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If you knew me growing up, you might classify me as a band geek.

My love affair began with playing the sax- I took pride in practicing 2 hours a night, (my poor parents and siblings), and soon set myself apart as one of the most dedicated and talented members of the concert band. True to my type A- all or nothing personality, I soon dedicated myself to two jazz bands and played in the high school marching band as well.

I guess you could say it was my ‘thing’, and I loved shining on that stage.

At Lakeville High- our director LOVED having a thunderous big brass section- so I leapt at the opportunity to march (Big Ten Style) which means you life your knees to parallel and twist your torso from side to side as you march- truly a full body workout- with a 50 pound sousaphone on my shoulders. Clearly– I loved a challenge.

As the years progressed however, something shifted.

My tenacity for being my best was slowly undermined by a creeping self-consciousness and crumbling self-esteem. I began to shy away from solos (where I had formerly jumped at the opportunity to shine) and even declined the invitation to be Drum Major of the marching band- which, to me, at the time was the highest honor.  Drum Majors are basically the leaders of the band- they’re responsible for setting the pace, signaling the formations and different cadences, and keeping everyone in line. I declined under the guise of disinterest- but in reality I was paralyzingly afraid to fail.

Somewhere in my path growing up- I had forgotten that it’s okay to make mistakes, that it’s certainly more than okay to not be perfect all the time, and it’s okay to want to shine.

I had encountered my newest unwanted and steadfast companion: FEAR.

In the A.A. world there’s an acronym for fear:

I wasn’t aware of this ‘false evidence’ however, and ever the rule follower, I decided it was better not to have new experiences and try new things (that way I definitely couldn’t fail), and I slowly crawled into my shell. I had also decided to adopt Abraham Lincoln’s old adage: ‘better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’.. and so began my descent into darkness.

The beauty in reflecting on this part of my life is that I can see how truly suppressed I was and continued to become… and I know now that I every day I have a choice- to be motivated and controlled by fear… or love.

While this may sound extreme- take a moment to examine how fear shows up in your everyday life… whether it be of spiders, making a wrong turn, fumbling your words in an important speech or not waking up to your alarm….
FEAR is everywhere. And for many of us, it is a big enough player in our lives to keep us from being our fully expressed amazingly awesome selves!

Marianne Williamson says:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Next time FEAR shows up for you- examine the evidence. Is your situation life-threatening? Me being the band-geek extraordinaire certainly wasn’t. Does it warrant FEAR? What would it take to stand a little taller and choose to move through that feeling? What would happen if you chose to shine?

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