Am I the only one who misses baseball? Truth be told I’m a bit of a fanatic. I grew up playing barefoot in the grass and dirt with my cousins, went on to play competitive softball and have played in rec leagues as a “grown up”. The only subscription I pay for is MLBTV.
I love baseball and I love the Chicago Cubs.
The reason Friday became my favorite day of the week is because I used to cycle down to Wrigley Field each week on Fridays, put my bike under the red line, grab a beer and bask in the afternoon 1:05pm sun as I got to watch my favorite team play my favorite game. Just writing and thinking about it makes me smile!
Now I just love Fridays no matter what I’m doing because they’re special to me. AND. I’m just that much more excited to take a cycle or pop on the train down to Wrigley when the time is right. What a celebration that will be.
Not only do I have a love of the game and my rituals that go along with it, I have a love of the beauty of the game. I love witnessing the synchronization of multiple people and skillsets at once, I love seeing pitchers in flow state in high pressure situations and in general, I love see human beings perform at a high level and express their potential. And I love seeing them smile as they do it.
This week’s blog is story time. I will be sharing a story about one of my amazing piano students and how his feats at the piano set him up for success in baseball. It’s a story about grit, grace, lightbulbs, connection and the whole point of my Mindful Music teaching philosophy. It’s also a story about how my students inspire me constantly.
Not only is this a story about an amazing student of mine, this is an unexpected synchronistic highlight, response and call to action based on the violence and white supremacy yesterday as the Capitol building of the United States of America was attacked and invaded.
Once upon a time, my student, I will call him H, had been studying piano with me for about three years. He was 11 years old. We had weekly lessons at his home on Sunday afternoons and we had a ball together. His favorite go to artists to learn for his songs were Bruno Mars and Imagine Dragons. H is witty and quick, a fellow baseball fanatic, the lead singer of his band called “Nervous Nachos” and he is also famously the first person who taught me how to floss.
(If you don’t know flossing - look it up, it’s a dance.)
Each week H and I would chip away at what he wanted to learn at the piano. We dove into scales, his technique book and of course the arrangements I created for him of his favorite tunes. I’m very much of the belief that almost any skill can be learned on any song, so why not play something you enjoy?
H’s biggest challenge was not his fingers or the way he sat at the piano. It wasn’t even his ability to read the notes. It was what was going on in his mind. He consistently would say “I can’t do it, I just can’t do it!”. He would give up mid-way because of this belief. It would be emotional for him because he really cared.
So the biggest tool we worked on was mindset. I explored with him the idea that mindsets, thoughts and beliefs can be chosen. Together we implemented mindfulness practices of noticing what thoughts were present and a deep knowing that he was not his thoughts.
I shared with him that whatever he believes, he’s right. So, if he believes he can’t do it, he won’t! And if he believes he can, he will!
Not only did I share this with him, it played itself out in his creations based on the way he was able to harness his beliefs and his mind.
So simple. So revolutionary.
The key ideas being - whatever you believe, you’re right. Thoughts become things. And most importantly, our value as human beings is not attached to our thoughts or outcomes.
H and I worked on this practice for months, for years. There were ups and downs. There were strings of lessons that were immensely challenging. There were lessons with amazing breakthroughs. H discovered that the only thing standing between him playing at his potential was his mindset. So he chose one.
The mindset he chose was a bit of a mantra. It went like this “I can play this well”.
Simple. Clear. And above all, true.
This became what I call a mental trigger for H. Every time he sat down, whether it was a scale or the most challenging passage of a piece, he took a deep breath first and thought “I can play this well”.
Another trigger between he and I was simply saying “Mindset”. This meant to get your mind where you want it to be. Cue your mantra. Use your mind. It’s a decision. It’s a decision that takes practice. And, it only works if you actually believe it.
Along with his mindset and mantra work, H had been practicing piano and his challenging piece. He could actually play it well and play it well consistently. So not only was he choosing amazing, true and supportive thoughts and beliefs, he was building trust with himself in the truth of his abilities. His mindset and mantra was valid.
Fast forward to H’s piano recital - he was going to play his challenging piece. He sat in the row of chairs about halfway back in the rented church space. He sat in the energy of waiting, of readiness and that buzz of pre-performance nerves.
I can play this well.
H went up to the piano, the applause settled, and I heard him breathe. I knew with that breath before he played a note he was going to crush it.
And that he did! He played his piece well, he played at his potential, and his smile afterward so was big his glasses almost fell off of his face! I was so proud of him. He was so proud of him. The glow of the moment was love and freedom.
H and I continued on in our lessons after his recital and started tackling new ideas, new goals and new visions for what he wanted to create in his time at the piano. The summer following this recital, his mom very excitedly told me one Sunday that H had hit his first home run in baseball. I was over joyed for him! What an accomplishment!
She shared that he had also been struggling in baseball, specifically with hitting. After the game she asked him, “How did you do it?!”
What did he say? “Mindset”.
H’s mom wanted me to know that what we did at the piano was making a difference in other parts of his life. He had used his mindset tool from piano and it had worked!
Words fail me to describe the chills I got when she shared this. It was like my mission statement was reflected back to me and the universe saying “Yes”.
This is the whole point.
This is the whole point of Mindful Music.
This is the whole point of my teaching philosophy.
This is why I do what I do in the way I do it.
My whole mission is to use the vehicle of music to support my student’s success in all they do. To give them a toolkit to rise into who they are and what they’re capable of. To love themselves in the process. To be able to share their unique ideas and creations with the world. To embody mindfulness and conscious thought and belief. These values and skills can be copied and pasted into all parts of life. Like hitting a home run!!
It’s a way of being with unending positive echoes and ripples in every direction. And while I held the space for H to create this and showed him tools, he’s not dependent on me to make it happen. He is in his own power creating and experiencing what he wants out of life.
H and his story inspires me. This is where the blog was supposed to end.
As I was writing his inspirational story to share with you all, I took a break from writing to find my phone blowing up.
White supremacists stormed the Capitol of the United States of America, broke in, hurt people and killed one person.
Kids and people everywhere saw an example of hatred, violence and straight up white supremacy being ok. In fact, they saw it get a green light.
The world witnessed clearly that no matter what white people do, they walk away clean and that when people of color do nothing, they get murdered.
We all saw the results of the hateful rhetoric, and hateful behavior of a world leader who spouted lies for years and incited the violence of his supporters based in fear.
This is what I saw mid writing. And in that moment, I was reminded in my soul of just how much my mission matters.
This is why conscious education matters. This is why empowerment matters. This is why tapping into the light within all of us matters. This is why everything that H conquered and used in all parts of his life, matters.
I harkened back to my experience in 2016. It’s uncanny the similarities of the moment for me. Both me in a baseball happy place, both then a quick plummet to darkness.
Back in 2016 when Donald Trump got elected I and my whole city were riding a baseball high. The Cubs won the world series, I was getting champagne in my eyes jumping around for days in jubilant cheer and less than a week later darkness fell on the city and the country.
I wept, I grieved, , I listened to my students say “liberty and justice for all” when it wasn’t true and I had a very important conversation with myself.
The big question I asked was this: “What can I do in my current medium to do my part and make a difference?”
I saw people blindly following lies. I asked, “What can I do to help the next generation think for themselves and move through the world with autonomy?”
I saw people spouting violence and hate. I asked, “What can I do to evoke, embody and teach my students the skill of empathy?”
I saw people making decisions not based in fact or reality. I asked, “What can I do to gift my students the tools of awareness through music?”
I saw people unable to self-reflect, give feedback or receive feedback. I asked, “What can I do to empower my students with the ability to both give and receive honest feedback in a loving way - from not just others, most importantly themselves?”
I saw people so divisive and disconnected. Disconnected from others, disconnected from themselves. I asked, “What can I do to help the next generation to honor the stories of others? What can I do to help them share stories of their own? How can I help them express who they are and their unique ideas?”
I saw people engulfed in fear. I asked, "How can I equip people to tap into their power and choose their thoughts and beliefs in the face of fear?"
I journaled into the wee hours. And within days, unbeknownst to me at the time, the mission of Mindful Music was born.
Not only had my own story informed the kind of teacher I wanted to be, the darkness of the world and humanity beyond music stared back at me giving me an even bigger reason to rise.
It gave my vision a whole new level of meaning.
In all I do, I want my students to have a navigation system for life. I seek to gift them a toolkit to hold onto the magic in their hearts, their authenticity, their downright honestly, their curiosity, their expansive ideas and very much their care for others.
With this navigation system, they can be themselves, heighten their awareness, expand and share their unique ideas with the world. And I want this to be on demand - like H, they won’t need me to do it and they'll be able to do it even when fear shows up.
This doesn’t stop with my students at the piano. This is what I do in my coaching as well. In fact, in coaching it's different because we adults have decades of conditioning in the opposite direction. In coaching it's more about remembering.
It’s all worth it and it's all important because it’s love.
It all boils down to love. It’s about tapping into the innate light within each of us. It’s allowing and equipping ourselves and others to be who we are fully.
From this place we can operate like a finely tuned baseball team. All synchronized in our unique talents and skillsets, hitting ideas and dreams, passing things around, running, laughing and finding our way to home.
Conscious education matters. Mindful education matters. Empowered education matters.
Conscious coaching matters. Mindful coaching matters. Empowered coaching matters.
When people are kept in boxes, are denied their true selves, aren’t nourished to evolve their emotional intelligence, living in co-dependency in thought and action, prodded with fear and so much more, it’s an enormous problem.
Young people grow up to be adults. Look what adults did yesterday.
This enormous problem was expressed in the violence and straight up white supremacy the world watched.
To me, mindfulness is not passive. To me, mindfulness is deep responsibility. It’s the relationship with myself, with the present moment and with the world around me. It’s a deep responsibility with the truth and then acting on what I discover.
The truth is, we have a lot of healing to do.
I believe we can do it.
It is going to take deep responsibility, conscious leadership, and many many more stories like my student H. Stories of not only kids being equipped with a mindful and conscious toolkit for life, very much so for adults as well.
Young people are incredibly wise. There is so much that I have spent decades unlearning that I hope they never learn in the first place.
This is why I care so much about helping them keep that part of themselves alive. They don’t need to become lost like the behavior the world witnessed yesterday.
This is why I care so much about helping adults tap back into that part of themselves. They get to reconnect and stay connected to the truth.
As I laid in bed last night, I couldn’t sleep. I teetered in and out of “half-sleep”.
And then I remembered the incredibly wise words of this very student, the piano extraordinaire and homerun hitter, H.
He is white and identifies as male.
He once said, “Things are just going to be easier for me and it’s not fair.”
Yes, an 11 year old said that.
Can you imagine if everyone walking the planet had that kind of awareness? That kind of autonomy? That kind of ability to express and relate to the truth? That kind of expression of what’s important?
I can imagine it and it’s beautiful.
It’s possible. If we all do our part.
It’s our responsibility to be the light in ourselves, shine our light into the world and ignite and equip the light of the next generation.
Not only is it possible, it’s necessary.
So today I leave you with some big questions:
What are you doing with the truth?
What are you doing to stay tapped into the light within yourself, be who you are, embody your potential and express your gifts? What toolkit do you use?
What are you doing to help the next generation do the same? And hopefully, to do it better than we do?
It’s about the light.
It’s about skills.
It’s about empowerment.
It’s about responsibility.
It’s about love.
And synchronized together, we can round third and come home.
If you’d like your child to tap into this toolkit for emotional intelligence and a mindful toolkit for life through mindful piano lessons, please reach out through my contact page. I would love to support them as they learn and rise!
If you’d like to tap into this potential yourself of mindful empowerment, heightening your awareness, expressing your unique gifts and even doing so in high pressure situations, I now have expanded to coaching all humans - not just musicians! Reach out through my contact page or book an intro call with me here! I would love to support you on your journey.
And finally, if you are a womxn seeking mindfulness empowerment and would like to be a part of a community of womxn doing the same, I have also expanded my 2021 mastermind to all womxn! We will begin late January - more details on that update coming soon!
I’m sending light from my heart into your heart.
I’m sending you the strength to keep going.
If H can access his highest self in high pressure fearful moments, so can we.
I’m here to support you every step of the way.
You are the only you that exists in the history of the universe!!!
So go out there and be a great one.
I see you. We need you.
In deep love, community, and pursuit of a better world,