2012 Goals

I hate the phrase “new year’s resolution.” It seems silly that we should pick one day per year to “resolve” to do something on the first day of the year, as if to say the first day of January is somehow more special than any other normal day. Think of it… how many “new year’s resolutions” have we all made? Have we followed through on them? Here are some of the resolutions I have not followed through on the past few years:

  • Work out for at least a little bit every day
  • Take more pictures with my digital camera (I touched it for the first time in MONTHS this December)
  • Project 365 (one photo per day, all year turned into one photo per week, turned into no photos after March!)
  • Practice my trumpet more

I don’t know what the difference in my mind between the phrase “new year’s resolution” and “goals” is, but somehow setting goals for the upcoming year seems to make more sense, and since I was inspired by Julie Manfredi‘s post of her own goals for 2012, I figured I would take a crack at writing down my own. Maybe this will help hold me accountable… or maybe not! Anyway, here goes:

  1. Smile more often – 2011 was a great year for me, but the past few months have been deflating as I started a new job as the band director at South Dade Senior High School. I know any band director transition is difficult, and the transition to living on my own with not as many friends around as I’m used to has been trying for me as well. I hope to smile more often this year, both by thinking about things more positively and by creating more positive experiences for myself through improvements at work and at home. Plus, smiles are contagious!
  2. Work out at least 3 times per week – I like to set attainable goals, and I think working out every day wasn’t attainable given my schedule. After all, I’m not going to want to do even a fifteen-minute set with the weights after getting home from 14 hours of band camp! 3 times per week is much more attainable.
  3. Turn the corner at school – The transition to a new director has been a trying one on both me and my students. I hope to turn the corner this spring in terms of my relationship with my students. Now that my feet are more solidly planted on the ground, I think we will be able to work together much more effectively.
  4. Become more active in my PLN – One of the major cutbacks I had to make in my life during the first few months of teaching was the amount of time I spent interacting with my online Professional Learning Network. I basically abandoned the #MusEdChat Twitter chat (HUGE thanks to @jguarr and the gang for keeping it going), and disappeared from the online Music Education world. I hope to jump back in and continue growing as an educator by learning from these wonderful, passionate individuals!
  5. Keep in touch with the people I care about – I have lost touch with a lot of people I care immensely about over the past year. I have never been very good at keeping in touch with my extended family, and now that most of my friends are spread out everywhere from Nashville to California to Kuwait, it has been hard keeping in touch with everyone I care about. I am hoping to change that this year.

There you have it! Plain and simple, and I think they’re all attainable, too! Here’s to a happy, productive, and healthy 2012 for all 🙂

Rethinking “Home”

My, how things come full circle sometimes.

Back in August of 2008, as I prepared for my second year here at UM, I wrote a post explaining how Miami had become my home… how this was now the place where my “domestic affections were centered.” Back then, I could not wait to leave my hometown of Northbrook, Illinois and come back to Miami. Don’t get me wrong – I never really minded being in the suburbs of Chicago, but I certainly didn’t look forward to leaving UM for Northbrook. Now, here I sit, on the eve of my last day of undergraduate classes before student teaching, just over 6 months from completion of my undergraduate degree, and I feel the exact opposite. I can’t wait to go back to Northbrook, my real home.

How long have I felt this way? It’s hard to say, but I would estimate that it’s been a few months, but it has been more obvious in the past few weeks. Why the change of heart? That’s even harder to say. It’s been a roller coaster of a semester for me, physically, academically, emotionally, and mentally, so I may just be burned out on this stage of life. This is also the longest single period of time that I have been away from Northbrook; I was last back for three days over Memorial Day weekend in May, and before that was very early January of this year. Additionally, I think the Miami mindset is finally getting to me. My patience has worn thin with people who don’t take others’ thoughts into consideration whatsoever, and who make idle commitments that they don’t follow though with. This, along with many other probably subconscious thoughts, has caused me to truly miss Northbrook for the first time in the four years I’ve been here.

I was never the homesick type. I adjusted to life away from Northbrook very easily back in ’07; probably a lot more easily than my folks would have liked! Maybe it’s because Miami was new and exciting. Maybe it’s because I wanted to get away, no matter where I was. But now, as I look back on my four years here (not a moment of which I regret, by the way, despite the tone of this post), I realize for the first time what being homesick is like. It’s missing the little things… being greeted by our yellow lab Angel each time you walk in the house, even though you know it will result in all your clothes being absolutely covered in dog hair… being pestered by your mother about finding a job, even though you secretly appreciate the kick in the behind and know she is doing it because she cares… getting to catch up with a sister who has been away at her first few years of college and you only get to see a few times a year… hanging out with the boys at Buffalo Wild Wings (affectionately called “B Dubs”), watching some UFC fight we don’t really care about because we’re only there for the wings and the friends (and don’t forget the potato wedges!). That’s home to me.

Mom, Dad, Jess, Angel, Jay, Aaron, Zurad… I miss you all and can’t wait to see you in a few weeks.

I’ve Been Busy…

Well it’s been almost three months since I’ve posted here and I’m feeling, in a word, ashamed about it. This was intended to become a blog to chronicle the goings-on of my life, and has turned into a dormant feed filled with old thoughts and outdated information. So while I try to figure out how to increase my posting frequency here (any/all suggestions on what topics you want me to write on are welcome!), here are a few updates on what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been posting here:

  1. New Website Design – As you may have noticed, my website has a new design! I chose this for a few reasons: first, I want this website to act as my virtual resume and portfolio, so I chose to showcase my “vitals” on the homepage as opposed to displaying outdated blog posts. Secondly, and on that note, I try to “market” myself as someone interested social media/blogging in music education. While I do have a regularly updated professional blog, I thought it was a poor representation of me to have my personal homepage display a very outdated blog. Finally, I wanted to add more social media integration into my site, which I have done through the Twitter integration on the homepage, and my new “Connect” page. If you have any other thoughts/suggestions about the new design, please feel free to let me know!
  2. Personal Life – This summer has been fairly low-key for me, as I’ve been working two jobs. The first is a 9-5 day job at the IT Service Desk for the UM School of Business Administration. This job lets me exercise my “techie” side, as I help professors and business students troubleshoot their technology issues. My other job is for the Frost School of Music, working in the concert halls as an usher/set-up-person/whatever-else-they-need. Outside of work, I celebrated one year with Liz in early June, and I’m already gearing up for next school year!
  3. Online Activities – I have been very busy online since my last post. On Twitter, I created #MusEdChat, an online twitter chat for Music Educators. The chat has gained a significant amount of popularity, and I had the opportunity to give a short presentation about it while I was in Washington, D.C. for MENC’s Music Education Week in June (I live-blogged the event with three other pre-service music teachers). Additionally, I have been continuing my posts at MusicEdMajor.net, with the help of my co-editor Andy Ritenour. Finally, I have been participating as a member of the launch team for the new MusicPLN, which launches tomorrow at noon. It has been an incredible project, and I would encourage any Music Educators (or Music Ed Majors) to join us!
  4. The Future… Scary isn’t it? I only have one year left of school before I’m out there on my own, doing who-knows-what! I’ve spent a lot of time this summer thinking about what I’m going to do come June, and I’m still not completely decided, but I know in my first few years out of my undergrad, I want to do two things: teach high school band (and music technology, if possible), and start a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. Whether I pursue this degree full-time and if I start it right away remains to be seen, but as I’ve spent more time exploring technology for music education, it has become clear to me that this is the way I want to take my career. Stay tuned for a more detailed post about my future and a call for advice soon!

Holy cow! As I said, I’ve been busy. At any rate, that’s just a small sampling of what I’ve been up to over the past three months. I’ll try my best to keep this blog updated more frequently over the coming months, as well. If you would like me to blog about any specific topics, please leave a comment, and I would be happy to oblige!

P.S. – Only three days until I celebrate the first anniversary of my 21st birthday!

Easter Morning

As I write this, I am staring across an almost-empty beach at 9:00 am on Easter morning. I’m up in Palm Beach getting ready to play a gig at an Easter Mass, and decided to take a walk around since I arrived a bit early. This is what I found (see bottom). How beautiful!

So often in our lives we forget to pay attention to the small but beautiful things we encounter each and every day. This Easter, try finding all the beauty in your life-I bet there’s more of it than you think!

Happy Easter, all!

Time Flies…

First off, I think I’ve figured out why my blogging has become so infrequent. I try to make every post I write a huge “production,” with lots of planning, proofing, and editing. I have come to realize that blogging, especially on a “personal” website like this one, can (and perhaps even should!) be spontaneous, short , and off-the-cuff. It’s my hope that I’ll be able to post more frequently on this site with that principle in mind.

That being said, on to my topic. I wrote in August about how some events this past summer caused me to feel “old” for the first time. While that idea has continued to permeate my life, the more present thought lately has been how quickly the past few years have passed by.

It feels like just a month ago that I was having my first experiences as a student leader in the Band of the Hour, going through my membership candidacy process in Tau Beta Sigma, and taking introductory classes. Now, a full year and a half later, I’m applying to continue as Band Captain and have seen three more groups of potential members go through the candidacy process of TBS. It’s unbelievable to imagine that I am just a few short weeks away from being 3/4 of the way through my undergraduate degree. As a matter of fact, a year from now, I will be teaching full-time in my internship, and most likely looking for my first job. And I’m not talking about a part-time, get-you-through-school job, I’m talking about a full-time, salaried, in-charge-of-young-people’s-education job. Scary, huh?

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the last year-plus that I have here, and make the most of it!