Friday, November 28, 2008

BloG #29: An Exercise In Futility? Or...

Twas the night after Thanksgiving when all through the west,
Not a creature was stirring - not even a guest.

The tryptophan was settled in our bellies with care,
In hopes that college football soon would be there...

Unfortunately, Nebraska pulled one away from Colorado today, but these days the University of Colorado football program has not given the casual fan much to cheer about, other than remaining somewhat controversy-free for a couple years now. In terms of finding something to be thankful for, I guess that would be it for CU football. At least it appears Iowa will be bowl-bound. What a way to finish their regular season with a 55-0 trouncing over Minnesota!! Way-to-go Hawkeyes!!!

As for other things beyond college football, I am thankful to have finally had family to celebrate a Colorado Thanksgiving with for once. This is a new thing, after all the years I have lived in Colorado with my wife & daughters. We joined my mother & cousin for a beautiful dinner in Longmont, then enjoyed shopping & the Christmas Parade in Estes Park the next evening before consuming Thanksgiving leftovers at our Timeshare in Estes.

As mentioned in a previous blog, 2008 has been a year of much change for me & the changes keep coming! This weekend will mark the end of an era for me, to be immediately followed by a new one. Every Sunday for the last 5 - 7 years, I have been playing piano/organ for 2 churches in the Colorado Roaring Fork Valley. 5 years at one church & 7 years at the other.

After this Sunday, I will be changing churches. A mentor, whom I owe a debt of gratitude for inspiring me to take on such a ministry, is retiring at the church I previously attended. Big shoes to fill & while I can never replace her, I hope to at least fulfill and continue the inspiring music ministry that has been such a tradition at this church.

This move comes with mixed emotions. While I am excited at the new prospects from moving to a bigger church and the potential opportunities, I grieve the loss of what has become a family to me at the church I am leaving. I have learned from past experience that leaving a positive relationship can be painful and sometimes leave you full of regret.

The church I am leaving has been extremely good to me for the 5 years I have been there and while I leave them with no regrets, I am mindful that they may be without a full replacement for awhile. Changing teaching assignments earlier this year actually resulted in a similar situation. And in the last 2 weeks, I have had to choose between the two schools I am currently teaching at. Very soon, I will be only teaching at one of those schools, due to rapid growth and addition of a new music teaching position.

I am finding myself needing to make choices quickly and consider what may ultimately offer me the most bang for my own buck. Having been burned in the process more than once, I move forward on these choices with a slight degree of trepidation. People, including myself & my family, are affected by what I choose and I am highly mindful of that.

On another note, I am excited about losing 25 lbs since summer and looking forward to losing 25 more before next summer. The key for me has been to go slow & steady. I seem to have stumbled upon a couple changes in lifestyle that are helping to push back the years of punishment that I had been previously placing on my system. Primarily, replacing a singular bad dietary choice with a much better one.

Time will tell whether all the changes I have plowed through this year will ultimately be positive or another exercise in futility and self-destruction, as with previous attempts at throwing caution to the wind. Meanwhile, I prefer to think my father has had a hand in some of the positive changes for me this year after losing him to complications from cancer. I know it may sound crazy & a bit out there, but it helps me to move on & begin to accept his premature loss.

If you have read this post this far, I want to apologize for taking such precious time from your otherwise productive day. While this writing is my own exercise in finding a voice in text, you are by no means obligated to suffer through reading such an exercise. But if you did, you have both my congratulations and condolences. =)



Wednesday, October 08, 2008

BloG #28: Ch,Ch,Ch,Ch,Changes

So a couple weeks ago I'm driving home from Denver, passing through New Castle, CO when suddenly a bright ball of fire with a very prominent green tail falls from the sky. The tail stretched and lingered across the horizon of the western sky from ground level to above the top of my windshield. Very impressive!

Also potentially kind of cosmic, considering a couple of factors involving my current state of affairs. After 17 years of teaching, I just started a new teaching position in 2 schools in New Castle. And now, after 10 years living in Rifle, we are moving to New Castle within the month.

Was this a sign? Or merely coincidence? Whatever way it is taken, it was the most remarkable meteor I have ever seen. As one who frequently takes a walk late at night, I have seen my fair share.

Tonight, I made a point to watch the presidential debate, as many people did. Supposedly, this year's theme seems to be all about 'change' with both major party candidates. I question that when they both come from inside the beltway, but I digress...

I seem to be doing my part this year in working with that theme. Enough so that as I was reflecting during my walk tonight, I began to wonder if I should maybe seek counseling to maintain some sort of sanity through all this 'change' currently taking place in my own life.?.. nah!

The year 2008 seemed to start normal enough. Aside from being voted to serve a second term as a district rep to the music educators state assembly, nothing out of the ordinary... until April.

Exactly 2 weeks after a visit with my parents in Iowa, my father's soul left his broken body from complications related to cancer. He was only 70 years old. Previously that evening, my mother & I were discussing the options she was going to have to pursue that next day as he had reached the point where extra care was becoming necessary.

During my last visit, I helped drive him to Des Moines for his daily radiation treatments for a few days. Not fully grasping that these drives would be our final moments together, I now feel blessed that we did get to spend some time alone together to visit and share. It is quite overwhelming to reflect on that time at this point and realize the life closure that was taking place over those three days we spent together in the car. Things that were both said and left unsaid keep passing through my mind, as I'm sure will continue to happen for awhile until perspective can eventually clarify as it often does once enough time & distance have taken their course.

Continuing with the 'change' theme for this year, I accepted an aforementioned job offer. Conditions beyond my control forced me to either bite the bullet financially or seek alternative avenues. Aside from a few bumps in the road, this particular change has been a very positive one for me and my family.

The next change to take place was my finally completing the masters degree program of study. The last year was devoted to preparing my thesis project and lecture demonstration recital. The process was a great learning experience, but one I don't care to repeat any time soon. The upside was my getting to spend some time with my mother as I was wrapping up the project for six weeks this summer. I think that was good for both of us, after losing Dad two months earlier. Coffee-time with Dad's friends was also therapeutic in it's own way.

Earlier in the year during a research phase of my masters project, I spent some extended time with my cousin due to his proximity to University of Colorado. As an aside, he has been experiencing his own version of change this year in the form of divorce proceedings, and is now a new Colorado resident in addition to that fracture. Back to the topic at hand, my graduation felt like a great release and I was greatly relieved to be finished! Another positive change.

At about the same time as graduation took place, we closed on an upgraded summer home in Lake Geneva, WI. During my summertime studies in Chicago the last few years, my family has resided in Lake Geneva where they could be near and with family along with a beautiful lake and upscale community. Our new place will make future stays a bit more comfortable. Again, change that is positive.

Finally, 2008 is closing with our family preparing to move after 10 years in our current residence. We have found a house that is bigger, newer and in a nicer neighborhood. It will be walking distance for my commute to work. I look forward to completing this change and am anticipating another positive.

As you can see, much significant change. Much of it positive. Losing a parent is a tough one to swallow and I only wish Dad could have stuck around long enough to see some of the other changes that we experienced. He would have appreciated many of them.

I worry about what type of 'change' our two candidates are really thinking of despite whatever it is they are saying they mean. Much seems to have gone wrong lately, but we also have a lot to be thankful for. I just hope whatever 'change' these guys are envisioning is not detrimental to our quality of life we all take for granted.

The falling star I saw on that drive home just happened to take place as I was passing through the community where my new job is and new home will be. I have made many mis-steps throughout my life, some which I have never forgiven myself for. I can only hope that this was possibly a sign being sent to me that the recent changes I've been in the midst of on a personal level are indeed positive for the long run. Time will tell, I guess. As for that counseling idea mentioned above.?.. Get real! =)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

BloG #27: Route 451 on YouTube

We're finally in the YouTube age here at JavaMusiK. Route 451 is posted here if the video doesn't play from this page.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Blog #26: My Personal Educational Mission is Complete!

July 26, 2008 - I walked across the stage and was officially awarded my Masters of Music Education degree from VanderCook College of Music in Chicago at Orchestra Hall, home of The Chicago Symphony.

After 3 intense summers of study and time secluded away from family, the moment & feeling of finally being finished and receiving the diploma was literally indescribable. The only thing that could have made the day any better would have been to have my father there.

Unfortunately that was not to be, due to his passing April 11 - 15 weeks prior. I know he was there in spirit. Dad left a huge footprint in the field of instrumental music education. He achieved his masters degree at a much earlier point in his life than I. His success and impact upon others as a music educator now serves as a burning inspiration for me to strive for more excellence in my efforts. I can honestly say I haven't always been able to offer such a perspective. He set a great example.

Thankfully, I was honored to have the 4 most important people in my life present on that day. My mother, wife and daughters were all there to celebrate that day with me.

I have learned that they don't just give these things away. The saying goes, "If they did give them away, everyone would have one." As much as I cursed the process nearly every step of the way, I truly feel like something got accomplished here in the end. Now, I guess I need to see if I can put it to any use. lol!

Meanwhile, July 26, 2008 was truly a day I will never forget!!!