- Name: Valerie Blau
- What words best describe you? Vivacious, fascinated by life, adventurous, curious, easy to laugh and smile. My husband describes me as someone “walking around in your own ray of sunshine.”
- What is it that inspires you? Mister Rogers. I have always loved him, but as an adult, I find myself very moved by the new reality he created for the well-being, lifelong learning and healthy lives that I and so many others enjoy as an adult. I cry almost every time I hear his song, “It’s You I Like.”
People expanding beyond their limited ideas of who they are and what they’re capable of.
I teach a belly dance class in Montclair every week, and I am always so inspired by my students who have the courage to step out of their comfort zone and learn something new.
Experiencing art coming to life. I play the clarinet and have had a deep love for music all my life. Much of my personal experience with music has been around making it. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I sang in the San Francisco Girls Chorus from the ages of about 8 to 14.
There I learned music theory, performance, how to sight sing (read and sing music at first sight) and so much more. I was part of an ensemble with performance schedules, memorization deadlines, training as well as repertoire knowledge and vocal technique. Education on social skills, teamwork, discipline, punctuality, stress management, meeting deadlines, challenging myself and the rewards of hard work in general were a huge part of the experience.
It was a rigorous and wonderful experience that taught me so much about music – from all places and times – and life skills, as well as what it feels like to actually make music. It served me well as a foundation for life. One of the most important skills I learned there was the ability to listen – to the other singers in my section, to the group as a whole, to our conductor, to how I blended in, to the flow of the music as a whole.
Something that continually inspires me about music is how it is created. Starting with an idea / inspiration / creation, words and notation get recorded on a page or file, then shared with a person or group of people who then recreate the original idea in its translation. And ultimately the recipients of that translation get to experience meaning, emotion, memories, body sensations, etc. There is magic in the whole process, but being on the side of the translator, or musician, who gets to bring to life those ideas, is particularly magical and inspiring to me.
I say, “Experiencing art coming to life” above rather than “Experiencing music coming to life” because I feel this same magic and inspiration when watching a great movie or play, reading a book or eating a delicious dish of food. It’s all the same to me and is part of what I relish in life.
- What are you most grateful for? My health and well-being, as well as the many communities of which I am a part who support me.
- What important values do you live by? Integrity and honesty, being true to myself and others. Paying it forward. Treating each moment newly.
- Life is… a gift.
- Love is… unstoppable.
- Work is… a blessing.
- Biggest achievement so far… The first thing that came to mind is completing a half Ironman, which is a triathlon event that consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. I trained for 9 – 11 hours a week for 4 months. The course was challenging and it a truly awesome experience. However, when I really look at what is truly my biggest achievement so far, it is being in a wonderful marriage with an amazing man.
When I look at the path to what got me here, I see that I did my very best in every relationship and life experience I’ve had up until now and it all got me to where I am, which is happy. This includes recognizing my truth and leaving a previous marriage that wasn’t working. I’ve learned so much from previous relationships and see that when I stopped trying to figure out what was wrong with me or them, that’s when I allowed myself to fall in love with my husband Walt.
I really thought that I had to do something or be something other than what or who I was in order to find “the one.” But he immediately felt so easy to be with and we had so much fun right from the beginning. I thought, “this can’t be enough, it’s too easy!” When I let go of those ideas, I experienced a whole new depth of intimacy with him and myself in our relationship.
- Hardest thing you’ve ever done… Earning my first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do (the test of several hours was performed after a 3-day fast of consuming only water) .
- Most impactful or favorite book… Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, by Ariel Kane and Shya Kane.
- Least favorite word… Vegemite. Shudder… For my serious answer: full-service. To me, these words say nothing. It’s often used to describe a business or service from a marketing or sales perspective, but it is really a filler.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? I have a hard time with this question, as I don’t have a specific plan or agenda for my life and where I want it to go. My approach is that if I’m true to myself now in this moment, the next moment will take care of itself…and this applies to the next day, week, year, etc. I still make plans for what I want to accomplish and do in the future, but it’s part of where I am now.