keep cook, to come back and to continue this so we can actually get to the end goal. Um, it was that it was how to structure it, how to, how to finesse having that many people. And how do I give attention?  Suddenly I have 45 little squares, what I have to have individual feedback. So how long do I determine that feedback? You know, there’s so many little levels, um, training who to choose to, to, to invite for these guests teachers for every Sunday. And then it has to be sort of, if I give a little footwork this Sunday, then that next Sunday, maybe you should be a popping or then it should be, uh, maybe it should be a salsa, like how to completely shift every single Sunday to keep them almost like to have their bodies, uh, be pulled so many directions. And that, that creates, um, a body development and a body flexibility that that’s what we’re trying to achieve. Right? So as a mentor, director, however you want to call it that’s those are like my biggest challenges till this day. Honestly.  

What you mentioned earlier about there being kind of a divide in terms of once you, once you reached the level of being a professional dancer, you have a few more commonly traveled paths. There’s the backup dancers slash commercials, TVs, film type, where you’re a contributing part of a big, big picture, or there’s the, you are the traveling teacher, choreographer person where there’s this kind of celebrity it factor, but you’re, you’re teaching your moves. And then there’s the kind of less glorified version of a teacher, which is the person in there doing the daily grind. These are our dance studio owners. These are our teachers who are putting together programs, making them attainable, making them feasible, doing the structure, like financing it, deciding budgets, like all of that big stuff. I want to put my focus there because those, those people get so overlooked. And I want to emphasize and highlight that that is a creative mega challenge to, to, to actually build a program is tremendously creative. To strategize and finance. You have to get creative. So I, I just want to do my part in kind of dismantling the stigma that the people behind JT or the creatives or the people, you know, the, the headliners on your convention are wildly creative. I think the people on the ground building these programs and getting them out into the world and changing lives one little dancling at a time, those are the creative heroes. And, and I think I’m just smitten by that.  

No, absolutely. And that’s so funny because to me at first, when I thought about the concept, I was like, okay, I’m going to have to teach, you know, four times a week. And I have to create something new every week. There’s a lot of creative choreography or, uh, as a teacher, uh, pressure, right. That I thought that that was going to be my biggest challenge and truly is not, is, is how to manage it all, how even I finish class and how do I have to come back and manage all this stuff that I’ve truly never done in my life. Um, you know, and, and then finding an assistant, find the, how to delegate. It’s a whole process.

Building the team. I’m with you, my friend, this is, this is my first time managing a team in my life and I’m learning so much all the time. So what would you say in a, maybe we stick on that subject on the subject of managing a team. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?  

And I think this might be my come from a perspective, from a personal perspective, but think how to always put myself in these people’s shoes and how to not let either my, my day, my emotions, what I’m going through really give to that. I’m very, I’m very passionate. And that comes with a level of perfectionism, a level of expectation that is quite high that I expect not only for myself, but I can handle that, but to other people. And then it’s to really understand that I, it’s hard for me to think that someone is good unless they’re at my level, which is not right for me to do. You know, so understanding that  

I call this, um, comparing somebody’s chapter three to your chapter 30, or comparing your chapter three to somebody else’s chapter 30.  

Yup. That’s exactly what it is. So, yeah, it was really hard for me to like step aside from me and myself and everything. And, and, and to understand that someone is as valuable and as competent to, to do that job, uh, perhaps just differently. That was a huge lesson  

Compassion. Right? Ooh, that is so important. It’s so important. Okay. Is there a lesson since you started the company that you, I mean, you probably expected to level up on managerial skills and to level up on the technical side of things and to level up an organization, but is there, is there a lesson that you’ve learned that you did not expect you would learn?  

I would say, I would say vulnerability because a lot of people, you know, I’m suddenly starting a company and all these people see me as a mentor and you call it director because you have to call yourself and then there’s a whole marketing team behind saying, Oh no, you’re this. And no, you’re that. And, um, at the same time that I own one and want to own this, I want to be, I want to pave my way. I want to climb the letter respectfully. I don’t want, I’m not trying to rush into any sort of name. Um, but at the same time I have to, in order to, to make people feel like I got this together right. And jump on my boat, but I got this boat together. But at the same time to see the, the, these members every day and to have vulnerable moments in the sense where I forgot my step, I forgot my counts. Or there’s days. There was one day my dog passed away right before class. I got it like out of texts, like two minutes before class. And I was just in tears. And how do I zoom in with 40 people around the world saying good morning. And I’m in, you know, so, so, so to find that vulnerability and to, to, to make people feel like they can count on me, even when I’m on I’m at my lowest. So am I, I’m at my most vulnerable self, you know, that to me was a huge lesson to be okay with that. For me to be okay. Cause I’ve always tough, tough to, I got this together. Always. I have to be smiley and ready to go professional. Right. And sometimes that just doesn’t happen. That’s just life. Um, so I think that was a lesson that I was ready for.  

Thats huge. I, one of the things that I’m working to embrace, especially I’m giving a Supreme opportunity to practice it during the lockdown is to embrace the full human spectrum of emotion. And to understand that even at my best, I can’t make you think that I am the best,  No matter what I bring to you, you might still think I’m full of shit. Or you might still think I’m lame or I could be, you could call me president of dance and somebody might be like, yeah, she’s all right.  

Its so subjective, yes.  

So if it’s up to them, what they think and what they experienced, it’s up to me, what I think and what I experienced. And if I’m here for all of it, then buckle up because we’re going on a ride. Like you never know what you’re going to get. You never know. I might be in tears. I might be in tears.  

Thats truly. Yeah. That’s truly the journey. Yeah. It’s just, it’s just being down, being okay with whatever it comes. That, that that’s. Yeah. That’s a beautiful lesson.  

All right. So let’s talk about the journey now and let’s talk about what’s next. What are you most excited about right now?  

I think commercial jobs is don’t fulfill me the same way anymore. Um, just where I’m at in my life. And I think now is to really, I think my whole life was to check, check, check what I’m supposed to do to either being deemed as successful or, or, or great or undeniable, however you want to say it. Right. Um, and I think now life has showed me or has been showing me that things have to come from me first. And it took me a really long time to understand that to be, to be very honest. Um, so I think now I’m relearning myself and understanding like what makes me happy with, uh, within what I do will make me happy. What will would, this would this spark? My, my, my, my creative juices where what I’m interested in, like all these things, even quarantine finding out hobbies, I’ve never had time or mental space for hobbies like, Oh, that right.  So I think that’s the future for me, motus is, is something that I’m super passionate about. And I truly want that to be my, my, my legacy also, I feel like it’s, it’s a side of me. I’ve been somewhat, very selfish my whole career. Me, me, me. I go here to get this for I perform here so I can have this to say that I had that it’s very me. Right. Even though I’m offering my talent to this artist, that whatever. Um, but I think with motus, which was huge is that I’m not only of course helping me and creating this huge thing, but I’m also helping me helping others. Like it’s a whole different level, a whole different level.  

Dana: Alright. I just had to pop out right here because I want to shine a light on this, on this idea. D said, I’ve been selfish even though I’m offering my talent to someone else it’s still for me, is this something I can really relate to after 15 years, I guess, 16 years now of gigging in LA for Target or Amazon or Microsoft or Southwest airlines or any of the pop stars and TV shows and movies that I have, um, sold my time and talents to, and now I’m creating the podcast for free. Now I’m doing coaching programs. Now I’m finding ways to share what I’ve learned and empower. I’m really becoming less self-focused in that. But to be honest, I work on myself and my project and I’m thinking almost exclusively about them for at least eight hours a day or more. So how is that not still selfish. I really wanted to get to the bottom of this kind of discrepancy here that I’m going through internally. Um, and I wanted to go a little deeper. I want to get all the way through it. So yes, I did the thing where I Googled the word selfish. And here is what I found with the Miriam Webster definition. Selfish means concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing without regard for others. I’ll say that one more time. And I’ll say it a little bit quicker and I’ll say it in pig latin. I’m kidding. I won’t say it in pig latin. Selfish means concerned exclusively or excessively with oneself seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure or wellbeing without regard for others. Okay. Now hear me out. Some of that actually sounds kind of all right, to me, seeking or concentrating on pleasure, wellbeing, and advantage. That’s actually kind of, kind of rock solid. It’s the disregard for others and the excessive or exclusive that rubs me the wrong way. Now what Diana is saying here. And what I want to underline is that there is a way to put yourself first so that you better, your ability to service others. There is a way to concentrate on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or wellbeing, air quotes with regard for others. And to me, that looks a little bit like saying yes, and. My good old fashioned favorite improv principle. Yes, I can do well for myself. And you can do well too. Yes, I can go far in my career and we can go further, farther, further. What do you say further, further, further? I think together. Yes, I can have a successful career and I can tell you everything about it. Yes. That might help you. Yes. I want to help you. This can be, Yes, And this can be Me, and you. So to everyone out there listening who wants to change the world and who wants to do better for themselves, I would say start by taking care of yourself and end with sharing what you’ve learned. I know that that’s not the end of it, but I think that’s a pretty good place to start. And that’s where I will leave it for now, because I’m excited to get back into it with D. 

You, you mentioned success, and I think you might’ve just answered it, but I would love to, like, if we could wrap this up with a bow on it, what is success to you?  

Success is true fulfillment. True. And what is fulfillment though? Right. 

You know I was about to ask, I wasn’t going to let you off that easy  

Nothing. It’s so crazy. Cause nothing is black and white and that’s why it’s so hard to define anything.  

That’s why you have to answer with gray. Right?  

I would say success to me is understanding what will make me truly happy. What will make me feel fulfilled and made me make me go to sleep at night in peace and wake up excited for another day. I think that’s the best way I can explain it. I like that success is good.  

Going to sleep at peace and waking up excited. I love that answer. Um, to me and I’ve been working on this definition to me, success is simply doing what I said I would do.  

I can’t beat you. 

I say, well, girl, I’ve been at the table for like nine months. Now, since March 6th, I’ve been in here. Like, what do I think about things? What do I have to say? I’m going to put a microphone in front of my face. Every, every Wednesday. It better be good. So that really that to me. And then on the flip side of that coin, of course is the, the opposite question is what is failure? And to me, it’s not doing the thing that I said I would do. Even if it’s as simple as taking out the trash or calling you when I, if I said I would, you know, um, I really am excited about accountability.

What is the things they used to told yourself that, okay, I’m going to do this, this and this. I’m not necessarily. Cause you know, we go through journeys is not necessarily what pleases you. So even though you said that you were going to do it and you end up not doing how many times have you not done it and realize, Oh, that was actually great.  

Well, I’ll back up a little bit and say that, first of all, I don’t prioritize. I don’t always prioritize pleasure or things that please me or things that will make me happy. Um, I mentioned already embracing and honoring the full spectrum of human emotion. Even if it’s devastation, embarrassment, humiliation, um, disappointment, or a feeling that I’ve let somebody else down like, Ooh, yikes. I don’t like those. Wouldn’t deliberately show up on my list of things to do. But, but my pursuit of success is not. Is not a pursuit of happiness. It’s a pursuit of a full life.  

Dana: Oh yes. My friends were going in. We are definitely getting into the depths here. Now this news about my priorities, not being the pursuit of happiness might seem like a shock to you because I am a joy machine. My default mood is sunshine and glitter and moonbeams, but I think that in our human lives, like the full scope of them, we will probably experience a real natural distribution of emotions, half positive, half negative, half good, half bad, some really bad, some really good most of them falling somewhere in between. I don’t personally chase happiness because I believe that out there, wherever it’s led me, that, that pursuit, I know that out there, even if I, even if I catch it, life will be 50/50. I think there is a full episode here. And I do really want to dig into this idea of 50/50, but I’m going to put it in the parking lot for now and jump back in with D because I actually really, really loved her ideas about success. And we’re going to dig into those a little deeper  

To sleep at peace and waking up jazz. Yep. That’s it? That paints a pretty serious, like a pretty pretty specific fixture. And it’s simple as well. Yes, but also not easy, simple, not easy going to sleep at peace by itself. I mean, how many things are there in the world for us to get restless and wrecked up about right now? Countless impossible. I mean, come on. But really I do believe that the facts of the world are actually quite neutral. Once we apply that it should be some other way and we’re wrestling and we’re like on the mat, sweaty, you know, with all this effort, that’s not going to sleep at peace, going to sleep tonight, knowing that  A is A, B is B, C is C. I can apply whatever thought I want to that thinking that is going to keep me up for several more hours. 

It is what it is. 

This is the fact I have another favorite saying is simply to let the easy be easy and let the hard be hard. Some shit will keep you up at night. Let that keep you up. That’s hard. Let that be hard, but there’s other stuff that doesn’t need to be that hard. And you can just put that to sleep when you hit the pillow. Good night. 

Good night. Dana you’re my life coach. 

Absolutely. Let’s go. Um, all right. I love talking to you and I could talk to you all day. Um, but I digress. I’ll let you back out into all your fabulousness. It’s an honor. 

Again. Thank you so much.  All right, my friend. 

And I hope that you got a lot out of this episode. I know that I absolutely did. Um, and I hope you do continue digging into the wondrous work of Diana Matos. Um, I hope that you take a Me, and approach to your life and your career, and she is such a good example of that. All right, now, go out into the world, focus on yourself, share it with others. And of course keep it Funky while you do it. Have a great rest of your day. Everybody. I will talk to you soon

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  TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move member. 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. 

Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1
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Welcome to our FIRST but certainly not our last LIVE QUESTION AND ANSWER episode!  I am joined by a (fabulous) live (virtual) audience and we cover all the good stuff from dance to dollars and mentors to mental health! Talking to people is CERTAINLY more exciting that talking to a wall in my closet.  I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Quick Links:

Money Michelle” for Bookkeeping: delegatedbookkeeping.com

Riley Higgins Silent Disco: https://www.instagram.com/rileyhiggins29/

Toni Basil Playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmwrNFEzKj9BS45SN41mdIunfcr_sssT9 

The Money Book: https://amzn.to/3n6zCDr


The Art of Learning: https://amzn.to/3eJpX2T

John Baldessari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU7V4GyEuXA

Transcript:

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 tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.  

Hello? Hello, my friends. How are you doing today? I may sound a little different in this episode, and that is because I am talking to actual people right now. Well, actual pixel pixel people. This is the first ever live zoom podcast with a live zoom audience. Thank you all for being here today. And thank you all that are listening that might have missed this live moment. Um, this is, this is a great time for firsts. So I’m excited to be making this first zoom podcast with you because at the moment, um, we are, uh, about 24 hours, um, into having a 46th president elect. Mr. Joe Biden has won the presidential election. The crowd goes wild. Um, but I think there are some other really important things to point out. Kamala Harris is our first woman vice president. She is our first person of color. We also have our first second gentlemen who is Doug. Uh, we have a first dog again in the, in the white house, and this is also the first ever thank you for bringing this to my attention, Riley. This is our first ever rescue dog in the white house, and I think that is important. Um, so that’s where we’re at everybody in, in the world today. Um, and I’m really, really jazzed to be sharing this morning with you. Um, we’re going to treat this just like a normal episode in that we will start with wins. And then I’ll ask for yours. I’ll give you a moment to take the, uh, to start thinking about your wins. And I’ll tell you that my win this week, I’m going to, I’m going to keep it election free. My win this week is that I danced three times this week for no reason, other than fun, release, and the simple fact that dance seemed a better option than words in that moment, three times this week! And it felt so good. You guys, one of those moments was in a silent zoom disco. I don’t know if anybody has participated in such a thing, but the one and only Riley Higgins hosted a silent zoom disco. And from what I understand, she will be hosting one every Sunday in perpetuity forever moving forward. And now Riley, that I’ve said it, you are silently committed to that. Um, Riley, do you wanna say a little bit about the silent disco? What is it, what does it mean for people that have no idea what that is?  

Riley: Uh, yeah, so silent disco in the, when you in the real world, not in the zoom world is everyone has headphones on and listens to different playlists and dances together. We can’t do that because of Corona. So I put it on the screen and it’s just a place to be yourself fully with other screens in the world and dance to your own music. And I’d have improv prompts halfway all the way through the thing, but it’s really fun. And it was fun to dance with you, Dana.  

Oh, it was so much fun. And your improv prompts were so great. I think that this type of dance is accessible to anyone. The prompts weren’t like HeadSpin for four, eight counts, or it was all very human range of motion. Anybody could be dancing. These dances, you dance it to your music. Uh, I did find it really, really cool to watch the contrast in the world. My audio scape was like probably queen, um, like I think six out of the 10 songs we danced to that day for me were queen. So I was like raging. Um, and but, but some other people moving really, really slowly dancing to some super serene, maybe like chanting, I don’t know. Um, but it was really nice to see all the worlds collide and all I was so much, so much fun, great dance. Okay. Now, as my listeners out there in the, in the listen sphere are thinking of their wins. I’m going to share a couple from the zoom room today. Um, this is really exciting. Rebecca made cookies last night and had one for breakfast. That’s the type of world I want to live in. Um, Oh, Rachel got time to read this week. Congratulations, Rachel. I started reading a new book this week. It is all about dance and politics in New York city, between 1929 and 1942. It is fascinating. I will definitely be sharing about it in a must read list coming up later. Um, uh, Andrea, this is such a good win. She has re-sparked her creative juices and reconnected with old friends. That is absolutely something to celebrate. I love this. Ooh, Jess Franco. All right. She has prepared a training schedule for November and reached out to friends to identify her strengths. It was actually a really cool thing. I got an email from Jess, um, asking, ‘Hey, like, would you be willing to share a moment that you remember me and what you about me in that moment in your memory?’ Um, I’m probably botching that prompts, Jess. Jess, do you want to, do you want to share actually what that prompt was this email that you put out to your friends that was such a cool thing to receive?  

Jess: Yeah. It had, um, it was an exercise to identify you at your, at your strengths. So reaching out to like 10 or 20 friends and just asking a moment where they remember you at your best and what it is about that moment, that they remember. A feeling together, the experience itself, the way you were, the way you were together. Um, just trying to identify things that I might not notice as my own strengths, cause everybody’s perspectives are a little different. So it’s nice to know what the world thinks of you. And then maybe you can identify new pieces and tools that you can use even more so and develop even more and or recognize where you can bring someone else into your world to fulfill any gaps that you might have. So self-reflection at your best. Identifying strength through your friend’s eyes, as well as your own awareness,  

Super win. I love that. Thank you so much for sharing huge encouragement there, do it, put it out into the world. Um, I’m going to share one more, win from a zoom chat because this one appears in the form of a haiku. You do receive extra credit bonus points. Also out there in the listensphere. If you can present your awareness in the form of a haiku, Stephanie, this one’s yours when veggie roasting beets in my toaster oven too big, too many, too big, too many. Many is. Yeah. Many is a two syllable word. Great job, Stephanie, super win, super haiku. Do we have any more haikus? Did I miss any, raise your hand and flap it wildly if I missed your haiku. Oh, great. Awesome. I’m checking your work before I say it out loud. Sell, wait. Here’s my wins haiku. Got it. Got it. Here’s my wins. Haiku celebrating, taking space, sharing, sharing together. Nice job Dinka. Oh my gosh. These are fun. Did I miss anybody else’s haiku. Okay. Homework assignment, homework assignment. Now everybody at home, you go, what is your win and silently? We can all think of this song.  

Yeah. Here it comes. The end. Big finish. Awesome. Congratulations everybody. And keep on winning. Keep on crushing it. Um, I want to quickly put a little magnifying glass on how easy it may seem to find wins when your side is winning. But I do think it’s really important to remember that half of our country right now feels the way that you might’ve felt around this time four years ago. So it’s a great opportunity to practice some compassion, openness, and understanding, and to be looking for wins. Always even when your team is losing.

All right, with that, everybody let’s get into this Q and A episode. I am riveted. We’re going to start first with Orianna. What’s your question.  

Orianna: Okay. Hey, what do you think? I know that you’ve said in the past that you didn’t know that much of mental health, but I still want to ask, um, what do you think that are the hardest things that dancers and choreographers have to manage regarding their mental health and what do you think that they can, how can they improve it or what can they do to have a better mental health in the industry?  

Dana: Uh, that is a really, really good question. And you’re right. I, because I’m not a doctor, I’m not a scientist, I’m not a person who’s studied the brain, but I am a person that studies my feelings day in, day out. And it’s where I make my art from. So I am always seeking to understand them better and to find ways of managing them and find ways of turning them into gold. Um, so I’ll start by answering your question on kind of a global level, and then I’ll shrink it down to the dancer level. I think that the most important thing I’ve learned about my mental health and that, uh, and the mental health of a lot of America is that it may be a problem to be constantly seeking just the positive end of the spectrum. We are really, really motivated to prioritize happiness and all of the things that we think happiness will bring, um, or will come along with it. Like the family, the spouse, the kids, the cool gigs, the lots of money, the car, the fancy clothes. Um, and first we know because we’ve seen people with all of those things who are very unhappy, that those are not, that those don’t come hand in hand. But secondly, I think that by only pursuing the bright side, you’re missing out on a really big portion and really important portion of life. And as artists, we know that some incredible work gets spawned from the darker side of the spectrum. Some of my favorite pieces don’t have a bit to do with happiness. So my overall observation is that I think we would all do better and our work might do better if we embrace the full spectrum, instead of simply, um, pursuing the happy side all the time. Now regarding dance specifically, I think the, um, I’ll call them like the mental mousetrap, these little traps that are set up for us around every corner. And by us, I do mean dancers. The, the mental mousetraps that are set up around all the corners are usually, or in my experience are, um, these are my three, my three favorites. And when I say favorites, I mean least favorites, jealousy, imposter syndrome, which is basically another word for self doubt. And maybe let’s just start with those two. So for me, jealousy happens a lot because, um, our work is visual work. So I see people it’s like, I wouldn’t be jealous of other if I were an accountant. Maybe I wouldn’t be jealous of other accountants because I can’t see their books. I don’t know how they’re doing or whether they’re doing, it’s not like, you know, those numbers, aren’t running side by side all the time. But you know, in, in, in a visual field like dance or other performing arts, you see other people’s work. So you are holding yours to theirs even maybe on a subliminal level. So I think that jealousy comes up for us a lot. And I think that we brushed past it because for our whole lives, we’ve told, we’ve been told don’t be jealous. I’m just now learning the value of jealousy, using it as a map and trying to find within that jealousy, what is, what is the thing that I really want?  What is that person doing that I am not, um, usually it means there’s a skill gap somewhere. Something that I’m not quite doing yet, that they are. Um, so I think jealousy can be a huge teacher, although it doesn’t feel really good in the moment. I’ve gotten a lot better at not resisting it when it shows up, but actually really looking under the rug of it and trying to find out what’s underneath there. Um, same is true for imposter syndrome and I feel it all the time. I’m a person that has, uh, an arguably decent resume to look at, you know, and even so I am afraid that someday people will wake up and be like, ah, no, she’s awful. She, that was all like a fluke. Uh, she didn’t deserve any of that. Like all the time I feel, um, like I don’t deserve the seat at the table that I have. Um, and that, I think also is kind of like a check engine light indicator that maybe there’s something I even know about that I’m not doing. If I didn’t know there was something missing, I wouldn’t feel that way. If I thought that I knew all the things and was the greatest and all the things I wouldn’t have imposter syndrome. So that’s me. The imposter syndrome is me like suspecting. I’m not topped up in all the places that I’d like to be. So yes, imposter syndrome and jealousy, those are the two, uh, or I’ll call them self doubt and jealousy are the two negative emotions that I feel most often or have felt most often in my dance career, um, that, that you guys might be facing up against as well. And I would encourage you to use them as check engine lights and an opportunity to look a little deeper at what might be going on in there. Does that help? Awesome. 

Okay. Next up, Rebecca, what you got for me?  

Rebecca: Hello. Um, my question is recently ish, you shared a video of an unreleased series of dailies where you talk about, you’re talking about your vow to not make meaningless work. And I’m curious what led you to that vow and like how that vow is going, right.  

Dana: Oh my God. You’re an angel. Um, thank you for bringing that up. I took that vow, uh, pretty shortly after, or was it before? Oh, my history. Oh, my self history. I was never bad at American history, but Dana history. That’s another question. Um, so I took on my daily challenge for more than a year. It was wound up being over 400 days and I stopped. I decided to stop doing daily one day when I saw, you know, I have a slogan, that’s always be rolling. And so my camera was just constantly on everywhere I went, I was rolling. And if I, you know, I’d put the thing down and do the little jig. And even if I thought I was done, I would keep it rolling because something else might happen. So as it was reviewing the footage that day, I saw my face in between takes in between moments.  And I was so bummed on what I was doing. I was not inspired. I was not vibrating at my usual, you know, sunshine and sparkles level. So I was like, okay, this, this might not be the thing. Um, so that I noticed on one day, then I kept going. I went for like one more week and I was like, okay, definitely it’s time for a pause. Um, and in that pause, I went to art school, which is not an actual place. Uh, well, it is, there are several art schools out there, but my art school was simply my husband, Daniel Reetz, who went to school for sculpture and then became a visual neuroscience, super extraordinaire. Um, he’s an obstacle engineer and rapid prototyper and, and, and, and musician, you guys he’s been cranking out some jams. So anyways, uh, my husband gave me kind of a crash course in art school. What he, he sort of boiled down his four year art school experience into a couple of weeks of like the most important people and things that you need to know about. And during that period, he showed me a documentary, a small docu short I’ll call it about John Baldessari, who I have talked about on the podcast before. And John Baldessari has a, uh, a famous piece of Val that he makes. Uh, and this is by the way in 1971, John Baldessari wrote over and over and over again, I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. I will not make any more boring art. So I suppose, um, I adopted that, uh, mantra and that Val for myself, and I decided that I wouldn’t make any more, um, meaningless art, which, which after 422 days, I can’t say that every one of my pieces had a deep meaning.  And I had sort of diff sort of defaulted to ones that didn’t, they were simply silly. Now this could turn into a Tik Tok conversation if you would like it to, but, uh, silly dance seemed right there at the surface. And I got really good at silly dance. I could fart out a little 15, second silly dance faster than you can blink your eyes. And it was no longer lighting me up. So I decided to see if meaningful dance lit me up. So that’s where it came from really long way to answer the first part of your question. Second part of your question is, do I still have that. Oh man, I’ve really, my mind is so strong. My mind has found a way because making meaningful art is hard. It takes more time. It takes more effort. It doesn’t necessarily get more rewarded. And so my brain is found an offering for me that makes it easier for me to make silly art is that, um, meaningless art can be meaningful to some. Intention doesn’t necessarily mean impact. So I could intend with every fiber of my being that something be mean of meaningful and an audience could think of next. And I could also just like have one of those farts of a piece that I think is meaningless and somebody might be profoundly impacted by that. So once I’d made that distinction for myself, I simply made the commitment to be deliberate in what I was making. If it was going to be silly, it was a decision that it’d be silly if it was going to be meaningful, even if my audience didn’t find it so. It was my decision that it meant something to me and I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It’s so, so the distinction for me just came, became the decision. 

Okay. Um, we’re going to do Max next what’s up Max. It’s nice to see you, my friend  

Max: So good to see you! Something that we’ve talked about a lot is liking your reasons for doing something. And I feel like I have struggled with finding this boundary between liking my reasons for doing something and being defensive about why I’m doing something. I found it very difficult to find this balance between supporting myself and the things that I do and feeling like I need to defend myself. So do you have any tips as to where to find that boundary and how to get out of that mindset of defensiveness?  

Dana: Okay. Question. How do they, how do defensive and supported show up differently in terms of your body? Like your actual behavior? What is, what is defensive Max behave like? And what does supported Max behave like  

Max: Supported max can exist in public. Where if I feel really good about something I’m thinking about doing, or if I have an idea that I really like, then I feel like I’m able to create that in the presence of other people. Because I think it’s a good idea. When there is, when I’m having like more defensive thoughts, there is a certain amount of doubt surrounding that, where I feel as though I’m trying to make myself like the reasons, even though I don’t necessarily. 

Dana: Right. Because there’s doubt there because your brain is like, you’re lying to yourself. Okay. So what’s the thought that makes you feel supported?  

Max: Uh, let’s see. I guess the thought that makes me feel supported. It’s just like, what I’m doing is interesting. And what I am doing is making me better or making the world better in some small way. 

And maybe in a big way 

Max: And maybe in a big way.  

Dana: And when you think that though, how do you feel supported? Yeah. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world and how do you walk? How do you talk? How what’s like, if I was really, uh, like, Oh my gosh, you guys, my husband and I have been very into corvids lately. We watch the crows. It’s like our new favorite Corona Corvid COVID experience. But anyways, if I was a crow, just flying around, watching max out there in the world, what would I notice about your behavior? Your supported, like self,  

Max: I look comfortable where I am able to sort of hold myself up. I’m not trying to hide in any way, because I feel as though I am supportive, but I don’t need the support of other people to make feel that way. I’m able to do that myself.  

Dana: Amazing. So the person that thinks what I’m doing, what I’m thinking is important in a big way, or, or it can be a little bit and can be really, really important. You feel supported. And when you feel supported, you go out into the world, supported, believe it or not. Um, the, the difference in thinking that thought and thinking one that makes you feel defensive is, you know, the difference shows up in your actions in the way that you feel, but it stems from that thought when your, your, your, your thought that leads you to feel defensive is what? 

Max: It’s usually trying to make myself believe. Those same things where it’s like, Oh, trying to make myself up. But what I’m doing is beneficial.  

Got it. Right. So you’re fighting with yourself and that’s why you feel defensive because you’re fighting max, have you read The Art of Learning? I haven’t, this is mandatory reading for everybody out there. The author is a guy called Josh Waitzkin. He is a child prodigy chess player, world champion, and a push hands, Tai Chi world champion as well. Multidisciplines multi champions. And he’s like 20, or I don’t know how old he was when he wrote this book, but he was a child pride at each prodigy child prejudi, um, child prodigy chess player. And then I think by the time he was 18, he had won a national push hands title. Anyways, one of my favorite takeaways from the book is this concept of being a blade of grass in a hurricane, the winds around you can be wailing and big, big, strong trees will be snapping, but you can just be flexy and nimble and your, and your mind can be the wind and it can be like, and you can be like, *woooooosh* it’s cool. I’m just a little blade of grass. And you don’t need to fight the wind. You don’t need to fight with yourself. You could just blow. You can identify, Oh, here I am fighting with myself and that’s okay. These winds will pass. And I will feel supported once I decide to think that what I’m, what I’m doing is important. So roll with it. That’s the other awesome. Like, it’s the fundamental, like it is the, uh, uh, that like the ethos. I mean, that’s the wrong word, whatever, it’s the, it’s the mom’s laughing at me. She’s like, God bless find the words, honey. Um, my mom is in the call today. Shout out, mom. Thanks for being here. Uh, I think like the underlying underlying principle of Tai Chi is to be like a ball in a socket, any force that strikes you rolls off instead of meeting it with equal force, you just roll. Um, and that, and that is just such a beautiful principle. I think we could all get a lot of out of adopting something similar. 

Okay. Um, I think next step is Alyssa.  

Alyssa: Um, my question is, if you can, can you share about your love story with Locking? Like, how did you meet, how do you start dating, like training and like, how did you, how do you use locking now?  

Dana: Wow. Thank you for bringing your locking to the podcast. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love affair with locking here on the podcast. Think of what a great question. Thank you so much. Okay. Let’s rewind. The year is 2005 and a half. Um, on Lankershim Boulevard is, was, was well, is at the time located  millennium dance complex and the dome. I was 18 years old and some change. And I was taking as many dance classes as humanly possible. I took everything that Marty Kudelka ever taught. I took all the Misha Gabriel, all the Nick Bass, you name it also shout out JR. Taylor. I miss your class. Um, and
Toni Basil used to take Marty. Kudelka his class religiously. Toni Basil, by the way, if you don’t know is a living legend. Um, she is the woman that sings, Hey, Mickey, but she is also, so-so so much more. She single-handedly bridge the gap between street styles and classical ballet specifically, but other more formal dance styles. Um, and she brought them to the forefront. She brought them to the mainstream. She’s, you know, she’s the reason why we see those things on TV. Um, I’ll link to a couple of my favorite Toni Basil performances in the show notes to this episode. So Toni Basil would take Marty’s class. And, um, she, at the time, you know, she’s older than most people in Marty’s class and Marty’s style. Although it looks very pedestrian is not easy at all. His ear is insane and his style is, is challenging. It’s also very far from Toni Basil’s personal style, but she loves a challenge and she loved it to put herself in class. Um, and to my understanding, this is how this transaction worked out. She asked Marty for some privates coaching on this, on, on a certain combo.  And he was like, honestly, Basil, I love you so much, but I, I do you mind if I hand you off to my assistant? I think you guys would be a great fit. You, you know, you can learn from her, she can learn from you. Perfect handoff. And I remember him calling me and asking if that was okay, that he put us in touch. And I was like *GASP*, and I’ll never forget. The first day I went over to her garage to dance with her. She had a CD player that adjusts the pitch of music, and we were dancing to Neo Addicted to Sex was the name of the song and at like half speed. So it was like, No, uh,  It was the funniest thing, but we, uh, yeah, we, we did a trade swap. So in exchange for me working with her on Marty’s combos from many, many weeks in a row, we would do this and she would teach me some locking. So I am very fortunate, very lucky, very proud to say that my first taste of locking came not from the source, but pretty darn close. Toni Basil’s one of the original lockers locking. Uh, obviously I said obviously, but maybe not obviously was created by a guy called Don Campbell Lock. Um, and the original lockers are, if you ask me today, what’s my favorite. Who’s my favorite dance crew. I would tell you the Original Lockers close, second Electric Boogaloos shout out Pete. Um, but I fell in love with it from her. She just looks so cool dancing it. Uh, and then I started training.  I took several classes from Suga Pop who was teaching at evolution at the time. That was a weekly if possible or every week that he was there. I was there. Then I started taking from a woman called Lockadelic, Celine Um, she is now back in France. She doesn’t teach in LA anymore. Um, but that’s one funky woman in her class was drills. We were dancing solid for an hour. There’s no teaching eight counts or no talking it from the top. You follow the leader and you dance around the room for an hour straight. And that’s when I found Funk. Honestly, I didn’t have it until Lockadelic’s classes. I would imitate Basil a little bit in her garage, but yeah, Basil I guess, would be the dating phase and then taking Lockadelic’s class and just jamming with her. We would jam every now and then that was my like, Oh, we’re exclusive. I think he might’ve had another hidden question in there, but I’ll leave that. I’ll leave that at that for now. 

Um, okay. Gaby, you are up next.  

Gaby: Yes. Hi. So, uh, my question is an episode you mentioned Money Monday, uh, and I was curious to know what that entails and what you could share about that.  

Thanks for asking Gabby Money Monday, um, was definitely a habit of mine. It shifted a little bit now because now I have a bookkeeper. I call her Money Michelle, because her name is Michelle. Um, so on Money Monday, Monday is actually, this is great timing. Another book that you guys absolutely must read. This is called The Money Book. It was on one of my required reading lists earlier on The Money Book for freelancers part-timers and self-employed, there are a couple of nuggets of wisdom in this book. One of them is, look at finances frequently, just stop making it mystery, stop, letting it sneak up on you around tax season. Stop, pretending to know like, you know, how much you have and just look at how much you have once a week, just get familiar with what’s actually going on in there. So I decided, um, I would take on a Money Monday and for me that meant reconciling receipts. So I would keep at the time all paper receipts, and I would make sure that what was on the receipt was what was, um, debited out of my bank account. So that was step one. And I was shocked actually at how often those numbers did not line up some restaurants, some shady business there. Yeah. So, so step one is reconciling. Step two was categorizing my expenses. So if I had went to, uh, if I did any Amazon shopping and let’s say I bought like, um, an adapter for my computer and a new eyebrow pencil, these are actual purchases that I’ve made in the last 24 hours. Um, although that’s one receipt from Amazon, those are actually two different categories of expenses. One of them is technical than the other ones, what I would consider maintenance or a personal upkeep. So I got really good at getting specific with my categories. Um, and then I would also pay any bills that were due, anything like that. So step one, reconcile receipts, and then it would get rid of all the paper. Once I like taking photos of them and put them where they needed to go, made sure that the proper amounts were withdrawn. Um, then I would do my categorization, which means taxes at the end of the year. Just went a lot faster. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just small bites. Um, and then yeah, paying any bills. That’s the general Money Monday. That’s gotten a little bit more elaborate since I became incorporated. I am now an LLC, um, Money Michelle is extremely helpful in all of my finances. If you are looking for a bookkeeper, I would be happy to pass her information along, but yeah, that’s Money Mondays in a nutshell, highly recommended. 

Cool. Emily, Jo, you are up next. What you got?  

Emily Jo: Hi. Okay. Um, so my question is kind of a broad one, but as dancers, um, we’re often told to find what makes us unique. Like what’s our thing, that one thing that makes you stand out. Um, and I feel like personally, that’s kind of been a struggle for me. Um, cause I like to dabble in everything. Like I, I just love it all. I don’t, I don’t ever really know how to choose. I love doing other forms of art even. And even though I might be above average and a lot of them, I feel like sometimes I have trouble honing in and specializing. And so to find that thing, like, do you have any thoughts on how to hone in on a specialty or is that even a necessity or an important thing to do or is it good to really diversify? Like where do you find the balance and how to do that? 

It is a story that you have to be a specialist. I think that specialists do very well, especially in our world, but the fact that you have to, the fact that you have to be one is simply made up. That’s not true. I’m not a specialist at anything except for being me and I’ve gotten, and it took several years. Number one, I had to start liking myself and all of my interests. Number two, I had to find out how to fuse them and how to put them together. So that, that might be like, how do you do that is a really hard question to answer, but I want to start simply by saying that it’s, it’s really just a thought that you have to be one or another, that it’s not good to be a generalist. Um, I think again, specialists will do very well at their specialty, but a generalist, especially if you really like all the things that you’re doing, you’re going to have a very fun and full life, um, with all of your many different interests. So I guess my, my stance on this question in general is to start liking the fact that you’re a generalist instead of fighting the fact that you’re a generalist and then learn to be weaving the ch the, all of your interests into one thing. Um, uh, does that, does that help more or less? 

Emily Jo: Definitely. Yeah. 

Right. It’s like, Oh my gosh, I love all these things and that’s awesome. Lucky me. Oh my gosh. How do you even get through with life? Just loving one thing. Oh, feel sorry for you.  Um, I think when you come at all of your, your interests from that place, when you really like champion all of them, you don’t downplay any of them, then you, then, then you, you become a really special entity that way. Great question. 

Okay, Jess Franco, you are up next. 

Jess Franco: Yeah, buddy. Hey, how is your neutral listening experience going for you? 

Oh my gosh. This is so great. Okay. I’m going to give a little backstory, Jess Franco and I, so I did, I don’t remember what episode it was, but I did an episode about the overactive listener, um, or the overactive like collaborator. Who’s always like, yes. Oh my, Oh yeah. I love it. Oh my goodness. Everything. Oh my God. And you’re like constantly nodding or smiling or, you know, I’ve, I’ve gotten some criticism from this in the past that like that I’m a very open book and sometimes that’s nice. Right? Cause you don’t have to work too hard to understand what I’m thinking or feeling, but it can also, um, I w I won’t say it might be damaging and it can just simply not be the most useful thing to do. So I’ve been working on neutrality and Jess Franco reached out to me and she was like, yo, same, let’s go. So we started an accountability group as friends, every Friday, we checked in, we got to get on this, um, about how we were with our visual feedback when we’re listening, I’m not going to lie, Jess. I have not been doing very well in this last week. I’ve been extremely, extremely, um, expressive in my likes and dislikes for things and statements and situations. Um, but I think that, um, awareness of it is still there. And even though I was like, I was conscious, I was like, look at me responding right now. Look at me getting ugly right now. Look at me getting bright right now. I was conscious. I just chose not to get neutral. So I want to share something that, um, I found actually a gift that I received from my, uh, a vocal coach that I was working with in the past, who is all about relaxation. I think it’s a good place to start anyways. And she gave me this, um, this visual imagery of hanging as if they were little earrings that hang from the corners of my jaw bones these little sandbags. So just hang these sandbags from the corners of your jaw and feel your face, get a little bit more relaxed through your voice shift, to being in a different place. And that definitely helps me not respond with my usual perky cheeks, which kind of strains my neck which kind of strains my voice. So putting those sandbag earrings on my jaw jaw rings, we’ll call them. Um, and then I started hanging one, like directly down the back of my head as well, like the opposite of the princess from the never-ending story, what was her name? You know, how she wore that cool Tiara with that little bead and how all kids at that moment started wearing their mom’s necklaces on top of their head. Cause that was the coolest, um, I imagine a little sand bag hanging down the back of my head and that really helps this forehead area. So to answer your question, Jess, I’m not so great with the neutrality lately. How are you doing with it?  

Jess Franco: I’m doing better in person. I’m not killing it on things like zoom, where I find myself on mute and I want to let you know, I’m participating. And I see all these faces and I’m smiling to smile with you. I’m here, you know, energetically on the mute button. I find it hard not to visually participate, right. But in real life, I can provide that space for another human, but on the screen, it’s a little bit more challenging for me.  

Awesome. Observation of the distinct distinction between the two. And I think like all of us here in the room right now, we can practice really quick. Just give like a, a real neutral response. Good freaking luck. Here we go. Like, how does that look and feel to you guys? Does anything feel missing? Okay. Now a gentle smile and maybe a nod or a floppy thumbs up. Hmm. Okay. Right. All I can like the, the biggest difference for me is motion. And I think it’s normal. Um, Like, uh, like  Kind of on an animal instinct level, motion catches our eye. You know, if we were like scavengers in a forest, in a Bush rustled over in the corner, we’d go. And so our attention goes to things that are moving. So it makes sense that in a, um, in a zoom conference with, with no audio information, our eyes go, okay, what’s what’s happening? Where do I get the information? So maybe in a zoom, it is important to be a little bit more visual with your feedback. So that the person on the other side, isn’t just a man walking through a forest that’s empty.  So maybe there maybe there’s a place for both. I like that. Your visual, your amount of visual feedback right now. Thank you for it. It’s something that I’ve really cool thing for everybody that might be listening to start practicing, like being a neutral place for, for the conversation instead of taking a stand one way or the other, especially at this time in our world right now, a little neutrality given all the polarization a little neutral might be just what the doctor ordered. So put, put your job bags on and, um, and have a ball with that neutral, Neutral listening.  

Okay. Sarah, you are up next.  

Sarah: Um, hi everybody. My question is who were your biggest dance choreography role models growing up? Like who was it that made you feel just like sparkly inside and what is it about them that resonated so much with you?  

Okay. I will go back now. Uh, before I moved to LA, when I was at a dance studio kid, as they call them at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy in Inglewood, Colorado, I was very inspired by a dancer that was older than me by three years, I think maybe a little bit more, um, named Nina McNeely. And some of you may know Nina Mcneely because she is still, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the dance and choreography realm, but she’s also branched into directing. She is a wicked video editor. Um, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someday. She decides to become a recording artist or something she’s so talented and art just, she can draw, she can paint like art just flows from her body. And that was one of my earliest inspirations and examples that this life was a possibility for me. She made it look so cool and she made it look doable. So Nina McNeely, um, her dancing was full of abandon, which to me is one of the most attractive qualities in a dancer. This borderline recklessness that’s supported by so much technique that they don’t fall off their leg, but it looks like they really should have that. That’s Nina to me. Um, and she was the first person, um, really close to me, like in my people that I see every day group that moved to, to do, you don’t have to edit that out. Riley. That was funny. That was a good stutter, uh, that moved to LA and we kept in touch. So I kind of got acquainted with what happens out here and what the life in LA at that time looked like to be a person that moves here to pursue dance. And I was just so curious about it. I remember being really, um, excited about it. And since I have her in the room, I’m going to ask my mom to weigh in on what you remember about, uh, w do you remember me talking about Nina? Do you remember the way that she impacted my life? 

Stan (Dana’s Mom): Absolutely. And I was going crazy when that question was asked, because I knew that your answer would be Nina McNeely. Um, she choreographed a dance for you for NYCDA national title, and it was dark and dramatic and deep. Um, I remember the makeup that you wore on your face of tears. Yes, totally like that. So it was so dramatic. You guys totally knew it had that. Like, she absolutely touched that thing in you. That that is totally there. Um, and she, I think she knows she’s a year older than your sister. So maybe four years older than you. The other person who I think in my, in my memory, 

Dana: I know who you’re going to say.

Stan: Okay. Nicole, Nicole, Nicole Harshbarger she, she made you love jazz, I think. Okay. And I’ll,

Dana: I’ll agree with you on that hundred percent. Thank you. Thank you, Stan. That was, Nicole is a really important one. I grew up at a dance studio where we had ballet five days a week, all the guest choreographers, all the rehearsals, all the, um, you know, across the floor, class and stuff like that. And Nicole Harshbarger at the time, she’s now Nicole Carr. She, uh, taught a late night jazz class on Wednesday nights and only the grownups got to stay for that class. And I remember when I don’t, when it, when it became okay for me to stay for that class, I don’t know if she asked me to stay or if you allowed me to say, or whatever, some combination of the two, but once I was allowed to stay for big kid jazz class, it went into like 10:30, um, which for a 15 year old that’s legit. Um, and yeah, she definitely tapped into, um, an artist voice inside of me that up until then had been pretty much a technician and a showman.  Um, but it was her and that late night, big kid class that helped me feel like I had something to say and teach me how to practice saying it. 

Stan: She lit the fire in your belly for jazz. I mean, I could see it. And maybe you said those words, or maybe I said them, but she made, she brought you alive in dance and actually she made you receptive to Nina. 

Dang, listen to that. Look out. You’re right. She, yeah. She’s the catalyst. Yeah. So cool. Hi Nicole. Oh, awesome. This is great. Okay. Does that answer your question in a really cool, beautiful, poetic and family type of way? Awesome. 

All right. Noga, you are up next and I think you’re up last. This is it. Final question.  

Noga: Oh, hello team. Hi everyone. All right. It’s words that move me. So I have to bring in the thought model model. The infamous thought model. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on the thought models specifically on building intentional thought models. And a reaction that I’ve found is that it feels very inauthentic to me sometimes. So my question is, what advice do you have for embracing intentional thought models slash is that equivalent with embracing new beliefs about ourselves?  

That’s exactly what you’re asking about. Like how do you create new beliefs without feeling like a total phony? Great. Okay. I’ll do a little, um, uh, a little backstory in terms of context here. What Noga is talking about the thought model, um, is a model to help you understand and organize the circumstances, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results of your life. The thought model was created by a woman called Brooke Castillo. At least that’s how I learned about it. Brooke is a life coach and entrepreneur. And, um, the thought in the thought model, your circumstances, which are the neutral facts of the world, be they, the weather, the weather, other people, um, the temperature outside the temperature of your body. Um, although the ice man would probably argue with me there, these are things that are outside of your control. Those trigger, your thoughts, your thoughts are just sentences in your head and you can control those. They’re different from person to person. They are arguable, they are subjective. Um, and you can author new ones. So that’s what Noga’s talking about in an intentional model, you would work backwards from the bottom line of the model, which is your results. So you would put a desired result there. The results, by the way, are simply your experience of the world. Whatever you want to experience that would go in the result line. Then the second to last line is your actions. Simply your behavior. You would fill that line in with what are the actions you need to take in order to achieve that result. So you put all your actions in there, then you ask yourself, what do I need to feel in order to do those actions? So that’s your, the third line, there is your feelings. And then what thought gives me that feeling? So I just, I, sorry, I jumped around a little bit there from top to bottom, we go circumstances lead to your thoughts. Thoughts, trigger your feelings. Feelings leads you to take action or inaction. Your actions give you the results of your life working backwards. You have, you have a desired result. You decide what actions you’ll take. You decide how you want to feel. You decide what thought will make you feel that way. And I, I understand, especially if you’re making a big reach, the example I like to use is I hate my neighbor as the thought, and then trying to go to, I love my neighbor. That’s just not something that, that one thought model is going to help you do without you feeling like you’re absolutely bullshitting yourself. Damn it, Riley. Sorry. We, I really tried to keep it clean. Um, so we talked about this a little bit in ABC, my mentorship program, that that Noga was a part of. The concept of what I call monkey bar thoughts. The thought right now is I hate my neighbor. Somehow. I want to get myself all the way over to, I love my neighbor and in between there is, I hate my neighbor, most of the time. I didn’t hate my neighbor for one moment this week, uh, which opens up options for, you know, what actually all day today, they didn’t really piss me off today. It was kind of a great day actually on the neighbor front. And then that, that kind of thought might lead me to take actions that start nurturing a friendly neighbor relationship. Those actions might get reciprocated. Eventually my, I hate my neighbor, thought about monkey bar over to my neighbors. Not that bad to, Hey, I kind like my neighbor too. You know, those kind of like my neighbor, thoughts, lead to feelings and actions. That’s a really important one, you can’t just will, it, you can’t just sit there by yourself thinking it and watch it happen.  But that, that leads you to take actions that might foster a relationship where you could get to the point where you might love your neighbor. So the answer to your question. Well, that loga, wow. The answer to your question. Noga. In a very long-winded way is you’ve got to start getting better at monkey bar thoughts. It sounds like you’re expecting yourself to jump from, I hate my neighbor to, I love my neighbor and there’s a lot of work and action to be done in between those two. So start, start finding some monkey bar thoughts that you can actually get behind. Is that what got the monkey bar thoughts? Well, thank you for reminding us all about our monkey bar thoughts, such an important tool. Um, and Oh, okay. 

We’ve got one more question here. This is a good one. Great  Question. What advice would give to somebody looking to possibly start their own podcast?  

Oh, I’ve got a lot. This might be another podcast actually in and of itself. Um, okay. Top three things, Practice. Before you start,  don’t start with episode one, do like plan on there being four episodes that suck before you put any out there into the world. During those episodes, you’re trying out new microphones you’re playing with what happens if this piece of foam goes behind you, uh, behind the microphone or behind you, you’re playing with where you put stuff you’re playing with your voice. You’re playing with. If it sounds better, if you script it or if you totally wing it. So I would really encourage, first of all, I encourage everybody to start a podcast because it’s important for us to all become that familiar with what we were thinking, because you really have to think and write a lot. Now that I’m putting a microphone in front of my face every week. I think it’s a great idea. Everybody should do it. Um, but definitely practice in play before you get started. Um, and I also do, I would say is a pretty full-time job. So you might need to assemble a small team, shout out Malia Baker, shout out Riley Higgins, shout out Andrea Viable, new addition to the team. Thank you guys so much for your help. Um, yeah, it does. It takes a village. 

Okay. Oh man. We have one more question. You guys, I can’t, you don’t do this because you already know. I can talk.  Ooh, I can talk.  Okay. This is a good one. And this one, I actually do have a really awesome and concrete answer for it. I talk a lot about confidence in my mentorship groups and in my coaching groups. The question is how can you be confident? Or what advice would you give to boost self confidence? I’ll just talk very briefly about this. Um, although it is something that is super important, I’ll just give you a nugget to chew on. I think there’s an important distinction between confidence and self confidence. I think that confidence, um, specifically related to tasks like actions comes from the past, your number of times, having done it successfully. I have poured a glass of water so many times that I, and not spilled some of those many times enough to have a lot of confidence when I pour water, I can be brushing my teeth while I pour water. I can be having a conversation while I pour water. I can be like doing  Middle-school Level mathematics while I pour water. It’s not an issue. Um, that’s because I’ve done it a lot and self-confidence is different. Self-confidence has nothing to do with the past. Self-confidence to me is simply a willingness to feel any feeling. Without any past experience whatsoever. I directed my first music video recently, and I walked onto that set as if I was Steven Spielberg. I was like untouchable because I was willing to be humiliated. I was willing to not know the answer. I was willing to look stupid in front of my crew and say the wrong word for stuff, which I may have. I don’t even know nobody really reacted. So I felt fine all day. Um, but that willingness feels in my body a lot, like task based confidence. And it looks a lot like task-based confidence to the outside world. Um, and people who are confident get treated differently than people who, who hide in self-doubt. Um, so that I think is a really important distinction. Self-confidence being your willingness to feel anything or try anything. And task-based confidence coming from the past. Of course, you wouldn’t be confident in doing something you’ve never done before. You’ve never done it, but you won’t ever do it until you’ve done it. Literally up until that moment, you will not have done it. So something’s got to get you there. It might as well be willingness, willingness is so important. Um, I do just want to add a quick caveat to my self-confidence speech, which is the difference between being self confident and being arrogant. To me self-confidence is I’m good. I know I’m good because I have my own back. I’m good at feeling feelings. Um, I know I can dust it off and try again. If I happen to fail that self-confidence, it’s like, I’m good arrogance on the other hand is I’m better than you or I’m better than everyone. And that doesn’t rank anywhere in my head. When I show up on set as a self-confidence person. Not better than anyone. Definitely not, certainly not on my first day. But, um, I, I, I think the arrogance is dangerous because all it takes for you to crumble in that state is simply somebody else who’s better than you showing up. And then your whole world gets rocked. So, um, definitely rather be a self-confident than arrogant. And I think so many times we avoid self-confidence because we think it’s arrogance and they’re actually very, very different. And I don’t think anyone in the room right now that I’m looking at could be arrogant. Even if they tried, you guys are all so compassionate about the outside world. So careful and deliberate in the way that you talk to people and treat people and make art. Um, I don’t, I don’t think you could be arrogant if you tried, so you might as well try self-confidence cause it extremely useful. All right, everybody on that, I’m going to wrap it up. This was so much fun. I think it went really well. I think I will be doing these more often in the future. Thank you for being part of the first go get out there into the world, make stuff and keep it funky. 

Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned this episode can be found on my website. TheDanawilson.com/podcast Finally. And most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move member. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. Alright, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #45 Emotional Backpacks
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This episode is about emotional backpacks… as in backpacks that you put your feelings in when they are not useful in your body (which is where most feelings are kept most of the time for most of the humans 😉  Allow me to explain.  Your feelings (all of them) are important and worthy of your attention, but some of them (especially negative emotions like self-doubt, worry, anger, frustration etc.) when kept in your body for long periods of time, can lead to unwanted results. Honor and recognize these emotions ALL emotions as part of the human experience and as such they are valuable so you keep them with you… but they do not need to own your body.  You own them and you put them where you put your other belongings.  In your backpack!

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

The New York Branch Video: https://www.instagram.com/p/CG31kHqjdIS/

Episode 17: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-17-the-process-of-processing

Transcript:

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend, how are you doing today? Little disclosure. I am recording this episode before election day. I voted, I voted by mail and I voted early and I do not know what the results of our presidential election will be. It is possible that even if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is actually the day after the election, it’s possible that you still are uncertain of the results. I’m sure there are a lot of factors at play here, actually. I’m not sure, but I can only imagine. Now whoever is announced to be the president of the United States for the next four years. There is sure to be a lot of disappointed people out there, a lot of upset people, and here is what I have decided. I will tell you about that. This is what I will tell all of the upset people, all of the victorious people and, um, my future self that will be listening to this episode as well. I will say, that there is much work to be done, period. And you can do work. You actually love doing work. Yes. Quitting feels really good in the moment and blaming other people, oooooo that also feels really good in the moment, but doing the work and owning your good work feels so much better. It feels incredible. Now it may look hateful and unsafe out there, but you’ve got this. It may have even gone your way and you’ve still got this you’ve got work to do. And this episode is about one of the many ways that I work on myself. And I think that starting with the self is a really great way to get big, big work done like global type of work. Alright, I’m excited to get into it, but first let’s do wins. Shall we? Depending the results of this election and depending on what side of the aisle you sit and depending on when you listen to this episode, it may or may not be really hard to name a win today.  So let this be an opportunity to practice, not hanging your emotions on the circumstances of the world, but rather on your own decisions and your own creations. Today, my win is that I have made a place for people like you. Yes, you exactly. You, you smart and funny and emotionally intelligent and imaginative and resourceful listener you. I am celebrating that. I have made a place for you to come and listen and a place for you to come and be heard and a place for you to meet other people like you. Other smart, funny, emotionally intelligent, imaginative. What else are you? Oh, resourceful people. Now last week, I got a gift from a few of you. A few of my listeners who have taken on the doing daily creative challenge and also took it upon themselves to actually meet and actually make something really, really special together. A Broadway worthy piece to my damn fantastic, If I do say so myself, opening, jingle, shout out to Max Winnie, AKA the, make it on Instagram, my composer and longtime friend. Um, such a good job with that jingle. I mean, I do still listen to it often and it makes me smile. Okay. Anyways, four of my daily doers put together this piece and I’m linking to it in the show notes of this episode because it is simply too good to miss. So thank you, @DinkadoingdailyWTMM. Thank you, CourtneyDarlingt0n That’s with a zero instead of an N. Instead of that, that’s with a zero instead of an O in Darlington. Thank you, @SarahDoingDaily Thank you. Kristindoesdaily and thank you, @FrancesBrooks Now fondly deemed the New York city branch. I see you. I appreciate you. Thank you so much. Now it is your turn. What do you decide to celebrate today? Something that’s yours, something that you made, something that you decide is worth celebrating.  

Awesome. Congratulations. And thank you. You are crushing it. Okay. Many of you know that I am a backpack enthusiast. I have spent countless hours in my IG stories, reviewing different backpacks, even hours in my personal life, criticizing your backpack or praising my backpack. If you know me, then you already know my backpack. By the way, is the LuLu Lemon Cruiser from 2014. I should tell you, and I haven’t been paid to tell you this. I should tell you that there are two varieties of this bag. One of them has a hard shell, outer zipper compartment for glasses. I’m assuming. My bag is not that bag, the bag that you want is the other cruiser. It has all soft compartments and it is better. I should also tell you that this bag is no longer in production. I am sourcing them from eBay and I am on my fourth Lulu Lemon cruiser.  

Yes. I have decided to share this information with you today on the podcast, even though it could potentially mean that I am less likely to find these bags for myself, that my friends, is selfless. My backpack has everything. It has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn’t need like a super sleek black interior that makes it impossible to find my phone. My cables, my pins, my mascara, my Bobby pins or anything that is black. I mean like impossible, good luck. The black interior is a fatal flaw. I will not purchase your backpack. If it has a dark interior lining the dark interior lining of the bag matches the dark interior lining of your heart and your sick sense of humor and your design errors. No thank you, to bags with dark colored interior linings. Bright interior linings are for bright people, such as myself and such as you. You deserve a bag with a bright interior lining. Trust me, trust me now, thank me later. Okay. Anyways, this episode is really not about actual backpacks. Dana, please resist the urge to make this episode about actual backpacks. It’s been like 15 minutes of me talking about backpacks. I’m moving on. 

This episode is about emotional backpacks. As in the backpack that you will put your feelings. Nope, Nope, no, please don’t hit stop. Your feelings are important. They are worthy of your attention and they’re worthy of a backpack all to themselves. Let me explain. In episode 17, I talked to you through my process of processing negative emotions. In that particular episode, I walked you through how a coach helped me through feeling stuck. I discussed and described every single detail, every single inch of that feeling. I discussed how it felt in my body, how it looked in my body, you know, what color it was, how much it weighed, if it had any motion to it. And if that podcast were a video episode, you would be able to see how it felt in my body, a visible physical tension that turned into hot tears and eventually flowed from my face. And it took about 25 minutes to do this, by the way, this, this whole processing of the emotion thing. Now, when I don’t have 25 minutes to process my feelings, I like to employ this concept of an emotional backpack. My emotional backpack is the place that I put the most important feelings instead of keeping them in my body where they might not be very useful in the moment. Let’s take a look for example, at self doubt, when I feel self doubt, I feel it like in my sternum area, it feels like a black hole looks dark, icy, cold, vast, and sucky. I can’t think of another word. Like literally it sucks. Like it’s sucking everything around it, into it. My collarbones collapsed towards my diaphragm, my shoulder blades round forward, my face and eyes dropped to the floor. Everything gets sucked into that. Sternum suck. And I shrink. That’s what happens to my body physically when I carry self-doubt. And as a result in that shrunken state with my eyes low and my mind collapsed on itself, I don’t see the world. I don’t see opportunities around me. I don’t see teachers. I don’t see solutions, my doubt, and that darkness, that void are perpetuated and it keeps sucking. Everything keeps sucking as a result. So here it is. Here’s the big secret instead of carrying my self doubt and other unwanted emotions like overwhelm or worry or rage or shame, instead of carrying them in my body, I carry them in my emotional backpack on my back. And my emotional backpack is not my Lulu Lemon cruiser. It is an invisible metaphorical tool that I use that I happen to carry on my back, but yours doesn’t have to be a backpack. Yours could be a satchel or a fierce clutch or a lunchbox. I mean, you name the container of your choice. The point is that you honor and recognize these emotions, all of these emotions as a part of the human experience and as such, they are valuable. So keep them with you, keep them in the place that you keep your valuable things like your wallet, your keys, your tools, your cameras, your chargers, all of the things that are important to you. Count your feelings on that list of important things that you carry with you always, but you don’t need to carry inside of you. You own these things and you put them where you put your other belongings, in your backpack.  

Now give a negative emotion that you have experienced recently. Give it a name, guilt, embarrassment, imposter syndrome, overwhelm devastation, disappointment. You name it. 

Now, where do you feel that feeling in your body when you’re experiencing it? Where do you feel it most in your body? How much of your body does it take up? Close your eyes if you’re not driving right now and imagine it really feel that feeling. What color is it? Does it move? Does it move faster? Slow. If you were to touch it, would it feel warm, hot or cool? Would it feel wet or dry, rough or smooth? What does it do to the shape of your body? When you feel that feeling now with a deep breath, take that feeling into your hands and move it into your imaginary backpack, purse, satchel, shoulder bag, Fanny pack. What have you. Now zip it up. Feel the weight of the zipper, and now feel the weight of the bag. Take another deep breath.  Do you feel like you’ve made space in your body for something else? Do you feel lighter? Now, pick up your emotional backpack and put it on. It may be heavy, but heavy, like a jet pack, heavy like a jet pack that might actually boost you forward instead of hold you back. Pretty valuable. Huh? Now this new emotional jet pack. This is the thing. This, this is the real thing about the emotional backpack. It’s not just for negative emotions. Like the ones I mentioned before, or like confusion or embarrassment or anything like that. It can also be used to contain your positive emotions like exhilaration, pride, accomplishment, confidence. I keep all of those in my emotional backpack as well. Those are the feelings that fuel my life. Now, here is the best, best thing about the emotional backpack. Possibly the most important thing about it. When you finally make your way home or to a place where you take off your actual real backpack, that is your cue to take off your emotional backpack and unpack it as well.  Unpack all of the feelings that you’ve kept in there throughout the day and process them. Look at them, touch them, feel them, give them a color, honor them, turn them into art. Should you choose. Now I know that this concept is a little bit abstract, but if it speaks to you, please do revisit episode 17, where I talk more about the process of processing and please do enjoy or don’t enjoy what it feels like to feel all the feels. If you have any questions about this concept or actually anything at all, please feel free to write me @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. Yes, I suppose this is the beginning of an ask me anything. Call for questions at all times at any time on any subject, please reach out with questions. Um, full disclosure. This was not my idea, but that of my dear friend and brilliant human Emma Portner. Thank you for asking the good questions. Emma, bring them on everybody and bring on the funk. That’s somehow not as good a closer as Keep it funky. I don’t know you guys. I tried, I tried. Keep it funky. Everybody. I’ll talk to you soon. Have a great day or night or you know what? Grab all of it have, have at it. Yeah. That and everybody I’ll talk to you later 

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 though. theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to remember. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.