Sunday, April 26, 2009

Put Yourself Out There

About a month ago I did a presentation of my "Silly Songs for Sight Words" at a reading conference down the road in Asilomar, near Monterey. I have always loved going to this conference, as the grounds are right on the coast, with many of the presentation rooms overlooking the beautiful Pacific ocean. Deer walk by on occasion and raccoons entertain folks at night with their scavenging antics. There's nothing like presenting to teachers who are enjoying the fresh ocean breeze and walks on the beach in between sessions. It's always been a wonderfully uplifting experience!
On the day of this conference, however, I was sick, tired and entirely not in the mood to be up on a Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m., driving an hour, schlepping ( is that even a real word?!) all my presentation stuff to find an audience of 6 people. Yep, that's right! 6 teachers were in my session. Thanks to the economy, and budget cuts, the attendance at the conference was down considerably. I was losing my voice, trying to get pumped up for my session, and thoroughly disheartened that hardly anyone was there. I tried to rev myself up and did the best I could. Although people were polite and participated by singing, offering comments and asking questions, I felt somehow as if I had failed to fulfill my purpose. Perhaps my ego had gotten in the way as I thought, "guess no one finds value in my work or they would have come" I had expected to feel good about my idea to give away my cd instead of charging the usual $15. Not even the usual good will feeling budged my mood. I left the conference, exhausted, thinking, "What a waste of time!"
Just yesterday, I received the attendee evaluations in the mail. The memories of the day flooded back and I hesitated before opening the envelope. Nothing "bad" had happened , but I certainly didn't feel like I had given my best performance. To my surprise, all of the feedback was positive, with gushing comments about how useful and innovative my songs and ideas are. I realized then, that if I had reached and inspired each teacher to try just one song or one activity that engaged a learner in their class.. my effort was definitely worthwhile.
Sometimes it may seem that your uphill efforts are far more laborious than rewarding. Don't lose sight of your overall mission. If you have something to share, put yourself out there! Think of the lives you will touch by being an inspiration.

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