The words finally came to me on a run. I've been struggling for days, even weeks anticipating the day. The one year anniversary. How could I write about it? Yet, how could I not? I very much wanted to put my feelings into words. I wanted to continue what I had begun. I've started this article half a dozen times. Words weren't coming; my thoughts were conflicted. After all, this was the most significant loss of my life to date.
I wondered what the day would bring. Since my heart remembered the date each month even when my conscious brain did not, I braced for the worst. Armoring myself was a way of life for the past 365 days. What was one more day of emotional hiding? All I could remember was last year's staggering pain. What else could I possibly expect?
Would the day be a beginning or an end? I'm not sure why I placed so much importance on the day. Maybe my ordered mind wanted to hop across the line between last year and this year and land safely on the other side. Mom's death was like a bolt out of the blue. A shock. A strike. And the blow sent me reeling. Months full of memories and tears. How do you consolidate fragmented memories mixed with grief, anger and acceptance into a single day? Then it occurred to me. My fear wasn't about the day; it was about the whole year. I didn't want to do it all over again.
And that's when I decided to change. I didn't hide. I didn't pretend. The day before the anniversary of Mom's death I asked for support. I reached out to my friends, shared my loss and my fears, and asked for a hug. What do you think happened? Hugs! Lots and lots of hugs. Instead of lonely fear I had support. The support I needed was always there--all I had to do was ask.
Shoes! Why not? Having fun with your clothes will make you smile every time you look in the mirror. And if you're smiling, chances are the folks you meet will smile too.
I took this picture exactly a year ago when I really wanted to lose the blues. With darling booties and a silky Pucci scarf I can't help but smile.
What do you think? How about a fun outfit that will lighten your mood?
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These are stock cabinets painted in the style of Tracy Porter
. The small details don't matter as much as the overall bold use of color. In this case, I chose the cheerful colors for the color-blocked carpet tiles from FLOR
before I thought about paint colors.
Painting is my favorite art play. I don't know how to do it--I just dive in. Something about manipulating color is very pleasing to me.
How I did it: These cabinets have a smooth surface so first they had to be painted with a primer. After the primer dried I drew my designs with pencil and masked the cabinets with painter's tape. The inspiration came from a couple of Tracy Porter's books: Dreams from Home and Woven in Sunlight. I love the way she mixes colors and patterns and layers stripes, checks and florals. It's so exuberant! I checked out a tole painting book from the library for flower ideas but they looked stiff to me so I just made up the flowers and vines. All paints are acrylics from my local craft store. To paint the background colors I like to use inexpensive foam brushes. The details are painted with soft bristle brushes. Once all the painting was complete I sealed the entire cabinet. Both the sealer and primer are from the craft store.
Remember: the details of the design don't matter as much as the overall piece. I try not to get too caught up in each flower or vine. Choose colors you like and designs that you like--you can't go wrong!
Whether your student is taking private lessons or learning with a whole classroom of students, chances are they've played many times for a teacher. The others who have heard them play might be fellow students, parents, siblings. Most often students find themselves in their bedrooms playing for an audience of tongue-tied dolls while the family dog races for the nearest exit. (This is based on personal experience--one of my dogs used to rub her ears and howl when I played!)
In the course of learning an instrument students will be presented with various opportunities for performance. Last weekend a few of my private students participated in our school district's solo contest. These violinists and violists prepared solo pieces to perform in front of a judge for oral and written critique. Judge? Critique? Whoo boy--a silent teddy bear is starting to look a whole lot better! At least you're guaranteed a hug.
Whether it's the familiar setting of a studio recital or the institutional feel of an adjudicated festival, students need additional preparation. Once a student has spent time learning a piece we talk about the nuts and bolts of performance. For my youngest students bowing politely is one of their first lessons. We work on ignoring distractions by playing focus games. Older students practice starting their piece with a few silent measures of introduction before the bow even touches a string. This kind of preparation teaches performance etiquette, concentration and how to play your best from the very first note.
In spite of all the preparation no one can predict the outcome. We can plan and prepare but a live performance is…well, it's live. And that means it's subject to any and every variable. What happens when the piece is over? How can we support young, tender feelings? That's where emotional preparation comes into play. That can start during lessons, in the classroom and at home. In Suzuki training we were taught to always start with a positive compliment. After that you can move on to suggestions and ideas for improvement. Parents can also offer support with this method.
It's never too early to start performing. Practicing performance skills with your students and children will help them grow as musicians. Encourage your students to perform often in familiar settings. Beginning students can arrange weekly family concerts. Students in group classes can play individually or in small groups for the rest of the class. As a teacher, it's my job to make sure students are prepared before they take the stage. As a mentor, I can assure them that performance isn't the goal; it is just one step on a journey.