inspiration

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are You Running On Autopilot These Days?

Are you running on autopilot these days?

You know the feeling: distracted, absent-minded, forgetful, foggy, disengaged, disconnected.

It's easy to slip into this way of living without even realizing it, especially during months like December (can't imagine why!).

But what does running on autopilot really do for us? And how can we switch back into manual mode?

Shauna Niequist, in her book, Present Over Perfect, describes the soul as our connection point - to God, to life, and to the world around us. It’s with our souls that we really feel, that we love, that we ache, and that we feel God’s presence the most.

2017 Book List

2017 Book List

One of my favorite things about this time of year is reading everyone's book lists. I love seeing what other people are reading, hearing about new releases, and connecting with others over shared interests.

Over the past few years, I've built a little time for reading into my daily routine (usually in the evening as we wind down from the day).

As I've shared before, I like to have variety in what I read, so I tend to choose books that cover all of these categories:

Health/Lifestyle
Spiritual
Pleasure/Personal
Business

Here are the books I plan to read (or re-read) this year:

30 Inspiring Quotes for Church Musicians

30 Inspiring Quotes for Church Musicians

To the one who feels burnt out, used, or unappreciated. To the one who feels insignificant or small. To the one who's carrying the weight of ministry and feeling burdened and tired - here are a few words of encouragement: Your work matters. 

Even if it feels like it's all been said or done before, even when it's hard, even when it goes largely unnoticed. Your voice could be the one that makes the difference in someone's life.

There will be good days and hard days, and there may even be times when you question the decision to serve in ministry. On those days, remember why you started. Remember your calling. Don't give up or let yourself feel discouraged. Focus on what's important and do good work.

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Children's Choir

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Children's Choir

Where can you find music resources, tried-and-true teaching strategies, fun games, creative visuals, and accessible craft projects?

Pinterest.

It's crazy how much content there is on this social media platform. In addition to all the recipes, inspiration, art, and home-decorating ideas you could ever need, there are tons of resources and ideas for choir, teaching, and ministry. It seems every time I search, I find something new!

Earlier this year, I shared some of my favorite finds for worship planning and design and handbell choirs. Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite Pinterest boards for children's choir

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Worship Planning & Design

My Favorite Pinterest Boards for Worship Planning & Design

Pinterest is a great way to save inspiration and ideas from around the web - from home decor to dinner recipesgift ideas to inspiring quotesholiday celebrations to weddings to design inspiration. I love the visual pin-board look of the site, the ability to add captions (e.g. notes to self), and the embedded links for easy access later. In addition to personal inspiration, though, I've found Pinterest to be a great source for teaching resources and business advice. I've also started collecting some of my favorite tools, ideas, and resources for church musicians and children's choir directors (see here and here).

Pinterest is one of the first places I look for visual inspiration, especially when it comes to worship planning and design.

What have other churches done?
How do other congregations celebrate these seasons?
How can we incorporate more visual art into our services? 

Simply type your search terms into the box and sort by pins, pinners, or boards.

Here are a few of my new favorite boards for worship planning and design inspiration:

21 Inspirational Quotes for the 21st Century Musician

21 Inspirational Quotes for the 21st Century Musician

What does it mean to be a musician in the 21st century?

SD and I talk about this often. From where we stand, the 21st century requires musicians to be flexible, creative, and versatile, possessing a wide variety of skills that can be used in a wide variety of settings. Instead of doing just one thing, we (and many of our friends) have built careers doing many different things - teaching, performing, writing/blogging, presenting, directing, and working in arts administration.Some call it freelancing, others call it "music entrepreneurship," or being a "portfolio musician."

Regardless of the label, we feel being a musician in the 21st century means you are your own business. It's more than just playing your instrument or landing a dream job. It's more than just "being the best." Being my own business means curating great opportunities, managing my time well, and adding value through several types of work. This gives me creative liberty to use my unique skills and experiences in meaningful ways.

Whether you're just getting started or you've built a successful music career, here are 21 inspirational quotes for you, the 21st century musician:

Intentional Rest

IMG_1583.jpg

IMG_1583 Sometimes, you just need to rest.

It's something the go-getters among us and those of us with healthy work ethics sometimes struggle to recognize but really, you can't give and do and be all the time.  Sometimes, you need to time to be filled and inspired and refreshed.

Intentional rest is more than just taking time away from work.  It's choosing to spend time doing the things that truly fill and revive you.  For me, it's a way to clear my head and my heart, focus on what matters, and dream a little.

This weekend, I made time for intentional rest - lunch with SD at a new-to-us restaurant, time outside (our first spring-like weekend!), a trip to the farmer's market (our first time since November!), reading and writing for pleasure (a novelty these days), even coffee and sprinkle cookies on the roof of our building (with coats on...).  It's amazing how much of an impact these little things can have on the rest of the week.

What does intentional rest mean to you?  Maybe it's taking a leisurely walk around the neighborhood before dinner.  Maybe it's meeting a friend for lunch.  Maybe it's taking the afternoon to go for a drive with the sun roof open.  Maybe it's reading your latest book.  Whatever it is, be intentional about it.  Make time for it.  Those things are as important as anything else you do during the week.

Real Rest

Life is a balancing act – work and play, go time and sleep, time with others and time alone, etc.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it means to rest.  You know, really rest.

Sundays mornings are busy for us.  After warming up, double-checking all of my music, rehearsing with the choir, playing a service, saying hello to folks afterward, and putting everything away, I am ready to rest.  However, most of the time, I spend a few hours perusing Facebook, catching up on TV shows, checking Pinterest, and relishing the time to sit quietly at home.  After a little time passes, guess what?  I still feel just as ready for rest as I did when I started.  How can this be?  None of these things are really restful.  They pass the time, they’re fairly mindless, and I can sit quietly by myself while doing them but I’m fooling myself by thinking that I’m resting.

Here’s why: Real rest requires spending time on the right things – things that fill me up, inspire me, refresh me.  Less TV, more books.  Less Facebook, more time with SD.  Less time spent surfing Pinterest, more time spent seeking true inspiration.  Less time on the couch, more time outside.

Real rest is essential.  Make those moments count.

Image Credit: personal

Surround Yourself with Those Things

"In order to lead a fascinating life - one brimming with art, music, intrigue and romance - you must surround yourself with precisely those things." - Kate Spade Art.  Music.  Intrigue.  Romance.  Who wouldn’t want to surround themselves with these things?!

We all have days where we feel surrounded by those less-than-pleasant people, places, or tasks.  Take control of the things you choose to surround yourself with and make sure they’re the things that inspire you and fire you up.  For me, that means escaping to the empty conference room on my lunch break (with a wall of windows where I can look out on the world) so I get that necessary 20 minutes of solitude in a busy teaching day.

When working from home, I surround myself with good music that keeps me focused and working hard and a little inspiration board hanging over my desk to refresh my energy and attention span.  Five-minute detours to Pinterest also work to clear my head and inspire my creativity.

The people I choose to surround me are encouraging and inspiring – they work hard and challenge me to constantly reevaluate my priorities.

Lead a fascinating life.  Who’s stopping you?