Life is Still OK at 50
With the luxury of a week-long North Carolina vacation, I made plans to drown myself in a couple of books: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Still Alice by Lisa Genova. The beaches of the Outer Banks, our magnificent rental home and time with family (we had a GREAT time!) kept me from reading as much as I had planned but I did manage to squeeze in Still Alice and finished the last pages as the plane landed back in Denver. The story of 50-year-old Alice and her early onset of Alzheimer's disease jolted my reality. Suddenly, all the small, daily stuff that can easily irritate, annoy or worry me--even my recent 50th birthday--seemed trivial. Frequently, the main character Alice Howland (played by Julianne Moore in the movie so that was how I imagined her in the book), was asked how she was doing while experiencing the gradual annihilation of her brain's neurons resulting in plugged-up or broken thought processes. Her response to this question was usually "OK" but eventually became "not OK." This peek inside the life of one suffering from early onset Alzheimer's compelled me to reflect on my life and share a few random thoughts. I encourage you to read the book, watch the movie or both. I'm guessing you might relate with my insights.
After I worked hard on communicating the plans for summer lesson options to my student families (here's the letter that I sent), it seemed difficult for some to respond and follow my requests. Coupled with the joy and busyness of seeing one son graduate from college and another from high school, the scheduling fiasco led to a great deal of aggravation and made me down right crabby. A good month after my intended deadline, the summer schedule is finally in place. Although the process drug out far beyond my preference, I survived, I communicated with clarity in my opinion, issues were resolved and lessons are moving along. I'm still OK.
Like most musicians, I hold several jobs to provide various streams of income. As timing would have it, a number of those jobs demand equal time at the same time which can often make me feel like I'm stretched and ready to snap. My passion for teaching creativity and creatively has led to 88 Creative Keys Camp. If you are not convinced of the importance of creativity to education, watch the TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson included below. Bradley Sowash and I hope that the countless hours we pour into planning the event will provide an experience attendees won't forget and will successfully bring creativity with them to the piano keys. I'll be honest, this passion is demanding and a little like swimming upstream but....I'm still OK.
I'm sure you're catching my drift--even though times can get "tough" things could be worse. More importantly, the book Still Alice made me aware of and empathize with any family who endures the tragedy of Alzheimer's disease.
Genova created Alice Howland as a respected author and Harvard professor. Reading about her journey into a mindless state made me extremely grateful that my brain is still functioning. I admit it has been abused by too much multi-tasking but it still helps me...
- learn new improv skills at the piano during my lessons with Bradley Sowash
- discover innovative ways to enhance my teaching with the iPad and apps
- build sight-reading skills when approached with new repertoire in my church position
- experience fresh dimensions in my relationships with my grown sons
- witness the joy of my 77-year-old mother as she learns how to text on her new iPhone
- catch a wave riding a boogie board
- write a blog when the spirit moves me
- and so much more...
Life goes on and is pretty good even at age 50. I'm still OK. I hope you are, too.