taking the leap

June 29, 2010 § 1 Comment

‘Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn’t exist and never shall. There is only now.’

– Christopher Paolini

If I can get through tomorrow in one piece, with everything intact, I’ll know a miracle took place.

I have three shoots scheduled, back to back in the evening. Besides having to script these ‘interviews’ in a foreign language, I’ll need to direct a very important guest and two testimonials. I couldn’t find a makeup artist in time and so, I’ll be doing makeup on my own. While coordinating with the camera person the shots I want, making the guests feel comfortable and directing the entire production. Brilliant. And hugely impossible.

Once that wraps, I’m off to the gig which I’m guessing, I might be late for. I wanted to back out but the tickets have already been purchased so I’ll just have to pop in for a bit and hopefully, catch my favourite songs.

Just before the gig ends, I’m off for the final appointment – the mother of them all. And it is this final appointment that I’m most anxious about. Because this is the second instalment of making my dreams come true and I’m just worried about how it’ll end. The conclusion is beyond my control.

I stand before my day… a ball of nerves.

This is it, people. This is really it. I’m actually going to do it. It’s impulsive, rash and yet, something I’ve deliberated over for years. But I’m walking ahead, ready… to take the leap of faith.

(while I chew my nails)

*

‘There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.’

– Paulo Coelho

‘How was the run?’ A complete stranger asked me on Sunday as he walked past, before waiting for my answer.

‘Heard you’re running now, since when?’ DigiBoy said when he popped by to help me burn some DVDs.

‘You too?!’ Dimples squealed when she found out I’d been talking to Kitty about training.

‘What’s up with the marathon?’ A few members of the band asked me when I told them I was unavailable for some dates.

I told them I wanted to lose weight, that I just wanted to run for fun… the reasons were many but all of them half-truths. The real reason is that I’m doing this for myself. I want… no, need to know that I can do this. That is my only reason. I want to do something I’ve never been able to do before, never even thought I could accomplish.

I’ve faltered so many times when it came to long-distance running. It was always my mental strength that failed me – not the burning legs or the lack of stamina – it was giving up in my mind long before I even saw the finishing line.

To do the races, to cross that finishing line, is just for me. I need to know I can complete something hard, something I’ve always failed to finish.

Tonight, I hit the tracks again although everything in me rebelled against the idea of going out. Out of sheer habit, I changed, took my iPod and went downstairs. The music I selected failed to energize me. The weather was humid. The tracks empty. Quietly, I began my run and very nearly gave up before I’d even finished one round. Then it hit me.

This was how it’s going to feel in the middle of the race. Can I overcome the immense sense of ‘quit’ in me?

I continued running. It burned my legs and for the first time in weeks, I developed stitches in my side. Still, I carried on for no one else… but me. I met a rat who ran alongside for a bit. A lizard crossed my path. A large cat watched my heavy steps. I ran on.

And crossed the 40 minute mark. I did it.

*

‘To me, Fearless is not the absense of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.’

– Taylor Swift

As long as my gaze is fixed on the Dream Maker, it’ll be alright.

I’m taking the next big leap, my eyes on Him.

Fearless.

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inside/outside & the world in between

June 27, 2010 § 5 Comments

Inside: I looked at myself in the video monitor with horror.
Outside: I smiled and sang as planned.

There was a tuft of hair sticking out from the side of my head. It looked like an antenna, or a misplaced hairy ear. The video team had obviously been trying to signal to me since the beginning of the song to do something with the hair! They avoided taking frontal images while I angled my head and casually brushed the damning antenna down but to no avail. It had an agenda today. It wanted to be part of the performance.

I finally resorted to tilting my head back to hide the hairy intruder for the next 20 minutes. I walked off stage with a stiff neck and had a good laugh with the team. What a start to my day.

*

Inside: I struggled with the growing sense of doom and the taste of failure.
Outside: I smiled and thanked the person for the feedback.

Just mere minutes before I had to sing again, one of the trainers came up to me with advice on what to change in my technique. It was stuff that I’d heard before and honestly, it’s one of the weak points in my vocals. There was no time to practice anything new. I stood on the side of the stage, waiting for my turn to walk out and had a choice: take the advice, be bold and sing… or get angry. I decided to sing my heart out.

And enjoyed some of the most precious moments, knowing that the success or failure of the session didn’t rest on me. It rested on the Dream Maker, who walked out with me, stood by my side and held my hand.

*

Inside: I watched their mouths, their eyes, their hands without understanding.
Outside: I nodded at the appropriate moments and smiled.

They were people I was planning on interviewing for a video shoot this coming week, except… they don’t speak English. They had wonderful stories to tell, stories that need to be captured but how, how in the world am I going to do this? I asked for a translator and thankfully, she stepped in to help us converse more freely and has even promised to be there for the shoot. I sighed with relief.

*

Inside: I let loose.
Outside: I let loose.

In the final song for the day, the audience was gone, the auditorium slowly emptying out but for the few stragglers who stayed behind to watch. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain. This was my moment with Him, exclusively. I looked up, closed my eyes and sang the words as though I was tasting them on my lips for the first time. When it was all over, I walked to the monitor room, handed in my wireless transmitter, microphone and smiled at the sound engineer.

The Music Director looked at me and mouthed, ‘Wonderful.’
The Bassist nodded at me, ‘Good.’
A woman came up to me and asked if she could hug me.

‘When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.

We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.’

– John Lennon

In my moment of vulnerability, I revealed who I truly was – mistakes and weaknesses – and found myself… accepted and loved.

… and then what happened?

June 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

A man walks on a tightrope, brows furrowed in deep concentration. His every muscle is tense and ready to respond to the slightest change in the atmosphere. He feels the wind, the bead of sweat that trickles down his forehead, hears the crowd but shuts them all out.

He only knows his breath and the rhythm of heartbeat.

Does he perform better knowing that one false move will cause him to plummet to his death? Will he walk differently if he knows that there is a safety net below?

*

I will be on stage again tomorrow, singing. As always, I stand before the day, filled with a mixture of emotions and heightened sensitivities. Instead of cocooning myself within the blankets of old failures and worries, I choose to paint myself a new picture for the future.

I choose to see the net below my tightrope and feel the harness that girds my being. I won’t be alone up there. I am wrapped in the ability of the Dream Maker. He put me up there. He will rock the stage while I remain hidden in the glare of His light.

Why should I negate the potential of moments yet un-lived because of yesterday’s fears? Life is about living in the promise of good things to come.

A parent gazes at his baby with big dreams.
A dancer looks at the space and imagines it filled with movement.
A writer holds his pen with purpose as he juggles the words to fill the page with.

And me?

I close my eyes and hear the music – the sound of eternity. Can you hear it too?

*

I had been waiting for weeks for the release of this book and it’s finally within my hands. I can’t wait for my next spare moment when I can make myself a cup of tea, pick the book up, look at the cover and feel the embossed titles beneath my fingertips. I will breathe in the scent of its new pages and have my pencil ready to pick out my favourite lines.

Bliss.

*

A day prior to getting this book, I was itching for a good read and so, bought this one too.

*

Oh the excitement of potential!

Look out for the reviews of my tightrope adventure and these darling books!

in a nutshell

June 25, 2010 § 3 Comments

Too many stories, too little time.

Rain, changed plans from adventure trail to indoor playground.

Rush, run, scream, play, laugh, talk, quarrel, hug, climb, tumble, hungry.

Eat largest ice-cream sundae we’ve ever seen.

House, watch movies, good conversations, Australian footie, share music.

Supper, pizza, fruits, dessert.

Heavy eyelids, drained, cuddle, cab ride home.

End of day. Beginning of new adventures.

*

I have to sleep and get ready for an early morning run tomorrow. The need to run has gone beyond a desire to complete the marathon because I split a pair of skinny jeans on Wednesday, and busted the zipper on my shorts on Friday. Not good.

‘Dear, did I put on weight?’ I ask the Husband, holding up my torn clothing.

‘Nah,’ he replies without looking up. ‘I’m sure they are just old, that’s why they tore.’

‘You didn’t even look at me!’ I say, frowning as I stare at my belly.

‘Okay, maybe you have gotten a little rounder but it’s okay! No one will notice.’

‘Sure. The jeans and shorts tell a good enough story though,’ I whine.

‘Not if you keep quiet and resist writing about this,’ he smirks.

Bah.

*

The more I resist food, the greater the urge to eat.

And so, I run.

*

Me. On the trails tomorrow. Note the frown of determination.

*

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my life in a nutshell.

Feeling like a nut.

two hours

June 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

‘If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something.’

– Richard Linklater (Before Sunrise)

I took leave from work today to do several things:

1. Run – which I did, clocking in 6km in 47 minutes. It’s not fast but still, an improvement from when I first began training, slightly over two weeks ago. I ran in the hot sun and was thrilled that I no longer felt faint from the heat. Now I just need a miracle to finish 10km before I leave for Australia, because once I’m back, it’s a mere two weeks till the race. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Right?

2. Spend time with the little ones – I took them everywhere I went today. They were happy. I was exhausted.

3. Visit to the Amazonian.

Since she gave birth three months ago, I hadn’t spent time with her at all, nor visited her family (me being the fantastic friend I am). I knew I had to do it today, even though she is a good 45min drive away from where I live. I prepared lunch, a fruit salad and purchased some ice-cream, then bundled the little ones into the car and off we went.

The first thing I noted was that my house-proud friend’s living quarters was in disarray. The second thing was that she looked tired.

‘Do you get any rest at all?’ I asked her.

‘No, not really. Once the baby sleeps, I’m doing all I can to take care of my siblings or washing up. And honestly, it’s been hard. That day you texted me to say you wanted to come over was the day I felt like giving up.’

Due to a lack of time, the toilets have not been washed for several weeks, the family eats takeaway every night and my dear friend hasn’t had a break from it all, not one second. I wanted to reach in to her world and find a way to ease the burdens on her shoulders.

Instead, I made her sit down while I prepared lunch and got everyone seated at the table. We ate, chatted and ate some more. I washed her dishes and resolved in my heart to do something about the house at my next visit. I also asked if she minded if I prepared some food for the family.

‘I can pass you several days’ worth on Sunday,’ I said.

‘That would be great. Thank you so much,’ she sighed. ‘It will be so nice to eat home-cooked food!’

We talked about baby care, sibling rivalry and tried to catch up with each other’s journeys but time was too short. Before we knew it, two hours had passed and I needed to leave for my next appointment.

In the cab, my phone beeped.

‘I just saw the Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream you bought for me! It’s Chubby Hubby, my favourite! Thanks dear, I feel so loved.’

It takes so little to show love. I got to do this more often.

*

‘Do you still want to do this?’ Busy Bee sat forward and asked me straight. I was quiet for a while. It was a question that I’d been asking myself the past few days. There are many good reasons to relinquish my responsibilities with the team of singers under my care and yet, something holds me back from giving up.

‘I’ve thought about that,’ I answered, ‘Because over these past few weeks, with the break I’ve been enjoying, I’ve felt as though I finally have a life again. And it’s grown harder to connect with the singers as I’m no longer on the inside of everything. I’m now an outsider to the team. It’s easy to walk away.’

She nodded. That had always been her struggle and it comforted me to see her identifying with my situation.

‘But you know, I want to continue doing this. Largely in part because… see, you were the first person to really work through my weaknesses – breaking me, teaching me, moulding me – and dear, I don’t want to stop working with you. I want to do this because I want to continue learning from you.’

She teared a little.

‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘Sometimes, it feels very lonely to be where I am and I feel as though I’m facing this huge responsibility all on my own, that no one understands. To have you say that you want to continue… well, thank you.’

We smiled at each other. Partners.

We weren’t always this comfortable with each other.

When we first began working together, it was hellish. A tremendous over-achiever, she intimidated me with her relentless pursuit of truth in relationships. She was always unwilling to walk away when I dodged her questions and sought to know why: why did you say that, why did you do things that way, why do you react to things in this manner… and because of this, she inadvertently made me face up to the one thing I feared: failure.

As a person who dreads confrontation, I hated waking up in the morning, knowing I’d receive a call or a text from her that would again, expose a lapse in my thinking or an unconscious cover-up of a mistake that I’d made.

When I finally came to the end of my self-made strength and told her that I couldn’t go on, she surprised me with her warmth. She began teaching me, little by little, coaching my thinking processes and training me to think for others, to keep seeing the big picture. It was then I realised that all she wanted was my vulnerability. She wanted me to be honest about things, because she was a nurturer at heart and could only help me when I stopped hiding my frailty.

A huge success out in the working world, her business reaped in a profit of more than a million dollars last year. While expanding her business, she pursued a degree (night classes) and continued to get her certification as a vocal teacher. She also teaches piano, conducts external workshops for some schools and somehow works in the time to care for her family.

And people like me.

Our meeting lasted only two hours but we were both extremely happy at the end of it all.

*

Two hours.

Two meetings.

Three individuals who feel less alone in a vast, wide world.

the gift

June 23, 2010 § 4 Comments

I received a gift today. It was a wooden box, tied shut with a rubber band.

I tentatively opened it to find, nestled amid white paper, three items I’d asked for: the wind, the waves and the earth.

‘All across the other side of the world,’ my friend smiled. ‘Gathering these items reminded me to be thankful for the things I have in life, the opportunities given to me. And I hope, one day, you’ll be walking in distant lands, gathering these things on your own.’

I lifted the bottle of sand and gazed into it, imagining the thousands of seashells crushed by the elements, now made smooth enough to walk on. I gently shook the bottle of crystal, clear water and marveled. It looked nothing like the waters we can gather here on our beaches at home. I looked at the picture, forever freezing the power of the wind. Then I closed the box and smiled.

I received a precious gift today.

It was a fragment of my future, a glimpse into all that life can be.

*

I have never walked on water, felt the waves beneath my feet but at Your word Lord, I’ll receive Your faith to walk on oceans deep. And I remember how You found me, in that very same place. All my failings surely would have drowned me, still You made a way…

– Hillsong

I received a gift today. It came wrapped in the arms of the Dream Maker.

‘Open it,’ He said as He tenderly placed the box in my hands. I carefully undid the knots and lifted the cover.

‘I don’t deserve this,’ I whispered.

‘Yes you do,’ He said, ‘Because I paid for it. And I’m giving it to you.’

My eyes welled up with tears. I knew I couldn’t bear the responsibility of taking care of such beauty. It would be like draping a necklace of gems on a compost heap. I’d be a fraud.

‘I… can’t,’ I shook my head. ‘I know what goes on inside me… how can I wear such preciousness when I feel like crap inside?’

‘That’s the beauty about this gift. It changes you, the more you wear it,’ He smiled. Then very carefully, He lifted the dazzling stone and placed it around my neck. Pulling away, He took a long look at me as I stood there, feeling awkward.

‘Beautiful,’ He said, and I knew then, He wasn’t talking about the gift.

look at love

June 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

‘Hello,’ she said.

‘Go away, I’m not listening to you,’ I murmured, turning away to read an email on my laptop.

‘Did you see how busy and fulfilled she is? Isn’t she doing exactly what you want to do? Look, look at her! She’s being trained to do great things. People will recognize her as being brilliant! Now… what about you? What are you doing?’ The unwelcome visitor continued, ignoring my snub.

I looked at the email I was writing. It was a style template schedule for the next few weeks’ performances. I looked at my to-do list and it was filled with coordination work. Administration, administration, administration…

‘See? You’re left out of the loop. No one will recognize the work you’re doing! It’s all background work for others to shine. Who cares? You thought you were in a place of self-actualization but what’s happening? You’re being left behind while others get to do the creative things you like.’

I slumped back in my seat. It was only the morning and already I was losing the battle to be happy.

‘Just go away,’ I gritted my teeth.

‘Your boss is going with you to the shoot later, isn’t she? Now why would she need to do that? And if she’s there, why do you need to go too? Superfluous addition, aren’t you?’ She mocked, doodling on my organizer.

‘I think I still have responsibilities there… I can’t just say I won’t go.’ I answered.

‘Can’t run away, eh? Poor, sad thing. When will you find your place in this world?’ She said.

At that point, I couldn’t take it anymore. I stood up and walked away, I needed a breather. I headed to the toilet and locked myself in a cubicle. Alone, I sat there for a long while and listened…

I heard a group of ladies walk in, talking. I head a toilet flush. I heard the jangle of someone’s bracelets. I heard them leave. And then, I heard the Dream Maker.

‘Hey you, still in there?’

‘Yeah…’ I knew I just needed a hug from Him but I wanted to be alone.

‘Come on out,’ He said.

I sighed, stood up and reluctantly unlocked the door. There was no one there.

‘Great, just great,’ I grumbled as I walked back to my table… and found notes of love left all over my day, just for me.

There was the bar of chocolates from Jap Girl, and some ice-cream from the Boss.

There was the chance to climb to the topmost floor of a building under construction.

There was the beautiful, orange sunset I saw while I was up there.

There was the message a friend sent to me, saying ‘You’re a beautifully constructed piece of work. What you’ve done with your hands has touched so many…’

There was the wonderful conversation with Paddington, a friend I haven’t talked to in weeks.

There was the free ride home.

And when I walked into my room… there was Him.

‘Don’t listen to the negative talk. Don’t look at your circumstances and what you lack. Don’t look at your unfulfilled dreams.’ He said, holding out His arms to me. ‘Look at Me.’

And when I did, everything faded into the background.

I was looking at love.

*

‘I don’t have to fear anything because Your love makes it worth it all. I want to know it more, I want to feel it more, I want to see it more. Do I dare look into the eyes of love tonight, leaving everything else behind?

I will look straight into the eyes of love and say, come burn in me.’

– Kim Walker

Where Am I?

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