Say It!

Here's the quote I like for this week: 

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
Joseph Campbell


How come? Well, first off, Juan and I went to the circus Saturday night.

We sat close to the front, a one-ring theater of acrobatic tumbling, harrowing trapeze catches and palm-sweating tightrope walking of the Flying Wallendas family (without a safety net!). The circus had a live kick-butt band whose rollicking music swept along with the action, each beat perfectly synchronized to every gesture and flip. The only performing animals were a beautiful Arabian and a miniature horse. But the best part, for me, was a terrific tumbling display by the St. Louis Arches, a kids' circus school. 

Those kids were having the time of their lives. It brought out the kid in me watching them. "Inside every adult there's still a child that lingers," said Guy Laliberte, the creator of another circus -- Cirque du Soleil, an extraordinary testament to how an old familiar idea can be vigorously about-faced with creativity and joy. 

Here were kids living out an adventure -- performers in the circus! -- who came from diverse communities across St. Louis.

The second reason I'm saying Yes is because of a little circus story I heard last week about a friend of mine, Patti.

Patti didn't have to run away to the circus because the circus came to her.  Here's the story:

When I first met Patti, it was more than a decade ago and she was applying for a job as a video producer. I was one of the interviewers. Initially, she seemed to be an unlikely candidate. She had no subject-matter expertise in my company's industry, financial services, but had spent several years at non-profits producing videos. I remember the conversation with Patti well because she stood out. Straightforward about her lack of industry knowledge, she was nevertheless, emphatic. She explained how her non-profit work connected with viewers emotionally. "Storytelling is powerful," Patti insisted.

She got the job.

Over the years are paths crossed occasionally. She'd had a daughter when she started work and sometime later added a son to her family. I'd see her storytelling handiwork in training videos and the company's weekly video magazine. That department grew, the years went by, and Patti's reputation as an experienced producer flourished. Like so many of us she juggled family and work and life. We'd catch up now and then at company BBQ's and holiday parties. 

Then one day, four years ago, Patti picks up her 8-year-old son from a tumbling afterschool program when the director pulls her aside. "Do you realize what a natural your son is? Maybe he should take a class?" So now Patti adds driving her son to a circus school to their daily schedule. On the first afternoon she thought she'd just sit and wait for him so climbs to the back of a small set of bleachers and settles in. It isn't 10 minutes before a child climbs up to her. "Do you want to learn to juggle?" Patti thinks to herself, "Tossing a few balls back and forth. I really should know how to do that." She responds,"Well, OK."

She gets one lesson: The basics of three balls. Then she goes home and practices. For two months, throwing, dropping, picking up and tossing again, balls, clubs, rings and eventually, knives. What started out as a question became determination. And after 60 days of trial and error not only was she juggling multiple objects but she'd lost 30 pounds. "I dropped a lot of balls," she laughs. 

Her son is loving the school and he and Patti are regulars. It's another day and a different child approaches,"Do you know how to pop a hula hoop? Get one." "OK," and Patti does it, pulling her body through the hoop. "When trying to learn in the context of play, suddenly you're just doing it," explains Patti. 

Now it's the second year and her son had become good at flying trapeze. He says, "Mom, you should try it."  Age had never been a limit; yet, Patti had never thought of herself as a trapeze artist. At age 51 she takes her first flight on trapeze. "It took me all of one lesson to get the knee hang right," she smiles.

Now she's a trapeze artist. What do trapeze artists do to stay in shape during a typical four-month winter break? (Since circuses are performed outside they avoid winter months.) Take fitness and flexibility classes, of course. So now Patti is doing handstands, balancing on a tightrope and working out with a contortionist. Yes, a contortionist. Patti showed me a photo of being able to put her leg behind her ear. 

All by saying, Yes.

And to an adventure that's not over.

Update to steps on exploring writing a book
Writing 30 minutes/day: Today is Day 92! Ninety-two days in a row. 

Mastermind "Be the Gateway" course:  This class is all about thinking through how to "be the gateway," or build an audience for my book (in my case, even before I have a book, though I've been generating memoir and blog content for a while). Social media channels are a useful way to do this so last week I analyzed each channel and decided Twitter is the best fit. My goal is to align with my mission of sharing stories of perseverance and connection. I'm gearing up to Tweet, Like, Retweet and Reply. I've deliberately decided to experiment where I'm most uncomfortable. I'm saying Yes.

Let me close with another quote but this one from Cirque du Soleil's Guy Laliberte:

Life is full of adventure. There's no such thing as a clear pathway.

May you have a wonderful Yes-filled week.

Say it!