In my house right now, Frozen and Frozen II are never far from mind or ear. My sons, now 11 and 8, enjoyed watching the first movie when they were younger. When Frozen II came out last winter, our daughter was 4 at the time, and the perfect age to catch “Frozen Fever”.
Last winter, we had our car packed for a family trip to Florida on March 12th 2020. We had a brand new copy of the Frozen II DVD ready for the 30-some hour drive.
And then the world stopped spinning.
“I’ve seen dark before, but not like this”
In a matter of hours, we went from the excitement and anxiety that goes with planning an extended family trip to a complete deflation and sadness that comes with an abrupt and dramatic change. I am sure many of you can relate. It was a common occurrence during those winter/spring months.
Our children, being younger, were already in bed by the time the decision was officially made. They woke up on “Friday the 13th” thinking they were going to school, being picked up at lunch to start an epic road adventure and their first-ever trip to Disney, to being told it was all called off, and that we would see them at the bus stop after school….to try to find a new way to enjoy March Break.
And then the news came to shut down my business – my music studio – my second family.
“The life I knew is over, the lights are out. Hello darkness…”
In a matter of several blinks, we had to cancel and refund our sold-out March Break camp. And then I had to figure out how a music school survives through a global pandemic. And be a mother to children who were suddenly on a three-week March Break with an unknown schooling future.
It’s honestly still hard to write about last March/April/May and onward without a lot of raw emotion. Every time I tried in the past, it was still too fresh, but one thing was constant – Anna’s voice and lyrics.
“But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing”
The first days I think were the worst. I watched and learned from my Kindermusik colleagues in the US who were literally about two weeks ahead of the curve we were seeing coming into Canada. Virtual classes…closing studios…social distancing…outdoor classes…it was all so much to think about and plan. But how to plan? What was really going to happen next?
“Can there be a day beyond this night?
How to rise from the floor?”
I had sleepless nights of my monthly rent, my employee’s wages, my fixed expenses…how in the world could I get through something like this? I am still in the process of paying down a massive renovation loan from our 2018 studio expansion.
I cried. A lot. And it was a different cry than any I had experienced before. I was just at a loss. What was the right answer? Closing my doors? Declaring bankruptcy? Fighting the good fight?
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I took a deep breath and made the decision to learn. Afterall, Clifton Strengths tells me that “Learner” is my Top Strength. So, I dove in deep. Learning the online platforms, making sure all my teachers had what they needed to teach virtually. Doing trial tests with some of our incredible families and teachers so that I could watch and learn the experience from a parent view and educator view. My family, my husband, my staff remained supportive and willing at every turn.
I created a private Facebook Group for our studio families. While I am known to be very personable and a community supporter, I am a very private person. To “let people in” was extremely hard for me. But it was the right thing to do.
When I felt ready, I hosted our first “Zoom Dance Party”. This was a chance for our families to log into a live session. The main reason I did this was to create excitement and show them how easy it was to connect with us online.
What I did not expect was the emotional response I had – with over 70 little boxes logging in – happy excited families and children – all dancing away in their own homes while we lead dances from the studio…it was overwhelming. When I ended our first official Zoom class…I cried (again ?). Out of exhaustion, stress, relief – who really knows? It was many things wrapped into one. It was a sign from our Joyful Sounds community that we could get through this together.
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
Never before had I led my business from a place of “one day at a time”. I do strongly believe that the planning and growth of building a business from scratch over 15 years played a huge part in our survival. The other part: The Dream Team. My staff has always been incredible. But facing the unknown, they came with me. They followed, they stepped up, they led.
And without hashing out all the details from March to where we are now – I can tell you that there’s a reason there has been no blog post for a full year. How is it a year already? But here we are and guess what? We are growing. We are still making beautiful music. We are sharing our passion for early childhood education in our Kindermusik classes. We are encouraging our students in lessons and classes to be creative, artistic and authentic. We have been able to continue to give them a safe place to be – not only through our health protocols, but through our values.
Is this part of my business story over? No. Far from it I believe. But I now know that I can continue to find my way. With the support of my family, my team, and our community. I do not feel alone – I feel supported and lifted.
As hard as it has been for me to share this personal post, I think it has been necessary. Anna sings about her grief, and I think it’s important for all of us to acknowledge the various forms of grief we are all dealing with in this very strange time. There are losses of people, jobs, income, skills, life as we know it. It has certainly taught us what is important in life, and personally, while many days feel like a whirlwind, I have found ways to slow down, to walk, to breathe.
I hope the legacy of my studio can live for many years to come. And that the things I have learned on this journey will serve my life and those around me in ways I am still to discover.
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing