Tag Archives: piano

The Year That Was Part 1

4 Jan

Happy New Year everyone! I suppose at January 4th, 2011  I’m a bit behind on a yearly review post, regardless, that is what this post is going to be. It’s a good thing that I started journaling about two years ago so I have something to refer to or otherwise I’d have a tough time remembering everything that occurred over the past 12 months.

[Several minutes later]

Well I just did a quick scan of my journals over the past year. As it turns out, I didn’t actually journal as much as I thought. I started strong in January and February – probably because it was a resolution of mine from the previous year – and then it dwindled off in the following months. This probably coincides with the deep rut I found myself in during the dog days of winter and heading into spring. My journaling picked up again though between June and August because that’s when I went on my two month road trip through the US of A that saw me hit 23 different states (yes, I just counted them out on my fingers) and was awesome (more on this later). Journal entries continued to go strong for the few months following my return from the trip, but died down again towards the end of the year, bringing me to now.

Rather than provide a play-by-play of the events of my year, I think I’ll stick to some of the highlights… and low-lights. Because really, we wouldn’t know what the highs are without experiencing the lows.

The year started out tough. My little heart was still in recovery mode from heartache and was flooded with painful emotions and spinning from unanswered questions. On January 1, 2010, I wrote a prayer to God. I prayed that my relationship with Christ grow deeper, wider and stronger. That the wounds of past hurts would close and leave behind scars that would become a beautiful part of who I am, hurting less with each passing day. I prayed for inspiration. I prayed for moments with Christ in which His Spirit would overcome me and that I’d hear His voice and see His face. I prayed for transformation of my heart.

While some of these prayers are still a work in progress and always will be I think (and hope), I can honestly say that these prayers have been answered over this past year. Maybe not always in the way that I wanted or thought was best, but answered nonetheless. Although it’s been difficult to see along the way, going back and reading my sad words and painful feelings is a reminder of how far God’s brought me over these past 12 months. I think one of the most important things I’ve learned this year is that I can’t base my faith and relationship with Christ on experiences alone – those moments when I feel His presence or have tangible encounters with the Holy Spirit. It’s in learning this that my relationship with Christ has grown more solid and my trust in Him, more true…. though still so imperfect.

Moving on. It was early in the year when feelings of restlessness crept in leaving a constant feeling of discontent. And by the end of February, they were in full force. This is around the time when I made the decision to go away for a bit and how I ended up driving through the States for two months. But winter wasn’t all doom and gloom. We actually had one of the nicest BC winters that I can recall and Vancouver was host to the 2010 Winter Olympics. During these few weeks, Vancouver was the place to be and there was a tangible buzz everywhere you went. It was so cool to be right in the thick of it all. And witnessing Sidney Crosby score in overtime to win Canada the gold medal over the US in the final hockey game with literally thousands of people at Live City in Yaletown was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! I’ve never felt more patriotic than I did during those two weeks. The feeling of patriotism has since worn off, it’s a bit tiring being that patriotic. Is that how Americans feel all the time?

One thing I almost forgot… I started taking piano lessons again in January. I took up to grade 5 Royal Conservatory when I was younger but then quit for basketball (still can’t believe I did that – I could’ve done both), but I’d been itching to play again so I called up my former teacher and asked her if she’d have me as a student again. She said yes. So every Monday up until I left for my road trip, I went to piano lessons and absolutely loved it! It was during this time that I really began to understand the discipline it takes to hone a skill. Yes, I partially learned this lesson during my basketball glory days, but to be honest, too often I was guilty of relying on my natural ability. But with piano, I wanted to be great at it and realized the amount of work that it takes to become great at something. Update: I’m still not great at piano, but I’m getting better.

In spring, I took a week off of work, got on an airplane and went to visit friends in Phoenix and Oklahoma. It’s funny, whenever I refer to these friends, I say that one lives in Phoenix (a city) and the other lives in Oklahoma (a state) – I think it’s because if I said Yukon, no one would know that this is a city in Oklahoma whereas most people know that Oklahoma is a state in the US. Anyways, it was great to see friends and I got to take them both to a Needtobreathe (my favourite band) concert. It just so happened that Needtobreathe were playing in Tulsa, OK and then in Tuscon, AZ a few nights later so it worked out quite perfectly. There is nothing quite like seeing your favourite band play live… especially when the live show is SO much better than anything recorded.

This brings me to the month leading up to my road trip. Months of planning went into my two month trek across the states, which considering, I should have been far better prepared. I was a rookie traveller though. Any traveling I’d ever done had been with a team in which everything was planned and executed for us and all I had to do was show up with my basketball shoes and uniform and at times, even that was a stretch. Other traveling includes two family vacations to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Dominican… again, all that was required of me was to get up in time to catch the airplane and be fun. But the most important preparation for this trip was what was going on in my heart and soul… and I knew God was taking care of that.

In preparation for my trip, in April 2010, I quit my job as Assistant Marketing Manager at Relevention Marketing. I didn’t have to, but I felt that in order for this trip to fulfill its purpose, this was something I needed to do. My last day of work was June 3rd, 2010 and on June 7, 2010, I left for what would turn out to be quite an amazing experience.

Halfway through writing this, I decided to turn this post into two parts, so this is to be continued… (hopefully by this weekend).

Day 14 – just the black notes

5 Sep

Today’s post is in inspired by a link that my grandma sent to me this evening on the story of the song ‘Amazing Grace.’

Did you know that any Negro spiritual song can be played on just the black keys of a piano? My grandma told me that this evening after learning about this earlier in the week. Conveniently, I was sitting on the bench at my mom’s baby grand when she told me this, so I swiveled around and starting plunking away on the black ebony until the melody of ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ resounded from its strings. I couldn’t believe it – even a piano is racially segregated. In fact, in early America the five black notes in a single octave (or technically referred to as the pentatonic scale) were commonly called the slave scale.

But ‘Amazing Grace’, one of the most famous songs ever, is unique in that it is a White spiritual song written on the pentatonic scale – the slave scale. This song was written by John Newton, but before Newton became a Christian he was the captain of a slave ship. The melody of ‘Amazing Grace’ was hummed by the slaves in transit and later Newton would write words to this hauntingly beautiful chorus. I love how this widely influential song possesses such strong symbolism of the deeply-rooted segregation that we have created amongst ourselves yet how through Christ, we are all the same – united and saved by the amazing grace of God.

If you’re interested to know more of the story of ‘Amazing Grace’, click on this link to watch an incredible video – Amazing Grace, Just the Black Notes.

actual slave quarters from the 1700 and 1800s on Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina