Surviving to THRIVING | It doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you don't STOP!

A year ago I was sitting in my home anxiously expecting our second child.  Huge and uncomfortable I was recommended to stop playing my horn for fear of going into early labor...again.  I had to cancel two auditions, bail in the middle of an orchestra cycle and cancel another outright.  I managed to eek through Easter services but other than that I was in limbo and torn about my circumstances.

Musicians (especially those of the freelance variety) pride themselves on having a full book.  Don't believe me? Just check out any freelancers Facebook page.  They are fraught with "humble brag" posts and vague status updates. It was so hard for me to sit and wait, knowing that once the baby came I still would be left fighting an uphill battle.  When a woman in the music industry gets pregnant I think one of the first thoughts that goes thru her head is "what will happen to my work?".  So many people start filling in the blanks for you.  You'd hear of a gig, maybe even one that you usually play and when you ask about it you'll hear, "Oh I thought you'd want to stay home with the baby" or "I though your due date was x (even if it was y) so I didn't want to bother you".  It's have absolutely zero control of your body or when and how that baby is going to come and then you loose control of your career, something most of us have worked very hard at building for many many years.  Pregnant with my first I experienced this first hand so I knew what to expect and was quite frankly afraid but knew that I could take work up until Bubba arrived and planned on a short "maternity leave" seeing as my husband would be on summer break at that point and working a gig is not always the same as leaving for an 8 hour traditional work shift.  But all that changed when I began to have complications.  Bubba tried to come early after a rousing rehearsal and after that I was sidelined.  Fine.  I can sit tight for a few weeks until he comes.  But then I had a very hard and complicated delivery, one where I almost died, and was in the hospital more than double the average time a woman who has just delivered spends.  I felt everything I had worked so hard for slowly slipping away as the weeks went by where I couldn't physically play.

My first gig back was probably too early given the trauma my body had just been through but I knew if I didn't take it I'd sink further away from the freelance world (where you often need to be seen to get work).  When all was said and done I had 12 weeks away from my horn.  TWELVE WEEKS! This is unbelievable to me since I've rarely taken more than a day here or there from playing in the 30 years I've been playing.  I did physical therapy throughout the summer which helped immensely but I still felt out of sorts and pushed to get back as soon as possible to my peak performance days lest I lose anymore gig opportunities. I took two auditions in early fall.  I was happy to be up and attempting normalcy but I didn't feel great and quite frankly it wasn't until a few weeks after the second audition that I actually started feeling like myself physically and early this year in regards to playing horn.  After all, I just didn't just have major surgery with some major complications I also had a baby so we had all the fun stuff that comes with newborns (sleepless nights, breastfeeding, diaper changes...oh and an active four year old!)

By December I was ready to start making a plan to move, no, PROPEL myself forward.  I had thought about putting together a horn and organ recital for years.  Quite literally for almost 20 years and I bit the bullet and started putting my ideas into March of this year I worked with an old friend and colleague and we performed the first of several scheduled Horn & Organ recitals. As with any live performance there was some wonderful music made and some spots that could use some more work but I left feeling so freaking proud of myself.

Musicians tend to be so hard on themselves.  I am notorious for being a perfectionist and unforgiving to myself but I learned that in the last (almost) 12 months that I need to offer myself the same kindness and empathy that I offer others so freely.  Driving home from the March recital I was full of emotions looking back on everything I had been through in the past year, from almost dying to adding a new (and much loved) member to our family and every time I started to get down on myself I just said out loud "you have to start in order to grow".  And that's it in a nutshell.  It doesn't matter how fast we are moving (though I do appreciate a good rocket of movement) as long as we are MOVING>>> and you can't start to measure your growth until you cross that starting line. Sometimes the hardest part is sending in your resume for the dream audition, cold calling a contractor, contacting someone you'd love to collaborate with or just signing up for the race! This is definitely a marathon for me, I started at surviving and am moving, albeit at times a snails pace, toward thriving.

March 18, 2018 Brass & Pipes Recital


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