Category Archives: Lessons Learned

In the Weeds

“In the weeds” was cocktail waitress speak for pre-Broadway hour. Back in the 1980’s, my shift began at 4pm with the lighting and distribution of candles on small round glass tables in the Broadway Lounge of the Marriott. The lounge sported a view of Times Square and it was moving. Literally. The room moved. It was one of those 360 rooms that slowly, ever so slowly rotated so that each customer sitting at a table in its perimeter would, at some point, get a view of the bright lights and magic happening eight stories below. By 6pm, the room would begin to buzz. It was busy. Loud. Hoppin. A couple who was on my right side at two o’clock might be at three o’clock by the time the drinks were ready at the bar for pick up. Did I mention the customers were moving? You had to stay on your toes. If you were having an off day, and couldn’t stay on your toes, you’d be in the weeds. And that was not a good thing. There would be unhappy people without their pina coladas, customers demanding their checks, and tourists with expensive Broadway show tickets worried they’d be late for curtain. All at once. The trick was to ask another waitress who wasn’t as busy for help, before you were in the weeds. Before the crisis hit. You’d have to split your tip of course and give up a few tables, but you’d also get to keep your stress at a reasonable level…and your job.

I’m glad my waitressing days are over, but at times I still find myself in the weeds. I have to remind myself that it is okay to ask for help, delegate work, and say no to new projects to keep myself healthy mentally, emotionally and spiritually. This week I felt the overload coming, so I made a pre-emptive strike. I hired someone to do some sheet music proofing for me (something I normally do myself). Instead of buying, lifting and spreading sixty 40 lb bags of mulch this past Spring, I had a local gardener who was looking for work do it. (My garden is happier and I have more time to do the garden tasks I love.) When I was overwhelmed with an upcoming photo shoot, I hired a professional stylist to get my hair and make-up just right instead of doing it myself. When I found myself frustrated with the amount of time it was taking to re-design some marketing materials, I called a freelancer and handed the project over. Yes, often delegating costs money, but this buys me more time at the piano, with family, an hour or so each day to exercise, which are priorities.

And for those of you who thought this post was going to help you with those weeds in the garden? Sorry. I can’t really help you there. I just pull them out old-school style, one by one…

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Thinking Small

1973-36e8716be4ecc8a2518a440ddd0a9a88I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to return to the beautiful Mohonk Mountain House (pictured here) to perform a concert. Located upstate New York, this beautiful inn is surrounded by acres and acres of preservation land. There are gorgeous gardens to walk through, a maze to get lost in (or find yourself in), hikes to take, boats to row, rocks to climb, bike paths to ride on, golf balls to be hit, a picnic lodge, spa, and my favorite: porches where you can sit and read or just watch the sunset. Having only one full day there this year, we decided to do as much as possible. I always enjoy a hike to “Skytop” which ends with an amazing view. This year we approached it on a foggy morning and enjoyed a different kind of scenery.IMG_2455

After being at this beautiful place over a dozen times, I surprised myself by trying something completely new to me, “rock scrambling.” Meghan, who works in our Kosson Talent agency office (kossontalent.com), told me her former college roommate happened to work at Mohonk and led “rock scramble” adventures. I thought I’d give it a try since I wanted to meet Meghan’s friend. We met Alex with a group of about 10 other adventurers at 10am at the bottom of the staircase. We were given a brief orientation and then tightened our hiking boot laces and were off. Had I seen photographs ahead of time of what we were about to climb, I never would have signed up. Alex showed us a vertical wall of rocks that we would climb to achieve great views of the valley below. When I hesitated, she looked at me and said “think small.”

My whole life I have been training myself to THINK BIG. To follow my dreams. To not limit myself, to grow, stretch and do beyond what I thought I could do. And yet, in this situation, looking at the big picture was just intimidating, and well…scary. Alex continued, “Look at your next step. Think of where your hand will go. Where your foot will go. If you make one small move at a time, you will be ok.” She was right. I figured out where to place my shoulder, when I needed to scoot over a rock on my butt, when I needed to stretch out my arm to grab a ridge, and bring my foot to the next good foot hold. Before I knew it, I was on TOP of the mountain and could see turkey vultures circling at eye level over the valley below us. When I looked down, I couldn’t believe I had climbed over all those rocks. I had done the “rock scramble,” and I could never had done it by “thinking big.” I had to THINK SMALL.

IMG_2398So it is with touring. Looking at my schedule people often ask me how I can do it all. Well I can’t do it all at once…but I can go to one place at a time. Instead of thinking about the entire concert program, I just need to play one composition at a time…one measure at a time. So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, try thinking “small.” You’ll be on top in no time.

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