Check out this story about a group of kids I am privileged to work with who are choosing to use their talent to pay it forward!
Archive for April, 2013
From my earliest memory, there was a piano in my parents’ house. And I wanted to learn to play it. Like most kids, I’d start pounding on the keys whenever I thought I could get away with it. Right around age 4, I started bugging my mom about lessons. My mom, wanting her instrument to be well cared for, went looking for a teacher. Some people assume it would have been easiest for her to teach me. Easiest? Yes. Wisest? Mmmmm, not so much. We tried that arrangement for a VERY brief period and the simple fact is we couldn’t separate ourselves from the mother/daughter arrangement long enough to be “just” student/teacher.
Most piano teachers – including yours truly – prefer their students to be about 5 years old before they start. There are two basic reasons – it helps if the student has some basic reading skills (since the eye movement is essentially the same) and since most lessons run about half an hour, it helps if the child can handle sitting on the piano bench for that long!
Miracle of miracles, my mom found a teacher willing to take me when I turned 4 1/2 because I was able to read a bit. We started with “mini-lessons” of about 15 to 20 minutes in length. My mom laughs at me a bit when I insist I remember when I started taking lessons but this was a VERY big deal to me! My first lesson was one week after I turned 4 1/2. That was 40 years ago TODAY.
I just wanted to learn to play the instrument. I never could have IMAGINED the doors it would open!
I started accompanying my school choir and solo and ensemble participants in 7th grade.
I was offered chances to sub in for church services when the pianist was gone.
I had the privilege of accompanying the all county massed choir (made up of every choir student from every participating school – a few hundred people!) my senior year in high school.
I spent two summers on staff at Camp Barakel (one of my FAVORITE places on earth!), serving as one of their two pianists.
I earned a Division I rating at District Solo and Ensemble my senior year and was given the opportunity to perform at State Solo and Ensemble.
All of these accomplishments are special to me. But they are all simply icing on the cake. The real joy was learning to play. Making music. I say often that the longest running love affair I have had is with the piano. At my happiest moments, it was there to allow me to express my joy. When I was sad, dejected, or just feeling a little “blah”, it was my escape.
Hans Christian Anderson once said, “Where words fail, music speaks.” Yep, that pretty much says it all.
It started as a Facebook event. It was called Run for Boston 5K and my youngest daugther, Janessa, was planning to run it. I’m not a runner. Never have been. Okay, there was one season of track and field in junior high but that was it. Janessa is taking a class called “Half Marathon” in which she is training to run a race in Des Moines referred to as the “Dam to Dam”. I don’t get runners. At all. I think they are a little off in the head.
With that being said, Janessa looked at me and said, “You should come do it mom.”
“I don’t run,” I reminded her. “Ever.”
“So walk it. It’s for a good cause.” She had me there. The money being raised was going to help families most drastically effected by the Boston Marathon Bombing. (It was put together in just 7 days which is kind of crazy. They were hoping to get at least 25 participants. They got SEVERAL MORE than that!!)
“Okay. I can do that.”
There is some information you need to have to fully understand what a ridiculous idea that was! I am not an athlete. At all. I’m in my mid-40’s, not in the best physical shape and am carrying around more weight than is healthy and it’s not like I walk for exercise. As if that wasn’t enough, I’m also prone to shin splints.
When we arrived to register (just a $10 fee!) it was cloudy and it did rain for a bit before the event got started. So there we were – a little wet and a touch chilly. And I was quietly asking myself what on earth I was doing participating in this event!
Have I mentioned I’m not a runner?
So there I was, looking at all these other crazy, dedicated runners (one of whom crossed the finish line in Boston 20 minutes before the first explosion!) and feeling more than a little underqualified. But I had told people I was doing this so I couldn’t back out now!
7:00 p.m. arrived and we were off. I was about 10 steps into the event- not even out of the parking lot of the stadium – when I felt the first twinge of shin splints. Wonderful. But I kept walking. Had my MP3 playing in my ear and the music provided a small – very small – distraction. Just when I was on my way to a world class pity party regarding the shin splints, I remembered why I was walking. And I was suddenly grateful for having two legs in which I could feel the pain of shin splints. Some of those I was walking in honor of can’t say that.
It didn’t take me long to get passed by literally every one. There I was, in the back of the pack. WELL behind the other participants. At one point, everyone had rounded a corner and I couldn’t see anyone directly ahead of me. Once again, the whiny ‘why am I doing this?’ voice tried to start up in my head. But I reminded myself again why I was walking. There are those who lost a loved one FOREVER so losing sight of the other participants was nothing, really.
I won’t lie – at least once during the first couple of miles I had my cell phone in my hand to call my husband and tell him where to come pick me up. Then I got to one of the last corners (all of which were manned by volunteers to make sure no one got lost!) and there was a family of four standing there, cheering everyone one. The dad looked at me and said, “Just one more mile. You’re doing great! Keep it up! Hoping it doesn’t start to rain again.”
Without thinking, I thanked him and said, “In light of why I’m walking, getting wet really isn’t that big a deal.” He chuckled and said, “I guess that’s true.”
That ‘just one more mile’ statement provided me with all the motivation I needed. I was actually going to do this!!! I was going to complete a 5K!! I checked my phone for the time and saw a text message from my daughter (who had definitely completed) that said, “I love you mom! Keep going!”
Not gonna lie – that brought a tear to my eye! And I did it. I finished. I was WAAAAAAYYYYY behind the rest of the participants but I finished in 57 minutes. Not bad for an out of shape old lady!
My daughter was there with friends to cheer my last few steps (and to take pictures cuz she loves me like that!) and much to my own surprise, I crossed the finish line. I walked a 5K. My $10 entry fee wsn’t a huge amount. But I heard that there were a couple hundred people involved, each of whom paid $10. You do the math!
My shins are in serious pain, I’m walking weird because of that, and I’m more than a little worried that I may have difficulty getting around tomorrow. But I don’t regret doing it. Not for a moment.
No profound thoughts, no deep observations, no insights or lessons learned. Just wanted to share a passage that I’ve been meditating on today.
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
Been a rough couple of days personally. Not sharing any details. Airing the dirty laundry would not help the situation at all. What I will do is focus on the blessings in my life.
1. My husband. He is my ROCK. The “stuff” I’m dealing with is indirectly affecting him too and he is simply overwhelming me with his commitment to protect me and do what he can to deal with the situation. He has put up with my crazy, musically obsessed self for more than 26 years now (we’ve been married for 24 of those). He is my biggest fan and my most treasured gift.
2. My kids. No, they are not perfect and we don’t always agree on everything. But they have provided me with hours of laughter, music and fun. We’ve wrestled through spiritual matters together, made memories together and occasionally driven each other crazy but I wouldn’t trade being their mom for ANYTHING.
3. I’ve met so many amazing people here in Fort Dodge that share my love of and passion for the performing arts. I am just more blessed than I deserve to get to work with these people on a regular basis!
4. My friend Connie. She and I really not much alike at all – she’s an athlete, I am SOOOO not; I’m a girlie girl, she’s more of a tomboy. But she always knows just when I need her support and love.
5. Another friend Katrina. She just makes my day better. She is one of the most loving, caring, compassionate people I know and I am lucky enough to call her friend!
6. Music. I am coming up on the 40th anniversary of my first piano lesson. Music has been my refuge, my emotional outlet, and my most authentic expression of worship. Hans Christian Anderson said it best – “Where words fail, music speaks.”
7. My faith. I have learned and grown so much in recent weeks and it’s the ONLY reason I’m surviving this situation now!
I have no clue what is coming next. I know I am not alone in dealing with the situation and I am truly blessed. Soli Deo Gloria.
I’ve confessed before that I struggle with being a people pleaser. Sad, but true. The only tricky thing about being a people pleaser is . . . other people don’t always agree! So in an effort to keep one friend happy, I might accidentally disappoint another and then I end up miserable because I can’t figure out a way to please them both . . . you get where I’m going with this?! To say that being a people pleaser can be a source of anxiety would be a bit of an understatement.
Now place that people pleasing person (me) in a situation where obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading puts me in a place where people are definitely NOT pleased with me. Seems like a recipe for disaster, right? I mean, a people pleaser is liable to wimp out the instant someone frowns at her! But something wild is happening.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m continuing on the path of obedience. I cannot avoid those who don’t agree with my choice (though one of them is VERY good at pretending like I don’t exist!) so I must regularly deal with the displeasure of others, expressed in direct terms or in passive-aggressive moves like refusing to speak to me. Surprisingly, I’m not experiencing the anxiety that would be typical for me in this situation. No sleepless nights, no stomach tied in knots, none of the typical stresses that eventually cause me to cave and do what those “others” want.
Let me be very clear – this is NOT because I’ve suddenly become a stronger person. The Spirit called me to act and now the Spirit is equipping me to obey! This journey is far from over, of that I am sure. But what I’ve already learned from the experience could prove to be life-changing.