The 'P' Word

I could feel it all the way down to my toes, it was going to go off at any second... it HAD to!  Even though it felt like I had been sitting there for hours, I knew the evil oven timer was only set for a 30 minutes.  But what if someone accidentally added more time?  Or worse, what if someone added more time intentionally?  I was always so careful to watch the ceremonial setting of the timer to eliminate any funny business, but I knew my mom was a wily one and if she didn't hear me working, she would add time; and I did have two brothers lurking around the house.  Seriously, I was already prepared for my upcoming lesson, why do I need to sit here and continue to work on it over and over?  

I loved playing the piano... but the practice part, well, that was another story!

My ultimate lesson in the power of practice came years after mom's oven timer when I decided I was going to prove to my hard nosed piano teacher that I indeed was practicing plenty.  I had no problem playing my pieces perfect at home and it was only when I arrived at her house with her hovering over me, breathing disapproval down my neck did I actually mess up.  

So, I set up a tape recorder (pause for a brief moment of respectful silence for simpler times) determined to record myself playing perfectly so when she accused me of not practicing enough, I could make a grand scene by pulling the cassette tape from my pocket and proclaiming, "a-ha, proof that YOU are the one tossing me off my game". 

Instead, I had played the pieces so many times to get the most perfect recording I could,  that when I played it for her she just said, "good, lets move on".  The wind was knocked out of me, I was so sure she was the problem.  Instead, I was the with the epiphany that deliberate practice (not the actual practice I was doing) really could get me the results I wanted... who knew?! 

Age 6 April 1981.JPG

Now that I am a 'seasoned adult' I appreciate how deliberate practice can be used beyond my physical skills; it helps me become the person I want to be.  

  • I learn to be brave by doing things that I am fearful of.
  • I learn patience by choosing to be patient in uncomfortable situations.
  • I learn to be kind by doing acts of kindness.
  • I learn to love by practicing loving what is hard to love.

As for courage, that is a funny one.  Often being courageous is seen as something we are or aren't, but it's like everything else I want to be; if I want to be it, I have to practice it.  

Each time I have chosen to have courage I learn that I am a courageous person and with each small act of bravery, I prepare myself to be brave with the bigger things.   I guess there is always the option to practice fear, anxiety or anger, but if I am going to put the energy into practicing anything, I might as well chose what will bring me more joy.  

My years of practicing the piano never made me into Mozart, but it gave me one of my most valuable lessons,

Whatever I choose to practice, I become good at;
so I need to chose wisely what I practice.