I ordered some silicone molds that make perfect ice spheres about the size of a baseball. I put them in the freezer and out came the ice balls for juggling. I went outside and tried them out.
I was able to do it – and of course my hands got very cold! The balls began to melt and in turn got slippery. But I could still maintain the juggle for about a minute or so. Maybe my next trick should involve some sort of mix of juggling these with fire torches. The fire and ice show. What do you think?
I can see some good teaching opportunities here too, such as the nature of water and how it can take on different properties. And how the hands are very warm and have the potential to melt ice fairly quickly.
Enjoy this new video I just posted on balancing a hat on your face. Always remember two main things:
- Keep your eyes fixed on the highest point possible on the object you’re balancing.
- Tilt your head back farther than you think you should.
Let me know if you have any questions!
I performed for a small group of three to five year-olds at my daughter’s school today. They were studying about Europe, so I figured I would teach them about Europe’s rich tradition of busking (another term for street performing). I showed them a picture of a busker at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland as an example of Europe’s street performing scene.
But I wanted to take the lesson a bit further. I concocted a social experiment that I have never before tried (or heard of anyone doing). I counted out fifteen pennies per child and set the money on each child’s carpet square before they entered the room. When they came in, I told them to count their money (an opportunity to practice math) and that the money is now theirs.
I then instructed them that I was going to perform for them and lay a hat out in front of me. I explained the tradition of paying street performers if you like their tricks and think they’re funny. I emphasized that they can certainly keep their money if they choose. If they didn’t like my show or thought I wasn’t funny, then there is no need to give me any money. In fact, even if they like my show, they still don’t have to give me money. But I as the street performer will respectfully ask that they put something in the hat if they like the show. It’s all voluntary.
So I turned on the music, picked up my juggling things, and went to work. I was actually performing for seven little children and two adult teachers just hoping that I would earn some pennies for my hard work. I was surprised at how seriously I took it.
After a few tricks, low and behold, they started coming. The children and the teachers began to trickle up towards my hat and drop pennies in at various times when I would do tricks. It certainly warmed my heart to know that they liked what I was doing.
Some kids held most or all of their money back. And that was totally fine. Enough children were voluntarily showing me their appreciation through pennies that it didn’t bother me. In fact, as a street performer, I should still do my work with excellence whether people throw money or not. As street performers, we are always putting ourselves out there and making ourselves vulnerable to the fate of the audience’s appreciation or lack thereof. It is a risk we are willing to take. And if it means no pay, then that’s life and we will go out and try harder the next day.
Thankfully, these kids were generous with their penny throwing and at the end of the day, I counted up exactly one hundred pennies. It was a buck hard earned.
The header image at the top of this post features Kezzie learning to put money in the busker’s basket when she was only one. This gentleman was happily playing his accordion for us in Malaga, Spain while we were on a family vacation.
Today, I posted a short video on how to juggle five balls. That completes the “trilogy” of instructional videos on three, four, and five ball juggling. Here are all three (in order of three, four, and five). Let me know what you think!
Starting tomorrow, I get to share at the “Not Your Ordinary VBS” at the First United Methodist Church in Monroe, LA. My family is able to join me for this trip as well! Please come if you’re anywhere near central Louisiana. Programs are in the evenings for the next few nights and start at 6:30pm. Thanks for all your prayers and have a great rest of your summer.
A few weeks ago, I got to share my show with First Baptist Church in Woodbridge, VA. It was a cold Saturday in early Spring but over a thousand people still showed up! I did two shows – one in the large sanctuary before the egg hunt and a second in a small cafe-like setting for a smaller lunch crowd. It was a lot of fun. I got to share about the real meaning of Easter while having fun with audience volunteers and juggling a variety of objects. One of my favorite parts was calling up a young lady and juggling while I read from her address book on her smart phone (she gave me permission to do so). It’s amazing what you learn about people from their list of contacts! Thanks to Bill Bennett for the pics….
Last night was the kickoff for Winter Fusion, a retreat for youth from churches in Virginia. I got to perform my unicycle routine as a little teaser for the full show tonight. It’s been a lot of fun so far interacting with these young people and meeting their leaders as well.
The fun thing for me is that I got to bring my family along for the retreat, and we are staying at an oceanfront hotel in Virginia Beach, VA. So as I type this, the roaring Atlantic Ocean is outside our window. Kezzie loves watching the water and the seagulls, despite the cold weather outside.
I’m so grateful for opportunities like this where I get to bring along my family. I traveled a lot in 2014 and often without them. This is a trip where we get to have some family fun when I’m not doing my presentation. So we are about to head out to the Portsmouth Children’s Museum, which is not far from us right now.
What a great way to send out a thrilling year of shows, travels, home renovations, and watching Kezzie grow up. We’re looking forward to more fun in 2015!
In my most recent newsletter (which you can access here), I told the story of how I had done a show for a high school where just days before I came one student stabbed another in the middle of class. A parent sent me a message after my show thanking me for bringing a little joy to the hearts of the students in the middle of a very difficult week.
Someone else read that story and sent me a similar story of how juggling had the power to heal her cousin. So that it is told correctly, I will simply quote how she relayed the story to me. It is a story about how God uses things like juggling and art to heal in people’s lives….
“My cousin, Garry was a juggler and he was very good. He started juggling in high school. He saw a presentation at school and came home, went in his room and started throwing stuff around. When his dad came home from work, he heard a bunch of banging coming from Garry’s room. He asked my aunt what was going on. She didn’t know. So he went [into] his room to investigate. Garry was trying to teach himself to juggle. His dad helped him get some information on juggling from the library and he made his own practice balls out of old socks filled with beans. He later purchased some professional equipment. After he learned the 3 ball cascade, he taught all 3 of his sisters, his dad, a few cousins, and anyone who was even slightly interested. His mom could juggle 3 scarves. That’s as far as she got. I had no interest in learning. I thought it was a rather weird thing to do. But he never stopped practicing. In his last year of college, he was consumed by Schizophrenia. He became disabled and unable to work at all. He wasn’t able to do much of anything constructive and he lived like a hermit, rarely ever coming to any family gatherings. But he could still juggle. He learned to juggle at least 5 clubs, 4-6 balls, 5-6 rings, maybe more. I remember, his parents managed to get him to come to one family reunion. He was very uncomfortable and did not communicate much. But when he started performing, juggling 5 clubs, he was happy and had a huge smile on his face. And he never dropped once. Unfortunately, the only other time I saw him was when he was in the mental hospital. He never wanted to see anyone any other time. One day when he was riding his bicycle in town, a medical supply truck struck him from behind and he died that night. The driver had a diabetic black out. At my cousin’s funeral, I saw all his juggling equipment laid out on the table and I thought to myself, “I could learn to juggle in Garry’s memory.” And I started that day. Although Garry was greatly disabled, he found joy in juggling.
I have NOT been able to reach Garry’s skills. I can juggle 3 balls, 3 rings, some with flower sticks, some with cigar boxes, and I have taught some juggling 101 classes. It’s no longer weird for me. It’s actually a lot of fun! Prior to learning to juggle, I was learning to clown, and it works well with my business. So in a lesser way, I am continuing what my cousin, Garry started. I know that Garry had accepted Christ prior to being consumed with Schizophrenia, so I sometimes wonder if he is looking down from heaven, pleased that he inspired one more person to juggle and I carry that on for him.”
Video evidence of my adventure juggling rocks while flying down a zipline! According to the laws of physics, the balls are flying forward WITH me as I toss and catch them. I don’t have to compensate for my forward motion. I simply juggle as if I was standing still in place. It’s actually quite amazing how it all works.
The first time was on Easter weekend about five years ago. My flight was diverted (due to weather, I think) to a different city than originally planned. I rented a car and drove to my show. My luggage was still lost somewhere in airlinedom. So I did what any sensible juggler would do: I went to Walmart at 2am and bought over $200 worth of machetes, baseball bats, plates, tennis rackets, fishing nets, extendable poles (for balancing), various types of fruit, and whatever else I thought was juggle-able. I did my show the next morning and then gave all my stuff away (including the machetes) to any kid who could recite the memory verse of the day to me. It was a thrill. Delta ended up paying me back for my Walmart bill!
The second time I lost my luggage before a show was last week in Mississippi. This time, though, I did not have time to do my Walmart thing. My flight got me to Memphis, TN and my luggage went to Tupelo, MS (the mix up was also weather related). And I was going to just barely make it for the show. The only problem was that I was an hour and a half from my show and my host was not able to come that far because they were setting up for the Upward program. So I called my friend Jason Blackburn (the man who knows everyone in northern Mississippi). He of course knew a guy who was commuting from near the airport to where I needed to go. So Ricky pulled up at the airport a few minutes later and told me to hop in. Southern hospitality is not dead, folks.
But that was only half the battle. My show was coming up fast, and I had none of my luggage. Nearly a thousand people were filling into the Bull Ring in Pontotoc, MS waiting for a juggling show. Meanwhile, I was rummaging through the Children’s Ministry closet of my host church, grabbing balls, stuffed animals, a ladder, some hula hoops, and whatever else I could juggle.
We rushed into the Bull Ring and I set my stuff up on two flatbed trailers before a sea of people ready for the show. They showed their league highlights video and then introduced me. I somewhat nervously began and then proceeded to have a great time presenting a show and message to a crowd that had no idea I lost my luggage. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. That was the case for this show as I tossed around things that I had never laid my hands on before. It challenged me to press on and just do my best with what I have. God was in control, and I pray that His Word was presented clearly. That is the most important part of my show anyway, and juggling equipment is not necessary for God’s Word to spread, just the power of His Holy Spirit.