I am a pianist, mom, and teacher. This is not in order of importance, but in the order in which these roles fell into my life. I am a classical musician and play concerts throughout the US (and sometimes abroad, too); I am a mom to two adorable children, Noah and Ella (and also have an amazing husband who shares my profession); and I teach a group of wonderful students at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. I have struggled quite a bit to juggle these roles during the past few years, and finally gaining some wisdom in embracing the challenges and learning how to balance mindfully. This blog is my thoughts on this sometimes-overwhelming journey that I hope to share with some regularity. Thanks for reading!
When I was pregnant with Ella, I suffered a severe case of hyperemisis gravidarum that lasted from the first few weeks to the day she was born. It was a really challenging time—physically, of course, as I was running to vomit on an hourly basis, getting IV fluids to keep hydrated, in between teaching and performing, but psychologically too, fighting bouts of depression and confusion during what is such a beautiful and grateful time. I ate a diet of potatoes, ketchup, and avocados—the only three foods I could tolerate for nearly nine months. I sucked on lemons at night so I could taste the extreme sourness to mitigate my sense of nausea, which I learned at my first post-partum dental appointment was not such a good idea…
Of course this is not a singular experience, but one that affects many, many women. And as everyone knows, this is just the tip of the iceberg. This is just the beginning of the start of sleepless nights, washing bottles and pump accessories seemingly endlessly, having an uncontrollable need to cry at and about everything, and at times struggling to define one’s worth.
And yet, for me, these months turned out to be a powerful time in my personal growth because it made me, maybe even forced me, to let go of trying—trying to please, trying to figure out what others think or want, trying to demand too much of myself, and being okay with less than ideal. I started to shake off some of the insecurities of my twenties and early thirties with the attitude of “you know what, I am showing up and I am doing my best, and that is good enough.”
My new album for Naxos is being released today. It’s a part of their series of works by Clementi, and I was asked to record these particular sonatas. These were completely unknown to me, and I learned them through my pregnancy and recorded them during my seventh month. They have been my companions during a time I wrestled to reconcile the great joy of expecting with feeling beaten down. In many ways, the preparation and the recording of these relatively unknown and beautifully simple pieces allowed me to embrace exactly those feelings I had during that time, of traversing through unfamiliar thoughts, physical challenges, while embracing this most natural, simple, and beautiful part of life.
To all the amazing women out there, whether you are on a meaningful journey towards motherhood, or embarking on a new path or project in life, or recreating or redefining who you are, I share this with you.
I recently listened to a Ted Talk by Cal Newport about the negative impact of social media in our lives. Much has been said about the unhappiness factor in comparing one’s life with carefully curated posts of others. But what really caught my attention was his point (and this is backed by research) that we, as a society, can have a permanent reduction in our capacity to concentrate on deep work. This is due to spending large portions of our day in a state of fragmented attention by getting quick glances at facebook, twitter feeds, texts, and obsessive email checking. (I even have my phone in my hand on the blog photo!)
So, I would like to take more time to look inward than outward, marginalize the presence of constant external stimuli, and grab a book, practice, listen to music, play with our kids, eat, and write, without interruption!