Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear Girls: Do Something That Scares You

Dear Tala and Diana,

There are just three more sleeps until I leave for the George Na'ope Hula Festival in Sacramento. I'm really going to miss you two and Daddy. I'm sure you will all have a lot of fun playing video and board games, going to the park, and maybe even geocaching. I'm feeling excited to go to competition, but there's something else that I'm feeling. 

I am scared. That's right: even grownups like Mama and Daddy get scared sometimes.

I am scared because I have never done anything quite like this before. I have never entered a contest of physical skill and athleticism. I have never considered myself an athlete; the only team sport I ever played was badminton. Yup, I was on the badminton team in high school. Our only victory was won when the other team failed to show up. You are too young right now to realize why that might be funny, but all you need to know is that I have never before had the discipline, drive, or focus of an athlete. Yet here I am, about to dance in a hula competition with my sisters. 

I have never pushed my body this hard. I only run when we're playing tag or racing each other. I only ride my bike once a year on July 4th when we all go to the downtown park for fireworks. I only jump to reach the monkey bars at the playground. I only swim far enough to catch you two in the pool or the lake. I only do push ups when Daddy dares me.

Then I signed up for the competition team, and everything changed. You know that I have gone to hula classes three times a week, and then additional practice either solo or with my hula sisters up to four times a week. You also know that since January I've been waking up nearly every morning at 6:00 AM to do yoga and strength exercises. But you don't know that I have also spent hours practicing corrected "problem" moves over and over to get as close to perfect as possible. 

It sounds like I've prepared well, right? This is kindof like when you prepare for a test or a music performance or saying the pledge at assembly. You just practice over and over until you get it right. But I'm still scared. 

I am scared that I will turn my ankle going up the stage steps or fall off the stage during rehearsal, then all the work I did to make my body stronger will be for nothing. I am scared that I will get up on stage and blank out, forgetting the steps like I did when I danced solo in front of my kumu. I am scared that even after all the work I did, I will forget all my corrections and look like I haven't been working as hard as I have. I am scared that I will let my hula sisters, my kumu, my halau, and myself down. 

So why did I join the competition team? If I'm so scared that all these bad things might happen, why am I doing this? If I've never done this before, why am I even trying? If there are so many scary things in the world, why am I encouraging you to face some of them?

My darling girls, Daddy and I want to protect you like most parents want to protect their children. We generally don't want you to feel scared, especially if it's because of something that you can't control, like loud thunder or zombies. But we also want you to learn how to manage your own way in this world, and that includes figuring out how to move past feeling scared. It includes daring to do something you have never done, becoming someone you never thought you could be, reaching higher and further and deeper than you ever have so you can learn and change and grow.

I joined the competition team to challenge myself. I know that I am already able to do a lot of things well, but I want to keep growing, changing, and learning. I have always preferred dancing kahiko, as I am more of a "power" dancer than a graceful one, and the ancient hula has more brisk and sudden movements. Well, for competition, the makuahine team is dancing 'auana, a more modern hula, which has really soft, flowing movements. So I've had to work harder to train myself to dance more gracefully. 

Yes, I am scared that competition will not go exactly as I would like. But there are three things helping me to move past it. First, I know I have the love and support of Daddy, you two, our other family members, our friends, and my hula sisters. I am so thankful that you all are in my corner rooting for me and that helps me try my best no matter how scared I am. 

Second, I know that I have worked hard to prepare for competition, and I will dance my heart out for all the people who are rooting for me, and for myself. It has not been easy, and I have often felt frustrated or tired, but I keep going because I said I would do this. I made a promise and I intend to keep it.

Third, and most important, I know that I am strong enough and brave enough to do things that scare me. I have done lots of things that scared me, including giving birth to each of you by (mostly) natural means. I know that I can trust myself to figure out when things get too scary, dangerous, or hurtful and I can't (or shouldn't) go on. But if I don't push myself to do something I've never done before, then I will never know that I could. 

So I challenge you in the same way I challenge myself: Do something that scares you. Trust that you are strong enough and brave enough. It can be something small, like when Tala asked the counter lady at Trader Joe's for another lollipop because her first one fell on the floor. It can be something big, like when Diana danced with her keiki hula sisters in front of 400 people during our halau's big ho'ike show last year. Both of those things were scary for both of you, in different ways, but you moved past feeling scared and you did it! Woohoo!

As I make my last preparations to leave for Sacramento, I keep thinking back to this lyric from Sarah McLachlan's "Fumbling Toward Ecstasy", and I believe it's a good reminder to trust myself and keep going, growing, glowing.

"All the fear has left me now / I'm not frightened anymore / It's my heart that pounds beneath my flesh / it's my mouth that pushes out this breath / And if I shed a tear I won't cage it / I won't fear love / And if I feel a rage I won't deny it / I won't fear love"

Three more sleeps. Imua*!


Hula Halau O' Leihuluonalani Sacramento 2014 Competition Team

*"Imua!" means "Forward!" in Hawaiian.
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