Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Power of Music and Love!

VUCC Fall Concert
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
Today I was privileged to lead my first concert since last the accident last February. That's a long hiatus for a conductor. The Vanderbilt University Concert Choir and Chamber Singers presented a one hour concert to a large, responsive, and appreciative audience. These college students have been kind, dedicated, hard working, and most delightful to work with. It was a thrill to lead them and they gave their all and sang beautifully.

What a funny feeling it was to walk out on that stage. In spite of regular apprehensiveness - "can I still do it?"- I have treasured every rehearsal since we began in September. Leading the dress rehearsal in the concert hall yesterday was like winning the lottery. I felt so alive, so real, so happy - like I was meant for this - like I was meant to lead a choir. What amazing joy! Today I was excited and nervous - so worried I would let someone down, but once the music started I was possessed by it and by the voices and faces before me. To be a part of that wondrous moment when all become one and a new and ultimate truth is born - that is magic. When it was over and a colleague said, "doesn't it feel great to make music with people" I began to cry. As the tears rolled on, I hugged every student I could get ahold of and we celebrated.

Okay, now I'm exhausted and everything in my body aches, but I don't care. During those long days when just being alive seemed awfully difficult, my wonderful family, my dear friends and so many choir folk cared for me, encouraged me and helped me. I can never thank them enough for making me believe that I could recover, that I could make music again. Thanks to them, I am privileged to make music with people again - and wow - it's great. It is my fervent hope and prayer that I'll keep getting stronger and healtier so I can thank them over and over - and keep on leading choirs. Better days have indeed arrived and I am SO grateful!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The road is long and unmarked!

Things have been so busy that I've not been able to post! I apologize to you, those kind readers who have been so wonderful in your concern and caring.

I've now completed about 8 weeks of the fall semester and so far, it's gone well. It's been both harder and easier than I feared. It's been harder in that I'm still "scared of screwing up", insecure, frustrated by my continuing ailments and often really tired. It's been easier in that I've been able to fulfill all my responsibilities, including rehearsals of all three choirs, my main "deanly" chores, and even a choir performance at the VU Homecoming Game. And of course, people have been SO kind and SO helpful and I appreciate that too. I've made plenty of goofs too, but nothing too bad.

Being a person who clinically had a "severe traumatic brain injury" puts me in an awkward spot, to put it gently. As ALL the doctors say, I have had a miraculous recovery - I'm "off the charts!" and my goodness, I am incredibly grateful to have been released to "go and do and live and be happy!" On the other hand, I still have the problems I mentioned above.

I'm constantly working and pushing to do my best and also trying to find out if there's anything else I can be doing to get better. I can find lots of information on the web about brain injury and recovery, but it's all pretty dire, pretty grim, and I've moved way beyond anything I've yet to read. So part of me is delighted and part of me wonders, "Am I missing something? Am I unaware of my shortcomings? Are people telling me I'm ok and doing well - but really I'm not and they are just humoring me? Are my goofs and errors natural human mistakes or results of my injured brain? Will my stamina and easy nature ever return? Will I somehow regress to a condition more commonly seen in these types of injured people?"

It helps when I immerse myself in positive thinking experiences and activities that boost my confidence. Reading about the recoveries of others like the "Central Park Jogger" - remember her? - is helpful and then there's my "hero" Lance Armstrong - he's amazing. I didn't have cancer but he's still an inspiration. I'm constantly pestering my loved ones and dear friends, "am I really ok?" and trusting them to tell me the truth and not humor me. I look forward to the day when I FEEL ok and don't feel like MY body has been hijacked and I've been left with THIS one. I hope it will just take time and more experience and I'll come to accept myself more.

Thank you for reading about all my fears and insecurities. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one who has walked this road with me for quite a while, and I think it's probably time to confess my fears and problems as well as to gloat about my successes. So please know that I'm really grateful to be able to work and be of service to others at school. I love what I do and I love the folks I do it with!