I was on the phone with my mama about three months ago as I considered auditioning for the local Nutcracker. To give you some context here, I'm an adult, with three young children, and a growing design build business, active in church life, and wife to the wonderful Jon Shiplett who likes to eat and sleep in a clean house. This past year I had been increasing my ballet classes to decrease my stress, gain a healthy body, and for the simple fact that I just love to dance.
I asked her, "Mom, am I silly for doing this?" To which she replied, "No... not silly... maybe just impractical." To which I thought....
Moms are the best at delivering the real deal, and for a moment I questioned if I should be offended, which quickly turned to a welcomed acceptance of the best ever description of the embodiment of my whimsical, optimistic, full-time dreamer personality that was God given the moment my creator thought me up.
Disclaimer: The next little bit of this excursion is a defense for being practically impracticable and the reasons why I highly recommend it to everyone for at least a portion of their lives, if not all of it. HOWEVER, a close examination of life responsibility and a check on millennial entitlement should soon follow any decision to jump on this bandwagon. This isn't gospel, but it is a challenge that could benefit your life and the life of others around you in a big way.
Friend, peer, elder, youth, whoever you are, I have spent the last year of my life fighting fear head on. I have gone beyond my limits to once again ask the question... "what if" and as a result I've never been more terrified, sure of myself, and excited about what has happened because of pursuing the fears that have haunted me and frankly crippled my ability to fully love and serve others.
I started the year with my ritual of writing goals for every category of my life. Here she is....
Some of the things I wrote scared me, some challenged me, but all of them excited me at the possibility of the potential of a new year.
Next up I realized quickly I needed a detailed game plan and a few tools, so I bought this planner, and these books...
Then I made about 100 teeny tiny meaningful decisions every day that pushed me out of my gourd and into frightening uncomfortable situations. I'll explain via narrative to help you get a good example of what this looked and looks like for me this year. I'm still in it.
In my typical weekly ballet class I am about 15 years senior of my fellow dancers. They also take class 5-6 times a week and I'm lucky if I get 3 classes in with our schedule. The main difference is after we part ways, they retreat to social media and homework, and I retreat to loads of laundry, design deadlines, and five mouths to feed, clothe, and snuggle.
In class you are given combinations about 30 seconds to a minute long once performed by your teacher. You learn them quickly and repeat them back with your body for both the chance to improve your technique and catch the eye of your teacher if you're lucky for corrections.
My comfort zone is in the back of the class. Corners, end of the line, and on the edge is where this one likes to be in order to make a quick escape or blend into the background.
This year I started to make a million little decisions to desensitize myself to be ready for a day I might really put myself out there, you know, a day like Nutcracker auditions. I started to occasionally stand in the front. I began to go at least in the middle of the line instead of at the end, and every once in a while I'd take the spot at the barre right by the teacher because nothing scares me more than someone who knows the art I love so much and my far from perfect dancing is just right there being put on display. I'm sweating just thinking about it, but I do it more and more and guess what, it's working.
Funny side story - Jon will text me random things during class which I read on my Apple Watch making sure I don't hide in class because he just knows me, and it has busted me on one or more occasions
At times I have felt tired at the end of a long day and thought, "Am I really going to get this body in some tights, and go dance on my toes for two hours?", but then suited up because if your dude comes home from his 12 hour day to watch your three babies so you can have some "me time" you don't leave that on the table, no you take that to the barre and you dance your heart out. That's what I always say. :)
As auditions got closer I found myself saying to Jon, "I don't know, maybe I just skip it. What if they don't give me a part and then I'm embarrassed, or what if I fall on my face? What if they do give me a part and I am forced to dance in front of a packed house with dear family and friends and THEN I fall on my face?!" Jon the unmovable rock of steadiness would say, "This is your art, you've got this and you're doing it".
Okay, so the day of auditions. I'm pumped. I suit up, pin up the bun, even add the hair net I never have time for on a normal day as I rush out leaving breakfast dishes behind to make it to class. I play my Owl City play list full of songs about being a dreamer, and doing what God's called you to do, and just some songs that offer a good beat to get the nerves out. All the sudden I'm in a room with teenagers doing crunches and thinking like the little train that could...
Then I did.
With only a brief moment of wanting to run out the door, I danced every chance I got, even when it came to a part with fouettés which I only nominally can pull off from time to time, I just kept thinking, time is running out, you don't get this opportunity every day, and if you get a chance to dance, you dance. I also thought, if God didn't want you to have this opportunity, you wouldn't, and here it is, so accept your gift.
The good news, I got the part I wanted, I get to wear a purple tutu, and I get to dance alongside my beautiful daughter in the Nutcracker, and I get to share my favorite art form with all my friends and family. I also conquered some deep fears. Those are all the rewards for being impractical.
This impractical quality shows up ALL over my life. We have three small active children and we've squeezed them in 1,500 sqft townhouse with no basement. We share the space with packages and people's home goods which consume our garage and living room making it even more IMPRACTICAL. But we do it because, well we have to, and we want to live in a way to spend more time with who we love, doing what we love, and people need beautiful homes to share with their friends and family.
Below is a small collage of how this IMPRACTICAL shows up everywhere and how it pays off. I have captions for all but you're tired of this so just call me if you want me to narrate why each of these thumbnails is insane but how each had a major pay off.
I could give you 1,000 impractical ways I go about my life. However, when Jon and I sit and really talk about trading in our weird life where he lives dreams on the edge with the business, we serve in a church that has no end to opportunities to love on others, and then we add in babies and a touch of art on the side, for a 9 to 5 life where we binge on Netflix and never spend all of our Christmas money on IMPRACTICAL mandolins and bikes to ride in Leadville, then we might miss an opportunity.
I believe that this life is not supposed to be comfortable. In comfort we don't grow, at best we plateau. Oh my goodness that rhymes. #mompoet I also believe that you, my reader have something that scares you and something that nags at your heart strings that was meant to share for the good of other people. Imagine if Disney had given up, if the Wright brothers stopped trying, or if Thomas Edison decided to set creating aside for a practical approach to life, one that was easy, predictable, and safe.
Full confession, then I have to end this beast of a blog and bless your heart if you made it this far, but I am not someone who comes by bravery naturally. I've had to watch others who are brave and copy them in movement only because my heart hates when I decide to be brave. I crave safety, back-up plans, and security, but all of those things they belong to our creator and I really believe we miss out if we don't show up.
What do you need to show up for? Leave me a note in the comments about your dreams tugging at you to get out into the world to make it a better place for others. I really can't wait to see what you've got to give. The world needs you to be you to serve and contribute in only a way you can.
All my love,
Hanna Shiplett, Interior Designer @EdenandGrayDesignBuild