August Milestones

My blog and I celebrated birthdays in August. Heart to Harp is three years old, and I’m, ahem, considerably older. The “Happy Anniversary” message from WordPress reminded me of the morning I registered my blog. I was working out my retirement notice and didn’t have a lot of actual work to do, so I used my free time to sign up with WordPress. When I saw Heart To Harp become real on my computer monitor, I was so overcome with anxiety over what I’d done that I had to flee to the Habitat coffee shop, where chocolate and caffeine helped me get over the vapors.

I remember telling myself, while gripping that tall mocha latte, that registering a blog didn’t mean that I actually had to write anything, or god forbid, post something for someone to read. It was another week before I published my first blog post. I didn’t have to worry about someone reading what I wrote – several weeks passed before I received my first WordPress email telling me that someone “liked” a post, and it took even longer to get a comment notice. It wasn’t until the following March that Heart To Harp had its first “follower.” By then the shock of committing to “write in public” had worn off. I was just surprised that someone would want to read everything I posted.

Three years, 276 posts, and over 100 followers later, later, I can’t imagine not blogging. Writing about my thoughts, disappointments, hopes, triumphs, and the giggly weirdness of life is part of who I am and what I do. Meeting and connecting with so many creative, interesting, talented people and enjoying their words and images is an unexpected bonus to being a blogger. I treasure these connections, and don’t want to live without them.

This August also marks one year of playing at the hospital hospice unit. In my very first August 2010 blog post, Where’s The Magic Fairy Dust? I doubted that I would ever be able to just sit down, pull my harp back onto my shoulder, and play a tune, let alone let someone listen to me play. Now, harping at the hospital, with staff and families and patients listening to me, is a normal part of my week, and I can play for over an hour without repeating any tunes.

Last August C.B. Wentworth introduced me to the knitting loom and the irrepressible notion that I must knit socks. I started my first pair of socks on August 21st. Last weekend I finally posted all my knitting projects on Ravelry. I’ve written about being knitting-obsessed, but I didn’t know how bad it really was. In 12 months I completed 13 projects. I knit five pairs of socks on the loom before I picked up knitting needles last October. Despite believing that I could never learn to really knit, I finished another pair of socks, four hats, two scarves, and one sweater, and I have another pair of socks and a lace shawl in progress.

Dr. Noa Kageyama, author of The Bulletproof Musician, writes in a post titled “How Can We Develop a More Courageous Mindset? (Plus the Secret of Life):

There is an interesting study which came out just last week that I think provides some interesting insight. It was called The End of History Illusion and described how 19,000 participants, ranging from age 18 to 68 consistently underestimated how much they would change over the next decade.

They were asked to evaluate how much they had changed over the last ten years – from their personality, to core values, and likes/dislikes. Then they were asked to predict how much they would change in the next decade ahead. Interestingly, no matter how young or old they were, even though they acknowledged how much they had changed in the previous ten years, they consistently underestimated how much they would change in the next ten years.

I suspect that we not only underestimate how much our personality, core values, and likes and dislikes will change, but how much we will change in the domain of expertise and skill development as well. . . .

Ten years ago music was not in my life. There was only a faint glimmer of a long ago dream to play the harp someday. Three years ago I couldn’t begin to fathom how much I would learn, or how much I would change, or how much connection and joy and excitement I would find through blogging, through playing my harp, and through an entirely new craft. I can’t begin to predict what the next three years, or ten years will bring, or how I will change and grow in the process. Life keeps opening up in new and completely unpredictable ways, and I keep being surprised and delighted. Each birthday marks the beginning of another year of adventures.

Yet this year’s birthday also brings a quiet sadness. With this birthday I am the same age my mother was when she died. By the time she was 61, she’d given up on life, trading any possibilities of surprise and delight for the vodka and bourbon bottles. That Thanksgiving the alcohol finally killed her.

I wonder at the essential difference between us: What made my mother see her life as over at 61? What makes me, at the very same age, see my life as an adventure? What makes me see each day of my life as an opportunity to see what happens next?

With this birthday, I’ve never been more grateful to be so unlike her.

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21 thoughts on “August Milestones

  1. Belated happy birthday, Janet, from your terribly absent blogger buddy! Wonderful, reflective post. Incredible milestones. Hope you do a blog-postscript next August!

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl, from your own absent blogger buddy. (WordPress on my iPad is being quite strange, so you might get two replies. I go away for a month, and it’s all screwed up when I return.) I am sorry about your broken foot. Definitely NOT how you wanted to spend your first weeks in your new house. Yikes! I am glad that’s all you ended up breaking in that fall. The colors of your bruises must be quite a sight. I hope the worst of the pain and healing is behind you. I do love the storm trooper cast!

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  2. Janet, this is such a beautiful reflective piece. I just loved reading it and thinking of how my life has changed in the last ten years. Thank you south for sharing your adventures and your joy of life with us. You are an inspiration!

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  3. Janet, I’m so glad I became a follower of your blog…it has spoken to me many times with your insightful and thoughtful reflections and musings. Nice to know a kindred spirit in blogosphere. Congrats on both anniversaries! You are an inspiration.

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    1. You were my first real blog follower, Nanci, and it was and is such a thrill that you enjoy and find meaningful the words that spill out of my brain and onto the computer screen. You have frequently eased my heart, knowing as you do the challenges of learning how to play the harp and be a musician. I am glad the blogosphere connected us!

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  4. Happy birthday and congratulations for Your great blog. I am now on road trip in Finland’s Lapland which is far beyond the Arctic Circle in the North. My connections are not the best here, so I am not writing “long story”.

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  5. Happy Birthday and best wishes. I embarked on learning the harp in January this year (age 55) and I like you am both delighted and surprised at the pleasure playing it gives me.

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  6. Oh Janet, I am so glad you are here my friend. I cannot imagine this blogoverse without you. I agree with C.B.–You are an inspiration! For a myriad of reasons including your commitment to music and how you share that beauty with those who need it just as you share with we fellow bloggers.
    Time passes so quickly and yes, I do agree we tend to underestimate how much we change.
    I would like to add that I think people underestimate their impact on others. YOU have made an impact on me and my writing. For that I will always be grateful. You are a terrific friend and I cherish you.
    Congratulations on this milestone. Three years is a long time to do anything, especially blogging. Last but not least HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
    The world is a better place because you are in it. Thank you for being YOU! ~Nancy

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    1. Thank you Nancy! I am going to print your comment and put it where I can read it again on those days that feel dark and discouraging. I am glad that the blogoverse brought us together!!!!

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  7. Happy Birthday! And Happy Blogaversary! You are one of the first blogs I ever followed and it is a connection I treasure. You are such an inspiration!

    I’m off to find you on revelry!! 🙂

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  8. Happy Birthday! x 2 and many more.
    You certainly have met many challenges and have allowed your creativity to bud and blossom through music, knitting and blogging. I’m looking forward to whatever your next challenge will be as I also look forward to experiencing what’s around the next corner.
    Love and peace be with you always,
    TiTi

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