Last month I got to perform in a local community theater production of Guys and Dolls.
Performing in musical theater again had been on my "wish" list for about 25 years because it had been a big part of my identity when I was younger. I was in everything from Bye Bye Birdie to Oliver and I loved singing and performing. Up until my sophomore year at college I was often in plays until I got way too cool and spent all my free time listening to music, dying my hair black, wearing armloads of silver bangle bracelets, going to clubs at 11:00 pm to hear bands and obsessing over cute British bass players - but that's a story for some other blog post…
As I got older I still loved musicals but the idea of actually being in one was on the remotest back burner as I pursued a career, got married, had some kids and, as one does, got immersed in everyday life. How would I ever fit that in to my already full schedule?
Still, being in a play again stayed on my wish list even though I wondered exactly how I would make that happen. I kept thinking "someday…" and eventually I began thinking, "Maybe I'm too old for this..."
Enter my friend and neighbor, Linda. One of the things on her wish list was to start a community theater company. She was drawn to it because she and her mom had gone to a lot of community theater productions when she was growing up. It was one of the main ways they really connected and she wanted to pass that on to other mothers, daughters and theater lovers in general. Last year she made her dream happen when she created the Woodland Park Players. Their first production was Oklahoma! and it was fabulous. Even my husband, who is not typically a fan of musicals, was on his feet cheering by the end - cheering for our friends, our neighbors and for complete strangers who put themselves out there and gave it their absolute all. They were fantastic! I told Linda that someday, when I "had more time," I was going to give it a go. I ran into her in the neighborhood last fall she said, "Lisa, 'someday' is now! We are having auditions for Guys and Dolls in December."
Long story short, I took a deep breath, auditioned and got a part in the ensemble. Let me say here that I had forgotten how much work would be involved! During the general dancing call I quickly realized that I was out of my element. I am directionally challenged on a good day. In fact, if I'm driving somewhere unfamiliar and I instinctually think I should turn left, then 80% of the time I should've gone right. It's a family joke at this point. I never suspected that my lack of directional instinct would carry over into dancing! Fortunately the director and the cast were infinitely patient with me as time after time my fellow dancers went in one direction and I went in another.
Honestly, it was much, much harder than I thought.
There were days (and rehearsal nights) where it wasn't all fun and laughs. At one point I sat in my car and had a little pity party for myself. Thoughts like "I'm too old to be attempting barrel jumps" kept running through my head. I briefly considered bailing out, but decided that I was committed to seeing it through. I'm so glad I did!
Along the way I learned (and remembered) some important things about myself. I share them here in no particular order:
I can do hard things. Yes, I already knew that, but actually doing a hard thing, sticking with it and getting to the other side was a great reminder of how resilient I am.
I don't have to do everything perfectly. Up until the very last performance I was still struggling to remember all the correct dance moves. In the end I went on stage, gave it my all, and while it wasn't perfect, it was still pretty great. It didn't need to be perfect to be effective and fun! Doing my best was exactly right.
I want to keep challenging myself - forever. Like most people, I don't relish being uncomfortable. We humans generally try and avoid discomfort but sometimes it's the only way to get to what we want. I want to keep growing as a person and the way to do that is to keep stepping out of my comfort zone.
I won't let my age stop me from pursuing my dreams. We are all aging - every single day. But telling myself that I am "too old" to do things that I want to do is limiting and more importantly is not the truth! It's a lie that's designed by my brain to keep me "safe". There's always a way to do the things that bring me joy.
There's always time for things that are important to me. I try not to conform to what I've heard called "the cult of busy" but life in the 21st century is loaded with things that are constantly clamoring for our attention, not to mention all the obligations that come with being a mom, wife and entrepreneur. That said, by making time for rehearsals (sometimes 4 nights per week) and all the other things that went along with this commitment, I was reminded that what I do with my time is ultimately my choice. Super empowering!
I love growing my community! I met so many new people, most of whom live in my general neighborhood. I had forgotten that one of the cool things about doing a production like this is the bonding that happens through shared experience. Now I have a whole new family in the Woodland Park Players, not to mention about 30 new Facebook friends.
It's important to be clear on the things I want in my life. This was something I knew I wanted in my life for a long time. In fact it was on my "life list" (I wrote about life lists here). A life list is just another way of getting clarity on what you want your life to look like and feel like - kind of like a wordy vision board. Bottom line: clarity = energy in the right direction.
So I ask you: how do you want your life to look and feel?
What's on your life list? I invite you to sit down in a bright and quiet spot and see what comes up. Someday can be now for you, too. And if you need help getting clear on how to make some of those dreams become realities, I would love to help!