Life lessons learned on a trip to the circus

Dare Greatly
For years, I wanted to run away and join the circus…
to swing high from the trapeze or ride bareback in a glittering, sequin-embellished leotard and live my life on the road. I am sure many of you reading this had a similar dream; many girls do; some even live that dream.

As a child, Nell Gifford’s life revolved around ponies and dressing up. When her mother was left brain damaged following a riding accident, Oxford-educated Nell ran away to the circus. In 2000, she set up her very own circus with her husband Toti. You can read the story of their magical Giffords Circus right here. Costumes are handmade; they train their own animals; paint the sets in the barn on their farm… one dream, many roles.

On Saturday, my love and I took my boys to The Netherlands National Circus in Ascot. The first act was a bouncing tightrope walker whose carefully choreographed jumps, performed ten feet off the ground, were not always a success. He fell (on his feet) on a couple of occasions and I was reminded, as I watched him, of the importance of getting back up and carrying on again after a fall or a loss. Yosvanny Rodrigues did so with grace and a smile, going on to wow the crowds and win their applause. I felt for him each time he jumped back up onto his rope to try again. I remembered courses I had run, hoping for a big group of participants, but had run with just one or two taking part. I was reminded of plans I had cancelled due to the weather or the ill health of a child. Breathe a sigh; take a breath; carry on. I clapped our performer with greater gusto than I may have had he succeeded first time.

Circus in the UK these days is very different from the childhood circus of my memories. I recall watching performing budgies at Blackpool Tower Circus; wild cats in the ring; a certain mystery and glamour that few travelling circuses these days retain… or perhaps it is simply that I no longer view them through a child’s eyes. My sense of humour however, has little changed. On Saturday, it was a combination of aerial skills and comedy genius that made me laugh out loud. On returning home, I read a little about the performers online and learned that Alex the Fireman’s comical routine took no less than two years of planning, training and developing before he finally performed in front of an audience. He became so frustrated that he almost gave up three times. But perseverance wins hands down. You have to show up and commit if you want to live your dream.

During the interval, performers stepped into different roles: candifloss was whipped onto sticks, hot dogs were served and raffle tickets sold. We play many roles in life and in living our dreams the story is no different… are you up for the challenge?

Dreams, once lived, are not always what we think they will be. But we only get to find out if we keep working towards them and if we don’t then they remain just dreams. It takes one simple step to commit and when we do, we so often find that the Universe steps in to help us on our way. Sure, we may stumble or fall, but those dreams, when we move towards them, may even turn out to be better than we imagined they could be!

On July 5, I will be supporting Diane Leigh in running the Dream Seed Magic Dream Team Experience Workshop at a gorgeous, colourful, inspiring venue near London Bridge. All those who attend will not only define and share their dream, but take the first step towards living that dream. You will benefit from Diane’s experience, my support and that of your fellow dream-followers who are also very likely to become your live-your-dream-cheer-leaders.

It was in Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly, that I first read the following words from a speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave in 1910. In it, Roosevelt said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Are you ready to dare greatly? If so, there’s an early bird special on the workshop when you sign up right away.

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