Monday, December 5, 2011

Hard Things = Satisfaction and Accomplishment

A little over 3 years ago, I was called to be the Gospel Doctrine (adult Sunday School) teacher in our church. Though completely comfortable speaking in front of people, the thought of teaching from the scriptures to both men and women, many who were far more knowledgeable than myself was extremely intimidating. I was petrified. I was nervous. I was scared. I carried around my scriptures and the lesson manual constantly that first week in anticipation of my first lesson. It was the first time in years and years I could remember being so nervous and scared for something. After my first couple times teaching, it quickly became one of my favorite callings. Two years later I cried when I was released for completely opposite reasons I had cried when I was called!

That first Sunday I had to teach over 3 years ago, happened to correspond with our Primary children's Sacrament Meeting Program. Luke had been asked to give a talk, not just a one line sentence he was used to. Three years ago this was completely out of Luke's comfort zone and he was extremely nervous and certainly less than enthused to be doing it. He and I were a bundle of nerves all week, but that late October Sunday proved to be successful and satisfying for both of us. I was correct in what I had repeated over and over to him and to myself all week, "We can do hard things."

This last week, for the first time in over 3 years I felt those nervous, scary feelings all over again. I committed to play a harp duet with Megan at her harp recital. This is not the place to get into the reasons why exactly I was so nervous about performing, but I had committed and I had practiced, and I was darn well going to carry through with it.

Back in June at a Power of Moms Retreat, my friend April asked us to think of some of our dreams and passions outside of motherhood. I thought briefly of pursing music studies more and immediately dismissed the idea based on time and finances. I didn't think anything more about it until a fall day recently when Megan and I, completely out of the blue sat down and played a harp duet. It was all fun and games until Megan told her harp teacher about it and the rest is history.

A couple of months ago, my friend Tenille, shared with a group of people how she decided to begin tap dancing after a similar challenge from a Power of Moms Retreat. But the clincher to my carrying through with my harp performance was the fact that my friend Tenille was brave enough to make a video of her tap dancing for Power of Moms to post that subsequently thousands of mothers around the world would view.

That's brave. That borders on the 'hard scale', and Tenille did it. I was so proud of her!! You can watch the clip here... Oh, so motivating!!

Back to my harp performance on Saturday morning.
Oh boy was I nervous. Despite the fact I spent all week telling myself "I can do hard things", on Saturday morning I told Megan (and her teacher Kephran) I would rather stand in front of thousands and give a speech than play a 3 minute Christmas song on the harp. When Mike arrived, I was near tears and wondered what in the world I had committed to. But it was too late to back out.

Fortunately, Megan and I were third on the program and I didn't have too much time to plan and carry out a quick escape route. Megan performed a solo first, and I stood on the sides of the stage practically tuning out her entire song. (Typically I am nervous for Megan, even though she herself never is. This time I didn't have any extra mental energy to worry about Megan's performance-mine was taking all I had.) All too quickly it was our turn, my hands were shaking so terribly which really makes plucking harp strings sort of tricky.

As Megan and I were finishing up our first time through, I tried my hardest to send a telepathic message to Megan to not do the repeat, but she didn't get it. So on we went with the repeat. My fingers began shaking even more and all I could think was, "If I could practice this with a two year old on my lap, or while my arm being used as a Hot Wheels track, I can do this with no distractions." (It is pretty impressive I made only one mistake considering the uncontrolled shaking of my hands.)

I've never been so glad for a song to end, and as we stood up to bow (my first musical performance bow I might add!), I realized how satisfied and accomplished I felt.
(Mike couldn't take both still photos and video of our performance, and we opted for video. I'll spare you the performance and instead grace you with an 'after photo.')

As I took my seat next to Mike to enjoy the rest of the concert, I couldn't help but cry. I had done something hard. I practiced, I worked hard, and I felt the sweet feeling of accomplishment.

A Music Major Grandma in attendance made some kind remarks to me after, which really could be a whole blog post in itself. She was correct in assuming I wasn't "an accomplished harpist", but I did have to correct her when she assumed I was "very musically talented." I told her that when the girls were practicing earlier, I had no idea what the counting during their playing was helping them with, and told her I can only play songs I am familiar with because I have no idea what notes count for what beats. (I chose not to use our brief time together adding that my daughter gets a kick out of counting how many times I change keys while singing a song.).

Of all the kind compliments we received, my favorite compliment came from dear Megan herself. "I am so proud of you, Mom. I knew how scared you were but you really did a great job. I'm so happy we could perform that together."

Sometimes it's good to do hard things.


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