Saturday, October 31, 2009

Surrounded by Greatness, or When I Grow Up

I feel like I'm surrounded by greatness on so many levels. I made a list of lots of people I want to be like in some way or another, and was going to abbreviate them for only me to know, then I decided even that wasn't necessary. I know who my greats are, you should all get your own.

I want to be a spouse like...
I want to be a parent like...
I want to be a leader like....
I want to be wise like...
I want to be a homemaker like...
I want to be caring like...
I want to be a listener like...
I want to be a declutterer like...
I want to be a thinker like...
I want to study like...
I want to be politically knowledgeable like...
I want to build greatness in others like...

I have two or three people for most of those, sometimes more.

It would be a whole lot easier if I didn't know so many great and amazing people. I know we're not supposed to compare ourselves to others, but they say that the only way to bring someone to a higher level is to be higher yourself. So here are all these people at some higher level than me, and I feel like I'm slowly working my way up the mountain at every opportunity to join them, taking every chance I can to rub shoulders with them and learn from them.

Maybe bit by bit I'm picking up little pebbles (maybe even sometimes a gem or two) to add to myself. And maybe someday I'll be a knoll, or maybe even a small hill that someone else could look up to for something.

Dallin H. Oaks once said, "In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to knowsomething, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something."

I love looking for the greatness in other people. There is so much out there, people striving to do more and be more at whatever they are. I feel like there is something admirable in everyone, even if sometimes you have to look a little closer for it. More and more I see why it's such a terrible thing for people to hide their candle under a bushel, when it could be giving light to all those around them.

Even more exciting, I love watching the greatness growing in my children, seeing them come into the gifts God has blessed them with. I can't wait to see who they become.

P.S. Lest you think me wise already with the whole pebble/mountain thing, a hill or mountain of pebbles really would be a terrible thing to climb up, don't you think? So it's really a very silly analogy.

P.P.S. The song "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" just gained a whole new meaning for me. I'm going to look just like this someday when I get there.

P.P.P.S. By the way, Maria wasn't anywhere near 'there' at this point in the movie, really just beginning on her climb. (See, more faulty wisdom.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Parenting Lesson for the Day

I needed this today. Take a look (it's SO worth it).

Lead Like the Great Conductors

Now really, don't read on until you've watched that or you won't get most of the rest. It's 20 minutes if you just watch it straight through (took me at least an hour because I was taking crazy amounts of notes).

I love to learn about leadership. I love how leadership principles apply in so many many ways. In fact, I'm even very slowly working on a book about leadership. I have a few posts I've written about leadership that have never been posted with the book in mind. Maybe I don't want bad feedback on something that is so deep in my heart. One post even involves a great conductor I saw in person once. Maybe I'll have to share that since it's so closely related to this.

So about this particular leadership lesson from Itay Talgam. I want to lead like the greats, especially when it comes to leading my children. Unfortunately today was a Riccardo Muti kind of day. How things slide down that slope I don't know. I don't have the excuse that I was trying to tell a story as beautiful as Mozart's.

About my own mother. She's not one that most would call a great leader, but she's someone I've been trying to study and figure out for a very long time. I read something a few months ago that opened my eyes to her leadership a bit, and I wish I had written it down, but as it stands I'll have to try to find it again. I don't remember her ever being like Muti, or most of those conductors. I would put her in the category of the last Bernstein clip. I don't remember a lot of lectures or instruction from her during our growing up years (maybe she's rolling her eyes right now at my great memory), but like the orchestra, I guess we knew what was expected, how to make it great, and we did it. And she has five awesome children to show for it.

I am not that parent! And far too many days I find myself sweating by the end. Do I look at the "trombones" too much?

I don't know if I'll ever be a Berstein, but maybe I can at least make it to Kleiber.

"You have the plan in your head, you know what to do, and you become a partner to create the sound as you take the ride."

"When it's needed, the authority is there." (Poor trumpet guy!)

"He's there 100%, but not commanding, not telling what to do. Rather enjoying what the soloist is doing."

Thank goodness tomorrow is another day. There's always another concert to play. It's their story that needs to be nurtured and told, not mine. Hopefully the conductor shows up more prepared. At least they haven't fired me yet!

(For your viewing enjoyment, here's the full version of that last Bernstein clip.)

Creativity Slump?

It's been over two weeks since I last posted. Sad! That doesn't mean this is the first thought I've started to write up since then, but it's the first one that I'm determined to post. There is another close. Maybe.

Jamie read me a quote in "The Summer of the Great-Grandmother" by Madeline L'Engle that might account for my lack of producing something enlightening enough I feel worth publishing.

My creativity is being drained. When I was pregnant with Josephine, a friend who was a successful dancer and the mother of several children told me that a woman cannot be creative in two ways simultaneously, and that I would not be able to write while I was carrying the baby. Obviously she could not do a tour jete when she was five months pregnant, but I saw no reason not to go on writing, and write I did. The odd thing is that nothing I wrote during my pregnancies ever came, itself, to term. It was like practicing finger exercises, absolutely essential for the playing of the fugue, but it did not lead to the fugue till after the baby was born. I do not understand this, but I do not think it coincidence.

I'm teaching a writing class to 13 9-11 year olds at a homeschool co-op every Thursday. In many ways I wish I were taking the class instead of teaching it. Isn't that strange? If I'm teaching it, I should know more than the kids I'm teaching. Well, to a point I do, but as the teacher I don't actually have to produce a book through the course of the class like the kids do. They've all been writing these wonderful stories, and while you could say I'm improving my teaching skills, my being inspirational skills, or my "look, you just have to write a story, okay?" bossy skills, I haven't done an ounce of writing myself. I am not a fiction writer, so it could be helpful to be forced into it.

I did sign up for a fiction writing class in college once. I thought it would be a great opportunity to practice that, while before my writing had been about research, analyzing literature, or essay writing. I showed up the first night of class. The teacher started off by saying that the next week we need to bring a sample of some fiction we had written, or get something written to bring that next week. I went into shock at that point. I thought I was there to LEARN to write fiction, not walk in already knowing how to write it. I don't think I heard another word said, and I quickly dropped the class.

In the book I'm using for the co-op class, it lists six reasons why people do not write:

1. The have no guarantee of readers.
2. They have no deadlines.
3. They don't have an editor.
4. They don't know how to edit their own work.
5. They don't write often enough.
6. They have too little or no regard for the reader.

I think the two biggest that apply for me are deadlines and not writing often enough. I know my mom at least reads this so I have a reader, after all those English classes I hope I can spell and turn a phrase or two without sounding too terrible, and I do keep readers in mind and try not to make things too boring. Keyword: Try

My pal Karen and I have talked about starting a writing group which would certainly alleviate all the problems above, but with just the two of us interested so far, a writing duo isn't nearly as exciting as a writing group.

Anyway, dear reader, since I do have regard for you, I'm going to close this up. But if you don't see anything posted for a while again, just assume that my preggo brain is working to create elsewhere.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I'm really impressed with all we've been able to accomplish this week. Tuesday and Wednesday we got amazing amounts done. Thursday we were gone most of the day so not much. Friday and Saturday not as much as the first two days, but still progress, beautiful progress. It's such a great feeling! Don't come over expecting everything to be spotless because we still most definitely live here, but I won't be nearly as anxious about people discovering what lies beneath.

Speaking of progressing, other things are progressing as well, including another secret I've been holding onto for a while. Secret for about 13 weeks actually, though the secret has been progressing for about 18. Here's a clue:

Didn't help? Maybe this...

Still no? How about this:

NUMBER SIX that is.

If from all that you still don't know what the picture below means, maybe the Motor Mouth post will help clue you in.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Have a Secret

I have more than one actually, but this is a really good one. It's one I just learned about, and I can't believe the difference it's making in our home. I'm smiling more because the world is a brighter more beautiful place.

Ready for this?

Kids can work.

Really! I again have to thank Lara for inspiring me in this. Work in the morning, learn in the afternoon. That's what we've been doing. Well, yesterday when we really started we were on such a roll that I just worked them as long as I possibly could, which for some ended up being most of the day. We cleaned out the fridge, under the kitchen sink, washed windows, cleaned above the cupboards and washed everything up there, and cleaned the bathroom. Woo hoo! Then we did all the regular frontroom/kitchen cleaning, sweeping, mopping, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, etc. etc. All this was done with very little complaining.

This morning we got the lazy susan cleaned out and washed (honey, why do we have four bottles of molasses?), and the coat closet emptied so we can figure out what's too small or who has been handed down more jackets than they actually need, and got some things in the backyard headed to the trash.

We still started our day with our morning devotional, some history, and a newer addition to our morning, reading from the "Book of Virtues." Then off to work.

I've always worked harder with someone working along with me, so that's a bonus. The other bigger part of the secret is that when I'm sick of part of a job, I can pass it on! (Don't tell the kids.) I can also say things like "Oops, you need to get that spot right there a bit better."

Now that you know the secret, try it, you'll love it!