I started teaching at Berklee College of Music. It was almost as good as being a student. I always wanted to go to Berklee as a young person. I remember holding the colorful brochure and reading about their Songwriting Major.
At the time, I felt I couldn’t spend the money on myself to attend Berklee because I already had an undergraduate degree (Luckily I’ve outgrown this habit of guilt, now I invest in myself and my future!). I applied for a scholarship and they offered me $5000 a year, which at the time was pretty good, but there was one catch: I could only receive the money if I agreed to be a classical piano major. I was devastated. My strength at the time was playing classical music but all I really wanted to do was write songs. It felt like a major setback, but I adjusted and decided to find some place else to go. I went to Borders Books and looked up the most reputable music school that I could afford by selling my car, a Saturn. I found it in The City College of New York located in Spanish Harlem on 137th Street and I decided to go.
Today, I traced back the things that occurred because of this obstacle and my subsequent decision to go to school in Harlem. 1) I met my future husband (I wasn’t even looking, I was engaged to someone else at the time. I thought about how unlikely it was that a boy from Jackson Heights Queens and a girl from the suburbs of Illinois would meet and fall in love (I figured the odds were probably around 1 in several million) but it happened! 2) I learned about early American spirituals and early gospel music which I absolutely loved and 3) I met John Motley, one of my greatest teachers who introduced me to legendary jazz drummer Max Roach who I then toured with in Europe and finally and possibly most importantly 4) I had my first experience of meditation (which has become a life-long practice and what I credit most of my happiness to) in a brownstone in Harlem through a woman who was a member of the church where I was singing.
And then it really hit me: I had a date with destiny and going to Harlem (because Berklee put an obstacle in my way) led to the very fact that my beloved daughters Cecilia and Helen exist!
So today I am grateful for twists of fate and obstacles because they were all just pointing the way to this beautiful life for which I am SO GRATEFUL!
What is your story of how an obstacle led to a blossoming in your life?