March on. Steady march. Relentless march. March into the unknown.
March is not done softly. March is rhythmic, consistent, and intentional. March can be fierce.
March as movement; March as seasonal; March as lambs and lions.
I think that this year March has been all of these things for me. It has tested my stamina, my will, my desire, and my skill. I have learned to keep marching even when it is hard. I have gratefully been reminded that I don’t march alone.
I am grateful for all those who make the SOL Challenge possible, including every participant! This is my 3rd March of marching–but sometimes, I’ve danced.
The wind started picking up in the afternoon, whistling through the doors and windows. The leafless trees swayed side to side. My hair blinded my eyes as it whipped around my face. I hadn’t expected such ferocity, even though March is famous for wind. At least it wasn’t bitter cold.
I parked the car and quickly ran in to Chipotle to grab some dinner to bring home after working longer than I anticipated. As I was having my burrito bowls prepared, the lights dimmed. Then it went completely dark. The manager got on her cell phone, workers frantically found flashlights, and customers looked to one another to try to figure out what would be next. There was panic in the air–would they want cash only? How to record transactions without a computerized system?
Windfall. Our dinner was free!
Wow, writing March 27 makes me realize that our SOL challenge is nearing the end for this year. As I reflect on this year’s work I know I have pushed myself on some days, been awed by others’ writing many days, and grateful for the time carved out to write every day. Thank you to all who make this experience possible.
Today, Easter Sunday, for me and my family, was a special day. It was my first time in about 8 years leading the choir for the Easter service. Our church musicians are not paid, so many years I have played the piano or the organ and other years, I’ve had the opportunity to lead the choir.
Leading a choir is one of the great experiences of life. The singers are the important ones–but the cool thing is they do what your hands and face tell them to do. Without talking, I can get them to sing louder, sing softer, emphasize a word or phrase, slow down, or speed up. All for creating something beautiful that might move listeners to feel something they might not otherwise feel. It’s a community experience, but also a very personal one.
As I look into each singers’ eyes, I see trust, intention, and sometimes love. They are trusting me to shape the group to deliver the message intended by the composer. It’s a powerful experience that has helped me grow as a musician and as a teacher. I have learned that leading music is not about me, but it’s about helping others communicate what is in their hearts. When I do my best teaching, it is the same. I’m helping my students find what is in their minds and hearts that they want to say to the world. That’s the best.
It’s a week of birthdays in our family. My son, his wife, a grandson, and a granddaughter all have birthdays this week. I have been filled with so many emotions. Feelings of time passing too quickly, nostalgia for years passed by, and wishing I could be in more than one place to celebrate with each of them.
Tonight we are with Maggie, celebrating her first birthday. A tradition coming from her daddy’s side of the family was adorable, but messy! In his family, a small cake was made for the one-year old. It was called a “smash cake.” The baby is put in her highchair with only her diaper on and allowed to “explore” the cake. It was hilarious to watch Maggie put a finger in, taste it, and then go face first into the cake. She had no fear. With frosting all over her face, she was in heaven.
I was reminded of another first birthday party of my nephew’s son. His parents had been very fastidious in his care, frequently washing hands and offering only healthy foods. On his first birthday, he was offered a cupcake. He’d never had sugar or anything like cake. It terrified him and he shrieked! He would have no part of cake or celebration. Children are so different and that’s the joy that keeps life interesting.
In the family I grew up in, birthday dinners were steeped in a tradition that went generations back. My great grandmother put her garden in as early as possible so that she would have peas by the 4th of July around the time of her birthday. It was important to her that she be able to offer her family and guests a few fresh peas. For her birthday she would serve “chicken and a few peas.” So that tradition passed down in my father’s family. Even when they didn’t have much during the Depression, a birthday dinner would be “chicken and a few peas.” Then, that’s what my mother served us. Most of the time, it would be a roaster with stuffing, and a few peas. When I was very young, that meant canned peas (Yuck.) But when I got older, my mom discovered frozen peas, and then petite peas which became my favorite until I discovered sugar snap peas.
Such small things like a “smash cake” or “chicken and a few peas” bind generations and tie us together. I’m glad that I know that my great grandmother took pride in her garden. And now, I’m happy that “smash cake” has become part of our family birthday celebrations.
I could write about the great morning I had working with a friend in my school book room, but then you’d know that I worked over Spring Break.
I could write about Maggie’s first birthday today, but actually I won’t see her until tomorrow.
I could write about the happy lunch I had with my sister, but then I’d also have to tell you that my school computer was stolen out of my car while we enjoyed our conversation.
I could write about how nervous I was to go home and tell my husband about my computer, but I was actually blessed that he has mellowed with age. He gave a mild lecture, without the shouting of earlier years.
I could write about how deafening the voice in my head is that tells me what an idiot I am, but then I try to remember that whoever that voice is, lies. At least I hope it’s a liar. I am more than the mistakes I make.
Last night after dinner, Tristan looked out the window.
“Hi, Moon,” he said in his 2 1/2 year old soprano.
He waited expectantly for an answer–
Such sweetness in his innocent face.
The moon was nearly full.
It’s full tonight.
“Hi, Moon,” I repeated.
Photo by Ralph A. Johnson, 3/22/16.