am i an artist or am i a coach?

"am i an artist or am i a coach?"

This is a question I ponder myself and often hear from other artist/coaches, artist/teachers, artist/healers who I know and work with. (Fill in “artist” with your choice of: dancer, singer, actor, painter, writer, etc etc.)

Years ago I kept the two very separate. There was my persona as a women’s health coach. And then there was my hidden artistic life, including an anonymous YouTube channel with experimental dance videos and various workshops and performances I would partake in under the radar.

The coach side of me felt like she would be unprofessional if her clients found out she did crazy dance things.

The artist/dancer side of me felt like she wouldn’t be taken seriously in the art world if people knew she also had a career in the health world.

despite all that, one day i decided to share a dance video on facebook and “outed” myself.

A few years after that (yes it took that long), I continued posting dance videos and decided to more formally combine these two worlds into something I named Creative Fridays. (...which is what you’re currently reading and what started out in 2012 as my weekly blog and monthly workshop series, providing community and support for emerging artists doing their thing, with an emphasis on how essential our creativity and self-expression is for our wellbeing.)

It’s been 6 years now since that happened, so much has happened since in BOTH my artistic and coaching life, and I STILL ponder the question of “who am I?”

Really, I’m both. (And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re both, too.)

the more i stop trying to fight it, the more i feel both parts complimenting each other and expanding in their own right.

So I thought it was time to write more about it.

Here are some key reminders I come back to, which I thought you’d like to hear, too - especially if you’ve ever struggled with the “artist/coach dilemma”:

  • There are cycles to everything. Everything in this universe happens in cycles - from the seasons, to the moon patterns, to our hormones and life changes - and your creativity is no exception. There will be some parts of the cycle, lasting days or weeks or months or years, in which one facet of your work will be emphasized and the other will seem dormant. It’s natural to put more focus on one area at a time, because it gives the other part a break and a chance to rejuvenate. It’s like with farming - if you keep planting the same crop in the same field year after year, the soil gets depleted. Farmers rotate their crops and leave fields fallow during some seasons so that the soil has a chance to catch up. Let’s use this lesson for our creative fields of focus, too! A seemingly dormant area of your creative life might just be in marination mode, getting nutrient-dense so that it’s ready to grow again when you are.

  • The essence of you will come through no matter what you’re doing. It’s true that we can and do adapt our personas in different contexts. The outfit I’d wear to a business networking event is going to be different than the one I’d wear for my dance-comedy improv show. The topic of conversation at my 10-year old cousin’s birthday party will be different from what I talk about with my best friend at dinner. Right? AND… even in those diverse contexts there’s something about me that remains the same. It’s the same for your art and coaching/teaching life. If you’re not clear on what this essence is for you, I suggest asking people closest to you. Come up with a mission statement or manifesto that reminds you of this essence. Read it before you start your work, and remember that your gifts will come through no matter what the context.

  • Work-life informs (and sometimes supports) art-life. While the fantasy of spending my life in a cabin alone just creating art constantly can sound intriguing, I’m pretty sure I would go crazy if I ever did that. What I’ve learned - and this is probably different for everyone - is that the work I do as a coach/teacher/healer actually gives me fodder for artistic creation, makes me more accountable and motivated to create, and often financially supports my ability to take time to make artsy stuff. You don’t have to view your work-work as something that is battling your time so that you can finally get to your art-work, but rather, it can be seen as a loving foundation that nudges you along. Again, not everyone will agree, and you might eventually want to end up being solely an artist, but if you also identify as a coach/teacher, this is something to consider.

I’m sure there’s more I missed. What do you think about this? Am I alone in this question? Anything that helps you manage and make peace with all your fields of focus?

I would love to hear from you, so always feel free to hit reply and share your thoughts.

and due to popular demand, there’s now a way that we can gather together on video - no matter where you live - to go deeper into all of this.

On Friday, February 2nd, while the groundhog tries to see its shadow, I’ll be working with a group of people in an online workshop, making sense of our own shadows and igniting the creative spark from within. More details here.

from my essence to yours,

Jess sig.png