Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Practice makes perfect

Our community band headed back to rehearsal this week. Tuesday night was the first time we’ve played together since March of 2020. Though we normally start up again in September after the summer break, this year we delayed starting so that the school system could decide what the protocol for our playing in their buildings would be.

We are required to where a split mask while we play, and our instrament bells must be covered as well. It’s kind of crazy, because, at least for woodwinds, air blows out through all the keyholes too which remain uncovered.

Several people protested that playing band instruments while wearing a mask was ridiculous. I suppose it is. I’m on the board and we decided early on to send out a survey, telling our musicians what the requirements would be and asking if they would be playing this season. About 50% decided they weren’t comfortable and opted out.

I understand, I waffled myself.

But in the end, for me, the chance to play overrode lingering fear of contrating covid again. Though I have to tell you, playing while wearing a mask is not easy. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played more than a handful of times in the past 18 months is really hard. Playing while wearing a mask when you haven’t played much in the past 18 months and while wearing glasses that fog up is really really hard.

We’re practicing Christmas music; our first concert will be in December, and Santa will be there, so we’re motivated. I’ll be practicing this week while wearing a mask so I can figure out how to breath without fogging up. And so I can blow for longer than one measure without getting winded.

Santa from another concert, another year, another lifetime ago.

Yep, I have a lot of work to do. But we’re playing music again, a sure sign that the world is beginning to right itself. And that makes me smile. I hope you have found reasons to smile this week too. Even if you’re wearing a mask and fogging up your glasses.

Change is hard.


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Sending cards in new directions

Since this pandemic became overwhelming, way back in March, I’ve been painting little cards and mailing them off to people.

These were birthday cards.

It started as a little project to keep me occupied, and a way to send smiles to people who were stressed or homebound or lonely or all of those things. I planned on producing and mailing one little painting a day until we were through with all this virus stuff, which would certainly be, I thought, just a few months. At most.

Sympathy, birthday and happy retirement!

I was naïve.

Christmas kept me busy.

Now many many months have passed and I’ve mailed cards to almost everyone in my address book and then some. I stopped painting every day and I didn’t have a plan for what to do next.

The foot went to someone who broke his ankle, and the rose was sent in sympathy to someone who lost a sibling.

And then I happened across a Facebook friend’s post about getting recognition for her 1000th donation of a handmade card to a nonprofit group who in turns sends them to people in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes. People who are stressed, homebound and lonely.

A Christmas card based on somebody’s holiday doormat. You know who you are.

The name of the group is Bring Smiles to Seniors and they have two offices, one right here in Michigan, just a few miles from where I live!

More last minute Christmas cards.

I emailed them and after a few messages back and forth I knew I had found a worthy group, people that would find good homes for my little paintings.

One of my favorites, a birthday card.

I’ve done my first group of 5 and sent those off. Now I’m working on my next group. I don’t feel pressure to paint every day, but when I feel like making a little picture I know I have a place to send it.

My first batch of 5 cards sent to make seniors smile.

I know the group is called Bring Smiles to Seniors, but it’s also making me smile. I guess that makes sense, I’m a senior too.

Christmas just kept going.

Some of you may see paintings here that look very much like paintings you’ve received from me. That’s because I’ve started doing some that I’ve done before, don’t look too closely, these might be better than the originals I sent you months ago!

Christmas was fun.

It’s true what they say. Practice does make perfect. Or, in my case, nearly perfect.

Some of these got mailed way after Christmas, but I hope people love them anyway.

There’s no real perfect in art, right? The artist always knows where something didn’t go as planned. Sometimes that makes a picture better, sometimes not so much. But either way, I hope those lonely seniors who get my next bits of art smile.

I think they will.

Moving on from the holidays now.


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Holiday smiles

Trent is still hosting the Weekly Smile, and though sometimes I don’t get moving fast enough to include my smiles in his recap, this week I wanted to make sure I shared. This week’s smile is all about music, specifically the Christmas music our community band played last night at our annual holiday concert.

Getting ready for the concert.

I love it when our concert is early enough in December to feel like it kicks off the holiday. This year it seemed perfect, just after Thanksgiving and with a few weeks until the big day.

We shared the stage again this year with a high school choir group. They add just the right touch of elegance to the music, with their formal attire and lovely soaring voices.

Look who arrived!

And of course we had a visit from Santa, who showed up right after the children in the audience came up on the stage and rang their jingle bells as we played Here Comes Santa Clause.

The little ones were in awe of the big guy in red. We kind of like him too.

Children ready to shake those bells? OK, let’s go!

And he stuck around to conduct our last piece, Sleighride, the perfect way to end a fun evening.

A perfect way to end a lovely evening.

You couldn’t count all the smiles that were in that auditorium last night. And that makes it my smile of the week.


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Let the music carry you

I’ve had a cold for the past week and been feeling pretty miserable, blowing my nose and having coughing fits during the most inopportune times. At this Tuesday’s dress rehearsal for our Community Band’s Christmas concert I had to rush out of the band room to hack my lungs out in the girls’ bathroom down the hall.

I was worried something similar would happen during our concert last night.

The program started out with a local big band group, the Stardusters, playing swing, rock and jazz. Community Band members sat in the audience enjoying their performance.

I sat out there plotting my exit just in case I needed to run. How many seats between me and the aisle? And once we were on stage, just where would I run to get as far as possible from the music before I began to cough? I imagined a disaster, the band playing a particularly quiet, delicate part of the music and me hacking, with tears running down my face as I tripped over my chair leg in a futile attempt to get backstage.

I am happy to say it didn’t happen.

Though there were moments during our performance where I felt the familiar tickle in the back of my throat I was able to control it with water. And I remembered not to breath in too deep so as not to trigger the really bad coughing.

Plus I have to say that music is magic. When you’re feeling sad or lonely or just plain crummy listen to a little music and you’re likely to feel a lot better.

And it doesn’t hurt to have Santa visit either.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all healthy and happy and full of the Christmas spirit! And if you’re not quite up to par…well…go find some holiday music. It can heal what ails you.