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Danielle Connor | Actress / Meditator

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"You may not get the outcome you desired, but something does and will happen and the twists and turns are often surprisingly wonderful."

Our latest courageous spirit is actress and voice over artist Danielle Connor who has spent the better part of 14 years gallivanting around the globe.  Acting has taken her from her native Australia to Ireland's ancient castles, to London and its Dungeons and rural villages, to New York City where the buzz of film and collaboration titillates, and to the adoring regional theatres of Massachusetts. Her intimate and honest entry for theVproject elaborates on her personal relationship with vulnerability and the almighty shift that awaits us all when we allow ourselves to be deeply curious, creative and connected.

Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. Do you agree? The most beautiful parts of people are often their vulnerabilities. We have choices in how much we project or hide ourselves to others, the world and ourselves. Having the courage to be authentic in our sensitivities can be empowering to come to terms with, and it can also allow others an opportunity to connect with us very deeply. Learning what to guard about ourselves is also courageous. I used to perceive my vulnerabilities as weakness -- but I now see they are indeed my greatest strength.

‘Creativity is not reserved for a select few. It's available for anyone who has the courage to take it.’ Why is leaning towards creative outlets often met with fear? It can be frightening when your livelihood depends on creativity. I think this is why people avoid choosing to rely on their creativity for their livelihood. The desperation at times also enables one to see the beauty of trusting oneself and the universe to provide. You may not get the outcome you desired, but something does and will happen and the twists and turns are often surprisingly wonderful. Every day, each of us is using our powers of creativity to live in the ever changing, everyday world. What to wear, what to say, what to think, what to eat. The beauty of creativity is learning to trust your authentic self.

Worthlessness, lack of self-belief, perfectionism – there are many blocks that prevent us from leaning into vulnerability. How do you move past them? What do those blocks & blurts look like for you? What do you think we can do to make them less controlling/dominant? I have always been concerned with how others perceive me, and my art and my life choices. I have nothing to show for all my amazing experiences. No physical treasures or awards or materialistic gains. I have however felt connectivity, love, support and true heartfelt connections with people - that far surpasses anything that money or awards could ever offer me. I may never own a house, but my life and the people I've crossed paths with have certainly made me feel like I own a piece of something much more profound and powerful. I am grateful for having learnt to accept the less I seem to have, the more the universe seems to offer me.

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"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength." Vulnerability is often seen as something we admire in others but detest in ourselves. How do we actively try to close the gap with these concepts? One of the greatest gifts my parents offered me as a child was the courage to say "they had no idea what they were doing." This offered me such tremendous insight into the strength of vulnerability. I have tremendous difficulty in trusting people who say or behave like they understand or know things decisively. The more inquisitive and curious and childlike one is, who comes to life with a beginners mind at every turn, the more there is to discover and learn about ourselves and one another. We connect with one another many times via our suffering, and being able to admit our suffering to ourselves and one another enables us profound connectivity in our relationships.

“When you breathe into fear it becomes adventure.” What was one of your most terrifying/rewarding experiences? I was told I had a chronic illness after months of being misdiagnosed. My marriage began to crumble and I was living in a community with very little support. I reached out to the Buddhist community after my mother suggested mindfulness meditation, and my entire life changed. I began an exploration inward to find reasons for my illness. I never imagined I would meet a community of incredible souls whom supported and loved me, while learning to finally love myself enough to begin self-care and get myself to remission. I left my unhappy marriage and began seeking a life of heart nourishment above the life I'd previously led of grasping and trying to attain societal trophies -- like marital and career success.

“Creativity is inspiration coupled with initiative. Acting on our creativity is an act of faith.”  How much do you rely on ‘divine intervention’ to create? Do you feel you control your creativity or does your creativity control you? Being creative is the fun part. Getting your creativity to the places you desire can be tricky. Finding people who support and believe in you is a beautiful thing. Realizing that you have control of what you are putting into the world is essential. I felt more positive about performing my one woman show in a basement to about 80 people, then I have seeing my face up on the big screen to hundreds or thousands. Connecting and touching people face to face is far more profound and enriching for me.

"Only when we're brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." How much of your creative process is a battle with power? Do you always find the end result empowering? Without difficulty and struggle it's hard to revel in the light of creative and personal success. Finding equanimity amidst the powers of light and dark is a difficult lesson which I've learned to enjoy thoroughly. Knowing you can find your way out of the power of struggle and darkness is a key factor in realizing one's immense creativity and enjoyment when in the light. Also learning not to crave happiness, light and joy has been helpful. I think society makes us think that this is what we all want and need. I think that there needs to be an equal amount of joy and suffering in life. Not having aversion to the difficulties and pain actually contributes to accessing the power of our inner light when we need it most. Knowing what you want to give of yourself to the world ensures that every moment - (creatively or otherwise) is fullfilled. Instead of projecting "I desire fame and fortune," how about "I desire to connect with humanity with love, courage and dignity, in every aspect of my being -- in my work, my relationships, and most importantly, with where it all starts -- with myself."

Alexandra Wilson | Poet, Sacred Activist, Minister & Birth/Death Doula

Alexandra Wilson | Poet, Sacred Activist, Minister & Birth/Death Doula

Ran Zilca | Research Scientist, Personal Coach & Author