My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Turning the light on in the darkness

Last November I joined in with many other people on Facebook in a month of gratitude, posting a different status everyday giving thanks for something or someone in my life.  Although it was an exercise I enjoyed and benefitted from immensely, there was one thing for which I'm exceedingly thankful that failed to find its way on my list.  My excuse?  The gift in question touches me in so many ways I didn't feel I could have adequately expressed the depth of my gratitude in a simple, sterile status update.  This gift I've been given deserves much more.  I'm not sure a blog post will even do but at this point I feel I have to put it down into words.

So here it is, with its many facets.  

© peshkova -
It starts with a reminder about where my family found itself about a year ago.  My husband, last spring, received word that the university where he had been employed for 6 years had denied him tenure - one lightbulb turned off with a quick flip of a switch.  Next we had to decide quickly whether or not my husband would keep teaching at the university for a seventh year before officially having to leave his position.  We knew we'd have to move on at some point, the question was  when.  Would we turn off the next lightbulb or would we wait until the university turned it off for us.  We chose to flip it off ourselves, making what darkness we did feel, at least seem self-inflicted.  My husband resigned and within a few months, was done at the university.

We were faced at this point with another dilemma.  It seemed to us that most people in our situation would choose to pick up and leave since we live in such a small community.  We knew that there would be no way to avoid facing our past when going to the grocery store, the farmer's market, or the movie theater and we knew that I would need to continue working freelance at the university with the same faculty members that worked with my husband in order to help pay the bills.  In spite of the awkwardness and some of the humility we knew we'd encounter we decided that we would stay and make a go at making our lives work in this community.  In my opinion that was when our lights started turning back on.  

Our lovely, entryway light fixture
A few months after making our decision to stay in Blacksburg my husband presented me with a gift that seems to have directed this stage of our life.  He purchased an entryway light that I had been eyeing for months and had fallen in love with.  It was decadent to say the least, especially in light of our current situation, but when I asked him why he decided to buy it he said, "I wanted a way to tell you that I am committed to staying here in this house and in this community, that I want to make it work."  He also explained that the light is what people will first see when they enter our home.  He wanted to continue our tradition of entertaining since we had decided that what matters most in our lives isn't our jobs or money but people and with that, our own happiness.

This past year has surprised me every time I have turned around.  We have received so many incredible blessings - friends and strangers that have offered their support, encouragement, and friendship; the fact that both my husband and I can walk down the hallways at the university without shame because we are happier than we have ever been; the closeness our tiny little family has found throughout all of the decision making and adjustments to a new life; the pride and respect I feel for my husband who has bravely faced this past year with incredible peace and grace.  And those make up just a tip of what I believe is a very massive iceberg that is yet to be discovered.

Does this mean everything has been a piece of cake?  Certainly not.  We've faced plenty of challenges and dark moments, but it seems that there has always been some sort of light keeping us on track and accepting where we currently find ourselves.

And for that constant light, no matter how small or large, I am exceedingly grateful.

There.  I finally said it!

Here are the posts that I have written during our entire journey.  My hope is that they might shine some light into other people's lives should they find themselves in a similar place.


  1. "I wanted a way to tell you that I am committed to staying here in this house and in this community, that I want to make it work."

    That is completely awesome.

    1. I'll pass your comment on to my husband. He is pretty awesome, I have to say. :-)

      Another thing to be very grateful for. That, and good friends!


  2. Thanks for sharing this, Erica. I applaud your courage, and your husband's. Many years ago I let a similar rejection (not getting into the graduate school of my choice) completely derail any career I would have had. It's taken me a couple of decades to get back on track. You both are very wise not to allow others' decisions to keep you from using your talents.

    1. Thank you, Michelene! I'm sorry that you've been through something similar - rejection is never easy. Here's hoping we won't have to deal with it again for some time or if we do, we'll be more ready.

      Thanks for reading and for the encouragement.


  3. Heartwarming. Thank you for sharing this, Erica.

  4. This is so familiar, my wife and I went through the same thing. She lost her job of 12 years at a university. We were panicked at first and then started brain storming. We decided to write a book together. After we did that I decided that I needed to get back to my music, I had been missing it for so long. I think her being let go let me see that I could let myself go and get back to the music. Like you it wasn't easy but we became more creative and expanded to more music products to help musicians. We are much happier now, back to doing what we both love, music. Thank you for your story.

    1. Thank you for your story, Les. It is so helpful to see that choosing an alternate path can work out in the end, sometimes even better than it might have otherwise. It is obvious from looking at your website that you and your wife are helping musicians in such an important way. I find it very inspiring. I would love to do something similar but have a hard time putting it all together in a marketable way.

      I look forward to following what you are doing for other!

      Many thanks for reading and for commenting and all the best in your endeavors,