Thursday, May 7, 2015

Another Ode to Mr. Fariss

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. Earlier in the week, we were able to celebrate with the rest of the girls' school when one of the 5th grade teachers was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. That's quite an honor. I'm not surprised it was bestowed on a teacher at our school. We have some super teachers. But I've been thinking about teachers in my life. I remember quite a few that were noteworthy. But I found myself quoting one of them in particular throughout the week.

I guess it makes sense that a band director, a teacher that I had for 4 years, would leave a huge impact. It makes even more sense when that band director is a larger-than-life character. I know he's known for quite a few signature sayings. Some were more colorful than others. But there are two that have stuck with me that I had the chance to pass along to my oldest daughter over the last few weeks.

HeyMama has been practicing a piano piece for tomorrow's school talent show. She's a kindergartener. She's been playing piano since this past September. So less than a year. And she wanted to play the Star Wars Theme. So with the help of a musician friend and some free online software, we obtained a version that was appropriate for a beginning pianist. Challenging, but attainable. She's been diligently practicing. Well, sometimes diligently.

"Practice like you'll perform."

This was one of Mr. Fariss' many sayings. If you practice something sloppily, you'll perform it sloppily. If you prepare and practice with the goal of a performance-worthy production, that's what you'll get when it's time to perform in front of an audience. I found it to be true in my marching band days. I found it to be true in non-musical endeavors since then. And these past few weeks, I've been saying it to HeyMama.

But as we've gotten closer to performance time, another saying has resurrected itself.

"Fake it 'til you make it."

HeyMama is concerned about what happens if she messes up during her performance. This is reasonable. I encouraged her to just keep going until she feels like she's got it under control again. In marching band, you can't stop moving on the field just because you forget what to do next. People are running all around you with instruments in their faces. Bloodshed would ensue. You keep moving until you figure it out. And if you've "practiced like you'll perform", it will come to you. And typically, no one is the wiser of your temporary lapse of memory. Again, I have found this advice to be helpful in professional and social situations.

But this week, I've had to take that advice to heart to merely get through the day.
This past Sunday, BestestHusband and I decided that we'd get the big girls on their bikes, HurricaneDebbie in the jog stroller, the dogs on their leashes, and running shoes on our feet. We'd take a family exercise excursion to the other side of the Arboretum to see the cherry trees in bloom. It was truly glorious. The weather was finally sunny and warm. The trees were extravagantly decked out in white and pink blossoms. The place was full of people basking in the glory of a warm spring day. And we had a great workout. I had to do some sprints to keep with the girls. The girls had fun on their bikes. And I think the run was even tolerable for BestestHusband. But two days later, it became apparent that the excursion was not the best idea. I had inhaled a lot of pollen, and my body was rebelling. I couldn't breathe. My nose was ok. It was my lungs that were in crisis. Here are some of the things that have left me out of breath:
Walking up stairs
Walking across a small room
Picking up HurricaneDebbie
Picking up a fork
Making phone calls
Sending emails
Lying still on the couch
Trying to sleep at night
Sitting quietly

I coughed so hard and so much that I strained my back. I went to the doctor, and got a nebulizer treatment and inhaler. I've been vaguely headachy and have had no appetite since then. I'm a mess.

But I had a job interview on Tuesday. I think I nailed it. I picked up extra work hours today. And I will on Friday and Saturday. Getting off the couch has required great effort. But the words "fake it 'til you make it" have echoed in my ears. It doesn't have to be easy. You just have to do it until it gets easier.

I only cooked dinner tonight because I was afraid of $15 worth of chicken going bad in my fridge. But I ended up making a pretty good meal. (Hey, I got BestestHusband to eat cauliflower and be happy doing it!) I only went to the grocery store tonight because buying ice cream sounded really appealing. (The fact that we were out of fresh fruit and a lot of food staples wasn't enough to get me there.) But I just got started doing the tasks, and they got done. Even though I really didn't feel like I could do it.

So the wisdom of my teacher's words becomes apparent yet again. And I am grateful for Mr. Fariss and all of my teachers that have gotten me here today. I just hope that my girls have at least one teacher who will leave an equally strong impression.