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Finding Peace in the Process

Thursday, November 01, 2012

It's sort of late right now, and I have to work tomorrow. I get the feeling, however, that I should write something at least marginally explanatory while I'm still in a brutally honest mood.

In November of last year, I wrote a blog post about wanting to be who I used to be. About being tired of being depressed and anxious, and wanting to be the person that I know I can be. It astonished me to see that little ray of rebellious cheer, because I was hurting so badly at the time. I was in the process of trying to force a move to a new city that eventually just didn't work out. A last-ditch attempt to get out of mooching off my poor mother, as it were. As you might guess, I didn't get that job. Or the one after that. Or even the one after that. I was alone, staying with my mother in the last place on earth I wanted to be, surrounded by people I didn't know and had the hardest time liking.

In short: things were just not okay.

Eventually, I settled into the idea of teaching private music lessons and advertised so that I could pick up maybe six students. Instead, I picked up one. I finally found a 5-hour-per-week job sorting files for a local insurance office. (Which was one of the most awkward and least rewarding professional experiences of my life, let me tell you.) After a couple months, they let me go in order to tighten their budgets, and I was back to nothing at all.

I railed and cried and said it was all God's fault that all these basic, basic things that everyone else had -- a home of their own, a social life, a job, enough money that they could buy shampoo and conditioner at the same time -- were seemingly out of my reach for me.

"What is so wrong with me that the answer is always 'no'?" I yelled. "Why can't you cut me some slack just once?" And all I heard was a bitter silence.

But the funny thing is, God gave me just enough, every time I needed it. I picked up a few more students after they saw me conducting the church choir I volunteer with. After eight months of begging and nagging, the head of the music department at the local community college gave me a chance to teach their vocal students. (We're still working on her letting me take on an actual class, but hey. Progress.) And on the same day I started that, I was asked to stop by the rehearsal of a local women's choir. And the conductors decided they liked what they saw. Before I knew it, they had put me in contact with the local semi-professional orchestra about a position. The orchestra offered me, instead, a place on their Board of Directors. And by the end of the summer, they had offered me part-time work doing administration for their youth programs and teaching violin to local kids.

It sounds like I'm ridiculously successful, but the truth is, I'm not. I work three part-time jobs, commute 400+ miles per week between three towns, and I don't make enough to pay rent, buy groceries, or pay my student loans. But the truth is, while this isn't where I want to be, I thank God that it's where I am.

Today I finally realized that I could say that honestly. That I wasn't just putting a good face on things for the Concerned-Family-Member-of-the
-Day. You see, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. And it's not that I'm actually any better off than I was yesterday. I still only have $7.00 in my bank account as often as not. I still live with my mother. And I don't know if I'll ever go back for my doctorate. But today, somehow, I finally found peace in the wasteland that has plagued my heart.

Suddenly all I hear in my head is what I tell my students every single day: "don't stop trying just because it's hard. Sometimes we have to make bad sounds before we can make good sounds. This is all just a part of the process."

It seems that peace, just like everything else, is a process. It's not a sudden ray of light that overtakes you and then suddenly you're okay. It takes time, it takes tears and sweat and the occasional meltdown when no one's looking. It takes denial and screaming and apologizing when you've gone too far. And then it takes, just like my students, looking back a year later at the fact that somehow, you gradually started making better sounds.

There is a lake in the eastern part of Australia where people come from all over just to lie on the beach and burrow down into it. The sand is so white and the grains so perfectly round that, supposedly, it exfoliates your skin and leaves it feeling new and smooth. That's a bit what this feels like. Eventually, I will be able to wipe the sand off and find that all the dead and dry bits have been rubbed away, leaving renewal in its place.


Like I said, this has nothing to do with weight-loss at all. But I hope you'll forgive my reckless self-indulgence and know that all this is the reason that I'm ready to start losing weight again. I'm ready to take my life back and embrace where I am instead of longing for where I'm not. It's good to find peace, and so I wanted to share it in the hopes that somehow, one of the precious, amazing people I've gotten to know would be able to take something from it. Or just to rejoice with me. Take it as you will.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Oh man - you are so right. I'm sorry things have been so rough for you lately. The musician's life is not an easy one - (I can say that honestly because both my parents and many siblings are musicians -juggling part time jobs to stay afloat.)

    I've been on and off again here - but I'm trying to stay a bit more consistent. I hope you continue having peace and you start to make progress back to being you.

    3038 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your blog, you have amazing insights. I think accepting your current situation, making changes to improve yourself, trying to keep serene in the face of setbacks and challenges are EXACTLY related to health and fitness! Great blog
    3038 days ago
    You end saying this is not about weight loss....but it could as well be about that or any other worthwhile long and difficult journey. We often can't see the whole picture until we back up and look at things from a distance...in doing that, you can see progress...no, it isn't all you dreamed of but you have been making progress and each step has added to your resume. I wonder what you will be saying next November?!
    3038 days ago
    Jami, you've been on my mind. Believe me, I have been there (where you are, and were) - main different thing is, I was living with my husband who is now my ex - I think my mom might have been a better choice. I'm on my way out the door right now but I will email/sparkmail you later. I'm so happy to hear that you are BACK IN THE PROCESS! (not the weight loss process but the music/life process, although the weight part is good news too) Always remember those Three Little Birds - I think of you every time I play that song.
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    3038 days ago
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