Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 - The Year in Review

It has become a tradition here at Livin' Life to close each year with a series of posts to explore what happened in the past year. I am late with these posts this year -- that seems to be appropriate for my 2015 -- so I'm providing abbreviated summaries of each area in a single post. Hopefully it will be interesting to some of you faithful readers.

Professional Life - 2015 began with the continuation of work at Mid-South Community College, Union University, and Bartlett Music Academy. My work situation changed drastically in July when I accepted my current position at Wayland Baptist University. It's been a busy year of teaching and performing. I appeared in 7 student recitals in 2015 as well as teaching class piano, my private students (BMA), and developing a music camp for young pianists. I was involved in productions of Into the Woods (Union) and The Mikado (WBU) and got to accompany Union's Men's Chorus and Symphonic Band as well as Wayland Singers. Did I mention that I also provided prelude music before former First Lady Laura Bush spoke at Convocation? All in all, it has been an exhilarating year musically.

Travel - Somehow I've managed to stay on the road this year. In addition to my regular trips to Lake Conroe, Texas and Malibu, 2015 allowed me the opportunity to visit Little Rock, Albuquerque, and Oklahoma City. Now that I'm living in west Texas, I've also enjoyed exploring Plainview, Lubbock, and Amarillo.

Resolutions Kept and Broken - I wish I had better results to report. I made 7 resolutions in January; only 2 of them were successfully met. I'm happy to say that I currently have a growing savings account (although it's not as robust as I would have liked) and I increased my personal reading by 2 books in 2015 -- finishing 23 books by the end of the year. What was left undone? I have not lost weight (and have gained several pounds in my new living situation). My listening project related to orchestral repertoire died quickly in the new year as did my attempt to read through the Bible in 2015. I didn't perform a solo recital, although I did perform on my studio recital and performed a mini-recital when auditioning at WBU. Finally, I did not become involved in a small group Bible study, but have found a support group in my church music department.

The Year in Blogging - I suppose no blogger is truly ever satisfied with the quality and consistency of their posts. Beginning the new job and settling in a new town put quite a damper on my posting. I'll just let the numbers speak for themselves:

  • Livin' Life - 95 posts (43 of these were weekly installments of the Hits and Misses series)
  • Collaborations - 17 posts
  • Reading for Me - 23 posts. (Four of these posts relate to my reading of the Harry Potter series which I plan to finish in 2016. Additionally the Reading with Jacqs series met a slight road block -- an incredibly cute and very loved one -- with the arrival of Jack-Jack in August. It's amazing the impact sleepless nights with a crying baby has on a mother's desire to read!)
  • Christmas Celebration - This was the first year for the Carol videos. They weren't housed on any of the blogs, but they definitely were a part of my online voice and presence.

That's a brief look at 2015 in my world. I hope you all are able to take a few minutes to reflect on your year as you look forward to the excitement and adventure that awaits you in 2016! I'll talk to you again in the new year....



Monday, December 28, 2015

Hits and Misses (December 20-26)

Here's a look back at the week that was...


  • We enjoyed a great week of celebrating Christmas with family. On Sunday afternoon, we gathered in Red Banks to share lunch with Jacqs, Shane, and Jack-Jack. After some busy shopping and baking, the rest of the family gathered at the Geriatric Ward on Friday to celebrate together. We capped the day off by watching The Bishop's Wife together.
  • Nothing like visiting the dentist over Christmas break. I'm just glad that I got another good check-up.
  • I successfully completed the Christmas video project this week. I was surprised at the response and have already received requests to continue posting videos as well as repeat the Christmas project in 2016. I'll do some more reflecting on the experience over on Collaborations tomorrow.


  • This has been a wild weather week. Tornadoes threatened my siblings. Blizzard conditions pummeled the Panhandle. Several people compared this week to the horrible storms of December 1988 when tornadoes, flood, and snow hit the area in a matter of weeks. We are really hoping this is not a repeat performance.
  • Last minute Christmas shopping sucks! That is all.
  • Sperm-donors who undermind the spirit of hope and dreaming in their children are not worthy of the title of "Dad." There is a difference between being realistic and being a douche! For example, no man should EVER tell his daughters that "men are simply smarter." Young ladies face enough bashing and sexism from our society as it is. They certainly do not need to hear such inane nonsense from those who are supposed to be their biggest supporters! Man up.....or just shut up!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Hits and Misses (December 13-19)

Once again, my weekly post is late. I've battled a nasty stomach bug for the last 24 hours that left little energy for anything else. I seem to be on the upward mend, so I'll pause now and share with you a look back at the week that was....



  • On Monday, we welcomed nearly 70 pianists to Wayland from the Talkington School for Girls in Lubbock. It was a wonderful experience watching these young ladies explore our collection of Steinways and to hear their final preparations for their annual duet recital. It was a successful first venture and one that I hope can become an annual tradition.
  • As soon as the Talkington visit was over, I hit the road and headed home for the holidays. It's always good to be with Mom and Pop for Christmas.
  • On Saturday, I got to see lots of friends from Union at the Brasher wedding. The ceremony turned out beautifully and I was honored to participate in Logan and Rebecca's special day.



  • There's nothing worse than not feeling well when returning home for the holidays. The long drive didn't do my back any favors. Just as I was recovering from that ailment, the beginnings of this stomach bug took hold. I'm just hoping that once I get well that I will have met my quota for illness for the duration of the break.....and beyond.
  • After finally getting the piano moved into the house (a difficult task in its own rite), I was frustrated to learn that the tech could not repair the missing string that I had told him about. The piano is now in tune, but that low F# is sorely missed!
  • It seems that no one thought about taking the Geriatrics shopping this holiday season. It's a little depressing to walk in and see no gifts under the tree only to realize that my time of rest and recovery is going to be delayed another week so I can make sure Mom gets to make her purchases. Some days I think it would just be easier if I still lived in the Geriatric Ward.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hits and Misses (December 6-12)

I suppose it's better to post late than to not post at all! Traveling throws everything off. Anyway, here's a look back at the week that was....
  • This week saw the completion of my first semester at Wayland. What a joy! It was good to see most of my students succeed as they played piano finals and juries.
  • As the semester began to settle down, I was able to pick up a novel and mindlessly watch Christmas movies. All I can saw is that I am truly my mother's child.
  • Did I mention that the semester ended?!?!?

  • I finally got back to the doctor for lab work. I didn't pass out when the blood was drawn, but I was wobbly for most of the morning. Fortunately, there weren't many students around.....they would have thought I had a hang-over!
  • I have a new revulsion for tracks in choral rehearsals. I understand why they may be necessary, but can you PLEASE keep a steady tempo during the rests if you are going to make a recording? Conductors and rehearsal pianists everywhere will greatly appreciate it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hits and Misses (November 29 - December 5)

It's finals week here at Wayland, so this will be brief.  Here's a look at the week that was....

  • It's been another week full of successful performances. On Wednesday, we completed instrumental juries (a week before the insanity that is finals...what a great idea!) and closed out the week with performances with Wayland Singers and the Children's Choir of Plainview. Despite some scary moments in the rehearsal process, things really went off better than I had expected.
  • I've had a blast this week recording Christmas carols. When I first came up with the idea of doing 25 days of Christmas on my Facebook page, I expected it to be something that my family would view and enjoy. I have been overwhelmed with the number of views and shares these simple videos have gotten and the positive responses I've heard. Young and old have commented on the videos and I've had the pleasure to connect with people I've not talked to in years. I'm 7 days into the project and frantically recording the remaining video clips so I will have everything done before I leave Plainview for the holidays.
  • I think you are all aware of my travel frustrations that began the week. From the time I landed in Lubbock, I was feeling the pinch of having lost a day in the office. That's not a good way to start a week.
  • I hate going to the doctor for lab work only to learn that I needed to fast before having blood drawn. Why wasn't I told this when I made the appointment? I'll figure out a way to get back after the worst of the week is over.
  • I think I'm going to make a sign to wear around my neck that says "PIANISTS NEED PREP TIME TOO!" Getting music at the last minute throughout the semester has been a continuing source of frustration. It's one thing when a situation arises at the last minute that you need my assistance with; it's another when your failure to adequately plan creates a major inconvenience (and inadequate time to fully prepare) for me. Get your stuff together!  *Rant ended*
There you have it! Have a wonderful week and enjoy the spirit of the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Travel Woes

After enjoying a quick break at home, I arrived at Memphis International on Sunday evening to begin my return to Plainview. Little did I know that my journey would be such an adventure.

I was slated to travel to Dallas/Fort Worth on American Airlines. After an hour delay in DFW, I had a connection to Lubbock -- the last flight to the airport that night. After sitting in the gate for nearly an hour, I received a text message from the airline that my flight was going to be delayed. Over the course of the next 25 minutes, my fellow travelers and I watched as our arrival time into DFW got pushed further and further back. Finally, my DFW arrival reached the same moment that my connecting flight was Scheduled to depart. I knew this was going to be a mess!

As I spoke with the gate agent, I quickly decided that she was a new employee. (She later admitted that this was her second day on the job. Yikes!) Once the supervisor arrived at the gate -- thank Heavens! -- we determined that the next available Lubbock flight from DFW would be late Monday evening. I was given the option of spending the night in a Dallas hotel -- and spending much of the next day wandering around the airport -- or beginning my travel on Monday. I decided that another day at home would be the better choice.

Once Dad returned to the airport to pick me up, the night was uneventful. My intentions were to keep everything packed so I could quickly return to the airport and not worry about leaving anything behind. Karma seemed to have other plans.

As Monday got underway, I was beginning to feel drained. I accompanied Mom to a doctor's appointment that afternoon as I realized the cause of my weariness. Since I wasn't expecting to spend another day in Arkansas, I didn't bring medications to take for the day. My blood pressure was elevated and I felt horrible! The doctor gave me a sample bottle of a related medication and I immediately began to feel better.

That evening, Dad and I made great time getting to the airport and everything was running smoothly. That is, things were running smoothly until I stood at the ticket counter and realized my cell phone was in the car that was on its way back across the Mississippi River! After checking my bag and grabbing my boarding passes, I had a light bulb moment....grabbed my iPad and sent a message to my siblings. Carlene called Dad, got him to turn around, and my iPhone was once again in my possession. I had only lost 35 minutes standing on the curb waiting for his return! (At that moment, I was incredibly thankful that I had allowed more time at the terminal than I normally do.)

As I'm writing this post, I'm sitting at the gate in Memphis....just hoping that tonight's travel goes much more smoothly than the process has gone thus far. I really don't think I can handle any more travel woes at the moment.