Coincidence or Kismet?

piano

Do you every think that things are just meant to happen when they happen? That the universe has a plan and you just don’t know about it? Today was one of those days for me. At a time when I was lacking motivation, questioning my decisions and wondering if the direction I was going in was leading me the right way, I had an Oprah moment. You know the one. The quintessential “aha” moment. I wasn’t unhappy, I was just unsure of where things were going or if they even needed to go anywhere. Should I soldier on or reevaluate and make a change? I felt I was lacking a focus. Then I had lunch with a very wise and lovely friend that I had been trying to connect with for months. Coincidence?

A classically trained pianist who grew up in, of all places, Prince George, Stephanie and I met when our kids attended the same pre-school. She started playing the piano when she was two and her piano teacher recognized her talent early on. By the time she was fourteen she was flying down to Vancouver once a month for lessons. She was accepted to Juliard, Peabody and Eastman – the creme de la creme of music schools in the US. After choosing and studying at Eastman she was destined for a career as a concert pianist. She, however, had a defining moment when her panic attacks started to get the best of her. She also never felt the pull that many performers feel for an adoring audience or a standing ovation. Many performers continue for the ego boost, but she realized that the direction she was heading was not meant to be. What was meant to be, was to bring the pure joy of music, that she felt, to others. As a teacher.

Her approach to teaching is truly organic. As I ate the delicious spicy Mexican soup she had made us for lunch, I listened to her explaining how learning music is not just about the notes and the technique, but the feeling you get from playing. She has been known to tell a student to “go and watch water”. The point being, to teach the lightness and finesse of playing the notes. To mimic the way the water flows and bubbles. “Some kids get it, some don’t”. She went on to say, that teaching young kids comes with a unique opportunity to mold the way they approach playing and practicing. Most would start with the easy stuff and go on from there. She encourages them to start with the most challenging part. That is a difficult thing for anybody to do at any age.

water

The most important thing she tries to instill in her students is that music should come from a place of happiness – not from a place of ego. You could win a hundred music competitions and still not understand the meaning of the music you have played. Some of the best musicians play for the pure love of it. If they are able to make a living doing it, then it really is just icing on the cake. The need for a gold star or, in my case, verification that somebody is reading my blogs and that I am making a difference, is a huge stumbling block for me. She reminded me that perhaps there was somebody out there reading my blog and thinking “wow, that’s exactly how I’m feeling too”. I could be making somebody think a different way or see a different side to something. Maybe I’m just allowing somebody to steal a few minutes from their day, read a story and enjoy the way it makes them feel.  Like a piece of music.

As usual I went into this situation with one idea and came away with a completely different point if view. I started out being envious of my friend’s passion for music and the way that she had been able to take that and use it to teach children and left feeling like maybe, just maybe, I too had a path to follow. An opportunity to catch up and learn about her music career turned into a life lesson for me. Go figure. I left her house feeling inspired, rejuvenated and happy to have reconnected with such a kind and insightful friend. Even if nobody is reading my blog, I am doing what makes me happy. Perhaps I am not “over achieving” but my family is happy too. I need to live my life for the joy and not for the gold star. The Best Thing in Life is just letting things happen the way the universe wants them to happen and enjoying the kismet.

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The Best Things in Life

The Best Things in Life can be small and insignificant or they can be monumental and life altering. They also happen every day to everyone on the planet. The problem is that we don’t always recognize them.

This month, November 2014, I hope to change the way I look at The Best Things in Life. This month, each day, I will recognize some small (or monumental) thing in my life by posting a picture, link or quote on my Twitter account. Follow me at @seymourmommy to see what The Best Things in Life are for the month of November.

A Musical Journey

musical notes

Its Sunday afternoon and I’m standing in my kitchen planning what I need to do next week and listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Brilliant Disguise. It’s taking me back to a crazy weekend in Kelowna in the early ’90s. Music, like smell, can take you to a place or time you may have long forgotten even existed. It can wrap you in a warm blanket or make you want to sing into your hairbrush. Indulge me while I take a walk down memory lane.

As I’ve mentioned before, my parents are British. Very British. Growing up, the musical selections where typically classical. The exception was Caribbean steel band music. My dad had spent some time working in Dominica and had grown to love their music. In particular the band The Merrimen and their classic tune Big Bamboo. The only time things got crazy at our house was when Katie and Walter Mees came for dinner and the Merrimen was put on the turntable. Dining room table pushed back and everybody let loose; well, as loose as they could get. “She said Sparrow all I want from you, I want from you Is a little little piece baby, just a little little piece of the big bamboo.” Really Dad?

The Rolling Stones somehow encapsulated my entire high school graduating year. It wasn’t even new music. These were songs that had come out ten years earlier. I remember Mary, Deana and Laurie got to sing back up for the guys in the band. They were the cool chicks who could sing and I was so jealous. I did, however, get my moment, except it was a group of us dancing in a big circle singing Shattered at the top of our lungs. Close enough. The Stones seemed to be everywhere that year. Parties, school and even by way of early morning guitar solos in our Palm Springs condo. Thank you John and Graham.

James Taylor will forever mean summer camp on Orcas Island. Warm summer days hanging out on the dock. Sailing trips through the islands to sleep under the stars. Nightly fires in the lodge with a couple of hundred young voices singing their hearts out. All accompanied by a guitar played by a cute counsellor from California. What more could an eighteen year old want? If it wasn’t James Taylor it was Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Oh, and there was that one day after camp spent jumping on Theresa’s cousins trampoline to Freebird. That ones a little foggier than the rest.

Banff. Early eighties. Was there any other band being played beside Duran Duran? I think not.

Sade takes me back to the beaches of Greece. We were staying on the island of Paros. Kathryn and I had been touring the islands with a group of six or seven Aussies, a Kiwi and an American (I think). For any of you who have spent any time in the Greek islands in your twenties you know that it can be an endless cycle of late night ouzo fueled parties followed by lazy days recovering from said parties. It was late in the day and the batteries in my Walkman were getting low but I couldn’t resist one last song as the sun started to set on the harbour. That is my happy place. Sade and I soaking up the warm Greek sun.

Okay, here’s a really funny one. Yanni. Ya, you heard me. Yanni. When I left my ex-husband, I stayed with my mom and dad for a few months. During that time they went on a long planned trip to India. My son was really little, I didn’t go out much and funds were pretty right. As a result, I was held hostage by my parents limited collection of tapes. Yes, tapes. So the least offensive choice was Yanni. Listening to it now takes me back to their living room, playing with the baby on the floor and wondering what the hell I was going to do. It was mindless and calming. Just what I needed.

When my current husband and I started dating, Harry Conick Jr. was pretty much all we listened too. It’s probably the most romantic period of my life. Candle lit dinners, roses and bubble baths were a regular occurance. My husband had gone to school in New Orleans (where Harry is from) and was a big fan. Additionally, one of the first movies we saw together was Hope Floats in which Harry Connick Jr. plays Sandra Bullocks very hot boyfriend. Although he can’t hold a candle to my husband, if I needed a stand in, Harry would do.

So there you go. The Best Things in Life always have a soundtrack.