Monthly Archives: April 2015

Looking outside, digging inside

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of finishing — whether it be remodeling the house, creating a new spreadsheet, spring cleaning the garden, finishing an epic novel, or savoring the afterglow of a family gathering.

When it’s over we hit a time when we say, “What’s next?”

Many of us keep a list of things we need to do. Usually it’s a list of our “shoulds and oughts,” what others expect us to be about, or what good individuals, husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers should do. We often rush on to the next thing, because it’s our habit.

But I want to suggest a different approach for your list-making and register of accomplishments.  What if, in the fallow time after a completion. . .what if you considered what you would most like to be about?  What if you pondered for a while, dug into yourself a bit, to identify who you would really like to be? What is it that warms the cockles of your heart. . .rather than wearying your soul to exhaustion? What were your young dreams so many years ago?

We often stress ourselves out trying to succeed, justifying our existence, playing the expectations game, measuring our worth by our busyness, seeking recognition, chasing after stuff. . .

We never seem to have time to pursue our dreams, the dreams we’ve never spoken aloud, the dreams that got pushed aside by adult responsibilities.

What if. . .

  • you’d like to run a marathon
  • you’d like to be a musician
  • you’d like to write
  • you’d like to travel the world
  • you’d like to picnic with your children or grandchildren
  • you’d like to be a photographer

It’s never too late — no matter your age or lack of experience. You can find a way to do what you’ve always dreamt about.The answer lies within you. No more excuses for why you can’t.  You are the only one standing in your way.

Dig deep within yourself to touch a dream.  Then take a step toward bringing it to reality.  You can begin by sitting on the piano bench, or putting your paints on the table, or getting out your running shoes, or calling a friend who does what you’d like to do.  Step in the direction you’d like to go. Honor who you want to be. Then tomorrow take another step.

The daily oughts and shoulds will begin to fade, consuming less time and energy and thought. Vitality will emerge when your actions align with the desires of your heart.

Show up. Do the work. Claim your life.

Until next Tuesday. . .


The Cliff Jumping Report

I jumped.  I landed.  I lived to tell about it.

Thirteen friends filled my living room, music room and patio with lively conversation, while they enjoyed home-baked cookies, iced tea, lemonade and fresh strawberries.

When I sat at the piano readying to play, a voice in my head said, “I’ve got this.” I checked my music, placed my fingers on the first keys, focused and  began to play — with no finger-shaking anxiety. Overcoming long-standing nervousness was my biggest hurdle.  In that moment it was behind me.

Did I play perfectly?  No.

Did I expect to play perfectly?  No.

Every piece began and ended well.  I played the first three selections with the music, the last five from memory. Memory lapses and errant notes appeared in a few odd places.  I regrouped and restarted, sometimes more smoothly than others, but continuing without putting the music in front of me.

I played my best on Saturday at 3:00.  After the last note sounded I applauded with everyone else.

I did it!  I DID IT!!  I DID IT!!!!

Here’s what really happened.

When I stepped off the cliff with the first notes of Debussy, a parachute opened, slowing my pace. I treasured the sounds of Kreisler, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Brahms and Liszt along the way. Forty minutes later Beethoven and I landed safely and triumphantly.

I did the work. I showed up. I claimed my music.

Perhaps I’ll perform again next spring.

Until next Tuesday. . .



Stepping Off the Cliff

Have you ever stepped off a cliff — or stepped out of your box — or stepped beyond your comfort zone?

If you were to do such a thing. . .

  • would you think about it first?
  • would you check with others who have survived a similar cliff-jumping?
  • would you consider the consequences before deciding?
  • would you turn away in fear?

Doing something new, something beyond your norm, can feel like jumping off a cliff.  The actual event will be quite different for each of us, but the nervousness and anxiety and fear and uncertainty are common companions in such endeavors. And there are nagging questions. . .

  • What if people think you’re strange or crazy for doing such a thing?
  • What if it doesn’t turn out well?
  • What if it feels too public?
  • What if you don’t feel ready?

I’ve been pondering these questions for several weeks, in preparation for cliff-jumping on Saturday.

THE CLIFF: playing a piano recital for my friends


  • it’s time to go beyond playing piano only for myself
  • I’ve learned some wonderful music lately
  • I want to share the piano passion I inherited from my mother
  • I’ve come to understand my fears and worked to conquer my nervousness
  • I want to know I can do it

In most areas of my life I have an abundance of confidence, but playing piano publicly is my cliff. Because I’m blessed with determination and persistence I am jumping — on Saturday at 3:00.

The invitations to “Classics and Cookies – a musical afternoon to honor the legacy of Dorothy Croker” have been sent. I selected the music months ago and practice every day.  Program notes about my mother, her piano, and her music are written. Cookies are baked and waiting in the freezer. A friend who can’t attend on Saturday will be my rehearsal audience on Friday afternoon.

Even though I’m well prepared, I don’t how the recital will turn out. I hope it goes well, in spite of some mistakes that will most likely appear in strange places. I know my friends will still love me — however it turns out.

But late in the afternoon I will be able to say, “I did it!!”

I’ll tell you about it next Tuesday. . .


A Gradual Awakening

I come to mornings slowly.

I hit the snooze button without opening my eyes.  I’m not ready to begin my day.  Dozing between snooze alarm interruptions is a luxury I’m not willing to give up.  I’m stealing time as the morning light creeps through the curtains.

Some people are a jump-out-of-bed-running individual.  Not me.

My mind needs time to wander into my day — remembering priorities of late last evening, reminding myself to swim before the day crowds in, gathering energy from the corners, and reclaiming my focus on writing and practicing.  Sometimes I have a dream to finish.

My early morning dozings set my day. Thinking, pondering, dreaming — it works for me.

Eventually I shuffle to the kitchen for a steaming cup of hazelnut coffee.

After a quick breakfast and a browse through the newspaper I’m ready to go.  First to the pool, then to write, then to practice, interspersed with a myriad of daily details.

I love early mornings, but I also love late nights just as much — when the world has stilled, the day’s responsibilities are finished, and the quiet dark stretches for hours in front of me.

Here’s my dilemma: a too-early rising means drowsiness in early evening,  a too-late night means the next morning starts later than usual.  I’ve yet to achieve, let alone maintain, a balance of days and nights — a balance I no longer believe is achievable or desirable.

I’ve removed the clock from my desk and there’s no clock near my piano.  When focus comes and creativity arrives, I forge ahead with the work at hand, no matter the time. The nuances of written word challenge my writing skills; musical phrases and technical passages test my musical abilities.  But it’s the engagement in the craft, in the work, that brings energy to my days — and nights. Minutes become hours, slipping  away unnoticed.

What causes you to lose track of time?  What wakes you in the night or rouses you in the morning?  What dreams have yet to achieve fruition? What would happen if you put your clock away and allowed your work, your craft, to engage you?

Show up. Do the work.  Claim your life.

Until next Tuesday…