Wednesday, August 31, 2016

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?

At some point, every child will ask themselves what they want to be when they grow up. Many are fascinated with the idea of becoming a policeman or a fireman. Some even dream of being a doctor so they can help people. It can be very entertaining to compare our childhood plans with the reality of our adult professions.

I never imagined that my life's work would be in the field of music. I have played classical piano since I was a child, but never wanted to pursue the concert stage. Honestly, I didn't realize that my job could be something that I enjoy so much. Even though things didn't turn out as my 8-year-old self imagined, there are a lot of similarities between those earliest hopes and the professional I have become.

When I was a child, I thought I would be....
  • elementary school teacher. I have always loved to learn new things. It was impossible to have too many books! I also learned from an early age that I liked explaining things to others and that I was pretty good at making things simple to understand. It took a long time before I would completely let go of this life plan. When things were becoming extremely challenging in my doctoral program, I actually entered a teacher education program and almost left the music industry behind. I continue to enjoy teaching children in the church and the piano studio. I can't entirely decide if it is the innocence of the child that I identify with or the fact that we have similar mentalities!
  • .....or a college math professor. I loved working with numbers and math was always a favorite subject. My performance in those classes became more challenging as I entered my first high school class with a group of students that were simply not interested in learning. Unmotivated students resulted in a teacher who decided it was easier to simplify material than challenge the masses. In my present life, the age of the students I work with lines up with this childhood dream, but the subject matter is much more entertaining!
  • .....or a writer. There was always something alluring about putting words on the page and being involved in the creation of books that I love so much. I suppose that this interest became the source of the blog that you are currently reading. I never developed the skills to weave an interesting fictional yarn and I intend to get impatient with research, so I left behind the idea of becoming an author. Now, my online writing keeps me entertained and helps me practice putting words together in an interesting (I hope) and informative manner.
Now that I've shared what I wanted to be when I grew up (although some would argue that I'm still attempting to grow up!), I would love to hear what you had dreamed about as a child. Feel free to share your stories in the comments below.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Hits and Misses (August 21-27)

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

  • The week has been filled with reading and I've loved every minute of it. I guess it was my way of accepting that my time will not be my own for the next few months, so pleasure reading will probably be limited.
  • On Tuesday evening, I participated in the initiation ceremony of the WBU Marching Pioneers. It was a fun evening and I enjoyed hearing the result of their hard work over the past week. It did make my mind race to other initiation ceremonies I have been involved with over the years in Malibu. I suddenly found myself longing to be with my Lambda brothers -- old and young -- and enjoyed a few minutes of texting with Hammy and Paulie before my phone died. (That's becoming a recurring problem that needs to be corrected soon.)
  • The week ended with a quick trip to Clovis, New Mexico with Daniel & Kim to perform at the graduation ceremonies there. It was neat to see the efforts of WBU's external campuses first hand, but the highlight was getting to spend a few hours with my friends. Looking forward to additional adventures in the future.
  • When I returned to Plainview this fall, I was excited to learn that one of the local businesses I frequent regularly had finally began to accept debit cards. What a convenience! Imagine my frustration on Monday evening when I learned that the nighttime staff did not have access to the necessary equipment. GRRR!
  • As though that wasn't frustrating enough, I've had my fill of obnoxious people this week. Thankfully most of my dealings with them were over the phone, so they didn't see the look on my face while we spoke.
  • My office seems to be a breeding ground for crickets. I can't get rid of the little critters and their singing while I'm trying to practice is really annoying.

Friday, August 26, 2016

How Time Flies

I begin most mornings spending a few minutes with the TimeHop app. I enjoy looking over my posts on various social media sites and reflecting on things for a moment. Today's reflection centered on the past two years.

This time last year, I was in the early stage of my first semester at Wayland. What was my major struggle? I was dealing with self doubt as I fought my way through an open score. Now, there are days that I WISH an open score was my greatest challenge!

It doesn't seem possible that two years ago my family was dealing with the news that Dad would have triple bypass in the days ahead and the prognosis was not promising. It's tough to think about how much that one event colored my life for months as we went through the surgery, struggled with post-op complications, and started the uncertain journey to recovery at home. Now that Dad is living a normal life again, the memories seem so distant. Still, without a doubt, I know that 2014 was a year that forever changed me and my family.

Now I wonder what the future has in store. All I know for certain is that God will be there with me and will continue to prove Himself faithful in every circumstance.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ready or Not....

Students are roaming the halls. A cacophony of sound fills the air again. Introductory lessons are being presented and lesson times are being scheduled. Private practice sessions and ensemble rehearsals are in full swing. That's right.....the fall semester of classes are finally underway in the School of Music at WBU.

Professors have been preparing for this moment for a few weeks. Faculty and student schedules alike are quickly becoming packed, but we wouldn't have it any other way. It's a privilege to get to do what we love -- make music! There's so much excitement and expectation in the air that you can feel the electricity.

I will stand before my first classes of the semester tomorrow morning. That means I get to ease into the new semester -- making last minute changes to my schedule, observing the new students, and reconnecting with those returning. The first day of school is always filled with so much potential. We don't know exactly what this school year has in store, but we're all excited to start riding this wave together. Now, let's just see what's going to happen.....

Monday, August 22, 2016

Hits and Misses (August 14-20)

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

  • Students began arriving on the Plainview campus throughout the week. The first wave in my world arrived on Sunday afternoon as Band Camp began. That evening, I got to join the students for a night of bowling. I had a blast....and I actually managed to bowl better than I had anticipated. My back was a little sore the next morning, but it was definitely worth it.
  • To add to the fun, I've gotten to share several meals with students and colleagues this week. What's even better? It was free food! I enjoyed the laughter and fellowship as everyone is getting ready for the start of classes in just a few days.
  • The highlight of the week was a moment of affirmation that came to the music faculty during one of our meetings. I think we were all overwhelmed by the emotional expression of gratitude that we witnessed and were humbled to think that our efforts were making such an impact in the life of the student who shared his heart with us. Throughout the remainder of our meetings, we repeatedly referenced the testimony we had heard and drew strength from it. It was a moment in my professional life that I will never forget.
  • It has been a long week of meetings as I participated in professional development workshops. Thankfully I didn't have as many meetings as I did last year in new faculty orientation, but processing so much information in such a short span of time is quite tiring. The first soundings of the morning alarm clock wasn't a welcome addition either. It's just another sign that things will begin hopping again very soon.  As the weekend arrived, I was feeling the drain in my body and just did not feeling well at all. I'm hoping that a few days of rest will return me to normal once again.
  • A case of miscommunication became evident early in the week. It was stressful as both parties tried to figure out what had happened and how we could resolve the situation without too much fallout. Things didn't turn out as either of us had expected, but God in His wisdom knew exactly what needed to happen. Not only was the issue created by the miscommunication resolved, but another need was met in the process! I didn't enjoy the uncomfortable situation at the beginning of the week, but I just had to smile in appreciation and worship as I watched circumstances get worked out for the good of everyone involved.
  • I've been experiencing an abnormal number of leg cramps this week. I think it's because my water consumption was greatly reduced during all of the meetings.....and the lack of walking wasn't helping things either. Here's hoping that things begin to return to normal very quickly.

Friday, August 19, 2016

When Words Won't Come

The cursor flashes on the blank screen. I try to write a few words, but they aren't right. Backspace, backspace, backspace. I stare at the flashing dash as it taunts me to try again. I know I have something to say. I know that it is worth the effort. I just don't know how to start. Words simply won't come!

I have agreed to attempt a couple of writing projects that are larger than my everyday blogging. I have thought about the topics. I have formed my opinions. I have done the preliminary research. With a deadline looming and no clarity about where the writing will take me, I stare at the screen in fear. For some reason, I feel as though words that are actually typed carry weight and permanence. As soon as I acknowledge this false opinion, I go back to the "tried and true" method of writing. I grab a pen and a legal pad. Suddenly, words are pouring onto the page and the writing process doesn't seem as intimidating.

I can't explain why, but I find something comforting about literally putting pen to paper. I suddenly give myself permission to write in disconnected fragments. What surprises me the most about the process is how my mind quickly organizes the chaos in the act of writing by hand. Connections I was not previously aware of begin to be illuminated and the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. 

It's been a long time since I have struggled to this degree with a writing assignment. I have to admit that I started with the project that was most interesting to me and that I knew would ultimately be successful. The one that remains has me intimidated. I'm not an authority on all aspects of this topic and that has me second-guessing myself. Add to that the stress that the paper is of more of a formal nature and you can begin to understand that procrastination is hard at work. So I suppose it's time to find some quiet time in the office this weekend when no one is around and just begin to spill my thoughts onto my legal pad and see what comes out. I'm hoping to be surprised at the final product.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Laughing at Yourself

Momma said there would be days like this. Days when nothing seems to go quite right no matter what you do. Days when you are not sure if you should just crawl back in bed and try coming out with the next sunrise or simply cower in a far away corner while you wave the white flag of surrender. On these days, you can either choose to cry or learn to laugh at yourself.  I've cried enough over the years. I'm finally learning to laugh again....and it feels great!

Laughing at myself and at the absurdity of certain situations helps me to remember just how insignificant some things truly are. Laughing helps me to look for joy even in what feels like the worst of times. It helps me to admit the part I play in the frustrating situation and helps me stay humble. Most of all, laughing at myself reduces stress before it can become overwhelming and helps those around me feel more comfortable as well. That sounds like a win-win situation to me!

Clear out the grey clouds that are trying to loom over your day and simply chuckle. After all, things can't always go wrong....and if they do, you'll still be able to find something to smile about.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Hits and Misses (August 7-13)

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

  • It was wonderful to find myself back at College Heights this week. While I enjoyed worshipping with friends at home over the summer, it was great to be back with my church family. On Tuesday, the blessings continued as I joined the senior adults for their monthly luncheon. I enjoyed laughing and talking with them before I had the honor of sharing some music with them. I wasn't exactly sure what kind of program was expected, but I went with my gut and asked God to use my playing to touch their lives. What a sweet few minutes we were able to spend together in the fellowship hall worshipping our Lord. I truly hope to be able to play for these precious people again in the future.
  • Back and hip problems plagued me over the weekend, so I went in search of a chiropractor on Monday morning. I was pleased to get worked in at West Texas Clinic of Chiropractic and quickly became comfortable with Dr. Nate Pochucha. I was thankful to find a doctor who was knowledgeable, personable, and that took the time to listen to my concerns and issues. It looks as though I will be seeing Dr. Nate quite a lot in the next few months to begin correcting some long-standing issues with my spine. I've already experienced some relief from my back pain and am very optimistic about things to come.
  • Texting with my college apartment-mate is never dull. Tiff can make me laugh when no one else can. And she calls me out on things when needed as well. There was a flurry of text messages between Plainview and Honolulu this week....and I had a blast!
  • It's been a rather peaceful week in the office. There aren't many students around and I've enjoyed the quiet because I've been able to get some things done in preparation for the semester's start. There's nothing better than being productive when the pace is slow and steady instead of frantic.
  • I discovered a forgotten stash of gift certificates in my desk drawer this week. They couldn't have come at a better time either!
  • Financial stresses are never fun. Things have been tight all summer long after some unexpected expenses. I began paying Dr. Nate for chiropractic care this week just before learning that my insurance premiums were going up -- almost doubling, actually -- as a result of May's accident. Just when I thought I was going to be putting that nightmare behind me.....
  • It's no secret that I eat in restaurants quite a bit. What can I say? It's easier to pay them and not have to deal with the preparation, clean up, and left overs! I intentionally try to visit places during their non-peak hours so the wait staff is not going crazy. This week, I experienced a new variation of that. While at Pizza Hut late on Wednesday night, I had to flag down wait staff to get any service at all. It wasn't that they were short handed either. There were probably more people on staff than diners at that moment. They just didn't bother to take care of anything! Frustrating!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Alone at Last!

The apartment is quiet. It's just me and the television on most days. That's quite a change from the hubbub of the Geriatric Ward for the past three months. It has taken some getting used to, but I think I'm finally getting used to the idea of being alone again....and actually coming to enjoy it.

I'm a self-proclaimed introvert. I don't mind being with people and can be a social person when necessary, but I do enjoy being by myself much of the time. I enjoy the quiet. It gives me time to think and to slow down from the normal hectic pace. I don't have to worry about anyone else's preferences or schedules. I can lie on the couch and watch anything I want on television...or I can click the boob tube off and curl up with my latest novel. It's much easier to close my eyes and meditate when no one else is going to traipse through the room. Dinner plans are never open for discussion; I can eat what I want when I want and no one else can possibly complain.

I will tell you that I wish my parents were here with me. I miss their laughter and energy -- most of the time. But for this season of my life, that's not what is in the cards for me, so I'll just continue to learn to be content in this situation and continue looking for things to enjoy about being alone at last.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Back to Reality.....

It's time to face the fact that summer vacation can't last forever. The mornings of sleeping in are slowly coming to an end. The lazy days of relaxing on the couch while mindlessly watching television are a thing of the past. Now my thoughts are turned to organizing classes, reviewing literature, writing articles, and advising students. Students will begin arriving on campus next week for band camp; classes begin on the 24th.

It seems as though there is so much work to do to get ready for the fall. I find myself constantly adding new items to my to-do list because I can't afford to miss a step. If it were just the responsibilities of teaching classes, I think I would be okay. Currently, it's the items associated with my personal life and health that are demanding my attention. Everything is getting done.....slowly, but surely. I've just had to give myself permission to let things take a little more time to do than I normally anticipate as I continue to regain my energy and strength.

I suppose I've stalled long enough! It's time that I get "back to reality" and mark a few more things off my ever-growing list.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Hits and Misses (July 31 - August 6)

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

  • I made it back to west Texas safely this week. The driving was smooth. The car behaved. There were no near collisions. After the many dangerous driving experiences this summer, I've become much more thankful for the uneventful drives.
  • Before heading back to Texas, I was able to catch up with a dear friend and colleague, Sabrina Warren. It was lovely to sit in a quiet corner of Panera and laugh and talk with this wonderful soprano. I enjoyed hearing about her recent travels, the progress she is making on her dissertation (which I can't wait to hear more about -- incredibly interesting!), and how her students are progressing.
  • When I arrived in Plainview on Thursday, I was just expecting a normal night of settling in. I was thrilled to be reminded that Thursday nights mean donut runs here in the music department! The crew was smaller than normal, but it was so refreshing to sit with students and colleagues once again. I think I'm finally getting ready for the semester to get back into full swing.
  • On Friday night, I ventured to Lubbock to see a production of Carousel. The performance was good. The setting was lovely; I had low expectations since the show would be presented in an outdoor amphitheater. I was pleasantly surprised. Throughout the evening, my mind wandered back to my own experience with this classic musical as a 16-year-old pianist. That's when I was first bit by the theater bug and when I began to dream that I could make a career as a pianist. That's why Carousel will always hold a special place in my heart.
  • I hate packing! Whether it's a short trip or a major move, I despise trying to gather everything I'll need. I think it's worse for me when I know that if I leave anything behind, it will be very inconvenient for me to get it back for a few months. Sure....things could be mailed if needed, but that's just not an ideal situation. After all, we all know that I tend to be a worry-wart anyway.
  • I didn't get to leave Arkansas as originally planned because of continued issues with my blood pressure. It wasn't a big deal since I still made it into town in plenty of time to fulfill my commitments and get the car registered. I just don't like last minute changes to my schedule. If I've been able to plan for it, the change doesn't seem to be as jarring to my system. I'm a creature of habit.
  • You would think that leaving my childhood home would get easier over time. After all, I've been living on my own for a year and regular telephone calls keep me connected with home. Still, saying goodbye to the Geriatrics is never easy. Maybe it's because I know they are getting older and that our time together is limited. Perhaps I'm still just a big baby! Honestly, I think the truest statement I can make about the situation is that over the years -- despite the frustrating times -- they have become my best friends. When they're not around, a part of my heart is incomplete. Okay...time to shove this topic back to the back recesses of my mind's still a little too fresh to deal with at the moment.
  • Facebook has been frustrating this week. For some reason, my blog posts are not appearing on my wall. Everything is working fine in Twitter, so I'm not entirely sure what the problem is. I'll try to get that figured out this week before things get too hectic here in the office.
  • It's HOT! Wow! I don't want to move at all because of the heat. It took several hours for the AC in my apartment to catch up with the heat -- even though I had left the thermostat on 76 while I was away. So I'm spending a lot of my days at the moment in the library, local restaurants, and my office to stay cool. While driving into town, I learned that the AC was out in my office as well. Thankfully, that hasn't been too terribly bad as long as I keep the door opened and let the air from the hall keep things bearable.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Hits and Misses (July 24-30)

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


  • I thoroughly enjoyed getting to catch up with friends this week. I spent some time at AGM on Wednesday talking with Robbie and Kathy. I left full of joy, encouraged, and inspired with new ideas for future projects. On Saturday, I got an unexpected text message from my college roommate. Even though we don't chat often, it's always nice to hear what's going on in his world and to return to some great memories for just a little while.
  • I think my car made its final trip to the shop for the summer. The last of the sensors that was messed up in May's accident has been replaced and no annoying check engine lights have made an appearance. I'm just thankful for an insurance policy that has covered all of this mess.
  • As I continued to struggle with my blood pressure, I decided to make an appointment with my cardiologist. I actually saw the nurse practitioner, but she confirmed what I already knew -- the recently prescribed meds were not working. It felt good to have a medical professional listen to my concerns, explain what was happening, and provide detailed instructions about our new treatment. After making a few changes and starting the new drug therapy, I started to feel like my old self almost instantly. The nurse did warn that it will take a few weeks to recover all of my energy, but knowing that I'm on the road to recovery makes the current mild fatigue easier to handle.


  • Wednesday was a rainy day in Memphis. Combine the weather with stupid Memphis drivers and you have the formula for very dangerous roads. While driving to Collierville, I was involved in 3 close calls that could have easily resulted in another accident. I'm tempted to encase myself in bubble wrap and never step outside again. Yikes!
  • While my car was in the shop, I had to use the Geriatric-mobile to run errands. Trying to get into their car could be considered a contortionist act. As a result of my stint with the circus this week, I'm dealing with some hip and low back pain. Guess I'll be contacting a chiropractor again.
  • Pharmacies can be difficult sometimes. My new medication is a relatively new drug.....that my local pharmacy didn't have in stock. After a convincing conversation, they were able to call other druggists in the area to find the needed drugs. I just hate that my blood pressure had to rise in order to get some help.