Chicago Bound: The Gifts of Leaving Home

Chicago Bound: The Gifts of Leaving Home

I have always had issues leaving home to travel, especially when I am flying, and especially so when Dan is not traveling with me. I don’t understand it, as I love to travel and look forward to it, but the anxiety that starts days before a trip is real and sometimes paralyzing in its intensity. I am above the clouds as I write, heading to Chicago to work with educators and students and play a recital in an intensive two-day event sponsored by my clarinet maker, Backun Musical Services, and the largest music company in Chicago. I am a Backun Artist/Clinician, and I am grateful for these opportunities to travel and share my love of the clarinet and the beautiful clarinets that I am privileged to play. My job between here and touchdown is to lose the anxiety so that I can focus on the joy of the experience….always a challenge for me.

I’m not sure exactly when this all started, but it goes back as far as I can remember. Even when Dan and I travel together, I go into a ritualistic checking of anything and everything that could possibly catch on fire or hurt the animals, I have to leave everything clean, laundry and dishes done and put away, everything neat and straightened. I start packing days in advance and then agonize over what I must be forgetting up until the moment I get to the airport or am down the road. Dan is a saint through all of this, reassuring and patient. I have tried every calming strategy I know; I make lists, exercise intensely before I leave, do yoga, breathe deeply and focus on the fun I know I will have…but still, the panic rises.

Especially now that I have found such happiness with Dan and feel so attached to our home, sometimes I think it is a fear of losing what I have found, that somehow by leaving all I have gained will disappear. Ridiculous, I know, but that is all I can think of that would make these feelings so strong. Maybe some of it is from much younger years when my mother would panic whenever I would travel, especially by myself (she never stopped worrying when I was on the road, unless I was with Dan). No matter where the issues stem from, it’s time to work through them and move forward. Traveling is adventure, and I want to experience a lot of it- and enjoy it. There are so many amazing places and things yet to see.

The most wonderful part of traveling- aside, of course, from the sights you see and experience- is coming home. I can’t even describe the joy I feel when Dan picks me up from the airport, when we open the door to our house and the animals greet me excitedly. Dan always has a special meal to greet me, and we sit and talk about what we’ve done since we were last together. There are gifts to leaving home; the growth from facing your fears and stepping out there to do what makes you uncomfortable, knowing the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Being apart from Dan is healthy, too, making us both appreciate what we have in each other, reveling in the joy of our sweet reunion.

I am looking forward to my time in Chicago, grateful to have a career doing what I love so much. I’m going to focus of the task at hand- teaching and (hopefully) inspiring a bunch of students, private teachers, and band directors. This is a time to give back some of the wonderful gifts of music that have been given to me over the years. If I can share my joy of playing with them and make even one of them want to strive to improve, then it is totally worth all of the anxiety and stress to get myself on a plane. If all that fails, I have my running shoes and a yoga app on my iPad…it will all be fine. I know that once I am in my element of teaching and playing, I will feel right at home. And on Saturday evening, I’ll be back in Birmingham in the arms of the man that I love, and covered with happy dog smooches from Coops and Sophie. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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