Are You Doing Your Work?

Your “work” being your calling or your passion or your raison d’etre.

Recently, I attended a rich discussion by a panel of gifted, acclaimed choreographers (Wendy Whelan, David Dorfman, Ronald K. Brown, Brian Brooks).  I was thrilled to hear their wise nuggets of advice about how to hang in there in this enormously challenging field of dancing.  I was especially struck by the counsel of Ronald Brown, founder and Artistic Director of Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, A Dance Company, who said the essential element is to “do the work and the rest will take care of itself.”

He recalled attending poetry readings by the late poet/activist/warrior, Audre Lord, who asked her audiences if they were “doing their work.”  A key question that has helped him for the past several decades to keep his eye on the most important thing: the art of dance and dancemaking.


When he related this inspiring recollection, I immediately asked myself if I were “doing the work.” I.e. “MY work.” And at that moment I was happy to realize that I was.  I was attending the terrific workshop, participating in a community of dancers, learning from masters, contributing my own energy and dancing in classes.

I was feeding and growing my art.

But my self-congratulatory jig was short-lived as I admitted to myself within seconds that I haven’t been doing some of the heavy lifting that I need to do.  Namely, working on my new piece.  Oh, sure, I’ve been dipping my toes in more.  But all too often, when the opportunity comes along to be distracted or waylaid, I jump on it!

Because “doing the work” is HARD.  Painful, excruciating even.  So much doubt, uncertainty, lack of road maps.  FEAR.

Since the panel discussion, I have a new tool to get back on track of pursuing the meaningful.  Asking myself: Are you doing the work?  It’s intriguing to me how this simple question has been such an accurate barometer.  I have an immediate physical response that has been spot on.


Using this gauge has helped me focus and assess.  Sad to say, the answer is still “no” much of the time. But the “yeses” are beginning to multiply.  Soonish, I may even have a new piece :).

In the meantime, I ponder what needs to happen for my work.  And what about you: Are you doing yours?

Photo credit: Rich Davis







Photo credits: Alexandra; Rich Davis

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9 Responses to Are You Doing Your Work?

  1. Just this morning, I was thinking about “my work” and reading your post has clarified what this means. I had been calling it my north star…and I’d ask myself if I’m making the moves in that direction. I love the simplicity of the question, are you doing your work? Because in our hearts, we know the answer. Thank you, my friend. Once again you’ve shined your light to help others find their way along this path of truth. x x

    • SirenaTales says:

      “Because in our hearts, we know the answer….” So true, Elysha. And I am thrilled that this resonated with you. “North star” or “work” or “passion” or “meaning”–whatever we call it, being on “the path of truth” as you eloquently name it, is key…and often difficult. Thanks so much for being here and talking with me about this subject dear to my heart. See you on the path….xxo

  2. diahannreyes says:

    It can easy to devalue “my work” when it may not be what pays the bills- but your post makes me think of my very young nephew who always talks about doing his “work.” – He is an artist and he will spend all day creating. To date he has written 3 books among other works – he doesn’t care if anyone appreciates it or pays for it- all that matters is that he do his work… and then there is that hard work we sometimes procrastinate on for some reasons… thanks as always for the inspiration.

    • SirenaTales says:

      Oh, I LOVE this story about your nephew. What an inspiration! I need to be more like him. Thank you so much for sharing that and your experience–the “devaluing” is a very familiar tune for me :/…and I am sure many, many others. Let’s stop doing that! xo

  3. SirenaTales says:

    Reblogged this on Sirena Tales and commented:

    Happy New Year! Like a fair number of folks, I’ve been mulling over where I’ve been and gotten to over the past year…and what calls to me for the future. Synchronistically, a viewer pulled up this post from the archives…reminding me of the potency of that simple, brilliant question: Are you doing your work? Short answer for me: yes and no. What about you? Hearty wishes for many cool adventures in your work this year….

  4. Good post, and it is making me think. Since I retired, I have sort of gotten into relax mode. I no longer have “work” that calls to me. In short, I have gotten pretty lazy.
    I need to turn some of my light hobbies or pleasures into more of a passion by learning and doing more with them. Find some real work!

    • SirenaTales says:

      Here’s to feeding your passion, Emilie! Not sure I join in on calling you lazy, Emilie. But I do wish you bon voyage on pursuing more fully what lights your fire. Thanks so much for sharing here.

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