Monday, November 28, 2011

Advent

Advent and Christmas can be a tricky time for UUs. When you get right down to it, Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Our forebearers didn't have much of an issue with it considering we come out of the Christian tradition. Today, though, many of us are a little uncomfortable with talking about that aspect of the holiday. To me, though, it is very important. There is a real reason Christmas is celebrated and it is not just for the presents. If you do celebrate Christmas, I think you should understand it. I feel it is especially important to teach my children the "reason for the season." I am well aware that many UUs do not define themselves as Christians, but that is not a reason to not understand the tradition. If you do celebrate Christmas, I encourage you to delve deeper. Advent is a time of patience and preparation. Beliefnet has a great online Advent calender that provides a spiritual practice with historical interpretation and modern applications. I encourage you to check it out and hope you all have a reflective, peaceful Advent season.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

'Tis the Season & Chalica

I have a very strict "no celebration of Christmas before Thanksgiving rule." It it not because I don't love the Christmas season, I do, but I want to keep it somewhat sacred - not just commercial(see my other blog for my dad's assessment). Plus, while I am not so hip to how it came about, I do like setting a side a day just to be thankful - especially with family. I like that there is little expectation beyond eating and spending time together. This year we threw in a dads vs. kids football game. Totally fun, although, the dads/grandpas required some Motrin afterwards. We may rethink that next year! Anyway, it was really lovely and I am so thankful to have such a fantastic family.

Anyone out there planning on celebrating Chalica? It is coming up pretty quick. I plan on blogging about it again, but would be very curious to see how others are celebrating.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writer's Block

I have a big paper due for school. I want to have it mostly done by Thanksgiving. I actually have a lot of it written, but I can't seem to get it finished. I am having massive writer's block for the conclusion. I think it is because I am not happy with the paper. I had wanted it to be great, but I think I will have to settle for mediocre. I don't like mediocre, but I can't figure out what to do to take it to the next level. I think I will just have to let it go...not everything has to be amazing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Blog

I started another blog called The Awkward Side of Life. It is more focused on the silly, random, and awkward things that happen to me. If you are interested, put it in your reader because I can't predict how regularly I will update it - as you all know the awkward happens on its own time!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guest at Your Table

I am getting the boxes and Stories of Hope together for GAYT tomorrow. This year, I actually got my act together and we will be handing them out during Bread Service at church. I really think these two ideas tie in nicely together. I love honoring our past and current community by breaking bread together and then to help spread our wealth to those most in need. This year I am speaking during the children's moment and hope to inspire them to help out with UUSC. I have volunteered with them for years and am continually impressed with their commitment to empower people. They work with already established local organizations to support the organization's work. They don't come in and "tell" people what needs to be done. They empower them to help themselves. If you are a member of a congregation who participates in GAYT, please consider giving. I have personally seen some of the amazing work they do and the difference they have made. Thank You!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Taking a Risk

Husband and I are not risk takers. Not even close. I can't think of anytime that we really took a plunge into something that we didn't have a pretty good idea on how it would turn out. We have lots of ideas on things we would like to do, but never take the next step. Both of us would like to have our own business, I have a couple ideas percolating in my head right now, but the risk always holds me back. What if it doesn't work? What if we lose a ton of money (that we don't really have)? Can I justifiably risk our future security on my idea? I have three kids to worry about! --See I can come up with a million excuses. How do you let that go? I keep telling myself we only have this one life and need to take full advantage of it, but then I play it safe. I look at the economy and how many people are just barely surviving that I don't want to put our family in that situation. We are comfortable. Things are working fine, why stir the pot? Why? - Because I don't want to coast through this one life. I see people living their passion, and I want that too. I want to make some sort of difference in the world. Now I just need to find the courage to do it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Scientists

Last night during my environmental science class, the professor had us read a great article about the stages of 'denial' that skeptics take when they don't want to believe the scientific evidence. Usually this occurs with businesses who feel that to change their practices would constitute exorbitant costs and economic ruin for the country. In fact, it has been shown that most industry changes, due to environmental regulation, have actually costs significantly LESS then what was expected and has led to new industry discoveries. But people don't like change and will fight it tooth and nail. In the end though, I felt hopeful. Looking through the stages, it gave me a little optimism that there would be an end and that the skeptics would finally acknowledge the evidence. The professor made the good point that it was our job to help people graduate to the 'next' level. I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In honor of the Clarinet

Today, the woodwind quintet I play with performed at one of the local UU congregations. It has been a long while since we have performed in front of an audience and I had forgotten how fun it is. I have been fighting an allergy cough and was just hoping not to break into a coughing fit right in the middle of the piece. I am so happy that it went well! My usual performance anxiety issues stayed mostly away and I just let myself get into the music and enjoy it. I had also forgotten how many little solo bits I had. So glad that I did not embarrass myself! I have been playing the clarinet for twenty-five years. That is a crazy long time. I have been with this current group on and off for about ten years. We are very casual, just a group of non-professional musicians who like to play together. We mostly perform at UU churches (thus a friendly audience ;-) and are open to most styles of music. We lean towards classical (today was Hayden), but have been known to play the themes to Monty Python and the Pink Panther. I am so grateful for this group. We have seen each other through babies, job changes, cancer, moves and every other sort of life milestone. I am most grateful, though, that we can share the music.

I am not an amazing clarinet player, but I love it. When I tell people I play in a quintet*, they immediately ask what instrument. I say the clarinet and the conversation kind of ends. The clarinet is often seen as the vanilla of musical instruments. It has value by itself, but is made a lot more interesting with others mixed in. It is not exotic, lots of people play it, and doesn't have a big cool factor. It is true that in the quintet, my part bounces around. One minute I am with the melody (flute and oboe) and the next with the bass (french horn and bassoon). My role is usually the filler. I am ok with that. To me, it means that I get to play a bigger variety of music. The clarinet is awesome that it can play high and low. My range is huge. I love its mellow sound. It isn't squeaky like the oboe, piercing like the flute, or nasally like the saxophone. It is a warm sound that fills me with joy. I can't imagine not playing it.






*a woodwind quintet is comprised of: flute, oboe, clarinet, french horn, bassoon

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Older Student

I have really enjoyed going back to school and being an "older" student. In my program, I am probably right in the middle age wise, but since I graduated from undergrad 16 years ago and grad school 11 years ago, I feel a whole lot older! I love it. I find that this time around, I am a whole lot more relaxed. Things that stressed me out back then, barely phase me now. My perspective is a lot more rounded and not so focused on that one big assignment due. And, while I try for an A, it is not that big a deal if I get a B. The only one I am competing with is myself. I also like that I have a much different relationship with my professors. Before, I was always a little in awe of them and afraid of saying or doing something stupid. Now I see them as they are: people. Several of them are around my age and I feel we relate at a totally different level. I have had some great conversations with them after class about life, family, work, and balance that I would NEVER have had when I was eighteen. I am not afraid to ask questions and for help when I need it. Plus, school is so much easier now! Not that the content isn't challenging, but research is so different. Remember all those hours spent in the library? Writing up note cards? Hunting down Journals? Not having a personal computer? Now I can just stay at home and do almost all my research from my couch. Journals are online, finding contacts and information is just a click away. My computer program actually corrects my spelling and grammar! What will school be like in another twenty years? I am so thankful for where we are at. Going back to school would have been ten times more difficult (especially with three kids) if these things did not exist. Yay technology!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween & Neighbors

I hope you all had a fun Halloween. I love Halloween, but always feel a bit of apprehension about it. I don't know why. Maybe it is all those movies that portray Halloween as a night of terror and egg-throwing. It is the unknown, and I am not very good with that. Since we live across the street from the in-laws and the cousins are also in town, we congregate at grandma and grandpa's house. We set up a fire pit and put out three or four buckets of candy for the kids to choose from. It is fun. The dads take the kids around and we hand out the candy and chat. Since we are on a cul-de-sac, we seem to be hit or miss with the trick-or-treaters. This was a pretty good year. We only had a couple of group of annoying tweenagers who didn't dress up and just wanted the candy. (they irritate me sooo much - at least try a little bit!). Mostly, though, it was just neighborhood folks. I love that this is one of those few opportunities that get people out of their houses chatting with each other. It is fun, informal, and a great way to get to know each other. I wish we had more opportunities like this. I know my cul-de-sac neighbors well, but we live in a large subdivision and I hardly know anyone else. Face-to-face meetings make all the difference. Knowing each other makes better and safer neighborhoods. I am glad to get to know mine!