Church Mice, that is. Way back in the fall of 2006, I was invited to take the reins of an early childhood music class at the church I attended. I was still in graduate school at the time, so I gladly accepted my very first “professional” position in the music field.
I fell in love with this class from the very beginning, and it fit in beautifully with the music therapy and teaching I was doing full-time just a few months later. Every weekend, I got to work with little kids and their families, singing songs, playing instruments, and having a great time.
When I was little, my favorite thing to do was write. I would come up with story after story, written and illustrated in crayon on white sheets of paper, then stapled into book form. The day my family purchased our first desktop computer, I sat down and typed a story for the first time…and I was hooked.
Some of my stories were really good, and even earned awards at state-level young author contests. I continued writing stories throughout my teenage years, and then ventured into nonfiction essays, just for fun. It’s really a shame that blogs weren’t a thing back in the late 90s.
For a long time, I thought I might become an author when I grew up. That aspiration evolved into journalism as a high school student, and I was even accepted to several prominent universities’ journalism schools. But then I got honest with myself and realized I needed to pursue music, my true love.
2016 was a year full of ups and downs, but it most definitely ended on a high note (corny pun totally intended). I had the opportunity to perform at First Night Springfield, an annual New Year’s Eve event put on by my city’s arts council. And while performing was a joy in and of itself, the icing on the cake was that my friends and family — including my two children — were there, too.
I’ve spent the last 12 months doing my best to practice the three words my business partner Katey and I chose for 2016 — simplify, streamline, self-care. This past year has been all about eliminating the non-essentials, putting things on the back burner, and focusing on what matters most.
With that in mind, I didn’t set any hard and fast goals or choose any big projects to work on as I have in years past. I gave myself grace and permission to say no without guilt. It felt GOOD to care for myself, and I will definitely carry those words with me into the new year.
It’s interesting to think about how my personal definition of success has changed and evolved over the years. In my early to mid twenties, just starting my career and becoming a newlywed, success meant a great job, a nice house, and enough disposable income to buy what I wanted and travel often.
All of that came fairly quickly and easily, which of course meant taking my definition of success to the next level. My late twenties were all about achieving freedom in my career, which I did by leaving my full-time job and becoming completely self-employed. Those few years were magical — I built a thriving business while working from home, we vacationed several times a year, and never had to worry about money.
And then we entered our thirties. Three days later, I had a baby, and everything changed.
This time of year always hits like a ton of bricks. You know it’s coming, but there’s little more you can do to prepare than fill out all the forms that land in your hands, respond to all the emails, send out the information, and take a deep breath.
That has never been more true than this year, with a preschooler, a toddler starting part-time daycare, and a business undergoing some huge changes. I’ve spent these last few weeks making sure I’m covering all my bases where all of those things are concerned, so unfortunately the creative stuff has fallen to the wayside.
I was feeling pretty buried under ALL THE THNIGS this past weekend, despite my efforts to get it all into my calendar, Trello boards, and paper planner. So during naptime, I sat down with a journal and some pretty pens my business partner Katey had given me for my birthday. And I started writing.