I woke up early this morning, well before my alarm, my mind spinning with words, phrases and insights I want to share with my friends who will be attending my first Being Brave retreat on Saturday. I am excited. I am nervous, with moments bordering on panic. I want it to be perfect, even as I remind our retreat attendees on Saturday that perfection is an unrealistic goal. I want those who will attend to feel their time was well spent. I want them to leave Saturday afternoon feeling inspired, refreshed, validated and heard. I want them to experience community and connection in our time together. And yet, as in all acts of creation, I know I have little to no control on how my offering will be received. I can only do the work, trust the process and offer my gift.
As I put the finishing touches on my retreat plans, I am reminded of the creative process I have both experienced and watched repeatedly in putting on a theater production. “Hell Week” is the name often given to the last week before the show goes up when the cast, crew and production team are completely immersed in getting ready for opening night. At some point, all the work, preparation, fine-tuning, and run-throughs reach a point where there is no place else to go without an audience. It is as ready as it can be and it is time. It makes me smile to know my favorite high school theater department is going through their own Hell Week right now. Having lived through many such weeks with my thespian daughters, I can picture the tension, excitement, exhaustion and nerves spinning through the homes and halls of their world this week. Tomorrow is their opening night and I will be there to cheer them on. As they run their last dress rehearsal tonight, they too will be at the place where they know they have done the work; all that is left is to trust the process and offer their gift.
I have written about creativity before. I am intrigued by this inclination we human beings have to create, the spark of creation we received from being made in the image of a Creative God. The Glory of God is Man Fully Alive. Sometimes it is something entirely new- like a painting, a song or the first telephone. Other times it is an entirely new version of something which we may have seen before, like the latest version of the IPhone or my friends’ production of Annie I will enjoy tomorrow night. Their version of Annie will be completely unique because these kids and this director bring their own vision and understanding to their telling of this familiar story. While my retreat is filled with familiar themes, no one has arranged them in this particular configuration before and we have never gathered these 15 unique individuals for the experience before. Their show and my retreat are brand new works of art, acts of creation, offerings of ourselves to the world.
Creating something and offering it to the world is an act of vulnerability. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, has written extensively about this topic and defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” The dictionary defines vulnerability as “capable of being wounded.” Vulnerability is when we allow ourselves to show up and be seen with no guarantees of how we or our work will be received. We often view vulnerability as weakness in ourselves and as bravery in others. The question vulnerability asks of us is this: “What is worth doing even if you fail?”
I was having a conversation with my daughter and some other friends recently about the surprising relief of having your worst fears happen and living to tell the tale. My daughter and I both told stories of incidents when we were on a stage and failed spectacularly- forgetting the lyrics to a song or freezing entirely and running off the stage in tears (I won’t tell you which of us did which.) We both had more than one story to share. Yet, she is currently in rehearsals for another play. And I am putting myself in front of an audience once again. Apparently, it continues to be worth doing even when we fail.
I love this quote from Mary Tyler Moore: ““Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
So a Bravo to all the brave souls out there who show up and allow themselves to be seen. I see you, I celebrate your creative work. I appreciate your contributions to making the world a little kinder and a little more beautiful.
- To my friend Judy who writes and illustrates delightful and encouraging children’s books.
- To my friend Jen who creates art and memories with her photographs.
- To my friends Jen and Chris who started a completely unique business and create works of beauty and whimsy to help people celebrate important life events.
- To my friend Linda who is working towards bringing healing, renewal and strength to other cancer survivors with Pilates.
- To my friend Mia who creates art, delight and inspiration out of Dum Dum wrappers, newspaper clippings, pages from books, giant bags of sugar and milk (this is only a small sample of what she uses in her art….really!)
- To Zoe who uses words and a passion for fashion to inspire and delight her readers.
- To Ed and Shannon for using your creativity, talent, love, ridiculous sense of humor and infinite patience to literally change the world one kid at a time.
- To ALL my blogging writer friends, including my daughter, who use the power of your words to inspire, teach, validate, amuse, embolden, love and heal the world. #ForTheLove #LiveFreeThursday
- To all the brave, creative people in my life who I forgetting right now 🙂
- AND to all my beloved theater children, those to whom I gave birth and those who are my spiritual children, who are bold enough and brave enough to believe that they can change the world by telling a story well. BREAK A LEG!
Thank you. You are my muse. You make me brave.
Linking up today with my friends over at Suzie Eller’s #LiveFreeThursday. This week’s them is Validate. To read many creative and unique thoughts on this topic, click on the photo below and check out this week’s offerings!