I am caught in the in-between times; the ‘bloom on the rose’ faded long ago, at 58 the passing of years leaving me not yet OLD-old, but heading in that direction with unnerving speed. My mother was right as she just about always was; time flies by so quickly. I still remember her standing in front of the bathroom mirror at 92 saying, “Neese, what happened to me? I feel young and then I look in the mirror and it scares me- who is that? She giggled as she said it, but she meant it. I’m really starting to understand what she must have felt thinking to myself, who is that woman in the mirror?
The physical changes are there, for sure, but it’s more than that. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who I am compared to who I was prior to the seemingly endless pandemic. How could we all not have changed after what we’ve been through? There’s no doubt that the pre-pandemic me was a workaholic, traveling too much, cramming too many commitments into every day, never saying no to anyone, leaving me stressed and anxious much of the time. I have always been a woman with a determined-to-be-positive approach to life because, like my mother, I have a tendency to focus on the worst that could happen…all those damn ‘what-if’s’. I struggled with people-pleasing and a great deal of self-doubt; that good ol’ Imposter Syndrome tells you that no matter how much success you’ve had, someone somewhere is going to see your many flaws and the world will finally know that you don’t deserve the happiness you have found, the life and work that you cherish.
Now? I am still me, but I can see clearly that I have changed, my priorities shifting. I still love my job, but I will never again allow myself to sacrifice home life for work. I have always resonated with the concept of home, and when I don’t have the necessary time to recharge my batteries at home I’m no good to anyone. I often tell my students, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” The teacher might finally be learning to take her own advice.
It also feels like in-between times in general; Covid is still with us after over 20 months, leaving us all affected in various debilitating ways. It’s like we have one foot in ‘normal’ life and the other still deep in the mud of the pandemic. I wonder when and if we will ever truly get back to the normal we used to know?
I played my first solo performance in front of a live audience recently. It is difficult to put into words how it felt to once again walk on stage to perform for an enthusiastic live audience, to make music with colleagues. I felt both scared and overjoyed, hoping this will be the first of many recitals and concerts. After the recital, I went to my office and had a good cry. The emotions were just overwhelming. I hope this will be the first of many normal activities to return and stay. I felt whole again for the first time in all these months- such a good thing.
I am still looking for the lessons in all of this. I think they will appear like layers of an onion, deeper and deeper as time passes. Being open to learning and growing from all of this is my goal. Keep moving forward, one step at a time, magical and messy.