Living Intentionally

Note: I wrote this over the weekend but didn’t post it until now!  Enjoy.  🙂

I forgot how slowly life moves here.  No cell phone service, no computer, nothing but each other to keep ourselves company.

I’m at my grandparent’s house for the weekend and it’s been years – yes, years – since I’ve been here.  It’s also been that long since I’ve seen some of my relatives.  It makes me so sad and ashamed but it’s the truth of life.  Between college and basic training last summer, I haven’t been around a whole lot to make it to the family gatherings.  And who knows where I’ll be, or where my cousins will be soon?  We’re all growing up.  Yesterday my cousin Chris stopped by to visit.  He’s going to the Naval Academy in Annapolis to play college basketball soon.  It’s probably been, oh, two or three years since I’ve seen him.  Gone is the chubby little kid that I remember!  Christopher is so tall and strong!  Here’s a picture of me, him, and Brett.  I feel like an absolute midget next to them.  It was so good to catch up with this guy though!  I enjoyed comparing our Air Force and Navy experiences.

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Today’s riveting events included yard-saling and napping.  Seriously, I’ve probably been the most productive member of the group, and all I’ve done is read a book, write, and a short workout.  A while ago I was watching the end of the Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I took my headphones off only to hear absolute silence in the house.  Everyone was asleep!  It’s been so, so nice though.  The weather is gorgeous and it’s very relaxing here out in the country.  I’m currently typing this on Brett’s laptop with Microsoft Word since my grandparents don’t have a computer.  And obviously no wi-fi either.  I’ll copy and paste this over to my blog once we get home tonight.  More of our relatives are supposed to be coming by tonight, so it will be great to see more folks.  I brought my deck of cards in the hope that someone will play with me!  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I get together with family.

I just realized I have not yet done a post-graduation blog post!  It’s been quite a while since I’ve updated anything.  Well, here goes.  I graduated from college!  Woo hoo!  Finally finally finally.  Instead of going to my graduation ceremony, I marched in a parade with the guard band and it was great.  I remember marching down the street thinking to myself, “Yep, this is why I joined this band – so I could keep playing after graduation!”  Here I was, only a college grad for a few hours and already performing with a great group.  It fills me with such joy.

Everyone kept bugging me about why I skipped my graduation and I’m really tired of telling people about my decision to do so.  So, it happened, and it’s over and no one needs to bother me about anymore.  I graduated and that’s all that matters. 

Some exciting stuff has happened since May 10.  I had my first job interview!  A real live one that took a few hours and a lot of driving through traffic.  I had a short phone interview for this school, then I was invited to visit, interview, and teach a class.  I also had to do a piano audition and meet the dean of the school.  It was pretty intense and I got asked all sorts of difficult questions.  I’m grateful for my experience – it was very cool!  And I’ve gotten a few other inquiries about job applications, but no more calls about interviews.  Yet.  I’m keeping hopeful that something will come through!  It’s very cool being at this point in my career.  I’m sad I will no longer be a part of the college crowd, but I’m so excited about what is about to happen.

I am counting down the days until Ali and I leave for Jamaica!  (12, in case you were wondering.)  We are both getting so excited for this adventure.  I am planning on going to Goodwill next week to buy clothes to wear when I am there, and then just leaving them behind when our trip is over.  I also started sewing a couple things to wear there.  I made a maxi skirt the other night, but it was a little too big for me.  So I’m considering ripping all the seams out and cutting the fabric a little smaller so it fits better.  It would be time consuming, but I don’t want to waste the pretty fabric that I bought!  I also have to learn some music, like the Jamiacan National Anthem and other folk songs before we go.  That’s on my to-do list for next week as well.

I have this feeling I’m going to go to Jamaica and never want to come back!  I can’t wait.

This past week I got to do something very awesome.  I drove back up to Indiana for a couple days to help with my first placement’s elementary concert!  I played piano for the choirs and also helped with the band portion.  It was so good to see my co-op, students, and Meg again! 

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The kids played and sang wonderfully and I love that I was able to be there.  I have a couple of lovely friends who lent me their couch for two nights!  It made me wish I lived closer to Indiana, because it felt like I was leaving home when I left.  I love the community of great friends that I have there, and I’m sad that It’s ending.  Transitions are tough!  No doubt about it.  I plan on staying in touch with many of the people I have met during my time at IUP though.

Other than that, I’ve been reading books like a crazy person and wearing shoes as little as possible, in addition to taking bike rides and just being outside. 

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One of my favorite things to do is sit on our swing (which is the perfect length for me to prop my feet up on the end of) and read a book.  I can’t tell you how many afternoons I’ve passed over the years doing exactly this and nothing else.

I am really cherishing this summer because I didn’t really get to enjoy last year’s a whole lot!  After Jamaica, I’ve got tour with my band for two weeks, so that will take up most of June.  Then come July, I’m having a graduation party with family and after that, who knows what the future holds?  For now, I’m going to enjoy this time of relaxation and sunshine!

Update: Now I’m typing this in real time.

I did some shopping today after a lovely lunch with my grandparents (we had Vietnamese food – yum!).  When I was at Target, I saw the mom of a friend I had in high school.  I haven’t seen my friend in about 3 years, but we had been pretty close, so it was nice hearing what she’s been up to recently.  It turns out she’s in Africa, doing a year-long missions trip!  She graduated college a year early then headed out to Burkina Faso to work in an orphanage there.  Today, I also got a letter in the mail from one of my sponsored children, from the one who lives in Burkina Faso.

Hmm.  Perhaps God is not-so-subtly telling me something here?  Maybe there will be a trip to Africa in my near future!  Anyways, I hope that my friend Bekah and I can re-connect!  We actually aren’t even friends on Facebook (I deleted mine after high school graduation and lost a lot of the connections I had as a result – something I’m both grateful and mad at myself for doing) so I sent her a friend request.  I can’t wait to hear from her!

After talking to Bekah’s mom today and reading her blog about her mission journey, I got in one of my “the world is so big, and I am so small” moods.  I am so excited about doing good in the world, and I know God has a wonderful plan for me to fulfill.  I think of myself as being a passionate person, and hearing stories like Bekah’s fuels that desire to go out and just do something.  I don’t know exactly what, but whatever it is, I can’t wait to do it. 

I’d like to share a quote by Roald Dahl.  I loved his books as a kid, and I found this quote on Pinterest recently.  I just love it. 

If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it full speed ahead.  Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and above all become passionate about it.  Lukewarm is no good.  Hot is no good either.  White hot and passionate is the only thing to be.

That’s what I try to do.  To me, there is no point in living a life without being passionate about something.  So go do something with purpose!  Live intentionally.

Transitions Are Tough

I graduate from college in six days.  

I graduate from college in six days! 

How the heck did that happen?

It’s just so surreal and I can’t believe it’s finally here!  It has been such a long, crazy journey.  From  my first year at Grove City College, to deciding to transfer, to coming to IUP, to going to basic training, to student teaching…it’s really been a wild ride.  How am I feeling?  

Well, first off, I am feeling so, so happy.  I have worked very hard to get where I am now, and I am  overjoyed to be finally at this point.  Following shortly behind happiness is sweet relief.  I know adulthood is no picnic, but at least for the near future, I’m going to enjoy my summer and celebrate!  I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief, at least momentarily, knowing that I have the college degree in the bag.  Then, of course, I am quite sad.  My life will never be the same as it is right now, surrounded by all my friends and great musical experiences in one place.  I am going to miss those people in my life so much, and I know I am going to have to make an effort to stay in touch with them.  I’m also going to miss making music with all of them.  

I started packing up my apartment a lot this weekend, which is really making all of these feelings sink in.  I’ve lived in the same place for two years, and it has really become a nice home.  It’s familiar and comforting and I’ve loved living with my roommate and friend Caitlyn.  Now, all my posters and pictures are gone from the walls, and it’s beginning to look rather bare in here.  

Transitions are just so hard sometimes.  Especially this transition, because I have no idea what I’m going to be doing a few months from now.  That just adds a whole other layer of fear to this time in my life.  I know it’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to, but I can’t help but feel anxious about what’s to come, because I don’t know what that’ll be yet.  I applied for a bunch of jobs this past week, so maybe I’ll be hearing about an interview or two in the near future?  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

One thing I am loving about this whole thing is this: I can go anywhere, and do anything I want.  I have no ties to one place (except my National Guard commitments once a month, so I can’t go too far) and I have no significant other to factor into my decision.  I am absolutely free to move where I want.  The world is such a huge place, and I can’t wait to explore a new part of it.  Right now, the possibilities seem endless and I am so excited for what’s to come…whatever it is.

This past week went pretty well!  I went to my first placement’s band banquet, and it was really nice.  I got lots of hugs from the students I taught there, and hung out with Meg, who is currently student teaching there.  It was also bittersweet, because seeing these kids again made me realize how much I will miss them.  But I know they will become great people and do good things in the world.  

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I went a little crazy with sewing this week.  I had quite a bit of free time, since I finished my last set of lesson plans last week and didn’t really have much to do when I came home in the evenings besides those job applications.  I made an infinity scarf, which I really love!

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I also finished another dress!  I used the same measurements as the first time with a couple improvements because I actually knew what I was doing this time.  I wore it to school on Friday, and for a recital on Saturday!  I love it, especially the color.

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I feel like I’m getting really comfortable with teaching elementary school.  I took a while for me to figure out how things worked and the different ability levels of the kids, but it feels pretty easy now!  Whenever I’m teaching, the time seems to just fly by!  I recently did a two week unit on the instruments of the orchestra.  The first week I brought in all the woodwind and brass instruments that I can play, and did demos for the kids as well as some other listening activities for them.  The second week, we learned about Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and we acted out the story and played listening bingo.  The kids really loved it and I loved teaching it!  Using Peter and the Wolf really helped them remember the sounds of each instrument.  I found some great resources online when I was planning: a shortened version of the story with music clips, and the bingo cards from http://www.teacherspayteachers.com.  I saved myself about 12 hours of work just by paying a couple of dollars!  I gave the kids macaroni noodles to cover their spaces.  

In honor of my upcoming trip to Jamaica to teach music, I began a new unit on Thursday with fifth grade about Jamaican music.  We learned Mango Walk and Linstead Market, two Jamaican folk songs.  I showed them a steel drum, and we learned a reggae dance to go with the Mango Walk.  I showed them a video of a Jamaican man singing and speaking about the second song, and we learned about their language, Patois.  It’s similar to English but some of it is quite different, and it’s fun trying to translate the words of the song with the kids.  They loved this lesson!  

I had a two-fold purpose for teaching these songs: one, it’s great music for the students to learn.  Two, I have to learn a lot of Jamaican music before I go on my trip and I wanted to become more familiar with the songs.  Linstead Market is one of the songs I have to learn, so I can check that one off as being learned from my list!  And speaking of my trip, it’s in 31 days!!  I am getting so excited.  My friend Ali and I are going together.  it’s going to be an amazing trip!  

Yesterday I performed for the last time as an IUP student.  I played for my friend Caitlin’s harp recital!  I had such a good time playing and listening to her.  It was a rainy afternoon, and hearing the harp was so beautiful and soothing.  It was a perfect combination.  For the last piece, there was a small ensemble that played Pachelbel’s Canon, dedicated to her mom.  It was very meaningful and awesome.  

Yesterday, a member of our IUP music family was killed in a car accident.  I didn’t know him, but I know he was an amazing musician and he will be missed greatly in the world.  He was just about to graduate with his master’s degree in music.  Even though we were playing Pachelbel’s Canon for Caitlin’s mom, I’d like to think that Tyler was listening to it as he entered his new home in heaven.  Rest in peace, Tyler.