You Could Hear a Pin Drop

I’ve always thought that was an interesting phrase. Yet, even more interesting the situations it describes. Intently listening as someone shares words of wisdom. Witnessing a momentous occasion.

No matter the situation, this phrase describes a specific kind of silence. One which leaves everyone waiting with anticipation for what is to come. Unknowingly holding their breath. Walking away with a lasting impression.

I had the pleasure of witnessing such an event this past Monday evening…

Previously I shared about my daughter, Rachel, and I attending a James Taylor concert. Bonnie Raitt was also performing that evening. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Such an unmistakable voice and style. However, I am not as familiar with the whole of her music.

Following a warm introduction by James, she took the stage, commanding with energy and passion. Her raspy voice was strong and guitar licks impressive. The rest of the band? Phenomenal.

This particular concert venue is large, arena-style. Not exactly the type of place you think of for intimate musical performances. Oh, my goodness…after several upbeat, rocking tunes, the lights went down and most of the band exited the stage.

A single spotlight, a stool, Bonnie and her acoustic guitar was front and center. She said something like, “Let’s turn this place into a nightclub for just a moment,” and began to play and sing the blues. My eyes scanned the audience, motionless. All I could think was, “Wow! You could hear a pin drop in here!”

Witnessing this one seasoned performer command this entire space with her voice and guitar-An experience I won’t soon forget.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go add some Bonnie Raitt to my Apple Music playlists. 🙂

Country Road

My daughter, Rachel, and I saw James Taylor in concert yesterday evening.  This was my sixth JT concert over the past 26 years, Rachel’s first.  I can truly say he never disappoints.  His songs are timeless and his sound seems to grow stronger and warmer with age-kind, genuine, personal.

Me and my girl!

Listening to his songs has a way of lifting my spirits.  Obviously, he did not write any of them for me. 😉 Yet, particular ones remind me of specific times and places from my own life.  Country Road immediately comes to mind.  Hearing it again last evening…beautiful.         

I guess my feet know where they want me to go
Walking on a country road

Just the thought of this song makes me smile.  Hearing it live and in person transports me back to my childhood.  Riding my bike and going for walks down our country road.  Always with the specific instructions, “Do not go past the red clay hill!”  

This winding road from my parents’ house to the highway is only about ¼ of a mile long.  As a kid, however, it seemed much longer, mysterious.  Thick forest on each side of the pavement made for limited visibility.  Any rustle in the leaves had the power to trigger our wild imaginations.  Although there have been rare sightings of bears and big cats in the past, I’m certain most of our unexplained noises came from birds and lizards.

I walked down that road many times for many reasons.  Playing with my cousins, getting some fresh air, eating too much Thanksgiving dinner, spending time with a special aunt or a friend.  Walking, talking, running, riding…a foundational place in my growing up. 

Some things have changed over the years.  The forest thinned.  A few houses now scattered in the woods, visible through the trees.  No more red clay hill.  Yet, there continues to be something special about taking a walk down that road. 

Memories may fade over time.  Great songwriters have the power to bring those memories back to life.  Singer/songwriters like James Taylor.  Songs like Country Road. Take a listen. https://youtu.be/2Dsph5uikX0

Be You

We’ve always said this to our children, ”Be you.” We wanted them to be confident in themselves and their abilities and interests. Of course, this was paired with the importance of working hard and giving your best. And when your dad is the principal, well…you don’t get away with much.

Please don’t misunderstand, we are far from being perfect parents. Sometimes I worry we were too tough. But somehow these three have turned out to be pretty amazing individuals.

Our oldest is a dedicated teacher, currently in his second year, kind. Our youngest, an artist, funny, graduating high school this spring. Two brothers.

Which leaves their sister in the middle. I think she got the best of both worlds-an older brother to offer guidance and a younger one to help guide, or boss around. 😉

This girl is beautiful, confident, and strong. She’s known what she wanted to do for as long as I can remember-be a special education teacher for high school students and young adults. College graduation rapidly approaching and a first official job interview tomorrow!

Is she excited? Yes!

Is she nervous? Probably a little.

But we have every confidence in her. Today I want to shout, ”Just be you! Don’t be afraid to say what you want. You’ve got this!”

Look out Special Education world, here comes our girl!

Pep Talk

Feeling a bit restless
Time for a change?
Not quite sure
The question sounds strange

Looking back ten years
What do I see?
Time for a change
A determined me

Time for a change
No doubt then
Confident and strong
Am I ready again?

Where do I start?
What do I rearrange?
So many questions when it’s
Time for a change

Words…Reactions

My interaction with a little friend at school this morning made me stop and think about the power of our words. Sometimes all it takes is a few short words to send someone into a tailspin. Yes, there are times we must ignore harsh words. Typically, that is much easier for adults than it is for children.

Such was this morning. One particular student was crying and crying, expressing a desire to go home. I tried to be sympathetic and funny, saying I wanted to go home too. That did not help. There was no comforting this one.

Discovering the reason for this reaction took at least twenty-thirty minutes and multiple adults. I’m afraid I was not one of those adults. Although I helped to a point, I was not the one for this job. My usual “dry up those tears” attitude was obviously not going to work. And honestly, I did not have the patience necessary this early in the day.

Whether this student overreacted or not is not the issue here. The fact is unkind words from another student lead to what seemed like an eternity of tears. Eventually, it passed, the student regained control and began the school day.

I wondered what other factors may have been in play. Didn’t sleep well? Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Didn’t eat breakfast? I don’t know. I do know I have experienced mornings like that.

Although it’s hard to admit, there have been those rare times when a cross word from someone almost brought me to tears. I’m not even talking about mean comments directed towards me. And I am an emotionally stable adult. (Just don’t ask my teammates or family.) 😉

So, should I really be surprised when a child reacts this way? I suppose it depends on the child and the situation. However, it does make me think even more about our need to teach and model kindness every day. Sounds simple but requires being consistent and intentional.

Here’s to tomorrow…hoping for an all-around happier start to the day. It is Valentine’s Day, after all. Just maybe there will be some short words that will lead to happy reactions. ❤

Gotta love conversation hearts!

Sunshine on My Shoulders

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry

Sunshine on the water looks so lovely

Sunshine almost always makes me high

I love this song by the late John Denver. So sweet yet melancholy. For some reason, it’s been stuck in my head these past few days. Possibly due to the sun hiding behind the clouds for so long.

I miss the sun when it’s hiding. The absence of light and warmth felt so strongly. And yet this phrase, sunshine on my shoulders, continues to invade my thoughts.

I began to think of it as an expression as opposed to the literal description. What other objects/experiences might take its place?

My first thought was a baby on my shoulder. An experience I’ve had many times with my own children and children of dear friends. Memories which definitely warm my heart.

Next, I thought about past teachers. Whether in elementary, high school, college, or a piano teacher-special ones who looked over my shoulder in support and encouragement. Always when I needed it most.

What about my parents and other family members? Those who were always looking out for my best interest. Perhaps certain ”over the shoulder” looks didn’t initially feel like sunshine. But in retrospect, provided light and growth.

So many little things. My husband sneaking up behind me in the kitchen. My kids reaching over the couch for a hug. A call or text from a friend saying, ”Hi! How are you?”

Things I too often take for granted.

Viewing all these through the lens of sunshine brings a whole new appreciation. For just as the sun, they provide light, growth, and warmth-things we all need.

Especially on these days when the actual sun is hiding behind the clouds. ⛅

Determined

No pain, no gain
That’s a wrap
Show’s over
Saved the best for last

Hmmm…so many thoughts and emotions. Yesterday marked the final two performances for our all-school musical, Newsies. One matinee and one evening show brought all the hard work to an end. As I reflect over these past few months, in particular, the last two weeks, determination is the word I choose.

I watched as students on stage and in the pit showed determination. A determination to work harder each day. A determination to always give their best. A determination to share their hard work with gladness and grace.

They may not realize it, but their energy was contagious. It had a profound impact on me and my attitude, particularly on those days it felt like I had no energy left to give.

Some have asked, “Will you do it again next year?” Others have suggested, “Maybe it’s time to give this up.” Comments made with my best interest at heart, no doubt. It is an exhausting process which pushes me further than I think I can go. And each year, the physical challenge grows just a bit.

Yet, this year as I thought more about this thing-this musical season-I realized how much I love it! I can’t imagine not being a part. I don’t want to imagine…

Following one of the evening performances, a sweet colleague said, “You must be exhausted. But it has to be so worth it!” Yes! Simple truth. I’m certain she had no idea how much I needed to hear those words. My husband expressed the same sentiment, understanding how important this is to me. These combined with my daughter’s, “Proud of you, Mom” gave me the spark I needed to finish strong.

Hence the word, determined. As long as the opportunity is there and I am able to play with excellence, I am determined to be part of what is Union Public Schools All-School Musical. Even though it wears me thin, it is worth every ache and pain. Worth fighting for every ounce of energy required. Worth every afternoon nap. Worth every extra cup of coffee consumed. 😉

And so, I say, “Farewell Newsies!” It was a pleasure to make music with you all. Remember the lessons learned through this amazing story. I know I will! 🙂

#seizetheday #watchwhathappens #newsiesforever