I Couldn’t Stop Shaking

I had no idea my violin bow could move like that. And not in a good way.

It was shaking up and down, literally bouncing off my strings as my hands trembled with nerves.

I usually don’t get nervous being up on a stage. At least that’s what I told myself.

But this was a different story altogether.

Here I was, performing for the first time in nearly a decade, and before that it had been decades.

And I was terrified.

Part of a band.

Who knew?

Who knew the shy orchestra participant with the long black skirt and the perfectly pressed white blouse who played in church choirs and orchestras at age 12 in New Jersey would be fiddling at Sweetwater in California?

The invitation came as I was laying in bed with the flu, overwhelmed by the banging in my head and the aches in my body.

No, no, no.

The answer was clear as day.

I didn’t have time.

Everything in my being wanted not to do this, not to be exposed, not to be seen, not to have one more thing to worry about at a moment when I was too sick to check my email, let alone open my violin case.

And although I later changed my answer, amidst plenty of bargaining, grumbling and stipulations like, “only if I just play whole notes in the background and don’t have to practice,” the truth is, I had been right.

I didn’t have time.

Less dishes got done.

I was late more often.

Things slipped through the cracks.

But somehow the more time I made, the easier it became.

We ended up performing not just once but twice.

Playing not just one song, but six songs. Each time.

I wasn’t very good, a beginner again. But after that first song, at least my bow stopped bouncing and remembered what it had come to do.

Finding Time to Do What You Love

We called our band Catalyst.

Because somehow we all knew it wasn’t about the band.

One risk.

One moment of trembling.

One moment of being seen and living to tell about it.

Could be just the thing to trigger a chain reaction.

And it did.

Little things in our lives started to change.

I started doing other things I had always wanted to do, but had been putting off until everything was “right.”

Still nothing was “right,” except for time, which was right now.

We bought a boat even though it wasn’t in the budget.

We got a puppy even though she barks too much.

I started to write again.

Even though I had no time for that either.

I started worrying less about getting things done perfectly, and just getting things done.


Who knows?

Opportunities lurch life forward and back again, like riding a stick shift car uphill when you really have no idea how.

A puzzle piece that fits in nowhere.

An invitation that was more a bother than a blessing.

And yet once received, revealed a well of potential that yearned to be exposed, revealed, dipped into and smeared all over her life in dribs and drabs, messes and spills.

The girl was not done yet, though she had just turned 50 and “should” be thinking more about retirement than new beginnings.

We just never know where one creative risk is going to take us when we have the courage, the boldness to be vulnerable, to allow even one other person to see our trembling.

When they do, perhaps they will see our trembling as their own, a magical catalyst to say yes to the inconvenient invitations and their own unique gift calling their name.

And so they stay for one more song.

How To Find Creative Flow

If you’re interested in doing things you love, taking creative risks, overcoming perfectionism and achieving creative flow, I’d love to have your company on my 28-Day Challenge.

All you have to do is join me in doing an activity that puts you in your creative zone or creative state of flow for 5-10 minutes a day!

The best part about the challenge is the focus is on your creative flow process, not on the product you create. In other words, we get to be messy, imperfect, go with the flow and just have fun.

The more we allow ourselves to be imperfect, and enter beginner’s mind and make mistakes, the more we will grow creatively, and the higher the chance that we will connect with our unique gift, our true self, and rediscover what we really love to do.

Not sure what you might want to do on the challenge? If you are asking, “What do I really love to do?” check out this list of 20 questions to help you brainstorm your life passion, and do what you love.

With all of the changes in the world, many of us are finding now is the perfect time to return to our creative passions and dreams.

Copyright © 2020, Laurie Smith, All rights reserved. Photo credit: Sutthimon Ounnapiruk/Shutterstock

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