Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 56 – {the thing with feathers}

birdcageroundgfairy004bHope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Emily Dickinson

Sorry about the delay in answering the question of the last post. We were out of town for this joyous occasion. . .


Remember my bookend baby brother? He returned last year from his mission to the Czech Republic. Last Saturday he was married to beautiful Lori in the Snowflake Arizona Temple. It was so awesome to be there.

075See sweet Rosebud there in her special wedding attire? :)


Okay, no more fun pictures. Down to the serious business of baring my soul to you.

So yes, why then an A&P textbook in the household of musicians?

Many of you know that DC has a doctorate in violin performance. We spent the first 8 years of our marriage with him a full-time student. Our move to Arkansas came before he was done with the doctorate. We took the symphony job here because we were desperate for an income--he just needed to finish writing the treatise (like a dissertation) and then he could get a good job. Plus it would be great professional experience.

He became Dr. Baker in December 2005, and immediately began applying for teaching jobs nationwide. With a break here and there while we put our lives back together (read: 11/2007 to about 5/2009) he has continually applied to whatever came over the radar. And as the economy tanked, less and less has come over the radar.

We have been grateful for the symphony work, but it does come at a significant cost for a family like ours. He is gone many evenings and weekends, including Sundays. The pay was not stellar when we took the job, and later we had a recessional cut of 10% that still has not been reinstated. We live 17 hours from my parents and 24 hours from his. What we longed for--what we went to all the trouble for him to get a doctorate for--was to have him teach at a college or university and be home in the evenings, possibly even to live closer to our family, and of course, more money would be pretty sweet, too.

While he was still at Florida State, he had 2 different interviews for teaching positions where the universities paid his travel to come interview because he was one of their top candidates. He didn’t get either one but we thought for sure that later, with finishing the doctorate AND having professional symphony and quartet experience, he would be able to land something.

But many fields of employment are having rough times now, and professional music is hardly recession-proof. (Even the top orchestras in the country are having trouble.) We feel greatly blessed that we have taken only a 10%, where Phoenix Symphony took a 25% and many others have had worse or folded altogether. The academic scene is possibly worse if anything. One year there were fewer than 10 openings nationwide, and you can bet there are tons of amazing, talented, doctorate-holding violinists vying for those.

DC and I began to discuss other options. He could teach in the public schools, although he would need to get certified. He could  . . . gulp. . . . go into another field altogether. He applied for a job with Memphis City Schools that would pay half-again as much as the symphony salary. And he started combing through the Church’s job site, hoping to find something, anything, that could work out better for our family.

One night in early July, he stayed up well past midnight on the computer, which is very unusual for him. The next day was Fast Sunday, and before he left for his early meetings, he told me he had discovered something very interesting on the LDS Jobs site, and he wanted to tell me about it, but to just know that he was fasting about it and we could talk about it later. I fasted that whatever he was fasted about, we would both be in tune with the Spirit enough to know what was right.

Later we talked, and he told me that the night before he had kept seeing openings for “Occupational Therapists” and started wondering what the heck an occupational therapist even is. As he researched and read about the work OTs do and the type of job market they have, he started to feel very strongly that this was what he is meant to do.

We talked for hours and hours, staying up past midnight several nights in a row (and we are not night owls! :). At first I was excited because he was excited. It was the happiest I had seen him in ages. Then as reality began to settle in and I saw we were in for 2-3 years of more school for him I became—sorry to admit it—angry.  I had been hoping to go back to school myself part-time this fall. We still haven’t paid off the student loans from last time, for Pete’s sake.

I couldn’t understand why Heavenly Father would let us spend all those years and all that money for him to get a doctorate, only to turn around and have him change careers. We gave it our all for so long because we believed he could do it—that it was possible for him to provide for our family using his particular gifts and what he loved. It just seemed like such a waste to turn our backs on that. Plus, 3 years means Exacto will be a senior when DC finishes school for the second time! I could hardly bear it.

It took weeks, maybe even a couple of months, for me to get to the point that I feel mostly acceptance about this (still working on that last little bit of stubborn). It has taken many anguished prayers and some special heavenly promptings. I feel like Doctrine & Covenants 25 is my motto for the next three years, especially as it pertains to my role as DC’s wife.

Yet even with all the emotional roller-coastering, there has been a decided undercurrent of peace in my heart about it all from the time he first told me about this new idea.

And so, he has returned to student-hood.

He is still with the symphony full-time and teaching part-time this year, but taking his pre-requisites at a community college, getting ready to take the GRE, and is already applying to OT schools around the country. (I have taken on the job of choosing the places where we are applying. :) And next fall he will again be a full-time student. Where, we don’t know!

That’s a long answer to the big question. I wanted you to see inside our hearts, to see why on earth we would ever make such a drastic change. The decision has not been made lightly, by any stretch of the imagination.

100 days of gratitude tagBut we are grateful for the hope that has been set aloft again. 


P.S. I told DC through tears one night, “But what about my blog? I don’t want to change the name AGAIN! I thought that was one thing that wouldn’t change ever! Boohoohoo!” And he said, “I’m still a fiddler. I will still play. But it will be FOR FUN.” :)


heroineworshipper said...[Reply to comment]

The spirit has produced wrong temptations twice, which I fought against until the spirit changed course. Unlike your case, what the spirit has encouraged has remained consistent, however.

Maybe the switch from music to healthcare reflects a change in the violinist's needs, from intellectual fulfillment to providing for a family, or it's a way to make him move somewhere where music is more viable, or his version of occupational therapy is going to involve violins.

Occupational therapy is one of many new lifestyle jobs, where the job fits around your family obligations.

Becky Rose said...[Reply to comment]

Umm. do you and he know about Music Therapy? You should. You give some one with a bent over back a guitar so they play it, thus straightening it while they are having fun- not in pain. Lots of other stuff too. Check that out. Good luck what ever you choose or have already chosen!

Exacto said...[Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...[Reply to comment]

I've thought a lot about music therapy, but their salaries are about equal to what I make now, so it wouldn't be a significant improvement, except maybe in terms of schedule/location. Thank you, Michelle for putting this so well into words in a way I would have really struggled with. My wife is awesome!!

A. B. said...[Reply to comment]

This is so lovely. Thank you for sharing this experience. I love you so much and I am so glad to be your sister! You know you are always in our prayers (both individual and family). We are super excited to support you through this new and exciting adventure! Love you!

Andrea said...[Reply to comment]

I think this is wonderful. God is amazing as he guides our path. Part of your journey may have been less about working for the symphony and trying to find a new job, and more about the location you needed to be in for your family. I have learned that a lot in our long journey and process. I am excited to hear more about what happens with your family. I think it will be great. GOOD LUCK!!

Annalisa said...[Reply to comment]

smile sweetheart! the path to happiness has no regrets...embrace the beautiful journey together, hand-in-hand. loves & hugs to you!