What I’m about to share happened just a few weeks ago. It’s not a story I read in a motivational or inspirational book, I didn’t hear it from a pastor or a preacher, it wasn’t on NPR or any number of places where we hear these sorts of thing. This was something that was laid out in front of me from the beginning to the end and, for me, is a strong enough validation of thinking positively rather than negatively, that I’ve decided to share it. I know there is a chance that one or both parties will read this and I’ve decided that it’s ok. I won’t disclose names or locations, I will refer to both as ‘friends’ (which is generous), but I promise, it’s true.

A number of months ago, two sets of friends began planning a vacation. Both sets talked to me about their plans and both decided to vacation at the same location, during the same week and from what I believe, across the street from one another. I was the common denominator in these friendships; the other parties did not know one another and because (1) they are very different from one another and (2) I had a strong sense to stay quiet about the others’ plans, I did not share with either party that I had friends traveling to the same place at the same time.

It all unfolded right in front of me, friends ‘A’ and friends ‘1’.  The A’s struggled from the beginning to find a place. Everything was expensive, nothing was close enough to the beach, there were extra fee’s for parking and guests and it was difficult for them to finally decide. The 1’s exhibited excitement. They wanted to go to this area, they hoped they could be close to the beach but knew they were active enough that walking a couple of blocks to the beach would be ok; they seemed excited to see the other members of their party, who they had not seen in months. The A’s were worried that people in their party wouldn’t get along because it had been months since they had all been together. They finally decided on a place but commented that they were paying too much. The 1’s seemed thrilled to find a place that would accommodate their large group and laughed that they’d be sharing rooms for the first time in years.

As the vacation week approached the A’s were anxious, they weren’t sure about everyone’s diet, they had so much to pack, they were dreading the drive and the traffic and seemed resentful about having to meet some of their party at the airport. The 1’s had gone to a local store and bought matching beach towels for everyone and found silly cups for everyone to drink from, everyone had a ‘themed’ cup. They created a hand-made sign for their party who they were meeting at the airport and had bought Hawaiian-style lei’s to present to them upon their arrival (no, they weren’t in Hawaii).

And so the vacation week happened and I gave some thought to the A’s and the 1’s and wondered how it was going. And then they returned.

The A’s came back to explain it was hot, crowded and people were rude. Drivers cut them off, they had to wait in line everywhere they went and the restaurant food was so expensive they refused to eat out and ended up making sandwiches for every meal. They didn’t get along well and they said it took them hours to go out of their way to drop off their party at the airport. Part of their party left early. The A’s said they would never return and wish they hadn’t gone there at all.

The 1’s returned and had so many photos to share I’ve still not seen them all. They had a great time, they commented that there were so many people from all over to meet and they enjoyed talking with folks as they were on the beach and waiting for tables in restaurants. They shared rooms and stayed up late talking and sharing stories. They enjoyed their themed cups and beach towels so much that they decided each vacation would have a theme. They showed me photo’s taken from the airport with them holding up their cups. They are considering a return trip to the same location next summer.

Same week. Same location. Same. Same. Same. Very, very, different.

Neither party knows that I knew they were both there. I felt like a member of an audience. Each set had fun; one set cannot wait to go back, they are excited to see one another again while the other set appeared to be glad it was over and plan never to return to such a crowded, rude place.

From my perspective as the audience member I think whatever we feed will grow. Our minds are alive, just like seeds, just like like plants. If we think good thoughts, we sow good thoughts and we reap good experiences. If we think negative thoughts, we sow negative thoughts and we reap negative experiences.

When each group unpacked their bags, they brought with them their attitudes, perspectives and mindsets and what they brought with them influenced their experience.

This is all up to us.
What we experience is up to us.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven

Source: New feed

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When my instructor asked if I would be interested in participating in an upcoming recital of her students, it never occurred to me not to do it. Why would I not? It would be a new experience for me and an opportunity to support my instructor who had been so good at supporting me. Learning to play a musical instrument as an adult is not easy and apparently I chose a difficult one, the violin. Megumi was enthusiastic and explained to me that with me agreeing to participate her other adults students would likely follow. And so it went that the other adult students agreed to participate and then one by one they all dropped out. I didn’t.

I joked that my saving grace was the fact the recital was out of state, far enough away that no one would know who I was. How bad could that be? Even if I messed up, it wouldn’t really matter.  But as we got closer to the date, it began to matter. I had chosen one of my favorite Irish folk songs, Carrickfergus, based on the Northern Island town. The more I practiced, the better I got. Weeks prior to the recital I could play the song without looking at the music, with barely warming up, and without missing a note. And then that all went away. One week prior to the concert and my last lesson with Megumi before the recital, it was as if the violin was a foreign object in my hand, the bow couldn’t find the strings, the song was lost in nerves. We came up with a plan that she would accompany me and with that the song began to sing once again from my violin.

Intellectually I understood I would be the only adult playing in the recital but until I arrived at the quaint, pristine church on the hill to play in front of the intimate audience of parents and family, I hadn’t considered what that would look like. I walked inside the church to see kids scurrying around, parents following behind carrying miniature violins and little bitty bows that looked as if they’d been plucked from dollhouses.
Each child had at least one set of parents and what appeared to be grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, dog walkers, etc.  Each child had brought their village and each village member seemed to be carrying a camera, smart phone or video camera to record the upcoming event.

The concert began with Megumi introducing her students to the thousands of people who had filled the huge auditorium (and so begins my interpretation). One by one, according to the printed program, Megumi would introduce the student who would proceed to walk onto the massive stage and play in front of the hundreds of thousands of people in the audience. Cameras flashed, video cameras were recording and at the end of each song thunderous applause would sound throughout the huge concert hall. As I sat looking as calm as possible on the outside I was concerned the people around me would be disturbed by the loud, incessant thumping of my heart as it seemed to want to cease up at any moment. At one point I glanced down at my sweater to see if I could see my heart pounding though the wool; I could. What felt like a golf-ball sized sweat drop had originated somewhere on my back and was making it’s way down my spine, I was convinced the massive, standing-room-only crowd were all watching it.

I was the last student scheduled to play and when Megumi introduced me, I made my way through the throngs of people and climbed up to the massive stage; the golf-ball sized sweat drop had somehow procreated and now there were dozens of them rolling down my back. My heart was beating so loudly it was hard to concentrate over the noise. Once on stage the silence of the spectators was overwhelming; I didn’t dare look out on the millions of people who had gathered that day in the colliseum, I focused only on Megumi and our pre-planned way she would nod her head to cue me to start.

The song played…I could hear it but could not allow myself to register that I was the one playing it. I was aware that at any moment my heart could leap completely through the wool sweater and onto the floor creating an unruly, palpitating mess. Somehow, someway my violin, at least twice the size of everyone else’s,  figured out a way to have Carrickfergus come out to play. I was mostly aware of the sweat drops, convinced they were forming a salty pool at my feet. I noticed people in the audience were holding up their cameras recording me, I heard Carrickfergus being played…by me. The song felt as though it took ten seconds and ten hours; it was over in a flash yet simultaneously I wondered why I had chosen to play what felt like the longest song in the history of the world.

After somehow surviving playing the longest song in the history of the world, I looked at Megumi who was grinning and then the strangest thing happened.  Tens of millions of people in that mammoth coliseum
erupted in applause; not just a polite clap, clap…but for a few moments they had turned their attention away from the tiny dollhouse violin set and noticed me.  An old lady, attempting to play a difficult instrument on a small stage in front of a few dozen people. I looked out on the quaint, pristine church and saw the families there to support their children, clapping for me. Later I learned from many of them how appreciative they were of my willingness to not only play with the kids but to also play an Irish song to what turned out to be an Irish audience very familiar with the meaningful song.

As I drove home I thought about my first-ever violin concert and how that quaint, intimate church filled with kids and their amazingly large support groups, had transformed into an overwhelmingly large venue with millions in the audience, only to be brought back to its reality of a quaint, intimate church sitting on a hillside.

I learned a few things that day about myself and my ability to play Carrickfergus with my heart pounding incessantly while golf-ball sized sweat drops raced down my back. I also knew without a doubt, I was the only student in the recital that day, who stopped on the way home and bought a bottle of wine to celebrate.

Megumi has sinced moved to the opposite coast and I continue to be without a teacher. A few months ago I received an email from her. It turns out her husband is Irish and they had met a number of family members for a reunion.  She sent a photo of one of their destinations….Carrickfergus.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven


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