“Well you’ve got some balls, don’t you?”

I had just finished telling my friend how I’m planning to start a term of teaching Afro-Cuban music in April … just eight days after coming back from a trip to Cuba.

I’ve never really sung Afro-Cuban music before. I’ve certainly never been to Cuba before. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my friend ended up looking at me like I have two heads when I told her that yes, I am going to be teaching something, and no, I don’t know exactly what.


And that’s the magic word. Because while I probably couldn’t stand up and teach a class in Afro-Cuban music right now, I also know two things: I can trust music, and I can trust myself to let it flow.

If you had asked two-years-ago-Marion to plan a whole season of singing based on a type of music she’d never sung before, she would probably be freaking out. And I’m not going to lie, I had a couple of weeks where I kind of doubted myself. Could I really do this? Should I change the theme of the season to something I already know, something safer?

But then I started thinking about Bobby McFerrin.

(As I so often do.)

And I started thinking about the lessons I learned from improv-ing — the gifts of spontaneity, of the sheer universality of music and its space in the core of our existence, and the simple fact that I can always, always, trust the music to come, if I let it.

I’m learning that what looks like living on the edge is much more often an expression of trust.

From improv to yet-to-be-discovered choir seasons, living with that sense of trust in music, in yourself, and in the world, all those “dangerous” things suddenly seem much more like natural next steps to take and less like risks. And you start to realize that the actual risks lie much more in staying inside your comfort zone.

Just imagine, if I talked myself out of teaching this amazing style of music, traded it in for a season of choir standards, how boring would that be? How much fun would I miss out on? How many opportunities for growth and connection and expansion would the members of Sing Portland! miss out on?

Taking the idea to the next level, if I had stuck with the “sensible” path of working in business instead of listening to my heart and taking the “risky” step of becoming a choir director, my life would have been OK, but no more than that. I would have never had the chance to do what I was born to do: sing for a living and help other people remember their own musicality.

Life happens outside your comfort zone.

And the secret to living it without being terrified all the time is to remember the magical word, “yet.”

You don’t know how to do XYZ … yet. You’ve never sung in a choir … yet. You aren’t sure how to take the next steps on that dream job … yet.

But you can figure it out, take the leap, and know with complete confidence that whatever happens, betting on “yet” is always better than experiencing a lifetime of “what if”s and “if only”s?

So let me ask you: what “risky” thing are you putting off? It could be something as big as changing careers, like I did, or as small as switching up your weekly schedule to include a class in that skill you’ve always wanted to learn, but always put off.

Want a group of people who would love to support you — and the joy and expansion that singing brings you — as you chase your “yet”s? Come sing with us! We can’t wait to meet you.