Photo by Jennifer Nusbaum, January 8, 2017
Four years ago, I was introduced to Ali Edwards’ idea of One Little Word by my friend, mentor and colleague, Michael Buist (@BuistBunch). I have never been a fan of (or had success at) making and keeping New Year’s Resolutions. But, as a lover of words and a believer in the power of the exact right word at the exact right time, One Little Word appealed to me a great deal. Inspired by the sharing of personal One Little Words within the, “open, collaborative, knowledge-building learning and sharing experience,” network known as CLMOOC (@CLMOOC), I adopted One Little Word to guide my year.
“Balance.” “Now.” “Rhythm.” Although each of these deliberately chosen words contained nuances, metaphors, and symbolism that was important to me at the time of its choosing. Upon reflection, they all relate to my quest to at once be an impactful and passionate educator, mother, wife, and individual: Balance work, school, and home; Focus on the now and be in the moment; Find a rhythm, be the battery, think andante when I feel allegretto.
This year, I dedicated 2017 to the word, “Build”. When I sat down to articulate this, my words shaped themselves into a poem. I knew that “Build,” was not necessarily about my tool box and peg board, or my yard and penchant for getting my hands dirty, or my growing collection of LED’s, repurposed motors, and alligator clips. I knew it wasn’t only about the growing makerspace at our school and the way building something from nothing empowers students. And, I knew that I didn’t choose the word in order to focus solely on building relationships or confidence or even muscle. It was all of that, and it was more.
I spent a lot of time thinking about the Google Dictionary definition of build: “to construct (something, typically something large) by putting parts or material together over a period of time.” About the same time I was grappling with all the ways the word, “build,” might provide definition and focus for the year in front of me, Nicholas Provenzano (#theenerdyteacher) posed the #Make52 Challenge. And, suddenly, it was clear. The #Make52 challenge helped me realize that I make, tinker, construct, and craft things all the time. Building isn’t going to be hard. Sharing it is. The “build” I want to guide my year is about building connections between the parts of who I was, who I am, and who I might be in order to construct something large.
So, for my first build of the new year I purposefully walked past my workbench laden with gorgeous new leather working tools and landed at my piano. This piano is a sturdy Story and Clark upright (pictured above), aptly named considering all the stories it contains. My family bough it when I was four and I have pushed, pulled, dragged, and carried it over thresholds 14 times since I left for college. This piano has literally been a sounding board for all the roads that lead to the here and now.
I don’t play it very often these days. Both chops and piano need a bit of tuning, but that’s not what this build was about. This build was about rebuilding and building off of something I’d started twenty years ago. I’ve written songs along the way, but this one I always struggled with, always returned to, and always left unfinished. The last time I really tried to work with it was more than ten years ago, and I’d never written it down or recorded it. But, in all of its parts and pieces, it was there, waiting to be put together.
All it took was a change in perspective. I took what is now Part B and moved it from the beginning to the middle of the song. A few chord progressions and transitions, and it feels finished. Here, for what it’s worth, is the original composition, “All Good Things”. I chose not to add lyrics, percussion, other instrumentation.
It has come to an end so that I can build on.