018 – Grounded: Mental and Emotional Resets

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Episode Summary

Five things we can do (outside of time off or vacation) to help us feel grounded and reset. That is, an extra breath of fresh air when down, a boost of energy when worn out, or a shot of inspiration when creatively dry.


Items Mentioned

MTNA’s Music Achievement Program

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What do you think of when you hear the term grounded? A pilot probably thinks first of not being able to fly due to bad weather or mechanical issues, an electrician likely thinks of a wire connected to the ground, and if you have kids, perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is in regard to punishment.

While there are more meanings, the context in which I find myself using it the most is related to the definition of being well-balanced, mentally and emotionally stable, or sensible.

I just love not only the way the word sounds when I speak it out loud but the way it makes me feel when used in this context. It’s like a good cup of coffee in your favorite mug or a scent that smells like home. To me, it’s a word that brings me peace. Sometimes I wonder if I use the term incorrectly because I tend to use it when when I feel like an event has helped “reset” or “center” me mentally and thus emotionally or even emotionally and thus mentally.

In today’s episode, I want us to consider the variety of ways in life we can help ourselves feel grounded, whether that be in our family, career, social circles, or just life in general. Stick around until the end a big announcement as well as a what I think is an especially silly fun fact about me, your host, Amy Chaplin.

Welcome to the Piano Pantry Podcast where together we live life as independent music teachers. In this space we talk about all things teacher-life related from organizing our studios to getting dinner on the table and all that comes between. You’ll get loads of easily-actionable tips on organizing and managing your studio while balancing life and home.

I’m sure one thing we can all agree on is that every so often, as a humans, we go through periods where we feel like we just need a reset – a way to help remind us of why we do what we do, a reminder of what’s important, of who’s important, of where we came from and those deepest things that make us who we are, just to mention a few.

We all have our ups and downs and life it’s twists in turns, but have you noticed in your own life that there are certain things that give you that extra breath of fresh air when your down, that boost of energy when you’re worn out either physically, mentally, or emotionally, or that shot of inspiration when you’re creatively dry.

Over the years I’ve recognized five specific things that – outside of time off or a full vacation – bring me back to life.

I’m going to start of with the item that I think you’re least likely to expect me to say and that’s to

  1. Spend time with your students

You’re probably laughing at me right now wondering how in the world spending more time with your students can ground you? Most of us feel like we need more time off and yet here I am telling you to the opposite. Let me explain.

This past weekend a half dozen students and I attended a free event hosted by the Fort Wayne Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Students got to visit three large cathedral churches downtown that housed 3 different types of large pipe organs. They got to learn about each organ, hear a demonstration from the church music director, and then play a piece of their own at each location. It was a wonderful opportunity and the kids really enjoyed it.

Three of the students attending had their parents accompany them then I took three middle school/high school students whose parents were unable to go.

While chatting with the students during the 90-minute round-trip, I found myself really feeling the loss from the past two years of Covid. While at the time I decided to enjoy the change of pace as much as I could and the opportunity to do less, being with my students outside of just their lesson time made me realize how much events outside of just lessons and even group classes, can add to the relationship. It’s not that I was doing a lot of stuff before but I guess my conversation with these kiddos made me remember how integral we are at helping create opportunities to inspire our students.

During that ride, I found out two of those students – 7th and 9th graders – had apparently decided at the beginning of the year – they wanted to study music in college. Not once in the past 8 months of lessons did they mention that to me! While I knew that the third student in the car – a sophomore – already knew he wanted to do music – in that time he brought up that he had goals for a pretty prominent music school. OK you guys, you’re teacher needs to know these things!

Talking to these students in this casual format really lit a fire in me again and reminded me of the privilege and also big responsibility I have in helping equip them for their future. It made me reconsider things I had done in the past but gotten away from such as offering the Music Achievement Award program through MTNA. This is a program where you can set flexible goals for students to work toward during the year and then have some kind of an award of your own at the end. Generally it would be 10 or so items they would choose in conjunction with me such as play twice for a church service, write a report on Bach, accompany a choir, and so forth.

My reward was to take them to a professional performance of some kind such as a performance of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. If you’re a member of MTNA, I’ll put a link to that program in the show notes but you have to be logged into your teacher account to access the program information.

While taking these students to this organ event over the weekend meant less time off for me, it was really the boost I needed to reset my own energy levels for teaching. It gave me a little accountability check in forcing me to go through a little mental checklist to make sure I was covering enough bases I need to for these students moving forward. Not that I wasn’t progressing them in skills they need, don’t get me wrong, but when you find out your students definitely want to go to school for music, it just perks you up a bit.

  1. Spending regular/intentional time with those you care about the most

Two big ones that always make me walk away feeling the most grounded in life are visiting my parents at their home – the one I grew up in, and spending one-on-one time with my brother. While my parents live about 50 minutes away, I seem them pretty regularly every two weeks or so. They come up to see us more often than we go down there for a variety of reasons which we don’t need to get into here, but any time we head down there way and spend a half day just sitting around a visiting, playing games, eating, and reminiscing, always makes me walk away feeling confident in who I am, where I came from, and grateful for my family.

Besides my husband, I would call my brother my next best friend. Three years apart in age, we’ve always gotten along well. Living only 15 minutes apart, for most of our adult life, it’s only really been in the last few years that we’ve started intentionally spending more one-on-one time together. Like going out for dinner and sitting for 2-3 hours talking.

We talk about the hard things, find ways we can connect with each other through the other’s interests, and both make the effort as far as invitations go so, it’s a two-way street. For example, my brother started doing more cooking in their house recently so we started texting back and forth recipe ideas every once in awhile.

Be intentional about fostering healthy relationships with those your care most about in life. Whether it’s a childhood friend, family members, or a neighbor, make every effort to spend time together as life will allow.

  1. Getting outside and spending time in nature

I’ll admit, I’m actually not a big outdoorsy person – never have been. I really wish I could say I was but even as a kid I would prefer to stay inside and read a book or do household chores than go outside and play.

However, I think we can all agree how life-giving nature can be. Maybe it’s just a 10-minute walk around the block each morning. I personally love opening the door first thing every morning and stepping outside for 30-seconds, even when it’s cold to feel what the day brings.

Maybe it’s adding and tending to a variety of house plants in your home or studio or opening the windows for fresh air once a week. Maybe you visit a botanical gardens on the weekend or walk around a different neighborhood and take in the landscaping and flowers.

Whatever you enjoy the most, find some way of connecting with nature on a regular basis.

  1. Do something you love for no reason at all

This one might be the hardest. When life is busy and you have a family, finding time for ourselves and for things that bring us pleasure may fall by the wayside. Consider though that doing things you love for no reason at all can be about simple little things and not necessarily about undertaking a regular hobby.

Maybe it’s finding interest in growing succulent plants, or a small potted garden – which ties in to our previous point of being in nature. Perhaps you nerd out on coffee or tea beverages because it’s fun and you enjoy it. You have to drink something in the morning anyway – why not do it with extra pleasure from the art of the brew? Maybe it’s stopping in the middle of an errand to step inside a beautiful cathedral church to sit and take in the splendor for 5 minutes.

My thing is baking cookies. My husband thinks it’s adorable because I’m so random about it. I’ll just suddenly decide at 8:30pm on a Tuesday night that I feel like baking cookies. No one is coming over, half of them will probably be given away or put in the freezer, but I do it just because it brings me pleasure.

This last one is what episode #13 was about and that’s

  1. Spending time with other teachers

Episode 13 was titled “How to Make Music Teacher Friends” and is an episode I’ve been told by a friend has been their absolute favorite thus far. There is nothing that will energize my teaching more than to spend time with my teacher friends. Webinars, online courses, and conferences are great, but I would surmise that half the ideas I come home with from conference are from the sessions and half from teachers I spend time with.

So, just as we should be intentional about spending time with those we care about the most, so we need to be intentional about spending time with other teachers. You will be better for it, I PROMISE.

As we wrap up todays episode, this final point brings me into a big announcement. Combining my passions for organization, being a hostess, and cooking, and following the successful gathering of my teacher friends at my home to watch the 2022 MTNA Virtual National Conference, I decided to launch a retreat for Piano Teachers called The Piano Pantry Retreat. This 3-day rejuvenating retreat is an exclusive event in that it is a 100% one-on-one catered event at my home here in Northeast Indiana designed for you to rest, reset, and rethink.

  • Your Rest will include Intentional quiet time to relax and restore with a pampering of healthy, home-cooked meals by me.
  • To Reset you’ll get Seven 75-minute power hours where together we will tackle digital organization projects including email cleanup, document management, social media scheduling, personal projects, studio business organization, and much more.
  • And finally, you’ll have time to Rethink. That is, to spend time with fellow teachers, brainstorming and gleaning ideas from each other in a casual setting.

With combined goals of time alone, with other teachers, and one-on-one coaching with me, you’ll walk away feeling renewed, encouraged, organized, refreshed and GROUNDED for your next season of teaching and life.

Again, since this is hosted in my home with all food and accommodation included, I can only host three teachers at a time. While the first one is already full from opening it up to a small handful of friends and acquaintances, I plan on having more dates available in the future.

If you’re interested in joining the email list where you will get FIRST notification when dates open up, visit the link in the show notes to sign up.

I don’t know about you but I’ll admit the the longer I teach, the more often I feel like I need a mental reset and boost for each segment of the year. I’m not going to feel bad about admitting this. It doesn’t mean I don’t love teaching, or my students, or that I’m a bad teacher because I need a little extra fire lit under me every few months (or weeks at times LOL).

It’s the same with life. It can bring us a whole lot and sometimes at once. The tricky I part can often be not only recognizing when we need that little boost but actually doing something about it.

Don’t forget to visit the show notes for links to items mentioned in this episode. When we’re done here, jump over to Apple Podcasts to leave a rating and review and then over onto social media to connect. You’ll find me on Instagram at amy chaplin piano and on Facebook at piano pantry.

OK, so, I have to completely admit to you that the topic of this week’s episode came to me while I was in the dentist chair enjoying my happy gas while getting a cavity filled. Yes, it was a great time for my mind to wander around topics for this podcast. So, there you have it. My fun fact is that I like getting the gas at the dentist. Come on, I’m sure I’m not the only one!