I have been thinking a lot lately about how grateful I am for my life, and for all of the ups and downs that brought me to this place in time. Maybe even most especially those downs, as they strengthened me, taught me, and helped me see what I truly needed to be happy and fulfilled. It wasn’t money or fame or a fancy house that called to me, but something much more simple and important.
This summer is turning out to be an important time of reflection and growth. Such a difference from the sadness of last summer and the loss of my mother. I needed time away from school to make some big changes and solidify them, as I went right from my mother’s funeral into a crazy busy school year last August. The freer schedule of summer has allowed me to focus on all areas my health, as well as giving me important time to work on my book and prepare for my performance at ClarinetFest in Madrid. It has also given me time to do one of my favorite things- nest. I have done tons of yard work and am systematically going through our home, cleaning out. It has had a magical effect of helping to clear my head…something I really needed.
I am doing my best to take a good hard look at myself, my many flaws and all, and assess where I am. I needed to shake things up and bump myself out of the post-grief rut I had fallen into. It can be scary to do that and to do the work it takes to make real changes, but it has been so worth it every single time I have done so throughout my life. What I have now that I perhaps didn’t have in the past is a home filled with love, encouragement, and support. Lots of laughter, too. It isn’t a perfect life, but it is perfect for me in every way. I choose to be happy and to find joy and beauty. There is no other way for me- life is too short to get caught up in the anger and drama swirling around everywhere.
We have to work at being happy- though it doesn’t have to feel like a chore- surrounding ourselves as much as possible with people who want to see the good in the world, finding joy in our work, nurturing our creative spark, giving back to others, and choosing to see the world through a lens of love and not anger and fear. I think that’s the part that most people struggle with and maybe what takes the most work, but is a crucial part of finding true happiness.
I think often of one of my favorite music education professors in undergrad who said, “Act your way into a new way of thinking.” I tell my students those words when they are struggling, and I have lived by them myself. If you don’t like something about yourself or your life, begin creating the habits of the person you want to be or the life you want to live. Doing that, making small changes that add up, has made an incredible difference. It’s not putting your head in the sand and ignoring issues; instead, it is choosing to deal with the issues and make the necessary change to move forward. I’ve decided that is a good mantra for me this summer…move forward. I will…and I may dance along the way. Join me?
(The fireworks photo was taken the other night just outside of our garage. We live very close to Vulcan Park, and they have frequent fireworks displays. Lots of excitement around here :))