By Pam AsberryOn May 10th, I remembered the anniversary of my daughter’s death, celebrated my youngest son’s graduation from high school, introduced my ex-husband to my now-fiance, and presented a full-length duo piano recital with a colleague, my first such performance since 1982. I still haven’t fully recovered from it all but I learned a lot. Here are a few reminders the next time I am working towards a specific goal – whether it’s a piano recital, a writing deadline, or a job assignment.
1. It’s okay to let some of the housework go. There were nights I left dirty dishes in the sink, days I didn’t lift a finger to cook or clean, and weeks where grocery shopping and laundry didn’t happen. We survived.
2. You can’t do it all. Since the first of the year, I have done very little that didn’t involve the piano. With 40+ piano students, student events most Saturdays, my personal piano practice, and two professional rehearsals each week, how could I? My writing and jewelry making completely fell by the wayside. I am looking forward to having more time to spend in those areas now after summer vacation begins.
3. Drink water. Remember to eat. And take your vitamins. I always struggle with keeping myself hydrated. But when I am extremely busy I sometimes even forget to eat. Worst case scenario, I end up with headache; regardless, when I realize how hungry I am, I stuff myself with the bad stuff. Healthy, easily accessible snacks are a must. And I know the jury is out on how helpful nutritional supplements actually are. But I swear I feel better when I pop my morning fish oil and Vitamin D. My mind and body function best when I keep up these simple daily routines.
4. Limit consumption of caffeine and alcohol. If I drink coffee past noon, I pay for it at bedtime. Then it is tempting to indulge couple of glasses of wine helps me to relax and unwind. This is a vicious cycle. I am researching the benefits of green tea instead of coffee and working on a relaxing nighttime routine to help with the insomnia.
5. Silence your inner critic. Since I have been playing the piano as long as I can remember, I don’t feel that I play as well as I “should.” As a result, I suffer from debilitating stage fright. Even though I am comfortable speaking in front of an auditorium full of people, the minute I sit down behind the piano my hands and legs tremble, my heart races, and my thoughts go wild. And now that I am older, memorization is an issue as well. Although I have learned mechanisms for coping with all of this, it would be much easier NOT to perform. In the end, I had to give myself the same pep talk I give my students every time they put themselves in a similar situation. No risk, no reward.
6. Be realistic about your expectations. Despite months of preparation, it was unreasonable to expect that our performance would be flawless. It wasn’t. But we had wonderful time making music together and our audience gave us a standing ovation at the end of the concert. It doesn’t get much better than that.
7. Reward yourself for a job well done. Although we enjoyed a nice dinner out with family and friends Saturday night, I felt kind of lost last week. It was as if I had forgotten how to live my “normal” life. My best attempts to reclaim my home and reconnect with neglected loved ones fell short; all I wanted to do was sleep. Finally, over the weekend, I began to feel like myself again. I went grocery shopping; I cooked a meal for my son and his friend; I finished reading a book I started months ago; I cleaned out my bedroom closet.
And I guess we are gluttons for punishment. Because my colleague and I have already started selecting music for our next musical event. Click HERE to see a recording of our grand finale, our own arrangement of a well-known classic rock song. If you enjoy it, we hope you will follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
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