Monday, August 28, 2017

Hits and Misses (August 20-26, 2017)

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

  • I played my first rehearsal with the Plainview Chorale this week. Even though I was sightreading for the entire rehearsal, it turned out to be a lot of fun and a nice way for me to contribute to the musical life in Plainview.
  • After several years of talking about it, Richard and I were finally able to block out rehearsal time in order to prepare a Piano Duo Recital. We've read a little Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Barber so far. Nothing is settled yet. We'll just continue doing a little more reading until we've got a program that we want to prepare and present. This is going to be awesome!
  • Now that school is in full swing, so is the Thursday night tradition of Donut Night. This week saw the largest crowd that I can remember. There was lots of laughter as well as a few heart-to-heart conversations. I think we're off to a good start for a successful Fall.
  • On Saturday morning, I was able to attend the Welcome Home Party for Hannah Brown. This sweet little girl and her family have had a rough go of it this summer. I was thrilled to get to see them all for a few minutes and see how well Hannah is doing and how their faith is sustaining the entire family. Hannah still has a long road ahead of her, but those who love her around the world will continue to pray that she will thrive and continue to ROAR as she fights cancer. 
  • There's nothing like getting to be a kid again for a few minutes after a busy week. Who knew that playing hide-and-seek with a boy's toy truck could bring so much laughter and joy? I'm very thankful for the time I got to spend with Luke (Hannah's younger brother) on Saturday, too.
  • Sometimes there are just too many chiefs! Nothing is more frustrating than when everyone wants to be in charge and thinks that their opinions are correct. Things just work better when we have a single leader -- thankfully, it's not me anymore! -- and the rest of the Indians simply fall in line.
  • The new semester has gotten under way and I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. I don't know what's going on, but it seems that there is just so much to do! I know it will settle down eventually. It has seemed that every time I mark one thing off of my to-do list, three other tasks are standing in line to take its place. I just have to keep reminding myself to just take one step at a time and get it all done.
  • I've been a little restless this week. There's nothing disturbing me. I'm not upset and I don't feel poorly. Still, I'm finding myself tossing and turning quite a bit. I just can't seem to get settled. I've devoted a lot of my personal prayer time to this matter. I'm just going to trust that it will get better soon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Revisiting a Younger Me

In case you haven't guessed, I enjoy writing. That's part of the reason that I like blogging. There's just something priceless about putting words on the page to express my feelings and opinions about a myriad of subjects. Not all of my thoughts are intended or appropriate for public consumption though. There are times that I need to express my frustrations, deepest hopes, and greatest fears without inviting anyone else to read. That is the purpose of my personal journal.

I have kept journals -- or diaries, if you prefer -- off and on throughout my life. Journaling became a consistent part of my routine while nearing the end of my time at Pepperdine.  Lots of things were happening that put me into an uproar emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So I needed an outlet to express those thoughts without fear of offending people or getting myself into major trouble. My journal became the place to lay it all on the line without any self-editing.

Over the past week, I decided it was time to read those early journals for the first time in many, many years. It has been an eye-opening experience as I revisited the world that my 20-year-old self faced. Those were days of lots of drama and personal turmoil. I was struggling with my own identity as it related to my faith, my relationships with others, and my future as a musician. I had forgotten that there was a long period of time after completing my senior recital that I was convinced that I would never play the piano again because I had so many negative feelings attached to the experience of studying music. As I walk through those memories again, I am so thankful for the people who nurtured me and helped me realize that my negative feelings were not about the music, but about people with whom I was forced to interact. I have also been reminded of just how important my interactions with my current students are. I have found myself spending more time in prayer as I approach the beginning of a new year that the words I speak to my students will always be couched in sincere love for their well-being and their future endeavors.

Not all of my memories were bad. I found myself laughing frequently at my younger self. I loved looking back to a time when life was carefree. I shook my head as I lived again the emotional roller coaster of dealing with roommates and friends that didn't understand that I was right and they were wrong. I am amazed that I didn't get slapped a few times; years away from the situations quickly reveal just how wrong I really was. There were times I wanted to leap back in time and tell this naive Kennith that the issues that were causing me so much distress and heartache were really not that important in light of the big picture.

Occasionally, I found myself getting into a negative head space as I read my old journals. Insecurities and unresolved hurts reared their heads again and continued to torment me all these years later. Fortunately, I quickly realized what was happening and was able to clear my head -- as soon as I wrote about it in my current journal! Overall, it has been great to look back through the pages of my journals and reflect on how things were for me then. I just have to remind myself not to stay in the past.  My goal as I continue my personal journaling is that I will be able to LEARN from the past, LIVE in the present, and LOOK FORWARD to the future.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hits and Misses (August 13-19)

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


  • I safely made it back to Plainview. It is always a long drive from the Geriatric Ward back to work. That's why I split it into two it's not too bad. I stopped in Shawnee, Oklahoma....just in time to let a nasty storm pass through during the overnight hours. I drove through a few sprinkles here and there, but the weather was actually quite nice for most of the drive.
  • While I was traveling back to West Texas, Mom had her second successful cataract surgery. From what I have gathered, the procedure went really smoothly and recovery has gone well. Mom will return to the optometrist on Tuesday for her final check up....and then we will be completely done with these surgeries. Hooray!
  • After a really long week, I was in need of a good laugh by Friday morning. Thankfully, many of my colleagues were also delirious by that point and were able to provide the humor. It's of the things I enjoy most about my job is the people that I get to work with. A faculty that likes each other -- really, we like each other! -- is not as common as you might think and something that we all count as a great blessing in the School of Music.
  • Meetings, meetings, and more meetings. I know that meetings are necessary sometimes. This week's meetings that I participated in were mostly productive. I just found my brain going well as my butt!
  • A storm went through Plainview one of the first evenings I was back in town. When I woke the next morning and found water in the hallway, I thought I might have a roof leak. Only problem with that diagnosis was that there was no water on the walls or ceiling. When the water began to spread, I assumed I had a full-blown water leak and immediately called my landlord. He seemed really unconcerned and passively explained that it was probably just condensation from the air conditioner. Ummm....NO! There was a good 3 foot patch of water that I could splash around in without leaving my apartment. By the end of the week, I saw that a plumber had actually set foot in my place and left a fan behind to dry the carpet. I still haven't heard what caused the water or when someone will be back to get the fan. 
  • Ever since I've been back in West Texas, I've been experiencing some strange sleep patterns. I'm falling asleep around 11:15......only to be fully awake by 12:30. Then it takes forever to fall asleep again. By the time I need to get up the next morning, I'm still sluggish and not wanting to face the day. I'm really hoping that this is just due to the change in environment and not a sign of any other issue.  I've dealt with enough health-related stuff this summer; I need a break from all of that!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hits and Misses (August 6-12)

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

  • To start the week, the Geriatrics and I visited Marion First and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Even though the Pastor's microphone was not on for the duration of his sermon, the acoustics in the sanctuary were such that we were able to hear almost every word. He spoke beautifully from Romans 8. This was our first time to be at Marion First since Dr. Hallmark's departure; it was great to hear that the commitment to proclaiming the Word with excellence continues.
  • My car was in the shop the first few days of the week. I also knew this was my final week to spend at home. Those two things combined meant that I was very intentional about enjoying a relaxing week. I watched television and did some light reading during the days. Once the Geriatrics came home, Mom and I would enjoy some time together in the living room. All in all, it was a very good week.
  • On Saturday evening, we had the final Geriatric Outing of the summer. As strange as it may sound to you, these end-of-the-week dinners were a highlight for me and for my parents. (Here's hoping that the explorations will continue to happen occasionally while I'm away.) This week, I decided to return to a favorite we had dinner at J. Alexander's. I've been trying to get out there for several weeks now, but there was always another restaurant that Mom and Dad wanted to try. If you know us well, our menu selections will come as no surprise.....Mom and I both ordered the French Dip (minus the horseradish!) and Pop went for the crab cakes. Yummy and fitting end to our summer together.
  • My car went in the shop on Monday for a basic oil change and to have the tires rotated. The shop manager called Dad and told him that two of the tires were actually in pretty bad shape and needed to be replaced. Pop decided that we would just replace all of the tires instead. The tires were not in stock and did not arrive until Wednesday I finally got my car back on Thursday morning! It's not like I had anything that I needed to do before returning to Plainview. The end of the week became a rather frantic sprint to get all of the loose ends tied up. 
  • The worst part of not having my car is that I also missed my chiropractic sessions for the week. I can tell that I wasn't adjusted, too! My lower back is extremely sore; my arms and neck are also screaming for attention. One of the first things I'll do when I get to Plainview is make a trip to see Dr. Nate so we can continue the process that was started this summer.
  • I hate packing! Even though I have lived out of my suitcase all summer long, it still takes more effort and time than I anticipate to gather everything, put it in the car and hit the road. I'm just glad that I don't have to do that very often.
  • I hate walking on egg shells.....and I'm very glad that I don't have to do it anymore.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

All Good Things....

Whether you credit the famous quote to Chaucer or a wise Grandmother, the sentiment still rings true -- "All good things must come to an end." So the end of my extended vacation is finally coming to an end. I will begin the journey back to west Texas on Sunday morning. 

This summer has seen moments of laughter and tears. I was thrilled to find my mother regaining her strength and coming through the first of her scheduled cataract surgeries without complication. (The second surgery is scheduled for Monday morning.) I have laughed with family, friends I miss dearly, and former students. I have watched hopes dashed and trust betrayed. I have cried with some who had to say goodbye to loved ones who were called to their Heavenly reward suddenly. Prayers for healing have filled my home as my parents and I learned of friends young and old who are in the fights of their lives against brutal illnesses. The Geriatric Ward has seen lively discussions, exciting adventures, and plans for the future.  I have struggled with personal health complications related to hands, neck, back, and ankles at various times throughout the summer. My mind has been relaxed as I enjoyed trips to new locales on the pages of treasured books and my spirit has been refreshed as I was able to spend extra time in prayer and study of the Word. All in all, it has been an eventful and fulfilling summer.....but it is now time to get back to work.

As much as I don't want to leave the Geriatric Ward and the comforts of home right now, I look forward to the adventures that await me in the coming academic year.  Let the adventure begin......

Monday, August 7, 2017

Hits and Misses (July 30 - August 5, 2017)

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

  • The Geriatrics and I started the week off at the early worship service at West Memphis First Assembly of God. It was a nice service that was devoid of all the "fillers." I thoroughly enjoyed the sermon from Exodus 3 and we all left encouraged and kept talking about what we had heard that morning. Didn't hurt that we were out of service by 9:45 either! Great start to the week!
  • After spending most of the week with my foot propped up again, it was a welcome relief to finally get answers from the podiatrist on Friday morning. I saw Dr. Appling in Southaven -- who I really liked a lot -- and learned that there was no break or fracture evident in my ankle. After taking 5 x-rays, I'm confident he would have found it if there was one! He knew that I was concerned about the swelling and explained what he thought was going on in layman's terms. He also explained the other (less likely) possibilities and gave me instructions on how to proceed once I get back to Texas if things aren't completely better. I left his office empowered.....because I felt like I knew what I was up against for the first time. 
  • Since my foot has kept me grounded, I've really enjoyed watching videos on Hulu and Netflix. I had forgotten what great services these are! I've binged through the first two seasons of Top Chef this week (which I saw on Bravo when they first aired) and have caught up on a few documentaries that were very interesting as well.
  • By Saturday night, cabin fever had completely taken hold and there was no way I was going to miss the weekly Geriatric Dinner adventure. This week, Mom decided she wanted to return to Bosco's in Overton Square. Yummy food just like our last visit (and Dad's first trip to the Square).
  • My sprained ankle continues to give me fits! I finally got the swelling down to a manageable size before seeing the podiatrist on Friday, but it has been a rough week of hobbling around the house and fighting off boredom. It's not quite how I anticipated spending the end of my summer vacation.
  • The podiatrist gave me a prescription to help with the inflammation in my ankle and recommended that I get it from a pharmacy in Olive Branch because I could get it at a reduced price. He had mentioned having it shipped, but the USPS in Crawfordsville is notorious for failing to deliver packages. I told him if the order could be called in now, I could pick up the other supplies he suggested, grab lunch, and then stop by the pharmacy before heading home. Perfect.....he would have the staff call in the order right away. Guess what? When I arrived at the pharmacy, no prescription had been called in and there was no one picking up in the podiatrist's office! By this point, my foot was aching and I just wanted to go home. Finally I realized that the doctor had given me some samples, so I left the shipping address with the pharmacy and headed home. Now we'll just hope that the "crazies" in the local post office can manage to get the medicines delivered when they arrive. I'm not holding my breath, but I'll keep my fingers crossed!
  • Since I was down for the week, Mom was alone in the kitchen to try out our new recipes. Unfortunately, she also had the recipes that were flops! I felt so bad! The Pork Chops in Lemon Butter Sauce were horrible. There was so much lemon that the pork almost turned bitter. We were really shocked since the chicken from last week that had almost the same breading and lemon was one of the summer's favorite recipes. Then on Friday night, Mom tried to make pizza with flour tortillas as the crust. We've used this recipe before and enjoyed it, but this was not the case this week. The jarred sauce was cloyingly sweet and Mom didn't use enough cheese on the individual pizzas. This meant that the tortilla wasn't in the oven long enough to crisp at all. You get the picture.....the pizzas were edible (at least, I thought so), but overall, they were a hot mess.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ready for a Road Trip

If you have known me very long at all, you probably know that I love to travel. I especially like to take a road trip. There's nothing better than loading up the car and hitting the open road to Destination Unknown. No agendas. No appointments. No commitments. Just enjoying the scenery and discovering new places.

Some of my road trips have ended up in major cities -- Minneapolis and Albuquerque, for example. Others took me to small burgs that provided a beautiful backdrop for a few days of quiet reading and thinking. Most of the time, summer vacation is when I'm able to hop in the car and find my way to an open road.

This summer has not been the normal summer vacation for me. Don't get me wrong -- it has been wonderful! I have thoroughly enjoyed being with my family and enjoying the love, laughter, and food with them. But it has been a stressful summer as well. I came home to uncertainty due to health complications Mom was experiencing. There were seasons of conflict. We prepared to say goodbye to family members who are moving farther away from home. There were the numerous doctors appointments that naturally come with caring for the Geriatric Ward as well as cataract surgery and the recovery period that followed. My summer included my own injuries, too.  At the beginning of the summer, my concern was related to my hand. Much of my time in Arkansas was devoted to resting and recovering from that frightening injury. Now, as my vacation comes to a close, I'm dealing with a sprained ankle -- actually the second in as many weeks -- that simply does not want to heal and has definitely put a damper on my normal level of activity. Summer has been a good break on one hand, but I am definitely ready for things to return to normal. In the process of all this activity, I haven't had an opportunity for a road trip.

So I'm just keeping my eyes peeled for the first long weekend to come along in the Fall semester. That's when I'll hit the road and spend a few quiet days alone. I'm not sure where I will head or what I will discover.....but that is part of the fun of the road trip. And I honestly can't wait!UIKEYINPUTUPARROW

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hits and Misses (July 23-29, 2017)

Being confined to the couch put a damper on my blogging routine this week (more on that to follow). So here's a look back at the week that was......even though it is a day late!

  • This week in the Geriatric Ward has featured some really good food! Mom and I have continued to pull out some family favorites while trying out a couple of new recipes as well. On Friday evening, the Geriatrics and I enjoyed our first trip to Firebirds in Collierville. It was a great steakhouse for a reasonable price. I couldn't believe that I hadn't found this gem much sooner.
  • It sounds strange, but the funeral service for Sandy Currin was so sweet and touching. It was good to see friends and former students as we remembered the life well-lived by our dear friend. When my time on Earth is done, I hope that I will have made just a portion of the impact on others that Sandy had clearly made on everyone she came in contact with. Our loss is Heaven's gain!
  • It's taken almost a year, so I was incredibly happy to finally receive insurance paperwork to complete in order to get the last of my medical bills associated with last summer's automobile accident paid. This has been a headache for all concerned. I just hope it's really taken care of this time.
  • The only good thing about sustaining an injury is that it gave me an excuse to spend a few long days in my pajamas. 
  • On Saturday, I was greeted by a blog post in the "on this day" feature of my Facebook feed. In that post, I introduced a new idea that I had decided to make a regular feature of Livin' Life that I was calling "Hits and Misses." Even though there have been weeks that I have not published a review of the week, this feature has definitely become the most regular and a favorite of many of my readers. Now that I'm writing the 174th installment of the series (that's hard to believe!), I'm thrilled that I have this tool to look back at what was important enough to find its way into my weekly highlights.
  • Ankle injuries suck! I managed to sprain or twist my left ankle last Sunday, but I'm not completely certain how it happened. Here's the only thing I can figure out. After Sunday lunch, Mom and I headed to the grocery to do the week's shopping. While reaching into the refrigerated section, my back spasmed and I thought I was going to fall. While I was so focused on my back, I didn't notice anything else wrong. I didn't hear a pop or feel any pain in my foot. Later that evening, I noticed how tight the ankle was and that it was beginning to swell. On Monday morning, I could barely walk and quickly began to use a cane. By the middle of the week, my ankle was getting better and I began to cruise around without the cane....and that must have been my mistake. At some point on Friday or Saturday, I seem to have re-injured my ankle! So I have a grapefruit protruding from my ankle that is inflamed and very tender. I will see a podiatrist on Friday morning to make sure everything is okay, but until then I'm spending my days on the couch with my foot on lots of pillows as I ice it and try to keep the swelling down.
  • Mosquitoes are crafty little creatures. They are huge in Arkansas this summer and they tend to want to feast on my left foot. Have you ever tried to kill a mosquito on a swollen foot? It's not easy.....and it can be painful as well. Oh well, that just means I wear socks a little more often hoping to keep the little blood-suckers away from me!