Monday, July 17, 2017

The Next Chapter

Hello!  You may have noticed my absence.  For a really long time... I just wasn't in a place that I had the inclination to blog (not to mention the time!) and rather than post junk, I opted not to post anything at all.

But I'm back for the moment because I have big news! Lots of it too!

For starters, I am getting ready to embark on the next chapter of my studio teaching by joining the faculty of a local Music Education Center.  I spent a long time thinking about where I want to go and what I want to do and this move is hopefully going to be a wonderful choice.  The MEC does a lot of music ed outreach and advocacy which I am very interested in supporting and I am really excited to have my lesson space be at the MEC instead of in my spare bedroom... So I get to join some really great teachers and musicians AND have a professional environment for teaching!  Huge move forward for my studio.  

I have decided to not teach public school anymore.  It was never really my thing, and I am very happy with the decision.  This way I can support my orchestra teacher friends as a sectional coach or guest teacher (not a sub, like a guest artist but teaching) and still be involved in the programs but I don't have to be going crazy/loosing my mind trying to make it all happen.  FYI, it didn't all happen.  Like ever.  This will give me the opportunity to really work on growing my business and have much more time to practice! 

I am planning to practice for/win some paid auditions in the next 6-18 months!!!  This has been a HUGE goal for me since I was 21 and figured out that I didn't want to be a public school teacher (yes, I knew that before taking several public school jobs.  Sometimes you have to pay rent...).  I have not been in a position to take the time to practice enough but I have plenty of students now so that is changing.  

But the biggest news of all???

I am going to Europe for a month!  I love to travel and have absolutely loved Europe each time I've been so I am beyond excited to go back for an entire month :) I decided to take advantage of no school job this fall to go when it is not high tourist season, and my parents are very generously letting me stay with them between when my lease ends, my trip starts/I return from Europe and when my new lease starts.  Basically I will have no place of my own for 2 months (unless you count my storage pod but you can't sleep in it so I'm counting it) which will save tons of $$ on rent and help finance this massive excursion!  When I first started thinking about it, I was shooting for 2 weeks. But in the end, I decided to really go for it and do 4 weeks.  

I will not be alone the entire time, one of my really good friends is starting the trip with me in London and then we will go up to Scotland.  She leaves to see other people, I stay in Scotland for a couple more days and then I meet my Dad back in London.  The two of us will see London, Paris, and Sarlat-la-Caneda together and then I will do valle de Loire and Paris (with a couple day trips) on my own. 

This is by far the biggest trip I've ever done that wasn't for a summer orchestra program and I am super excited to see how it all goes.  Keep watching here as I chronicle my adventures from prep, packing, and the trip itself!

Monday, January 11, 2016

At least...

It would be so easy to finish that sentence in so many ways :)

Right now though, the ending comes courtesy of my friend Rose (she picked her own internet/blog/persona name).  We have phone calls periodically that last hours.  I'm not kidding, hours.  That's how I know we are such good friends :)  We can live over a thousand miles away from each other, have not seen each other in over 6 months, will likely not see each other anytime soon, and still manage to find hours of things to talk about!

I am in the phase of complaining about how long it is taking to get myself established as a free lance teacher and player.  I am doing well considering I started about 4 and a half months ago, but I am definitely not where I want to be yet.  Her laughter inducing response was "At least no one is trying to marry you off!" 

It is so true!  No one is trying to marry me off :)  I am (for the most part) not asked about when/if I'll ever find a guy by my family anymore.  They have stopped making veiled references to children and only occasionally make direct comments.  This is great because (at least in my mind) it means they see that I have the potential to be successful in my own right.  All by myself.  Alone. 

Now, don't misunderstand, I am not saying it wouldn't be nice to find someone to share my life with, but as my dad likes to remind me, I'm super picky.  About lots of things.  Which is totally true.  But shouldn't I be?  Part of the reason I am able to be successful is that details are important to me, I want everything to look/be great so that other people see the best of me.  Maybe that isn't the best protocol for everything, but those are thoughts for another day!

Monday, January 4, 2016

New beginnings!

My favorite time of year is the entire season from Halloween through New Years.  I love the lights, the family time, the kindness of others, all of it! 

And, at the end I get to reflect on the year and make some goals for the new one :)  (we all know how much I like lists!)  So, in that spirit, I am sharing what I am most proud of from 2015 and what I'm looking forward to for 2016.

I graduated from UWM with a Master's Degree in Violin Performance!!! This is the thing I am most proud of, from last year, and from my life as a whole :)

I finished 4 couch or bed quilts, the most I've ever done in one year, 2 tree skirts, 2 other quilt tops, and 1 mini quilt. 

I became a cross stitcher!  It's so much fun and has slightly taken over my quilting time...

I moved back to Colorado and have been attempting to make a go as a freelance player and teacher (so far its working out) while living on my own as an adult.  Some days are better than others. 

In 2016, I have plans!  Not crazy ones, but some exciting ones none the less. 

I have 13 students and I want to triple that number so I am no longer needing to work as a substitute teacher (which is fun, but not what I really want to be doing).

I am practicing (what else is new???) like crazy now that I'm full recovered from my wrist injury so that I can win an audition for a paid orchestra job!  This is my main goal, I am super excited and hopeful.

I joined my first ever swap on Instagram.   I'll let you know how that goes, it should be fun.

I have several quilts planned/in progress and I would love to be able to finish them up.  Let's be honest though, I have the attention span of a gnat, so I'm not sure how well this one will go. 

No matter what comes, here's to a fantastic 2016!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Apartment War

I would like to think I am an easy-going person most of the time.  Yes, I get stressed out and sometimes have mild panic attacks, but I feel comfortable saying I can work with pretty much anything.  That being said, this apartment is testing my limits...

When I was looking at places 2 and a half months ago, I was overwhelmed by the cost and condition of what I was seeing.  I knew what I wanted, but couldn't seem to find anything in a good location with my wants/needs that fit my budget.  Until I saw this one.  It had everything: the views, the location, the 2 bedrooms, the swimming pool in the clubhouse, 2 parking spaces, lots of natural light, and a washer and dryer in the unit!  It met every criteria.  Granted I saw it when it was full of someone else's things (and I do mean full) but I could see the potential and loved it.  Plus it was below my target rent!  So I signed the lease.

That simple action that brought relief to my anxiety 10 weeks ago has caused me to second guess myself for the last 6.  It started with some repairs when I moved in.  Things didn't work, but they were soon fixed and everything was ok.  Or at least I thought so. 

I began to fill up my schedule with work and lessons.  And I unpacked.  Everything.  I broke down the boxes and recycled them, because my plan was to stay for at least 2 years and those boxes were old and dusty.  They needed to go, right? I even got as far as putting things up on the walls.  And not with tape, with hooks and nails people.  Like an adult and not a college student.

Then I got sick.  I'm lying on my couch feeling sorry for myself while a guy is fixing the sink that isn't draining and all of a sudden, out of the air vents comes piles of dust, debris, and cat dander!!!  Now, remember my easy going nature?  I'm trying to hold on to it because I am severely allergic to cats.  This is not helped when the plumber comes out of the bathroom with a 4.5 inch plug from the sink drain comprised of cat hair.  EEWW!  So I packed a bag and went to hide out at my parents house.  Yes, I was hiding from my apartment at my parent's place.  Very adult of me.

After starting to recover I begin to realize that probably most of the "seasonal" allergies I was having the previous few weeks were probably due to a contaminated apartment and not pollen from outside.  So I decided to officially declare war on my apartment.  I borrowed my parent's vacuum and carpet shampooer and went on a cleaning supply buying frenzy (I literally had nothing after my move).

My arsenal of supplies.

I then proceeded to deep clean.  This included shampooing the carpets twice (3 bottles of shampoo were required), scrubbing the walls, baseboards, doors and trim in every room and hallway with hot water and baking soda, washing the hard floors, scrubbing the interior and exterior of every cabinet and drawer, and cleaning the ceiling fans, light fixtures and windows.  No surface (except the popcorn ceiling which is uncleanable, I swear) was left untouched.  This is the cleanest this apartment has been in years, I'm sure.  The amount of dirt and cat hair/dander was staggering.  I went through 12 pounds(!) of baking soda...

This is what it looked like after the first round of shampoo.  The water came up black.  Gross.

Now, as you read that, you may not think that sounds riduculous.  A touch over zealous maybe, but nothing totally crazy (yeah, right).  Understand that between each carpet shampoo I had to let it dry and then vacuum again.  I almost killed my mom's vacuum.  It's a good thing the repair man is amazing.  And I moved every piece of furniture out of a room before I did the carpet so I could be sure to get everything.  Remember how I mentioned that I had unpacked everything??? Yeah.  I took everything back off the walls and emptied out a couple of rooms at a time to make this happen.  I was tired, and sore, and cranky for a week and a half.  I missed days of work, and felt like a dork wearing a mask over my face in my own apartment for hours at a time trying not to breath in the dust, dirt, and cat dander I was stirring up while cleaning.

This is my living room full of the furniture from my studio and bedroom.  The dining room has everything else in it.
It was disgusting work.  I don't mind cleaning in general, but usually it's my own dirt and I am not a dirty person so it's not really a big deal.  This was someone else's (and their cat's) dirt which is a whole other story.  I don't ever want to do that again...ever.

Now, everything is back where it goes and I feel like I have won that major battle.

Unfortunately, the war isn't over yet...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

I'm just trying to figure it all out...

3 months ago I was totally lost.  Like wandering through the Arctic in a white-out blizzard lost.  I had no idea what direction I wanted or needed to go in, or really any idea on how to figure that out. 

Now I'm working (I even made enough money to pay my rent!!!) and starting to figure it all out.  I am not sure I'll ever have it completely figured out, but hey, that's what life is all about right???

In the mean time, I have started several exciting new endeavors and continued with several others.  The most fun has been cross stitching, the longest standing have been a couple of multiple-year-old quilting/sewing projects, the most disruptive of my daily life has been the war with my apartment, and the most drawn out/frustrating is trying to figure out (8 months of trying) what is wrong with my wrist.  The most exciting is creating my own business!  I promise to explain these, but I can't do everything right now, so I'll just leave you with a couple of quilty pictures :)

This is my Halloween quilt.  I started it with fat quarters from JoAnn's several years ago and finished the top before I left for grad school.  I finished the backing over winter break, then two weeks ago finally got it basted and quilted it up last night.  Now I just need to find the binding...

There are 2 bathrooms in my apartment and I only own one shower curtain.  So, since I don't have any extra money right now but I do have lots of pretty fabric, I decided to make a second shower curtain!  I have had a maple leaf quilt on my list for a while and this seemed like the perfect project for them.  I need a total of 36 12" blocks and I have completed 17.  I have 14 more cut and ready to finish and I am waiting to get those done before I decide what fabrics to use for the final three (my theory is I can balance out any colors this way...)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Home at last and taking a risk

I'm back!  It took 2 years and an almost move to Tennessee, but I'm home again in Colorado :)

This summer I focused so much on getting a job (because that's what you do after grad school right?) that I temporarily lost sight of the reasons I went back for my Master's in the first place.  After a tearful phone call with my grandfather (he knows me so well) I knew I needed to take the risk and stop looking for a job.  I know what you're thinking...what??? that's crazy! why would you do something so ridiculous? 

I have a simple answer: this is the best possible way for me to achieve my goals.  Now, I know, that is not very specific, but trust me when I say that it was definitely the right choice for me.  How, you ask, is not looking for a job the right choice?  Well, I want to teach and perform, but not at a level that either of those options comes with a full time/salaried job.  I don't have any aspiration to play with a full time/high level professional orchestra or teach at the college level.  The competition to get those jobs is fierce because there are so many qualified candidates, and it isn't what I love to do.

Way back before I decided to pursue a graduate degree I knew that I wanted to play with a regional orchestra and teach kids how to play the violin.  Those are still my goals.  I love the camaraderie of a regional professional orchestra and I absolutely love teaching kids (it doesn't hurt that I'm good at teaching) so it never made sense for me to be trying to find a job that doesn't align with my goals.  All I was doing was making myself sick trying to imagine myself in these various jobs in places I had no desire to live.

So, I packed up my stuff, shipped it back to a storage facility in CO and temporarily moved back in with my parents.  I have been looking for students as well as gigs, and I have made progress on both fronts :)  I am teaching 2 days a week with a local music store, and have 3 auditions for orchestras coming up in the next month as well as several possible wedding gigs with a friend of a friend who just happens to be a wedding planner.  I am so excited and happy!

Plus, the move really is temporary, I have a new apartment on September 1!!!!  I think that is the most exciting part about all of this, I will have my own place for the first time and all of my stuff will be there instead of spread out in various locations like it has been since 2008...

So, I don't have much to share in the way of sewing projects or pictures really, but I'm doing great and looking forward to the next adventure :)

Because I couldn't have no pictures...This is from one of 2 gorgeous hibiscus bushes at my parent's new house!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catching up and catching my breath!

It has been so long since I posted...I meant to, but as usual life just kept getting in the way.  Since March 1, I have given my graduate violin recital, passed my final comprehensive exam, had my proposal passed by the graduate committee, graduated with my Master's Degree, started looking for jobs and taken an audition!  I'm sure everyone who has graduated without having a specific job lined up understands my stress, but I'll just tell you that it is making me anxious.  All I want is to know where I'm going so I can get started and dive into my work.  Being able to play and teach and not be in school is what I have been looking forward to most this year so I am very excited to get a job lined up :)

I was terribly pleased with my recital and my professor got some good clips of my playing which was fun to see pop up on Facebook!  I was also really happy that I was able to broadcast my recital live so my family and friends who were not able to come could watch me play.  There were more people watching the live stream and the saved video afterwards than were there live.  I do have to admit that my desire to practice severely dropped off after the recital, but I have found it again.  It didn't help that I have been dealing with a persistent wrist injury since February either.  I think it is finally starting to get back to normal, but I'm still being extra cautious with it.

I have been getting some quilting and sewing done, mainly mending and other non-interesting projects, but I did finish my candy corner quilt.  This is my second full size bed quilt and it finished approximately 80"x90".  I quilted it rather densely which took a long time, but I really like the final appearance so I think it was worth it!

I have started working on several other projects and hopefully will finish them up soon and share them, but for the most part my time is spent filling out job applications.  I keep searching for more in the hopes that one of them will work out :)

I did get out this morning to ride my bike along a path near my apartment.  I really enjoy riding there  because for just a little while I can convince myself I am not in the middle of a city, I just get to enjoy being outside without all of the car/city noises.  It has been a bit rainy so I haven't gotten out as much as I would like, but I'm hopeful that the rain will lighten up soon!