After a subpar childhood piano career, I resumed my piano lessons when I was 35 years old. I remember how I jumped up and down and celebrated when the used black upright piano that I purchased was delivered to my house. Even as the mother of a 13-month-old son, I was dedicated and likely the most disciplined I had been. I was faithful to my lessons, my practice and focused on becoming an accomplished pianist.
I love music and wanted to fill my home with countless piano “concerts”. I envisioned my family sitting around the piano and Christmas tree during the holidays as I performed a list of traditional holiday favorites as well as performing concerts throughout the year where I played a variety of genres.
As an adult, I remember nervously sitting next to kindergarteners as we prepared for our spring recital in 2008. After the birth of my second child, this was my first recital in almost 20 years. My emotions vacillated between excitement and frustration; excitement that I was pursuing my piano dreams and frustration that I hadn’t been a better childhood student and hadn’t mastered the piano at almost 40. Nevertheless, I was excited to be performing a culmination of a few years of lessons that had me proud of what I had recently accomplished and further lit the fire under me to keep getting better. Despite a few missed keys, the spring recital was great and I beamed with pride as my family and friends got to see my hard work. Despite being a working mother of two (I had recently taken a much-needed break from corporate America), I was able to maintain my family focus while making piano lessons a priority and working on my other professional endeavors.
Until that devastating derailment also known as my triple negative breast cancer diagnosis. In my sudden and immediate change of priorities to better understand my breast cancer subtype, research treatment options, physicians and focus on survival, I withdrew from my upcoming fall recital.
That was 8 years ago. Aside from the occasional moment that I plunk at a piece from my childhood or adulthood recitals or some of my half-written songs and a few comical attempts to provide lessons to my family, the piano has sat largely unused. Sometimes dusty and out of tune, it represents a stark contradiction to the dedicated days of practice, my scheduled piano tunings and appreciation for the instrument and music I was able to produce.
The years since my breast cancer diagnosis have been filled with highs and lows, a challenge as I find my way in my new normal. Dreams I once had have been replaced by new dreams. U turns have been a large part of navigation in my new normal. Reconstruction has been an overriding theme. As 2016 closes with another year of survival, another holiday and my 47th birthday, resolutions I used to make have been replaced by one simple declaration for the year ahead. I’m bringing back the music to my life!
Things that were out of tune and dusty in my life will be dusted off, tuned with a refocus to have beautiful melodies today and the next day and the next day. This is a work in progress. I look forward to recommitting myself to some of the things I “lost” and making my new normal more bright and beautiful.
I pray that there’s also beautiful music for you in 2017. I’ll keep you posted and hope to hear about your 2017 adventures.
Happy New Year!
Melanie A. Nix – Triple negative breast cancer survivor. Resilience Coach, Reconstructionist™ and Health and Wellness Advocate. Always striving to color outside of the lines when defining your new normal.