Epilogue: To and From Madrid with Love

The long journey is underway; Madrid to JFK (with a six-hour layover), JFK to Atlanta, and finally, Atlanta to blessed Birmingham and Dan. I left Madrid at 11am, and with the time change and layovers, it  will take almost nineteen hours if all runs on time, getting me into Birmingham at 11:30pm. I am counting the hours down, keeping busy with reading, writing, and listening to my iPod. I try not to keep looking at my watch…I am anxious to get home, but Mom always said, “a watched pot never boils.” I still catch myself doing it- it’s like waiting for Christmas. 

As I make my way home over the Atlantic Ocean, I have thought about the meaning of this trip for me. I worked so hard to prepare myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and musically, for everything that I would face. I have travelled many times by myself in the States, but traveling to a far-off country where I speak very little of the language was a daunting proposition for me. I have also fought off some demons about performance since my mother died last August, having to jump right back into performing just two weeks after she passed. With how closely woven my mother is with my clarinet and love of music, I wasn’t ready…and it did a number on me. Whenever we ignore our grief and pretend we are fine, it will always find a way to bubble to the surface.    

  The Internstional Clarinet Association Board of Directors present an Honorary Membership award to Harry Sparnay, bass clarinet legend. 

From the video of my performance in Madrid n

I now feel that I have looked that fear demon in the face and dealt with it through tools of preparation, meditation, therapy, and yoga- as well as a wonderful support system of friends and family. I felt strong and confident on stage, and surrounded by what I can only describe as a bubble of love and support. I am anxious for upcoming opportunities to perform…of which there will be many this year.  I will keep reinforcing the behaviors that help me to feel prepared, calm, and focused. This experience will also make me a better teacher, as I have even more tools and real-world experiences to share with my students. 

I no longer feel afraid to travel to Europe on my own, but I do hope I will be able to share the next trip to Dan….Belgium in a couple of years. As I said  before, I want my world to expand as I age, not dwindle away until I’m living in a small apartment, in a tiny world. I realize that physical issues may arise that would keep me from making big trips, but I want my mind and heart to always at least be open to adventure and possibilities.

The day of travel was long and full of challenges, but that made me even more grateful for the sight of my sweet Dan driving up to the baggage claim area in the Blue MaGoo. How blessed I am to be married to this man who loves me with his great heart and supports my career and my goals completely. Walking out of Dan’s garage when we got home at midnight and out into our beautiful back decks was like walking into heaven for me. As soon as the back door opened, Coops and Sophie sniffed me and then started their celebration. Nothing like being greeted by the wiggling Herd  of  Love. 




Madrid is a timeless city, rich with history, beauty, and magic. I hope to return someday and explore even more. Such a gift to experience the people and culture of other countries, as understanding brings knowledge, and knowledge takes down fear every time. I will savor the sights and sounds of the city, fondly remember the kindness of its people, remember the delicious food and drink, and the amazing music that was made there. Most of all, I will remember that in Madrid I came into my own, bursting through a wall that I had built myself, and out into the clear blue skies of Madrid. The view is so wonderful.  Thank you for coming along with me. 


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