January 28, 2011

Sing Out, Clara.

Clara walked onto the stage and took the microphone in hand. She glanced at her first grade teacher in the wings. The mike clunked, and scratched as it brushed up against her purple, pleated skirt.

“Smile” chirped her teacher and gestured for her to hold the mike to her mouth.

The pianist played the intro to Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Getting To Know You”, but Clara’s vocal cue was met with silence. The lyrics escaped her. She stood motionless.

Seven hundred students, teachers and parents filled the gymnasium. There was no snickering, eye rolling, or elbowing from her fellow students. They supported her with smiles and unwavering attention.

Her teacher came onstage. She got on one knee and put her arm around Clara. “Would you like to try it again next week?” Clara stood in the spotlight, white knuckles wrapped around the microphone and nodded.

Then, as if on cue, the student body yelled out “THAT’S O-KAY” and cheered for little Clara.

My son sat criss-cross on the floor clapping and looking around the room. He was learning, thanks to Clara, about success and the balance needed to realize it.

I overheard Clara’s teacher talking to her backstage. “It’s okay.” she said. “When we love to do something we have to stick with it and keep trying. You have a beautiful singing voice that’s for sure. Now we also know that you need to practice a little more before getting out there. See? Today wasn’t a failure. Today we learned how to be the best we can be. How great is that?” Clara smiled and hugged her.

Watching Clara made me think about the meaning of accomplishment on the mat and off. Too often we equate the merits of our work with a tangible outcome; money, praise, achieving a difficult asana or in the case of cyber-blogging, hits.

The struggle to keep a goal balanced with an intention can be challenging, but Yoga’s Niyamas and other basic principles are a powerful resource.

Collaborating with your Sangha (community) and asking for support is empowering. It takes humility to ask for help and you cannot underestimate what can be learned from others.

My husband taught me the rules of writing and more importantly how to think about writing. He says, “Don’t miss an opportunity to do what only writing can do.” He and my friend Elizabeth edit and give valued opinions.

Elizabeth knows a lot about search engines and how it all works so I ask her for help with every piece and then send her chocolates. I take another friend to dinner and recruit her to post for me for an hour the next day.

Other friends support me with social media, emails, and inspiring comments. My husband and son are my source of inspiration. I write about the many yogic experiences I have as a mother and each story is a lesson in Svadhyaya (self study)

A Sankalpa is an intention or prayer and is meant to lead us to our spiritual purpose, one that benefits all.

Salkalpa broadens perspective, takes us out of thinking small and cultivates faith. It opens the heart and mind to greater possibilities while non-attachment is practiced.

I send each piece off with an intention, which has less to do with “clicks” and is infused with the desire to leave something behind for my son. It is my wish that one day he will look back and understand the depths of his parent’s commitment and love for him. If in the process I get a high readership then naturally, I feel excited and proud but I endeavor not to become attached to the outcome.

Do The Work and Then Surrender.

I spend about 25 hours getting each piece out. Writing it is only half the work. I comb the Internet for anything remotely related to what I have written. I find every webpage that has something to do with, parenting, schools, yoga, spirituality, empathy, and children. I contact radio stations, schools, fellow authors and yoga teachers.

Facebook, twitter, and Google are my constant companions for two days. Then I practice Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender) and trust that it will reach those that it is meant to.

Clara got back up on the stage the following week. Her teacher walked her out, handed her the microphone and kissed her on the top of her head. Clara looked out at her fellow students, opened her mouth and sang right on key. The entire school jumped to their feet and gave that seven year old her first standing ovation.

When I lived in New York and was a performer, I believed that inspiration and talent were the only requirements for success. I dismissed my failures as someone else’s lack of awareness or imagination. I understand more clearly now the meaning of Tapas (self-discipline) and I apply it to my writing and my yoga practice.

Clara’s teacher is showing her, at seven years old, something I didn’t understand until I was forty; you must find your passion, share it with your friends and family, who will always be your most fervent collaborators, do your work, face your fears, understand your intentions, and sing out!

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Read Marylee’s other pieces:  The Princess Of Garbage DayWhere Sleigh Bells Ring, Letter From A Bully, Kids These Days,  and I Hate Handstands.

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