Tuesday, November 2, 2010


In the next to last episode of Project Runway the designer who was out had a bit of a moment when they didn't know how to tell their family they had lost. There was fear, uncertainty, and lots of tears. And the first thing that came to my mind was I have so been there!

Growing up my Dad use to tell me that I had until my 25 birthday to make my first million dollars so that I could take care of him. There was one small problem with this plan. He wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer (I didn't discover this till much later), I on the other hand wanted to play the violin. I remember being in the 8th grade and having to decide between the International Baccalaureate program and the Performing Arts program at the high school I would be attending. There was no question in my mind, I was auditioning for the performing arts track. I signed up for an audition without telling my parents. They had mentioned that they wanted me to go into the IB program. I got into the performing arts magnet, and after playing in my school's soccer game I went up to my parents and proudly told them I had passed the audition. They were not happy. I remember the fight later after we had gotten home. They wanted me to do the IB program, and I was going to be applying for it the next day whether I wanted to or not. I would not be a musician, I would go into some kind of business. End of story. I vaguely remember walking into the school's office the next day and asking for the IB application. A nice secretary asked why since they had the paper work from the performing arts audition. I remember her very kindly explaining that I would get just as much out of the performing art track as the IB.  I could take Advance Placement courses when I was older, which were almost equal to the IB courses, plus I was getting orchestra, which made me look well rounded to any schools I applied to for college. Someone I didn't know was on my side!

I remember getting into music school, and all through my first year my Dad kept telling me that I needed to pick a minor so that I would have something to fall back on when I failed as a violinist. He still didn't believe in me, and it hurt. The good news was at this point my Mom was at least behind me. Cheering me on through some of the hard things I went through in my early music career, giving me a hug and a shoulder to cry on when things or auditions went wrong. My Dad showed indifference. In April 2006 I called home one afternoon to tell my parents the good news. I was a month away from graduating with my Masters in Music and I had gotten a job back in Atlanta. My Dad was so relieved he said I could move back in with them till I got on my feet. I was stunned. He then said he was afraid that I was never going to find a job as a musician. At least we had gotten half way. In a strange twist I moved home, my Dad had a stroke 4 days later, and at the age of 27 I started taking care of my parents. Too bad I didn't have that million dollars I was suppose to have from being a lawyer or doctor. At least I was happy with my job, and I loved what I was doing!

Things don't always go the way we plan. I remember one particularly awful audition. I sent 15 minutes crying in my car before I could call my teacher to tell him how badly it had gone, and was bawling by the time I called my Mom to say I was coming home. It took hours, and countless hugs from my mom to admit what had happened. I was so afraid that my Dad was right, and that I had failed as a musician.

I have yet to win my dream job of an orchestra contract, but because I haven't it has allowed me to have some great experiences freelancing with other orchestras all around Georgia. Every job is an experience worth having, and learning from. I have a great teacher (yes, I have a Masters degree in violin, and still take lessons) who has helped fill in so many of the gaps I have in my technique. There is something coming, and I want to be ready. People tell me that I'm good. My teacher tells me I can play anything, and I never know what to say because deep down inside I'm still scared. What if I fail? It doesn't mater. Fear holds us back and keeps us from growing. I want to keep moving ahead. I'm happy, I love playing the violin, and I can't imagine doing something else.


Katie said...

I LOVE this post, Bonnie - it is so true. You are going after your dream - you have never failed and will not fail. You have guts and strength. Although this will counter what I just said - I love the saying "If you have never failed then you have never tried." You are trying all the time: facing fears, living a dream. It may not pan out as you planned, but it all works out...somehow. If it were easy everyone would have the guts to do go after a dream and there would be no regrets. Way to go! I am in awe and inspired, and grateful to call you a friend.

Anonymous said...

Love you friend, and I am glad I have been a small part of this journey. I love that you have never stopped running after your dream and honoring God with the gift he has given you. KT :0)

Vern said...

Bonnie, you're living your dream, and doing what you love, so you should never have any regrets! Being happy and loving your work are worth way more than a million dollars!

Jim Osterman said...

Bonnie, you have no idea how much wisdom you have packed into this post. We all need to chase our dreams -- but we also need to realize that some of those dreams aren't just a short jog down the blog. We will face opposition, doubters, naysayers, etc. There will be days when we question ourselves. But you reminded me today that the detours in pursuit of my dream are temporary and not dead ends.

I want to be as wise as Bonnie Gartley when I grow up. She is so awesome!

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