I was working at my desk and humming along to the music that was playing from my computer speakers. The music was background, calming, and atmosphere-setting, carrying me along through my work like I was riding a raft along a river on a sunny day. I realized, though, that the song I was listening to and now singing along to full blast was more like rapids—each long note like it’s own waterfall of emotion, the waterfalls growing in size through the wailing end. And I was pulled from my work into a purpose so clear I had to say yes: I must learn to lip sync this song.

I spent the rest of the hour I had before kids came home from school listening to the song on repeat and learning the nuances, the breaths, the deep and raw feelings felt by the country rock singer. And it felt so right that it was as if all of my life had lead to this moment—me, alone in my house, holding a cardboard microphone I had pulled from my daughter’s dress up clothes bin and pretending these loud wails were coming from my own mouth. I was meant to lip sync this song.

It felt so right that it was a gift I had to share with the world. Yes, my kids could see it later that day. My husband would also be blessed to see a performance when he got home from work. But I had to find a larger group to share it with. And then I thought, where can I get a captive audience to love what I can do when I move my lips at just the right moment? Where will people allow me to show them me, raw and strange? Where will they be unable to escape to find something else to do besides watch me do this lip sync?

And it came to me: Family Camp. In just 4 short months I’d be in a place where everything else is left behind, where we were vacated from work and responsibilities of daily life, where we were together, and we were given one instruction: Play.

I showed my husband my newfound calling—to lip sync this song—when he got home from work. He sat through it. He watched—nary a smile. He stared at me like the weirdo he knew I was when we got married. When I was done, he said, “Too long.”

But I was undeterred. After all, my daughter, Vivvi, loved it. She watched me do it 800 times between that afternoon and Family Camp weekend. She gave me direction—“more crying,” or “throw the tissues at this point,” or “shake the microphone more here.” “Good mom,” she’d say. “It’s good. Now go again one more time.”

I told the organizer of the weekend my idea of having a lip sync show. She asked if I’d give instruction for other people to pick their song ahead of time. I put together the event invite instructions, with a deadline to get back to me about which song they selected.

Crickets. I heard crickets. I had doubts. I pictured my husband’s staring face from the first time I showed him. Was this meant to be? Was this lip sync my life’s calling? Was I a fool for trying to force this thing into being? And then…

…an unexpected text. “I can’t decide what to do for my lip syncing song… There are so many directions to go!” And just like that, a partner in my passion. And just like that, hope.

I am not a bold organizer of adult events. I was in my youth—I used to plan social gatherings with little regard to what other people would be willing to do. In high school, I would say to my friends, “We are doing this,” and we would do it. But in adulthood, a cautious awareness of other people’s feelings, of the ability for things to fail, of the potential for a major social crash and burn has pulled me back from this bravery.

The weekend of Family Camp approached. I still had only the one other participant. I felt the lip sync—the lip sync of my life—fading into nothingness. “We can let it happen organically,” others encouraged. “Have songs ready, and we’ll see if people step up.” But I was ready to put my failed idea to bed.

And then we went to camp. We gathered with 25 families, nearly 100 people, at a lakefront cabin retreat, a playground and craft shack and trampolines on the lake-filled magic zone where shame was not invited to the party. We hugged old friends and got to know new ones that first day, with family games and meals around big tables together and monster games in the water and a campfire with music at night. We put our kids to bed and played games where adults made car sounds and formed animals with a team. Men who are otherwise professionals rolled on the floor like Madonna and pretended to be ballerinas. We laughed. We gave ourselves permission to play.

And so the next day of camp, I was standing on the small foundation of the one enthusiastic lip sync friend and a husband who I could force do another. My husband might not be an easy laugh when forced to be a one-man audience for comedy that—let’s face it—is meant for a crowd, but he is truly always the most game to have fun and laugh at himself. Standing there on that tiny foundation, with fear and trembling, I started my (rather loud) whisper campaign.

Here, I understood the meaning of “inspired”—the spirit truly did intervene. As a casual observer, you might think I lied. You might think that when I was telling everyone that I had 6 people signed up, that I was inventing stories on the spot. But I truly believed as I whispered and convinced others to participate, that I had a packed set. I found the most shame-free person in attendance and heard him mention a potential song he’d floated by his wife. It involved him kneeling and lip syncing his love for her. She was mortified. I wrote his name down in pen.

And with 4 adult lip syncs on the docket, I looked to the children. Within an hour I had at least 20 kids, who, when it comes to having no shame, are heroes. They signed up whether they had a talent (gymnastic tricks, joke telling, eternal hula hooping) or not (flossing, jumping, a skit that made no sense)… And they were creative! We had a fortnight dancer, a magic trick, a mime, a baseball pitch. They thought, I am going to do this thing I love to do. And I thought, I can learn from you. No fear. So am I. We declared it a Variety Show.

As I watched (and participated in!) the show, I got the sense that this variety of shameless joy, this celebrating of who we are, this participating in joy with each other, is something we were meant to do.

My lip sync was so much fun to do. The children especially got it. They laughed together with every wail. They made me go big. At the end, while people clapped, my daughter couldn’t resist and burst from the crowd and ran up to the “stage” and gave me a hug. It was the best part of my day—that she was so proud of me for that silly thing.

Someone told me my son didn’t laugh during it. “He has only seen it 800 times by now,” I said. I asked him afterward what he thought of it. “It was good,” he said. “And weird.” Perfect, I thought. Exactly what I was going for.

And here I revisit the questionings I had before that magical night. I would like to take a close look at my fear—my fear that could have held me back. My big fear that I would share this thing that was good and weird, that I would go out on a limb, that I would present my brand of strange, that I would make myself fully vulnerable to their judgement—and that they would all stare.

In a room full of children, though, who were getting up and showing the world what they loved…who were desperate to share joy together. Who were not judging. Who are not aware of shame—I had to do this. I had to give myself permission to play.

And here I am on the other side of the performance. Glad I did it. Glad they laughed. Glad for my daughter’s uncontrollable hug. Glad that we all had so much fun together.

I do not believe there is a recording of my lip sync. This means it gets to go down in history in just under 100 people’s memories as one of the four most epic lip syncs of all time (all performed that night to that audience). I am so grateful to those other 3 performers—who breathed life into it when it felt hopeless, who stumbled into it with me, who were forced to close the show and did it in the best big way. I am so grateful for those children, who needed no convincing. I hope to remember this, and to give myself permission to play more often.

I do have this, though, which is the skit we performed as a family. You have probably never seen Yoga this good before. I hope you enjoy.

Yoga for Beginners from Meet The Otts on Vimeo.