This year I was selected as one of 12 national finalists in a very competitive competition. The competition was in Portland Oregon. Without hesitation, I agreed to compete, and decided to make a family vacation out of it. So while I sang for my future, my family went to the zoo.
I felt like that was a fair trade off; while I sing under high stress situations, they can go observe animals that may or may not be stressed by being in captivity.
The kind of advice I get in my career field sometimes makes me question a lot of things. Many people feel that if you can imagine yourself winning, somewhat like "The Secret" you cannot fail, or be turned down for first prize. Others feel that one must slave away, constantly berating one's self until every single second is perfection. Therefore, perfection will present itself when you sing and of course perfection beats out all of the competition. I tend to think that one must practice until close to perfection and then send the commands and get out of the way, so the artist and inspired human being can emerge through the sound. All these opinions and no real strategy, can sometimes leave someone entering a competition feeling a bit frantic. One is optimistic, one is a realist or perfectionist and mine is a culmination of both(sort of) I have somewhat learned along the way that if I want to perform well I must be very prepared, and also a dreamer...I have never studied this, just come to it from learning in the present moment.
Fascinating right? A mere optimist fails to have the information and facts, and a realist becomes depressed!! But an optimist who takes information and continues to make choices based on data....are a bit happier. Fascinating. By sheer life experience, and perhaps my attention to stay in the present moment, I have been capable of achieving my goals as a mother and singer/teacher. In fact, it is the one thing I stress continually with my private students. To get the information, do the work, remain optimistic, and stay in the PRESENT moment. The present mind has far less to analyze and work through than the one that is constantly pining over the past or worrying about the future.
As a singer, thinking too much about the past clouds judgment and the ability to send the proper commands from the brain...as a mother, it complicates every situation. A simple tantrum becomes a giant one that combines the past three, and suddenly I worry about them breaking the law. It does not serve the mind.
When I have found my moments of "flow" it has always been when I remained optimistic while knowing facts that affect my choices, and STAYING present. Since the NOA competition, (which was a huge moment for me where a room full of teachers stood and screamed and applauded me,) I have received 3 standing ovations. I wish I could say that I remembered any of those performances. In fact I just remember being in sheer bliss and then looking up to see an entire concert hall full of standing people. Moments later, I step into my great reality which is motherhood, or professor or wife, and the present is then about the flow of that awesome moment. (I HAVE MY MOMENTS OF BEING NOT SO GREAT AT THIS)
If my students, or children could take from me one simple thing, it would be the culmination of these three things. Always searching for truth and facts relieves the mind of wrongful optimism, and assures the reality not to be pessimistic.
I don't believe that we can 100% control outcomes. I made the top 5 but did not win...was it that I am too much of a realist? Should I have imagined it happening over and over for months? I am not sure. What I do know, is that I am in control of what dimension I put my conscious mind in. The present moment is far easier to enjoy, and navigate choices and reactions. When I sang for the NOA, I sobbed in the bathroom afterwards because it was a transforming experience. I was in a state of complete flow. What was in my control was easy to access. And that is not very stressful.
Just look at all these faces, you decide if they look stressed? Children are often the greatest teachers of the present moment and their optimistic attitude is often strengthened by knowledge...and so, are animals.
My kids bounced up the stairs after having gone to the zoo and told me all about their experience. They Noticed my present dissapointment and continued to comfort me. Being loved by them made it all okay. The other realization about optimism, and a real awareness, is that I knew the facts going into the competition; my chances of winning were slim, but my ability to do my best and take things up a notch was not slim. The information softened the blow a bit. But nothing comforted me like the sweet serenity of my family.