I’m sitting on an airplane flying from Bermuda to Boston. I have 4 days there–teaching some lessons, and recording and rehearsing a program of Joan Tower’s music for BMOP. From there, I head off to Miami, where Paul will meet me for a little concert tour/vacation combo. Between the 30 degrees and snowy weather in Boston, the 82 degrees and sunny temperatures in Florida, and the mix of concerts, teaching, and beach/date time, this was an interesting trip to pack for! Continue reading
If you have been following along on my plan to focus each month on a particular aspect of my life, you’ll know that I have already done “Health”, “Career”, “BYSO”-one aspect of my professional life, “Home”, and “Blogging”. Some months were super clear and easy, and others were a bit more difficult and abstract than I thought they would be. God knows I have already had some wrenches thrown into the works (umm, hello computer dying in the middle of “career” month and losing some very valuable work information…oops.). But I am so happy to say that at the end of every single month, I have been able to point to a list of things I accomplished that improved that focus area, and that every single month, I have come away feeling like I have learned a few important things, and have created some sustainable habits that will help continue the progress. I am excited to keep going with this plan, but to be perfectly honest, I am a little apprehensive about this month’s focus: Marriage.
At the beginning of this 12-Month Focus Project, I drew up a list of the 12 most important areas of my life, and then set about assigning a particular month to each area– trying to choose the month that makes the most sense. I was feeling the need hit “reset” on my body after a long summer, so I made September “Health” month, and since I will be seeing lots of family in July, that gets “Family” month. But “Marriage”? well, there IS Valentine’s Day, and I booked my week of concerts in Florida for his half-term break so that he can join me and make it a working holiday. But otherwise, it’s a bit arbitrary. On one hand, we’ve only been married for a couple of years. We are definitely still newlyweds. On the other hand, my marriage is one of THE MOST important things in my life, and I want to cherish and nurture it. In other words, I am more than happy to devote a month to focusing on my marriage, but it’s not like we need any kind of major overhaul. There are no big issues to resolve, and we don’t have kids, so we already get to spend a lot of quality time alone together. So, what should I do?
I decided to take a cue from one of my original inspirations for this whole project: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. She devoted a month to her marriage as well, and this was her list:
- Quit nagging
- Don’t expect praise or appreciation
- Fight right
- No dumping
- Give proofs of love
Sounds about right. I’ll start with these and add any others that come up. At the very least, at the end of the day (er…month) Paul will be one very happy husband! Wish me luck!
I can’t believe I’m already on month 5 (F-I-V-E!!!) of my (year-long) 30-Day Focus Project, and I have to say, it has been an AMAZING experiment for me. The clarity I have found in identifying the 12 most important areas of my life has been profoundly helpful in improving my ability to make plans, decisions, and set goals for my work, my relationships and in basically every area of my life. I feel like I have accomplished more in the last 4 months than I have in the last 4 years! I’ve been announcing each one as they come, but here is the full list in case you’ve been curious: Continue reading
Hello, and welcome to 2018! I had a great time with my family here in Bermuda and it has been so wonderful to slow down, relax, and spend some quality time with friends.(and also my couch!)
As I mentioned in this post from last September, my life and my career more closely follow an academic (Aug-July) year than a calendar (Jan-Dec) year, but one can’t help but be swayed by the masses doing their yearly tallies and New Year’s Resolutions. I am a total sucker for a new start of any kind, and also for any and all forms of self-reflection. So, even though I feel as though this holiday time is merely a half-way point, it has been interesting to look at 2017 as a whole and figure out some highlights, as well as how I have grown over the last 12-months (starting with my hips, but that’s due to too many Christmas cookies!). I believe that as we grow as people, it is as important to shed past habits, thoughts and actions and consciously leave them behind, as it is to embrace the shiny newness of an adopted habit/job/family situation, etc. So here are 3 things I am choosing to leave behind with the rest of the 2017 detritus Continue reading
December. Month of holidays, vacations, family and get-togethers. Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, or the First Snow Day of the season, there is no denying that December is one cozy-ass month. Even here in Bermuda, the lights in town are twinkling, and the nights get chilly enough to throw on a sweater or curl up in front of a fire. And for that reason, I decided to make My Home the focus of this month. Continue reading
What would you do if I handed you a $100 bill?
I once had a student who started cello lessons with me when he was 5 years old, and he LOVED the cello. He loved playing the cello, he loved practicing the cello (as soon as he woke up-at 5am! Much to his parents’ dismay). But he had this weird thing he did–He only used about 3 inches of bow–ever (probably due to the fact that he was trying not to wake his parents up!). And every week he would come into his lesson, sad about his lack of tone, and I would say “Use your whole bow! Use more arm weight! Yes!!!! Just like that! Do it again! Terrific! Okay. Practice this piece like that, with big bows, and you’ll always sound like that”. And he would leave his lesson super excited about knowing exactly what to do to get that great big cello sound he was after. And then he would come in a week later, using only 3 inches of bow, and sad that he sounded so wimpy. And we would repeat the cycle. Continue reading
Happy October! Month of fall foliage, Halloween costumes, apple picking and pumpkin spice lattes. I will have none of those things in Bermuda; here, October means hurricanes, getting the garden planted (and then losing it all to the afore-mentioned hurricanes) and finding lightweight clothing in fall colors. Bermudians love their Fall Fashion, even though it’s 85 degrees and sunny! Bless them. But don’t worry, I’ll be spending a lovely 9 days in Chicago playing concerts and working with various student groups. I’m so excited for all of that, but I’m also excited to take a few walks around Lake Michigan, oohi-ng and ahh-ing over the changing leaves, and I will probably bribe my nephews to hit-up starbucks with me once or twice a day for a PSL fix.
After an awesomely productive and enlightening September, I’m excited to move onto my next 30-Day Project. September was “Health” and if you are curious, you can read about it here and here. October is going to be…….drumroll, please….. “Career”. Specifically, my performance career. (Spoiler alert: the “Teaching” and “Youth Orchestra” aspects of my career will each have their own month). I’m looking forward to booking some more concerts for this year and next (and the next—I’m already booking concerts for the 2019-2020 season!) cleaning up and updating my website, maybe getting some new headshots done, and learning how to write and send a good press-release, amongother things. I’m looking forward to ending the month with new kinds of content and a lot more of it to choose from. Obviously I’ll be practicing a ton gearing up for my week of concerts in Chicago, and I’m curious to see how playing so many recitals in 1 week will feel. I’m starting things off with my brand new business cards that the mother of one of my students designed. Didn’t she do an incredible job?
Again, the name of the game here is to make a little bit of progress in this area each day. Make necessary investments and read whatever I can find on the subject. If you have any ideas, please send them along in the comments. And in the meantime, Enjoy a caramel apple and a cider doughnut for me, please.
Boy ,this month got busy! I started out letting you know about my Month-long Focus Project on my Health and had every intention of posting a couple of times each week about various things. Somehow, it is September 28th and I have posted not one lousy update. So, here we are, 4 weeks into the month, and 2 days away from a glass of wine! Here’s how it all went.
“Sober September”. Paul and I managed to go an entire month without drinking alcohol. To be fair, we each had 2 cheat days. For him, it was after the last fitted dinghy race of the season. Tradition holds that the trophy gets filled with rum and everyone passes it around and drinks from it (I know, gross, but they LIVE for this shit) and I sort of felt like it was an important moment for him since it was also (possibly?) marking his early retirement from fitted dinghy racing. My cheat day was when I was out having dinner with some dear friends. Our 2nd one was after I returned home from a couple of intense weeks in Boston, and we went out for a romantic dinner. We each had a glass. All told, we both had the equivalent of 1 day’s worth of wine over an entire month. Not too shabby. Lessons learned? Well, it was a very boring month, to be sure. We didn’t go out as often and spent most of our evenings at home working. A couple of times it felt silly not to be enjoying a nice glass of wine (when we were out for tapas, after a long tough day at work, etc). But I think we both realized that most of the time we are sipping away, it’s mostly out of habit. I was just as happy drinking a glass of Pellegrino while cooking dinner. It didn’t have to be wine. And Paul was just as happy with a cold glass of ginger beer as he would have been with a dark and stormy. What we needed was the ritual of stopping our work days, pouring a glass of SOMETHING and hitting pause. I don’t think that drinking wine is going to be a part of our daily routine anymore, and I also think I will appreciate having a nice glass of wine with a nice meal, or to celebrate a happy occasion–once in a while. Also? I lost 7 lbs, so there’s that.
Eating healthy: This one I wasn’t so strict about, though I did do a massive food shop and meal-prep when I got to Boston for two weeks of teaching and rehearsals. I cooked up tons of vegetables, some salmon, chicken breasts, wild rice, and salad fixings and was happy as a clam for those two weeks. I had options (chicken or fish? Broccoli or asparagus) but my choices were limited enough that I never had decision fatigue about my meals. I would make a jar of chia pudding or overnight oats for breakfast and mix them up with some fresh berries and a little coconut yogurt. Lunch would be a salad from my pre-cut veggies, and dinner would be equally easy. I felt great, slept great, was hungry at mealtime, but not starving for snacks. I brought mini packs of almonds and dried cranberries to rehearsals and that was basically it. Unfortunately, when I got back to Bermuda, that plan went down the tubes. Paul and I just like very different kinds of food. He likes to throw things together into a kind of stew/chili/casserole type of situation (served over starch) and I prefer my food to be cooked separately (but unlike a three year-old, it’s okay if they are touching on my plate). I can’t deny how much worse I feel for how I’ve eaten the past two weeks vs. how great I felt the first two weeks, so I might need to put my foot down and make it happen (sorry, babe!) We watched the documentary “What the Health” which everyone and their brother seems to be talking about. Honestly, It made me question both the validity of their accusations (it all seemed a bit too much) and how much animal product I’m willing to have in my diet. Since I have trouble being any kind of an extremist (I couldn’t even go 30 days without a glass of wine!) I hesitate to say I’m never going to eat meat or cheese again. I have been using Almond milk and I switched to coconut yogurt, and I’m trying to be more mindful of meat and dairy choices. Voilá.
Exercise: I did manage to get back into a running routine. I maybe didn’t run as often as I wanted, but I managed a consistent 3-4 times a week. I learned two things. 1) it’s a lot easier to run when your body is lighter. Seriously, I always wondered how women who had never run before could throw on a pair of sneakers, and go out and run a 10K that first weekend, when, after months of running, I wouldn’t have even made it through a 10K without huffing and puffing. Now I get it. They are tiny to begin with, and aren’t lugging as much weight around. Even just dropping 7 lbs, I can run faster and farther and it feels easier. So, here’s to the next 7 lbs, and the next. 2) having great music really helps. I downloaded Kayla Itsines’s SWEAT playlist from itunes and it is amazing. Love it. I want more. Need more. Please send playlist suggestions ASAP!
Small habits and check-ups: I took care of the two big one (or two)-offs: My annual “wellness exam” and mammogram with my Dr. and seeing my dentist for a cleaning and updated x-rays, and I tried to tweak little daily habits: flossing more regularly, drinking a tall glass of hot water with lemon before I have my coffee (and drinking more water in general) and doing more sit ups and squats and things like that around the house at random times.
So overall, I think my first Focus month was a pretty big success. Aside from the weight loss, I definitely have more energy, my skin looks better, and I just feel like I am living a healthier life. I feel good about setting up good habits that I can continue through the rest of the year, am in a good groove with my running routine and am excited to continue to tweak my (our) eating habits.
New post next week to announce my October Focus Project! I’m excited.
I believe that summer begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day, and I strongly adhere to that schedule each year. This year, however, I have realized the importance of the “transition week” in getting myself from pre-Labor Day, when my life revolves around lakes and sailboats and sleeping until 9am if I want to, to Post-Labor Day (when people actually expect me to do some work). Maybe it’s because I have had such a whirlwind summer; The America’s Cup started Memorial Day weekend, lasted 5 weeks and brought 4 sets of houseguests. In the middle of that I played a full recital with an entirely new program. Then Paul and I finished teaching and we had our three-week staycation filled with beach picnics, snorkeling, swimming, sailing and a plethora of fun social events on the island, followed by Chicago to see my family (there were definitely s’mores–YES!) A week of camp in Boston, 2 weeks of camp in Maine, and then our road-trip to Baltimore, Charleston and DC. I have spent the last 3 days at our condo in Boston basically comatose. I am ready for the new concert season to begin, and yet my brain has turned to mush. I know that I have been practicing, but the lack of routine always throws me off and makes me feel like a total slacker. But as desperate as I am to get back to that routine, if you told me the season started tomorrow, I think I would fall to the floor, curl up in the fetal position and start crying, because I’m not READY!!!
Thus, ladies and gentlemen, “The Transition Week”. Continue reading
When Paul heard that we were going to be at a friend’s wedding in Baltimore two days before a total eclipse was due to occur in Charleston, SC, he informed me that we would, in fact, be heading south to witness this incredible feat of sun and moon. I tried to explain to to my dear Englishman that, although they might LOOK super close on a (small) map of the US, Charleston, South Carolina, was in an entirely different part of the USA than Baltimore, but there was no changing his mind. He was determined. He pulled the “But I’m a SCIENCE teacher” card, and I had no choice. He booked what might have been the very last hotel room in Charleston, ordered us some of the very last over-priced eclipse glasses and that was that. And so I found myself in our trusty CR-V last Sunday morning, slightly hung-over and too tired to argue, being driven 600 miles south from Baltimore, to see this spectacle of nature with my very own eyes. Continue reading