Character, conscience, reason, and more–they’re all here to explore within the human spirit. A story from my own childhood about character¬† comes to mind.

Last week, the doctor questioned me about my foot pain: “Do you wear pointy shoes or did you used to?” and I thought about my pointy shoes and those long-ago piano lessons.

When I was 8 or 9, my piano teacher participated in NFSM and all her piano students had a yearly audition, a non-competitive adjudication. We were judged on individual merit in the areas of accuracy, continuity, phrasing, dynamics, rhythm, interpretation, style and technique.

playing pianoThat meant four years of daily piano practice. After going many tearful rounds with me about skipping out on it, my mother thought of a game-changer. We went to the thrift store and got dress-up clothes, including beautiful satin high heels. My father sawed off the heels so drastically that they were only slightly higher than my sneakers. But they were stunningly pointed.

After school, for at least one year, I got all dressed up, made dramatic entrances into the living room, walked across the Hollywood Bowl stage and, to deafening applause, began to play Czerny. Frequently I stood to bow before the adoring crowd of furniture.

With one small idea, my mother kept me in the game so that fruits of character had a chance to ripen. In those four years I grew in diligence, reliability, consistency, and the wherewithal to push through when I don’t feel like it. Where are you seeing mental, spiritual and emotional development evolving all at once in the children you love?