A couple of weeks back, while reflecting on 2015, a friend prompted a question: “Did you take any step-out-of-your-comfort-zone-risks this past year?” I sat for a while. I thought on it, and my mind went blank.
Did I take any risks?
Sure, having a business and making adjustments here and there to make it run smoother would be thrown somewhere along the risk category spectrum, but all in all, I can’t think of too many things that happened in 2015 that made me really and truly face uncertainty and risk in a healthy, learning-more-about-myself-and-life kind of way. I think this is more than OK. It’s what my body needed to recover, adjust, and re-center with this big business transition that has taken over this past year and a half. But like all things, we hear what we need to hear when we need to hear it.
I’m not keen on setting any resolutions, because I’m not out to resolve anything. What I am out to do, however, is step it up. And with that, take more risks. The kind of risks that are needed in order to fulfill the dozens of what ifs that float in the ether of my imagination. The questions that ask: what else can I offer in my life and to others in order to keep fueling my talents, my potential, my purpose?
This all prompted an “aha moment” for me. It created an opportunity for me to go inward and connect with that part of me that’s been waiting ever so patiently for some quality time, and that’s when I finally put my foot down and made some space in my life for it.
On singing. I’ve been singing my whole life; a lot of it holed up in my room as a shy youngster, listening to tapes or singing with a karaoke machine, but that started to shift when I was 14, when I began taking private voice lessons. These lessons were more than just singing a sweet tune, they were my therapy. I found a part of me that was quiet and scared and little by little reintroduced it to the world. I sang in choirs, musicals, and even did a number of solo performances. I shared this love of voice and song with my best friend, Sarah (Hi Meatball!), and we would get lost in our own little song world- often singing the entire 2-disc soundtrack of RENT!.
Through the years, I continued lessons with a variety of teachers until I was about 21, and then life happened. I moved to Maine, I became invested in my career goals, and although I continued to sing around the house, it wasn’t the same. It took another couple of years to once again reintroduce this part of me to the world, and this time around it was through the local community theaters. I performed in more musicals and had the time of my life. Ah, to be on stage with a group of awesome people is such a rush! But, alas, these times had to come to an end, as another move was imminent: the move across the country to start my Classical Chinese medicine program. Due to the vigorous program, most things during this 4 year period had to take the back burner. Although I still played my piano and sang a tune from time to time, it just wasn’t the same.
Fast forward 6 years, and here I am happy to report that I’ve taken up voice lessons once again. I’m more than ready to branch out, STEP IT UP, and continue to fuel the fire that makes me feel complete. In a sense, it’s taking a risk- to rediscover who I am at this stage in life and what my voice is needing to express. I’m no longer that 14 year old shy girl and instead of hiding in the comforts of songs and ranges that are familiar to me, I’m ready to channel something deeper: improvise, create, collaborate! I’m so happy that these lessons are with a lovely woman who gets me and my hyper-focused self-awareness, and most importantly, how I relate to the world. We started by setting intentions of what I want to get out of my lessons, and one intention involves getting out there and performing again (maybe with my ukulele??), which, by golly, I am really excited (if not a little scared) to do it! That’s a big, healthy, and fun risk in my ever changing story: uniting all sides of me for ALL to see. Acupuncture and yoga Colleen are pretty well known in this community, but vulnerable, singing Colleen has yet to make her appearance…
So there it is. Another part of me, ready to explore and find a place in the world. It’s a risk, a challenge, a push that I so very much enjoy experiencing. Singing out loud, from a place of vulnerability can be unnerving. What about when my voice cracks? OUCH- the inner critics will light right up. How about when I hit that belting high note and hear the echo through the auditorium? WOOHOO! That’ll be fun! But, what I essentially keep coming back to in everything I do in life is this key word: PRACTICE. Practice through the strengths, practice through the weaknesses. Practice with the ups and practice with the downs everything and everyone goes through. The risk is in the perseverance, in breaking down the walls that have provided shelter and comfort for the easily bruised ego. At the end of the day, this is what builds strength, character, and makes one hell of a story to perhaps tell someday in a song.
**Reflection: Now it’s YOUR turn! I want to hear about your intentions and the risks you’re willing to take and explore to grow into a transformed, more expressive version of YOU.**