This has turned out to be yet another stressful fall semester full of travel and performances and life; all such wonderful things, just a lot. So far, since September I have traveled to give recitals and masterclasses in Lincoln, Denver, and Atlanta with my BFF and our Amicitia Duo, to London and Bath, England, with the UAB Chamber Trio, and am currently in Denver and am heading to Reno this week as part of my duties with the International Clarinet Association. I get home and perform on a recital at UAB (my third there this semester), frantically try to get caught up at UAB for a week, perform at the University of Montevallo, head to Vancouver to teach for a week at the University of British Columbia, then race to Tennessee to be a guest artist…then, blessed Fall/Thanksgiving Break. A candle burning at both ends; when will I learn?
But…I am pretty dang lucky to work in a career that I absolutely love, in a job that I adore, with colleagues who inspire me, support and encourage me…and who help me laugh at myself when necessary (which is quite often).
Case in point; I have been gripped with anxiety the past week. Okay, maybe the past few months…alright, in all honesty, for the past few years. I absolutely love what I do and am usually energized by it all; but at this point in the semester if can be easy to feel overwhelmed when it seems that everything is coming at me at once. I think all of my colleagues and our students would agree.
I was working on entering the department class schedule for next summer and fall semesters and felt the pressure rising, the tension of so many things to do, places to be, so many people to please. That’s when one of my lifesavers entered the picture to save the day. My Chair, Patrick, is truly the best boss I’ve ever had, the most hard-working colleague I have, and he has become a good friend. Patrick is a vocalist, a wonderful baritone, with a great sense of humor and not just a little compassion for his workaholic faculty. He is also leading the current UAB opera production that apparently has many humorous moments, complete with costumes and gags. Dan and I look forward to seeing it next week.
As I was sitting at my computer feeling tears of frustration beginning to swell, the door opens and in walks Patrick:
Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone like this walks into my office, I totally forget being stressed and burst into medicinal laughter. Patrick talked and joked a moment, then went on his way, crazy busy himself. A little bit later, the door opens again:
I didn’t get a photo of it, but the third time the door opened, Patrick leaned in with a huge bouquet of red flowers with a “Tah-dah!” on his way to rehearsal. How lucky can a girl get to have people like Patrick at work and my sweet Dan at home to help prop me up and keep me focused on the good that is all around me?
I found it ironic that our ‘Fall back, Spring forward’ time change happened this past weekend, just as I flew to Mountain Time in Denver. No matter, there is something sweet about that extra hour that gives me hope, reminding me that there is a break ahead, holidays and time at home to be with Dan and the animals to recharge my diminishing battery. Reminding me to breathe.
I can do all of this…I just have to remember to do what I tell my students; take things one task at a time, one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, and sometimes one minute at a time. I am so grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way, for my career, my colleagues and friends, for students who energize me and give me hope for our future, and for Dan and home. So, as we fall back, I’m going to remember to spring forward with gratitude…and a healthy dose of laughter, too.