The show had a big job on it's hands. I wasn't in the most inspired mood (I had been travelling internationally with my two year old, and I was jet lagged and exhausted). I also arrived late with my extended family (including four kids between the ages of 15 months to five years old - one of whom had princess slippers that lit up every time she moved). It goes without saying that I was not the ideal audience member when I walked in.
Despite these extenuating circumstances, tears sprung to my eyes within the first five minutes of sitting down. Seeing Cavalia Odysseo was a beautiful gift.
If you're not aware, Cavalia (created by one of Cirque du Soleil's founders) incorporates the amazing feats of its human artists with the athleticism of beautiful horses (which are a huge passion of mine). What they managed to achieve with the show was stunning- it was a true feat of training, trust, dedication and magic created through art. It inspired me in a way that felt like an awakening. Here was a group of people so committed to their vision and creativity that they created something truly transcendent.
Of course an undertaking of this nature comes with incredible risk (as most worthwhile things do). There were a few moments in the show where a horse spooked or a vaulting stunt went a bit wrong (a man swinging under the belly of a galloping horse lost his grip but fortunately regained it). When these things happened, you could see a flash of fear or shock pass over the performers' faces, but immediately they accepted it and moved through it. Only by this calm acceptance could they regain their composure and reassure the horse (and themselves) that it would be ok to continue and not panic.
Witnessing such a masterpiece reminded me that human beings, when focused, dedicated and courageous, can create breathtaking, life changing magic. It made me want to live bigger; to create, unfettered and bold (that energy is now being poured into Heroines, of course).
It also made me think - many of the women I know are incredibly talented, and have huge lights to share with the world - but they often stay stuck on the treadmill of life, their lights firmly shuttered. What is it that you want to create?
Turn your toes toward it
Whatever the thing that is tugging at your heart - whatever song your soul wants to sing - 'turn your toes toward it' (thanks Donald Miller for that term). What's the tiniest move toward that great thing you want to see come into fruition? What's the first muscle twitch in the journey of 10,000 steps? Do that one thing. Then do the next. Sometimes this is the only way we can overcome the fear of trying something new, the fear of being out of our comfort zones - ultimately the fear of failing. For me it was just talking about an idea to a brilliant, amazing friend. Below are a few amazing, inspirational women who and their 'turning toes' moments.
Women reminding us what is possible (and the first steps they took)
Parris and her family decided she would leave school when she was 16 to focus on her dancing. I was acquainted with her and her family at the time, and have followed her career ever since, so her story is especially meaningful to me. It was a bold move and one that really paid off due to her diligence and faith in herself (and her parent's faith in her). She has worked with Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Nicki Minaj, and many other notable artists. She was nominated for three MTV Video Music Awards this year, appeared in movies, and has just released her own music as well. She reminds us what hard work, courage and honoring yourself can do. Watch some of her videos- two hours will go by and you won't notice (and you'll find yourself wanting to get up and dance, too). Here is a clip of Parris and her crew performing their winning performance at the World Hip Hop Championships last year (you'll know her by how loud the crowd screams each time she appears).
Her first step: signing up for a hip hop class when she was 10.
Daughter of a laundrywoman and market stall holder, she grew up in very frugal circumstances. She became one of the most influential fashion designers of all time, but only after being a club singer and waitress.
Her first step: after learning to sew at school, she designed hats as a hobby.
Aung Sang Suu Kyi
After 15 years of house arrest for her pre-democracy campaigning, Suu Kyi was released in 2010 after an international campaign to set her free. She was awarded the Nobel Peace price for her non-violent political efforts, and in the ceremony it was said that "Suu Kyi's struggle is one of the most extraordinary examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades.".
Her first step: Returning to Burma to tend to her ailing mother, she saw the atrocities happening there, leading to her becoming involved in politics.
I am not unique in my adoration of Oprah. I don't have to tell you how much she's achieved, (broke myriads of glass ceilings, is a millionaire, a generous philanthropist, inspiration to all etc.) but remember, she was born to a poor single mother in Mississippi.
Her first step: speaking in church
We all know and adore J.K.'s work and her own story. She saw herself as a failure when she found herself divorced, jobless and with a dependent child. She was clinically depressed and contemplated suicide. (Her depression inspired the Dementor characters in her books, interestingly). She overcame poverty by writing her famous Harry Potter series - and was a multimillionaire in five years.
Her first step: taking her baby on walks so she would fall asleep, then she would write in a cafe, stroller by her side.
Sometimes we need something as grand as Cavalia to wake us up and remind us to play big. Other times all it takes is something as small as a kind word from a friend, or seeing your young child master a new skill. And in the end, who cares if you fail? At least you get to try. What a privilege we all have - to share our light. Please take advantage of that privilege. We need to see you shine.
I want to have a conversation - what is your Cavalia? What inspires you, and what are you inspired to do? How can you play bigger? Please tell us in the comments.