Trick or Treat Yourself

terror & delight

it starts with halloween…

Where did the concept of trick or treating come from? My husband and I were talking about this weird tradition and I decided it was like the purge for children. All the other 364 days of the year, children are instructed to not take candy from strangers, don’t go up to people’s houses and avoid wandering the streets at night. Those rules go out the window on October 31st. We run wildly into the darkness and up to the scariest of homes to earn our share of the prized sugar rush. Anything goes on Halloween.

Do I sound Grinchy (Or would it be Jack Skellington-ly?)? I do love Halloween, let that be known. Above all, I love breaking down the concept that If you are brave enough, you could receive a treat (something you would be stoked about), and/or you could receive a trick (something that would totally suck). You are going into the dark though, blindly approaching and hoping for the best behind your mask of bravery. (This touches on the topic for the inspirational speech I deliver at the KeeHart Marketing Anni-birth-ary …click here to read/watch!)

Rodeo clowns laugh in the face of angry bulls… They are some of the bravest of our kind! Which is why my brother and I chose this for Halloween circa 1996

On this one special day, you get to  suit up with your alter ego, in whatever way makes you feel the most brave and courageous. After that, you must conquer the endless spider webs, haunting sounds of blood curdling screams in the distance and the yard of “dead bodies” that are mostly fake but you know there is probably a person in there who’s  totally going to hop up and chase you when you walk past. You see the signs that say Enter if you dare!!! And we always (mostly) dared.

we learn the system…

Because back in those days, success meant a full bag of candy, bro, and we aren’t passing up any chances to fill ‘er up! We were conditioned early to believe in the hustle: to play the part, beat the scary odds of the wild world, come home with currency in our pockets and use that currency to create happy chemical releases in our brain (either thru consumption or bartering for better). Those were the good old days all right, when 2 mini twix equaled one fun size snickers (If all you’re working with is 3 muskateers: let it be known that we have no deal).

cup o jo is brilliant for this…and has more to say about the current trading rates here

Sadly, over time we are told that we’re too old to dress up. So we lose our armor. We give up our chance to be someone else for a day. And it’s just us. And the stakes are higher all of the sudden. It’s not just one day a year we are expected to keep up that aforementioned hustle…it is every day. We realize there isn’t always a treat and sometimes it just feels like a trick. Over time we get scared to take the chance…we convince ourselves that the potential terror would be worth the potential delight. As a result, we don’t try. We stay safe.

you can’t have one without the other

you are not alone in feeling alone

This theme worked its way into my Yoga Playshop this October. The title was the very vague and ever so inviting: Try Something Scary. Anyway, I had a few tricks up my sleeve for this Playshop, but the first was to probe the fear of introducing yourself to a group of strangers. I asked the yogis to tell us something they consider a treat (something they are delighted by) and a trick ( something they are afraid of). I revealed that one of my favorite things to do is sing in a group of people. And that one of my biggest fears is singing in front of a group of people.

They went on to share, which was very comforting. Apparently I am not alone in the fear of singing, which I suppose I could have guessed. We discussed how we love to sing in the car, but worry someone will see us singing. We are worried someone driving by, who wouldn’t even be able to hear whether we were opera status or tone deaf, is going to see us and judge us. WTF?! We have been so conditioned to worry what others will think of our performance, of our perfection, that we are afraid to even look like we think we have the right to sing.

next time you’re singing in the car, imagine these guys are in there with you!

This is absurd! We are not only afraid to sing, but we are afraid to be seen looking like we were singing. One of the ladies in my class said she got anxiety just from watching other people sing in front of her. With all of this fear wrapped up in being heard, it is no wonder we are conflicted when it comes to rising up to make our joyful sound. But wouldn’t it be cool if we didn’t care what anyone thought of our sound?…If the more we made sound, and the more we made sound with others, the happier we would feel?

but wait, there’s science!


There is science proof regarding the neuroscience of singing. According to Uplift article, “the good feelings we get from singing in a group are a kind of evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively. ” Science proves that “singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone.” So this means that back in the early days when humans were cave dwellers, “those who sang together were strongly bonded and survived.”They were rewarded for branching out, for going to the neighbor’s cave and making a joyful grunt.

If that doesn’t make you want to go to a birthday party, I don’t know what will (ok, maybe the cake). Isn’t it strange that we have normalized the singing of happy birthday to one another? It is not an easy song to sing, yet we force ourselves to do it as part of our ancient tribal traditions.

But for some reason, unless someone tells you you’re a “good singer”, Happy Birthday is probably the only choir number we have in our repertoire. And then we turn around and shame each other if they try to sing any thing else. “Yeah, Jerry,  Happy Birthday gets a pass but any other song you try we are going to remind you that you suck.” C’mon folks! Let’s recondition ourselves. Sing along, every body now:

all together now

delightfully terrifying

So in the spirit of Halloween, I challenge you to try something scary. Maybe it is singing in the car by yourself and not stopping when you drive by someone (or singing in the car with another person and not being all quiet because you’re afraid they’ll hear you). Maybe it has nothing to do with singing, but you see how the bigger analogy could apply to another part of your life.  Go forth with your courage, embracing both the trick and the treat.

On another note, this topic also reminds me of the precarious emotional balance when planning to deliver a speech (as I happen to be doing this weekend). Even though I am pumped about my content & so excited for the listeners to hear my message, I am not so excited about getting up there in the spotlight to deliver it. However, if I were to focus only on how nervous I was, how I might mess up, or how someone out there could’ve done a better job than me, then I am robbing myself of the chance for that sweet reward. So suit up, walk tall, and be prepared for anything when you Knock Knock on the door of the Universe: Trick or treat!

when you google trick or treat universe, this is what pops up