Sunday, April 1, 2012

April 1, 2012: No Foolin'...


Sorry I didn't write like I said I would last week.  I was on a walking tour of downtown Salt Lake City, taking in the Mormon Temple after one of the most amazing tapas meals of my life with several good friends who are also music therapists.  Someone asked about the conference so here's a quick blurb...

Sunrise in SLC...

I serve as the vice president of the western region of the American Music Therapy Association.  As the VP my job is to run our regional conference in the spring for 2 years.  Last year, I hosted the conference aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach.  Each year, we move the conference to a different state in our region.  Next year, we'll be in Tempe, AZ, and in 2014, we'll be in Portland, OR.  The conference is by music therapists, for music therapists.  We have two days of concurrent continuing education sessions, and several days before and after of continuing ed courses/workshops available.  We are required to earn 100 CEUs every 5 years to maintain our board certification, so the annual national conference in the fall and regional conference(s) in the spring serve as a great way for us to stay connected, recharge, and deepen our skills as professionals.

As conference chair, I have a local committee that is responsible for the real planning and execution of the conference.  This year there were two local co-chairs, a registration chair, marketing chair, entertainment chair, logistics chair, silent auction chair, PR chair, program chair, as well as continuing ed chair, each with their own committees.  There are A LOT of moving parts to conference, and ultimately, I am the one accountable for it all.  The way I looked at my job these past two years was to 1. throw a great conference full of great content and value for the attendees, but also to 2. plan and execute the conference in a way where there were 'no martyrs' and all the volunteers experienced growth and professional development, so 'they got while they gave.'  I also looked at how to make the process and product more efficient and profitable.  This year, we gave out over $6,000.00 in grants and awards to help our members with various research and initiatives in their communities, and that just felt GREAT.

It's been a L-O-N-G time since we did a conference in Salt Lake City, but we ended up with 170 participants, which was 20 more than we planned, so we beat our plan!  It was great to meet a bunch of new friends, and connect with old ones who live in different states.  It was incredibly intense, and I spent much of this past week just sleeping and decompressing.

Okay, that's enough about conference.  Monday I stayed and skied and it was AWESOME, even if it was snowing.  By the afternoon, we had 4 inches of fresh Utah powder and a mostly empty mountain to ski on.  It was unlike anything I've experienced.  I skied as a teenager in New England, and it was never like this.  I got the skiing bug again!

Last run of the day, and still in one piece!

Still, it's nice to be home and have the family back together again.  We were split up for some part of each of the past 4 weeks straight, and that gets tiring.  No trips till memorial day weekend I think, so that's nice.  Then, we get busy again.  Oh well.

Had a rough moment at work this week.  I saw my first "code blue" since Bella's, where  I saw somebody receiving chest compressions for the first time since Bella.  I saw the family member come running through the door and heard the sound of a heart breaking just like Ang's for the first time since then.  I saw the crowd of docs and nurses flooding in and out of the room for the first time since Bella.

It was rough.

I was outside crying within about two minutes.

There are details of that day that I have never told you, and this week, I relived the whole sequence with my spiritual advisor over the phone and finally spoke of the brutal details of the day for the first time ever.  I didn't realize that there were parts of that day I kept inside, given how much I write on the blog, but when I look back, there was only so much I could recount in one (or two on that day) blog post, given the state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion I was experiencing.  What I will say is that I am really grateful for the fact that I have worked on several grief retreats with my mom, because there are specific quotes and slides from the retreat that have served me well through my own journey.  Who knew that when I started serving on that retreat, it would be for my own benefit as well?

Just another case of God being able to see what you'll need in the future, and giving it to you in the present.  He can see it all, and I continue to choose that the view from "up there" is beautiful in its totality.  From down here, we can only see tiny, TINY fragments of the whole, so it's really not wise to try to make meaning out of anything we see from our lowly vantage point.  It seems to me that when I trust that his view is prettier than mine, things go better.  Hey, my faith is pragmatic, first and foremost.

Here's a dumb, but maybe effective analogy.  Many say "the Mona Lisa" is a great work of beauty and art.  However, if I only gave you a square inch of the painting to look at, would you be able to see its beauty?  Probably not.  you wouldn't have enough information to make a decision one way or another.  You would probably have a meaningless black or cream square of canvas.  However, can you imagine how willy it would be to make any sort of generalization about the picture it was from given how little you could see of it?

I like to think that the picture of my life is laid out all at once for God.  It's like a linear painting. He can see the entire sequence of events in an instant.  In that way, he can add a brush stroke here or a brush stroke there, and it makes the picture more beautiful.  It was like me completing my NICU music therapy training 3 months before landing in one with Bella... like writing "His Love is Everlasting" in 1998, and not singing it till 2005 in an ICU for a church member, and now in 2012 singing it almost weekly to people moving closer and closer to their last breath.

God's brush strokes.

They can be a thing of beauty, when I have the courage and faith to look for them.

God night.


  1. Hey Tim! Good to have you back. Former "professional lurker" here :).
    The thing about your posts is that they are as deep and beautiful as they are terrifying. I both look forward to them and dread them. "Why?", you may ask. Well, they make me confront myself, my faith and my fear of pain in a raw and brutal way. I am terrified I would lose my son one day (he is fine and healthy, but life is unpredictable)and terrified that my faith is not strong enough to carry me through when the time for brutal pain (in whichever way it presents itself) comes. Terrified that I don't believe that we see just a square of canvas instead of a masterpiece...
    I don't know how you do it, how you have such faith, how you have transformed and shaped it through the years. That's why I look forward to your posts. They give me hope that maybe I can do it to.

    thanks and welcome back! :)

    Lilia B.

  2. Hey Tim -
    I have come to really appreciate your view on faith and I love the way that you liken what we can see and what God can see to only being able to see a little piece of the Mona Lisa, you are so right! I agree with so much that you say in relation to your faith but I have never been able to put my beliefs and thoughts into words the way you do. It is really refreshing to read what you take the time to write and have one of those "slap your forehead and go "Of Course"" kind of moments!
    I am in the "infancy" of my faith and you are a great source of inspiration for me, so thank you!
    In regards to your stage of grief, I can relate. I lost my Mom in October 2011 and there is really no well worn path that we follow in our grief. Just when you think your on tack and doing what your supposed to be doing (or what the books say your supposed to be doing), it all changes again. I just ride the waves and know the seas will calm. Like you say, this too shall pass (good or bad!)
    Have a great week!
    Kelley in MO

  3. Bella is always on my thoughts. Just as you have your moments, I am sure Ang and Ali have them too. My very first thought upon seeing your second photo of Ali and Julian was, " Wow, she needed him. He has helped her heal". You can see on her face how much she loves being being sister! Maybe she was given a little bit of her innocence/childhood back when he was born? Bella will always be a part of their special bond I think...

  4. Hope you have recover from such a busy week.
    Happy Easter!!