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!