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

What in the world are the Palmers doing this summer?

In case you were wondering, here is an update about our summer/a support letter in an attempt to raise money. So definitely if you don’t have money to give don’t worry, it’s not a requirement of reading this blog post.  Also if you’re not at all interested in what we’re going to be doing this summer then probably don’t read this.  But if either of those two things are what you want, then read on, dear friend!

Dear Friends and Family,

First of all, we’d like to thank you for all the support and love you’ve given us during our transition home.  It’s been a busy month, but we’re slowly finding a new rhythm back in the US!

We want to start this by saying up front that this is a support letter. Don’t worry, we aren’t going bankrupt or anything.

In case you haven’t heard, we are working at Bethel Christian Camp this summer. Bethel is a non-profit, overnight children’s camp that specializes in serving children who would normally not get a camp experience.  In fact, about 60% of the campers come here on scholarships of some kind.  The camp is dedicated to paying the staff their full salaries each week, but any money that we can raise towards our salaries means money that camp can use for camper scholarships,  camp facilities, and other resources.

We have both been very involved with this camp in the past, and the relationships that we have here have helped to shape us into the people we are today.  We also love to see how kids are impacted by their time here.  Because of this, we want to dedicate a summer to working here.

This summer, Adam will be the Head of Maintenance, and Lizbet will be the Head of the Waterfront.  While these jobs are a little more removed from the campers, they play an important part in the smooth functioning of the camp.  We also hope to interact with the kids who come as much as possible.  We both love to hang out with campers and we want to love them well.

So what is the bottom line?  Basically, Adam will be working for 7 weeks at $200 a week ($1,400 total).  Lizbet will be working for 6 weeks at $150 a week ($900 total).

If you are interested in supporting us this summer, there are a few ways to do it! Any amount helps!

  • Donate online at  http://www.bethelchristiancamp.org/frontpage/donations/summer-staff-support/  and make sure that you put in one of our names when you do it so that they can keep track of which of us is more popular! Just kidding, it’s for tax purposes.
  • Donate by mail via check.  If you would like to do this, please email Lizbet at nameisie@gmail.com so she can send you the proper information.
  • Pray for us. For real, we need it. Whether or not you are able to support us financially, emotional, mental and spiritual support is awesome as well. It’s going to be a great summer, but the days will be long  and there will be days when we go to bed tired and drained.  A little outside love is necessary!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter.  If you have any questions or just want to catch up, let us know!  We appreciate your love.

If you would like to know more details about Bethel, please visit http://www.bethelchristiancamp.org and check out their pictures and videos!

May the love of God fill your life in the midst of calm and of storms, grace and peace be with you all.

Adam and Lizbet1929987_16104945886_7940_n 1934627_72045967628_5351284_n1929987_16104400886_4591_n

Aaaaand We’re Back!

Hello dear friends and readers, this is to let you know that Adam and I have, in fact, made it back to the US and are, in fact, still alive! Of course I’m sure you all knew that… but I wanted to mention that just in case there are any worriers out there.

The purpose of this is to give you all an update and (hopefully) get back into a somewhat regular posting schedule (like that was ever actually a thing).

WARNING: This post is all over the place.  It is a rather quick summary of the past month and if that is something you already know about or don’t really care about this will probably be super boring.  I won’t be offended if you don’t read it all (not that I’d know…).

We are currently situated in an RV out at a summer camp that we both plan on working at this summer. Adam will be head of maintenance, and I, if I pass lifeguard training, I will be head of the waterfront unless we can find someone who wants to do it more! I managed to purchase (with the help of the Kloot Bank interest free loan program) a ’97 Buick which means that Adam and I can once again move independently of each other (this is very helpful for our relationship!). I’ve also been doing a short internship for my dad in which I help him with various creative projects involving his work with soil.

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This is the waterfront part of the camp. I couldn’t resist taking a picture at the most beautiful time possible.
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the RV!

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On a more personal note, we got here and pretty much hit the ground running. We have had people to see and things to take care of. I finally feel like I’m catching up to life.  I don’t enjoy living on the edge of insanity but I somehow find myself back there quite often.  One of the questions I’ve been asked most is how I’m dealing with culture shock. The weird thing is that I’m not.

I don’t know if it’s because of my early start in jumping back and forth between countries, but I haven’t had any huge transitional crises, and nothing has felt too out of place.

That being said, there are plenty of things I miss about being in Hiroshima.  The main part of that is the relationships we managed to build while we were there.  We really like our Hiroshima friends.  That part has been hard. I stink at long distance relationships, so I have to make an effort to actually keep up with people.

There are lots of other small things I miss, like 7-11 onigiri (rice balls) or bowing when I meet someone.  Shaking hands feels natural, like riding a bike, but I definitely do a lot more head nodding than I used to.

While I miss Hiroshima, it has been great to be home.  Things are strangely normal, and I’ve loved reconnecting with family and friends.  I also became an auntie last month.  My nephew is a cutie, and I hang out with him as much as I can!

This post was a little scattered, but I felt as though I had to put something out there eventually.  There are definitely plans for quite a few more in the near future!

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!

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?

OneRepublic- Love Runs Out (Cover by The Last City)

So we recently made a new video and, while I know I’ve said this before, this is one of my favorites so far.  It was fun to make and put together.  It does a good job of showing who we are. Without further ado, here’s our cover of Love Runs Out by OneRepublic!

I hope you enjoy it!

We just finished up Golden Week which meant I had a couple of extra days with no classes. It was refreshing to practice a little more consistently and get back to a place of feeling comfortable with my instruments. I miss that.  I love teaching and I love my students, but sometimes I wonder about the cost.

One day, if we can make music videos and create music for a living with teaching being on the side, we will be better people.  I’ve been reading a book by Sir Ken Robinson called The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.  It’s full of anecdotes of different people who are living out their passions and, while it’s not an easy or quick thing, it’s incredibly fulfilling.  I want everyone to be able to find their Element and do it full time. It’s idealistic, I know, but who says dreaming is a bad thing?

daydreams

He points out several things that I love.  My favorites: Intelligence and creativity cannot be put in boxes.  Intelligence is not only in reasoning and math, creativity is not only in the fine arts or creative writing.  They work together in different combinations in every person and, when allowed, make beautiful things.

I’ve been challenged to find ways to be creative and intelligent in the things that I enjoy doing instead of trying to do things that I think are creative and intelligent just so that I can say I’m being creative and intelligent (Yes, word games, I’m looking at you).

Anyways, another post to come soon on that whole balance thing that I was obsessed with at the beginning of the year. It’s related to this in a lot of ways but I have to go back to the administrative tasks that seem to consume my non-teaching times (Challenge time, how can I make recording attendance creative?)

Until the next time!

Taking Stock

So I’m looking at my Don’t Break the Chain calendar aaaand while the first two months went pretty well (and by that I mean I’d remember at the end of the week to go back and mark the days that I did things), March really fell off. I’m looking at starting a different system that is hopefully a little more organized and something that I carry around so that I remember to do it.

I find myself constantly fluxing between skimming and trying to go deeper. I want to have deep relationships. I want to live well. But sometimes I get into this rut. I want to follow a script of what I think will make me happy and I get so focussed on what my (self written) script says that I miss out on the good things that are around me. I think being 1/4 of the way through the year means it’s a good time to reflect and see what I really want to do. Maybe it’ll even happen this weekend.

I need to stop doing and just be.