Kunghei fatchoy

Alrighty, I'm not Chinese (at least, not that I know of...), but my Shambhala group celebrates the lunar new year, and we're not even going to be doing that until Saturday, so I don't think I'm THAT late with my annual birthday / New Year's wrap-up... right?  Heck, I missed last year's entirely, so... baby steps.

The previous birthday recap... ah, sigh...  Suffice it to say that I wasn't in the best head-space for looking around or ahead, thank you depression, and thank you Frau Gatekeeper for digging the hole just a little deeper around birthday-time, because... yeah, nothing says "Happy Birthday" like spending a night with the friendly crisis hotline worker (although thank Dog for middle-of-the-night crisis hotline workers!).

Managed to pull myself reasonably out of that, just in time to receive the "Merry Christmas" diagnosis that my husband's cancer had come back.  So... I wasn't feeling terribly festive, or communicative last year.

Here endeth the excuses.

The Annual Wrap-Up

My word for 2015 was Restore.  That word reached many pockets of my life, and I believe I "succeeded" in carrying it through – or at least working my way well along the path.  It was primarily a year of self-care and husband-care.  I'm slowly letting go of the need to "do", and allow myself to just "be" – slowly, but surely.

It was a rather slow year, musically (but that's okay).  A strange finger injury I had sustained in November (practising rather lightly the day before a trio concert, my baby finger burst a blood vessel and was beautifully purple and painful – I made it through the concert, but don't think that helped things) prevented me from doing too much in the first few months of the year, and then I had to ease myself back in slowly.

The Brights did manage a really fun gig in January, though, before Don's treatment started (and I was able to avoid using my baby finger for the most part) – a Paul Simon tribute concert put together by Michael Wrycraft.  We had a blast putting together arrangements of "The Obvious Child" and "Kathy's Song" for the show, with our friend Ray Dillard on percussion.  I even got to become a geek, with a new octave pedal for my cello!

The Take Note! Music House also had a number of house concerts booked in, so we honoured all those dates – I guess it was a year of the music coming to us!  David Essig, Jon Brooks, Ron Hynes, Emiliana Torrini with David Celia, Rick Fines & Roly Platt, Ben Sures, Leaf Rapids, The Young Novelists, Rob Lutes, and Laura Smith with Naming the Twins (I'm being lazy with the links, but they're all on the TNMH page if you're interested).  All fabulous shows!

Don's radiation ran from February through April, with hormone therapy continuing through August, and while he didn't have nearly the severity of side-effects they warned us about, it was an exhausting process.  Heck, I was exhausted, and they weren't even nuking me!  So it was a few months of trying to take it easy.  Which is not easy for me, but sometimes life has to clobber me before I learn my lesson (see "what I've learned", below).

We also joined a Shambhala meditation group, which has provided us with much-needed centering and grounding, as well as some lovely new friends.  Giving myself permission to just sit is nothing short of a miracle!  (Of course, I still catch myself writing "to-do" lists in my head sometimes, but... that's the practice.)

We got to celebrate the end of radiation by flying out west to enjoy the wedding of our friends Louise and Charles (and I learned another important lesson, which is always rent a cello – the one a friend of theirs brought me to use for the ceremony had been in a basement for a very long time and the strings broke the second I started to tune it), a week of wine touring, and a nice visit with our friends Ruth & Mike in Kelowna.  It was really nice to get away and ENJOY life after all that time fearing the end of it.

And we stepped back into the musical world with a beautiful Solstice concert organized by our friend Ray Dillard, and held in the barn of our other friends, Roy and Sue.  I can say it was beautiful because it wasn't just The Brights playing – it was an all-night concert from sundown to sunrise, with many of Ray's musical friends participating.  It eased us back quite nicely (didn't have to worry about a full concert, just a handful of songs), and introduced us to some more opportunities and new friends.

Later, we also celebrated our fifth anniversary at Sir Sam's – a week which unfortunately didn't end terribly well, but all good things must come to an end.  (And this new year of the Fire Monkey is about letting go of things that no longer serve you, so we're going to try someplace new this year.)

But the BEST CELEBRATION OF ALL came the day we returned home.  On our way (well, a round-about-out-of-the-way, truthfully), we picked up our sweet little bundle of chocolate-y goodness, Macie.  She has brought such joy into our lives, and reminded us of what it means to be living.  Be curious.  Play.  Cuddle.  Wiggle with excitement.  Love everybody.  You're never too big to be a lap dog.

First Day Home

Nap Time – 'Dog, Duckie, Don'

Graduation Day

In September, the Amity Trio had its final concert together, which marked the end of a (rather long, in hindsight) era.  Although Marilyn Reesor (the trio's pianist) and I are collaborating in a number of projects, still.  And I now have much more time to work on my own musical choices.  Perhaps I was hiding a bit in an ensemble?  I'm re-entering the soloist world for the first time in a long time, and digging in to some great music for cello.  We're currently working on a program of Jewish music and a program of Russian music, which is all very meaty and emotional and wonderful to play (once I remind my left hand of what it was like when I was practising thumb position regularly...).

Other musical highlights include playing Snow Angel with Toronto's Oriana Women's Choir, and a lot of studio work at home with Don (no, not our music, other people's projects – that'll come).

What I have learned this year


Be grateful.

Sometimes being still is the most useful thing you can do.

Avoid the comments section.  (This is proving most useful now that a certain trial is underway.)

I don't have to be perfect, or the best, or most useful, or work myself into a frenzy in order to lead a productive life, or be worthy of living it.

To let go of things I've held on to for too long, in order to embrace a whole bunch of new good stuff.  (Welcome, year of the Fire Monkey!)

To take care of myself.

Don't trust a cello that's been in the basement for years – rent a good one.

That no matter how much I beat myself up over something, my dog still thinks I'm the centre of the universe (a position I share with Don).

Be curious.



Wiggle with excitement.

Love everybody.

You're never too big to be a lap dog.  (Although my jeans are telling me it might be time to get reacquainted with the Bowflex...)

What lies ahead

All that luscious cello music!

What would have lain ahead if I'd written this on time was a fabulous run of "Sunday In the Park With George" with Talk is Free Theatre.  Closing night was Saturday, and it was TIFT's best-selling show since moving to Barrie, and got great reviews.  It was wonderful to collaborate with actors again.  I love collaborating with other musicians, of course, but there's a different energy when you're working with artists in other disciplines.  We can all learn from each other, and contribute in our own ways.  Now that I'm getting back in the swing of things, I hope to find more ways to push myself outside of "the usual".

I'm also involved in a new documentary project.  Several years ago, a song of mine got published in Unlock the Door: Beyond Sexual Abuse by Deb Maybury.  The book has done so well, that she decided to do a follow-up, but in film instead of prose.  So my song "Sword and Wand" will be the theme music of the film.  Of course, I originally wrote it on piano, and haven't played it for several years, so thank goodness for Marilyn, who saved me by playing the piano part for me!  (Somehow I had this brilliant idea that I would be able to remember how to play it on piano AND teach myself how to play bass on it before Deb showed up with her camera two weeks later – just after Christmas.  So apparently I haven't COMPLETELY shaken having totally unreasonable expectations of myself...)

More advocacy, more writing, more creating.

More stillness.

Dog help us, a baby brother for Macie, who will be coming home mid-March.  (This might totally blow the previous point...)

More play.

More cuddles.

My word for 2016 is Relationship.  I look forward to cultivating it with myself, my hubby, my music, my friends, those crazy lab puppies, my community, and all of you.

Kunghei fatchoy!

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