Have you ever done something you were afraid of? Ever tried something new that you thought you wouldn’t like, only to find out you actually really enjoyed it? Anything… a new food, a new style of clothing, a new adventure???
Over the summer I had the opportunity (well, actually I created my own opportunity) to do something new. Something I was a little afraid of but something I really wanted to do. It had been in the back of my mind for a long time, and I’ve learned that those kinds of things never go away until I give them a go.
So… I went for it! I took singing lessons and I sang a song.
You might think, ah so what, big deal. Well let me tell you, it WAS a big deal – especially for me.
My husband has an uncle and cousin who own a dairy farm in up-state New York. Every summer they host a huge family get-together for the 4th of July. And I mean HUGE! This is a two-day event, complete with baseball game, canoe races, soccer game, pig roast, hoops tournament (a really fun horseshoe-like game with old tractor tires… totally farm worthy), hay rides, talent show and fire works. It’s a full production!
This was the third time (second year in a row) that we made the trek across the country to spend a week at the farm. And every year when it’s all over, I can’t wait to be back again the following year.
You may have noticed the talent show mixed in with all the other activities throughout the two-day bash. You may be connecting the dots.
I had the thought last July, that maybe it would be fun to do something for the talent show. It’s usually mostly the kids who perform, with an occasional adult comedy act or broadway-worthy performance from one of the cousins (Anthony Carro to be exact, and boy does this kid have talent!). It’s a fun, entertaining evening as the sun sets behind the wagon stage abutting the white fence of the horse field.
Over the fall, I kept thinking about it. Maybe I would convince one or both of my boys to do something with me. Sing something together. And then I heard this song on the radio. It brought tears to my eyes, and I thought “This is it. This is what I want to do.”
Now let me just pause for a second here and tell you I am not a professional singer. I don’t sing outside of the car or the house. I was in choir in high school but that’s about it. I consider myself a recreational singer. I probably don’t sound horrible, I can hold a tune, but I’m nowhere near the caliber of our above-mentioned cousin. With that clarified, let me continue…
Months went by and every time I heard the song it brought up emotions. I wanted to sing this song at the talent show. I really wanted to sing it. I really wanted to sing it to my boys.
Maybe by now you’re curious what the song was? I’ll tell you. It was “Slow Down” by Nichole Nordeman. A beautiful, lullaby-like song about how her kids grow up too fast. Seriously, a heart tugger and a tear jerker, especially for a mom. Especially for this mom.
Fast forward to January and I made a declaration out loud to some friends that I was GOING to sing a song in the family talent show. 40, 50, 60 sometimes 70 people have been known to show up to the Gendebien Family 4th of July Bash (that’s the official name, by the way) – so this talent show wasn’t just a little family living room affair. Nope, this was a BIG deal!
In May I started taking singing lessons. 45 minutes once a week for 6 weeks. Talk about getting uncomfortable! Here I was in front of a professional musician and former opera singer trying to find my voice and not choke. No background singers or audio track to sing along with. Nope, just me, just my own voice, just my own fears.
I’ll spare you the grueling details of my lessons and get right to July 3rd. I spent most of the morning singing to the horse with the acoustic music playing on my iPhone. It was great practice and great confidence building. I knew I had practiced plenty at home before we even got on the plane to fly back east, but you know how nerves can get you right in the moment. Singing to the horse was the best!
Long story short, I got up there on that stage, dozens of eyes staring right at me. My husband had corralled my boys so they were in one spot (I tried to get them up on stage with me, but they wouldn’t have any of it – why would they want to be up there with Mom?). I gave a brief intro of what I was doing and then Uncle Blake hit play and the music started through the speakers (remember, this was a pretty big production). I held the microphone up to my lips, hand shaking, and I sang.
I was so nervous the whole time. My whole body was shaking and I could clearly hear trembling in my voice, but I did it. I sang this beautiful, emotional, meaningful song to my boys – and I didn’t cry! Everyone else in the audience did, but not me. I managed to hold it together (probably because I had cried all my tears during months of prior practice).
I’ve spoken from stage in front of 400 people. But singing a song to my children, that takes a whole different kind of courage.
I was proud of myself. I did it! I made a declaration, I committed and I followed through. It wasn’t perfect, I had sung it much better several times before, but nothing can take away from that moment – and that moment was perfect.
Getting uncomfortable made me grow. It tested my commitment (trust me, there were many times I almost backed out and said never mind), it tested my self-confidence, it tested my ability and my voice (which by the way, isn’t half bad, so I’m told). I’m not sure what I’ll do next year, although I think I already kind of know…
Where in your life can you get uncomfortable? Where do you need to push yourself? Where do you want to grow? Growth can be personal, professional or a combination of both, but growth has to happen somewhere. If we’re not growing, we’re in decay – and who wants to be there?
Growth can be small, baby and tiny at first. Growth comes from pushing through the uncomfortable and creating a new, bigger box in which we live. The more you get out there, the more your boundaries extend, the bigger they get, the bigger the comfort zone… the more you grow.
I challenge you, what are you going to do to get uncomfortable? Perhaps you’ll challenge yourself to sing a song as well…
Here’s to the BEST version of You!
I love it! I especially love that you practiced courage and being comfortable REPEATEDLY – by taking lessons (more than one and over time), practicing and then performing. Proud of you!
I am going on my first mission trip this Fall to a country I have never been with lots of unknowns. Getting uncomfortable physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually – and if I pause too long to think about it fear and doubt takes over. So I am taking it one step and one day at a time. Practicing courage – more now that I have heard your story.
Thanks! Can’t wait to hear all about your mission trip Karla! And also how you’re going to prepare for it… Building up that courage and resistance to fear. <3
Pamela – that is frick’n amazing!! So proud of you and excited for you and all the people to whom you bring a little bit (or maybe a lot!) of courage. Miss you.
Thanks Marny! Miss you too… xoxo