Sweet Spot

When I recently decided to return to my handbell group for a “limited engagement,” I was a little bit anxious about what my bell assignment would be. If you’re not familiar with handbells, they’re actually set up like a piano keyboard in which each player is assigned a certain number of bells which correspond to notes on the page. I’ve played in enough positions to feel comfortable with almost any of them (except the big bass bells, which are physically more than I can handle). But there are a few places on the bell table where I’m much more sure of myself than others.

So when the director contacted me and said she’d like to assign me to the E and F (6) position, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. That position was where I first learned to play four-in-hand (the technique of holding two handbells in each hand and playing them simultaneously) and where I played for the majority of my years in bell choirs.

That’s my sweet spot.

You all have those spots, don’t you? Places in your work that you feel so comfortable because you know what you’re doing, know how to work around the kinks, know what the pitfalls are, and have so much experience in this one area that you could write a book about it.

When you’re in the sweet spot, you have confidence in your ability, you can rise to greater levels of achievement because you’ve mastered the basics.

You can have a lot more fun.

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reveling in the sweet spot in more ways than one. Music lifts my spirits like nothing else can. This morning, even though we’d had a long weekend of extra rehearsals, it felt so good to be playing again, to be thinking about music and all the little nuances that elevate a performance from good to great. It took my mind off all the other not-so-sweet things that have been dragging me down lately. And it provided me with a surge of inspiration to tackle a writing project I’ve been procrastinating, an added and much appreciated side benefit.

I also realized that playing music makes me feel more like ME than anything else I do. I think music itself is my own personal sweet spot in life – the area where I’m most comfortable, where I feel the most confidence in my abilities, where I have the most fun. As much as I love to write, I don’t always feel that way when confronted with the blank page.

I suspect we’d all be a lot happier, more productive individuals if we could spend more time in our sweet spots.

I know I would.

How about you? What’s your sweet spot in life? Do you get to spend enough time there?

16 thoughts on “Sweet Spot

  1. Hmm, I’ll have to think of what my sweet spot might be. In the meantime, I’m glad for you that you’re getting back into music. It seems to be very important to you.

  2. Glad you’re enjoying the music so much and the chance to get back to doing what you love.

    My sweet spot has changed over the years, it used to be playing sports, then it became watching sports and working out. Now my sweet spot is Rotary, it is a feeling that I can help others by serving and giving and there is the power of 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide that gets it done every day.

  3. As Thomas Jefferson stated: “I cannot live without books.” That’s my sweetspot – reading. If I couldn’t read something every day, I’m sure I would wither and blow away.
    I love music too, but don’t play an instrument. But music inspires me and moves me and I love to dance whenever I have the chance.
    Perfect situaton: Classical music music playing softly in the background, reading a book that I can’t put down and the TV off because my husband is asleep in his chair.
    Ah – pure bliss!

  4. I’ve come back several times and just couldn’t find anything to post. Part of the problem was the phrase itself – I’ve always associated “sweet spot” with baseball, the place on the bat where the most effective connection with the ball is made.

    I decided to go looking, and found a related treasure for you – William Safire meditating on the sweet spot in his New York Times column. Enjoy!

  5. My sweet spot is in the kitchen – I like to cook and I love to bake. There is a certain rewarding bliss in creating, not only in the act of creating, but creating something “useful” (edible) as well.

  6. Love the idea of a sweet spot. And I’m very curious about handbells. I’ve never heard them before. I’m going to youtube it, this instant. Do you have any videos of you playing? And I’m intrigued by a prospect of a new writing project… Hooray!

    • The group I play with, Classical Bells, has a website (classicalbells.com). The most well known handbell group is called the Raleigh Ringers. I’m sure they have lots of good videos!

  7. My sweet spot is actually dancing. I am good at it… in high school I channeled the energy as a cheerleader and in college my freshman year, I was on the dance team. I make up dance routines in my head all the time. I assure you, I’m much better in my head. Although I know I’m still relatively young… I miss that time when it was easier to dance and perform for a crowd. When we moved to Portland, I took a hip hop dance class, but was so out of sorts I didn’t do it long. Here in Charleston, there is a very popular hip hop dance class… so popular it meets on different parts of town and anyone can take it. So after the baby comes and my body recovers, I’m going to start taking the class on a regular basis. I’m quite certain I’ll blog about it. 🙂

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