Sunday, July 10, 2011

Updates

Sorry that it has been a while since I've posted. Since it has been a while, I thought I would share a few updates.

Work

The past academic year went pretty well.  I did manage to keep the research momentum going quite well in the spring, and feel glad about that.  I then presented on my current paper in a conference in June, and am trying to finish writing the paper this summer.

Not being chair of my department has made a huge difference in my work life.  I still feel my administrative duties are a bit too heavy (coordinating our Peace Studies program), but way has not opened for me to let this go.  I am still discerning what exactly my role should be.

Music

My musical life has really picked up.  I did a lot of performing during the academic year, and now this summer too.  This summer I am part of a recorder group, a concert band, and an orchestra, with performances scheduled for all three groups.  After the recorder concert and the band concert, things will lighten up.  I had committed to those before the orchestra opportunity appeared.  But now that I am in this orchestra, I think I might drop my participation in the concert band.

Being relatively inexperienced in orchestral matters, I handed over first flute part to the other flute player (who used to play regularly in another local orchestra).  The second flute part was nice, and relatively easy, giving me a chance to work further on performance nerves. 

Just when I was congratulating myself for not letting pride overcome common sense, making my life more stressful than it needs to be (I am at last learning!), I found out that the first flute player cannot make one of our concerts, and the conductor wants me to play first flute for that one.

Then I realized that this meant that (a) I have to learn both parts, and (b) I have to perform first flute in a concert without any opportunity for rehearsal on this part first!

So, instead of taking the "easy" way out, it turns out that my choice led me into a much more challenging and stressful situation than if I had just accepted first flute to begin with!  If I had, I would only have had to learn one part, and would have had ample rehearsal time before performing.

This is what my life is like.  Even when I try to be good and actually make things easier for myself, this sort of thing happens!

It may sound like I am complaining, and maybe I am, a little, but I am also laughing (ruefully, though).  Although I was initially stressed about this, I have come to accept the challenge and will make the best of it.

It helps that I've been reading the book, Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin, and one of the points he makes is that those who are regarded as "talented" are those who continually challenge themselves beyond their comfort zones. 

I have been thinking a lot about this in my own life.  People have told me that I need to be easier on myself, and I know they are partially right.  But I have also suspected that there is something important to the ways I challenge myself.  I didn't want to let go of this completely.  So what I have been trying to do is find the right balance: enough challenge to keep me learning and striving and seeking, but without overwhelming myself.

Gardening

I heard something on the radio about the dangers of giant hogweed, and saw something similar in my own garden -- a huge weed I had let go because it was kind of interesting and very scary.  Closer inspection revealed that it was cow parsnip (a relative of giant hogweed).  Both can cause burns upon contact, though those caused by giant hogweed are much worse.  I carefully covered myself up, and removed the cow parsnip, and succeeded in not contacting the plant in the process.

Meanwhile, neighbors have been impressed that I still  mow my grass with a non-gasoline-powered push mower, and one even wanted to try it.  She said she would get one when her current mower dies.  I feel like in my own small humble way, I have fulfilled George Fox's advice to:  "Be patterns, be examples . . . wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone."  If my "mowing cheerfully over my lawn" inspires others to make more sustainable choices themselves, then this is a good way of being a "pattern and example," I should think!

Quakerism

I am feeling concerned about the state of Quakerism today, and am feeling stirrings to do something about it.  But I'm not sure what...

State of the World

I am also feeling concerned about the state of the world, in many respects, and am feeling stirrings to do something about it.  But I'm not sure what...

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