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Approaching Life as an Artist, On-Stage and Off

Life as an artist. My life. My relationship with my art has been such a push and pull. I remember walking into my therapist’s office for the first time in February of last year, saying I wanted a better relationship with my art. I think this equates to feeling the need for a better relationship with myself.

Throughout my whole life, art has been how I give myself permission to be myself. In art, all of it is allowed, maybe even accepted, or shit what!? Appreciated!?!? When the spotlight is on me, it is MY time. They WILL listen. In my head this translated to: When I’m not on stage I need to hide myself. Off the stage I will not be accepted, appreciated or heard. Life off stage is hard. That has shifted recently for me. I don’t have to put everything through my art, I get to put my art into everything. I get to approach life like I approach a stage: arms wide open, complete surrender, nothing but trust that no matter what I forget to do or what I screw ups I might have, it will all work out for the better.

This upcoming month will be a brand-new experience for me. I will be “Lucy” for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown. This is the first time I am facing a role without expectation of escape or thinking of it as a way for me to place permission to exist in this world. I simply get to play. Because I can and because I want to. What a freeing sensation! What a new territory! How dangerous, how exciting, and how could anyone want to live any other way.

Play. Experience. Grow. Repeat. I can get on board with that kind of repetition. Doesn’t sound boring at all. Wouldn’t have it any other way. How do you like to play? What does play mean to you? I am curious and want to get to know you. Yes, You, the one reading this right now.

This is how I see the world: we are all the artists of our own lives. Each choice a brushstroke. Each breath a “rest” in the music of life, creating rhythm with all the twists and turns creating intricate melodies, specifically unique to each individual. Then there comes the good stuff (now stay with me here, I’m getting a little “artsy”).

The magic happens when what we individually bring to the table overlaps, intertwines, collapses, and becomes something brand-spankin’-new. Like notes creating a chord or animals creating new life. Something that did not exist in this world is born and now exists. New life. Born before our eyes. Creation. Getting to experience that creation on a daily basis in everything I do and with everyone I meet. That is what living life as an artist means to me.

The one thing that has kept me tethered to this world, my art, is what I felt was pulling me away, reminding me that I don’t belong “here”. But not anymore. I belong because I say so. I am clear on what makes me happy and I do not need anyone’s permission to pursue that happiness. Yet, it doesn’t mean I don’t search for that permission, that sense of belonging. I’m finding it takes a lot of courage to say, “Hey, I wanna play,” risking that rejection.

The phrase, “go for the NO” resonates with me in this moment. See, if I’m going for the “no” then it’s not about getting the “yes”. In other words, getting a “yes” or “no” doesn’t dictate if I get to play or not.

As long as I am alive, I get to play. “No” means the person who said no doesn’t get to play in my sandbox, but I still get to play there. I always get to play, cause it’s MY sandbox. My favorite play is when the sandboxes collide and become some new type of yet-to-be-named play area. Life is art. Art is creation. Creation is Life. Now, let’s PLAY <3

-Shino Frances

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