Monday, February 14, 2011

What's New?

It's been many years since I've had the sheer joy of experiencing something new - made sweeter because I've always wanted to do it - but never had the opportunity. Last week I saw my first live symphony orchestra and my daughter was one of the musicians.

I'm still bursting with pride and awestruck of her talent and the talents of the other musicians. The finest recording played on the grandest equipment cannot compare with a live performance. Having children who are musicians, I have attended many band concerts, ensembles, and marching band performances, and loved each one. But an orchestra! I floated on clouds from the first notes of Johannes Brahms "Academic Festival Overture," was carried along by the sweet strings of Sir Edward Elgar's "Nimrod from Enigma Variations" and didn't come back to earth until the last strains of Tchaikovsky's Symphony #5.

Spellbound. I was spellbound. And even though I could only see glimpses of my daughter because of the sea of violins, when the orchestra stood after each song, there she was! I knew this night was an epiphany for both of us, made sweeter because we shared it.

I suppose that when we reach a certain age (no, I'm not going to tell you what mine is!) we've used up all of the new experiences life has to offer, or at least seriously depleted the supply. Do you have any of those fresh new experiences on your wish list? If not, it's time to get some. Then go out and make them a part of your life. You will feel renewed and invigorated and perhaps learn something new. You will not regret it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Old Dogs and New Tricks

For some reason I can't explain, I found myself musing about that expression, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

Maybe it was because I was driving home and let my mind wander while I navigated the familiar road, or maybe I was thinking about opening the ninth grade literature book I've never seen before. (Which came with its own class of 20 ninth graders! Imagine!) Whatever prompted my musings, I do wonder is it true we can't learn as quickly as we did when we were younger?

This dilemma was even worthy of the television show Myth Busters! Adam and Jamie busted the myth by teaching a seven-year-old dog new tricks! And if each dog year is equal to seven human years, then they taught a 49 year-old dog new tricks. Now, THAT'S impressive. Unfortunately, they didn't tackle teaching old humans.

Perhaps the "old tricks" expression is a companion to "She's set in her ways." Instead of having problems learning new things, the problem is we don't WANT to learn them? Now, I am certain that attitude can indeed be determinal to learning. When I don't want to clean house or do the laundry, I get a sudden burst of creativity and have to write! Or I see a pile of leaves I'd much rather rake than stay indoors and dance with the vacuum cleaner. The biggest evidence of this comes from teaching for 30 years - you can do your darndest, but they've got to "want" to learn - at least a little bit!

I suppose I must admit, that old dogs can make new tricks easier to learn by admitting a positive attitude will make it easier. After all, if we spent as much time "doing it" as we did "dreading it" any task would be easier.

In the end, it comes down to attitude. Now that's a Myth Buster I'd like to see! Does the wrong attitude make it harder to learn something new? Does a positive attitude make you learn faster, regardless of age? Come on Adam and Jamie! Help me out there.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 1, 1988

On this day twenty-three years ago, I gave birth to twins. The weird and wonderful flutters, kicks, and punches were suddenly legs and feet, arms and elbows, hands and heads. All the mysteries were solved.

Kathryn Rebecca was born first. Her hair was the color of daddy’s; her face a miniature of mine. She had big feet like grandpa, and an even bigger temper like grandma. From the moment I held her, I knew her light would burn brilliantly but never go out. I knew her life would be filled with passion, and that has become her love of music.

Ryan Andrew was born seven minutes later. When I held him, he fixed his dark blue eyes on my face and looked into my soul. From Ryan I learned contentment was a warm body snuggled against my shoulder. He never demanded and was easily satisfied. I knew he would grow to be strong like a tree that bends in the wind but never breaks.

Blessed. I am truly blessed.