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Healing Through Creation and A Horn Quartet

I decided to post a video after nine years of not posting any. It was a tough decision as the piece I had chosen was a very personal piece and I am already anxious about posting anything. It is a conundrum I have faced since I started composing and one that I tell my students to face head on all the time. Music is to be shared but that sharing is super scary sometimes.


The piece is a horn quartet about the feelings I had and still have about my dad passing away. My family has had a lot of trials with health and in particular cancer. My paternal grandmother died from multiple myeloma at the age of 61, my father died of kidney cancer at the age of 61, my mother has so far successfully fought off breast cancer, and my sister has fought off kidney cancer as well. I've gone in and at least had my kidneys checked and then I continue to keep a close eye on my other health markers to make sure I'm staying healthy. Other than a constant congested nose and terrible plantar fasciitis, I can thankfully say I am fairly healthy.





My feelings are some of the missed opportunities I had with my father, anger at the situation, anger at myself for not being a better son and friend to my dad, angry and sad that he died so young, angry that my own boys didn't get to know him better and spend more time with him, grateful that I learned so much from my dad, grateful I get to pass that knowledge on to my sons. I also learned to find joy in the things my dad did or taught me and that is why I included "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in the piece. Baseball is something I really love and I get that for the most part from my father. One of my favorite memories with my dad is a time when I was in little league and was afraid of getting hit in the batter's box. He took two bats and placed them at my heels and then dumped all the extra balls we had behind those. He said to me, "Either you'll stay in the box and get hit, or you'll step out and end up on your ass!" I never did step out of the box again. I did however get hit and make it on base a whole lot more from then on.


I guess I chose to share this piece particularly because it was a type of therapy for me. I've written a couple other pieces while working on this one and while writing helps me in general I really needed to get these feelings out. I had written a couple of poems as well and the two years I spent working on this piece really helped me deal with those emotions. Mostly anger and sadness but also finally coming to grips with life moving on and finding joy and beauty in what I do have and have gained from my father, as well as what I pass on to my own children.


I'm learning that I have to create in order to keep my brain in a happy equilibrium. I tend to leap to frustration and raise my voice really easily and find that I can be more level headed when I am actively creating art be it gardening, knitting, literary or most importantly musical. I think I've also been able to dedicate more brain power to things that will help me physically instead of just floating or doom scrolling. I can actively pull myself away from things that don't really matter or do me no good and start to work on that which I need and want to do. In this process I've come to realize all the vices I have and who it is that has to beat them. It hasn't been and won't continue to be easy. I still find myself drawn in to the nothingness that I think I want to fill my day with, much to the detriment of myself and my family.


Balancing all this is no easy task. The weeds grow tall in the garden, the knitting sometimes sits for days, the computer and manuscript papers go untouched. I could focus on all the negative and missed things for hours and then nothing gets done. However, I've tried really hard this summer to shift my mindset. What did you DO today? I watered the plants, wrote for some length of time, knitted several rows, took photos of a completed project, made a cover page for piece, whatever it is, I did DO something. It helps me minimize the time I try to avoid my tasks.


Another thing I have been doing everyday since Independence Day is I started doing a 30 day yoga challenge on the Yoga with Adrienne YouTube Channel. While I'm only 10 days in I have noticed a switch in my mindset and how my body feels. The hope when I started was that it would help with my foot problems (which have prevented me from doing most physical activities) but so far that hasn't changed. However, I have felt some achievement from just doing it and I've noticed other changes. My body in general seems to be operating better and I'm more able to pull myself out of my doom scrolling habits a bit more each day and at least accomplish something. I've set new goals and am working towards achieving them, if only a little at a time.


To sum up this long post I'd like to share a couple of poems I wrote that might shed more light or perhaps a different light on these thoughts.


Afraid


Afraid

Anxiety

The unknown what ifs

The known consequences

Trudging forward

Through the slop

of fears


Decisions made

under duress

Decisions made

under heart

Decisions made

under spirit

Decisions made

in confidence


Intellect

and emotion

fight

Palpitations

at the thought

of settling on

a choice


I'm Losing My Mind


I'm losing my mind

I'm not that kind

I look to the past

And know it won't last

The aspect is off

My perspective's lost

Perfectionist failure

Beauty not found


I’m losing my mind

I’m in a bind

I’ve been such a fool

Life can be so cruel


The aspect is off

My perspective's lost

Perfectionist failure

Beauty not found


I'm losing my mind

Cast off like rind

I know from the tell

That it's pure hell


The aspect is off

My perspective's lost

Perfectionist failure

Beauty not found


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