RIGHT WHERE I BELONG: Wendy Colonna on Music, Yoga, Balance and Presence, Feb 2011 Edition, Whole Lifestyle Magazine
I remember as a child feeling comfortable and excited when adults asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I had dozens of answers: I wanted to be a dancer, a scholar, a poet, a teacher, a singer and activist, a theatrical performer, a community leader and more. I remember feeling that they were all absolutely possible. These things not only reflected my heart’s desires, but as a child I was doing many of them. I took dance classes, played piano, sang in the choir, served on student government and took creative writing – I was already living that dream, but I never realized it. The problem was I always thought those dreams were about “what” I wanted to be. It took me many years to realize that my dreams were really about “who” I wanted to be. I didn’t need to be a dancer; I just wanted to be someone who danced. I didn’t need to be a writer; I just wanted to be someone who wrote.
It’s ironic that as a child I was always so eager to tell people what I wanted to be, because now as a grown-up I don’t like telling people “what I do” for a living. “What I do” and “why I do” make perfect sense to me: “I write, perform, tour, run my business, teach yoga, train for half -marathons and continually find opportunities to bring together community. I’ve released five albums, received multiple songwriting awards, have had the honor of hearing well-established singers cover my songs, and published a yoga DVD and workbook.” But I always wonder if other people will think that sounds a little flaky, like a starry-eyed high school girl dreaming all those New Age dreams- they don’t add up to a “what do you do for a living?” But I know that they do add up to a “who do you want to be.” That answer should never be a simple label – we are, each of us, volumes.
So many of the people I look up to, those whose lives have inspired me have always exemplified the who, not the what. They had their labels and titles – peacemakers, authors, activists, inventors, scholars, lawyers, spiritual leaders, scientists, farmers, composers, punk-rockers – but they transcended these descriptions. The entirety of their lives informed who they were. The only reason they were able to do what they did is because of who they were. They strove for a diversified and balanced life because it was that very diversity that strengthened their passions. My yoga practice informs the creativity of my writing. My music informs my activism. My running energizes my performances. Adding pieces to your life does not weaken the whole, it strengthens it.
People sometimes ask how I can balance so many activities – for my musical career I’ve learned to become an entrepreneur, a manager, a booking agent, a strategist, a community leader, a promoter and an administrative powerhouse. I write, perform, travel, run, practice and lead yoga, try to stay involved in my community – but these aren’t burdens I carry – these are pieces of me. They help create the beautiful, dancing chaos of who I strive to be.
What I’ve learned is that goals aren’t points, they’re lines. They have different lengths – sometimes they break off for a while then restart, sometimes they overlap. Sometimes one line is so thick it crowds out all the others, and sometimes they’re so thin that a dozen can flow through my life at the same time.
The tricky thing is finding the balance, and there is no clean, easy way of doing that. I find it important to always be willing to walk away from ANY dream or goal. If it’s truly worth surviving, it will. Trying to force the balance is what gets you in trouble – I don’t look for balance in my life, I try to let the balance find me. Listen to my body, listen to my muse. It’s that simple, but not all that easy. Push without forcing, critique without tearing down, self-analyze without obsessing. And over everything else, I try never to be afraid to shake the Etch-A-Sketch of my priorities and start over fresh. I notice that the truly important things endure and make it right back on the list.
It’s not a question of how you live life with so many dreams and goals pulling at you – it’s a question of how people live without those inspiring passions. I believe in complexity and chaos – we are not reducible. No one is only a “singer” or a “lawyer” or a “mother” – she is a mother, a lover, a yogi, an activist, a musician, an artist…. complexity is not the burden of our age, it is the blessing of our age. It takes its toll on us, but the price is worth the reward.
Official Website: www.wendycolonna.com
Music Video: www.youtube.com/wendycolonna
“Yoga-To-Go” DVD & Workbook Available at: http://www.filmbaby.com/films/3759
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/wendycolonna