I’m doing a 30-Day writing challenge and today we were asked to write about something that not many people know about us. I started thinking, well, I’m pretty much an open book. My words are from my heart and I share a lot of my life and my heart and soul through the words I write.
But…there is this one thing you don’t know. And, as I reflected on this thing, I began to wonder why I hadn’t shared it previously. And the simple fact is, I didn’t realize the degree to which this thing had formed me into the person I am today and the values I hold strong. As I began to really think about this thing, I realized my sense of community, of friendship, of supporting one another…it doesn’t come from being a woman, a sister, a daughter, a Mom (although they all play a part, of course). My complete and all-encompassing desire to build community comes from my experience growing up as a…
…member of a marching band.
The Edmonton Crusaders, to be exact.
I began my time in the marching band when I was 11. Both of my brothers were in the band (one was in percussion, one played the trumpet) and I wasn’t allowed to join because I was only 11. However, another girl had to quit the band and it left a spot open, last minute, in the colorguard. Because my brothers were in and my parents were involved, I was asked to step in, learn the routines and fill the spot. Oh yeah, party people, I flung that flag and marched around that field like nobody’s business.
That summer we traveled all over Europe on tour. The concept of community (though I didn’t know it at the time) was introduced to me that summer and I’ve been living and breathing it ever since.
What did being in a marching band really teach me? Well, aside from reading and playing music (I eventually left the colorguard and learned to play the alto saxophone and the flute…you didn’t know that either, did you?!), I learned teamwork. I learned how to be a good friend and how to not be a good friend. I learned how to win gracefully and lose with dignity. I learned the importance of timing. I learned what it felt like to have pride. I learned what it felt like to work hard at something and achieve. I learned that it was okay to be silly and quirky, that there’s a place for everyone in this world.
Most importantly, I learned about community. While I was in the marching band (I believe I was in for about 6 years) we traveled throughout Canada and internationally. We went to Europe, to California, to Chicago and across the Canadian prairies. And, when you travel with 70 other people, you become friends, family…community. You learn how important communication is and that to get over homesickness or fights with your friend you need to love and support one another. You rely heavily on one another. The marching band community taught me that you need to have fun every single day you’re together because there were rough days and hard days on tour and the community…well…they pulled you through.
Community was strong with the Edmonton Crusaders. We relied on one another. Both on and off the field. If someone didn’t hit their mark during drill, it screwed us all up. It was funny, yes, and we all giggled out there (much to our instructor’s dismay), but I learned the importance of relying on others on those fields. And when we traveled and toured I learned to lean on my friends, on my community. I learned that the people that surround you in your community will have hard days and they are going to need you to lift them up. If you do that for them, they’ll do that for you. That, my friends, is exactly what community is.
I learned the value of communication with the band. You don’t communicate, you get left behind (literally and figuratively). To get over sadness and nerves, you need the love and support of your friends, of your community. You rely heavily and lean fully on one another. I also learned that in order to have a strong community, FUN, must be a major player. You must have fun every single day if you want your community to be strong. Me…I love having fun.
As I reflect back on my days in the marching band, I do have to say they are some of my most favorite memories. My entire family was involved for years and I basically grew up marching around that field swinging flags, dancing or playing music. But, most importantly, and truly, the core of who I am, my complete and utter belief in community…it comes from band. I am who I am and Hot Mama is Hot Mama because of the years I spent with all those crazy band fools marching, doing drill, making music and practice, practice, practicing.
So, I am grateful for this challenge. I am so pleased to finally reflect and discover where this desire to build a safe place for women to go to be themselves and not be judged comes from. I am thrilled to finally know that my desire to build community comes from a place of insight and knowledge, that it’s not because I’m trying to fill a hole in my life; it’s from a place of trying to introduce you all to what community can feel like. I know what it’s like to be a part of an amazing and supportive community. It is from being a band geek. 100%. Go Crusaders!