Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone: The Challenge

Since finishing grad school, I have been game for most challenges thrown my way.  In this post, I describe several of these challenges and how they helped shape me into the Girl Scout leader I am today.  Let's start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start...
MOST EMBARRASSING CHALLENGE:  This one involved auditioning for the chorus in a community theater production of THE SOUND OF MUSIC.  My mom and I went to the audition together.  She had been in several plays with this company, and she assured me that individuals wanting to audition for the chorus could audition in a group.  I have always been told I was not blessed with a good singing voice, so knowing my voice would blend in with other voices during the audition was comforting to me.  To my horror, I was asked to sing a solo in front of a room of strangers.  I pleaded they let me sing in a group, but my favor was denied.  I hesitantly approached the front of the room and turned my back to the rest of the group.  When I started singing “Do-Re-Mi,” the Musical Director suddenly stopped me and asked to see my music.  Maybe he was playing in the wrong key?  To his astonishment, my hands were empty.  No music.  I was mortified to learn I had been singing the wrong notes altogether (though not all that surprised--I am sure I sounded more like Miss Piggy than Julie Andrews).  I managed to struggle through the song, but I guess they thought I was teachable.  I made the cut.  To this day, I still have no vocal range, and I change octaves frequently during a song.  However, through this experience I gained confidence to stand in front of our troop (and other adults on several occasions) and teach them to sing our favorite Girl Scout songs.
CRAZIEST CHALLENGE:  This one happened a couple years after being cast in the role as a "sister."  I began strength training at a gym.  One day I decided to interrupt the grunting that was coming from a couple of intimidating guys who were struggling to get into powerlifting shirts.  To get into the shirts, the guys were required to use baby powder.  The shirts then refused to let them put their arms down.  (any Ralphie fans out there?)  I proceeded to ask them a few questions about their lifting routines.  It wasn’t too much later that I began training with them for a powerlifting meet.  After mailing my registration fee, my lifting buddies informed me I would be required to wear a singlet during the competition.  Umm…come again?  This was information that would have been helpful weeks prior when I decided to workout with them.  I chalked it up as part of the experience—another challenge.  Thankfully I was able to borrow a wrestling singlet from the high school where I worked as a Certified Athletic Trainer.  You should have seen the Athletic Director’s face when I made that request!  Never lived that one down.  I competed in two meets that year and managed to set state records in the squat and bench for my age and weight class, helping our team win the meet trophy.  I am extremely proud of this accomplishment. I included this example in this post since synonyms of courageous include "daring," "fearless," "strong," "tenacious," and "tough"--all which are very applicable to powerlifting.  I will also add that through this experience my confidence grew and it definitely helped build character.
MOST HUMBLING CHALLENGE:  This one happened soon after hanging up my singlet and packing away the protein powder.  I had started running.  And no, I wasn't even being chased!  My lifting buddies could not understand this decision to run for exercise since they don't run for more than 10 minutes at a time.  My running partner and I decided to train for a half marathon.  Then we decided if we were going to run 13 miles, we might as well train for the full marathon.  So we did. I never considered myself a runner even when a dear friend pointed out to me that my training run was 18 miles the previous Saturday.  I would say that I run, but I never claimed to be a runner.  I do not have a 26.2 sticker displayed anywhere on my car either.  During training, I developed a little hitch in my giddy-up.  On race day, the injury affected my performance.  I was disappointed with my final chip time.  It was nothing to be proud of, so don’t ask me about it.  However, I was proud to have finished the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.  On that day, I retired from running forever.  Finishing a marathon helped me develop character.  I set a goal for myself, and I worked hard to achieve it despite the obstacles (and hills) I was forced to overcome. 
MOST SATISFYING CHALLENGE:  This one happened the following summer when I found myself in the delivery room, preparing to give birth to our older daughter.  I was induced, and all was going well.  My husband and I watched GLADIATOR on our laptop as the labor progressed.  I was ready to go.  As the hours passed, my doctor became concerned.  He informed us at 6:55pm that he was giving us 20 minutes to deliver or he would have to deliver the baby by C-section.  I felt a quick surge of panic as I realized I had not planned for surgery.  I hadn't read that chapter in the bookI remember asking him if he was challenging me.  My husband warned him, but the doctor put up his hands and said, “Show me what you’ve got.”   Our daughter was born in “record time” at 7:11pm...almost before the doctor was ready to catch her!  Though I tried to be brave throughout the hospital stay, I was nervous about the delivery and being a first-time mom.  This is definitely the most courageous I have ever had to be!  We now have two little girls, and I am happy to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. 
MOST RECENT CHALLENGE:  For the past two years, I have been serving as a leader for our older daughter’s Daisy Girl Scout troop.  We are part of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.  The girls have worked hard to earn their Daisy petals, and the troop will bridge to Brownies this spring.  This fall our younger daughter will be in Kindergarten, so I plan to be a leader for her troop next year as well.  Unlike many other Scout leaders, I knew I wanted to be a Girl Scout leader before I had children.  Many of the leaders I know became leaders because their daughter was interested in Girl Scouts, but no one stepped forward to lead the troop.  In these cases, the leaders often feel overwhelmed because they do not necessarily have time to prepare and plan before meeting the girls they are expected to lead.  I have done hours of research in order to sufficiently educate the troop about the opportunities they have as Girl Scouts.  I decided it may be helpful to other leaders to publish what has worked (and not worked) for us.  I would love to hear your stories as well.  Whether you have made the decision to be a leader, or whether you are still on the fence, I challenge you to step to the edge of your comfort zone.  You just might have a lot of FUN!

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