My Favorite Color is…

I recently purchased a new phone. Of course, one of the first things to do with a new phone is choosing the wallpaper. I enjoy seeing a personal pic of some kind when opening my phone. With more than 7,000, I have plenty to choose from.

I chose a nature scene. Bright blue sky, billowy white clouds, and dark green trees now grace my home screen. As I opened my phone this morning, the combination of colors in this particular pic caught my eye. Blue, green, and white complimenting each other to create a beautiful image.

If asked about my favorite color, I always choose blue. I can’t remember ever having a different answer. Something about my current age, tendency to be reflective I suppose, made me stop to ponder.

Strangely enough, this particular picture provided some insight. The patch of clear blue sky by itself is beautiful. However, when seen in contrast with fluffy white clouds and green trees, it is transformed. Its beauty is magnified. And it is not a matter of comparison. It is a matter of compliment.

Kind of like people, you know? We may each be someone’s favorite. Favorite teacher, friend, aunt, uncle, cousin, etc. But that doesn’t mean we simply stand alone, happy to be the chosen. No, we celebrate the need to exist in compliment. In other words, I can’t be the favorite aunt without loving my sweet nieces. 😉

I will always have favorite people in my life, and blue will continue to be my favorite color. But hopefully, I will remember to truly see all the people around me.

We all have a purpose, a place of belonging. And just like the colors in my photo, we have the power to bring out the best in each other. When given a chance.

Friendly Reminders

Now that school is out for summer, I look forward to many conversations over coffee with friends. I love the connections which begin and grow from this practice. They bring renewal in ways which often surprise me.

Sometimes they also bring friendly reminders. Here are a few much-needed ones I recently received.

  1. Perfection should never be my goal.
  2. Honesty in friendship is a necessity.
  3. Daily prayer provides daily renewal.

The first reminder concerned perfection, an ideal we are bombarded with on all fronts. You can be the perfect wife, mom, friend, teacher. Fill in the blank. That goal always leads to disappointment. Why? We are not flawless creatures. We do not live in a picture-perfect world.

Admitting our imperfections and hearing someone else say, “Me, too” is powerful. That one simple phrase takes away a small piece of the loneliness which often accompanies my inward thoughts. It provides a beginning, a binding with another heart.

The second friendly reminder was honesty. Truth, even spoken by a friend, is not always easy to receive. Just this week, a friend said to me, “I have to talk to you about something.” She went on to share observations about certain attitudes and my need for an adjustment. 😉

Although her words were difficult to hear, they brought a sense of relief. They took me back to the beginning realization-I am not perfect. And that is ok! I can, however, seek to be better.

Another friend reminded me of the importance of daily prayer. It holds the power to renew my mind, even when I don’t know what to pray. It also reminds me that God loves me in spite of my faults. And affirms my purpose at this moment, on this day.

As summer begins, my heart wants to soak in these beautiful reminders. I’m quite certain more reminders will be needed in the coming days. But for today, I am thankful for honest words from caring friends. And I will end this day with a prayer for rest and renewal.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23

Tomorrow is a new day! Grab a friend and a cup of coffee! ❤ ☕️

School Year Successes

Reflections often bring mixed emotions. Whether it’s looking in the mirror or taking stock of an entire year of teaching, there are always things I wish I could change. For this end-of-the-year review, however, I’ve decided to focus on the positive.

One of my main goals this year was making sure all students who entered the music room were able to participate on some level. In particular, I wanted to connect more with our friends receiving special education services. Professional development early in the year was both challenging and encouraging, and it reminded me of the importance of these connections.

So here are my top three successes:

  • A smile
  • A high-five
  • A music stamp on a hand

All three involved the same child. A child who would not come into my classroom last year and this year spent most of his time sitting at the back. I intentionally approached him slowly and quietly, and he eventually smiled. When I got my first high-five, there were definitely tears. And allowing me to put a music stamp on his hand? That was a big step!

Did he sing or play an instrument? No. However, he listened, sometimes colored, and participated in his own way. He let me enter his world for tiny little snippets of time. And for that, I am grateful.

Sunsets~Reflections~Perspectives

So much is happening during a sunset. Colors mixing, clouds moving, the earth spinning.  We see the amazing results, but not each individual change as it happens.  Red and yellow turning to orange-Blue and red turning to pinkish purple-all while signaling the end of another day.

Each day the sunset is different. So many variables-types of clouds, wind direction, viewing location, etc. The two things that never change-it is beautiful, and it is fleeting. I always wish it would last longer, change more slowly.  Instead it reminds me of how fast time is passing.

Recently watching a sunset from the nineteenth floor of a high rise, I could almost feel time moving forward.  Those last few moments, right before the sun fades beneath the horizon, there was a split-second sense of how fast this Earth is spinning.  And though the sky still glowed an orange hue, the sunset was over.

From this same location, I noticed the sunset’s reflection in an office building across the way.  That brought a new perspective.  As pretty as the reflection was, it couldn’t compare to the actual sunset.  All of the intricate colors were not visible, nor did the reflection show all the changes that were happening.  The picture it provided, though pretty, was not complete.

How does this compare to my own reflection?  My only guide for checking my appearnce, yet I am so much more than that sometimes blurry image. And many things have the power to affect the way I view that person in the mirror.  Lack of sleep, difficult day, feeling low-all impact how I see myself on any given day.

The next time I feel unsure when looking in the mirror, thinking the image is in some way lacking, I plan to remember that sunset.  I must acknowledge that who I am is complicated, full of thoughts and ideas, changing all the time.   And just like the sunset, I am so much more than my reflection.

Life’s Roles

Daughter first

Sister second

Years later wife

Mom times three

Cousin, niece, aunt

Friend and teacher between

 

Each role gives purpose

Brings responsibility

Delivers sorrow 

Causes growth

Provides joy

Creates life

 

 I look ahead

The future unseen

New roles yet to come

Hopeful to embrace each one

Through smiles, laughter, or tears

And continue down this path to becoming me

Robbing the Cradle

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “robbing the cradle.”  Typically it refers to someone marrying a much younger person.  People have teased me with that old saying upon discovering that I am two years older than my husband.  Of course, he never lets me forget that fact, even though two years hardly qualifies in this case.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, my daughter and I met an older couple.  As the wife turned around from the meat counter, she stumbled but caught herself.  She came to a stop right in front of us.  I asked if she was ok and said something like, “Oh, be careful!”  Very helpful I’m sure, but she smiled and struck up a conversation.

We soon learned that this fashionably dressed, white-haired, make-up wearing woman was ninety-three years old!  She shared her age proudly and thanked us as we commented on how amazing she looked.  Obviously, this woman had some spunk.

As we continued to chat, her husband (I assumed) walked toward us.  When something was mentioned about him watching out for her she laughed and said, “Oh yes he does.  Well, I did rob the cradle.”  Now mind you he was not a spring chicken and walked with a cane, but he had a precious smile.  We chuckled as she shared that she was twelve years older than her husband.  I quickly did the math in my head…so, that makes him eighty-one.

Just when I thought the story was finished, she shared more details.  “I was married to my first husband for seventy years.  And (pointing to her husband) we’ve only been married for three years.”  It took a few minutes for my brain to wrap around what this precious lady was saying.  Seventy years of marriage!  What a story!  I would imagine her current husband also had a story to tell, but he just smiled happily as she told hers.

Later I found myself wishing I could have spent more time with this sweet couple.  Many questions came to my mind.  How old was she when she first married?  What had happened to her husband?  Did she have any children?  How did she meet her current husband?  Answers I guess I will never have.  Unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store again…you can bet I will be keeping my eyes open.

 

 

 

The Voice of an Old Friend

It amazes that a music composition from 1839, which I learned to play thirty years ago, has such a powerful influence over me today.  Arabeske Op. 18 by Robert Schumann was my absolute favorite college recital piece.  I’ve always found Schumann’s ability to beautifully weave a melodic theme throughout a piece captivating.  He presents the theme, expands it to represent a variety of emotions, and finally restates in a peaceful resolution.  This particular composition clearly follows that structure.

My second favorite Schumann composition is Frauen-Liebe und Leben (A Woman’s Love and Life.)  A song cycle based on a series of poems, each song represents a different phase of the love relationship from first meeting to wedding and finally ending in death.  This lovely depiction of life also follows the structure of beginning and ending with a recognizable theme. In the final song, the piano provides a beautiful postlude,  giving the listener a reminder of the true love represented by the recurring melodic theme.

My memories of playing these two pieces are crystal clear, relating to specific events in my life.

Picture a young, twenty-one-year-old college student, senior year.  The two years previous marked by a difficult, controlling relationship.  An unwise decision to marry this person had ended in divorce after a year and a half.  Now I was attempting to get my life back on track, finish college, and figure out what was next.  Many evenings were spent in a tiny practice room.  And often when I practiced Schumann’s Arabeske,  the tears would flow uncontrollably.

Fast forward nine years-happily married with three young children.  Looking for a job, preferably in the music field.  Directed by a previous employer, I applied for a staff accompanist opening at the Univerisity of Tulsa.  The interview process involved playing a prepared piece and sight reading.  I chose to play the Schumann Frauen-Liebe und Leben since it related to the position, and because it had been one of my favorite recital pieces from graduate school.  There I sat, all alone on that stage, desperately wanting this job.  I played the Schumann with clarity and emotion, sight read confidently and got the position.

So what directed my thoughts to these pieces on this day?  Today was exhausting.  It was the third full day of a brand new school year.  Following a full day of teaching elementary music with the grand finale of car duty, I trudged back to my classroom.  Walking in, I immediately noticed the music sitting on the piano in the corner-Arabeske.  It was like an old friend calling me to the bench.

The simple act of playing the piano always calms my brain.  I’ve experienced this truth many times, so why don’t I take the time to do it more often?  I’m not sure-but today I had no choice.  Sitting down at the piano, I began to play this old familiar piece.  Reaching the last page, playing that final melodic theme, listening to it fade away…I let out a big sigh of relief.  Still tired, but now relaxed and much calmer, preparing my thoughts for the next day didn’t feel so overwhelming.

Will I do this every day?  Probably not.  But hopefully, more often than I have in recent days.  Playing the piano has an undeniable positive influence on my state of mind, and days like today the music sounds like the voice of an old friend…