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Guest on Literacy LandscapePodcast

Johanna Tramantano 0:01

I'm so happy to have you on today. What would you like the audience to know about you? Sure.

Naomi Vladeck 0:07

Hi Thanks for having me. It's such a pleasant surprise to be here with you. Um, yeah, so I'm a creativity coach, which really means that I'm a life coach and I focused my work on artists, mostly women in mid career and later who have gone through some change or are provoking a big change or have an opportunity they are moving t liminality meeting. And I don't think we ever mentioned that word before. COVID But we talked about it a lot after COVID and what it really means is not knowing not really knowing what to do, how to be what's coming next and for some people and I include myself among them. We tend to get afraid of change and most of the women and clients who come to me are really on that precipice of wanting to hold a bigger vision for themselves, but also feeling somewhat stuck in what came before. So they're kind of grappling with letting go and moving through a really creative process of transformation so that they can move toward becoming who they're meant to be in their lifetime.

Johanna 1:37

I love this concept of moving to Howard, this this vision of themselves and who they want to be and just think yes is this concept of transformation it's so exciting. So I really want to hear all about it. And what it evokes in you in terms of, you know, the literacies of that. So, yeah, when I talk about literacy, I'm referring to everything that involves reading, writing, speaking, listening, and and all of the above and on that note for me, I think, you know, we always talk about childhood stories or, or stories in general. And I'd love to hear is there a story that was read to you or a story that you're reading now? It could even be a fairy tale, a song Something that has special meaning to you that you'd like to share with the audience?

Naomi 2:25

Well, the first thing that came to mind I think it has a lot to do with voicing yourself because I took a class with my mom on singing on a natural voice. And it was so interesting. I sang The itsy bitsy spider. And I think I had a theater background so it wasn't hard for me to sing. But what really touched me was how emotional it was everyone in the room to vocalize and language on, on notes and on sound. And it kind of just gave a direct access to this portal of emotions. That was really reading because they can be vulnerable on prolonged note more more than in in sentence structure language. And so I love this spider actually came to mind when you're talking because there are these you know, my my hope for people is to consider change in small steps because we tend to avoid risk. And when we make a mountain out of risks, it's harder to imagine getting anywhere. So this time this tiny little spider like crawling up the web, step by step is sort of a great metaphor for all of us, because it really is just one small step at a time so that we can find the proof that we're going to be okay, if we move incrementally forward. And then if we stay along the way, we may even heal some of our own.

Johanna 3:54

I really love that. For me, I have a music background, but I also agree with you and I see this for my own practice in the classroom. Right it can be overwhelming to tell a teacher like change all of these things and you know, just taking it breaking it down into smaller sets can feel so much more manageable. And so I love this concept that you're talking about brave breathing creativity. And this has been so inspiring to me as I finished my dissertation. You You don't realize it but you've been a little bit of a cheerleader. To me unofficially because your message is so important. And it reminds me of one of my favorite books is the artists way by Julia Cameron. And she has this idea of like recovering a sense of safety like I have a tendency to self doubt and to stop myself and to have these like really exciting ideas and then go on no one's gonna like them, or oh, I don't know where to get started. Maybe I won't. And so tell me a little bit about this, this bravery and how it connects to creativity.

Naomi 5:02

Yeah, so what you said is very common, we have a vision we have a sense of longing for something like our heart knows that there's more in store for us, but imagine it becoming a reality we can overcome limiting thoughts. And underneath those limiting thoughts or old beliefs you know, contracts that we signed when we were little that you know, don't be too big, or else you know, or else and when you're a little kid the or else can be really scary. So the the way our brain works is that it doesn't really know time and the way that an adult knows time. So our fear when our fear is triggered. It's really, really deep. It's like a really it's really connecting to the older parts of us the younger parts longer ago, that still feel afraid on a visceral level. They still sense a tiger in the woods. You know. And so what we have to do as we move through is take these small steps and find the proof of our courage along the way. Because we know it's very, you know, you've raised children, you are in the world fully capable. You've just finished a PhD like there really isn't anything you can't do the proof is already in the pudding. But the story that our our unconscious tells us is that it interrupts and we really have to understand our relationship to threat because there's this you know, when we think oh, I'm not enough, I'm not smart enough. I'm you know, it's not worth it. It's usually because we feel somehow that something is lacking, but there's a part about like the scarcity mindset and the negativity bias. It's generally part of how we operate as humans to keep us safe. Needs to be repattern to retrained so that we have you know, that we really do have a new belief or new thoughts that we can install. And that means being in choice. So the only way to make change happen is to become aware. So you might say, well, I'm going to do this thing and never mind. The first thing to do is just notice, that thought that says don't bother. And once you can just get curious about that you can start to imagine bringing to consciousness a willingness to try to do things differently.

Johanna 7:28

I love that, you know, this concept of reframing our choices, right? And that is that can be really daunting, but and this concept of like reframing our concept of threats. Yeah, like, I mean, I can right now. Just hearing this I'm like, Oh, I can think of 100 different things, right. potential threat, like they won't like it or it's not a good idea. I mean, like, just look without question. So what's the what are I don't I you know, what steps or or what, what do we do? Yeah,

Johanna 8:03

I mean, I love it. It's you know, it's, you said, you open this up with the two words that you said that really resonated was play and practice. And I think those are exactly the words that need to be or just the monitoring can say, well, what is how can I approach this and play with my options? And how can I put that play into practice? Because the fact is, if we just start berating ourselves for not being more aware for not, you know, you know, making a more conscious choice, then we're sort of defeating the purpose, which is to, as you said, so beautifully is to create a, enough safety, another Greubel enough security in our own sort of big S self, you know, that this self that we're carrying in the world to take care of all the parts that are still hurting, are still afraid. And really just being, you know, being aware of being aware with a huge amount of compassion, and that's where the play comes in. Because play means we're gonna try something. It may not work. It may be messy, it may fall flat. It may be fantastic. And when it's fantastic, I may feel some shame. Or weirdness, you know, we just don't know. So we have to be really excited and curious about our human-ness. You know, because we are holding a big enough vision so when I work with clients, they usually coming to me because they have a big enough decision to be willing to risk change, or they've had enough suffering. So so what we want to do is fill the vision cup as much as possible. And part of filling that cup is putting language new language to the vision, like most of us haven't actually articulated what it is we want. Most women don't even think about our own feelings and needs to begin with. What does that feel? Like? Is there a need to pass it? I feel like what would be lovely? What would be delicious? What do I want? For like, let's answer those and put new language there. But like that's a great place to start. And then again, it's just noticing all the parts that activate especially, and you use those so wonderfully, which is this like as soon as we're about to embark on some kind of shift and pattern, our fear, beliefs underneath our fear, Marshall, you know, an RTGS war metaphor, but an army of thoughts that just they're waiting and hanging out until we tried to do something differently and then all these thoughts like you said, a million thought, but I shouldn't do it now. Not enough. I'm too smart. I'm too small. I'm too big to watch or whatever, you know, I'm too too or not. And there's a shortage of those thoughts. So we just have to do to disarm them is to just welcome them. There's a meditation teacher. I love Tara brach who uses a story and anecdote about inviting your fear to have tea with you. So it's like you're inviting that scared part. You're inviting that critical part. You're inviting the cranky voice and you're saying, you know how to say tell me what's bothering you. And allowing them to have some space without fueling their fear and getting curious about those parts. And a lot of that work should be you know, can be done with another person, especially if it's going into some places where you need to be accompany. But more often than less we we just want to start to make the connection so that we are going from unconscious operation to conscious creatorship and so much of that has to do with language. There's just no way around. It. You got to find the new words and practice using the word so I say play in practice, for sure. That's that comes up in the book a lot as to skills that artists in particular bring to periods of uncertainty in between change and who they're becoming

Johanna 12:18

I love this concept of new words because you're right, I have this internal monologue and I'm using the same language over and over again and, you know, trying out new words, trying out new ideas. That's kind of I never thought about it that way. I really love it.

Naomi 12:32

Yeah, you know what's interesting? Is I have, you know, vocabulary can, you know, working in the arts and happily it can mean different things. There's dance vocabulary, there's arts vocabulary, there's performance, art, vocabulary, this writerly vocabulary. And, actually what prompted the thought for this book, the creative thought for this book was my own performance work. i My husband died seven years ago. And prior to that I had to have a degree in performance studies. And I learned to take my theater background and write my own confessional narrative that I will perform in the tradition of performance art. And it was really transformative because I was a really pleasing child. I was the kid for identified child who didn't like to rock the boat, and I did not use certain words you know, Naomi did not insert or were there. I didn't use those. But I did begin to use them and I wrote formats because it was a place where I could express my anger. I could express my sexuality, I could express my grief. I could say things that I couldn't say in in normal conversation. And I could explore the impact of that. So that was a way of me playing and practicing new language. And so after he died about two years or so after I wrote, I began to write more pieces and perform them. And I thought, wow, that's brave. That it came out of that because so many artists face change and the period of uncertainty that follows by walking right headlong into the discomfort. So a woman has a cancer diagnosis, marriages, you know, struggling and nearly ending an accident and changing the trajectory, maybe forever. Someone dies, you know, and what, what now, and so, so many artists use whatever vocabulary they have to grapple with what really can't be said. So there's this sort of language of a white understand you, you know, you're using words I understand language. I'm speaking English to you. But then there's also I can be speaking any language to you. It could be another language from another part of the world. It could be a physical language and the resonance of it will be felt by you. There. are ways to communicate in language in languages that can be connecting. And I think that is the goal is to connect to ourselves and connect to others to abolish the illusion that we're disconnected because fear wants to keep us disconnected from ourselves and from others. And that's what's brave about using creativity when we don't know what else to do. So play and practice I think, brilliantly the two most accessible to everyone and my my thesis in the book is that artists have a facility with these tools.

Johanna 15:51

Wow. You just said so much. That's incredible and and that the fact that you use performance as a form of empowerment is so powerful, unbelievable on a man and I love that you talked about and something that I always think about is that spoken but also it's not fun spoken literacies. So, you know, how does that relate to that the language of writing, exploring creativity, tell me a little bit about like the unspoken. Did you uncover anything in your interviews?

Naomi 16:33

Yeah. So, you know, resistance is what comes to mind. I think resistance is the experience of what is not said. So when when you know, I have one artist who really was struggling with what she called denial, like not letting anybody help her, because she had a belief that asking for help was weak, and that belief came directly from her mother. Who was traumatized and sort of said, trust anybody, so take care of yourself. But when she really needed help, she just could not let it in until the threshold for her suffering was so extreme, that she realized that she had to surrender and allow someone to help her and because it was getting in the way of her healing. And so I think what's what's unspoken is really what can cause us to suffer. And the only relief and release to that is to express it. And, you know, I have another artist who uses She's a choreographer, and there is a lot of spoken word in her performance and what's coming to mind is his amazing performance almost like it's a spoken word section, and it's just so powerful. The pieces will boom, and it's called Boom, because when you're given something that changes everything, it's like obliterates anything that came before and it reveals the unspoken and unsaid. It's like, oh, I didn't realize I believe that. If I did everything, right, that you know, somehow, everything would unfold. You know, just perfectly in my life. I didn't realize that it had nothing to do with me that if I got cancer, it wasn't because I did something wrong or that the world doesn't only a healthy life because I was a good girl growing up and I went to church and I did all the right things. So I think there's there's something about that. The gift of big change is that it reveals what's going on says it just it begs for vulnerability and begs for changes, and really honest, and honesty showing up really, really like hey, I don't know I'm really going to just allow for time to unfold here and be curious about what's next. So I think that once we stop trying to control the outcome of things, the unspoken because rule, rooms like show up. Otherwise, it's like we cover it up with all our busyness really fast.

Johanna 19:31

You're so wise. Oh my gosh. This is so true. I you know, at every turning point of big change, I have like reflecting on myself. I roll with everything and make it all perfect. And you know, okay, I can grieve for this amount of time and then I gotta get back to work and I have added to truth is that's not I don't know, I guess it's not healthy and it can create barriers. Yeah.

Naomi 19:56

Well, it's so true. I love that you brought up grief because I have There's a story in the book of a woman who her father dies, beloved, father, and a friend of hers said, you know, don't miss this opportunity to grieve. And she was avoiding grief because she felt that it was inconvenient for other people around her. And she felt bad about it. She had a loving boyfriend who wanted her to be like that she you know, she missed the way she was before. A while before doesn't exist anymore. May never will again. So she really decided it's I really have to honor this time because it won't last forever. So precious moment and I need to give it the space that it deserves. Even if you're doing it for other people. That's pretty brave. I know for myself. I felt that grief. Especially in the early stages of grief. You're there's a specialness to it where you're closer to the memory of the person than you are later. And that you don't want to miss it. Almost like you don't want to miss that opportunity to be with your grief. Because there's an opportunity to learn so much in there if we can slow down and those artists in the book who are grieving will share really lovely ways that they dove into their grief. Like one artist really didn't know what to do. Like she couldn't even barely hold a pencil and she was a playwright. So she started just by taking snippets of her day, and writing a few sentences on private Instagram account with a photo of her moving like she's also a trapeze. Artist, in addition to being a playwright did a journal for 194 days until she wrote a piece of dialogue for the first time again after after the breakup of her relationship after 10 years. So these are just interestingly, I think the stories are meant to give you a window into various ways that artists navigate trans transition for its creative potential,

Johanna 22:08

that that that's incredible. Yeah, definitely losing losing my father, seven years ago was very much very difficult, transformative. And it's still right it's not linear. You know, people like to say Are these stages by you know, I again, like putting things into a box isn't the human it's not human view, perfectly placed, you know, our emotions, our memories, our feelings. Actually like this podcast is actually very much inspired by my father who was a contract. And he knew all this language as an electrician and a plumber and he taught me like as a young lady, he wanted to make sure I knew about cars so like I wouldn't walk into a gas station and get my car fixed and no one can pull the wool over my eyes. I can say no, I don't need my rods put into my car, right like, he gave me the language. Very much one of the precipitating factors for me wanting to continue to explore this topic language, empowering in many ways.

Naomi 23:26

That's the word I was looking for. It's so empowering. It's enough to you know when you say that word. Another thing I think of key to my transformational work with artists is is connecting and collaborating with other people inside of your change process. So there are things that we face alone. And there is so much garner from other people, and from connecting in every kind of way you can so when I'm going through a big change process, I assure myself like crazy I've got you know, the podcast feeding me all the positive groups that I belong to my therapist and I am writing and I'm, you know, processing and all these different ways because to make a shift it to brave the stuff you have to look at. Transform your relationship to your fear, not to get rid of your fear but to transform in relation to it takes a lot of effort and repatterning it's not just as simple as wanting and really benefits from a lot of support. But certainly when I'm talking about making creative projects, like finishing a dissertation or writing this book or creating a performance piece, lay and practice are absolutely served when you're in the company of other people. There's no question about it. Because this is hard work and most people don't want to change. And there's this timer

to do, right. It's safer to stay with what you know. Yeah. status quo. Is King to a human brain. And those of us who really know that there's more for us to uncover about ourselves and really are willing to do that hard work, benefit from other people who are willing to do that work too because it is so hard and also, it can be incredibly fascinating and fun. I like to have a lot of fun with my clients because once you sort of moved through that threshold and have a relationship you have a way a methodology to work with your fear it becomes even more consciously in charge. It's not like someone else is running the show. When other parts are running the show of course you're gonna be confused and scared and sad and all these things. But when you are willing to shift from avoidance, procrastination, self criticism, inertia all of you. You're better positioned to enjoy the process of change, even when it's painful, because you know, it's not it's not forever you're not you know where you are in a process. The word process is a process. There is a beginning, middle and an end. So when you really know that, hey, I'm, I just had to change I've just provoked a big change. That's the job I have accepted a position as head of so and so. You are on an arc. You're now on a journey. So you're gonna go from feelings in the beginning that are scary and resistant. And then you're gonna start to move up and down and around to engagement and creativity. And excitement until you're in a state of flourishing and dancing with uncertainty. Doesn't mean we stop feeling here. We don't fear is an important emotion. We don't want to get rid of it. We want to be able to move with it and as we get more facile with it, we are more efficient generally with the lows and the highs that we experienced when we don't know where we are. So it's nice to know where you are in a process of transition because most of us especially at our age, aren't going through just one more otherwise. You know, parent is ill children or going to school, you know, there's many meiotic ones. It does help to know that you're in a process.

Johanna 27:38

Wow, that's amazing and kind of leads to my next question so beautifully, which is what the audience do and and take that first step what is one step that get us into that direction?

Naomi 27:57

Well, I think if you were feeling a kind of urgency to change something, or you just gone through a big change and you feel uncertain, or you feel lost or confused. You know, I think it's great to partner with someone who can help you move through to get some clarity about this idea that you are somewhere like you're actually somewhere and it has a purpose. So one thing is just to know that you can't skip over stuff. You're gonna have to feel the feeling that you're having now. But I think really, awareness is key slowing down and becoming aware that you are not your thoughts, and that if you can just start to attune with awareness. That thoughts are happening all the time. And you can start to just notice, I think that's the first smallest thing you can do is just notice your thoughts as thoughts, like clouds passing in a sky and stick with that and see what comes up in your body as you start to notice. And there are many tools out there for bringing compassion to yourself as you start to go through a process where you start to build your awareness, because you're opening to a way of being curious about yourself that you may not have explored before, which means that you're going to open up those little portals of grief. And you just want to be able to hold that. So it's not just one small thing. It's a little bit of a dance there where it's like an awareness that you're opening up to, and then noticing the feelings that's it. And then playing play is that other piece we just start to play with options. So you try something small that will help you sort of gently test is this true? is all true? I think about I'm not capable of ever writing anything because I no good. Like I had an artist I have an artist in the book, who's a college professor rejected her from a writing class, even though she knew she was a good writer. She never wrote again, until, until something blew up her life as she knew it. And her heart author to write her story. And she did and now it's a published play. A it's being produced as a show on a cable network. But you know, she that she wasn't ever going to write before that because she had a story that if she wrote she might be bad at it. And she couldn't be bad. So it wasn't even about the writer underneath that was a belief that I I can't be bad and and I can't be bad because you know there's something else there for her what? And so that's what you want to start trying to understand. So, question the truth. Of these thoughts that you're having. Are they all true? Is there something else as or more true than most thoughts, but you're not able to do that until you can notice them? So slowing down? And just noticing your thoughts is a great place to start.

Johanna 31:27

You've given us so much in wise advice. You've given me a lot to chew on. I'm so crazy. All our guests is Naomi Vladeck. And stay tuned for a book an upcoming be published.

Naomi 31:43

Yes, coming out now. Probably late July to 2023 working titles, braving creativity artists that turn the scary thrilling messy path of change into courageous transformation. Still Still may change. But that's the title right now. Yeah.

Johanna 32:02

So excited. I can't wait to read it and I'm so grateful that you joined us and thank you so much, Naomi

Naomi 32:08

Thank you for having me. This is so fun. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 32:12

Thanks so much for listening today. For more information about Naomi Vladeck work and her upcoming book visit Thank you so much Vladeck thank you all for listening today. Don't forget to subscribe to the literacy landscapes podcast looking forward to seeing the next big shout out to my son Max and his MS and guitar teacher James for the theme song listening to today. Take Care

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