the nest

the nest

Friday, January 30, 2015


For 20+ years I've imagined a place where children and families come together to learn, grow, play, have fun, make music etc... Over that time it's taken different forms, starting as a space with more of a therapeutic tone and evolving to be more of a community of like minded folks making music, playing and learning from each other.

The dream percolates for a few months and then fades away.  Every 4-5 years it has re-surfaced in a slightly revised form, but each time, it has faded back into the woodwork.

When I began my work with Music Together, the element of music and play began to take more of the focus.  I opened a storefront in Tolland and dove in!  For three years I continued teaching Music Together and explored various other ways of using my little space - drum circles, family events, workshops, theatre classes etc.. All were fun, none were consistent.  After 3 years I decided I couldn't commit to the overhead any longer as I had "failed" to see my dream come true.

Looking back, I know I didn't "fail" so much as I made life choices that made it clear the time was not right.  I wanted to be around for my children, I loved teaching more than "managing" and I didn't really care about anything besides Music Together so why not just do that?  I decided that while the dream was lovely, I didn't want it enough (or have the skills needed) to make it happen, so I pushed it away and moved on.

Several years passed and I happily taught in a number of spaces, but that gets old ~ getting in the car and having to remember where I was going on any given day taxed my attention challenged brain.  Then, along came a charming toy store with a lovely event room! At Kiddy Korner I was able to teach as many classes as I could fill.  I had storage, I had people to chat with between classes.  I had the best of both worlds!  A central location where I could offer as much as I wanted, without the risk of overhead etc... I paid my "rent" when I used the space and didn't even have to clean the bathroom!

2 years passed though and the toy store closed ~ tough business in any town, but especially in a little town.  I couldn't go back to being an itinerate music teacher and the dream bubbled up again.  Maybe this time, with more experience and business savvy, I could bring my place to life!  Well-negotiated rent, cute space, awesome signage~  back into business.

Here we are now, 2 and a half years in and I could be thinking that while classes are going well, I'm still on my own and that's not what I want.  Maybe when my lease is up, I should close up and go back to traveling or maybe get a grown up job.  This should be the time that the dream melts back into the background again.

Instead of melting though it's bubbling furiously!  Imagine a space in the center of town that would be part music/arts studio with Music Together, private lessons, arts classes of all sorts, movement and yoga classes and part coffee shop/juice bar/gathering place?  Imagine a comfy space that could be used by moms and dads in the mornings with little ones, to gather to talk and play and learn.  The same space could be used for gathering after school for homework, tutoring, lessons, or just hanging out by students.  The SAME space could evolve in the evenings to hold mtgs, host open stage evenings or private events.  I'm dreaming day and night of this magical community but what holds me back is fear.  Fear that I'll fail.  Fear that I can't do it.  Fear that while I think it's a brilliant idea, I'll dive in, open the doors and NO ONE WILL COME.

I don't often ask for feedback on this blog, but here's what I want to know.  Can you see it too?  Do you want to be a part of it?  Would you come?  Would you bring your friends?  Maybe if it becomes not just MY dream, but the dream of a group of people, it won't be so scary.  Maybe this time the dream will bubble up into something truly delicious and amazing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who are you and what did you do with my wife?

My husband said that to me this past weekend.  He is both mystified and entertained by my increasing levels of energy, focus and jobs completed.  Let's face it.  I have been a life long procrastinator.  I have spent most of my adult life starting one thing and getting distracted and moving on to the next.  Most things eventually get done, but only the ones I'm really interested in.
Our 15 year old can stretch a 30 minute task into a 3 day project.  She learned from a master.


This has been my New Year's resolution.  Taking charge of my health and wellness is rippling over into the rest of my life and it's kind of amazing.  The more I pay attention to what I'm eating, making sure I'm getting real exercise in, and hanging out with my HappyLight each morning for a bit, the more ready I am for the challenges of the day.

I think I've also decided that multi-tasking is a load of crap.  Each morning I've been sitting down and taking 5 minutes to make a list - not my old "to-do list", but a specific hourly list.  When I really need help staying focused I set the alarm on my phone to ding me each hour so I can see where I'm at and stay on track.  This is particularly helpful when I am working at home.  Each hour I take a minute to check in on my day.  At the end of the day I take 5 more minutes to see what needs to be taken care of the next day.  That's it.  I just ordered the book that this strategy came from and am looking forward to the next step.

18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done    Peter Bregman

Here's the thing.  I am an Idea Person.  I am an Originator.  I am a Dreamer.  I am a Creator.  These are all amazing things to be.  However, as one who works mostly independently, it means I have a lot of great ideas and projects etc. that NEVER GET DONE.  

This is the year they get done or dismissed.  I'm working to create structures that help bring me back to earth a little bit as a doer, or a pragmatist, by making my lists and actually getting things done.  I'm also ready to bring other's into my business world and really begin to create and grow my little Music and Arts Community into something that I can be super proud of.

I feel like the 20-something energizer bunny has re-surfaced and is meeting the 40-something wise woman and the potential to rock the world is kind of exciting.  I think my husband is in shock.

Monday, January 12, 2015

self care

Since Katy left, life has been typically crazy busy with houseguests, work, shows, classes, and on and on, but my perspective seems to have changed dramatically.  For the first time in a long time, I made a point of slowing down and looking at myself and the choices I was making.  I remembered that (much like I tell my 15 year old) I am in control of my own drama.  I can choose to stress over things I have no control over.  I can also choose not to.  Stressing over finances just makes me stressed and tired.  Taking a breath, adjusting what I can and managing what I have generally means that I finish faster and feel better.  There is still the same amount of money available, but my heart is calm and I can breathe.

I can choose to be in turmoil over the fact that my weight is bothering me, or I can find jeans that fit and slowly and steadily take baby steps to add more exercise and be more mindful of my eating.  Hating my butt just makes me crabby.  Recognizing that it is what it is, and that in the grand scheme of things no one cares, allows me to be calm and happy.

In October I spent sometime with an online group called Design Your Day, facilitated by the lovely Jeanine.  The simple step of spending an hour in conversation once a week with a diverse group of women, followed by an amazing one hour Skype session with Jeanine leading me in a program called JourneyDance, was more useful to my personal wellbeing than any amount of therapy, journaling, processing, that I've ever done.  I began making decisions that showed care for myself in simple ways.  Finding jeans that fit, buying a HappyLight to help address my SAD, putting on my favorite music and dancing while I got stuff done.  I've been back in the group for December and now January and am finding it to be an incredible source of support and laughter!

This time of year I generally struggle to keep up my energy and mood.  This year I've chosen to do things that show care for myself and in doing so I feel better have more energy, am more confident and happy.  This is rippling into caring for others better.  Instead of beating myself up for not doing this or that, I'm either doing it, finding someone else to do it, or letting it go.
I know none of this is rocket science.  But when you are stuck in your own figurative "mud" it's hard to pull yourself out.  Sometimes acknowledging it is enough.  Sometimes reaching out to someone who can give you a hug is what you need.  Sometimes you just need to say "it's my turn."  When we constantly put our needs and wants second to our children's, what message does that send them?

They really are not the center of the universe, but our current culture suggests that they are.  That we should at all costs protect, nurture, guide, teach, shelter.  If we want to teach them to be self-centered, narcissistic, selfish and helpless, then that's how to do it.  If we allow them to make mistakes, to get hurt, to mess up they might think we don't love them!  More likely we will be judged by the world.  Isn't this how we learn best though?  Through our own trial and error?
Perhaps it's deeper than that.  If we always put our child's needs first, they learn to rely on us.  They need us.  Our role is validated.  If we allow them to learn and grow and develop, stepping in when necessary, but letting them figure things out, eventually they might not "need" us anymore.  They might leave us.  If children learn that they are capable and competent, they will leave and that is as it should be.  If the nest has been comfortable, but eventually feels a little "tight" and "confining" they will fly.  As long as they feel respected and loved, they will come back to visit, and that is as it should be.

The house is definitely quieter these days...  Aside from the drama that comes with an almost 16 year old, I spend more time alone, less time cleaning up after others, less time coordinating calendars.  I LOVE those rare times when they are all home.  Both of the college students were home at Thanksgiving and while it was a short visit, I relished every moment and felt nostalgic when they headed back to their lives.  THEIR LIVES.  While they are creating their lives, I get to begin exploring my own.  Exciting and scary (as it is for them)!  

Friday, January 9, 2015

Who decides?

A New Year...  2015 is the year to just do it.

Sitting here at my computer with my HappyLight and my coffee I'm having moment of nostalgia.  Seeing posts on FB about sledding being banned as I'm watching the snow fall out my window makes me sad and annoyed.  More and more I find myself thinking "back in the day," or "when I was a kid" or even "when my kids were little".  The decision makers, national and local, seem to be more and more confused about what their jobs are.  We can't possibly make laws that keep people safe from guns or starvation, but you better not let your child play alone in a park or go sledding.  We will also make all medical decisions for you and your children too.  I'm really troubled by two stories in CT lately.  I'm all about getting good medical care for you and your children, but when the state begins to take children away because a parent (or older child) wants to make a choice that they disagree with, it's a little scary.  A frightening slippery slope.

When I started typing this morning, I hadn't intended to go this direction, but clearly it's what is on my mind!  The current story about the 17 year old with Hodgkins Lymphoma is so troubling.  I'm not making any judgements about whether she should or shouldn't have chemotherapy, but the idea that she has been removed from her mother's custody and is being forced to have chemotherapy against her will is very troubling to me.  Have they consulted alternative medicine practitioners?  While chemo is often the treatment of choice, it is not the only choice.  Also, in a few months when she is 18, this young lady will be able to decide for herself.  What makes those few months magical?  Is it worth the cost and trauma to "force" her to undergo treatment that she does not want?  Really difficult decisions, but not ours to make.
The other story is the one surrounding a very sick little boy.  Jaxon Gilmore is medically frail and while he has a Grandmother and other family members who are willing and able to care for him, because there has been some disagreement about his care the state has taken custody.  Again, I don't know all the details of this case, but this is a little boy who is going to die at some point, sooner rather than later.  His extended family wants to care for him and is willing and able to do so.  What is the problem?
While both of these situations are complicated, there is one simple commonality.  Two families have had their ability to make decisions and care for their children taken away from them.  These are not families who have been abusive, who are living on the street, or otherwise need desperate help.  These are two medically complicated situations where the people who should be integrally involved in the making of those decisions have been pushed out.  While it feels sordid to talk about money and children's lives, there is the reality that the cost for litigation and medical care for both of these children is probably enormous and perhaps finding a way to support these families through would be less expensive both in terms of money and emotional/physical trauma.
Again, I will be clear that I don't know all the details of either of these cases, and don't pretend to know what I would do if I were the state or the families in question.  I do know that there appears to be an increasing level of intervention into the most personal decisions of families.  We fight about birth control and abortion, intimate choices that determine when families even begin.  The hypocrisy is everywhere.  "You must have that baby, but once you have it, we aren't going to give you any assistance; you're on your own."
Everyday we hear cases where children have died or been abused at the hands of their caregivers.  Everyday we hear of children who have been shot accidentally or intentionally with guns in their homes.  My cynical side notices that the children who have died due to abuse or neglect are often from families who are torn apart by poverty, drug abuse, etc...  They have often been on the radar for a long time.  There is no money to be made from helping these children.  The children killed by their parents or caregivers guns?  Terrible tragedies, but we couldn't possible strengthen gun laws or even require safety equipment on guns that would make it impossible for many of those accidents to happen.  That wouldn't be right.  The gun lobby would also be pissed and maybe take their money elsewhere.  Children from loving families who are making alternative decisions about medical care?  How dare they!  We know what's best and we will make the decisions.
Parents being arrested for letting their children play in a park, sledding in public places being banned.  What's next?
I think back a few years to when Jeff and I made a decision "against medical advice" for one of our children.  We were confident in our decision and the Doctor who didn't know us or our daughter from a whole in the wall had us sign all kinds of paperwork and made dire warnings that we wouldn't be able to get care at that particular hospital if the situation arose again.  I guess we are lucky that custody of our child was not taken away from us.
Who decides "who knows best"?  Our laws should be in place to protect and serve.  To support and guide.  NOT to terrorize and punish.  Families who are making difficult decisions need to be supported and treated with respect.  They need to be an equal part of the decision making team, but ultimately they bear the final responsibility and to have that ripped away from them?  Feels a little too Orwellian for my taste.