Monday, February 18, 2013

8 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy In Rehearsal

Back in April of 2012, The Huffington Post shared a blog post from Luminita D. Saviuc, who writes the blog, The Purpose Fairy at  The post entitled, "The 15 Things You  Give Up To Be Happy," went viral and I thought it would be interesting to see what it would look like if we re-purposed Ms. Saviuc's suggestions for the performers of pageantry. Throughout the course of a season, we waste a lot of time fighting our ourselves and fighting each other. When I say we, I say that for all of us; the performer and the staff; and sometimes the judge, the parents, the school administration, etc., etc. etc. Mostly though, the most significant fights occur within our own minds.  If you have never taught and only performed, it's hard to grasp what an instructor goes through during the course of a season. As staff, we sometimes forget what it was like to stand on that floor as a performer night after night, wondering where it's all headed and feeling at a loss when we just aren't good enough and all we want to do is feel that we are. So this post is for you the performer to let you know that you are enough and to be mindful of each moment, because one day those moments will be gone. One day, you will look back and realize that some of the best moments of your life occurred on a gym floor, with the staff yelling, another performer crying, and you wondering if the season could just go a little faster as you head back to your set with the words, "Do it again," ringing in your ear.
  • Give Up Your Need To Always Be Right
Here's the thing about being right. Your perspective on the floor is not the same perspective as the staff in the stands. To that end, I would like to say to the staff that your perspective is not the same as the performer doing the work, with its complex layering of staging and body after an 8 hour rehearsal. This post however is for the performer. Some of my favorite moments in a rehearsal is when a performer is corrected and this comment comes out of their mouth, "...but that's not how it was written," or"...but last week you said count 8 was here," or my personal favorite, "...are you sure?" Here's the thing, sometimes the staff aren't sure. Sometimes they forget. Sometimes they look at what was originally written and decide that it basically sucks. Sometimes they just don't know, but I ask you this. Why are you trying to be right in the first place? In the end, it comes down to trust. Ask yourself, "Do I believe in my staff and my program? Do I trust my fellow teammates?" If you can answer yes, then there is no need to always be right. Give that away and let it go.

  • Give Up Your Need For Control
Can you answer the question of ...WHY? What are you trying to control and why are you trying to control it? Here are some things you can't control. You can't control the decisions the staff makes in regards to show changes, rehearsal schedules or even what is worked on at rehearsal. You can't control your teammates and their commitment levels, talent, or attitude. You can't control your score. You can't control the rehearsal space you were given or the fact that you are hungry and rehearsal has gone over by 30 minutes. You can't even control the fact that the bathrooms to the school were locked and you have to pee outside behind the trash can (yes that happens). You CAN control your attitude. You CAN turn a tense situation into something fun. You CAN control how much you practice and how much effort you put into your season. You CAN control your ability to give up the need to control all external forces that surround you. You CAN most definitely control the ability to give it 100% and acknowledge the fact that you don't have all the answers and perspective of others.  My suggestion...Practice and prepare for the bizarre. Bring a yummy homemade cupcake to munch on, a favorite teddy bear, some toilet paper, and your mental happy place. If none of that works then have a tierra just in case. A tierra will lighten up any rehearsal and make you feel like the princess of the gym.
  • Give Up On Blame
Your mistakes are yours. They aren't those of your teammates, the staff, or the judges. Your drop is your drop. It wasn't the lights and it wasn't the wind. It was simply your drop and that drop comes from a lack of practice, a lack of training, inability to compensate for unforeseen elements like the wind, or a loss of concentration. Also, stop blaming yourself. STOP IT! Everyone makes mistakes. You aren't perfect and never will be.  Pick up the equipment, dust off your inner voice that tells you that you aren't good enough and keep performing. If the mistake was because you didn't practice enough, then simply take your equipment home, do that move 100 times and then let it go, but blame is not going to get you anywhere and you just might lose some friends in the process.
  • Give Up Your Self-Defeating Self-Talk
This is my personal favorite. Your inner voice often times is your worst enemy. Your inner voice will make you believe that when the staff say, "Becky, you were late on count 5," what they really mean is, "Becky, your were late on count 5 and you have never done anything right in this program ever." We always say that pageantry is the perfect place to learn life's lessons. So here is the biggest life lesson ever. YOU ARE JUST FINE! Tell your mind that you don't have to be the best sabre, flag, dancer, and rifle all wrapped up into the title of, "Queen of the Winterguard World!" You will never be the best, because the best is only relative to you. So what if you didn't get the solo. So what if you didn't get chosen for captain. SO WHAT! Are you going to let it ruin your season, your life? Are you going to let it ruin your day? Go out there and do your thing and congratulate yourself for doing what most can't. You took an awkward piece of equipment, threw it in the air, while you did a leap, that was taught to you yesterday, caught it, and managed to basically not kill yourself or the others around you. I would say that's a good day. 
  • Give Up On Complaining
It's unattractive, shows poor leadership skills, and shows your inability to work around difficult situations.  Change your mindset and figure out how to make an awkward situation fun. The girl next to you can't do her work as well as you, so now the staff is making you do it over and over and over and over. Instead of being angry at her, make it a positive. Turn it around on you and say, "I'm glad we are doing this again, it guarantees I'll never mess it up in a show." Then, after rehearsal, go over to the girl and ask, "How can I help?"

  • Give Up The Luxury of Criticism
I think this goes into a very similar category as complaining, but there is a difference. Criticism is usually targeted at someone and that someone needs your support, not your judgment. In the midst of a tough rehearsal there is a lot to criticize. Remember, your attitude could make the difference of doing just one more run-through or getting to go home early. When you criticize you don't often realize how it impacts the other person even if that person never hears you, because the venom of criticism always carries through the air and that attitude impacts everyone. Always think, "Maybe I don't have their perspective." So, before you open your mouth to criticize someone or their decisions ask yourself, "Do I have all the information and how can I make this situation better?"
  • Give Up on Your Fears
What are you afraid of? 

Dropping? Everyone drops. Get over it. Doing a bad show? Everyone has at least one bad show a season. Getting yelled at? Good luck with that one. The best of us have gone to the woodshed of pageantry and survived. Looking bad in front of your family? Please. They've already seen you through potty training, little league, and bad science fair projects. They are just proud to watch you give it your all.  Your costume slipping off showing you in your underwear? You'll probably get a standing ovation if you keep pushing through it. Getting hurt? You will survive the cut on your eye and your friends will give you a lot of attention for it. Also, chances are there will be some guilt on the part of the don't forget to take advantage of that. Looking ridiculous? You are spinning a 6 foot pole with a lame' silk on it to the music of Adele and guess is everyone else. 

I bet I know what you are really afraid of, though  Risk! Giving it your all requires risk and risk is scary. Risk, along with all those silly mistakes that comes with it makes you who you are and you will thank yourself later for it.
  • Give Up Your Excuses
This is the most important one.

Bad show? Bad rehearsal space? Less than talented staff? The wind? The sun? Teammates with bad attitudes? 

"I'm not good enough." "I'm tired today." "I'm sore." "I'm hungry." "I don't like my spot." "I don't like to do that toss. " "I'm too fat." "I look bad in my uniform." "The staff doesn't like me." "My boyfriend broke up with me today." "I've got too much homework." "The judges hate us." "I look like a creature of the swamp leaping off the ground doing that thing with the rifle."

Get over it!

I've been in the activity for over 25 years as a performer, instructor, director, board member, and judge. There is no excuse in the world for the excuses you are using to give up. There is no excuse that will ever be good enough that will allow you to quit your team or yourself. You will regret it. I promise you that. There is a lot to be gained in life to be able to say that you made it to the very end and gave it your all, regardless of the outcome. The excuses can go on and on and on. They will ruin your rehearsal and ultimately your season. They will take down the people around you. In the end, your rehearsals and all the craziness that comes with it, is preparing you for the real world. Nothing you've heard will prepare you for the pressures of life such as parenthood, the workplace, or the random senseless acts of others. Your ability to see the positive in every situation and to adjust quickly to adversity, will make the difference between happiness and despair. 

Too many people in life give up before they see the rewards and most times the rewards are simply not competitive success. The reward is intrinsic and it's the value of knowing that you love yourself enough to know that you tried something difficult; something no one else knows how to do and survived. This activity has been around a very long time. We've all been there done that. The question is, "What are you going to make of it?" This is your time on the floor and the memory is yours to make. Make it a good one and make it one that will make you smile on those cold nights when you feel lonely and in need of a friend. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

You May Take The Floor For Competition...

Throughout the world, winterguard is in full swing. All the songs have been played. All the shows have been seen. Costumes and make-up have been revealed. The first scores of the year have already been posted and compared. The first judge's tapes have been listened to (and most times, yelled or cursed at). The first questions of "what if we?", "can we?", "is it enough?" and "do you think?" have been asked. The first rumors have been started (and also believed). The first series of rankings have been guessed at. There is a flurry of excitement as the journey towards championships, be it at "Debbie" or the local circuit, is in full steam ahead.

This weekend, in Orlando, Florida, 44 programs are preparing for the WGI Regional at Cypress Creek High School.

"You may take the floor for competition."

These simple words create a catch phrase that can only be compared to such great legends as "Let's get ready to RUMBLE!", "Are you ready for some football?!", "Quiet on the green", “Are you ready to party?”, “Who’s having a good time?” and "Happy Hunger Games. May the Odds be ever in your favor."

For a first time performer, upon hearing those words, fear creeps up your spine and tingles in your fingers. Your breath catches in your throat and doubt can nag at you. Everything goes blank, for not everyone is a born performer, comfy on a stage. Most of us started out as dazed and confused freshmen fearful of failing, dropping, or worse, not throwing the final toss, especially at a major show. The music begins and your mind goes numb. When the show is over, you look up in the stands and wonder what happened those last 5-7 minutes, because you can’t remember them. Bits and pieces blur in and out like a dream you just woke from, that you strive to remember but just can’t. You look up at the audience and your staff in the stands for confirmation of how well you did.

For the seasoned veteran, upon hearing these words, there is nothing like walking out on to the floor and seeing the faces of the crowd. The hype of the cheers can be likened to a rock star stepping on the stage, mind blowing and ego boosting. The audience is screaming your name and waving their hands wildly. The blur of voices and people are a symphony of sound all there to watch your every move, to judge your every catch position, to credit and critique you. There is a confidence and an excitement that butterflies all over and inside you, but charges you like a bolt of lightening. The rush of excitement , that adrenaline, feds a part of your soul that is thirsty - desperate to succeed, to be remembered, to be amazing. It’s hungry for approval. It’s joy in its purest form. The feeling is the most natural high an athlete/performer can achieve.

For the “Golden Oldies” performers, upon hearing these words, it could feel bland, numb. You have done this sport for so long that the flame is gone, but you can’t seem to hang up your sabre gloves for the fear of a boring, normal life. No trick is hard anymore. No feature seems new. It’s just another routine in another routine season of your routine life that sits in your routine weekend. But…A life without the makeup and costumes, without crowds and cheers is unthinkable. You know what happens next. No one cheers you when you cut the grass, pay the bills, buy groceries, or put gas in your car. It might not seem like much now, just another show, but you know full well that when it is gone, there will be an emptiness. So, you take the floor with a smile on your face.

"You may take the floor for competition."

For family and friends who have never spent time on the floor and in the gym, upon hearing those words, there is a moment of apprehension. They judge and critique time and money spent. Who came up with this sport of the arts anyways? Who ever thought it would be fun to through 6ft. poles with 3 ft silks attached into the air? Who ever thought “This could be fun! Let’s throw lawn mover blades and 2x4s into the air and try to catch it pretty”? Is this show going to be good? Am I wasting my time here? I hope my child is awesome. I hope this team drops all over the place so my group does better. How many groups are left? OMG -What is she/he wearing? Can I do this too? Look at those amazing dancers move over there. LOOK! She totally dropped right there; she going to drop again. Let‘s watch her. I love that show. I hate that show. What are those staff members thinking? What innovation! What idiots! I’m hungry. This is such a hot-dog guard. I wanna wear that uniform for Halloween! OOH! They are so in sync! Oh, Girl! They are such a hot mess.

For those who knew their time was over and are now just watching in the stands, upon hearing these words, there is a smile that crosses the face. Similar to a movie reel, memories pass and flicker in 3D IMAX on the mind. Memories of season past play snippets of glory and of failure. These are the best of times. These are the worst of times. And they are grateful to be sitting in the stands and not sweating at rehearsals and trying to apply fake lashes 5 minutes before rotation. They are grateful that they can eat that hamburger and fries and not worry about wearing that white spandex body suit that staff member thought was the best idea ever. They are grateful to reflect of their experiences and enjoy watching others earn their memories.

For those whose time was up before they wanted and are stands bound, upon hearing those words, there is a hint of bitterness and regret. In their minds, they replay the reasons why: why they are sitting there, what caused this turn of events, if they could turn back time? If they could find a way? Do things really happen for a reason? Or does life just sucks that way… For a few, there is a small pick-ax that chips away at the ‘Hope’ of one day, for just one more season, they could make that comeback. They have one more season left in them. They could do that feature better than she can. Then there is doubt - They could never do that show. Guard has changed so much since they marched. They wonder what if… For the rest, its just another show. It’s a chance to judge programs better than the judges do. To say things judges wont dare say on tapes but we all know they want to. It’s their chance to be loud and proud and direct…so, here’s a hint, it better be entertaining or you know it will slaughtered all over Facebook.

"You may take the floor for competition."

For all of the above, upon hearing those words, we lift our heads just a little higher with anticipation. There is the small flutter of excitement that runs through us. Memories are made with every moment of our lives. Make them FABULOUS.

Paradigm wishes everyone good luck this and every weekend. Make amazing picture moments. May you make these memories count and no matter which caption you fall into, please remember…it takes a strong person to step in front of a crowd to be judged by a room full of strangers. 

So, even as I hear the alarm clock ring in the morning, and I stretch my arms over my head, I hear these words at the start of my day…. I hope you do too.

"You may take the floor for competition."