I must admit that I am a bit of a control freak…I believe many musicians are because we sort of have to be to achieve success in our field. When things feel like they are spinning out of control such as during, oh, I don’t know- a global pandemic and my husband enduring an eight-day nightmare alone in the hospital, well, I get wound a little tight.
As has been true my entire life, the lack of control and accompanying anxiety first manifests by what my mother used to call a ‘cleaning jag’. When I can’t control anything else around me, I can dust, scrub, vacuum, and mop. Oh, and do laundry, organize closets, pull every weed in the yard, and even clean and organize my garage.
I also exercise a lot as a way to help manage the stress. Bless, Marley, she is the best walk/run partner, always happily ready to help me burn off what is eating at me. She also helped me get through the eight days of Dan’s hospital stay when I wasn’t allowed to be with him. Her calm and loving presence was such a gift. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her here.
I’m a big believer in something a former music education professor shared with me many years ago; Act your way into a new way of being, something I have written about in previous blogs. I’m thinking a lot about this concept during our time in quarantine when so much feels out of my control (like the tornado watch we are under in Birmingham as I write). As hard as it is for me, I’m trying to let life unfold, realizing there will always be things that are beyond my control. Always.
I can’t control a global pandemic. I couldn’t prevent my husband from getting appendicitis or COVID-19. I can’t do anything about our semester being moved online. So many big things that I just have to let go. But…I am not helpless. I can stay home and do my part to help stop the spread of the virus. I can be a good and loving caretaker for Dan.
I can do my best to encourage and teach my students under these extraordinary circumstances. I can continue the healthy habits I’ve been following since December with intermittent fasting, diet changes, and exercise. I can work to make my little corner of the world beautiful, encouraging others going through tough times- there are so many…too many. I can also continue to seek out and notice small moments of beauty during these often sad days, like beautiful flowers on my walk, as well as the friends, locally and from all over, who shared sanitizers, masks, and Clorox wipes to help keep us safe while Dan recovers from COVID.
Life is going to happen, often not the way I have it mapped out in my control-freak brain. I can either spend my life riddled with anxiety or maybe, just maybe, I can learn from these weeks and months of so much being completely beyond my control. Some things I have to just accept; the thing I can control- most importantly- is my reaction to what happens. If I can work on that, well…that’s what will make all the difference. Find the joy in the journey, no matter what.