I grew up with parents who dreamed.
They were in MLMs, they attended Amway rallies (I had a little shirt that said, "Go Diamond!"), and they always taught me to "think positive!"
I remember seeing little slips of paper in their bathroom drawer with lists of dreams they wanted to achieve (way before having a Bucket List was a thing).
My dad was in sales and I saw the ups and the downs and the feast and the famine of living on straight commission.
My mom produced amazing theatre shows with kids at church and in our private school. She started with a single script and ended with an amazing production-- filling the auditorium with singing, dancing, and drama. Sets and costumes and props. Solos and microphones and backdrops and volunteers in the wings. My dad would fly in from work (he never walks--sort of always runs/glides everywhere, while singing, of course) and help with the finishing touches.
Growing up, I knew my parents were amazing, and yet I didn't. They were just my parents. It was normal to all sing around the piano. It was normal to fall asleep to the two of them practicing for the worship set on a Saturday night. Alphabetizing and filing music on a Sunday afternoon (while watching Little House on the Prairie) was a regular part of our routine. It was normal to see my parents sing duets in church on Easter Sunday.
When I moved to a new community and started raising my kids, I knew I wanted to share my parents with my friends. I also knew my kids had to grow up with the opportunity to be in my mom's incredible theatre shows. I was already growing my music school, so I told them, "I'll handle the billing and scheduling and marketing. You do theatre." And we did. And it was wildly successful. It was a felt need and we filled it.
(Both companies have grown so much that we are completely separate entities now, but we still cross-market and share students.)
Nine years later, those same kids that signed up for the preschool class are almost 13 years old, and headed to the big stage with the older kids next fall. I watched the lead characters of Sleeping Beauty this weekend, and remembered them in our preschool class, Musikgarten, singing and dancing around waving little colorful scarves. Many of the kids now take lessons at my studio and do theatre, too. Some of us go to the same church. As I wiped away a tear, my daughter asked me why I was crying. I simply said, "I love these kids."
Sometimes I worry that I should focus more on my kids. When I'm rolling out a new project or launch, I know I'm working more than usual. And then I realize I'm modeling real life for them. I'm showing them how to take a dream and make it a reality. I realize my parents did the same thing for me. They showed me that God wired each of us with gifts and abilities. It's our responsibility to use those gifts. And bless others. And make a difference in our community.
My mom always comes on stage, welcomes the audience, and introduces the show. As she walked on stage this weekend, my heart welled with pride. I've watched her do this since I was a little girl. It's what she does. She's amazing at pulling the best talent out of every child. She takes a dream and makes it a reality (after hours and hours of sweat and tears and planning and preparation). I love sharing my mom with students and families and audiences and auditoriums, but she is MY mom. She's mine. And I'm so very proud of her.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.
Thank you for showing me how to chase my dreams.
When I was in high school, a petition was circling the school. We were outraged about something (I don't remember what, of course) and I'll never forget the principal's response. He wasn't mad. He was calm. But he gathered the high school together and he said: "Protests and petitions won't get you anywhere. Sure, it feels like you're doing something, but the best way to make change is not to sign your name on a paper. It's to stand up and do something. Have that hard conversation. Go directly to the person that has wronged you, and talk to them."
I've never forgotten those words.
The best way to make change is to stand up and do something.
I don't want to be whiner or a complainer. I don't want to be a protester or a petition-signer. I want to get up out of my chair, stand up, and make the small change that I can make.
I remember another day in high school. We were all loudly talking and moving as a herd from the cafeteria through the hallway to our next class. A bulky hand-painted banner had fallen from the concrete block walls and was now being trampled by the entire student body. We didn't even care. We just kept following the crowd. That day, my principal's face was red and angry. He stopped us right there in the hallway. "Didn't you guys see this?? How can you all keep walking and trampling over this poster??" We were dumbfounded. We really didn't see it. And if we did, we simply didn't care. We had our own agenda and our own interests in mind. We kept following the person in front of us, without a thought of the artwork that we were destroying under our feet.
Red-faced, the principal said, "All it takes is ONE person. One person to stop and move the poster so it won't get trampled."
I've never forgotten that, either. I have the power to get out of the crowd, take another look and do something. I can speak up, I can grab what is being trampled and I can get it out of harm’s way.
You don't have to march and protest and sign the petition. Sure, it feels good to be part of the crowd. Something bigger than yourself. But the biggest impact of all comes when just you--just one person--takes a stand and starts that hard conversation. Confronts injustice. Picks up that which is being trampled.
Acting bravely on your own is the most powerful action you can take.
My favorite quote says: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
Imagine the impact if we each did just that.
This morning I was up early, enjoying my quiet solitude (halleljuah!), my coffee, and my book.
For the umpteenth time, I looked up and out of my picture window and thought to myself, "I hate this view. I miss the country. I miss all the trees." I sighed and went back to my book. My thoughts started wandering and I even started thinking about moving houses again. Then I reprimanded myself: "You just moved, silly girl. It's just one view out of one window and you only spend one hour here every day!" I pushed down my thoughts and changed course. Started looking at it from another angle. "My morning time matters. This is where I gather my thoughts and assess where my life is going. This view matters! If it's distracting to see 5 other houses, and I would prefer to see trees, doggonit, I should make a change!"
I stood up, grabbed my overstuffed recliner, and started shoving it to the other side of the room.
I took action and changed my view. On the other side of the room, I can see three trees, a lovely bench, and my kids' swing. Much better. So why didn't I move the chair sooner?
Here were my excuses:
1. I am always changing things. (I should just be content.)
2. My family will roll their eyes and maybe even complain that they liked it the old way. (People will think I'm crazy.)
3. People who visit my house will think the room was more balanced with the chair in the other corner. (I'll feel judged by their opinions.)
I have to tell you, I have a history of moving furniture. Often. When we were first married, Chris would walk in the door and I would say, "Don't be mad. I moved the furniture again." He likes things steady and predictable while I'm happiest when I'm creating, inventing, and coming up with new ideas.
Even as a little girl, I would rearrange the furniture in my bedroom. My dad would come home and say "You should have waited for me!" Nope. When I get an idea, I need to take action. Now.
I've been accused of loving to move furniture because I have control issues. And while I admit that shoving a huge piece of furniture across hardwood floors is quite satisfying, it's not about control as much as having a functional space. If something isn't working, I'd rather change it than complain about it. My parents were in networking marketing when I was a little girl, and I grew up hearing "Be positive!" I love being optimistic and looking on the bright side of things. If I find myself frustrated with a situation or a scenario, I would much rather brainstorm a solution and just CHANGE it than complain about it.
My problem is that I love people, too. And when the people in my life jokingly (or seriously) start nagging me because I'm "always" changing things or "always" moving furniture or always moving houses, I start to slink down. I better sit still. I better try to be more calm and steady. I should stop the stream of ideas in my head and just be grateful where I am.
Yes, being content is so important! But if you have the power to make a change and you can make things better in your house, your business, or your family, DO IT! Who cares if people think you are crazy?! YOU were made exactly the way you are because God made you this way! You are wired for innovation and ideas and positive change. People like you and me were sent to the planet to look at things in a different way and say, "Huh. If I move this chair, my view will be so much better! I'll enjoy my mornings so much more! I'm going to do it!" So what if people grumble a bit? They will get over it quickly. And YOUR view will be better forever.
My 9 year old saw me shoving the heavy armoire a few inches to make room for my chair, and said, "Shouldn't you wait for one of the boys to move that?" Oh honey. If you only knew how many times I've moved heavy furniture. I'm fine. I'm just fine.
I plopped down in my chair and got a huge grin on my face. THAT view is much better! Fewer houses, more trees. I can't wait until the leaves pop out in the spring! Green grass, we need you!
I grabbed my book and my coffee and sighed contentedly. Who knew such a small change could make such a huge difference?
(What do you need to change? What do you need to move around, both literally and figuratively? Make that change. Ignore the nay-sayers. Listen to your intuition. Make the change. I'm cheering you on.)
About the Author
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!