35 Days of Favorites: Teaching Anika Piano

Once upon a time, I was a piano teacher.

I spent eight years of my life teaching a little crowd of students, and I completely loved it.

When I wasn’t teaching piano, I was practicing my own music, any spare minute I had, getting ready for my teacher’s exam.

I’ve written before about how I lost the ability to play, and for many years, I dealt with it by blocking it out of my mind. During the five years we lived at camp, I just took a break from it all. There weren’t any students to teach, and I didn’t have the strength in my arms to play, anyway.

But slowly, with time, things have been getting better, and I’m able to play a very tiny little bit.

And now we’re back in Niverville again, and I could teach if I wanted to, but I’m trying to figure out what exactly it is that I want.

In the meantime, I’ve been teaching Anika how to play piano, as well as my friend’s daughter, and it has been bringing me such immense joy.

There is just something about being able to pass on my love for this instrument to my own girl. I love it that she¬†wants to sit down at the piano many times a day. I love seeing how quickly and easily she catches on to the new concepts I’m teaching her.

Anika playing piano

Because I blocked my love for music and playing the piano out of my life for five years, I never realized how much I want Anika to love playing.

We have friends who love biking. I have never met anyone as passionate about biking as they are. When their daughter learned to bike, it was a HUGE deal to them. I didn’t completely understand it, until Anika learned to play piano.

I think we just want to pass our joys and passions on to our kids. We want to share in things with them. It always brings me joy when our girls do well at something, or succeed at learning something new, but it’s extra special when it happens to be something we love, too.

Have you been able to pass on a skill or hobby to someone you love? Do you wish you could help someone learn something you love to do yourself? (We’re nearing the end of “35 Days of Favorites”, and anyone who comments during this series has a chance at winning a prize! )

A Year in Pictures

Last year, our family discovered how much fun it was to make a slideshow with our favourite photos from the previous year.

We did it again this year, and I have to say, putting music to your life makes it feel a bit like a movie, or maybe a musical, in which the sun is always shining, life is pretty awesome, and the music swells appropriately with the rise and fall of your emotions.

So here we go: the sunshiny version of 2012.

*As I’ve mentioned before, our friend Morgan is our favourite photographer ever, and many photos from this last year were taken by her. To check out more of her work, I highly recommend her Facebook album of her year in photos.:)

Here’s hoping 2013 is just as good as 2012 has been!

How was your New Year’s? Did you do anything memorable?

Around Here Right Now

I think I’m still trying to recover from my “Week in the Life” project, and seven straight days of blogging! I’m going to wait a few days for inspiration to catch up with me before I write something serious.

But in the meantime, here’s what we’re up to right now:

Eating…these homemade granola bars.

Absolutely delicious. If you knew how good they were, you would go make them right now. Gluten-free, sugar-free, no crazy ingredients, healthy for you so there’s no guilt in eating the whole pan in one day, as we basically have. There may be one or two left….

Listening…to Christmas music! We’re loving Michael Buble, Josh Groban, and Boney M, but we try to find a new Christmas album to enjoy every year. Ben got some Celine Dion going on Grooveshark, and she’s always fantastic, but hearing her voice singing Christmas carols leaves me feeling like it’s just Christmas on the Titanic…

Watching…Anika’s final performance from her fall musical theatre class at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. She was very disappointed that some family members had to miss the play, and has been begging me to put the video on my blog. So, here’s the link to the video of Anika’s performance, for anyone interested in that kind of thing. (Kaylia is extremely interested in it. She watched it about 10 times yesterday, and has all the songs memorized!)

Readingthis book, which I got Ben for a grad gift. But I started reading it, and it’s so good!! It’s just a little book, but it’s packed full of great stuff. I’m thinking we should be buying a few more copies to give away as Christmas gifts.

Planning…for speaking engagements for in the New Year! I’m speaking at a ladies’ retreat, as well as a couple of other functions, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Wondering…what kinds of topics all of you readers would be interested in as I plan future posts. I have a ton of ideas swirling around in my head, but I’m curious as to what kinds of things you all are interested in. Why do you show up here? What do you want to read about? What’s on your mind and heart these days?

Giving Your Dreams the Freedom to Change

I used to be a pianist. I used to know the feeling of those keys better than almost anything else my hands touched.

Music was my life, for a while. I taught it, played it, loved it, and tried to get it into my brain and my heart in every way that I could.

My dream was to have a framed diploma hanging over my piano, announcing to the world (or at least anyone who came into my house) that I had achieved my goal – that I had accomplished my dream.

But two months before the hopeful fulfillment of that dream, everything fell apart. The muscles in my arms could take the constant tension and pressure no more, and in the span of two weeks, I lost it all.

I haven’t played since. Five years of learning to live without music.

I tried everything I could to recover. Physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, relaxation clinics…Any suggestions anyone had, I tried it.

Finally, I flew to Toronto to visit the Musicians Clinic. And there I was told, “You’re pushing too hard. You need to let go.”

And I said, “I can’t.”

The doctor said, “What would be so bad about allowing your dream to change?”

And I said, “I can’t.”

I went home, and with nothing else I could do, I tried to ignore it. A gaping hole in my life, and I pretended it wasn’t there.

But at random moments, it would make it’s presence known. Piano music would bring sudden, unexpected tears. My fingers would still move along to a tune, playing imaginary keys.

Music will always be a part of me. I still dream of being able to play again. But I also dream of new things now – things that fill my heart and ignite my soul even more than teaching piano ever did.

I don’t believe that God gave me tendinitis, but I do believe that He redeemed the situation. He made room for something new, when I didn’t have the courage to do that myself.

I will keep on dreaming, but I hope to always leave room for a change in plans – because God’s dreams for me are always a lot better than my own!

This and That

I am tired tonight. I got home from the city feeling worn out and grumpy. But the house is quiet, I’m starting to unwind, and there are a few things making me happy right now:

1) I’m sitting here listening to my new favorite happy music.

2) I’m wearing a new Smart Set turtleneck sweater. All is right with the world once more.

I have loved Smart Set turtleneck sweaters since turtlenecks made a comeback a few years ago, and have always had at least two of them in my closet. But then two winters ago, I thought to myself, “Maybe it’s time for a change….I need to stop buying the same sweaters over and over.” So I went and bought a turtleneck¬† from a different store.

And I’ve never liked it.

It just didn’t fit right, it didn’t have the right amount of stretch, it just wasn’t comfortable enough.

But today I took my Smart Set gift card, given to me by my sweet sister-in-law for Christmas, and I went to Smart Set in search of a turtleneck sweater. The second I put it on, it felt like I’d had it forever. And the color is making me very happy. I ripped the tags off, went to pay for it, and wore it out of the store.

It’s good to be reunited.

3) I decided to take a peak through the pictures on our camera, and found these that Ben took the other day:

Under these circumstances, who can stay grumpy for long??