The Whole: Hope and The Arts

The arts bring people together in a way that I don’t see in many other areas. It’s rare that a group of people from very different backgrounds and ideologies join forces to accomplish something really good together; we tend to gravitate towards those who think and act like we do when we want to enact change.

The arts are different.

The arts are universal.

Most people speak that language, and it is a language that moves forces together towards the greater good.

Art Conspiracy is a perfect example of this.  A group of very different people (a few of whom we are very privileged to knowIMG_9885) volunteer their time to create something out of a board.  Others then bid on these pieces in
a huge auction and proceeds from tickets and sales go to a deserving organization.  It is a night that celebrates creativity, community, and charity, full of laughter, friends, good food, and a sense of belonging.

The whole is betterThis gives me hope that we, as humans, can do good in spite of our penchant towards destruction.  Seeing others give of their time and money to something good as a collective piece of humanity, working together to accomplish something far beyond what any one of them could do alone, that is beauty.

Sometimes when I feel like I’m drifting, trying to figure out who I am, I am grounded by the realization that there are real problems out there that are bigger than me and my existential crises, and there are constructive things that I can do within an area that I love to make a difference.

As you move through the next few days, I encourage you to do so mindfully.  We have a chance both to mourn deeply and to find ways that we can individually and collectively be the hands and feet of God in whatever areas and whatever ways we choose.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love….

To those who were a part of our church service this morning and contributed to our discussion on hope, thank you.  Your desire for true change driven by love is apparent and encourages me to be both a change maker and a peacemaker.

When You Know It’s Gonna be Okay

When you move to a new place you never quite know how your transition will go. You don’t know how long the honeymoon period will last and you aren’t sure if moving to that place was a good choice. We experienced that when we move to Japan, and I had some of the same feelings when we moved here to Dallas.

It’s the little things that I notice that start to build, the transition so gradual I almost don’t realize it’s happening.

Life

But one day I realized that I drove everywhere I needed to go without my GPS.

I have people over for dinner.

I invite other people that live here to events.

I sit in a room with people that were strangers three months ago and feel open enough to talk about my grandma and ugly cry on All Saints Day.

These are little moments, but those little moments add up and suddenly I realize that for now or for longer, this is my home.

I can’t lie and say I don’t miss Hiroshima, because I do, terribly.  I can’t say I don’t miss Columbia and the people there.  That kind of comes with the territory.

It’s nice to know, though, that no matter where we go, we can find a community and make a family.

Leaving is hard, moving is hard.  But these cause a unique kind of growth that I am very grateful for.

Thank you for reading, there will be more updates soon on some of the things we’ve been doing here!

Into the Deep

In our married life so far we haven’t really seen any deep ends that we haven’t wanted to jump into. Metaphorically of course.

So when we decided to go to Dallas, it didn’t seem that crazy, just another step in the weird timeline of our together life.

As per usual, it’s been far to long since I’ve written, and (as always) I’ll be attempting to improve my track record. There are a few reasons I think it’s gonna be different this time. Hold onto your hats folks, big changes ahead.

First of all, probably the biggest change is that we decided not to go to grad school. Due to changes in motivation for going and realizing how much it would actually cost, we decided that it wasn’t the best thing for us to do at this point in time.  We’re starting to realize that DTS may have just been the impetus needed for getting us to Dallas in the first place, even if it wasn’t going to be a good long-term fit. For that we are grateful.

The other big thing is that neither one of us is working at a proper full time job.  I had one for about a week at a really great company with really awesome people, but the hours were 10am-9pm pretty much every day and it did nothing to help my creativity or my marriage, so I quit.

I started hard core looking for music students and found a very sweet lady who runs a music school and needed teachers, so between that, other private lessons, and other freelance work, I have the semblance of a career. Adam is also teaching in various places, and so we are both basically doing music almost full time.

(Where are those music major jokes now, Dad?)

In the time since coming here, we’ve met some really cool people.  We found a Japanese community, a ton of open mics with awesome musicians, and found places we are able to serve.

One of the places I’m especially excited about is Mosaic Family Services.  They serve refugees and victims of trafficking and they need volunteer ESL teachers.

Oh hey that’s something I can do. Once my schedule with teaching is ironed out I’ll be able to go there regularly.

Jumping head first into the deep end is super scary. 

We have had some nights where we look at each other and say “I have no idea what’s going to happen next.” or “How are we going to do this?” I can’t say everything just always works out with flowers and rainbows, and running after goals means making sacrifices in other ways (read: trolling craigslist for free furniture instead of just buying it at the department store and having it delivered straight to your house) and sometimes it’s hard not being around people and places that are familiar and beloved, but it’s definitely made us more flexible and more comfortable in uncertainty. I guess that’s not saying a ton for me, I still stress out over things I’m not sure about (I’m working on it) but it’s a lot less than it used to be.

So that was the short version of the story. At this point we have no idea what the future holds and we are okay with that.  We are both investing a lot more time in music and creating, we plan on becoming more active on social media, and hopefully through all of this we can make the world a little more beautiful.

Thank you for reading, we have some exciting things in the future!Into the Deep

Meeting with Stress

As you probably know by now, Adam and I will be heading back to Columbia in April.

We are excited and sad all at once, and the list of things to do is pretty daunting.  On top of that, Adam, in a move to save money, decided to get his wisdom teeth taken out here.  What was supposed to be a thirty minute procedure has turned into two 2 1/2 hour sessions and a couple of days in the hospital for inpatient surgery.  It turns out his teeth are just about as stubborn as he is.

As you may be able to imagine, all these little things can build up into a lot of stress.  I keep thinking back to my long lost resolutions of feeling more peaceful and taking life as it comes.

I’ve known intellectually for a while that I can change my own response to life… the whole “respond instead of react” mantra and all of that.  And I think I know how to do it. But I don’t always choose to do it.

Peace and chocolateI think I sometimes like relishing anger and frustration. There’s something so sickly sweet about it. Like candy that starts out too sugary, the more you have, the easier it starts to go down.

Anger begets anger. Peace begets peace.

It’s easy to be peaceful when everything is calm and you have zero stress.  I think the true test is when everything around you is nutso.  If you can be peaceful then, you know you’ve leveled up in life.

As for anger and chronic frustration, they can provide good conversation when you’ve run out of weather topics, but in the end they are toxic.

There’s a reason the Bible talks about not sleeping on your anger and having peace even in the rough times.  These things completely change who you are as a person, even when the changes are so small you don’t realize they’re happening. In the end, it is all completely internal.  People who have everything they want can be incredibly angry, while many with horrible circumstances know how to face them with peace. I’d rather choose peace.

Also, I have an exciting announcement! I’ve been working on a proper website and I’ve finally finished! If you have a few moments, please check out Wayfarist Media! 

Have a wonderful day!

Warning: (Another) Facebook rant ahead

Facebook (or you can insert the name of basically any social media in its place) is one of those things that everyone else got before I did.  My mom didn’t find it to be that necessary, and she didn’t love the idea of me sharing myself with the world before a certain age.  Of course I found this so unfair, and when I finally did join, I immediately started adding people, uploading photos, and posting statuses that I thought were incredibly witty in order to catch up with my peers.  I kept it up for about 7 years.  It’s definitely addictive. I mean, who doesn’t love the rush of seeing the little notifications from likes and comments on something they posted? I know I do.

Before I launch into my tirade, I would like to note that I do enjoy Facebook, I use it regularly, and I find it very useful for keeping up with people and sharing things like photos and videos that I’ve made.  But there came a point when I realized that

A. I couldn’t remember at least a quarter of the people who were on my newsfeed as I scrolled down and

B. Said scrolling was often done quite mindlessly with no real point or aim.

I’ve written about Facebook before and since then have been trying to be more aware of the effect of social media on my life.

With that being said, here are 5 things that I am trying to pay attention to in regards to this platform.

*start rant

Facebook completely changes relationships.

Remember how it used to be that if you wanted to stay friends with someone you had to work for it? Now there’s no need because there’s a little image that says “friends” and you can just leave it at that.

There’s no need to engage deeply with others.  We can post a status about something going on in our lives and then let the likes roll in.  True, there are people who post really kind, thoughtful comments on others’ statuses.  But I know that frequently I was guilty of posting generic responses to things and they  made it seem like I was invested with the minimal amount of work.

Here is a great TED Talk on vulnerability and having deeper interactions with others by Brene Brown. I highly recommend it.

I want to be more thoughtful in how I interact with others both on and off the internet.

Facebook decreases productivity.

Do I even need to expand on this? How many times do we purposefully procrastinate or accidentally get distracted on Facebook or other social media?

When I sat down and actually reminded myself of fun things that I actually want to do or like doing (even more than Facebook. Crazy right?) the list is actually kind of long… practice music… learning new skills related to media.. studying Japanese… writing blog entries… just to name a few.

I’m actually a little ashamed of how many times I’ve chosen Facebook over something I wanted to do more because it was easier or more convenient at the time.

It’s amazing how we have the ability, time and time again, to choose things that are mediocre over things that are best, the things that we won’t remember tomorrow for the things that bring us true joy and fulfillment.  

To combat this I downloaded an extension browser called WasteNoTime that blocks chosen sites after a certain amount of time and deleted the Facebook apps off my phone and iPad so I wouldn’t constantly see it and check it.  It actually made a difference.

Facebook removes privacy.

This one is kind of scary. Anything that we do has the potential to end up on Facebook.  There are a few statuses that I wish I could go back and un-post.  The privacy settings are there for a reason, but my guess is that they are the most underused feature on the site.  I don’t have anything to hide, but I don’t want having no privacy at all to become the norm.  If others take for granted that they get to know everything about my life, what happens when I want to keep something for just myself or a few people?

Of course we all have the right to post whatever we want to and be as public as we want, but I’ve been challenged lately to think about why I am as public or private as I am with different things instead of thoughtlessly posting for the sake of it.

Facebook removes inhibitions and filters.

This ties in to the last point.  With the click of a button, we can share exactly how we’re feeling at any moment.  We don’t take time to think about what we post, we just do it based on what we feel is important at the moment. The problem is that what is important at the moment may not be so important later.

Unfortunately we have created a culture of overshare. I say this as a person who was a repeat offender.  There was no thought behind my posts, just random things that I thought were little golden nuggets that everyone should know. When I posted everything I thought, it became easier for others to block me out, and when something really important happened, they were more likely to scroll past than take time to read.

Fortunately I’ve learned a little more discretion since then and try to actually think a little about what I post before I post it.  You’re welcome everyone else.

Facebook encourages us to create a false persona.

As I have mentioned before, we often just see the sides of people they want us to see on Facebook. This pressures us to curate ourselves. We craft our profiles so that people see us with idyllic lives that they should envy.  We build up walls so that others  can only see what we want. This circles back to the idea of vulnerability. We can’t live in community the way we are built to if all people see of us is a Starbucks selfie and some sunset shots.

I have to ask myself, “Why are you posting this? Is this an honest picture of you?”

This video hit me hard when I saw it.

I don’t think Facebook is inherently bad. It has potential to go both ways. So why not invest in making it a positive tool that creates rich community where we can be more honest, less cringey, and better friends?

*end rant

How to be a good Third Culture Kid

I’m a third culture kid. The basic definition of a TCK (as they are called for short) is someone who grows up in a country different from where their parents grew up.  Of course, there are variations within this broad definition.  I, for example, have parents from two different countries and have spent significant developmental portions of my life in their respective countries (Namibia and the USA, two very different places).

For me, this has resulted in chronic wanderlust, knowing from a young age which airplane food to avoid, and the ability to code-switch, resulting in the ability to make almost anyone feel comfortable even when I’m not.

From as young an age as I can remember, I have been saying goodbye to people.  No matter where I’ve lived, there has always been someone somewhere else for me to miss. Grandparents,  best friends, choirs, fellow students, you name it.

Because of the moving back and forth, I often struggled to identify myself,and had trouble with the question, “Where are you from?”  Unless I gave a long, convoluted answer,  I always felt like I was betraying a part of me by saying just one country or the other.Namerican

(Watching Mean Girls for the first time was really weird because for the whole first part I kept thinking “OH MY GOSH THAT’S ME.”)

Of course there are perks. I’ve had the chance of experiencing multiple rich cultures, and I’ve developed some amazing friendships. I’m also really comfortable traveling and going to new places; moving out of my comfort zone is no longer a big deal.

I have many years before me, and there is still so much wisdom out there for me to learn, but I wanted to share a few things I’ve picked up along the way.  Maybe you can identify, or maybe you can’t. Maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about, or maybe this is completely new.  Either way, I hope you enjoy commiserating or seeing things from a TCK’s perspective!

1. Don’t block people out just because you know you have to say goodbye.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn. I get attached to people really easily, and I have had many a wrenching goodbye with people who I wasn’t really able to stay in contact with.  After realizing this trend, I was very tempted to just stop making deep relationships with people who I knew I’d have to leave eventually.  I’m so glad I didn’t go through with that.  The relationships I’ve made abroad have been some of the deepest and most fulfilling of my life.

If you move to a new place, even if you know it’s going to be temporary, seek out people whom you can really know, and who will challenge you to live as the best possible version of yourself.  Find people you can be open and transparent with, and who make you feel safe.  Then, when you leave that, you’ll have a real reason to miss it and a great reason to come back.  You’ll know that your time was meaningful.

2. Stay in the moment.

Enjoy the time you have with the people that you are getting to know.  I spent time pining for the places I wasn’t during a lot of my teenage years and, as a result, kind of missed out on relationships that I could have been developing.  I’d spend a lot of time chatting online with people across the world and miss out on the people (and places) that were right there.  Of course, keeping up relationships is important (I really like writing letters in case you were wondering), but nothing replaces the face-to-face time.

3. Your country is not your identity.

As I mentioned before, I used to struggle a lot with my identity and figuring out who I was.  I was so happy to hear the term “TCK” and that I fit into it, but that sometimes requires almost as much of a convoluted answer as answering where I’m from.

These days, I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the idea of just being “Lizbet.” That is me. Part of being Lizbet is that I am half and half, but as a unique individual I do not represent either one of those countries.  Now, when people ask where I’m from, I often say “America” since that’s the easiest, and let them discover my background after they get to know me a little more.

4. People are going to stereotype.

Something that goes along with the above statement is that, while I am a unique individual, I will still be stereotyped.  It happens to everyone no matter where they go.  In Namibia, people would see me as the “crazy American” (not so much to do with the fact that I’m in general a little weird, more that Americans are seen as a little crazy). In America, people would ask if I saw lions when I woke up in the morning or if my father is black.  In Japan, well, that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

This is actually real life.

All of that to say, you can take for granted that you will be judged or stereotyped. Heck, we generally make assumptions about a person within the first few seconds after we meet them.  That’s not exactly the same thing, I know. I do know that we, as humans, like to categorize.  I have no good solution for this.  Just expect that it will probably happen, especially if you travel.

5. It’s okay to let go.

This one is the most difficult for me.  Quick science break: Dunbar’s number.

According to this guy, Dunbar, our brains can only hold a particular number of people that we can have stable social relationships with. This number is thought to be around 150.  That means that I can’t be bffs with everyone that I ever become friends with.

There are going to be people with whom you have deep relationships for your whole life.  There will also be people that you get close to, share your life with, and then leave and only see every couple of years or never again.

That’s a really difficult truth to swallow because I really like holding on to people.

College is a great example of this.  I feel like my time in college was very formative. I laughed and cried with my fellow students and we got through some tough times together.  I only consistently talk to a few of them now.  That doesn’t make us terrible people.  It actually relates a lot to number 2.  If you are in a different place in life from your best friend in middle school, that’s okay. That’s normal.  They have people the people that they need to invest in for this time in their life, and so do you.  If your paths end up crossing and you can kick things right back into how they were before, then that’s awesome.

But if you aren’t able to stay close to every person you’ve grown close to, don’t be afraid to let go of that and know that if it was a really good friendship, you will probably naturally drift back together throughout the rest of your life.

This post ended up being a lot longer than I originally planned.  If you made it this far, congratulations, and thanks for reading.  Of course, all of these things are my own perspective, your experience could have been completely different. If it was, I’m really interested in hearing about it! Please shoot me a message or comment below.

I love where I am now, and even though not everything has been easy, all my experiences have been integral to who I am now.  I feel like I’ve grown in ways that would never have been possible without some of the rough experiences that come with moving and changing, and I am forever grateful for them.

Travel-2

The Lifestyle Business: On doing things my way

Recently, I have been asking myself the age-old question that we start asking our kids almost as soon as they can put together a sentence:

What do you want to be when you grow up?

From the earliest moment possible, we are inundated with this idea that we have one path to go on and we had best figure out where it’s going so that we can stay ahead of (or, at least, not get too far behind) everyone else (who we are given the impression have figured out their paths by 1st grade). So how do I even begin to answer this question? Well, there’s always the really awesome answer from this kid

“I want to be happy.”

I love that.

Of course, I am not under the illusion that life is full of rainbows and unicorns, and I think that tough times produce growth that happiness never can, but that doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream a little.

So back to the question, what do I want to be? I’m going to reframe it a bit.

What do you want to do?

I still find myself stuck. I have general ideas.
Music
Working with people
Social justice
These are the kinds of things I want involved, but what that actually looks like, I have no idea.
Recently, I’ve been intrigued by the concept “Lifestyle Business.” I first heard the term when reading some (really cool) stuff by Idahosa Ness, a guy who chose what type of lifestyle he wanted (traveling and language learning), then built his career around it. I did more digging and found this to be a growing trend. There are even people who have lifestyle businesses built around helping others create their own lifestyle businesses.

We tend to view our careers as things that we build up to, that make us “grown-up,” that we spend the first parts of our lives preparing for and the rest of our lives doing. We give them so much importance, even when we end up doing things that we don’t necessarily love.
Because of this, I think many people who haven’t yet found their “career” feel like they can’t really start living.

When did it become not okay to just rest in not knowing, in uncertainty?destiny

There are people who have found a career that they really love, and that then becomes a really positive part of their lives.
Then there are those (like me) who are doing a job and, in our spare time, building up lives that feel like shells of what we really want to be doing. I spend so much time at my job and that scares me a little, because there are other really important things that I want to do that take a lot of time, too (not that teaching isn’t important. I am extremely grateful for those who are passionate about teaching and want make a career out of it. I am not one of those people.)

This idea of creating some type of lifestyle business is still a brand new hatchling idea, so I am still trying to think about things that I could actually do or have to offer. But I love that my lifestyle could be controlling my career, and not vice versa.

All of that to say, if you still aren’t sure what you want to “do” when you grow up, be encouraged. You’re not the only one. And maybe, just maybe, that’s okay.

Humanness

Humans never cease to amaze me.  There are the really awesome things that humans do, but there is one trend that I have noticed that goes across all races, religions, and countries.

This is our ability to be completely and irrevocably horrible to each other.

Whether it’s war or trolling around online or decimating the environment, we humans (and I say “we” because I believe that everyone has the capacity to be horrible) have found ways to destroy and tear apart every good and beautiful thing in some way. Even not doing anything can lead to being passively horrible.  I often buy food and clothes from places that don’t give guarantees on being eco-friendly or fair trade.  In my own ways, I am contributing to the problems.  So what the heck can I do about it?

Here is something that I have been personally challenged on lately, and I think it relates a lot to this human horribleness.  You’ll see why at the end.

Being transparent

I am not good at transparency.  This is one of my biggest weaknesses.  I love for people to think that I’m really awesome, but don’t want them to see the mess that comes with who I am.  I don’t want to give people the full package, because I’m afraid of what others will think when they know I’m not perfect.  I’ve been challenged a whole bunch by Adam since we’ve gotten married, and more recently by various things I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to, specifically from The Bad Christian Podcast.

(Side note, no matter your religious affiliation or lack thereof, if you want some thought provoking listening material, I highly recommend these guys. Except for if you’re offended by more… um… colorful language then probably avoid it.)

So this desire to look perfect has gone so far that I don’t often recognize how it affects me. One small example, I’ve recently found myself looking back on a situation and realizing that, on the fly, I just changed something I said a little to put myself in a better light.  It occurred to me that these little white lies probably did nothing to improve the people’s opinions of me, but I was so concerned with saving face that I didn’t think twice about stretching the truth.

On becoming aware of that, it really hit me how much of a problem this is. If I can’t be transparent, I can’t develop those deep, essential relationships necessary to being human.

Ironically, I’ve become much more transparent on things that are probably larger issues.  Those are the big battles, the ones I fought hard to win and (with a lot of grace and love from God and other people) can generally see rearing up when they happen so that I can knock them back down before they cause too much damage.

The places where I struggle now are in the little skirmishes, the small things, the making excuses to avoid taking responsibility, the defensiveness when I feel I’m under attack.  Why, when I’ve fought and won bigger battles, are these so difficult for me? I think it’s because little daily things force me to look at myself and realize that I am in fact not perfect and won’t ever get to that point. The problem with those daily things is that, well, they happen every day. The big battles are farther in between, if I didn’t have the little ones I could trick myself into thinking that I’m better than I am which leads back into a lack of transparency to preserve the image, etc. etc. etc.

So how does this transparency tie in to people being horrible?  There are a couple of reasons.

First, if we can all just admit that everyone is messed up in some way, I believe that we will find so much more grace and forgiveness for other people in our lives. Instead of holding them up to unrealistic ideals and standards, we can say “Hey, you’re a horrible human, I’m a horrible human, let’s try to be better together and not just pretend that we don’t have any problems.”

Second, if we can admit to ourselves that we are messed up, maybe this will allow us to stop trying so hard to be perfect, and instead allow ourselves to really live well.  Not being perfect gives us a sweet freedom to make mistakes and, when we are in communities of transparent people, we can talk about our issues without shame.  Isn’t bringing our problems into the light the best way to combat them, after all?

Third, having transparency in our relationships and communities is an incredible sort of glue.  Transparency leads to rich interactions which not only build us up as individuals, but they create community, even among people who have completely different beliefs from each other.  When our motivations change from “I must preserve my image and therefore fight for every little thing that I stand for or else risk ruining the opinion that others have of me” to “I really want to love this person well,” it’s amazing how much stress we take off our own shoulders.

Then, when we as united communities come across horrible humans who aren’t interested in becoming less horrible, we can encourage each other and stand up for each other instead of letting those individuals pick us off one by one.  We, as a community, have the opportunity to stand together and actually make a difference.

Okay, last thing.  This one is especially to the Christians reading this post.*start rant* One thing that is reiterated over and over on the Bad Christian Podcast is that if we believe that Jesus is powerful, then our being transparent and letting others see that we are messed up is not going to make other people say, “I don’t want to be a Christian now.” Can we just be real and let Jesus do what He came to do? *end rant*

All of that being said, I know I still have a little (a lotta) ways to go in this whole endeavor.  But admitting is the first step, right?

If you are interested in the idea of what it is to be human (especially the not pretty side) take a moment and check out my band’s EP, Willfully Human.  It explores a lot of these types of ideas and how we, as humans, often act in spite of our best intentions.

Update:

My new personal online design, music and video portfolio: http://lizbetklootpalmer.strikingly.com/

Well, it’s about that time…

…when I realize that I should post something on this blog or risk it going into oblivion (or is it too late for that already?).

I’m coming out of a sort of apathetic hump (probably part of the no posting problem) where I found myself kind of milling around and getting through one activity and on to the next with as little energy as possible.  Impetus had become a long lost friend that I kept saying I’d write to, but then always “forgot.”

I could claim that it’s because I’ve got a lot going on and too many important things to accomplish.

I could claim that I just need something new, whether that be a new wallpaper for my computer or a new study spot.

I could even claim that…

Nope. Got nothin’ else…

The main reason for my lack of blogging/impetus/drive to do cool things has just been laziness. As much as it stinks to admit it, I can be a really lazy person a lot of the time and that kind of kills everything.

There’s this guy that I happen to be married to who often says “Creativity begets creativity.”

(I think he might have stolen that from somewhere else, I’m not really sure…)

I think this applies to a lot of things in life.  Writing begets writing. Working out begets working out (or lying on the floor in an exhausted heap). Studying Japanese begets studying Japanese.

So now I’m back at the same point I was at the beginning of the year, just needing to take those first steps.

There’s a great blogger, Stephen Guise, who writes about strategies for focusing, staying motivated, being confident, general self help topics.  One of the things I think he nails is a concept he calls “Mini-Habits.”  It’s the idea that one small step each day is way bigger than a grand gesture every couple of weeks.

Again, just like January, right?

But the thing about being human is that, while we often mess up and fail ourselves and others and completely bomb on reaching expectations, we are really good at second chances. And third. And fourth.

So the big question now is, do I get discouraged with myself and just give up on everything completely (cause that would be an awful way to live…)?

I THINK NOT.

Now is the time to pick things up, figure out what didn’t work last time, and try again.

So here are some of my new strategies-

  • Plan out my week every Sunday and figure out where there’s free time. Then see which things I want to fit in to those times (Don’t forget to relax! Not cruise around Facebook relax, I mean really relax.).
  • Still keep it flex, because I am not controlled by my time. I control my time and what I do with it.
  • Actually write down the things I really want to do so I don’t get stuck doing things I just kind of want to do at that moment.
  • Another quote I love: “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” -Dolly Parton

Okay that’s it for now. I feel like making too many rules kind of defeats the purpose of keeping it flex.

That’s all for the reflection bit!

UPDATES:

I have officially started online classes at DTS. I’m taking Introduction to Theology and I can already feel my study jitters coming back.  Don’t worry, it’s a good thing. It’s the “I’m so excited about studying things that my brain won’t stop” feeling. My vocabulary is improving (note the above usage of “impetus”) and I’m really enjoying putting thoughts together in different ways and learning about a subject that I kind of sort of knew about but not really.

We are currently working on another album that I am super excited about. Adam’s actually doing most of the work, but I’m adding my two cents in when I can. Sign up for our newsletter at  http://www.thelastcityformiles.com/ for exclusive downloads and updates!

I officially start teaching again on MONDAY but I have all my lessons completely planned out minus a few worksheets and the fun class that is actually really interesting to plan and fuels my creativity.  This semester also has a lot more national holidays built in which means a little more breathing room.

Imperial Garden Violin

BONUS!

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a cool video that was made using footage I took in Hiroshima during the Peace Celebration in August. The ladies who put it together did a fantastic job!

http://www.hitrecord.org/records/1669786

EDIT:

I read this article right after I wrote this and cleaned off my whole desk after reading it.

On the Balance (and being in Hiroshima for two years)

The rice has started growing again. It’s one of my favorite things to look at here.  As I bike up the (excruciating) hill on my way to work, it gives my eyes a momentary, peaceful distraction.  This particular field is especially sentimental because it’s one of my solid, early memories of arriving here.

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I took this photo two years ago June 4, a couple of days after we arrived in Japan (which was conveniently June 1, otherwise I’d never remember from year to the next what day it was).

Oh hey, did I say two years ago? That’s right! We’ve been here for just over two years, as hard as that is for me to believe, and I’m really excited about it.  I remember first arriving and thinking we’d be here for a year and a half, have some fun cultural experiences, make a bunch of money, then leave.  One out of four ain’t so bad.

I had no clue how quickly the people of Hiroshima and the city itself would capture me and put me in this whirlwind of my life which I love so very much! I definitely never imagined wanting to stay here long term.  Turns out God had some different ideas (fancy that?)

So yeah, with the lateness of this post as a great indicator, the whole balance thing that I started out the year preaching (already six months ago, *insert cliche about how fast the time goes*) has kind of gone by the wayside.  I actually began making the balance more important than the things I was trying to be balanced for and since that kind of defeated the purpose, I stopped.

I still think the idea of balance is great, it turns out I just needed to really redefine what balance was.  It’s not about allocating specific tasks to each day and making sure you do everything that you need to do to enhance your mind, body and soul.  It’s about learning to stop, evaluate where your mind, body and soul are, and then figure out what you need to do to get them balanced.  It’s not an outside-in thing, it definitely has to come from within you and that was the thing that I really missed at first.

I’ve realized that my life is nowhere near as crazy as it will be once we have children, so me trying to control every single aspect of my life is only going to make things worse (and probably destroy my family so that’s kind of a big deal, too).

So instead of trying to control my time, I do what needs to get done but I also make sure to do things that I enjoy (which sometimes means putting off “important” things for later).  I’ve been embracing teaching and being a housewife (which means mainly cooking… I make Adam do as much of the housework as I can get away with), and I love to experiment with cooking.

I’ve been working hard on my garden which is taking over it’s tiny space and will soon be producing all manner of deliciousness.

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I’ve been spending time with the next door neighbors who, by the way, are awesome.  Today we had a takoyaki party.  Life doesn’t get much better than that.

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Often, I find I have all this stuff bouncing around in my head and I can’t figure out which things are important.  That’s usually a pretty good indication that it’s time to slow down.

So those are some of the things I’ve been learning about and thinking about lately.  I’m pretty sure that the more plugged in we get to social media and other random things outside of ourselves, the less in touch we become with what’s inside.  That idea terrifies me.  That’s not a place I want to go.  On that note, I’m out.  What about you? Have you found that magic equilibrium?