Happy Interdependence day!

Here in the U.S., we celebrated July 4th yesterday, which is normally marked by fireworks, barbecue, and outdoor concerts.

It’s also commonly referred to as Independence Day, marking our country’s Independence with red white and blue plastered everywhere.

Many words are passed along during this time such as

And while there is great benefit to these, our country’s history and the path to this celebration has in fact been incredibly bloody, including claiming rights to lands that actually never belonged to us.

What is really going on there and is it really serving us as a whole?

Something I value about you, as a part of this global community IS the fact you are all over the world.  The ZenRedNYC community is represented by about 20-25 different countries.

I grew up mostly in Europe as a child, as my father was a fighter pilot in the Air Force.  This introduction to diversity from day one really led me to living and falling in love with NYC.

Somehow in NYC we have learned how to live together.  All shapes, sizes, colors, and ethnicities ride the subway standing shoulder to shoulder.  There is a section of Queens that is actually has the most diversity in the world within a mile radius.

All together in a relatively small space.

When I lost everything in 2013, the most radical change I made was to ask for help.  I had actually wanted help for about four years, but the belief that held me back again and again was I would be rejected.  I thought it was far more important to “have it all together” than to admit I was actually really struggling.

In other words, I didn’t think anyone would understand.

Have you ever felt that?
I have to do it on my own.
I can only do it on my own.
I am alone.

And yet, when I stepped forward and asked for help, it came in more ways than I could have ever imagined.  When I shared my shame and vulnerability, I found not only did it bring people closer to me, it opened up a magical space for them to share their vulnerability as well.

I actually had been wrong all this time.

I realized I have far more in common with those around me than differences.
Shared humanity.
We are in this together.

And all those who came to help me at my darkest hour helped me to build a whole new life.  One where I woke up to how much more connected I am to the world around me.

Last week I was down at the beach to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.

My family is small and very spread out, so it’s rare for us all to be together. In fact, it’s been 10 years since we all gathered in the same place.

For my parents’ anniversary, I really wanted to create something special. I wanted to create something that would honor our family, and all the beautiful things my parents’ union has created in my life and the life of my immediate family.

So, I asked for help.

I reached out to my Aunt Bonnie, who owns her own design company in San Diego.  We put our creative brains together and came up with a glorious idea.

A custom engraved wooden box that would house a set of 50 cards.  On each card would be a single thing I was grateful for.

My aunt designed beautiful cards.
I found an amazing artist on Etsy who created the personalized box.
I went to Michaels, Staples, and AC Moore for ribbons, accessories, flowers, and a glue gun.
My sister in law glued the moss and wooden dowels to keep the cards in place.

This gift was a collaboration.
It didn’t happen alone.

And when I stood in front of my parents to present the gift and express my gratitude, tears welled in their eyes.

The gift would never have been possible without the 43 years of memories I have FROM my parents.

between; among; mutually; reciprocally.

On the giant table we all sat at was a golden sign reading,
Love is sweet.

What if this is what we all share?
What if this is what truly connects us all?

The moment of standing in front of my parents to present this gift wasn’t about me, it was about what we have all created together.

It can be so easy to isolate with our art.  Each of our processes are so unique, and we are creating work that is personal and deeply expressed.

But where we cut ourselves off is by thinking we have to do it alone.

For years I would cry in the shower, beating myself up and so afraid to be seen.  I was convinced I had to isolate and put on a “brave face”.  Makeup perfect, lines exact, I actually was practicing independence in the most destructive way……self hatred.

Waking up to interdependence radically changed my life. It changed my art, and it allowed me to create a team that nurtures and promotes my work.

I know many of you have incredible visions, and they include,
Becoming a best seller
Playing in large sold out venues
Having a raving fan base who buys all your original work

Your career doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

And most importantly, your art doesn’t either.

Your art is an expression OF your experience. 
OF your humanity.
OF the people, places, and influences that have shaped you into the incredible light you are today.

So, Happy Interdependence Day.Today, I am grateful for you in my life.
I am grateful for this connection you and I have.

Know you are not alone.
And know it what we create together that brings us most alive.

Love is sweet, indeed.

©2019 NikolRogers | Design by Rachel Pesso | Caitlin Cannon Photography