Archive | April 2013

Comfort music

I think it’s great that God created a world filled with many comfort… thingys. By that I’m including comfort food, comfy clothing, warm blankets, stuffed animals, journals, and a new item I am now calling “comfort music.”

 

Music is meant to produce reactions in us, there is a strong connection between music and the human soul. And I truly believe that. I’m not a musical person per se, but I do understand that the effect of music should not be underestimated or devalued. However music, like so many things in life, is a two-edged sword. It can either be very destructive or very constructive. I try to listen to music that will inspire and uplift me.

I wish I could find the quote, with the person who said “as humans there is nothing we respond better to than the human voice,” or something like that. It was on one of the documentaries or things that I watched over the break I’m sure. But the point is I believe this comment to have a great deal of value. Do you not feel that way? I keep thinking about that whenever I listen to Youtube videos of people singing songs I love a capella. Like today I needed some comfort music, so I listened to an a capella performance of “Misty Mountains.” I love that song. It makes me… feel. If that makes sense. It makes me feel better. I means I can cry because something’s beautiful, not because I want to indulge myself in self-pity.

 

I believe it is important to recognize the things that bring us comfort, to know what is constructive verses what is destructive. We’re not doing anyone else a favor by being miserable, so let’s try to become- in a sense- a creator by learning to take care of these problems.

Dreams that don’t come true

Last night I dreamed I was giving my Sunday School lesson. It didn’t go well. I ended up crying tears of shame and misery and dismissed the class after 15 minutes. It went much better in real life. I got some compliments (of course, that doesn’t always say much, sometimes people are just polite). But my roommate is a genuine kind of person, and she seemed to get something out of it. So all is well. My dream didn’t come true. And that suits me fine.

 

I really want to be a good teacher. Teachers have a powerful capacity to make a difference in the world and in people’s lives. They are in an ideal position to make changes for the good. I just want to be the sort of person who can actually do that. But it is strange, after years and years of being a student, to be a teacher. You tend to take teachers for granted, but the experience they have is so different. I just… I want to move to new levels, and effect other people while I’m at it.

Teaching

Well, yesterday was a wonderful day.

 

First of all, I received an official calling to be a Sunday School teacher. I’ve harbored a secret, tentative desire to be a Sunday School teacher for a while now. I honest want to do a good job. I want to teach, I want people to learn and be engaged with class discussion. I want to be the kind of teacher I always wished I had. Really! I’m not scared so much as excited at this opportunity. I just hope and pray that I do a good job.

 

But another wonderful thing happened yesterday. I wrote a blog post some time ago about an assignment I had in my Young Adult Lit class, where I had to create a unit plan with activities for a YA book of my choice, and I chose The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander. Yesterday I got a comment by a homeschooling Mom asking me if I would share some of my ideas.

Would I? Of course I would! I was so blown away with the opportunity to share some of my ideas. I can’t believe that the activities I came up with might actually be used by someone in a homeschool setting. Do you know how awesome that feeling was? It was definitely one of the highlights of this week, and we’re talking a week that included birthday cake and fun times with roommates, so it’s a pretty big deal.

 

These two wonderful things have something in common- they both include giving me the opportunity to teach. I’ve never wanted to be a teacher as a career or anything, but in recent years I have had a desire to teach. I feel like I’ve learned so much, and I’ve pondered a lot of things. I feel like I have much to share, and I want to share. I feel that people’s lives could benefit if I did share. And who doesn’t want to be a benefit in the lives of others? So even if not in a formal teaching setting, I would like it if others gained by what I have to offer. That’s one of the reasons I have this blog.

A warning

When you say things like, “I’ve always wondered what kind of Sunday School Teacher I would make,” check and make sure the Bishop isn’t listening first. He might just stop by the next day and give you an assignment to teach on Sunday.

Thankfully, I’m actually looking forward to giving this lesson. I’ve learned over the years not to be scared silly about being in front of people, so I’m not especially nervous- though I kinda feel like I should be. What I really want is to prove that I could be a good teacher. I’ve sat through so many Sunday School classes where the teacher was boring and I found it hard to learn anything. I kept wondering ‘Could I do better?’ And I wanted the answer to be yes. I want people to actually enjoy Sunday School and to learn from it, because as it stands I feel Sunday School is the most boring part of our church meetings. But learning the gospel should be engaging and interesting. Anyway, we’ll see how this goes.

 

I still have no idea how this semester is going to go. It’s hard to tell when the teachers haven’t assigned homework yet. But I wish I could gage how much spare time I will have, so that I know what all I can get involved in. There are so many opportunities here, after all. But I do have a goal, that my roommate and I both agreed to; by the end of the semester we each want to be able to share some creative writing with another. Now, I’m no good at stories, but I do have a lot of characters and background stories. So I’ve figured out a way to sort of bring those together. I enjoy writing it, because I get to pull in a lot of ideas that I already have, and I can focus on what I know. The focus is going to be characters and their emotional core. I hope my roommate enjoys reading it when we share at the end of the semester.

In the meantime, I should consider other options for things I can do if I have spare time. Maybe do some volunteer work.

 

Also, since little triumphs are worth counting, I tried out a new recipe yesterday and I liked it.

Booklist

Books. Oh how I love books.

Oh how I hate spending a whole bunch of money on books.

 

Long book lists are, I believe, and unfortunate side effect of being a Humanities major who focuses on the literature end of things. Now, a longer list doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, but this time it feels like my books have cost a lot.

I know I ought to be building up my own library. I really should. But I guess I always figured that library would be made of books handed down to me by parents or bought at library sales. New books are ideal, of course, but there is the matter of buying them, which hurts in the moment. Last semester I got some books on my kindle, because I had a gift card so I figured it would be a nice way to save money. Methinks I’m going to have to come up with a clever way to conserve money this time around as well.

 

It’s not that I’m not able to take care of my expenses as they stand. I am. But one likes to save money even if there is not a tremendous need. At least I do. Frugality ought to be valued.

Friends

I have said that I’ve come to value friendships more since coming to BYU-I. I guess that’s because before coming here friends were always a theoretical sort of thing. Without having the experience, it’s hard to have a complete idea of something.

 

I guess I previously thought friendship was… just something nice. Like an indulgence. Just something to keep you from getting lonely. Of course, that’s nothing to sneeze at. But, having friends now, I realize it is more. It’s an opportunity to serve and to be served. And you learn so much. Worlds are opened to you. It’s hard to realize that when you have lived with the same frame of mind for a while. I think this is especially beneficial for me to learn. I tend to be… a bit egotistical. My brother calls me “imperialistic.” There are times where I’m very confident in my way of thinking, so much so that I don’t realize what I’m missing until people point things out to me.

 

But it also incredibly validating to share ideas with people, and then together come to a greater understanding. Actually, it’s making me think of Jon Donne, who I think wrote the “man is not an island” poem. Friendship is not only for our benefit, I guess. In a way understanding that creates a sense of… deeper obligation to fellowship others. And I have to say, I’m grateful today for having discussions with two of my friends today. I feel blessed to have known them. I like to think I can return the same.

 

Maybe… maybe I take too much upon myself trying to find answers myself. But today I was thinking about that blog post I made a little while ago, about the missions. And I felt comfortable in asking one of my friends who has been on a mission her perspective of my ideas. It was… validating. Like… the idea was completed because I got feedback, if that makes sense. It’s good to have that from a friend, since my brother is not so available. And other people can tell you things about yourself that you wouldn’t notice about yourself, because those things become invisible to you.

 

We went on to a different topic before we could get too deep into it, but it was said that I had reached a level that some people don’t reach until after their mission (which was nice to hear, by the way, thank you <3). It was a good… good way to express it I think. See, I had always… felt this way, I’ve always felt that a mission was not my calling, and that I shouldn’t feel in any way bad about that. That’s what I felt. But it was good to have that… reasoned. Again, it was validating, and it wasn’t a validation that I could… give myself so easily. I mean, I do have my moments of arrogance- I admit it. But I have my limits too. If that makes sense. Hearing that, I could feel better about the fact that I have no intention of serving a mission, even though I felt it was right from the beginning. I’m still good. I’m not going to get as much fanfare as those who are going on missions. But I can deal with that. It helps that I know at least one person who sees that validation.

This is one of those moments where I feel blessed. I hope I can give back, debts of gratitude can be a serious matter with me. I pay my debts. At least, I hope I can. To some extent at least.

 

What I learned before the semester

It’s been a wonderful Saturday-before-classes-begin. I read a great Terry Pratchett book for one thing. It’s strange to think that someone can can write something so… deep, but still keep it light- if you know what I mean. Terry Pratchett, even though he has written so much, manages to keep bringing in new insights and truths. He just seems to me like such a… deep thinker. But more than that, he is able to express that in his writing, like that’s it’s natural place. I like to think that my thoughts will also find their way into the world. Perhaps not in the big way that Sir Pratchett does it, but I like to think they will set up shop somewhere in a small corner of town and that people will benefit from the time they spend there.

 

Anyway, I also did a little bit of artwork. Something really simple and quick. Actually, the idea came to me yesterday. I was listening to a conference talk and doodling with an ink brush. I decided that my favorite doodles were the stick figures. I have a special place in my heart for stick figures. A lot of the times when I show people my art, or say that I enjoy art, they say, “I can draw stick figures,” in mock triumph as if that were something to be ashamed of. What’s wrong with stick figures? That’s how I started out. And anyway, I liked the way the brush seemed to give the stick figures… character.

So I did a little something on the back of a spare index card. It was supposed to be these shadow-stick figures dancing amidst flames. I associate dancing with flames, both have the same raw energy that cannot be contained or controlled (let’s hope Len Goodman doesn’t hear me say that). Unfortunately, the result was that it looked like I was setting my stick people on fire- like some sort of apocalypse. Normally, I like to let the viewers come up with their own conclusions about my work, but this time I hope they realize that my goal was a happy, energized sort of picture.

 

At the end of the day… I’m still asking the same questions I’ve been asking for years (“What is it I’m supposed to contribute anyway?”) and I’m giving thanks for the same things I’ve been giving thanks for years (“Thank you God for good books, and people who write them”). I’m excited for the new semester, but always with that teaspoon of anxiety. I have no doubt that things will work out however, and I just hope that I’ll be able to find out where myself and my talents fit in the grand scheme of things.

 

Next big thing

I wonder what the next big thing in my life will be. Again, that’s the thing about new semesters. You can’t help but wonder about the possibilities. I mean, last semester, I couldn’t have imagined that I would make such good friends. Some of them were even guys. What a novelty right? And I’ve talked before about how I wanted some kind of… calling. Responsibility. Maybe I’ll get involved in something really amazing this coming semester.

If I was really on top of things, I’d even do some artwork this semester. And writing. But I’m more concerned about my artwork at this point (oh yeah, I broke the 1,000 word streak. I knew it wouldn’t last). I just… really wonder what good things can come out of it, you know? Something good has to, surely I haven’t spent seventeen years on this talent for nothing.

I just… I feel like I might be ready for big things. Obviously once big things come I might regret saying this, but at a certain point it hurts more to remain the same, than to go through the pain it takes to change. So what if…. I had the opportunity to do something more? Or what if I pushed myself to do more? What if I had a goal to work towards? Like maybe I can finally figure out what I’m going to do with all the artwork I hope to do.

That’s the problem with being a young single adult. You’re eyes are full of glitter and delusions of grandeur. But still, sometimes I really wish I could be part of something… big (just not too big).

The similar fear

I’ve noticed, whenever I start a new year, or to a lesser extent- a new semester, I have this fear that it won’t be as good as the last time. I’ve had such a wonderful time at BYU-I, but I’m always worried that it was only a temporary thing, and that this next year I would discover the harsh truth about life at BYU-I. So far, however, I have not been disappointed. Not that it’s sunshine and popcorn. Of course not! I mean, there is real life in high school, due dates and homework and whatnot. And yet, at the end of the semester, I find I have enjoyed myself over all.

I have discovered I have a similar fear when I have a break from school, especially during my off-track, and that is that I have lost some of my artistic ability. Every year when I finally have time off from school and I can focus my energy on art, I worry I won’t be as good as I was last year.

I’m feeling it now. It’s spring break, and I thought I would take the opportunity to take some further steps for some of my doodles. I found a documentary online; “Art and Design: Insights into the Visual Arts.” It’s a lot like what I do during Summer Break, I find something to watch- I’m particularly interested in documentaries and such that I believe I will find inspirational, motivational, and informative, especially in regard to art. I like to think that helps my work.

But I’m running into a couple of frustrations, one is that I don’t have all of my supplies at hand. I brought my colored pencils, but not my watercolors, and I kind of feel like watercolors. I’m not very practiced with them, but I want to play around with them a bit and see what I come up with- because they can be such a lovely medium when you are good at them. I’ve also been wondering about what I could do with ink (you can thank my sister for that), but I don’t have the stuff for that either. And another thing is that when I’m experimenting, I like to have a scanner. The reason being, I will often get to a point where I feel like it looks good, but incomplete. Then I will try something different or experimental to hopefully complete the image, but it could also ruin the image. So I like to preserve the moment where it is good, but not complete- sort of salvaging something of the creation, then maybe later I can find a different body for the soul to go into, so to speak.

But time spent on art is rarely if ever wasted, even if you don’t get the end result that you want.

Also, so far I have been keeping with the 1,000 word challenge.

1,000 words

There is a site I visit every once in a while, called authors magazine or something. Anyway, they have a lot of interviews with various authors, which I find interesting. They had a short video with advise from Lisa See, her recommendation for writers is- whether they’ve been writing a long time or for just a week, to write 1,000 words a day for five days in a week. It doesn’t matter if what you’re writing isn’t good, it just needs to get out there. Don’t put writing on hold while you’re waiting for inspiration.

I think my usual reaction would be “easy for you to say.” But I think her advise has merit. I might even give it a shot, now that I have a ‘sort-of idea’ for a story which I’ve been writing. I’ve talked of it before, the plot is almost nonexistent, but it all connects… loosely. I think the important thing is that  I finish, rather than I do a good job. After all, I’m not expecting my work to be any good at this point, I just want it to be done.

And you know, I think that’s a good way to start. I remember when I had to do a watercolor for a collage art class. I was upset with myself, because it didn’t seem any good to me. But thankfully there was an encouraging student teacher. “How many watercolors have you done before?” he asked.

Oh. I hadn’t done a lot. Maybe two works in High School. Of course I wouldn’t be a brilliant water color artist. Likewise, I’m not going to come up with a brilliant story right off the bat, I’ve never done much in the realm of creating stories.

Actually, there are a number of similarities between my experiences with watercolor and writing. Both seemed like daunting tasks. But nevertheless, I’ve dabbed into creative writing. I’ve dabbed into watercolors as well. I intend to work more on the latter when I can. There’s some things I want to try- including further experimentation with salt glazing and layering with colored pencils. As for writing, I hope to find time during the semester for that.