Monday, July 27, 2015

Going solo

I’ve noticed I’ve been going solo a lot recently. Whether it’s beach days, festivals, parks, or even out to eat, I’ve been enjoying a lot of summer outings alone. I would always start with plans with friends, but for one reason or another they weren’t able join. Therefore, I had a choice. I could stay in, still be alone, and let a beautiful sunny day go to waste. Or I could venture out and enjoy my own company.

I don’t want to mislead you. This can-do, adventurous spirit was the end result, but definitely not the beginning. I sulked for a few minutes each and every time someone bailed. I sang a chorus or two of “All by myself” followed by “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms.” I wondered if this was just my lot in life and I had better get used to it. I’m nothing if not dramatic. But then, once I finished indulging in my own private pity party (table for one please), I decided I would actually try to have a good time. I got dressed, got in the car, cranked up the music, and sang my way to each destination. I gave no thought for who might catch me car dancing. I was on a date with myself and determined to have a blast.
 
It’s easy to be bold in your car. It’s another thing to actually walk out into public space by yourself. All the self-conscious feelings of adolescence come rushing back. You’re sure people are staring at you. You mentally run through your mind with the best way to play it cool. Do you take a book and look intellectual? That only works in the right setting, not at a festival or music event. Do you fiddle with your smart phone? That’s always an option. Even if you have zero texts, emails, or social media updates, at least you look busy and presumably connected to unseen others in your life. Do you perhaps make eye contact and engage with others in your environment? That’s a hard no for me, but definitely an option for the more gregarious types. My point is there are lots of ways to manage the aloneness without feeling lonely. In fact, that’s a vital life skill we should all learn.
Going solo isn’t just about your relationship status. I think singles are faced with it much more often but it’s not about lacking a partner. Several married friends of mine have found themselves alone while their partner takes extended travel out of town, or even military deployment. Then they have to quickly learn how to fill the space and manage on their own. I’ve said it many times and firmly believe we’re made for connection. We need relationships and community. It’s just that there are times when said community is not physically available to us. That’s when we need to cultivate the first and primary relationship in our life- our relationship with ourselves. That way if we have our people, or we're going solo, we know we have everything we need.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Time to shine

It was only a matter of time. I should’ve seen it coming, but I honestly didn’t. I was perfectly content denying the inevitable. I’ve been singing on my praise team at church for a couple of years now. I made it clear from the beginning that I can carry a tune and sing with others. But I was in no way I soloist and had no desire to be. My worship leader thought differently and last week I was faced with my first solo ever.

Because I’m me, of course, I was terrified and anxiety-ridden the few days leading up to it. Would I choke? Would my voice crack? Would I lose my lunch? Would people expect me to sound a certain way and be disappointed to hear something different? Well meaning friends assured me if I can dance in front of a crowd, surely I could sing. I tried to explain that it’s completely different. Dance is my comfort zone and my primary gift. I joke that I am Debbie Allen when I’m dancing and no one can tell me anything. But I have nowhere near the confidence when singing. Yet, there I was, about to literally be in the spotlight with all eyes on me.
Obviously, this post is written in past tense, so I braved the experience and got through it. I did a decent job and people were graciously complimentary. It was, by no means, a flawless performance. I can continue to work on vocal support and smooth transitions. But for me, what was more significant than the solo itself was facing the fear of it head on and overcoming.
I have no illusions that I’m called to be a solo singer. But the experience got me thinking about how all of us will have “solo” moments in our lives. Each one of us will be thrust into center stage at one point or another. We will be asked to share what’s inside of us. Anyone who believes in purpose longs for that moment. We want to be great and we want to contribute something meaningful to the world. Often though, we get scared when the moment comes. We shrink back and hide and we miss our chance to share our unique voice. While I don’t think it’s best to clamor for the spotlight, I also don’t think running is the answer either. Basically, it’s like this. When it’s your moment, it will find you. You’ll be invited to face the music and lift your voice. And when you do, give it your all. That’s your time to shine.
 
 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

#StopDropAndYoga

This week I received a yoga challenge. My friend tagged me to #StopDropandYoga. Basically, challenges are like chain letters, except generally less annoying. I was challenged to take a picture of myself doing a yoga pose and then post it. Then when I’m done, I tag the person who tagged me and then challenge someone else. Since I love all things fitness and I look for any excuse to do yoga, I happily obliged.

I didn’t expect to get so excited for the opportunity but I did. Even though I’ve adopted a very active lifestyle, I still have to be intentionally mindful and present in my body. It was nice to have a reason to slow down and just be. I even noticed I intuitively chose heart opening poses. It’s almost as if my body wanted to seal a secret intention of my heart. It’s one thing to say you want to “be more open” and another to actually embody it. It felt liberating.

But what felt even better than the movement itself, was the community it created. A friend unexpectedly tagged me. I tagged a few other friends. They tagged their friends. All of us became a part of something bigger. I loved reading reactions to the challenge. Some initially rejected yoga as something they just don’t do. Others qualified their attempts before even trying. Either way the simple challenge sparked a dialogue. What if we all just came together and did something for the sole purpose of having a shared positive experience?
Whether you call it a random act of kindness, paying it forward, or #StopDropAndYoga, it’s all the same. It’s about spreading a little joy and light in an increasingly dark world. It’s about making someone smile and taking the time to witness all that they are. In a word, challenges like this are awesome. So, now I challenge you. Start something good and pass it on.