Friday, October 23, 2009

With what you have...

I was talking with a friend today about fund raising, when something from my past came to mind. Once upon a time, I devoted my entire life to playing the flute. I still do not know exactly why I majored in English instead of music performance, but English felt right at the time. I spent most of my four years in college in the Music department, practicing flute way more than studying my English texts. But here's the story:
In the sixth grade, I wanted to be in the band in the worst way. I didn't figure we would be able to afford an instrument, but I had to ask anyway. I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. My dad told me they would do everything they could to get me a flute, but I had to practice or it would be sold. I had to be serious about it. So, I played on the borrowed school flute for a while. The director let me come in at lunch and play too. We had a night meeting where the music stores brought in their instruments for sale. We looked at some used ones, but my parents just weren't liking them. I'm not sure why, because I knew a flute for me would be many sacrifices in other places. I didn't say a word, I just followed and watched. They settled on a brand new Artley flute and I was in AWE. My hands were shaking when I got home and took it from the case. I started practicing and played late into the night. My parents didn't even make me go to bed. By the night's end I was playing the last songs in the beginner songbook. Those were supposed to take me months to get to. This went on for many years. My junior year in high school, I auditioned for region band. I won first chair, beating about 500 other flute players. This meant I was ranked #1 in the eastern counties of SC. Now, if I had been a football player, this would have been on the news. I digress! Having made region band (they picked 12 flute players)I had the opportunity to audition for All-State band. I would complete against all the winners from every district in SC. Well, my flute broke. Two weeks before auditions. We went to have it repaired and the repairman said that it was just completely worn out. “How long do you practice each day?” The repairman couldn't understand how every pad, gear, screw was completely worn out. I had been practicing 2-3 hours everyday for 6 years. He said I needed a new flute – it was beyond repair. I went home empty handed and locked my room door and cried. Two weeks away from what I had worked so hard for and it was about to all be gone. A brand new flute was out of the question for us at this time. I prayed. I put it in the Lord's hands and asked for Him to help me. Saturday morning came around and my parents went to garage sales. When they came home my dad was beaming from ear to ear. He handed me a flute and said, “This lady bought it for her daughter who never practiced. It looks like new, and it was only $50. Play it for me and make sure it works." My dad, being raised Baptist, always wanted me to play “Amazing Grace.” I played. It was perfect. I was so happy.

Two weeks later, I auditioned for State and placed 8th chair. At this point I had won out over 550 players. As I sat in state band rehearsals, I was surrounded, ahead of me and below me by girls with $3000+ flutes. And there I was, the only one, with my $50 garage sale flute and I was still happy. If you want something bad enough, you take what you have and you give it 100%. Work your hardest, and you will be blessed. Our example was a child born in a stable and raised as a carpenter. Give it all you've got, never give up, and you will be happy. My parents had to ask me to STOP practicing. I drove them insane I know, but I'm so glad. Music has been a blessing in my life and it was worth every minute I practiced.
Work with what you have, add faith and hard work, and everything else falls into place.

Friday, October 09, 2009


This time of year brings back many memories. Fall changes everything in the air; smells, textures, colors, it's all in the process of metamorphosis. This time of year, in 2004, I was in the middle of a divorce. I had made the decision to move out of my house (his house), and move into MY house. Seeing as I had a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and no job, this was going to be difficult to say the least. But I had decided to make it happen. So, I prayed, and then I prayed some more, and more. You get the idea. Finally one day I had some news that my aunt and uncle's rental mobile home was vacant and the rent was only $200 a month. It was a quick walk right through the woods to my parents home, and I knew my boys would love that! Excitedly, my dad and I went to check it out. It was hard to swallow. Holes in the wall (I could see the OUTSIDE from the inside), rats nests in the oven – it was falling apart. My dad looked at me, I looked at him. He said something like, “we can make it work.” I believed him – I always believe my daddy. So, the work began. I watched my dad constantly turn trash to treasure, he made something out of nothing over and over again. He used scraps and leftovers from other projects. We painted, hammered, patched and prayed. My mom cleaned and cleaned until the whole place reeked of the wonderfully sanitized smell of Clorox. The day came and 5 elders from the church in 3 pick-ups moved everything I owned all in one trip, and then unloaded it in my new home. It was home. The metamorphosis had begun. From wife to single mom, homeowner to renter, together to alone. What should have been a sad day, and I did shed a few tears, ended up being remarkable. I KNEW I could make it, I was independent, my boys were happy and I would be okay. To this day my boys still comment about how much they loved our little “trailer in the woods,” It was the happiest stop on earth. They often recount their wonderful memories of that home. I felt like it was a spot blessed from above. I discovered through this process that I thrive on independence. Being forced to make all the decisions all the time brought me “back to life,” and it was a good life. A family member told me, “It's so nice to have Christy back.” Perhaps we all need a "metamorphosis" in our lives, perhaps we all need something to bring us "back to life.”
Photos taken in October 2004 on the property where I was renting: