Random Thoughts

Mondays. Mondays are a long day, and this semester has been particularly busy getting going. I did realize that this week means I’ll be about 1/4 of the way through the semester, which isn’t nothing. I also shouldn’t be counting down in that way, but I’m wondering if I need to make some small tweaks and changes in the future to make myself less crazy. I’m not sure what the answer is, because there isn’t anything in particular that I want to not do, it’s just that sometimes it all fits together to make a big mess of scarfing down a peanut butter sandwich while driving and having no time to properly practice.

I did get some good practice in over the weekend, and we also made some good progress on the bathroom remodel. I do think that the remodel has been causing more difficulties in my mental space than I am fully aware, and since I haven’t been teaching at home and have to commute, that adds about 20 minutes per day of extra work that will be gone soon as well. 20 minutes might not sound like much, but in the overall scheme of the week, it adds up. I don’t know.

I feel like I’m just treading water, just holding on right now. I’m happy about what I’m doing, I’m proud of what I’m doing too, but I just feel like I’m playing catch up on quite a lot of things. I am managing though, so it’s not so bad. My email inbox isn’t too behind, I’m mostly keeping up with my to-do list, and I’m mostly putting forth what my students need from me.

We bought plane tickets to New York City for spring break. I’m excited! There are lots of people to visit there as well as lots of sightseeing to be done. Hopefully the weather will be lovely that week as well (I’m sure that’s a less likely event).

I’m finding that playing viola is quite fun and a neat new challenge. You might ask, why are you adding a new instrument when you are so busy and overworked, and the answer is, well, I already agreed to a gig when I was less busy, so I have to “get good” at it. I find myself grappling with weird emotions involving the viola, since my ex was a violist, but my sister Carrie is a violist too, and she’s a delightful person who didn’t spend years making me feel bad about myself. (We’ll just say that while I have moved on, and I am mostly happy with my life, and really glad and thankful for Louie and my current friends, it hasn’t been as easy path, and it’s been difficult to navigate being in the same field, and I suppose I have been hiding from some things!)

But I won’t dwell on things, nor try to make problems. I think everybody who leaves a relationship has their own thoughts on what went wrong, and how to improve, and I’ll tell you: there are times when I think that Louie got really lucky meeting me, and many many other times when I think that I got really lucky meeting him, and many times where we ask ourselves what are we even doing. I know that I bring what I learned into this relationship, and there are many times a day that I am thankful for Louie’s generosity, and grateful for his support, and glad that I’m with somebody who understands why I do what I do, because my career is important to me.

I know I treat my blog more like a journal than a money making opportunity (one of my many failures), and perhaps I shouldn’t overshare, but I also really enjoy putting my thoughts out there. So I’m torn and conflicted, and I am inconsistent. Flawed even, much like Hillary Clinton Winking smile

Four Seasons: Video, pictures, and more thoughts

Check it out! This is a highlights reel of my November performance with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis. I’m still pinching myself how much fun it was to play, and I only wish I could do it again. I’d be delighted if you took a few minutes (up to ten, actually) and watched the video. Many thanks to Wendy Lea for putting this together and making it ALL happen.

It was a real career highlight–hopefully the rest of my career isn’t downhill from here.

Can you tell how over excited I am? And my dress…I felt like a million bucks.

Some action shots!

I had a bit of trouble with my hair but I guess it looks cool…

And I was just SO happy to be done, but particularly happy that the performance went really well. I’m still just so thrilled about all of it, especially all the people that helped make it a night to remember. (Thanks to Wendy and all the members of the orchestra, and to Louie for putting up with me being so stressed out…)

Self Care

Self care is a buzz word these days, isn’t it? Everybody talks about it…but I realized recently I spent a year ignoring the idea of taking time for myself, not my career.

I’ve been trying to do a lot, to really push myself to work hard and accomplish stuff, and that’s all been quite vague and based on who calls and how I feel and making sure that I feel like I’m doing worthwhile things. And I’ve been enjoying that, but lately it’s really been sticking in my head that I am in charge of my life. Duh, you say, but really, when you spend so much time doing things based on who calls or what you get asked to do, or what you get lucky enough to, life feels like it’s definitely out of your control. And I react by trying to control what I can.

But, I can decide many things. I can decide what’s important to me. I am pondering over what to do with the next 20 years of my career and where I see myself then. And while, I really have no idea…I am attempting to imagine it.

And then I’m trying to grab time where I can, like now. This morning I’m taking a little me time to read and relax, and blog.  And then I do a bunch of teaching, and sometimes I dread that, but I’m really coming to some terms and realizations about where my teaching strengths lay and what sort of students I do best with.

What am I reading lately? I’ve been obsessively reading “cozy mysteries”.  I’ve read loads of Mary Daheim’s Alpine series and Bed and Breakfast series, Donna Andrews, Lynn Cahoon, and now working through Leslie Meier’s Lucy Stone books. I find the simplicity and less graphic nature of the cozy mystery genre is a nice contrast to the news and current political stress and strife.

I also find keeping written lists of things that make me feel accomplished is good. I spend too much of my life feeling like an underachieving imposter so I find it’s good to have something to see and say, okay, just because I’m not touring the world doesn’t mean I’m a loser. And I’m reminding myself, often, that I am not the problem if somebody thinks I’m not good enough. And trying to internalize that. I am good enough. I work hard. I play violin well…and I’m reliable and organized and many of my students think I’m funny Smile

One other self care thing: I’ve been using LOTS of moisturizer this winter. All kinds of fancy face lotions, but lots of hand and feet lotion as well. I’m kind of enjoying the fact that I’m getting older, but I want to be a well moisturized 40 year old when I get there.

Oh! The plumbers are here doing plumbing and whatnot. The bathroom project is very behind schedule but so much progress is being made this week. I miss teaching at home and I hope to get back to it very soon. Another reason to just try to relax and take things as they go.

And exercise. Exercise and eating well are important to feeling good. Self care means taking time for those things too. But it’s hard to do everything, isn’t it? I just have to remind myself, often, that I’m worth it Smile Reading, relaxing, working out, eating lots of delicious salads, these are all worth it.

Happy Birthday to my Sister Carrie

It’s Friday! *cheers*

But I’m a musician and I’m working this weekend. *boos*

Anyway, here we are. Next week I’m full into my regular schedule…I finally got all my college students scheduled (I think, fingers crossed, knock on wood) and I’m looking forward to teaching them for the next 14 weeks. And then it’ll be summer, can you believe it, the time goes so fast?!

This weekend I’m doing a thing tomorrow out at Lindenwood, and then Sunday doing lots of opera opera opera.

My students get to hear opera during their lessons, which has been a wonderful learning experience for everybody. I’m still not teaching out of my house due to some bathroom issues/renovating, so I’m renting a space at the Winter Opera studios. It’s been a good place to teach, though I hate renting space, but it’s working well for us all, and since rehearsals for the upcoming opera are going on, my students and their parents (as applicable) get to hear some of that too. I think it’s good for them to hear it!

Last weekend at the symphony concert there was a health emergency—an older fellow had to be taken out on a stretcher. I guess we’ll never know how things turned out. It was a scary thing to watch, and I especially felt bad thinking of his companions and loved ones! It happened during Augustin Hadelich’s encore, or at least that’s when the commotion started, so it gave a different feel to the Bach D Minor Sarabande.

This Saturday we are seeing the Bad Plus at Jazz at the Bistro. It’s a little trio we’ve seen every year together, but this year they have a new pianist. I’m eager to see how things have changed.

I’ve got a lot going on, both on paper and in my head. I still feel decently relaxed and not super stressed out, but I feel like I’m just waiting for things to really explode. Sometimes I wake up and wonder how long I can manage like this, like, is everybody feeling this busy and stressed out for large portions of their year, or is this unique to me, or unique to freelance musicians? I’m not sure what I’d give up, or what I would add to make things better…sometimes I think my favorite thing to do is lie in bed and read, but I can’t do that all day long, and I can’t get paid for it…but maybe my second favorite thing is playing violin.

What are your weekend plans looking like? I’m glad our weather is a bit warmer this weekend so I think more people will be out and about.

Mid-January

Where is the month going?

This semester is finally starting to take shape. I’m having to make more trips to the college to teach than I would prefer, but I think it’ll mean less crazy busy days and more evenly spaced room to practice, respond to emails, and work out. We’ll see! Right now it’s too cold and icy to run so I haven’t done that in awhile, but maybe in a few days the weather will be more cooperative. (I haven’t had a gym membership in some time, and don’t really want to at this time.)

Otherwise, I’ve been practicing, organizing, planning, and reading. Louie and I haven’t done anything terribly exciting lately, but we did go to the symphony last Saturday night and had dinner with friends the night before. We’ve been homebodies and just trying to get through Game of Thrones-after the last season finished in the fall or whenever that was, we decided to start watching the whole series again, and we are nearly done! It’s been interesting watching it again-I’d forgotten many things, and some of my reactions are different knowing what is yet to come, and I like some characters better and others less.

The bathroom remodel is a little stalled, but things are shaping up for next week. I’m looking forward to picking out tile soon, and I’m REALLY looking forward to being back at home teaching again and being able to use the bathroom on the main floor of the house rather than having to go downstairs every time.

I’m already having to think about scheduling for the summer. We are planning to go to NYC over spring break, and have some ideas for the summer (Japan!) but it’s hard to specifically plan a vacation that far out, yet I need to get my summer schedule set, at least as far as accepting gigs…and it’ll be here before we know it!

I had originally been wanting to do something for my 40th bday, but the planning on that stalled and just seemed too hard at this time. What I wanted to do didn’t line up with what other people were wanting to do, and the dates didn’t work, and then hurricanes hit the Caribbean, and I just don’t know. Also I’m thinking of buying a viola, which would be an expense, and it’s just hard to get everything to work out.

But overall things are good. I feel more relaxed (January is always easier) than a few months ago, I’m staying up to date on work for the most part, it’s not tax time quite yet, and I’ve got some really fun concerts coming up this semester, so…life is good. Other than the cold, but it looks like the week will be warming up. This weekend we are going to see the Bad Plus at Jazz at the Bistro, which is a yearly event for Louie and I.

How is your year shaping up?

New Year, Still Hard to come up with Titles

Happy New Year! I had a wonderful Christmas visiting my family in Phoenix, and then I proceeded to come home and be sick with a terrible cold/flu thing for nearly a week. I suppose I should be glad I was already on vacation because I didn’t have to cancel anything (except a quartet rehearsal) but it wasn’t the way I wanted to spend the week.

That’s okay though. It’s been really cold and being sick gave me an excellent excuse to stay inside, mostly in bed. And it reminded me that we aren’t as in charge as we think, and that health really is the most important thing. I plan to work harder this year on maximizing my health, both physical AND mental. This past year I didn’t eat as well or exercise as much as I could have, and I definitely spent more time being anxious and stressed than was good for me, so I’m going to focus on those things.

I’m getting ready for teaching next week, and doing a few things to prepare for the semester ahead. This spring should be a bit easier than the fall, plus I get to ease in. In the fall I returned from a 2 week vacation and had to work nearly a month straight, with loads of gigs in addition to all my students. This spring semester I don’t have so many gigs right off the bat so I can focus on practicing (lots of fun music to learn!), teaching and scheduling my Wash U students, which is always an adventure. I’m already well into my viola challenge of #100daysofpractice on Instagram, but I’m also hard at work learning some wonderful repertoire for the quartet this semester (we have several fun concerts scheduled) and I’ve found myself involved in piano trio/sonata concert as well, so I’ve got a lot of great performances and chamber music lined up. Orchestrally I’m heading to Illinois for two weeks this spring and playing some things in town, doing an opera, and doing a few broadway shows at the Fox. (Sorry, this post is kind of a brain dump, then again, not sorry, that’s how it always is here!)

So, a few pictures from Christmas:

We did quite a few fun activities in Phoenix. We went to an event at the Desert Botanical Gardens called the Luminarias, where the place was lit up with luminaries and you could wander around listening to various live music groups. I liked the mariachi band best.

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We went to the Museum of Musical Instruments, where I had never been before. It was fascinating, and I’d love to go back with Louie sometime. There was an overwhelming amount of information, but it was really neat to see all the different instruments.

The octobass is VERY large, so I also took a picture of a miniature violin. Nice contrast!

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We had a wonderful time just hanging out, eating good food, opening gifts as well. My niece Athena is in the “stick out your tongue” phase of photo taking, but I thought my parents (especially my dad, who has really perfected that look, as it was present in nearly a dozen photos, where the rest of us ranged from crazed with eyes open too wide/shut to somewhat fairly normal) and sister Leslie looked good in this picture!

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On the last full day of my visit, we took a day trip to Sedona. We hiked a little around Bell Rock, took a tour of the Palatki Heritage Site, and then headed to Jerome for a short visit too. It was a full day, and then afterwards nearly all of us got sick! Traveler’s notes: National Parks passes are useful for visiting Sedona as otherwise you have to pay for a Red Rocks pass for the day. And the Palatki site is only accessible via approximately 7 miles of dirt road, which is fun in a Prius C!

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That’s my aunt Connie on the right, Mom on the left. They are sisters. Oh, and an interesting side effect of wearing a Go St Louis shirt while in Sedona—numerous people from St Louis talked to me. I guess we are a friendly people!

In any case, it was a nice trip, always fun to see my niece especially (she changes the most) and of course great to see family. Louie and I did our separate things with the plan to come back to St Louis and celebrate New Year’s Eve together—we DID do that, but since I was really sick it ended up being lots of tissues, cold medicine, Netflix, and a real struggle to stay up past midnight. I did, but we decided to save the champagne in the fridge until later. (Perhaps today, as Louie is taking the GRE this morning and might want to celebrate after!)

Goals for the new year, just to sort of solidify them. (Then again, saying sort of solidify isn’t very solid.) Be able to roll with the punches. Focus on stress relief and health. Be a good friend, but don’t worry about how many friends I have Smile

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.