With everyone in my house going back to work and school this week, I was reminded on Tuesday of how I started this blog two years ago, and thought you might like to know the story too.
Even before my mother’s passing in 2010, I had been playing with the idea of sharing my family’s knowledge of Bach cantatas. I would sometimes brainstorm about it with friends, but had no concrete ideas, and never really felt a spark. A personality that favors taking care of others instead of doing my own thing and a love for traveling made me always “too busy” with music admin jobs, music PR jobs, taking care of my family, helping friends, doing volunteer work at my kids’ schools, and planning trips.
Since my mother’s passing, I felt a stronger sense of wanting to share her legacy of filling the house with the appropriate Bach cantata every Sunday and holiday of the year (read more about my mother’s weekly routine in this post). So I would now and then share Bach cantata recordings on Facebook, or play them in the car for my friends on the way to a California Bach Society rehearsal.
However, sharing on Facebook turned out to be a lousy way to preserve a legacy. Several friends and relatives are not on Facebook, so I would have to remind myself to email them the same YouTube links and stories, which was extra work. Also, Facebook posts don’t really allow for long stories, and are hard to find a few weeks or several months later. But perhaps most importantly, I realized that I only knew a small part of Bach’s cantatas, namely only my mother’s favorites. I discovered that for several Sundays of the year there were one to three other cantatas I didn’t know at all and wanted to get to know better. Slowly an idea started to form in the back of my brain that I should probably start a website about it.
Talking about my brain – it wasn’t working so well for a few months in 2014 because of a concussion. For weeks I couldn’t read or even listen to music. I only listened to audio books. For months I had trouble looking at a screen and for about 18 months I couldn’t be in a loud room. I cut back on work, got some good practice in saying “no” and slowing down, and started to take better care of myself. In that process, about a year after the concussion, both my teenage son and I learned that certain foods didn’t agree so well with our bodies. Especially because of the hungry teenager now also needing a new diet, I taught myself to cook and bake delicious meals and sweets without those foods. I even thought I wanted to make it my job to share that with other people. The idea of starting “my own thing” was exhilarating.
Several things happened in the fall of 2015 that made me hesitate a bit about my potential culinary enterprise. I wondered where my passion for music would be in my “new career.” However the baking and the music didn’t come to a full clash in my head until the holiday break of 2015/2016. While the kids and I were creating the most delicious gluten free and dairy free sweets for days in a row, and I was truly enjoying spending time with my kids this way, I kept feeling more and more frustrated. I had not been sharing anything at all of the densely packed treasure trove of Bach cantatas for the three Christmas Days, the Sunday after Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Then the dishwasher broke.
We went to shop for a fancy new one in the last days of 2015, but it would take about four weeks before it would be installed. So on Monday January 4, 2016, when the kids went back to school and my husband went back to work, I realized I needed to do something positive to not be defeated by the daily pile of dishes I would now need to wash in the morning (I only have a small kitchen, can’t think straight if there’s too much clutter in the kitchen, and I was still doing a lot of cooking and baking). I needed to listen to something that would keep my brain engaged at this prime thinking time in the morning. Some of my audio books? Podcasts? Nah. It took only a few minutes for the light to come on: Bach cantatas!
I started doing the dishes while listening to different recordings of cantata 65 and 123, every now and then walking over to a note book I had open on my desk to write down my thoughts. It worked, and I got very excited. The next morning I did the same. After that, it only took a few hours to set up this WordPress site and purchase the weeklycantata.com domain. I started writing the first blog post, thinking “it has to go live tomorrow, on Epiphany, or otherwise it won’t work,” but still didn’t tell anyone. I finished writing on Wednesday January 6 but was terrified to go “live” with it. I waited until my husband came home. He said “would you like me to read it?,” dropped everything, sat down to read, told me the language would still be as strong without the one negative paragraph I was nervous about, so I took that one out (and made the decision to always steer clear of negative reviews) and then I published it. The positive feedback from friends and relatives in the days following the publication was overwhelming, and exactly the push I needed to keep going!
That was 103 posts ago, and I am still excited to research and write, and so grateful for all the support and positive feedback I’ve been getting from friends, relatives, friends of friends, and complete strangers. I feel it has also helped me process the loss of my mother. I still can’t believe that people all over the world read this blog, from fellow Bach writers and professional musicians to people who don’t know anything about Bach but follow my blog to provide quality programming for a music-loving patient in an elderly home. There are people who only read the text, and those who start their Sunday or Monday morning by turning on the recording I recommend. How and where do you read and listen? I would love to know! Please share in the comments here below or on my Facebook page. On that Facebook page you can also send a private message if you prefer that.
Wieneke Gorter, January 6, 2018.