Bravery: The Skill

Backstage, winter of 2017...feeling a little nervous.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” I’m coming back to this, but it’s a path, and I wanted you to see where I was headed. Follow along.

My family sings. All of them really. My grandparents on my mother’s side were missionaries and brought their many skills to Burma early last century. Singing evangelism is one of the things they ALL brought back.

My father’s parents both sang. Both sides had several family members who REALLY played the piano for all the rest of them who REALLY sang.

Interestingly enough, both of my parents married into really musical families, so there honestly isn’t anyone who doesn’t know how to bring a “part” to a party. Some of my earliest and happiest memories are being squished between an uncle or an aunt and my mom or dad, adding my small part to the 27 part harmony they brought to every hymn and show tune that they could think of as we relaxed around the table after Christmas dinner.

My parents taught my brother and I to sing as we moved around the country. Every road trip there were parts to learn and old songs to remember. As the youngest, I learned to hold a melody NO MATTER WHAT.

I also married a man who had a family who could REALLY sing. When I think about it, I’m kind of shocked by how surprised I was that each of my own kids can sing so beautifully.

But I digress…we were talking about courage.

Have you ever had something that you were pretty good at, that you just couldn’t make yourself DO in front of people?

I’m still going to talk about myself, because it’s not nice to call out other people in a post like this…but hopefully I’ll still get the point across.

I love to sing casually. I love to sing standing in front of people who I like to listen to in church…or stand beside them and hold the melody while they swing a harmony line around me. I love to stand with my girls and my momma, who sing tenor and alto respectively, and bless the people in front of us. (We secretly call this “Blessing them from the back row”.) I sing in the car, with the windows open, to embarrass my children…in the shower, because ACOUSTICS. I’ve gotten in trouble at work. I’ve been late to things…all because I was singing.

Singing is one of my soothing mechanisms. So you’d think it wouldn’t take any courage for me to do it. Except, it does. From the moment that anyone puts a microphone in my hand and says, “Sing, Ms. Stacey.” I begin to panic.

Then, my heart starts racing…my palms sweat…I can no longer control my break (that’s the spot in your voice where you change the position you hold your voice…where you go from your chest to your head/falsetto in men) and I squeak or break…I forget the words…I can’t breathe. It’s a mess. And I absolutely KNOW, in that moment, that all everyone hears is Minnie Mouse with laryngitis and memory loss. I and NEVER…EVER…want to do it again.

Scene & Heard is about stuff like this. One of the things we do is ‘Perform Uncomfortable’. We perform BADLY in class, whether a person wants to or not. And then we perform again. I have kids in here that really get this. That know how to put the other kids at ease. I didn’t teach them this. This has just been an overflow of the idea that this place…this group…is safe….even you forget your lines…even if you squeak…even if you have to do it again. This is where you get to practice courage.

Our fall season started three weeks ago. We are already working on our first performances. We have already flubbed our lines. We have already missed cues and goofed off when we should have been paying attention. We’ve already had moments of embarrassment. We are already learning to cope with the anxiety that comes from putting “it” out there.

Theatre is such a cool place to practice things like this. Anxiety hits everyone from time to time. Theatre gives us a controlled way to practice conquering fear. So in a way, everyone is learning to be a little more brave every day. I can only think that this skill will be helpful in life.

It’s helpful for me. I mean, I’m a 47 year old, absent-minded squeaking mouse…and they hand me the microphone ALL THE TIME. I haven’t burst into tears ONCE this year. I’m calling it a win.

Look for the Scene & Heard booth at the FriscoHIS Kick Off on Thursday, September 6th at 7pm at Shawnee Trails Church, in Frisco, TX.

And try to join us Friday, September 7th at 12:30 pm at Grace Church in Frisco, TX, for our FIRST EVER Open House. Even if your kids aren’t quite old enough, or you aren’t ready to join, we’ve got a bit of a show for you. Free live theatre on a Friday afternoon, what could be better?

Hope to see you there, <3 Ms. Stacey

pe to see yo

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