I stepped down in July from my position as an Interview Co-Editor of Voices, ending 11 years of work with Voices. In this position, I had worked with Interview Co-Editors Leslie Bunt and Krzysztof Stachyra to build the interview section to what I think is a vibrant part of Voices. Leslie had worked on this section alone before I joined him in 2007 and had brought some very interesting interviews, so we had lots to build upon. (In the listing that follows, I am including only the interviews that occurred after I joined as an Interview Co-Editor.)
We had the following interviews:
We also had several interview series. The most notable of these is the series of interviews on the World Congresses, which I initiated because I felt that the World Congresses of Music Therapy were important and that it would be good to document them over the years. We began in 2008 with the first World Congress, held in Paris in 1974, and have since also documented the following congresses:
I am happy that these will continue and know that Kris Stachyra is working on the 2005 Brisbane congress for the next issue of Voices. (Seung-A Kim, the new Interview Co-Editor, will help with these, also.)
We also had interview series on Canadian Music Therapists (those interviewed included Fran Herman, Carolyn Kenny and Nancy McMaster, Susan Munro-Porchet, Marianne Bargiel, Susan Summers) and Texas Music Therapists (which included interviews with Joe Pinson, Mary Rudenberg, and Donald Michel). I encourage readers who have not seen some of these interviews to go to previous issues of Voices and read them.
When I knew that I would be able to contribute a final Fortnightly Column, I thought that I would write about change. Having retired after 36 years of full-time teaching in June 2011 and now having experienced the change of not having a formal position with Voices after so many years, this was on my mind. I did not expect to have experienced a wave of additional—and unwelcome—changes right as I was preparing to write the column. But now I am writing about change from my current perspective, which includes my retirement changes, the changes in my involvement with Voices, and the recent changes that I experienced as a result and along with Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast of the United States and the island on which I live at the end of October of this year. I am still working to integrate all of these changes and am glad for this opportunity to reflect on them.
First I will speak of my planned big change, when I retired from the University of Louisville. I had taught at UofL for 11 years and at Montclair State University for 25 years before that, so 36 years—or most of my adult years and career—had been spent teaching music therapy and doing the many related things, including clinical work, research, and writing. At this time, I made a much-anticipated move to the Jersey Shore (Long Beach Island, NJ), fulfilling a dream to live near the ocean that I have had since I was a young girl in Wyoming, collecting seashells and dreaming of seeing the ocean. For a while, I marveled at having time to do many things that I had not had time to do when I was working so hard and exploring some of them. Some opportunities to teach, write and edit, and for other involvement with music therapy came my way, and I confess that I am much busier professionally than I expected to be at this point. I still take time for some of the things that I anticipated doing in my retirement—I am freer with my time, have played the organ some, and take time to enjoy the ocean with my dog(s) nearly every day. But it is clear to me that I am not yet ready to completely give up my professional life as a music therapist, so I continue to be involved in that—and am very happy about this. So this change due to my retirement has evolved and continues to do so, and I am enjoying the process.
The unanticipated changes that are very much on my mind are those brought on by Hurricane Sandy, also called Super-Storm Sandy, which battered the East Coast of the U.S. (as well as other places approaching the U.S. and including some parts of the U.S. that are not part of the East Coast). I know that I am still absorbing the impact of this storm, although it passed 2½ weeks ago (as I write this around November 18-19). The first major event that occurred during the storm was that one of my dear dogs, Hazel, died while I was away. (I had evacuated and she was picked up and then staying with a wonderful dog-sitter.) I believe that she died of complications from some medical problems, but I had not expected this to occur, and I miss her greatly (as does Sugar, my other dog). The next major event that occurred was that a tree fell on my car while it was parked in my friend’s driveway. (This turned out to be a good thing, although it caused some inconvenience, as I had planned to purchase a new car and was able to use the insurance money to help pay for the new car.) We then realized that the storm damage to Long Beach Island, where my home is located, was immense, and people were not allowed to return to their homes for about a week. In addition to my concern about my home and the rest of the island, I was not able to get my passport so had to postpone a trip to Poland, where I was to teach. During this time, I lived with two sets of friends, then in a motel (paid for by FEMA, our U.S. governmental agency that helps during emergencies) for a total of about 2½ weeks. When I finally was able to return to my home to live, I was among the very fortunate ones. My condominium had not been damaged, and I could live there because we have electric heat—even a week later, the gas that most people use to heat has not been restored to Long Beach Island, while they inspect and repair the gas lines. I am the only person I know who lives “on the Island” who has not had some damage to his or her home, and I am also the only one that I know of who was able to return to live so soon. In these ways, I am incredibly fortunate! As I drive down the Island to my home, I am overwhelmed with sadness at all of the devastation—many people (including three friends) have lost their homes, many more have major damage. The contents of entire homes and businesses are sitting out to be picked up as trash. I am overwhelmed with sadness at all of this.
Without dwelling more on the details of these changes—planned and unplanned—I would like to reflect a bit on them as they relate to my feelings about the planned change of leaving Voices after 11 years. We know that change is a part of life. We welcome some changes and dread or mourn others. I am wondering here, though, if all change brings the opportunity for growth, at least if one can take advantage of it. New Jersey people are known for a kind of toughness, and we pride ourselves on certain qualities. One of the signs on the way to my home says, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” I suppose that there is some truth to this. I welcome change, even when it is not the kind of change that I would have chosen. I feel fortunate that I seem to be able to benefit from change and grow from it. I am thankful for having whatever qualities make this possible (including an optimism that I learned from my father) and know that not everybody has this quality. As I work to integrate the changes that I chose to make—retiring, moving where I could live near the ocean, leaving Voices—and the changes that I did not select—Hazel’s death, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, the loss of friends and relatives—I am very aware that this is the mosaic of my life. Just as we work to help our clients change, so our lives change. I wonder what the next change will be, and I hope that I will be able to change along with it.
Wheeler, Barbara (2012). Changes—Sometimes Planned, Sometimes Unplanned. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy. Retrieved June 10, 2013, from http://testvoices.uib.no/?q=fortnightly-columns/2012-changes-sometimes-planned-sometimes-unplanned