Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eat to Live--Thoughts

So, a bunch of my family members and a few close friends have been recommending this book to me for a long time. Now, I'm NOT a fan of diets, or anything fad-like for that matter. I think it's all about businesses...businesses wanting to scam the well-meaning American who just wants to take care of their body. Nope. My fitness advice was coming from common sense, nutrition textbooks, and maybe OCCASIONALLY the Biggest Loser Show.


But then I read this book. It was more out of curiosity to see what all the fuss was about. I was a little self-conscious reading it, because I didn't want people to think that I was trying to lose weight, because that is not where my goals revolve around at all.

I decided to try it out. I'm a driven person, and I LOVE challenges...especially ones that are hard and push you to be better. I've been doing this for 2 weeks now and I have never felt such an amazing transformation in my body. I'm not absolutely perfect with it, but I will say that when I even make the tiniest deviation from it, I instantly regret it. Cheese makes me sick now. Kinda sad, because it tastes so good, but my body doesn't seem to want junk food anymore.

Another thing: I used to think I had hypoglycemia. Well, turns out I don't. I am completely cured. My body just had a food addiction, and I was constantly going through "toxic hunger" instead of "true hunger." I was used to over stimulating my digestive system, and I thought that was what I needed. Turns out, I just needed more nutrient-dense foods.  I used to get sick when I thought I was hungry. Now it feels more like "I'm excited to eat some good food now." It's wonderful!

Some disclaimers: No, I don't know if I actually believe what he says about animal products raising your risk of cancer. I'll have to do my own research on it to become a true believer. And the book is quite poorly written in the sense that it's VERY repetitive, almost to the point of being annoying. But I suppose there is a good reason for it being repetitive. "Eat more vegetables. Eat more fruits." "The salad is the main dish." "Eat more vegetables." OK, ok, I get it. ;) Also, this method of eating gives you every nutrient you need besides vitamin B12 and sufficient vitamin D. I am afraid to go supplement shopping because I HATE swallowing pills, especially the big horse-pills. *shudder* That right there is probably the main reason I can't feel right about going all in 100%. But I'm getting closer.

But I do promise you that I have felt my taste buds changing, just like he said they would. Salad dressing is becoming less and less appealing to me, and I crave fruits more than candy. I don't know if it'll last forever, but we'll see. I'm also more motivated to exercise, because I feel like I'm on a drug that gives me more energy, constantly, and I just want MORE.

If anybody decides to do it, please know that it will most likely make you feel sick for the first 3 days or so. But if you're strict with yourself, it will only last 3 or 4 days, and then you'll feel great. He talks about a "detox" that your body has to go through. I don't recommend this to everybody, because I don't feel like I have done enough research yet, but this has been my experience so far. Eating more fruits and vegetables can't be THAT bad for you, can it?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Something's Got to Give

For those of you who know me well, I am an extremely passionate person. If you don't know me that well, this may not be obvious to you because either 1. I am too busy to look like I sincerely love every second of what I'm doing each day or 2. I may come across as a bit shy sometimes, even though I'm really not.

I love my life, really. I love being able to get enough sleep each night. I love my classes and projects that have been assigned to me. I love the way that graduate school is pushing my brain so hard that I don't feel like I know anything about music anymore. I love playing the flute more than ever, because I feel like I just broke through this massive brick wall that was threatening to limit me in my performance for the rest of my life. (See here for details of my epiphany.) I love how I am growing to understand music better, and to see the big picture. I love how I am able to read the scriptures and philosophize about them with Matt each night. I love teaching flute--never in my life have I done anything with my music that is more instantly rewarding. I love exercising and discovering what my body can do physically. I love the thrill of competitions...all parts of it: looking through them, deciding which ones I want to do, signing up for them, purchasing new music, learning new music, and being able to distance myself from being nervous on stage and focus solely on letting those judges experience how much I love what I do. I love EVERYTHING!



Sadly, there are only 24 hours in a day, and for a typical college student, finances are limited. How much money can I spend traveling around the country playing for people? How much extremely difficult music can I cram into my brain in a matter of weeks? How much time can I sit there and think critically about the words "sonata form" before I have to move on in my textbook reading?

I feel like I'm in a situation where one thing has to give each day. Just one...whether it be sleep, practicing all that I want to, exercising, teaching, schoolwork, spending time with Matt, or eating. Why can't I do all of these things in one day? I guess life is like a gopher game...you know that one where you have a rubber hammer, and you pound the gophers into the ground, and one of them has to pop up? So, the game I'm playing these days is alternating which thing has to give each day.

Moral of the story: I'm in love with my life, but I just can't handle it all. Hey, I'll take it!

Monday, September 19, 2011

15 minutes a day

Rules to having a productive day as a BYU student:

  1. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. No matter what.
  2. Read the scriptures! Miracles will happen if time management seems impossible.
  3. Exercise at least a couple of times that week. This and numbers 1&2 are prerequisites to feeling your absolute best. Oh, and eating enough as well. A car won't run if it doesn't have any gasoline.
  4. For the things that you have to do a HUGE amount of, do a little chunk of it VERY FIRST, whether it be practicing or studying.

This leaves the question: What about the things that I want to do but are not required? Cleaning the house, reading, or other forms of recreation? Well, this won't work in ALL scenarios, but I learned from "fly lady" (the cleaning house genius) that the ONLY way to handle an impossible project (that doesn't have too much overhead of setting things up) is to do it in 15 minute chunks. No more, no less. Just 15 minutes. I'm writing a letter to Nicole, a dear friend of mine who is on a mission. Each day I set the timer for 15 minutes, and I write a little bit each day. That way, she won't go for months without a letter from me like last time because I could never set aside a huge block of time to do it. I'm approaching writing in my journal this way, as well as doing dishes and other things of that sort.

When getting everything done seems impossible, I know that sometimes I have to turn to little habits that might seem a little silly and possibly ridiculous. But it's worth a shot, isn't it?

Little miracles of inspiration come to me every so often. And for them, I am so very grateful. Without them, I would probably have much more periodic emotional breakdowns.  So, to those of you who are conducting the impossible schedule, I won't tell you to stop signing up for too many things. You probably already know that, as I do. To you, I simply tip my hat and bid you good luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Epic Name Fail

Growing up in hick town Vidor, TX, you see a few things that you never forget. One of these was a sign right next to the elementary school that I attended that said "Babby Ducks." Around Easter time, people like to buy colored chicks and ducks to have around their yard. We bought some one time, and apart from one of the chickens being so disgusting and sickly that it wouldn't even peck for its food--it would just lie on the ground next to the seed and let it fall into its mouth, and the ducks that pretty much ate the bottom of one of our back doors, it was a good experience.

Back to my point. "Babby Ducks?" What's sad about this is that in Vidor, you aren't too sure whether or not someone really thought that was how to spell "baby," or if they were just being "clever" to grab your attention on the road. To be honest, I really don't think this is a clever ploy. Sure, I looked at the sign, but I was not motivated to do business with the sort of person who wrote that sign.

Such is life on 700 East:



I knew the old comedian joke "Affle House" because the "W" on "Waffle House" was always burnt out. But I never thought that someone would ACTUALLY name their waffles "awful"...even spelled right. Honestly, I haven't been brave enough to try it, but I am thoroughly entertained and curious to see how the business will turn out. Like I said before, I look at the sign every day when I walk to school, but I am not necessarily motivated to do business with a food company with "awful" in their name. I like my body too much.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Anniversary

Who went and saw Josh Groban for their 1 year anniversary? That's right. We got to see him live from the 10th row! Thanks mom and dad for the tickets! It was our anniversary, so we decided to dress up in a tux and formal gown. We were about 10 levels dressed up over everyone else, but we didn't care. We kept getting comments from the 75-year-old ushers elbowing Matt saying, "This is how I used to dress for concerts." Cute!


Before the show. My hair is crinkled from the curling iron. Turns out I'm pretty good at straightening my hair, but no good at curling it.






My hair looks a little better in this one.

Unfortunately we weren't able to get any good shots of Josh Groban. And the videos I took were too long to upload onto Blogger. But we did get all dressed up and pretty before the concert, and I wanted to showcase at least that.

I was so impressed by Groban's performance. Not only does he sound EXACTLY THE SAME live as he does on his recordings, but he is so good with his audience. He's funny, classy, and a good showman. It was amazing to see him that close. One of our friends got to grab his hand, tell him she loved him, and he said he loved her back! It was pretty cool.

Anyway, just another update of the past few weeks from the Seeley family. Until next time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gwaduation

Alrighty folks. I'm sure you've been hurting for some pictures. I'm just bad at taking pictures. That's probably because my camera broke, and at big events I have to resort to borrowing other people's cameras, which we all know how stinky that is. Good news is that some of these cameras that have been borrowed have been amazingly high quality cameras. So I'm not complaining.

So I graduated with my B.M. in Flute Performance from BYU. No, it's not a B.A. like everyone thinks. It was a B.M. Music majors get to have their own degree. It's not "just" one of the arts. AND we get to wear pink tassels. Lucky us!

Um, I don't remember being nervous, but my face sure looks like I am. Maybe I was worried that I would trip in those 4 1/2 inch heels that I was sporting. Why do I do that to myself?

  

Presh. Little does this picture say how awkward my hug was to this man. Kory, I really didn't mean to stab you with my fake diploma. And I really don't mind if you give me a hug on my graduation day. I just didn't know what was going on. It's been about 4 years since I last graduated, and I think I lost my touch.


You can't really see me, but I'm next to the other music majors with pink tassels. I do feel a bit sorry for the guys. All the other dudes are probably like, "Why is he wearing pink?" Nobody thinks twice about the girls. And if they do, it's more like, "Awww how cute!"






Me with my knight and shining armor, my greatest support, my best friend in the entire world, my husband of one year, Matt Seeley. I seriously don't know how I got this lucky. He even woke up at 7am to come see me! For those of you who know Matt well, you'll understand how much he loves me. ;)


This chica has been such a dear friend to me ever since I got engaged to Matt. She has been there as a shopping buddy, a moving helper, a shoulder to cry on, and just a genuine self-esteem boost when I was feeling down on myself. She even took all these pictures with her fancy new camera! Thank you Whitney Eggleston!


In front of the HFAC, my home for the past 4 years and the next 2 years. I'm sure it'll go by fast, but sometimes it feels like I'll never leave.

I'm so glad that I was able to finish! This past summer has been full of tons of close calls that seemed to drag me further and further from being able to graduate. But I pushed through them and conquered! I feel like I'm ready for my summer break now.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Relief

So for those of you who have been paying attention, I recently attempted to delete my blog. It was taking too much of my time, and I felt strange being so inconsistent with my blog "style." Sometimes I would write about something funny that happened to me at the gym, or what we did last week, or just thoughts of mine about life in general.

After I deleted my blog, I felt a little sad. I love to write. I even took a creative writing class in my undergrad just for fun. It was probably the only class that I took "just for fun" at BYU. How sad is that? The music program pretty much dominates my life. So I decided that there should be moderation in all things--that I could keep my blog, and write about whatever the heck I want, whenever I felt like it. I don't even have to post pictures if I don't want to. (My camera broke, and I don't feel right about buying a new one JUST because I have a blog. I'll wait until I can come up with a better reason to justify spending a couple of Benjamins.)

So now that I am done psyching you all out, I wanted to update you all on my status of graduation. Assuming I passed that dreaded American Heritage final I took on Friday, I'M GRADUATING! Woot! I have precisely two weeks of freedom before I start back up again for my masters degree. So much for freedom. But I'm going to walk anyway. So what if I'll be back at BYU in 14 days? So what if I just want an excuse to celebrate something? The only thing I feel guilty about is waking Matt up at 7am to come watch me walk across stage--although I know he would do it gladly, despite the non-morning person that he is.

I am so relieved. This was a bigger accomplishment than I thought it would be. I just felt like everyone got their degree. No big deal. It shouldn't be too hard, because everyone does it. Hah. I used to think the same thing about pregnancy. I guess that'll come as a rude awakening too one day. :p

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Expectation of Outcome

Matt and I like to philosophize while we're together...especially about people in social situations. One thing that we have both come to learn through experience and observation has to do with the principle of releasing yourself from expectation of outcome.

Take dating for example, or job interviews. We all start off putting our best foot forward. This is not what I am talking about. I'm talking about what happens after the first impression...after you become invested in an idea or a possibility. 90 % of the time, there are subtle changes in your behavior that, ironically, make you less attractive to the thing that you are most wanting. Now, I'm not sayin' I was ever an expert at dating. I got super lucky catching Matt, and there is a lot more I could learn about job interviewing.  I'm just stating what I have learned so far, and what Matt has taught me from what he has learned.

These changes in our behavior are hard to control, especially since they are emotional and sometimes even subconscious. Sometimes it feels like the only time we have control is when we don't care that much about something or we aren't really invested yet. Should we give up once we're invested? Should we throw in the towel and admit defeat before it even starts? There has to be a way to release yourself from expectation of outcome. By doing this, you become more confident, less nervous, less emotional, and more capable of handling anything. But how does one do it?

The bad news is that I don't really have an answer. I haven't necessarily mastered this myself. I am an extremely passionate person, and when I want something, I want it a LOT. However, I do realize the importance of being professional and mature, even when a lot is on the line. The best thing I have discovered so far is to focus on what is sure and tangible when I'm feeling stressed about an uncertainty. Hobbies, talents, career, pursuits, goals...the more specific the better. This doesn't take away all of the anxiety, but it sure does alleviate it. This is much easier said than done, but I feel that if I learn to master this, I will grow up a lot.

I know this post is more vague and abstract than what I usually say, but I want to incorporate more of my thoughts and feelings into my posts. Let me know your thoughts if you have any regarding this subject. I'm interested in learning more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Out of Order

On the Fourth of July this year, Matt and I went with our dear friend Whitney to a rodeo in Oakley! Can I just say that I love the cute little country towns here in Utah?

The drive there was lovely. We listened to a bunch of old country, like George Strait and Texas pride songs. Whitney's not from Texas, but we're indoctrinating her. I had tons of fun getting candid pictures. Tee hee.


We actually arrived at the rodeo a few hours early,  hoping to catch some of the younger children riding on ponies and such. We were a little late for that, so we just played frisbee for a couple of hours. When we were done, we were lying on the grass, and Whitney said something that made me laugh, as usual. As I was breathing in between chuckles, I inhaled a bug! It was some sort of flying insect, and I could feel it flying around in my lungs. Disgusting, I know. It took like half an hour to cough it up. I'm sure you're dying to see a picture of this. Don't worry. I anticipated that.


It's nice to know that the human body does indeed know how to regulate itself. *shudder*

We had a couple more hours to kill before the rodeo so we found some nice spots around Oakley to take some pictures. It was pretty cloudy most of the day, but it was still beautiful. I must say, I don't know what Matt was up to in that picture, and Utah has some of the strangest sounding city names. And even Oregon girls can be country girls. ;)













The actual rodeo was thoroughly entertaining. Being from Texas, I am ashamed to say that this was my first rodeo. I know, I know. I'm a slacker. I am becoming ever more impressed with the country-ness of some Utah people. It was quite the experience.







I am kicking myself for not getting a picture, but the entire time we were all sitting by Sister Cook, the first counselor in the Young Women General Presidency! Whitney was social enough to talk to her and get a picture with her, but the entire time, I had no idea who she was. I just knew that they were nice people and they knew a lot about rodeos. I guess that's what I get for being off in my own little world.

Even though this summer has been mighty stressful, we have had a lot of fun. Okay, now its back to homework!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Tender Mercies

Okay, there have been tons of good things happening to the Matthew and Amber Seeley family as of late..

The first obvious tender mercy that has been given to us lately is my ear getting better. I was able to keep my scholarship, and after much huffing and puffing, I was able to finish my independent study courses (granted with a week-long extension that was so generously given.) Seriously, it was probably the most difficult deadline I have ever attempted to meet...and I'm a procrastinator, so that's saying something!

But I already basically told all of you about that. The first tender mercy is our new home. Yes, we are moving...again. This will be the third move Matt and I have made together, and we haven't even been married a year yet. (Anniversary is comin' up!) We found a place that is like, 4 blocks south of campus, has a dishwasher, washer/dryer, two bedrooms, lots of storage space, and a garage! It's only $500 a month, $200 less than we're paying now. We weren't sure we were going to get it, because we were 1 of like, 20 couples looking at the place and submitting applications. This decision for me to get the master's right now was a pretty tough one, because we didn't know how we were going to afford it. But the Lord provided a way! We'll save money on gas from driving AND on rent. Seriously, we couldn't be more excited. Although we are extremely sad to leave our amazing ward, we know this is the right thing for us to do. You can bet your bottom dollar that we won't be moving until we graduate. And it's a good thing too. Moving is not the most soothing of experiences.

The second tender mercy is that Matt is getting PUBLISHED in BYU's law review journal! He wrote a 40 page article about shaken baby syndrome basically saying that before someone is accused for shaking their baby to death and sentenced to a life in prison, doctors should check the dead baby for bone density and some other bone diseases. Even the most fragile handling of a baby with some of these diseases could kill it. There are many innocent parents who go to jail for the rest of their lives who are innocent! Some are not obviously, but some are, and we need to make sure that the people going to jail are guilty! Anyway, Matt literally spent over 100 hours on this research paper, and when he heard that it was going to get published in the law review journal, he was so happy. I was so happy too. My baby is a GENIUS, and it's great to see that other people notice it too! It's not very often at ALL that students get published in this journal. It's mainly professors. This will be SO good on his resume'. But what makes him the most happy is that he could be saving some people's lives if doctors read this article!

Matt flexing his muscles at Chili's where we went to celebrate the good news.

Lastly, while we are extremely tight financially right now, we have an increased testimony on paying tithing. We have been consistent with that, too, and I have been blessed with just enough money in recording gigs that are showing up out of nowhere that will help us get by through the move. I seriously couldn't be more grateful.

Among these wonderful things that are taking place in our whirlwind of a busy life, we are blessed with a kind family and great friends. We have so many wonderful opportunities that are ahead of us. We are growing more and more in love every day. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives. We seriously couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

100 Day Challenge

One of my weaknesses in music (one of many) is that I am a very inconsistent practicer. When I practice, I practice HARD. I'll pull 9 hour days sometimes. I'll go through months and months (usually during the semester) where I do nothing but play my flute. Then, when a break comes along, I put it aside, telling myself that I deserve a break. Maybe I do, but the term "break" kind of gets out of control. Some crisis or big event will come up in my life (wedding, ear infection) and I forget that I even play the flute. For the past two summers in a row, I have taken at least two months off. This is bad.  And embarrassing. How am I supposed to call myself a serious musician if I keep doing that? Granted, some of the circumstances are unforeseen and sometimes disable me from playing the flute at times, as was the case this summer.

While I was in China, my violinist friend Lauren told me  how she went to some music seminar that gave her the 100 day challenge. I don't know what else was said in the seminar, but basically she committed to practicing the violin every single day for 100 days. When the 100 days were over, she did another 100, just because. She went 200 days without ever missing a day.

I want to improve my practice habits, and get rid of my inconsistencies. I am going to take the 100 day challenge. Every single day, I will practice for at LEAST 1 hr. I normally practice at least 4, when I practice, so hopefully I won't stop at just 1 hr when I'm feeling exhausted.

Here is what I hope to gain from this experience:
  • I hope to learn more about how I practice, and what exactly makes me burn out.
  • Just like reading scriptures or going to the gym, the key to improvement and understanding is CONSISTENCY. I am determined to come out of this a great flute player.
  • After 100 days, hopefully I won't quit there! Maybe I'll do like Lauren did, and add on another 100 days.
There is something truly magical about setting goals that are attainable. I know I can do this. I know that by setting goals that push you, you become more self-aware and more able to conquer your weaknesses. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Post Outline...because I don't have time to write a real post

  • My ear is getting better!
    • Benefits include:
      • I can play my flute without my ear aching.
      • Despite the earwax overload from drainage, I can hear a little better than I used to.
      • I get to start my master's degree in the fall!
        • I still have my scholarship!
    • Slight disadvantages:
      • I thought I was going to be able to take my time on a couple of independent study courses since I wasn't planning on starting the master's degree in the fall. Now I have 14 days to finish two of them...and I'm only 3/4 the way through one of them.
        • I am living in the library. AND it's nice outside. Boo.
      • Matt and I are going to have to move out of our amazing ward and nice, spacious apartment.
        • Apartments close to campus tend to be either overpriced for their size or SUPER competitive to get into.
        • Everyone and their dog is getting married, hence the housing competition.
        • We will probably have to move out the week of our anniversary.
      • I'm way behind on practicing. I had to take some time off from the ear. 
        • At least I won't be as behind as last year (with 6 days to get ready for the audition because of my wedding.)
      • On top of finishing my independent study, I need to practice and study my BUTT off for the graduate placement exam.
      • I had to quit my job without a two week's notice because of the pressing deadlines for independent study courses.
        • Turns out, you can't get a graduate degree without finishing your undergraduate degree. Who would have thought. ;)
Amidst a whirlwind of unexpected changes, I really am so grateful that it wasn't as bad as I had originally thought. And I still get to pursue my dream! Now, some of you may be aware that I have been kind of up and down as to whether I want to do this or not. All I can say about that is, no matter what we choose to do with our lives, if we want to be great, it's not going to be fun a lot of the time. It's going to be HARD WORK. So hard, in fact, that you feel like quitting most of the time. But if you're strong enough to stick it through, regardless of  how you feel in the moment, I truly believe that you will emerge a stronger, more refined individual with some rockin' skills! The question is no longer "Do I love this?" but "Is the price to be paid worth what I will get out of it in the end?" Now my job is to push through the next month or two and remember to keep the end in mind.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Life is Interesting

Life is interesting...but still good. I would be such an ungrateful brat if I tried to claim that I'm going through a hard time, even though sometimes I want to.

Some of you are aware of my ear situation. I started complaining about it seriously when I was in China, but I've been struggling with it since January. I'm going deaf in my right ear, and I've decided to not go to graduate school quite yet.

Every time I try to play my flute, I notice my hearing getting progressively worse, especially the last few times I've tried to practice. As a serious music student, I'm not OK with doing only 30 minutes a day, and I can only do about 5 minutes at a time before I start suffering from intense pain. It's kind of weird, being separated from my flute not because I'm burnt out, but because it's not good for me right now. I've been in and out of a few doctors, some who think they know about ears when they really don't, and I think that I will not be ready to start a masters degree of music by the end of August. I'm working on getting a deferral, so we'll see how that goes.

In the meantime...

I got a job as a Legal Assistant at Myler Disability! My dad actually does Social Security law, so I find it more interesting than most people probably do. This law firm is really big (and has been growing for quite some time) and is hiring a lot of people. Everyone starts out in a call center, so I'm on phones (on my left ear obviously) talking to people who have sometimes very serious disabilities and are starving to death. I get to file an intake for them and tell them that we're on their side and we are going to do our best to get them the money they need. And the best news? After 90 days I'll get health insurance benefits so that maybe I can afford to see a better ear doctor than the one I've been to. Not that I think they'll be able to wave a magic wand and make my hearing come back completely, but at least I can feel like someone really cares about helping me get better. I'm also prepared for a long, arduous process, but hey, I'm just excited to get started!

In other news, since I can't really practice all day every day, I am spending a lot more time at the gym. It feels great to get healthy! I would go into more detail about my people-watching, but that might have to wait til this weekend. 8 hrs a day every day at the same place is a little much for my energy level. I'm still getting used to it.

Thanks for reading. Just thought it would be good to get an update out there.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Fault

Each year I've been at BYU, I've managed to pass as a college freshman, a high school visiting student, and even a pre-teen. Each year I age, just like everyone else does. This year I'll be 22. Let me share an experience of mine with an EFY child.

It's a beautiful sunny day outside, and I can't wait to get some vitamin D absorption. Eager for a practice break, I trot off to the Cougareat, where I purchase a delectable barbecue chicken wrap at L&T...one of my favorites. I decide that it would be nice to eat outside, so that I might maximize my break time with the sun. I sit on one of the benches outside the HFAC and the Wilkinson center, and proceed to people watch. EFY kids are always so entertaining. Way too eager to be normal, and constantly showing off. Hey, it's free entertainment for me. I'm not complaining. Suddenly I am approached by an adorable little EFY girl who says, "You look lonely." Really? I didn't think I was necessarily wearing a melancholy expression, but you never know. She sits by me and asks me what group I'm in. Can I tell you how tempted I was to play along? It would have been perfect! Only problem was that I don't know enough about EFY to pretend that I was there. I tell her that I'm a graduate student and suddenly she feels really embarrassed. However, she did tell me that she's starting as a freshman in the music school in the fall and I was able to give her some pointers. After she leaves to spend some time with her EFY comrades, I laugh to myself. Do I really look that young? Then I look down at my shirt. Sure enough, I'm wearing a bright pink Hollister shirt, complete with pink and brown plaid shorts and pink memory foam flip flops. It's my fault. I like pink too much.

This brings another scenario to mind. On the plane flying back from Michigan to SLC (my first venture home) I was fortunate enough to receive a seat switch into the exit row. I was so excited. I NEVER get to sit in the exit row on a plane. It's pretty much like sitting first class. You get so much leg room. Not that I need the leg room...but it's still really nice. When the flight attendant walks by, she explains the customary warnings of sitting in the exit row. Before she leaves, she asks me, "Are you old enough to be sitting in that seat?" Shocked, all I could do was laugh at her...which probably wasn't very nice. I was with the other chamber orchestra members, and I thought it was obvious that I was an adult. And then I looked down at my shirt. It was indeed pink.

So instead of blaming these scenarios on other people, I hereby blame them on my pink shirts. Maybe one day I'll get rid of them. Until then though, I suppose I can take advantage of 12-and-under discounts, kids meals, and special treatment.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gym People

People who go to the gym all have one thing in common: They care about their bodies. There is nothing wrong with this. I would classify myself into this category of individuals. Calling people who go to the gym "gym people" is kind of like calling people who shop at Wal-Mart, "the people of Wal-Mart." It almost gives them a title that over represents them. Wal-Mart people care about saving money. There is nothing wrong with this. I consider myself someone who likes to save money. I don't know about you, but I have seen some strange coo-coos at Wal-Mart. Although this does not generalize people who shop at Wal-Mart, this is indeed what I think of when I hear the phrase "people of Wal-Mart."

Thus it is with the term "gym people." Even though most people who work out at a gym aren't self-centered and meat heads, we think of those people when we hear the phrase.

Our experience at the gym yesterday proved this to be true.

First, let me describe what happened to Matt. He was changing in the bathroom, and noticed two wallets inside the toilet tank. (The toilet he was using was broken, and he was trying to fix it.) Matt immediately went and told the trainers on duty, and they confiscated the wallets. Now, this can only mean one of three things. 1. Somebody stole two wallets, took out the cash, and ditched them where nobody would find them. 2. Somebody stole two wallets and wanted to come back for them later. 3. Two people randomly wanted to keep their wallets safe in a disgusting and unlikely place, which seems pretty unlikely. This is in OREM, UTAH for crying out loud! Yes, it might be more safe here than in Detroit or Houston. But keep your wallets on you people! Just because "gym people" might care about their bodies does not mean that they care about other people's property!

After getting started on my lifting regimen (a much-needed one after China and New-York trip of not working out at all) I notice a girl looking at me weird. It was as if she was trying to get me to look at her. She had short, blond hair and was very tan. She was also very fit. She looked as if she could have been a fitness model. Good for her. I didn't stare, but I did notice her looking at me funny. Every machine I went to, she went to the one right beside me for a little while. Coincidence, probably. Then, as if she was fed up with something, she lifts up her shirt so that everyone around her could admire her much-defined abs. Only problem was that I was the only person around to see it. Look, girlie, if you're trying to find a relationship with someone who cares about your body like you want them to, or any relationship at all, I am not the person to try to impress. She walks right by me and struts like a runway girl. What surprised me most was that there weren't any boys around. Do I look like a lesbian?

Gym people--the stereotype--are probably so desperate to show off their bodies that they will go against (hopefully) their better judgment on who to try to lure into their shallow sexiness. Wow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Too much to tell...

OK folks. I'm back from my trip around the world! Considering that I have seen so many incredible things over the past month and I don't think all of it would even fit on a blogger post, I'll give the short version of my adventure.

The BYU Chamber Orchestra went on tour to China (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Guanzhou...I think I spelled them right) for 2 1/2 weeks and I got to come home for a few hours. Then I got on another plane to New York for a chamber music festival for a week. After that, I got on a bus to Washington DC where I spent a couple of days visiting my aunt and her beautiful family. Now I'm back with my absolutely amazing husband who missed me probably about as much as I missed him. And that's a LOT.

Here are some pictures!

Trying to do a jumping picture in the Forbidden City


 
Temple of Heaven

Bug Market...people actually ate that stuff. People that were not me.

Erica and I teaching the Hangzhou flutists in a masterclass!

Time Square! I never thought I would be able to see it!

This gorgeous girl was my roommate for the week. SO. MUCH. FUN.

Manhattan Temple! It was beautiful on the inside, too.

You can't really say you've had a New York cheesecake unless you've had it in New York. I got to check off a lot of things from the bucket list this month. :)

I wish I had the time and energy to write down all of the things I saw and learned on my adventure. My DC pictures are still on my camera. Perhaps I'll upload those later. All I can say is that I am now a much more cultured and educated young woman. I feel so privileged to have seen what I've seen at such a young age. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be able to see this much. The only thing that would have made it better is if Matt could have been there with me. I had (and have) his undying love and support. I hope that I can make some of these trips again with him one day.

All being said, I am so grateful to be home. I am filled with a new happiness that I don't think I have ever felt before. Most of it came to me after going through the temple in Manhattan. I feel so blessed to be alive and to be a part of this beautiful world. I feel a strong desire to spread my happiness...to share it. I realize that I am so lucky to have the life that I do...and sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve all of this happiness. A lot of it comes from my amazing family, both my old family, and my new family that I have been so blessed to receive through marrying Matt. Everyone has been so wonderful to me, and I feel like I have a lot of people who care about me. Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm grateful, and I feel like a changed woman. A more grateful woman. Never again will I complain about a gas station bathroom again. There are seats on the toilet! Never again will I complain about my cooking that might not go perfectly. It's AMERICAN FOOD! I am so grateful to be able to drink water out of the tap, to wash my clothes in a washer, to have my own space, to have a nice mattress that is soft, and to be able to brush my teeth from the water faucet in the bathroom! I am also so grateful that I have been able to meet so many amazing people and also to get to know some other amazing people better. I know I haven't been gone as long as missionaries, but I feel kind of like a returned missionary--grateful to be home, but filled with a new desire to help people. We'll see if I can accomplish this.

Even though I, as well as many of you, struggle with trials, some more than others, I know there is hope for all of us. There is so much to be happy about! We live in America! We are free to congregate in whatever religion we please! We are free to share our beliefs with others! We are free to criticize or praise our government in whatever way we wish! We have toilets and clean water to drink! We are so lucky...and that's my main message that I wanted to establish. I am now a much more grateful person.

I wish I could say more about how I feel, but I need to go. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Resisting Crazy

My attitude to being a neat-freak, uber-organized, clean-house-all-the-time was sort of relaxed in the past few years. I was already stressed about making sure I met school deadlines, got my practice hours in, and before I met my husband, making sure I made time socialize so that I might one day meet Mr. Right. I always heard about those perfectionist girls that would stay up until 3am cleaning the bathroom because they couldn't stand for the house to be messy or for their to-do list not to be accurate or for their clothes for the next day not picked out and laid out below their bed. I'm not making fun of these people. In fact, I admire their dedication. I've kind of fallen on the opposite end of the spectrum. I don't live like swine. Goodness knows that if I ever came close, my super clean husband would silently and lovingly clean up after me.

But now that my last semester of BYU has ended, and I am starting to feel like a more responsible adult, I have decided to become more organized.

Here are my books. These books scare me. However, I still have them, and I think they have potential to do some good for me, if they don't turn me crazy first.



Now, before I get too excited, I need to lay out the risks of keeping my life in 2 books. Well, really 3, but the third one is for weight lifting and I've already filled up 4 pages (writing small.) I am at risk of turning obsessive crazy and scary. I don't want to be that person that can't be OK with messing up every once in a while, at least messing up on trivial things. I want to be laid back and optimistic. I don't want to hold myself to an unrealistic standard, and always be the girl finding things to criticize about herself. That will. not. be. me. These books are simply to help me organize my life and to be more productive. No harm in that, huh?

Purple Book: Let me share with you my obsession with planners/to-do lists. It has become a problem. I've blogged about this before. I have an obsession with writing down my week plan, down to the half-hour. Every half-hour is planned out perfectly with no rest stops. Well, this started to become a problem because 1. Life isn't that way. There are changes that happen last minute and thinking on your feet is necessary. One needs to be what normal people would call, "flexible." Somehow I have a hard time with that concept. 2. Get. A. Grip. Your life is meant to have some fun in it every now and then, and sometimes that fun needs to be spontaneous. Stop trying to predict the future. 3. Even superhumans need to rest in the middle of the day to do stuff like, well, let's see....EAT LUNCH for crying out loud! So what's with the book, you might ask? Well, this is my to-do list/planner/daily inspiration notebook. I write down what I THINK is going to happen each day, and put a check by the stuff I do get done, and I add to it as I go. I also write down little spurts of inspiration that I might be feeling (I'm getting that a lot lately) so that I don't miss anything when I'm away from my computer. One key thing about keeping this notebook. I don't feel bad if I don't have a check by every single item! Some say that is setting yourself up for failure. To me, if I have just one check, then I'm still happy. I got something done! Also, since I'm not too good with the journal writing, I figure I'll have some document to go back to later and see what I did with my life when I was 21.

Green Book: This is going to sound a little more silly, but here goes. I have been trying out methods of improving the productivity of my practice time. I don't think its wise to be playing my flute, and getting little done, for hours and hours every day. So, this book is my flute practice record book. In this book, I write down the date, what I practiced, how long I practiced that item, and add up the time at the end of the day. That way, I'm not wasting any time, and I can look back and say, "Maybe I should spend more time on my scales," or "I shouldn't be spending that much time on my fill-in-the-blank." Anyway, so far its working miracles. I've learned like, 2 intensive pieces of flute repertoire in under 2 weeks, all because I'm taking responsibility for each minute I'm practicing by keeping a record of exactly what I do in those hours in the practice room.

I'm also keeping a relatively clean house. That has everythign to do with me not having any finals this semester. You're jealous.

Being organized is pretty fun, as long as it doesn't become a source of anxiety. I think of it as an opportunity, not a chore. I just have to make sure it stays that way. I have also come across two organization blogs that are fun to read. They have some great tips in them. Now, some of the things these women do are a little extreme for me, but they are great ideas!

http://www.seejanework.com/blog/

http://penelopeloveslists.com/

With all my love, your semi-organized-yet-still-occasionally-spontaneous Ambrosia,
Me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What You Say Means a Lot

Its amazing how when someone tells you that you are something, you become that person, even if what they said wasn't necessarily true. It might even be true, but maybe you didn't think it was. If someone compliments you on something that you are doing well, or about who you are, you become that person that they see in you.

I want to urge you to say out loud good things about the people around you. Make these remarks honest and sincere. Don't be the person who assumes that this girl "already knows she is pretty" or "talented" or "smart" or "nice" or "good with people." She may not know that she is, and once she hears it from someone, she will start to believe it, and become more of the person that you admire. And for those of you who are women, or know one really well, you will know that women do need reminding, because they tend to forget the good things about them every once in a while.

I recently had an experience like this. On more than one occasion, I was told something that boosted my self-confidence by a few different people. I had no reason not to believe it, especially since these different people didn't interact at all. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses...."

Since then, this particular trait that I apparently have has become a point of focus in my life, and I want to be that person even MORE. Because I am conscious of this trait, I am actively developing it, instead of it being accidental. I'm starting to like myself more, and be even more happy than I was before. (My life is so good that sometimes its hard to imagine being any happier.)
 
Ironically, I also have noticed that when my husband compliments me on something (which he so often does...thank you baby!) I am beginning to resort to what I would feel when my parents would compliment me on something; the whole they're-just-saying-that-because-they're-my-parents/husband. I'll tell Matt about something nice someone said to me and he's like, "I TOLD you!" So for those of you who have a husband or father or friend that you are close to, take it to heart when they say nice things about you. They are being honest about what they observe, and they want you to believe in yourself because they believe in you. Yes, you really ARE that beautiful/talented/smart/kind/good with people.
 
I guess my message to myself and to everyone is to be more vocal about your positive observations about people. It will build your relationship with that person, and it will help you feel good for making someone else happy. Also, take compliments with grace. Nobody likes to go out of their way to say something nice to someone and have them get all awkward and antsy, especially if that person loves you very much.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

T-T-Tech Savvy...that's me! (Not)

Sometimes I think my computer has a brain. Well, I know it has a hard drive, and RAM, and all that jazz.

But seriously, in physical science we talk about how light particles will behave like light particles (if originally a particle) if you observe them, and if you are not observing them, they will behave like waves. When I try to tell students, "Look, I don't know any more than that. If you want to learn more about why the heck it does this, take a higher level physics class and then you can come tell me ALL about it." I never understood why they always got so mad...until now.

You know those days when your computer runs slow regardless of that extra pack of RAM you installed, and there is this really funny website you really want to show your friend, but it's taking a long time to load? You've just talked up the website or youtube clip or blogpost or whatever, and then you are left with this really awkward moment where the anticipation is high, yet there is no delivery from the computer. So you have to hum and haw and make some disclaimers about your computer...and you see one picture on the page loading every 25 seconds.

When you click "refresh," you give the computer another shot. Well, EVERY time I click "refresh," the computer teases me by immediately LOADING the page right AFTER I hit "refresh" and then proceeds to start all over again, just as slow. Come on, computer. Did you really have to flip me off like that? Show me what I wanted to see for about 2 1/2 seconds and then start over? I always wonder if I would have just waited a half a second more to click "refresh," would it have loaded it like I wanted it to? Part of me thinks no. I am now convinced that my computer is conspiring against me. It sticks it's tongue out at me, sings "nah-nah-nah-boo-boo," and then goes even slower than before. It's as if it KNOWS when I'm going to hit refresh, so it will hold out until I give up and then show me what I'm missing out on.

Does anyone else go through this?! Or do I just have a mischievous computer?

Monday, March 28, 2011

What I've Learned in the Past 4 Years

I don't anticipate to jot down every single thing that I've learned since I've been at college. That would take way too much time, and some of the things are too personal to post for everyone to see. However, there is one thing I have come to discover about myself that did not solidify until the past 3 months. I would not have come to realize it if it weren't for the previous 3 1/2 years, so this discovery is all inclusive of the past 4 years.

I feel that most college students (that want to be the best in their field) approach college life as a jumping block. There is no time to cook healthy meals, exercise, sleep enough, or do things that make us happy. We must work, work, work, and not stop until Christmas break. I was one of those people...for a long time. What I've come to realize is that this particular lifestyle, in college or not, is not as productive as one might think.

There is a spectrum of efficiency that I came up with. Pardon my paint example.


 I don't know if you can see it all that well, but on one side there is laziness, the other side there is insanity, and in the middle is just right, like Baby Bear's Porridge.

When you get too close to the right side of the spectrum for too long, bad things happen. Your body gives out on you, you get sick, and you have to miss class because you have the swine flu. You start to hate life, and re-think your major when you might not need to. (Now, sometimes people really do need to change their majors for other reasons. I'm talking about something different.) You start to re-think priorities and you just want to throw in the towel. You spread yourself so thin that you begin to not like how you look or feel, and you start to see the negative in everything. You don't believe in yourself because of how you feel, and because of this, your performance isn't quite up to par. You just want the next few weeks to be over. Then you just want the next few months to be over. Then pretty soon that turns into you wanting the next few years to be over. Look at yourself! You want your life to be over! Who wants to live like that?

The only way that I have found to get to that middle ground is to first, remember what's most important.

Next, don't forget to make friends a priority. Social health is a good thing.

Always remember to sleep enough!!! You will be able to accomplish so much more at a time if you do!

Eat healthy and exercise! Your body is what is enabling you to do the things you do. Don't abuse it!

You might say, "Well there just aren't enough hours in the day to do all of those things." Maybe not, but there can be. The key is to not bite off more than you can chew. You CAN do anything and everything. Just not all at once. Spread out your schedule. It's OK if that one project, that competition, that goal, graduation, or anything else doesn't happen this instant. By the time you are in college, you should know what you are and are not capable of handling all at once. Let me encourage you, all you ambitious students and workers out there, that when you sign up for your hours at school or work, keep in mind that you won't be able to be 100% happy unless you remember your body and your relationships. There might be periods of time (a semester, a week or two, the few weeks before your wedding) that gets crazy busy, and there is no way to get out of it. I agree that this is inevitable sometimes. But your whole life doesn't have to be like that.

If you remember these things, you will have the endurance and stamina to keep going. I thought I hated school. I thought I hated the flute. Now I've come to realize that I don't hate these things. I was just biting off more than I could chew. I'm able to accomplish just as many things, and I'm happy while I'm doing it! Bring it on, graduate school!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cabin Fever

Do you remember in Pride and Prejudice how Lydia was so excited/determined to go to Brighton? That's how I feel when I look out the window on days like this.

Its so sunny and beautiful outside...not the kind of day to be indoors grading physical science papers or practicing or writing a presentation for Chamber Music Literature.

Summer is my absolute favorite season. I hate the cold. I hate the snow. I hate dark, rainy days. So that leaves me only one scenario where I'm happy with the weather. I know that my attitude might be lacking a bit, and that I could be so much happier if I just changed my perspective. And I do try. But then I am teased with a gorgeous day of 64 degrees with not a cloud in the sky, only to hate the days that might be snowy/rainy later. It just doens't get better than this!

Most of my friends right now are on their spring breaks. OK can I call out some injustice here? Spring Break? I haven't had one of those since high school. I know, I know. I'm lucky to be in college and not have little babies crawling and barfing all over me, and I am so fortunate as to have found my best friend here at BYU who found it ideal to ask me to marry him. I know that this time will pass and I'm gonna miss it. I know what they say. And I know it's probably true. But right now all I can think of is being free and lying on a sandy warm beach with friends and family, drinking virgin pina coladas and listening to some Mexican music that I don't understand. I want to put on my coconut bra and hulu skirt. OK, I don't really have those, but you get the idea.

Monday, March 7, 2011

I just feel like bein' lazy

Sometimes I'm so pumped on a Sunday afternoon about my upcoming week that I take a piece of paper, draw out a week calendar, and write out every single hour of every day. Yep, the whole 24 hours. Then I write down exactly what I will do in each hour. This process takes about 35 minutes. Monday comes along, and I look at my caldendar, all happy with myself. I'm obedient to what I promised, and I don't miss a single thing on my list. I even write down which hours I'm going to sleep. I know, I'm psycho.

What happens next is that my eyes won't close at 8:30pm like I wrote down they would. I can't fall asleep until 10:30, and I waste 2 precious sleeping hours. Rats!

I wake up the next morning, look at my list, and say FORGET IT! I'm doing what I want, WHEN I want. I then go throughout the rest of the week in rebellion of my restricting and unforgiving schedule. I throw away the list and walk slowly from class to class, smiling at the sun and smelling the roses.

Come Friday, I'm pulling my hair out and wishing I would have been a little more obedient to my calendar. But Friday is play time. Friday is relax-after-school-day. Friday is rent-a-movie-and-cuddle-with-your-sweetie evening. Somehow I can't bring myself to be a slave to work on Friday, because soon I'll be on a three-week long tour without my husband on the other side of the world, and I'm sort of dreading being away from my personal bodyguard and my best friend. So on Fridays I soak up all the time that Matt can spare to be away from his law studies and I enjoy every moment of it.

Why does it feel like when I'm 100% productive 100% of the time, I feel like crap? When I'm 50% productive 100% of the time, I still feel like crap. But when I'm 100% productive 50-70% of the time, that's when life is wonderful. I'm trying to find that balance. I'll get there one day...maybe.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My three lives...plus some

I have three lives.  Well, actually four.  And my personality is so different in each of them.  I go throughout each day feeling so weird and almost insincere, just by seeing how I act so differently in all of my different venues.

1st Life: I am a flutist.  I am a flutist who practices 3-4 hours each day, sometimes 5.  I'm semi-confident with such subjective material.  It's hard to feel completely secure with music, because on any given day, heck, any given HOUR, things can go so differently for you.  I don't talk much, mostly because I have a metal rod blocking my face and I am concentrating very hard on little black dots that like to move in sporadic movements over a bleached white page.  Headache!  I feel like I know what I'm doing...sort of...and I have probably the most ambitious goals for this life.  I could probably do more as far as effort and time goes, but then I wouldn't be able to balance all of these lives.

2nd Life:  I am a student, slaving away in class rehearsals for random, terribly short-noticed projects and exams that weren't in the syllabus due to some retarded circumstances.  For those of you in my 405 class, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  This is where I am the least confident.  With everything else that I must do with my time (including time that I cannot claim as my own, which, unfortunately, is about 90% of my awake hours) I simply don't have enough time/energy/ability to put all I've got into my school work.  Unfortunately that has come back to bite me in my graduate school admission process.  Don't people understand that I usually spend about 9 hours a day total playing my flute, and I have a part time job?  I can't do the whole twice-as-much-time-out-of-class-as-in-class rule.  I simply don't have the time.  I could quit my job, but then I wouldn't be able to pay for a piano accompanist, flute competitions, flute maintenance, flute music, and not to mention some food every now and then.  I came to college to become a great flutist.  I did not come to college to be an average flute player who knows a lot about music theory.  Apparently, you have to play that game.  Goodbye sleep!

3rd Life: I am a TA.  I work as a tutor for physical science.  I grade tons of papers, give tons of reviews, and talk to tons of students about the same things over and over and over and over and over.  I am confident, energetic, and super popular.  All of the TAs are popular.  Think about it.  If what you have in your head is what is on that next big test, of course everyone wants to be your best friend.  I'm a musician, and actually don't know a whole lot of deep scientific principles, but I fool the students into thinking I'm super smart.  While I'm at work, I feel like I'm making a difference.  I don't feel like I'm failing at life in life #3 like I feel like in life #2 and sometimes life #1.  As soon as I leave the ESC each day, I walk into a much scarier world.

4th Life:  This is the life that most people call their "life."  Here lies my husband, church, family, friends, sleep, cooking, eating, and heaven forbid....I have a hobby wedged in here!  I do ballroom dancing.  Now, I can only squeeze out an hour a day to practice.  If I had it my way, I would spend at least 3 hours a day on this, but unfortunately even just one hour is almost costing me.  But I keep it in my fourth life, simply because without dancing, I would completely abandon life #1 like I almost did a few months ago.  I need this to keep me sane.  I need this to keep me happy.  I need this to help me to feel beautiful and confident.  Because without this life, I would not be happy enough to have the energy to trudge through lives #1 and #2.  Without lives #1 and #2, I would not have life #3.

These lives are all connected, and all mandatory for either my degree, my future career, my sanity, my health, and my happiness.

Life is a balancing act.  I know that I could be better at any given thing that I do, but there is simply not enough hours in a day.  Goodness, I wonder what being a mom will be like!  :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Going Exploring

I feel like this year, more than in recent years, I am having enormous personal discoveries.  At first it was scary, because it provided so much opportunity for change.  Suddenly I have been presented with options--a fork in the road, if you will.  I have come to the conclusion that I don't really like those.

I don't think Alice in Wonderland did either.  We have all heard the Cheshire Cat story.  You know, the one that says "if-you-don't-know-where-you're-going-then-it-doesn't-matter-which-direction-you-choose"?  Yeah, that one.  


I mean, LOOK at this guy!  CREEPY!  I think that being in a situation like Alice gives us a certain uneasiness, and worry that we might choose the "wrong way."  Kind of like the uneasiness that we get from looking at this demented cat.

But the question that I think comes to our minds is "HOW do we figure out where we want to end up?"  It seems that there is a step that the Cheshire Cat didn't account for.


Sometimes I wish that I could have my entire life figured out, and that I could see some kind of sign or premonition of what I’m supposed to do with my life.  But that wouldn’t help me grow at all.  In fact, it would take away a lot of fun in exploring.  (Wholesome exploration, of course.)  I am experiencing a lot of changing mind, a lot of doubt, a lot of assurance that is followed by an experience that causes me to doubt again, and occasional precious moments of inspiration that let me know everything is going to be OK.  It is those times that I know that there is not THE “right” thing that I could do, there are SOME “right” things that I could do.  Plural.  I’m not looking for my husband here…I’ve already done that.  And I picked a great one.  I don’t have to choose just one thing, but I feel as though I should pursue fields that the Lord has given me talents in. 


With flute, I now see that for a very long time, I had a very thwarted mindset about a music career and how it was supposed to make me feel.  I thought that if it was “meant to be,” I was supposed to love it all the time, and that I would never imagine myself doing anything else.  I didn’t want to be that girl feeling like I’m looking through a glass window to a world of opportunity, without being able to experience life.  And I still don’t.  But I can see that if I have a LIFE outside of flute, if I pursue other things to the best of my ability, I can still enjoy pursuing the flute as well.  My LIFE is not flute.  My life is my God, my family, my husband, my friends, running, ballroom dancing, learning about computer science and nutrition, reading books, cooking, and the list is ever-growing!   I still don’t know if I will have a music career outside of giving private lessons, and I’m OK with that.  Timing has been one of the biggest stressors for me, along with the lack of said “freedom” to try out anything new.  Well, I’m trying out new things, and I see that I can do it.  Because I am taking a little time away from said “mindset” in that I cannot have a “life” outside of flute, I am more able to pay close attention to the Spirit to help me with my decisions.  And I'm able to enjoy performing again!  That is the only “sign” I need.

I still don't think I have it all figured out.  But what I'm realizing is that you have to more forward with a desire to learn and grow.  You have to choose something to do with your time, otherwise it will disappear.  Instead of being the girl who stands at the fork in the road and just sits there for years trying to figure it out, I'm going exploring!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Book That Changed My Life

For those of you who know me pretty well, you know that I am always busy with something--some kind of project, practicing a certain talent, or working on making myself look and feel better.

For those of you who know me really well, you know that I am an extremely passionate person who does not settle for anything less than greatness once I put my mind to something.

Unfortunately, time is not unlimited, and I have come to the harsh reality that one does not become perfect at everything all at once.  This knowledge, as I came to believe in it more and more, started making me depressed.  I thought that what they used to tell me when I was in kindergarten was true; that I could do anything.

Well, turns out they were right.  They were precisely right about me being able to do anything.  But nobody told me exactly how.

Sure I could just try out new things, work hard, believe in myself, and see if it "clicked."  But now I truly believe that if that mentality is ALL that people have when they approach something, they will fail, or at least not make as much progress as they would hope.

Working hard and believing in yourself are very essential elements, but they are not the core elements of achieving greatness.  Even the word "practice" was defined in my mind slightly inaccurately, and I practice all day every day!

But when I read this book


My life, my perspective, my habits, my rate of progress at MANY different things, changed FOREVER.

I won't spoil it for you, but this is a must read if you ever want to be great at anything.  It will get you there faster than you could have gotten there yourself.  This book defines many misconceptions and mental barriers that we all have, and it will open your eyes to a whole new world.

Before I read this book:
  • I couldn't run more than a mile at a time, and I would die afterward, swearing that I'll never be good a good athlete.
  • I was OK at ballroom dancing, but not spectacular.
  • I practiced my flute 4-6 hours a day, making very little progress per day.
  • I was afraid of math, computer science, and anything that I thought I would never be able to understand.
After I read this book (I didn't read it too long ago, mind you):
  • I can run over 3 miles without dying, and I feel like I could go much longer.
  • I have developed very defined abdominal muscles.
  • I have been inspired to locate a very good ballroom dance instructor, and my progress has been more than I ever imagined would happen in 3 weeks!
  • I practice my flute 3 hours a day, making the same progress as I would in 12 hours.
  • I am inspired and fascinated with math, computer science, genetics, and everything that I thought would be scary.
  • I am a much more confident and happy person deep down inside.

I can't say that many books have really changed me.  I have read plenty of books that have inspired me to be better, and even books that have piqued my interest in many different fields, but not one that has completely changed me from the moment that I picked it up.

I hope that at some point in your lives (hopefully sooner rather than later) you will make room in your schedule to read this wonderful book.  If it does for you what it did for me, you will become superhuman as far as your capabilities to tackle just about any project.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frustrations on an Air of a Music Stand

Here is my music stand.  His name is Pet Peeve.  I like to call him Peevie for short.



Peevie was born prematurely, so he doesn't have as much stability as a young music stand should.



Sometimes, to be funny, Peevie likes to play the game that he likes to call, "Fall-down-while-Amber-is-trying-to-practice."




I'm thinking about giving Peevie up for adoption.  He can't even do his job!  I mean, how hard is it to hold music up straight?



I guess I'm not being entirely fair.  After all, I AM trying to get him to hold up a 7-page solo all at once.




*sigh* I guess I'll have to resort to my good friend Courageous Couch to sub in for Peevie.




I think its time for me to invest in a better music stand.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shakin' a Tail Feathah

For those of you who don't know, my husband Matt was on the BYU Ballroom Dance team.  He was and is very good at ballroom dancing.  What kind of girl in her right mind wouldn't want to take advantage of that?  So, after budgeting in some time and money, Matt and I have signed up for ballroom dance lessons!

Some of the things I LOVE about this experience so far:

  • I'm not good at it yet, so nobody expects anything out of me.
  • I'm not reporting my practice hours or progress for any kind of grade.
  • I get to feel sexy and feminine with my husband.
  • I'm becoming more flexible.
  • We have a darn good teacher.
  • In the words of Niecy Nash on her season of Dancing with the Stars, I get to "Shake a Tail Feathah."
My mom even helped me invest in some upper-end dance shoes.  I'm not sure that they're what the pros use, but they are very good dance shoes and I love them!


Now...I still need to figure out how to cut the straps and burn the ends so they won't fray.  I'm terribly afraid of setting my beautiful shoes on fire.

I'm excited to improve, but also excited that I don't HAVE to be amazing at this.  I mean, as a performer, I know what kind of time, money, and energy it takes to become great.  And it's just so refreshing that I can approach this without feeling like I absolutely have to commit to that just yet.

And...I don't mean to be cocky at ALL when I say this, but as a hard working, constantly-improving performing-musician, I feel like I have learned a lot about how to improve on something that might be innately difficult.  Good practice is not supposed to be fun.  It's supposed to be difficult.  Lots of people don't realize that.  And since I know a lot about principles of good, deliberate practice, and I have the help of a wonderful teacher, I feel like I have improved a lot already!

I also think it is so healthy to have a hobby--something that you do just because it makes you happy.  I also believe that a hobby should be something that pushes you and you can get better at it, otherwise you'll get bored and burn out.  I want to be able to dance with my husband when we go out, and not just step on each other's feet.  Another plus: My husband is already really good at it!  So he's not like, "I'm a dude.  I don't dance."  He pushes ME to be better!  It's really neat to be working toward something together in a physical sense; something literal and non-abstract.  I mean, investments and educational dreams are amazing to have as well, but its so refreshing to be able to polish something beautiful together that you can see and do here and now.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Um....ew?

This is a story about the Liebermann Sonata; namely, MY Liebermann Sonata.  For those of you who aren't flutists or musicians, let me explain.  The Liebermann Sonata is among the more difficult pieces in the flute repertoire.  It has very slow passages that are hard to control, and also very fast passages that are kind of all over the place.  When you take out this particular piece of music in front of fellow flutists, it's kind of a call for respect in a way.

Except....

if your Liebermann Sonata looks like this.






You may not see it very well.  Take a closer look.





If you see what resembles an animal stain, then you get my point.  First off, let me explain that this is NOT an animal stain.  This is an orange stain.  Last year I carried around this green backpack with many pockets and zippers.  At one point I had an orange in my backpack in a pocket that I didn't open very much.  I kept my Liebermann Sonata in my bag so that it would taunt me into practicing it.  Well, after so many weeks months...I noticed a weird sweet smell coming from my backpack. I didn't think anything of it for a while.  The smell got stronger, except it turned a little more sour smelling.  Gross, I know, but its the truth.  I finally figured out what it was.  The orange that I had forgotten about had smOOshed over my Liebermann Sonata, leaving it with irreplaceable yellow splotches.  Great.

So now as I pull out my Liebermann Sonata, I am ashamed instead of prideful.  Perhaps this was a lesson on pride from the Lord.

So now, as I practice my Liebermann Sonata, I try to hide it from others so they won't be like, "Did your cat think that was a litter box?"  It has helped me think of why I put such difficult music on my recital programs.  Am I masochistic?  Do I just like to show off?  Am I wanting to prove something to myself?  Maybe.  But this experience has helped me narrow down my reasons and refine them into better ones.  I don't need to play difficult music for the sake of it being difficult.  Psh, ain't NOBODY gonna be impressed with icky yellow stains all over my music.  I play the music to refine my repertoire.  I play the music because its challenging.  I play the music because it makes me a better performer.  Who knows how much longer I will be doing this?

I leave this with you as my experience teaching me not to be so shallow with my choice in repertoire.

Yours truly,
Amber