5 Simple Pleasures of a Musician and Writer

Sometimes I feel as though there are just not enough days in one lifetime.  I woke up this morning and realized that I had slept past my alarm.  I was going to go running with my cousin.  It would have been the perfect fall day for a run.  Instead, I slept.  I played harp at two outdoor (read: very chilly) performances yesterday afternoon, then played piano for a cocktail hour at a reception and finally treated my hubby and I to dinner after a long Saturday.  

It had been a few years since I had officially performed as a pianist.  The whole time I was playing, I kept asking myself, "why don't I play the piano more often in public?  This is great!"  The answer?  Time.  It's a simple joy in life to perform and do what I love and yet there aren't enough hours in the day to play piano and the harp and write and do ALL the many things I wish I could do.  

In a recent trip to Toronto, I indulged in a chicken curry pie at a new Kiwi pie shop, "Wisey's Pies."  It was delicious and comforting and silky.  It was everything that you might define as comfort.  Each bite of pie, followed by a custard square, was the epitome of a life lived well yet simply.  If there had been a flannel blanket and a good book, I might have moved in.  The food was that good.  Again, I asked myself, "why don't I do this more often?  Toronto is a short drive and this food is worth driving in for."  I heard the answer in my own head.  The answer is that weekends are not just for comfort food.  They are for working and paying bills.  What was the name of that book, "After the Enlightenment, the Laundry"?  I think I get it now.

Hence, I wonder what is the answer?  Some would say to live on less and work less.  Alas, there are a lot of people relying on me to not cut back on work right now.  Can I really complain?  I mean, my career is based on several things that I love to do.  Do I have the right to complain?  Or maybe not complain, maybe it's more, do I have the right to worry?  Yes.  Yes I do.  In theory, we only get one life and it is short and fleeting and worth an autumn walk and a custard square and dancing in the kitchen and lots of kissing and long Skype chats with family.  

I get it.  I just haven't figured out how to make it all happen.  Never the less, I am grateful.  Maybe that is the key, really.  Maybe gratitude and celebration of the small things in life are what keep us going when everything else is screaming for our attention.  So today, I am thankful for the following:

1. Red Wine: It lowers blood pressure (while enjoyed in moderation).  Might have some healthful things like antioxidants in it (seems science argues over the facts often) and it goes well with both a steak, ahi tuna and best of all, chocolate.

2. Music: cheaper than a therapist.  Accessible even at 3am.  Music has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, compartmentalize the brain and improve mood.  There is a reason humans love to drive down the highway with the windows down and the music blaring.  It just feels good.  Whether having a languid Sunday or a full on dance party on a Friday night, music feeds the soul and is a simple pleasure nearly everyone can enjoy.  

3. Books: the cheapest vacation you will ever take.  Reading them also combats dementia, depression and stress.  

4. Friends: sometimes better than family, real friends are the ones who have held your hair while you've vomited, know your darkest secrets, cried with you in the bad times and laughed till it hurt in the good times.  A good friend will bail you out of jail.  A best friend will get arrested with you.

5. Homemade Food: sometimes, in travel or just work overload, it is easier to eat out, eat carry-out or eat nothing at all.  Self love and care, along with the care of others comes in the form of cooking real food.  I am so grateful to come from a family of foodies where its not always about the most complicated dish but rather the people who join you at the table once the simple dish is ready to share.  I think world peace should not be negotiated in a congressional room but rather over a large table.  You have to LISTEN to the person you disagree with when your mouth is full.  Maybe we all could use a little less talking, a little more eating of good food and a LOT more listening to the people we are fortunate enough to spent our time.