Thursday, April 16, 2015

Inspired



Yesterday was so inspiring.

I performed in a chamber music concert in the morning for a group of fellow music teachers. To say that I was extremely nervous about it would be an understatement but the moment I began to play, the anxiety was replaced with an acute awareness of the majesty of the music. Performing is magical that way. It's like playing a piece for the first time in some ways, hearing it as the audience does, fresh and new.

In the afternoon my dear friend, neighbor, and sometimes-piano student came over to play me a medley she had written for her husband years ago. It was composed of a few of his favorite pieces--The Parting Glass from Waking Ned Devine, an Eagles song, Simple Gifts, a Scott Joplin tune. It made me tear up it was so gorgeous and heartfelt and so obviously inspired by the most real love.

Then in the evening I went to see a documentary called Seymour: An Introduction and just about melted into a puddle in my seat. It's about classical pianist and master teacher Seymour Bernstein and it was the most poignant tribute to art I think I've ever seen. Bernstein says that music is the "God inside us" and watching it, I got a familiar but at the same time rare feeling that I can only describe as intense gratitude for the music inside me, in my fingertips, in my soul. Gratitude that this art that touches me so deeply is my art, that of all the professions in the world this is the one I'm called to.

You know, the nervousness before a concert, the hours of practicing, the frustration and feelings of inadequacy that are inevitable in a life devoted to a craft, they can cloud you and bring you to dark places. I think it's because music is inherently soulful and it makes you vulnerable. It's so so hard to do justice to a late Beethoven sonata, a fugue by Bach. It takes such extraordinary effort and emotion. So when I am able to step back and be reminded, as I was over and over yesterday, of the richness and beauty and purity and sheer goodness that make up the tradition of music, it can be so profound and overwhelming it makes me cry.

All of music--the composers who make it, the poetry of art songs, the lessons we learn by studying it, the people who inspire it and whose names are written lovingly on manuscripts, the natural grace of the piano itself--all of it is our gift.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Packing For Japan: The Plan



I started thinking about packing for Japan just after booking our tickets and checking our safe to make sure our passports were still where I thought they were. With that important business out of the way my mind turned to more exciting things. How many Japanese words can I learn before May 21? What activities will we plan and which ones will we daringly improvise as we go? And of course, what should I wear that will make me both comfortable and cute?

Packing intentionally for big trips--i.e. packing lightly--has never been a strength of mine but I'm determined to turn over a new leaf. Partly because we are traveling internationally and hopping between two cities and I want to be mobile and not bogged down with stuff. Partly because the friends we're traveling with are super low-key and the opposite of high maintenance, and I'll be darned if I slow down the group because I was the pathetic one who over-packed. Partly because it seems like a fun challenge. Partly because I need room to bring home at least one kimono.

I've slowly been coming up with a plan. The first challenge is to mostly bring clothes and shoes I already have and buy only a few select things in preparation. The second challenge is figuring out the vessels I will use to transport everything and use daily while we're there. And overall my goal is to bring a small amount of carefully selected neutral basics, which can be mixed and matched and re-worn in different ways and sneakily modified depending on our circumstances. Comfort is high on my list of requirements for each piece of clothing, but I also want to look nice and put together and be able to dress up any of the outfits I bring.

In essence I'm creating a wardrobe for this trip--one that is simple, flexible, stylish, comfortable, and very much me--and I'm having a terrific time with it.

Stay tuned for more soon!

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Old Lady Beauty Ritual

I have a funny nightly ritual that I fondly think of as my old lady beauty ritual. After I've washed and moisturized my face and brushed my teeth I sit in bed and pull out a giant pot of super emollient cream from the cubby in my nightstand. I pat a little under my eyes and on my eyelids (experts say that eye cream is a bit of a hoax--any thick cream will do) and then I rub a generous amount of cream onto my whole neck, from my chin down to my collarbone. The skin on my neck tends to get dry and tight which can be uncomfortable so I take extra care of it. 

But then not too long ago I read somewhere that you can often tell the age of a woman by looking at her neck. What?? I guess the reasoning is that the skin on your neck is just as fine and delicate as the skin on your face but more likely to get neglected. Moisturizing it with your regular face cream is good but using an extra rich cream is better.

I'm not obsessive about anti-aging tricks and when it's my time for them, I say bring on the laugh lines and eye crinkles. But I think we could all do without neck wrinkles for as long as possible. Here's to hoping my little routine will stave those off for a good long while.

Do you have any quirky beauty rituals? Please share! And happy weekend, friends.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Addicted


Have any of you read this book? Oh. My gosh. It's good. I've been listening to it on Audible because we had some credits to use up and this type of book (the psychological thriller type) is my favorite kind to listen to on tape. The characters become so vivid as you listen with closed eyes and something about being read to heightens the drama and suspense, which this book has in plenty. For a few days straight I've been listening to it on walks, in the tub, and today I'm finishing the last 45 minutes while I eat breakfast. 

I'm dying to know the ending!




Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday



He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. 
By His wounds you have been healed. / 1 Peter 2:24

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On Making Your Own Adventures



Last week at the end of the day on Friday, I was feeling weird and restless. It had been a full and productive week and I was in the mood to do something but was having a hard time coming up with a fun thing to do that didn't cost money. We're trying very hard these days to be conscious of our spending--in general but also in anticipation of our Japan trip--and at 4:00 on a Friday, the only ideas I could think of involved drinks or food.

What's a girl to do!?

I was getting mopey. My husband suggested I take a long walk and reminded me that fresh air always makes me feel better. I mulled this over. We talked about dinner. We had planned an indulgent Friday night dinner of hot dogs with some kale and brown rice on the side for health and balance. I told him we didn't have hot dog buns. Cue more mopiness on my part.

And then my husband (as he is apt to do) saved my afternoon. "Why don't you walk to that cute little food store near the park and buy us some hot dog buns?" 

Ok, I know that on the surface that doesn't sound like fun, or a very romantic suggestion on my husband's part. But the man knows me. This was exactly the adventure I needed. The store he was referring to is about a mile away from our house, a perfectly walkable distance, but in our town we are so used to jumping in the car when we need something that it wouldn't have occurred to me to hoof it.

"It'll feel like you're in New York." He knows I miss those days of walking 30 blocks without a second thought, my little bodegas where I used to pick up that one thing I was missing for dinner. The people-watching and buzz of life all around. They were little adventures.

It was a chilly day but I was already feeling my spirits lift so I bundled up, popped in ear buds and turned on my Radical Face Pandora station, grabbed a tote, and set out down the street.

The store didn't have hot dog buns.

As far as I was concerned, though, my Friday afternoon mission was completed. I was mopey no longer. I smiled to myself, thinking how funny it was that I had walked 20 minutes (one way) to buy hot dog buns at a store that doesn't carry hot dog buns. I bought some regular bread and a few ripe avocados and some lemon mint tea and began my trek home, red-cheeked and tingling and happy.

The hot dog buns were just the excuse anyway.


(Photo above is an adorable house I noticed while walking.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Earthy Linen Napkins


I've been on the lookout for some beautiful cloth napkins, soft and faded in a deep color that hides imperfections, a rich mocha or grey-blue slate or inky charcoal. I stumbled on these stonewashed hemstitch linen beauties and they perfectly mirror the ones in my imagination. They are simple enough for everyday but sophisticated enough for special dinners. Wouldn't it be lovely to mix and match several of these earthy tones or maybe create an ombré palette? 

(p.s. They also sell these without the hemstitch, but I love the homemade quality that pretty stitching lends.)
Designed by Jackie's Design Studio