Posted in about me, ebb & flow, mindset, motivation, storytelling

My 20-year anniversary of…

…my senior recital.

For those who didn’t go through this, a senior recital is a big deal (for most of us). As an education major, I was required to perform a 30-minute solo recital as one of my graduation requirements. (I could have instead performed a 30-minute jury, which means just for a panel of professors who would grade it. Either way, it’s a 30-minute performance.) Many of us included some sort of duet or small ensemble as our final piece, and the ed majors usually shared recitals, taking turns, making an hour-long performance between the two.

Anyway, for anyone, it’s a lot of work. And it’s a little intimidating for those of us who were more accustomed to performing in an ensemble.

But my sophomore year of college, I developed some random pain issue in my right pinky finger. I was able to play my flute for 10-15 minutes each day before the pain caused me to stop. It would linger for hours. I also couldn’t write and ended up buying a laptop to be able to take notes.

It was written off by doctors as tendonitis.

I stopped taking lessons and participating in ensembles so it could rest. Six months later, with no improvement, I was given warning that I couldn’t continue in the music department without lessons or ensembles, since they were required for graduation.

And so I stopped playing flute and started playing trombone. Trombone doesn’t use any fingers.

Being a beginner in college was terrible. I took lessons with someone in the trombone studio, and at the end of my junior year, I successfully re-auditioned into the department on trombone.

Needing to be good enough to give a recital before I could graduate, I was immediately off the four-year plan. I practiced as much as I could, but like any other physical skill, the muscles need to build strength and endurance.

By my second senior year, I was practicing two to three hours every day, in addition to time in ensembles. I was getting … less bad.

Now, I hadn’t been a great flute player at all, and I suspect expectations of me all around weren’t that high. I don’t really know, and it’s probably just as well.

But something happened in these years. I learned grit. I had a giant mindset change. I had been very fixed mindset. When I started college, it was “The people around me have been taking lessons for years and I’ve only been for one year. I’ll never catch up or be as good.”

At the time, I had no idea what else I would do with my life, so switching to another instrument and continuing on the same path was the only viable option. I had to catch up and be as good.

By my third (and final) senior year, my private teacher suggested I was playing well enough to pass a jury. There was no way I was giving a jury! I’ve done massive amounts of work to get here—I’m giving a recital!

And so I did. On April 18, 1999, a Sunday evening. In a satiny blue shirt and black pants. Sharing a recital with a sax player. I played well. I was excited and proud.

It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done (with regards to things that require preparation and skill).

By the time I graduated, I had shifted to, “If I can get this good in this amount of time, what happens if I keep going?”

I found a teacher in NYC. I practiced three or four hours most days. In the financial desert of a teacher’s summer, I paid my bills playing gigs and teaching lessons.

All of that, 20 years later, is represented in this anniversary. A date I remember and at least give a head nod to every year.

At this point, I haven’t played a trombone in quite some time. Moving to Arizona wasn’t good for my playing, and when time became scarce, trombone was one of the things to go.

But the lessons I learned, the mindset shift—to say nothing of all the extra things I got to learn and do in two extra years of school and all of the amazing people I met on my musical journey—those have stayed with me. And maybe one of these days, I’ll pick the old horn back up and start over again.

Posted in about me, differences, know better do better, mindset

My path from introversion to introversion

I’ve always been an introvert. I’ve not always know I wasn’t defective.

I have never been comfortable around strangers.

I have no idea whose house we were at, but they had a piano. I must have been pretty young, because when I was in elementary school, my parents bought a piano and my sister took lessons. I wanted to play the piano. (I didn’t know how to play the piano.) She said I needed to ask. I was terrified of asking. She said if I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t get to do it. I didn’t ask.

That’s not introversion. That’s anxiety.

I remember in 7th grade seeing a (very extroverted) friend of mine talking and laughing with a couple of other people and thinking that I wished I was more like that because it looks like so much fun.

I spent the next 25 years trying to be that.

And then I realized: that’s just not me. And that’s OK.

In the mean time, I gained skills in hanging with people who I’m uncomfortable with, maybe without it being completely obvious. (I’m still pretty self-conscious in those situations, so it’s hard telling what it looks like from the outside.)

I can have a conversation with a person I don’t know, if they can hang for their half and if there’s something to trigger a conversation.

Most of the time, I still can’t start a conversation from zero with a person I don’t know or don’t know very well.

Unlike the current pop definition of introvert, I love spending time with people. They just need to be my people. I spend so little time in meaningful conversations that when I can spend time with friends, it definitely feeds my soul. (And if I’m feeling particularly chatty, watch out!)

But, like the real definition of introvert, I also need time to myself to recharge. But recharge from the energy spent with people teaching or small talking or other necessary-but-draining activities. Not from hanging with friends.

I’d be thrilled to lose more of the anxiety, or to be better able to make conversation, but not being an extrovert? That’s OK.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in about me, differences, exercise, mental health, mindset, motivation, physical health

I am a runner, but…

I’m here today to give some confidence to the slow and less enthusiastic among us.

I’m a runner. I’m slow. Lately, I’ve been running 12- to 12.5-minute miles. At the fastest I’ve ever been, I ran 5K in 29:20 (or something close to that). Once.

(I had only one other 5K under 30 minutes. It was a Komen run. I’ve long since learned about the dark side of the Komen organization and I don’t patronize their events. But I couldn’t get rid of my only sub-30 bib, so I trained to be faster—something I nearly never do—just so I could break 30 minutes again, have a new bib, and get rid of the Komen one. Also in that race, I placed second in my age group, something I don’t anticipate happening again unless there are only two of us.)

Anyway, I’m slow, but I get the job done.

Also? I don’t like running long distances. On regular evening runs around the neighborhood, I’ll go between two and four miles. Four was more common when I ran with running club. I just ran four this morning for the first time in probably two years. (I did a 10K last winter, but we walked a fair amount.)

Two half marathons taught me that I don’t like running half marathons and, until further notice, don’t need to run another. (I’d walk one, if someone was interested in walking together.)

For a while, I had stopped listening to anything while I ran. That turned out to be good, because I could use the time to clear my mind. Most of the time, I still run without music or podcasts, but every now and then, I don’t want to be all up in my head and take something to listen to. Sometimes The Climbing Daddy and I run together and talk.

Also? I don’t love running. I’ve never had a runner’s high. After a couple of miles, it starts to feel tedious.

But I love (and need) the benefits that come from running. Nothing is a better mood stabilizer. Can be done nearly anywhere. Just need weather-appropriate clothes and decent shoes (and good socks, if not in Vibrams).

So, to the people who run without loving it, who don’t run far, who don’t run fast—I am one of your people. If you need a running partner for a dose of anti-depressant, let me know.

 

 

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Posted in about me, gardening, hope

Hope and excitement through plants

One of my biggest sadnesses in living in an apartment was not having space for garden beds (or not wanting to have to take out beds before moving out).

I was happy to have a house with a yard when The Climbing Daddy and I bought this one!

We’re in our second spring of gardening, and it’s lovely and exciting and gets a little bigger/fuller each year.

What’s out there? (Besides the unstoppable Bermuda grass?)

In one bed: tomato, two types of peppers, eggplant, cucumber, lima beans, lettuce. Lettuce was the only one from seed and I was late putting it in, so we’ll see if there’s any yield.

In the other bed: corn and squash.

In the small bed: strawberries. That bed is new this year and we’re hoping the plants do their magic and send runners out. (It would be great if something desirable would spread like the weeds do!)

In pots: tomatoes, Swiss chard (also planted late), and lots of unknowns. We have a few volunteers, so as they mature, we’ll find out what they are. Also, we got some clippings from a neighbor but we didn’t label them. While several didn’t root and are no longer with us, several more did! Blackberry or mulberry or somethings in that family.

Five fruit trees: apple, peach, plum, Mexican lime, tangelo.

Some succulents, flowers (some still blooming from last year, some growing from seed), a hibiscus, a bottlebrush. The Kid’s cactus.

Seeing new plants sprout up, flowers appear and turn into fruits—it’s all very exciting! As this gets bigger and more complicated, we’re going to need a better watering plan, but for now, going out with the hose still works.

Fingers crossed!

 

 

 

 

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Posted in about me, ebb & flow, storytelling

I had a dream…

A week or so ago, I had a dream that I remembered when I woke up. A few details of it have stuck with me, and it’s been turning over in my head a bit…

The dream below; side comments in brackets:

I was racing my third Ironman. [I have never raced anything close to an Ironman in distance, but I have done a few sprint triathlons. An Ironman is a total of 140.6 miles; a sprint is about 16.]

The first two were successful. This one was out of order: first we swam, then we ran, then we biked. [Typically the order is swim, bike, run.]

I had completed the swim. I was near the end of the run, it was raining, and I was exhausted. The route went right past the hotel The Climbing Daddy and I were staying at, so I decided to stop in, get changed, and take a nap before continuing on to the bike. [This would definitely not be allowed in a race.]

I ended up sleeping for hours instead of minutes and woke up 15 minutes before the end of regulation. [Only times under 17 hours count.]

I was kicking myself for sleeping that long and was also annoyed that I had to finish the run to retrieve my bike.

I woke up thinking it was odd for lots of reasons, but it’s been poking at me off and on.

So what I’m taking from it for now is this:

I can do hard things. (I had completed two of these races prior.)

But when I do them out of order, they’re much harder, I tire more quickly, I make bad choices which lead to me not being able to do The Thing.

For practical application, I’m not entirely sure what The Thing is, or what I’m doing out of order, or if I even have control over the order. (I didn’t in the dream.) There are a few things in life I’m struggling with pretty hard, but I can’t (yet?) apply this to them, exactly.

So what I’m hanging onto now is: I can do hard things. Will let the rest fall as it will.

 

 

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