Mountains, Molehills, and What-Ifs

I was not mentally prepared for my trip to be a guest artist at a festival in Utah this past week, and that kicked my worry gene into high gear. I’ve not felt like myself lately as I’ve worked on trying to reduce my ever-increasing anxiety and battle a bout of depression. The trip was made more challenging yet by the rotator cuff I tore in Dan’s yoga class a couple of days prior to leaving. Only I can injure myself while trying to de-stress. Life has to go on however, so I pledged to do my very best and hopped on the plane to Salt Lake City.

Taken at Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort.

I’d been to Utah twice before for conferences, but seeing the beauty and majesty of the snow-capped mountains never fails to take my breath away. I was fortunate that the wonderful man from the music company who was assigned to take care of me had lived in the area for many years and drove me up into the mountains for lunch and to enjoy the amazing views.

Even though I felt off, I was grateful that when I did the masterclasses and presentations I clicked into teacher mode, a mode solidified by years and years of practice. The audiences were very receptive and I felt really good about everything. I always amaze myself, worrying myself into a tizzy, making mountains out of molehills over and over again. When will I ever learn to let go of the worry and stress and trust in the process?

The Silver Fork Cafe in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Notice the snow outside the window. Amazing food, views, and atmosphere.

Flying out of Salt Lake City…

I talked with my therapist this week about the anxiety surrounding work. She began to suggest reconnecting with my passion and my love for what I do, but I had to stop her. I still have great passion for what I do and I love my job and am eternally grateful to be doing what I love each and every day. I’ve found my Dharma. She still suggested a writing prompt, a ‘what if?’ scenario of what I might have done differently in my life if I hadn’t been a musician and teacher. That truly is a tough question to ponder.

With the amazing Chad Burrow at the festival.

The only other career I ever considered as a young child was to become a veterinarian, but when we had to put the family dog down I knew I could never do that. Once I discovered clarinet and band and orchestra, that was it for me. I knew with every fiber of my being that this was what I was meant to do, to be. I have never regretted it for one moment. I will never be wealthy as a musician, but every single day I get to play my instrument, teach wonderful students, and learn new music, new techniques, new information. That’s what I love about it- no matter how much you practice, you can always improve something. A beautiful recital by Chad Burrow of the University of Michigan.

All I know is that I will learn to handle and conquer the mountains and molehills of anxiety and stress; I could never be happy without music in my life, without the joy of teaching and performing. How lucky I am to have known that from such an early age. And how lucky I am to still feel such passion for what I have dedicated my life to.


7 thoughts on “Mountains, Molehills, and What-Ifs

  1. I am also an anxious person, and self-diagnosed obsessive-compulsive. Not as bad as Jack Nicholson’s character in As Good As It Gets, but approaching that during certain moments. I’ve also noticed a penchant in myself to build some *thing* up to monstrous proportions (molehill—>mountain), and then when all is said and done wonder how/why I made it into such a big deal. On the other hand, I think there’s a certain benefit to that penchant: a little bit of that, anyway, keeps one sharp, I think. And I worry (<—see, there I go) that if I DON'T exercise a healthy dose of self-doubt, I'll become cocky and insufferable. You, Denise, are so talented and full of heart. I'm sorry about your torn rotator cuff, but I have every confidence you pulled off that gig flawlessly. Stunning photos, btw!~Deb

  2. That post was such a lovely introspection and communication that so many can identify with. I don’t think you would be you without sharing your vulnerable side with us, and your stunningly remarkable positivity, that always wins out! I am sending healing thoughts for your rotator cuff…and I trust that it will heal very quickly because of your great attitude! The absolutely breathtaking photos of Utah are such testaments to the many glories of our planet! I have experienced that part of the country many times visiting a friend who lived there for several years. I actually went to the Sundance location you mentioned during the film festival there. Your performing and teaching always comes across with meaning for the fortunate ones who receive it’s many benefits. It’s as you said, that “teacher mode” thing is well-known to me, and no matter what else we have going on in our lives, that takes over, turbo drive kicks in, and we are off! It is actually kind of thrilling…almost like a drug, but a good drug. Your good works are many, and your expressions of self are priceless…Thank You.

    1. Jan, I so appreciate your always beautifully positive and loving spirit. Thank you for your kind words. And yes, we teachers all know the ‘teacher mode’- comes in handy during times of challenge. Our love of what we do always gets us through, doesn’t it? ❤️

  3. Thank you for being so open and honest about the difficulties you are facing. I have a habit of being the “worst case scenario” person. On one side it causes lots of hand wringing and on the other it susses out hidden pitfalls that can be corrected before they migrate from mole hill to mountain! I hope the shoulder is feeling better…

    1. Thank you so much. There are definitely benefits of thinking through potential pitfalls before they happen, but the worry part…ugh. Just got back from a long drive to Orlando for a conference performance (took Marley with me!) and my shoulder didn’t like that. MRI result on Tuesday.

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