Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Learning’

The Happy Uncertainty

Happy Smiley Face from Urine Samples

Happy Smiley Face from Urine Samples (Photo credit: epSos.de)

If you have ever been in a state of flux, that precarious place between certainty and doubt – then you will understand where we are at right now.

The older I get, the more comfortable I become.  Comfortable with myself, my husband, friendships and my surroundings.  Having a home and “things” have provided a feeling of being settled and being safe.  But the things I own  –  do not own me.  I am thankful for that.  I have watched many beloved things come and go throughout our life in ministry together.  Whole households of furniture bought and sold – filled up then emptied again.  Many times.  And it does not define me to be with or without.

We are right back to that place between not knowing and knowing.  I don’t much like this place.  But as with any pain and testing – it is also a great place to grow and learn many valuable life lessons.  Here are a few things I’m learning along the way:

 

#1 – Let God be God – He will lead and direct if we will listen and are open to it

#2 – Keep a loose grasp on material things that are here today and gone tomorrow

#3 – Be happy as you Live in the moment

#4 – Be grateful and thankful for the little things

#5 – Embrace each new experience as an opportunity to learn

 

There are many more things I’m bound to learn along this ever changing journey I am on.  So for now I will say that I am still learning, still open to new possibilities and still becoming.

And so as things are walking out of our home once again – I’m finding myself back at this same place.  Uncertain, struggling to make things work, trying to be okay with an unresolved future and place to land.  And strangely – it’s all right.

I am uncertain about the future – but I am happy and confident that He will lead us…Ever been there?  Are you still here?

 

God Bless

 

 

 

 

Leading With My Life

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.

~ Victor Hugo

There is much in life that bewilders me.  Things I either do not agree with – or am simply at a loss to understand.  Many times I have been tempted to be in a theological debate with others who do not believe the same as I.  But have discovered that it is when I close my mouth – open my heart and really listen, that I really learn something.

Simple values, principles and character issues cannot be debated.  But much of life sits in a “gray” area – which is neither right or wrong.  Some things are more profitable and beneficial to us as a whole or individually – but if neglected or not deemed important does not affect our salvation.  And just because someone has a louder opinion in person or online does not make them more right than you or me.

And if you want to get really spiritual about some issues that we quibble about – some are not even spelled out in scripture *gasp* – therefore they are open to personal and yes *groan* our own brand of church affiliation and denomination – especially those in which we were raised as children.

I believe that my life and not just my words should lead.  I can give a flowery argument for politics, religious beliefs,  sinful ‘dos and don’ts’ and shout to you about “all we need is love” and yet continue to live a negative, frustrated, prejudice and narrow lifestyle, showing no tolerance for my lesbian neighbors.  I can abhor divorce and even be quick to judge you if you have had an emotional or physical affair – and then be so unguarded and puffed up with self-righteous pride that I am not even aware that it is happening to me.

And because God is the only one that can really look into me and see my heart – it is Him that I want to please most.  What does it matter if I say things and try to convince everyone how spiritual and wonderful I am – if I’m harboring un-forgiveness, pride, arrogance and secret sinful thoughts?  I cannot pretend with God.

People will not remember what I say (who can blame them?) but hopefully they will remember me for the life that I live.  Someone who has survived and overcome even when at times it would have been easy to throw in the towel.  Someone who in spite of differences – has chosen to stay in a long term marriage, learning that marriage is a series of being willing to change, learn and grow.   Who had a career change more than 15 years ago because I felt God was leading me into teaching instead of a potentially lucrative sales career.   Who tries not to judge – but tries to listen, accept and validate everyone I meet.   Who has been dealt some interesting blows in my personal life, ministry and even survived betrayal from a good friend.  But instead of having a pity-party and living with the pain and humiliation of certain events – I got back up and decided to be an encourager and a giver, knowing what it feels like to have things taken.  You see it’s not the events in life that define us – it’s the life we lead in spite of those events.

And so as my seasons keep turning and spinning – I plan to hold true to my roots and principles but change my opinions and keep an open mind and heart.  And most of all…

Lead with my life.

When was the last time you were tempted to argue with someone and chose instead to let your life be proof enough of what you believe?

 

Dear Lord – help all I come in contact with today to learn how valuable, unique and influential they are.  Help them see that simply by living their life for others and giving themselves away is the key to happiness.  Help them to trust you to show them how to become all they were created to be.  Help them to lead with their life.  Amen

 

God Bless

Finding Out What Works

Life everyone else – it is by trial and error (a lot of trial and too much error) that I learn.

It is not a fun way to learn – but there it is.

I have tried countless brands of this and that from cereals to deodorant before I found the right one that worked for me.

I have downloaded hundreds of pieces of sheet music trying to find the right song for  students (and learn how to do it)

I have tried numerous website browsers for my computer before landing on the “right one”

I have struggled learning software programs and trying to understand my iMac and before that, my PC – all in an attempt to better communicate, write and teach others.  It took me longer than anybody else because I refuse to give up before I have answers. Some would call it a futile effort – but it is what has worked for me.

I have tried several dry, canned, raw foods and doggie snacks (even given away several boxes of snacks and crackers that Daisy won’t eat) in an attempt to feed a healthy balanced diet for our finicky puppy and finally found something that works!

We tried several churches after resigning from a full-time staff position more than 3 years ago – and finally found something that worked for us in this season.  It only took us a year or so.

I designed a music lesson plan and contract for teaching piano and voice after much trial and error – and early on in my career found something that worked.

I have tried several types of friendships in my life time.  I now choose my relationships based on very specific things after being around the block a time or two with those who stole my trust and broke the rules of friendship. – These things that I value are not definable – but very tangible to me.  It has not always been so in past years – but now I value what is most important in my intimacy with others – this works for me and allows me to feel safe.

I write a blog based on things I am interested in and do not follow other things more trendy or universal in appeal.  Knowing that I being true to myself at the same time helping others is enough for me – one person at a time – and that is something that works for me.

I have tried to please others.  I have wasted much of my thought life of caring what others think of me.  I am guilty of putting too much thought into those who don’t care anything about what I’m doing or thinking.  And I’ve come to one conclusion:

The only one I need to please is God.  Any thoughts I have are not wasted on Him.  He listens with rapt attention to my emotions and struggles.  I am safe with Him.  And my time spent with Him is always valued and never tossed aside.

He brings my thoughts and emotions into balance – helps me be a kinder, more compassionate person – and helps me find the meaning in my sometimes crazy and mixed up mind – my many trials and errors and helps me understand why I am like I am and do the things that I do.  And with Him to balance me – my life is complete.

It is a simple formula.  Loving my family, friends and my Heavenly Father.

And that is what works for me.

How about you?  What have you learned by trial and error?

God Bless

 

Interesting…

Man and woman in bathing suits in a rowboat ne...

So Greg and I were sitting at the kitchen table having a discussion over scrambled eggs, toast and coffee, when suddenly we found ourselves on a topic that has been hashed around in our home MANY times:  Why can’t a man think more like a woman?  And to be fair – Why can’t a woman think more like a man?

Greg, of course – sides with all the men out there and sees the need to defend his “maleness” – while I struggle to fight for the “right to be heard” and explain that women just don’t think like men.

It is a very familiar dance.  The male vs. women thinking – a completely different approach to life,  to people and relationships.

When men see something such as a picture or image on TV – it does something for them.  When a woman sees that same provocative thing – they are usually disgusted and turned OFF.  When a woman is just being friendly to a man it can be interpreted as something else – but the man can think that it means something else entirely.  The woman see that as it is – just being friendly.  And making a new friend.  When a man is friendly to a woman – woman usually see this as friendly – unless it is creepy in some way – while a man may be thinking totally differently about his friendliness and her responses to it – leading – shall we say – somewhere else?

Greg was telling me that he heard on a radio program the other day – how men like seeing pictures of women – so these same men think that sending a nude photo of themselves will somehow be a turn-on to women he’s never met on the internet or through text messages.  Clearly men DO NOT UNDERSTAND WOMEN.

I love all my friends and I have many – both men and women.  But understanding the differences in how men and women relate with one another can takes a lifetime.  Is it worth it?  Yes.  A well rounded person should have friends from both sexes and have an easy rapport with both.

And after being married to the same man for almost 30 years, I can clearly see the differences – at least in our home:   Men see and feel through their eyes.  Women see and feel through their heart.  

Because men assume that women feel as they do – often times conversation can be misunderstood.  And because women assume men think like a woman – when they just want a “good talk”  (like they would with any of their girlfriends) – it can be misunderstood.  Woman love having deep conversations and often times their guy friends are like their girl friends – comfortable and dependable.  With nothing meant – and no interest whatsoever.

Greg has had to learn the art of listening – because I like to express myself through talking things out.  And I have had to learn that he doesn’t just want to talk all the time 🙂  And by communication, we’ve learned that I am a natural “nurturer” – loving to help, encourage and lend support to those out there within my reach.

And I have learned that Greg needs to be admired and be the “hero” in my life – making even the most difficult of days – better.  He longs to fix and offer wisdom and advice to my everyday problems and situations.  He loves to be connected and be consulted in even the smallest of decisions.

We’ve learned to support each other and to play to each other’s strengths – and yes,  even help each other understand why men and women react and respond the way they do – when it seems foreign to us.

It’s – interesting.  It’s called life.

What do you find the most interesting about woman – if you’re a man?  And about men – if you’re a woman?  Do you try to walk around in their skin once in a while to see if you can understand them better?  Try it – it’s very – interesting.

God Bless

Music Of Your Life

Piano

Image via Wikipedia

This should be on my music blog – but because it is something that I have been thinking about for a while now – music being a HUGE part of my daily life – I thought I would write on this subject and  make it a part of my regular blog site today.

Music does so much more than just teach another language  and skill – or help you focus in another part of the brain – Music actually makes you feel happy.

As a music performer and instructor for most of my life – I can say that those of us in the music profession – actually feel joy in a real way that comes from our pores.  On more than several occasions I have seen it visibly lift the spirits of depression and sadness. Even those not thrilled about practicing the piano – will actually feel better after they do.  Those experiencing sadness, even grief – will feel better after singing for 30 minutes.

Yesterday I had the privilege of singing with a couple of young teenage girls – singing their hearts out  to Rascal Flatts and other artists they were familiar with.  It was great to see them come out of their shells and enjoy the moment – releasing the endorphins while singing – making them feel joy and happiness and a sense of well-being.  All three of us sang at the top of our lungs – and it felt good.

Now sometimes – music doesn’t bring a smile.  When it is forced.  When it is not rehearsed enough.  And sadly – when the student or artist does not know the difference.

I am a firm believer in the fact that when you rehearse something in haste – often times it can be learned wrong.  The brain cannot make a quick adjustment when corrected.  I have seen this many times in a student who learns a passage of music wrong – and then does not have the “ear” to be able to tell that it is wrong. They rehearse it wrong all week – and then when being corrected for that “wrong” part  – cannot make the shift in their brain.  It is almost too late for them.  Better to have learned it right – and have it take longer to learn – then to learn it wrong in the first place.  This takes patience, knowledge and an “ear” to tell if it’s wrong.

The reward for learning it correctly is in the happiness it brings – to both yourself and to others listening.

Music is not just learned and played correctly – but it is also felt.  Anyone can learn it – not everyone can feel it.  Ever heard a bad musician?  Then you know what I mean.  Ever hear a really good artist that feels what they play and sing?  Then you also know what I mean.

I want my students to both learn it correctly – and to feel it.  In this way – music can be learned and enjoyed – and truly bring a smile.

We all make music.  Whether we are musicians or not.  What do you do with the music of your life?  Do you go through the motions – like some of my piano students – learning things wrong with daily reinforcement?  Or do you have an “ear” to tell the difference?   Do you feel the music and rhythm of your life and as you do – does your life bring a smile of joy to others?  

May your music be pleasant to others today – bringing peace and joy to whoever it touches.  Amen.

God Bless

Let It Go

I saw the above quote yesterday while helping my daughter and son-in-law move into their new home.  We had to pick up some furniture at The Cannery – and I saw this sign sitting on one of the coffee tables inside.

I was talking with an old friend today about the things we go through in life – making us more compassionate to those around us – and was even talking to my friend and pastor, Stephen about his recent back trouble with a herniated disc.  It seems as though our experiences in life – even some of the bad or painful ones – have a way of teaching us perspective, empathy and most of all awareness of those around us.  Often times ( okay most of the time) we don’t see the benefit to our own lives while these things are happening to us.  I know I haven’t.  I would rather NOT go through it at all.  I would rather hang on to comfort, peace, understanding and validation – you know.  The things that make us strong.  But it seems that is not in the plan for me.  I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me a few times – and rather than hang on to my comfort and things familiar – I found myself having to abandon those simple comforts and exchange them for painful, humiliating times of discomfort.  Let’s see…Strong and comfortable – or…Weak and miserable.  Hmmm.

So this leads us to the statement in the above quote.  Do you agree or disagree?  Why?  When I read it – it struck a chord with me – it really did.  It’s true.  We are taught to “hang in there” – “not give up” or “give in” – but I think we may have it wrong. Sometimes you need to let it go – in order to gain perspective and find your inner strength again.  Sometimes losing is really winning.  Sometimes the things that you think will make you strong – really make you unhealthily dependent on those you shouldn’t be.  And sometimes the real test of our faith is to let something go – maybe something that we thought we couldn’t ever live without and gaining something much more in the process.  Gaining ourselves back.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Painful things bring perspective, understanding and clarity.

Real strength comes from letting go

Losing sometimes is really winning

Finding one person who understands your journey makes it all worthwhile

Holding on means dependence on God and God alone

Sharing our discoveries and lessons in life with others to help them is the only way to live

There’s freedom in living an authentic life

So – I guess I’ve learned and I’m still learning to – Let it go

All of it.  And I’ve discovered something.  It’s okay NOT to be perfect and be far from “arriving”.  If people expect this from you – they have probably not been through any pain themselves – or anything that would “rock their world”.  This can make them appear judgmental and hard.  I don’t believe that Jesus was either of those things – and we should not be either.

I choose to be around people who have been through a little of life – and have gained the knowledge and perspective from a well stumbled journey.  Those people who have learned how to really live – after truly letting go.  Who are NOT judgmental and critical of others – but who embrace and love.

Let It Go.  Do it today.

God Bless

Letting Go Of My Negative Self-Talk

Pecha Kucha: Positive Negative Patterns

Image by bluekdesign via Flickr

I was awake in the wee hours with some thoughts and had to immediately reach and turn on my iPhone so I could jot the ideas down on my ‘notes’ – so I wouldn’t forget them by morning!  It was annoying – but sometimes it is better to get rid of them by writing them down so they won’t be all bottled up inside my head preventing me going back to sleep – or worse yet – be all tangled up in my dreams.

These thoughts were on negative and positive self talk.

It is said that for every negative thing said to you – it takes at least FIVE positive things said to counteract the effect of that ONE negative.  What’s up with that?  But I know it’s true.  Ever had someone say someone negative to you?  You can’t get that stupid, thoughtless comment out of your head – no matter how many other people tell you how it’s not true and try to give you a positive instead.  Been there.  Done that.  Still doing it.

Because I teach piano and voice lessons – I have an interesting ‘take’ – if you will – on negative and positive reinforcement in students.  Here are some of the things I have learned in all my years of teaching.

1) It takes much more energy to re-learn something – so we work extra hard to learn something correctly the first time.

2) When the negative or incorrect passage of music has been learned – the brain has a ‘default’ to go back and play it wrong – instead of grabbing the correct way – even though you have played it a thousand times.  Negative is always what is grabbed and it has much stronger of a pull.

3) Positive comments and affirmation make a student bloom and grow – but the negative is always there and difficult to get out of their heads.

4) You don’t have to teach children to do things the wrong way.  It comes naturally.  It takes effort to do things the right way.

5) With much practice you can overcome the negative and incorrect way of doing things.  But only then.

In much the same way – you and I do not have to be taught to be negative – it is called the sin nature. We have to work hard to overcome bad thought patterns and teach ourselves through much practice to remain positive.

Because most of us (especially women) have memories like an elephant – it can become hard to break out of the past – especially if it had negative consequences for us.  Here’s what can sometimes happen to me.

1) I make a new friend in person or online.  Because of a past experience with another friend – I hold you at arm’s length and have trouble trusting you.  The friendship continues and lives are shared.  There is laughter and continued conversation as is normal between friends.  The only difference is this:  I have been hurt.  By someone who knew me.  I will say things to myself like this, ‘Oh no – you are messaging me – you are being very friendly – it seems innocent enough – but this is how another friendship started and tragically ended.  Should I trust you?  What if you betray me?  What if things I say things in confidence to you – and you reveal them to someone else – never meant for anyone else to hear?  Can I really trust you?  I trusted before – revealed parts of myself reserved for very few.  This was someone I loved and who I thought loved me – will I be burned again? – should I trust? – or shouldn’t I? – how much of me should I reveal? – Can I be truly authentic?  How much of me should I share?  How much of me is really safe – OH NO – It’s happening again – will I be crushed and hurt AGAIN?  I don’t think I could ever go through that again.  EVER!!!”  And the negative experience wins again. And I close myself off to what could be a wonderful new relationship – all because that stupid person in my past was a jerk and didn’t know how to treat me – didn’t know how to hold on to a confidence – didn’t respect me enough and ruined trust in my life for other much more deserving people.  Is it right to think that everyone is like this?  Of course not!  And they aren’t.

Or

2) Someone close to me says or writes something negative about me.  (Writing it is much worse by the way – either by email or comment)  I am crushed.  And because it is someone close in – it hurts me more.  Those not close to me cannot hurt me like this.  My self talk becomes like this, “Well I’m just not going to talk to them anymore – I will assign an ‘outer-orbit’ for them to be in – and not let them in too close – yes – that will have to work – there’s NO WAY I’m ever going to allow them to hurt me again”  And I feel justified in doing this.  After all – I have rights, right?  Again – I have given in to my emotions and the negative wins again. Is everyone critical and negative?  Of course not.  But in my mind and heart I pull away – fearful that they are.

I have trust issues – I will admit it.  I also have a willing heart that wants to trust.  That’s the negative and positive pull in my life.  The letting go of the bad and reaching for the good.  And most of all – learning the difference.  Being wise about who I let in to my world.  Learning to share things with people I can trust – those that I am sure love me and have my back and won’t get all WEIRD when things don’t go as planned.  And life goes sideways.  In the crisis periods of my life when I really need that good friend to be protective.  We all need people we can be our true selves with – and confide the deepest part of our heart.

The bottom line is that we should be able to trust.  And we should be able to let go of the negative people and comments – but it is a daily struggle to know the difference and chose wisely.  And with God’s help and guidance – it will get easier.

Here is my motto:

I will NOT let others rule me with the negative.  I will NOT allow myself to be swallowed by others who are negative.  I WILL live a positive, healthy life.  I WILL strive to see the best in others and not cower behind the memory of hurt from the past.  I WILL NOT  allow one person to destroy my joy. I WILL welcome new relationships with open arms.  Yes – I will.

Have you let go of your negative today – and embraced your positive?

God Bless

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