Monday, March 31, 2014

The Worst Question We Can Ask Ourselves Starts With "WHAT IF"

After completing an exhausted and exciting weekend at our FFCC Championships here in Daytona Beach, Florida, I felt a strange energy around me that I have never felt before. I have been doing this sport for a fairly long time - both as a member, director, and staff member, and never truly felt this strangeness. I have felt joy, sorrow, elation, withdrawal, and bitterness. But never this weirdness...

And maybe it WAS the pure exhaustion for the  2 ( and for some others 3) day event.  Maybe is WAS the long conversations with many of my fellow guard staffers as we regaled each other about the season's triumphs and failures, frustrations and victories. Maybe is WAS over joy for the successes of all  my students. Maybe it WAS sadness that for so many, upon leaving that day, meant the season was over. Maybe it WAS the look on all people's faces of awe, disbelief, and satisfaction.

Honestly, with all the cold medication I was on that had stopped working right before retreat, I just was proud I survived and was ready to go home to my comfy bed.

When I finally did get home, I literally dumped my stuff on the floor and changed into my PJs, glitter still in my hair and all. I sat down and ate some applesauce, watching 2 pre-recorded shows, (The Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time) and after a long healthy discussion with a very good guard friend of mine, I passed out.

I woke up this morning, the day after, determined to be productive. With a million things to do on my TO DO list before my flight for Dayton, I still had packing, shopping, and a rehearsal to tech at before I depart at 730am the next day. But instead of starting all those things, I brewed myself a cup of green tea and stopped.

Just stopped.

I stopped running around with the million life and guard life things in front of me and stopped. The constant go-go-go-go-go for the last few months wasn't over but for a brief time, I made myself stop and reflect. I didn't allow the "every second has something scheduled" frantic energy to get me this morning and I decided to stop and sip my tea. tea with a splash of milk.

It was then I realized what I was feeling.


It's strange to feel that after such a fantastic weekend and season. And I know I am not the only one to feel this, because of the conversations I had this weekend. But several do... these are some of mine...

There was guilt on how messy my  place is and how much mail is in a pile unopened on my kitchen table since January.

There was guilt of having had to be an adult and go to work and miss shows and rehearsals. Which, by the way, is the priority. Let's be honest: Working and paying the bills - your job- is the top priority. You must have a life outside of this activity...  but in the back of your brain, a small voice whispers to you, wondering what is going on because you are not able to be there. And start wondering if you had been there more, would it made it them that much better? or the same?

Guilt of all the dishes in the dishwasher clean but not put away. (and some dirty ones in the sink)

Guilt of knowing that you were sacrificing family and friends to be at rehearsals and knowing they were mad at you because you choose a sport over family.

Guilt of knowing that you were sacrificing rehearsals to spend those precious moments with family knowing that the staff probably needed you there because staffs are teams too and need each other's support.

Guilt of knowing that I haven't called friends back and blown off plans because I had rehearsal or I was just too tired. Or I honestly forgot since I was thinking about the work, family, the next show or rehearsal or did I order the makeup in time for the next show?

Guilt that maybe if you fought a little harder to change that one spot in the show that you just hated but the other staff members didn't that the score would of gone up.

Guilt that if you had spent time with that one student a little more that they wouldn't of dropped or they would of flourished more as a performer.

Guilt because if you had trusted your gut 3 months ago, things might have been different.

All my co-workers know about my teaching. All season they ask me about it. I am lucky in that respect. They don't understand it at all but they know its important to me and that is kinda amazing.  They saw me many a weekend closing --anxiously check my phone waiting for information and results. They asked me what I was doing on my vacation and when I told them I was going to Nationals with Paradigm for the week. They thought it cool and fun but that I  was absolutely crazy. They couldn't believe I would "work" on my vacation then race back to come right back to work and not go lay on a beach sipping cocktails and relaxing.

I type this, sipping my green tea and realize I don't regret the sacrifices I made. I can't get caught up in the "what if's". I made my choices and I am proud of the parts I played. I made a difference- either great or small.

If you are caught up in guilt or regret, release yourself.

Things that I know to be fact:

1.) All you can do is your very best every day. Nothing more and nothing less.

2.) I can only be in 1 place at 1 time. We sacrifice one thing for the sake of something else. The choices we make are choices. Live in them and keep going forward.

3.) If I am feeling guilt, that means I care....A LOT.

4.) You really do need to take time to check your mail mid season. Ugh, this stack of mail is ridiculous.

5.) If people really love and care, they will understand how important it is to you to improve people's lives through being a role model as a coach and they will get over the fact you missed a 3 hour baby shower in the middle of some random Saturday. Just send them diapers. Double bonus is you escaped the baby food taste test! win. win.

6.) Having and keeping good people around you that you trust and can delegate jobs to so you can multi-task other things is like finding a $100 dollar bill in your jeans pocket.

7.) Learn from what was good and what was bad and know for the future how to stay on track.

8.) Trust your gut.

9.) Going to bed with glitter in your hair means you have to do laundry in the morning.

10.) Don't be happy that it is over, be happy that is happened and you were a part of it - whether it is great or small, it was precious.

Photo: Think we gave them enough retreat stuff??? Lol #paradigm #wgi2014 #ffcc

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Karma...Colorguad Style

I once heard an interview by an Olympic gymnast who had a less than stellar "All Around" performance and ended up NOT placing where she thought she would place, which was atop the medal stand. She didn't hear her country's national anthem played for her and she didn't go home with a medal she thought she had so richly deserved. In the interview,  she was asked this question, "What happened on that balance beam? Why did you lose control?" Her answer stunned me as I thought she would have given some excuse about her ability to focus or some technical reason related to balance and control. She simply said, "I believed my own press and didn't put the work in needed to handle the pressure of the world stage." She went on to talk about arrogance, missed opportunities, and the importance of the team. More than anything, she talked about pressure. Any Olympian will tell you that there is no greater pressure than that of the world stage. They can compete against the same athletes year round in competitions all over the world, but there is something about the pressure that comes with the Olympics. The whole world is watching and you better be prepared.

Colorguard is no different. It's just a different stage, with different athletes. Anyone who has taught long enough has seen that performer who believed their own press. They thought they were better than they were. They didn't believe the staff when they heard the word, "karma."

"I would be careful if I were you. Karma is a bitch to contend with in Dayton." 

Karma will hit you when you least expect it and will get you because you believed your own press. I love that phrase. "Don't believe your own press." I use to work for a company where the CEO would start every management meeting with, "We will not believe our own press. We can be beat. We are fallible and our press can go from positive to negative just by one simple misstep." She started every general staff meeting with that speech as well and then she challenged all of us to strive to be better and to continue to set the standard of excellence for non-profit organizations.

Applying that same theory to a colorguard headed into championships is paramount. It can apply to anyone. The high school guard just hoping to make finals at their local championships or the world guard hoping to medal in Dayton. Your luck can turn on a dime in the last week of the season and often times it's your own karma that did it to you; not the judges and not the audience.

So, back to the performer who we often say will face the hand of karma upon the most inopportune time. Will it be in prelims when every tenth counts? Will it be in finals when the video just happened to be on you at that moment of the big rifle catch that ends the sequential, that just happens to be on the subtle note that ends the phrase? Will it come in the form of a drop? A broken sabre hilt? A broken rifle strap? A sail before a big toss? When will it come and in what form will it take?

I use the word "karma" rather jokingly, as I'm not quite sure I believe in karma, as much as I believe in the failure to prepare and the power of arrogance to take over the mind. I believe in energy and how positive energy can create a performance that is fully assured and confident and how negative energy can create epic level nightmares on the arena floor in Dayton. Preparation takes all season and requires ongoing dedication to your team and commitment to the process.

When you spend your season bereft of dedication, arrogant and undisciplined, then the karma of championships will surely find you. There is no way to counter a season of waiting for others to do the work you were supposed to do. In those times when you should have been practicing, but played on the internet instead or the times when you blamed a teammate on a mistake that was really yours, then be careful of karma. When you prayed for the season to end soon and complained that the staff was too hard and going overboard, then watch out. In those moments when you thought, "I'm better than all of them and next year I'm marching with the "Grass Is Clearly Greener On The Other Side Guard," then duck and cover, because that level of arrogance can only be met with Biblical style, Old Testament retribution. 

You can't counter in one weekend and in one show, the pressure that is mounted upon a guard stepping on the floor for prelims. Your mind plays games with you. Thoughts of "This is our last performance" or "It all comes down to this one show," will haunt you all the way up to the announcement that starts with, "Next on the floor..." This is why preparation is vital. Preparation lies in your muscles reacting exactly the way they were trained and your mind creating positive energy around every second you're on the floor. 

So if you failed up to this point to give it everything you had and you have failed to be the best teammate possible and you used excuses to not be the best YOU that you can be, then step up today and admit to that. If you are going to Dayton you have one week. One week to perfect your mindset. Turn your mind into a force to be reckoned with. Use the power of positive thought. Use the power of the team. Professional level athletes don't let down the week before the world championships and they don't believe their own press (Denver Bronco's). They push harder. They manage their diet and sleep. They practice and practice hard. They push themselves and their teammates. They control their mind. They meditate. More and more athletes are talking about meditation to create positive energy and block distraction. One week until Dayton. In that week my can make the difference and that week is a lifetime in the world of competition and the tears that come won't be tears of regret, but tears that only come from that feeling of a season lived fully and spherically.