I flew out of Lincoln, Nebraska, at 6am for Birmingham and home in this morning…really 5am with the time change. I have had such a wonderfully full and inspirational week with my best friend Diane on our Midwest recital tour (universities in Kansas), the Midwest ClariFest, as well as having time to be together and to help her ailing mother while we were in town. I so wish that Diane and I lived and worked in the same city together, but for now, we have to make the best of our situation. We are grateful for our recital tours and guest artist appearances, which help us to combine professional activities with quality friend time.
Now it is time for me to click my size 10 ruby slippers and return to my life in Birmingham. I never feel quite complete when I am away from Dan, the animals, and our funky old house. Being there is very much a touchstone for me, and I am a true homebody…just like my mother. I love to travel, but returning home has a certain special sweetness to it. I can already feel Dan’s warm embrace, see the twinkle of joy in his brown eyes, can see the dogs wagging their whole bodies in excitement, the cat shyly rubbing on everything in sight to show her pleasure at my return. I am deeply grateful for a home filled with such happiness and love, and I will never take it for granted. I know how it is not to have those gifts.
The quilt Heavy D made as a young girl…
Traveling on my own gives me time to reflect, often about where I am personally and where I’m heading. Life takes many turns and twists, and as I look back on my own experience, I see a patchwork quilt filled every color of the spectrum. There are many bright and happy colors, times of great joy and promise. There are gray patches where there was uncertainty and change. There are also very dark colors in the quilt, times filled with sadness, challenge, and loss- all necessary and a natural part of life. Those dark patches don’t overpower my beautiful quilt though. They are just there to remind me of where I’ve come from, my strength, my perseverance, and the hard lessons I have learned- and to appreciate it all- every single bit of it.
It takes all of those colors combined to create an interesting and fulfilling life, and I wouldn’t trade any of them- even the darkest ones ultimately led me to joy. I think we do have the power to choose the theme of our quilt of life, and mine is filled predominantly with bright blues and yellows, with soft pinks and greens, all signifying my decision to choose joy in life, to look for the good. I have found that keeping a mindset focused on joy helps me to power through the dark patches. It doesn’t make them easy – tough things still hurt deeply- but it helps me to remember that the those times will pass. I also know that I have grown and learned invaluable lessons from the darkest of times.
It all boils down to a simple truth- there can’t be light without darkness, or darkness without light. The light always returns. Always. Even when it seems like it never will, we can work our way toward it, living in gratitude for everything that comes our way. That is tough to do sometimes- that being grateful for the tough stuff, isn’t it? In those times I remind myself that life is short, that there is always someone dealing with much bigger struggles than I am, and that I can choose how I react to events. I will stumble often, but I’m going to do my best to choose joy every time. What a difference it makes.