On Closing Doors and Opening Windows

It’s funny how life happens; periods of relative calm then rampant change, beginnings and endings, joy and sorrow. I see it all as a continous cycle of closing doors and opening windows, opportunities to create good out of challenge.  I find that I’m guilty of sometimes focusing on the closed door and not seeing the light streaming through the open window until it’s obvious, and I’m working really hard to improve on that.

Cheers, Mr. McKenzie!

This has been a momentous week in the Gainey family; Dan just retired from his long  and varied career in theater management and sound and light design, and I just completed the first week of my sixteenth year at UAB, the thirty-first year of my teaching career. Dan says that after forty years of working, he is ambivalent, not knowing how he feels about retirement yet, as his career has been such a part of his identity all these years. My workaholic husband will never stop, but will delve more into his love of teaching yoga and doing body work, along with the incredibly long list of Mr. MacKenzie projects around our ninety-seven year-old Chez Gainey that he has mapped out in detail. I tell people that he will be my cabana boy (except that we don’t have a pool). I came home to a wonderful homemade lunch on his first day of retirement, and to a husband that wasn’t stressed out- it was wonderful. Dan surprised me with a wonderful dinner out at Bottega to celebrate, and the famous Chef and owner/operator Frank Stitt stopped and talked to us (Dan worked with him at an event a few years back). Dan has worked with so many luminaries, from Presidents Reagan and Bush (W), Al Gore, Pope Paul, Moshe Dayan, Diana Krall, Willie Nelson, Wayne Newton, Bobby McFarrin, Micky Hart, Tom Jones, Art Garfunkel, Roberta Flack, and on and on and on. I am so very proud of his work ethic, creativity, and dedication to his craft.

I, being the child bride (coughcough), however, will be working for many years to come- and happily. I begin this year as the first woman Full Professor in the history of our department after a grueling year-long process of evaluation at each level of the university, something I am incredibly humbled by. I also will assume the role of Associate Chair of our department as of January 1st, and I am absolutely terrified excited about all there is to learn taking over from a much beloved colleague who is retiring, but so grateful for the opportunity to serve the Department of Music that I love so much. My only regret is that as Dan becomes more and more unfettered and free, I will become more and more busy and chained to the office. It’s okay, though; as Dan says, he can help with everything at home now, freeing me up to focus more on the added responsibilities at work, supporting me as I enter this new phase of my career. I am looking forward to more quality time with him now that he won’t be at the theater working so hard.

Sweet Sophie, always at my side…

It has been a period of upheaval and change for us, with more to come. I am excited for Dan as he begins this new chapter of his life, figuring out who he is without his career defining him. I’m excited for myself as I tackle learning many new skills and lots of new information…and hoping that my menopausal brain will cooperate through it all. I have never been comfortable with change, though- as we all have- I have faced it over and over again in my life…sometimes kicking and screaming as it dragged me to the next phase. I was very touched when it was announced to the students about my promotion and that I was to become Associate Chair- they cheered loudly, many of them congratulating me after the gathering. It is for them that I want to do a good job, a great job- and if they and my colleagues have faith in me, maybe I should have some faith in myself, too. Some doors may have closed, but the view out of those open windows is pretty darn beautiful.

My tribe 🙂



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