Thursday, October 23

Food for Thought - Expectations

Well today kinda snuck up on me. It's been a strange week for sure. I started out real strong by pulling a muscle in my back while doing laundry (of all things!). That has somewhat immobilized me to the couch for a couple of days, though I think I'm nearly over it. My goal today is to get the dishes done, even if it takes all day! Hubs has also had a rough time with some digestive tract issues. Add those together and you end up with some very short nights and a distinct lack of sleep. All that to say, I've been doing some thinking, so I don't have anything household-practical or piano related today. Instead, let's talk about expectations.

Princess. Fiancé. Bride.

Those words have always sounded so much more enchanting to me than "Queen", "Wife", "Married". Somehow, I think I am not the only person who thinks that. But what makes those words sound more exciting? I think it has to do with expectations.

Expectations. Everyone has them. Take a few minutes and think about yours. My most recent "large" expectations had to do with getting married and moving to Iowa. I "expected" to make friends really quickly (that hasn't exactly happened). I "expected" the honeymoon period to be a lot shorter. Listen to the experts…. It really is a year! I "expected" to have time to be the perfect housewife. What I've found is that I have the time, but caring for a 2-bedroom apartment and 1 other person is not that much work, so I have to admit that I go through cycles (Clean ALL the things!... to… I don't want to get out of bed). I "expected" a lot of things and honestly am still working through them. Some things that have happened have been beyond my highest expectations (let's be clear, being married is totes better than being engaged). And some things have not. Making friends is hard when you are adult and can't just play Barbies.

I have expectations of things coming up. I'm about to embark on a 2-week trip to Texas to celebrate my older brother's wedding (poor parents- 2 weddings in 6 months!), then the in-laws are visiting for 3 weeks for Thanksgiving-time, and then the hubs and I are trekking back to Texas for Christmas! There's a lot of expectations there. I "expect" the wedding to be stressful, but fun. I "expect" an 11-hour drive to be loads of fun (not). I "expect" time with the in-laws to be refreshing and exciting. I "expect" Christmas to be a joy, as it always is.

Here is my theory. I think the idea of being a Princess or being Engaged is thrilling because it is a period of Expectations. When you are a Princess, you have the privileges of royalty without the responsibility of ruling. As an Engaged lady, you have the time to dream and imagine the perfect wedding and how amazing marriage will be, without the stress of "why is my wedding cake late?" and "why can't you remember to put the toilet seat down?". In these periods of expectation, we are anticipating the things that are coming, painting a perfect picture of what will happen. It's very easy to gloss over the negative things (the stress of governing or the daily grind of "normal" life). In a way, this can be a very good thing. The excitement of marriage and the excitement of coronation will help carry you through the difficult times when the weight of responsibility is resting on you.

I like to think that our Christian walk is like this. We are betrothed and waiting for the arrival of our bridegroom Jesus. This is a great period of anticipation and expectation. It is also a period of preparation. Just as a fiancé must take time to prepare and plan the wedding and a Princess takes time to learn all she can about politics and her people, we are preparing ourselves to meet Christ. We prepare by worshiping Him, learning more about Him, and carrying out His will in our daily lives. This excitement and anticipation will also help us through those tough days when we don't feel like God is listening to us or that all the cards are stacked against us. And, just like a Princess might not know the exact day she will take the throne, we don't know the exact day that Jesus will return or we will be called home. So, we must spend our time wisely in preparation, recognizing what things are important and worthy of our time, and what things are not. And in the end, we will be greeted by a God so far above our expectations, we can't fathom it. I'm looking forward to that day!

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 7


Two weeks ago, I posted a list of the piano repertoire I hoped to begin work on. This week, I have a confession about that music- I've hardly touched it. I've practiced a grand total of 5 hours since I committed my goal to the internet 12 days ago. That's an average of 25 minutes or 0.4 hours per day. Compare that to my senior year of college (3 years ago) when I was practicing an average of 30 hours a week. That is approximately 4 hours a day.

Now, obviously there is a problem here. Allow me to dialogue with myself for a moment.

Is it that you don't like your music?
No, I picked it out myself- it's thrilling music
Is the music too difficult?
No, I am a good judge of my abilities and am confident that this repertoire is challenging, but not impossible. 
Is it that I don't have time? 
I have the time and desire to commit one (1) hour a day to practice. Just one. It's not like I'm trying to give Evgeny Kissin a run for his money. 
Perhaps it could be that you simply aren't interested?
Absolutely not. Music, and specifically piano is my greatest passion!
Ahh, is it that you just don't know where to start?
Yes.... that's exactly it.

So we have the problem now. Where to begin? This is always my struggle, and I am convinced that I am not the only one who struggles with how to begin a task. After all, when you are staring at the equivalent of an hour's worth of advanced, difficult music, where does one begin?

Today, let's take a clue from Maria in The Sound of Music. "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C..."

So, to start learning the music and providing ourselves with a steady foundation for this repertoire, start with the notes. The letters of music, the very building blocks. An obvious place, to be sure, but one that I often overlook.

My challenge to myself this week is to learn the notes of the first page of every piece at a reasonable tempo, being sure not to neglect patterns of expression such as dynamics and phrasing. A reasonable tempo is one at which a pianist can play steadily, without hesitations or rushing. It is key to discipline oneself at this stage and not follow every musician's tendency to play the easy parts fast and the hard parts slow. Also, it is important to observe expressive marks. If one learns the entire first page at a steady mezzo-forte (mf), it will difficult to break oneself of that habit when later realizing that there are 6 distinct dynamic markings on that page.

My incentive/motivation to practice is more severe this week than it was last week. Last week, I simply told myself, "you are going to practice one hour a day". That was all. There were no qualifications, no incentives, no rewards, no punishments. Since that obviously failed, I'll add some more points to my practice goal.

- I will practice one hour a day.
- I will strive to practice at 11:00 a.m. every day
- I will not be allowed to use Pinterest or Facebook the next morning if I fail to practice the previous day.
- For every hour that I practice, I will earn 30 minutes time to devote to creative writing and graphic design (2 of my other hobbies)
- My practice goal is to learn one page of every piece by Monday (Oct. 13)

This will cause much more favorable results. In this journey of picking up practicing again, I am already learning things about myself. This week I learned that I am not very good at disciplining myself, and now I am working to change that. Thank you for reading along on my blog, and as always, please leave comments! Do you struggle with discipline or knowing where to start on a task? Please share your solutions!