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“Same Kind of Different As Me”

The above title is from a book that I am currently reading, a true story, about a wealthy Texas art dealer who befriends a homeless man and how their friendship changes both their lives and more importantly their perspectives of one another’s worlds. I highly recommend this book, not just because it has given me a lot to think about but also because I think at the beginning of a new year we are especially in need of some fresh perspective.

Personally, my day to day life looks very different at the start of this year than just a month ago. Having moved home finally after living many different places throughout my college years, I had a very lovely ‘aahhhhhhh’ moment this morning at the sight of the incredible Rocky Mountains all colored in pinks and purples due to the sunrise. I think that Katherine Lee Bates hit it spot on when she wrote the words, “for purple mountain majesties” in America The Beautiful- there really is something majestic and awe-full in purple mountains soaring high into the sky. It was seeing these mountains this morning that brought to my heart a small sense of peace about being really homeand even in the midst of transition and a lot of uncertainty in finding a job (hopefully soon)… I want to find certainty in the small things.

This story about Denver and Ron’s friendship (the before-mentioned book I’m reading) reminded me of something that I do know for certain: that there will be new surprises/friendships and challenges with each day whether one is ready for them or not. I think we all will do well to realize that our own little world is not the only one, and though it may feel like it, ‘my problems are no worse than yours.’

I want to start each new day with the same sense of readiness as I did today. I want to not be daunted by starting anew and fresh in a job, church, etc. I want to be mindful and alert to notice the small things that God is doing in others, in me, that I normally would be blind to… I want a new perspective.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Beauty, Colorado, Relationships

 

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Is music therapeutic?

I recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University, with a degree in music therapy. Have you ever heard of music therapy? Well, it’s a clinical field, and there are Bachelors degrees in it! 🙂 Music therapy is an enormous part of my life, not only because it is the field in which I have studied and plan on builing a career, but because I first became very interested in music therapy on account of my own experience with music being a large factor in my growing into the person I am today. Most people would say that music is therapeutic, in some way. Wouldn’t you agree? Well…. essentially music therapy is the actual reality of helping someone using the ways that music and rhythm naturally affect the human brain and body.

The reason that I am writing all this is because I recently saw an article that was printed in SPU’s university magazine about our music therapy program and I think it well represented the exciting nature of what is growing there. When I read my classmates’ (some now colleagues) and professors’ names I felt a little welled up with pride for our program and for the hope I see for its growth in years to come. If you have a minute and are interested, I encourage you to read this: http://spu.edu/depts/uc/response/new/2012-autumn/the-city/healing-power-of-music.asp

You can look forward to more music therapy research postings in the future from me… but for now, get to know www.musictherapy.org. It’s worth it.

 
 

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Happyness (yes, with a ‘y’)

Remember the movie with Will Smith and his son? It’s the one about a struggling single father in San Francisco whose business venture turns out to be a flop and he quickly finds himself in a homeless situation while desperately trying to take care of his son through the means of a new job that he must essentially put everything on the line for…. that movie is one of those that just gets right to the deepest part of my heart. It’s title, “the pursuit of happiness” is the key thing to consider (I think).. because it displays a very typical story of a family just trying to make it, and I think the point is to show how we all have a desire within us to first simply survive, and then also to thrive.

But what they don’t tell you at the end of that movie, after Will Smith does in fact get the job that he wants, is that his one story is not like all stories. There are thousands of people with the same story living in cities all over our country who do try and try and try and try and still do not make it in the end by getting the job they risked everything for, or they remain homeless. The reason that this came to mind today is how I find it very interesting and yet not surprising (in kind of a sad way) that over the last 24 hours the main news story all over the WORLD media has been…. the US presidential election. Yes, while my grandparents watched the news last night on TV, simultaneously I observed that the TOP news story on BBC was the American presidential election. And BBC is one of the main worldwide news stations, broadcasting the most current news all the time. So Obama vs. Romney was the main event for the whole world last night? Interesting. I realize that the United States is a very prominent country in our world economy and society, but there is something a little interesting to me how the politics of world leadership often becomes more widely talked about than the actual condition of global economy, etc. To go a step further, there has been quite a lot of controversy and strife surrounding this election, has there not? Also interesting, and kind of disgusting in my opinion, is how with technology being what it is, at the moment that I was checking on world wide news, my facebook exploded with about every person I know from VERY different areas in this country all stating their opinions of the outcome. Rather loudly, for some.

But what do we take from this election? You can choose to feel however you’d like… but something that struck me last night was a music video I came across while researching ideas for my music therapy sessions today. According to those silly holidays that you never really hear of… November 7-13 is “Pursuit of Happiness” week. Convenient, or ironic perhaps. Applicable, definitely. I think no matter what the current state of our global economy, and even just the American political leadership, what we all need to be reminded of, is that life is a gift. And how we choose to go about each and every day is what essentially matters the most.

Personally, I usually try to look at the “big picture” of life so as not to be overwhelmed by too many details that often become stressful. I once even told one of my high school teachers that I choose not to feel stressed by things because letting yourself become stressed and worked up causes you to then have raised blood pressure, feel emotional, etc… this accomplishes nothing and you’re right back where you started and you still have no solution to what made you stressed in the first place. Thus, being stressed out= pointless. and not to get too philosophical or anything, but I think the same applies to this election drama, we ought to look at the big picture and maybe focus on what we CAN control: ourselves.

I have this dear friend Charlotte, and she likes to write. And after I saw that video and wanted to share some thoughts, then I saw her blog post and I think what she has to say is incredibly valuable and true. .. so I’d encourage you to take a look at it.

http://charlotteannpratt.tumblr.com/post/35212277933/waiting-on-the-world-to-change

And now… here’s the video that I found and I just think it’s perfect. I would really love to meet Bobby McFerrin someday. He just seems like such a great guy, and if this video doesn’t make you at least chuckle, well that’s not healthy. 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time, then lonesome would mean nothing to me at all…

It’s interesting how much we look forward to what’s coming, and often have a hard time being content with today… there’s a song that I have found quite pertinent to my life over the last number of months, and the lyrics go…

If today was not an endless highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to me at all.

These words just seem to speak right to my soul, and I have found myself often feeling a little lump in my throat and a tug on my heart when I hear them. It’s one of those moments that singing along is something I can’t even help because it’s like this is MY song…

I think I’ve always had a problem with contentedness, and I feel like even when I have learned a lot and grown in this area I find myself once again feeling stuck and frustrated that life is not how I want it to be. The thing is though, I don’t believe that my life is all about me, and what I want. So.. it’s a challenge to seek after wisdom for my heart and pray that my eyes will see what I cannot, and that my heart and mind will be patient when I am discontent. 

Sometimes it is the hard situations that teach us the most. I’m going to assume that every person in the world can relate to this reality at some level. Living with my grandparents has been one the biggest blessings in my whole life, I think. And yet there have been a couple moments in the last few months when I felt a little stir crazy or frustrated, and for the most part, it all could probably be boiled down to that living with them is (frankly) a whole heck of a lot different from living completely on my own, in another state, with 4 other college students the last 2 years. I found myself frustrated this morning while on the way to church when my 87 year old grandmother was driving us to church… and yet at the end of the service Grandpa and I prayed together with his arm around my shoulders and in that moment I was overwhelmed with just the beauty in the relationships that I have with my grandparents- something that is very unique and I would not trade for anything in the world.

There have been nights when lying down to sleep at night I find myself missing someone so much that my heart physically aches, and I feel miserable and want to simply be depressed. Yet at the same moment I am challenged by the knowledge that I know I will see this person in a couple months eventually, and the fact that I miss him so much is a testament to how much he means to me and to the value of our relationship. now THAT is something to look forward to, indeed. So my challenge is to look forward to the day when we are back together in the same place FOR GOOD, when there is no more long distance, but not to be discontent and miss anything here, like those quiet prayer moments with Grandpa or laughing with Grandma while we run errands and deciding to stop for frozen yogurt because froyo is worth it. 🙂

6 months straight of a long distance stretch is a long time…. and often I feel that “tomorrow is a LOOOOONG time” before I will see him. But I will use that as a challenge and a call on my heart to seek after a different kind of contentedness that I do not yet know. I think we all can be encouraged and challenged at the same time to know that the future, while sometimes seeming very distant, will indeed come, and in the meantime today is worth every bit of our attention.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Sunday mornings

Sundays are funny, aren’t they? I’ve always been fascinated by what “Sunday” means to people, because it seems as if there are trends to most people’s “sundays” but then again every person, every family has different routines that they stick to, right? People are beings of routine, aren’t we? If you think about it, there is probably at least one area of your life that you routinely do( the same thing, enjoy the same food or drink, drive the same route to get somewhere that you go often…. we seem to like routines, even crave them at times. In my opinion, I crave routine because it’s stabilizing. Feeling unfamiliar and all “discombobulated” (as my grandpa likes to say) is almost more exhausting than being in a routine? Why is that?

I recently moved in with my grandparents, and am living with them for a short season while I complete my required internship for music therapy. And I have found myself, even though they are my immediate family, having gotten used to my own sort of Sunday routine throughout my life, it’s taken me a little while to get used to their Sunday norm. So here I sit this Sunday morning, at an outside table at their church while they are in their normal sunday class and I find myself “routined” to this little hour and a half of quiet thinking/journaling/writing/praying/working/dreaming time.

I’ve always been an observer of people, and I love to people-watch. Just a few minutes ago a family sat next to me and the mother was quite out-of-sorts it seemed due to some schedule changes that will take effect next week at this church due to a new pastor coming in, and the service times changing. And as I overheard her (which wasn’t too difficult because she spoke quite passionately) it struck me that she and I were(are) both processing the same life-concept, even though we are not at all interacting or connected one bit. For me, I have started living in a totally new place and even though it’s with family, it’s a different environment than I’ve ever known, and to be honest it’s been a little challenging over the last couple months. I dearly love my grandparents, and I chose to look into completing my internship here so that I would be able to spend an extended amount of time living with them. It has been a huge blessing, in ways that I don’t have the words to articulate (not yet at least) and yet the moments that I find myself irritated or frustrated I feel bad for being frustrated because I want to be here to help them. The thing is, I’m discovering, we are such creatures of routine (at least I am) that something sort of close but just enough different from what I know as “my norm” is very discombobulating (I think Grandpa’s choice word here fits quite well).

So on this Sunday, at my lonely table corner outside EV Free church in Fullerton, CA, my heart feels overwhelmed with conviction and awe and thankfulness for grandparents. 🙂 This morning in church I found myself overwhelmed when I noticed myself in a room filled with people at least thirty-forty years older than me and I couldn’t even hear my own voice singing because of stereo vibrato in every direction. It was a little humorous and but also WONDERFUL, because really I was surrounded by people who have many many more years of life than me, years experienced with deep resounding faith that you can hear in their praise.

My grandmother has a beautiful voice, and she has used that voice to offer praise to her Lord for 87 years. She may not particularly like some of the more “contemporary” praise music, but to hear her sing hymns it is a truly awe-inspiring moment, because those words are not just words. They are life-statements and there indeed has been MUCH life in her years. You can see it in her face, you can hear it in her voice.

We all are the same in this way, I believe. No matter what one’s everyday life looks like (which as we all know on a personal level changes often throughout our years) there are routines that we get into and the “life” that we give into those “routines” is what matters. Do you remember who said, “it’s not the number of years in your life, but the life in your years?” That was Lincoln. And he didn’t have that many years, but he definitely put some life in those he did. I am reminded this morning that it’s not the “routine” that matters, and getting hung up on things changing in our routines isn’t worth the emotional wear and tear. I want to live not thinking about going through my routine, or getting into a “good routine” but just being present in the current day and time and ready for any change that may come. I’d like to be a woman who sees change on the horizon and says, “yes please.”

May you enjoy this sunday morning and know that you are loved today.

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

If I were a painter…

… I would paint the sky right now. As I was finishing my breakfast this morning, looking out the big windows that line my living room wall I noticed that to the west the clouds appeared almost as impressionist brush strokes in the sky. There were differing hues of gray and blue that seemed to be painted on top of each other as if to create almost a Monet effect. I don’t think I have ever seen the sky look like that before, and I found myself enraptured by its beauty and serenity.

And now I find myself sitting at my computer out on my deck having now enjoyed a cup of tea while bathing my face in the sunlight. While the rest of world seems to be under extreme and un-ordinarily hot temperatures, that phenomenon has not hit Seattle. Unfortunately. So while this sun is fantastic, my fingers are a little numb as I try to type out here…. so if the wind would stop I think this just might be perfect weather. And a perfect morning.

I love mornings. Especially those like today where I have the blessing of going slow and pausing to soak up the sun and let my mind wander and grace the day. I keep catching myself in little moments of surprise when it hits me that I am a college graduate. It feels amazing to have time to simply read and work out and sleep and enjoy my city, and yet it feels REALLY WEIRD that my identity as a student is… complete (for lack of a better word). Everyone goes through this transition to some extent when they graduate college, and it is understandable, since one of the primary domains of one’s identity from childhood all the way until well, now, has been being a student. Going to school is what we DO. (of course I’m talking about those who follow a conventional go-straight-to-college-right-after-high-school-and-complete-you-four-year-degree plan) All of a sudden, I crossed the finish line, and I almost feel as if I was running so hard towards the end of the race and focusing so intently on what I could see past the finish line that I missed the feeling of breaking through that white tape at the end. Does everyone feel this way? Perhaps… we all process things differently I know, but I wonder if there is some consistency to this graduation-shock factor for my generation.

Think about it. At the age of 22 (give or take a few), for most people the majority of their life experience that they can remember involves going to school on a regular basis. We start out in pre-schools sitting in circles learning the days of week, how to talk about a calendar, how to color in the lines, how to share with our neighbors and we eat snacks and sing songs. Then comes kindergarten, which is super fun. I still remember my class, and Mrs. Amy Jones was my teacher- I also remember automatically liking her because she had my same name. in Kindergarten we had one full day of school each week, and those days were special because we ate lunch in the cafeteria. But the BEST part of kindergarten, for me, was meeting Melissa, who to this day is still my best friend in the entire world. That’s almost seventeen years of being best friends!

Anyway, essentially, as our identity develops over the next ten or so years of life into adolescence, a large part of that identity remains in student-hood. And all of sudden at the end of the “conventional student” race, you are handed a piece of paper that qualifies you as an educated person and set free upon society to make something of yourself. No pressure. 😉

… and now that I have shared all my musings for this morning and enjoyed some quiet (though I moved inside because since Seattle has not gotten the warm-weather-memo my fingers were getting too cold to type), I hope that you too can reflect upon how you got to where you are at this very moment. Maybe pinpoint some key people who have helped along the way, and write them a note. Or plan an adventure. “Oh, the places you’ll go,” Dr. Seuss says. So often people give this book as a gift to high school and/or college graduates, but do we ever realize that its meaning could apply to any stage of life? welp, there’s my two cents.

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Hmmmmm...., Seattle Pacific

 

Spontaneity

Have you ever made a quick decision that was really out of character or just sort of surprised you that you might be capable of doing such a thing? I am primarily a very planned and logical person in my everyday life. With a little creative and somewhat inconsistent touch due to the artist/musician in me. However, I don’t normally just make spontaneous decisions, in fact it is something that I have been told would be good to work on. I can think of a couple people right this minute who have told me to loosen up every once in awhile, and these are folks whom I greatly admire for the way that they don’t always do the “practical thing.”

Well… I am learning. and I made a pretty spontaneous decision last week, definitely not the “practical thing” that will turn out to be one of the best ever I think.

So this has got me thinking a lot this week, particularly about relationships. Relationships are not meant to be predictable. I think deep emotions and commitment to one another obviously require consistency even in the hard times, but in it all, relationships take risk. People are not robots, which is a beautiful thing. Because of this we have to know and appreciate that we have only ultimate control of ourselves and our actions, and so jumping into relationships can be scary because you cannot FOR SURE know what the other person will do, say, choose, etc. Now I am referring to both friendships as well as romantic relationships here. This sense of risk exists everywhere you go. But what I have been reflecting on recently is that this risk factor is in some ways something very beautiful for how it challenges us to let go of having to always be in control.

We are indeed a people who like and thrive on having control in our lives. We like to plan our lives in small chunks and make goals that we know will be achievable. Those we love we often try to discourage from taking part in risky behavior because we do not want to not be able to control what may happen to them. But the thing is, we can never fully be in control. that is not our responsibility and it’s not our role. Instead we are given the blessing of walking alongside one another to make life more beautiful because we notice the beauty in others.

I have been studying and reading some famous historical philosophers’ works recently, and it is very interesting to see how Plato saw that the plight of each human was to seek to know of and fully understand the “good” so that he in turn would be “good.” However, Aristotle realized where Plato was lacking and instead suggested that what made humans so unique was their ability to… reason. But even he missed the mark, in my opinion.

As I was sitting in my Ethics class this morning and we were discussing Aristotle’s “Nicomachean Ethics” I couldn’t help but answer to myself that what makes humans unique is their ability to love. Obviously we do not know what the emotional dimension of the animal kingdom truly looks like, because we cannot feel it. However, we do know that emotions are closely tied to the mystery of the human brain, which is closely tied to reason.. so then I would take it one step further from Aristotle to challenge him and say that it is our capacity to LOVE. that is what makes us unique.

Relationships are how we make through the day to day of our lives. we need others in our lives to stand by and be a witness to all the small and big things. To empathize with us in the tragic moments and to challenge us when we need a kick in the pants. So it is this idea of risk that I have been realizing is so important and indeed a great blessing we have. People will come into our lives at different times, and to take a leap into the unknown, into that which we cannot control, is something to not shy away from.

In nine days I am flying home to spend the weekend with someone whose relationship has been one of the sweetest I have ever known, and while it is uncertain of the future for us, it is one in which I feel peaceful about continuing to invest my heart. it makes my heart skip a beat every time I think about seeing his face soon, and I keep finding myself walking around campus with a smile plastered all over my face that I cannot and do not want to get rid of. Time… go quickly!! I am jumping out of my skin to take off on my spontaneous trip. (now that’s something I never knew would come out of my mouth :))

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Beauty, Relationships