Coming from a family of athletes, all I knew growing up was sports. The performing arts were an enigma to be sure. Today, I write you as a member of the Lincoln Arts Council’s board to share, in part, how my gratitude and dedication to the arts came to be. Although it’s a personal story, I believe it rings true for many whose lives have been transformed when they open a door to creative expression.

Upon first meeting, one may not see a performer in my quiet, reserved daughter Anna. But, when she watched her cousin in a play, the inspiration was evident. To nurture that spark, we signed her up to audition for a local production. The day came, and I was struck by how confident and outgoing the other children were; I also was worried Anna would be nervous and intimidated. When the other parents drove away, I opted to stay in case Anna wanted to leave. But, I had it all wrong.

What I had interpreted as fear and nerves in my daughter, was in reality, curiosity and an awakening. Anna was taking it all in, tapping into another part of herself that I never knew was there, but she did. To my amazement, she joined in with the other children, spoke up, read her lines and looked right at the director. After, I tried to prepare her for the possibility of a small part, saying it would be a start to something greater if she wanted to do it again.

The day the cast list was posted, Anna’s new friends ran up to her, reporting she got a major role. I could see the joy in Anna’s face, not because of the part, but because the kids who surrounded her were so welcoming and praising her for a good job. I was again taken back by it all, and so proud of my daughter and her courage to step outside her comfort zone.

This experience was one of the most powerful events in Anna’s early development, and it came at a time when our family was dealing with a difficult event. What Anna learned -- teamwork, confidence, organization, priority, self-control -- in six weeks of practice and three performances was uplifting for our whole family.