December 30, 2013

One more day...

Good Monday morning! I woke up this morning and the temperature outside was 39 degrees. Not too shabby for Phoenix in late December! Some of my family live back in the Midwest and East coast, and I am sure that they would love our balmy winter morning temps!!

It is December 30, and I am beginning to think about next week, and the start of my first day teaching students at Grand Canyon. I am not nervous (yet). I am calm for the most part, but still feeling a bit uncertain about what I am to do as far as classroom management/lesson structure and planning.

I don't have much on the schedule for today, so some of the day needs to be set aside to creating my first week of presentations. I was going to use Prezi, which is a cool interactive presentation tool. However, I am now thinking that I will use Power Point until I am comfortable with the program. I have used PPT in the past, but I never really presented with it. I used it for one-off teaching lessons, visuals to print out, etc. I want to be consistent with my design template and formatting, and PPT is easy for me to use.

I also need to work on a blog for a client contract. I was planning on using an interactive site design, but now I have decided to create a blog with links to PayPal. This is a paying job and I need to present something to her by tomorrow am.

I applied for two new teaching positions, both online, yesterday. I wasn't going to look for additional work because I felt confident that this one class at GCU and my two doctoral courses at Regent would be enough for me to handle. However, I feel better about GCU and I am trusting the Lord for the time to work on my doctoral classes. I think I can handle online courses, especially if they are 8 weeks in length. I applied for two positions teaching literature courses. Both were for World Literature, which is content I enjoy reading. I think the content would be easy for me to teach as well. I am trusting the Lord to provide additional teaching opportunities to me -- as He sees fit to do so.

Cello Study

I received my two new cello books on Saturday. The one is very similar to "The Art of Scales" book I purchased last year. It is slimmer and not as involved so I think it will work better for me. The second book is the one by Janos Starker. I read a review that said it was not for beginner students. I read through the exercises and while they are intermediate and advanced (tenor and treble clef), there are plenty of bass clef exercises to start. I didn't think anything looked too difficult for me. I haven't learn to read tenor or treble clef, but the concept of the clefs is understood.

On the cello, the higher you move up the fingerboard (from pegs to f-holes), the clef changes to accommodate the ledger lines. Think of it this way, if you have two or three ledger lines above the top string on the cello, it becomes more difficult to read that note. Instead, you change the clef and you stay within 9 lines (two below, five on the instrument, and two above). The notation is consistent, but the notes themselves change based on the placement on the string.

I can read bass clef pretty well. I can read from 1/2 position down to fourth position, generally speaking without much fuss. I struggle a bit with 5th position. I haven't learned 6-7th or thumb yet, but will as soon as I start to study tenor clef.

One of the goals I have made for myself for 2014 is to work on finger dexterity, rapidity with shifting and scale work. I want to be able to play with better intonation through correct finger placement on the cello. When you are moving between measures quickly, it is easy to misplace a finger. On the cello, like with other stringed instruments, a misplaced finger will give you a flat, natural or a sharp. You have to know where to put your finger so as to produce the correct tone. I do well with most of my fingers but I tend to miss my first finger on extension or my fourth on extension (so for example, I play a B flat instead of a B or a G Sharp instead of a G). My fingers need to learn where to go each time I move them.

I know that my problem is habit, and the fact that I learned to play the cello by moving my hand. I should have learned the four-finger method whereby my middle fingers are planted on the cello and my first and fourth move when needed to extend half a position. The only time I should be moving my hand is to shift to a new position (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.) Instead, I tend to move my hand when I am playing more than one string. This takes time away during performance, and it leads to placement errors because I am lifting my hand, placing it back down, and taking the chance that I am on/off the correct note.

I am not sure whether I can re-learn the process at this point. I am going to give it a try to see if I can keep my fingers planted, and retrain them to move within the position with the thumb stuck to the back of the cello. We will see...

Weight Loss Progress

Christmas really took a toll on my weight loss program. I had lost about 12 lbs between Sept 1 and Oct 1 and for the most part had kept it off. The holidays threw me off, and my weight slowly crept back up. I weighed myself yesterday, and I am about 5 lbs up from where I was at the end of October.

I am planning on starting Atkins again, since it worked well for me last fall. I got burnt out on it, and I came to loathe eggs (:o). However, the program really worked, and the weight dropped off me steadily.

January 1 will be my new start date, and I hope to lose 10 lbs during the month. My goal weight loss is about 20 lbs. I am going to follow The Daniel Plan generally, but will supplement menu choices with foods I like to eat. I am not a fru-fru eater, and often these plans have food items that I would never eat, no matter how good they are for you. I am plain, and I like plain food. My general menu looks like this:

January (on Atkins for two weeks, then moderating with more carbs for the next two)
Breakfast bar or eggs/bacon
Salad with deli meat or chicken for lunch
Dinner with protein, green vegetable and salad
Coffee with half/half
Water (at least 60-80 oz per day)
Carbs in moderate amounts after week 2 (whole grains)

February and March
Breakfast of protein
Fruit for snack
Salad Lunch
Nuts for snack
Dinner with the family (whatever my Mom cooks)

April (on Atkins again)

May and ongoing (repeat February/March)

My hope is that I can move from Atkins to a whole foods lifestyle. I want to get off all processed foods, and to eat only naturally grown (Organic) foods. I have already made significant changes, so now I just need to be consistent and get back on the whole foods kick again.

Work and Other

Besides teaching, I hope to begin working on my research for Regent. It would be smart to get a head start on my dissertation project. I am thinking of beginning my literature review, creating/writing annotated bibliographies, etc. so that I can shave off time to graduation. I will not complete my coursework until 2016 (no way around that date). I will have to pass my exams and then be admitted to the dissertation phase; however, I can begin the research now, and use this time as preparatory for the research/writing process. In theory, I could graduate in 2017, which is the goal the Lord laid on my heart. To do this, I need to have the bulk of my research completed, and then be ready to conduct research for quantitative analysis. In doing so, this would mean that I could spend about 6-9 months writing up my research findings rather than spending the time doing the research (literature review, etc.)

I am not sure what the Lord has in mind for me to research yet. I am praying about it, and I am trusting Him to open a door for a research grant, some opportunity to help me focus on a particular area of study. In addition, I am hoping to find a paid grant that will help offset my school costs. I am in debt (as most graduate students are), and I would like to stop borrowing money from the government, and start paying it back so that I can be free from debt as soon as possible. My goal is to have my loan debt paid down to half what it is now by the end of 2020. Then I hope to pay the balance off steadily until it is down to zero. I know that seems far off, and personally, I would prefer to have it paid off now, but it is big chunk of change, and I know that I will have to provide for my own living expenses, and food/shelter comes first. God knows what He is doing, and I am trusting that He will provide for me.

I would like a research grant that would pay for my schooling this year and next. I would like to receive enough money to pay my tuition and expenses and then have some extra left over so that I could live comfortably (I will be teaching to supplement my income). This would provide for my expenses and would alleviate the need to borrow financial aid.

Dear Lord,

You know the plans you have for my life (Jer. 29:11), and you know that I am trusting you to provide for these plans (financially). I am relying upon you, solely devoted to you, and focused on your will for my life. I ask now that you open a door for me so that I can apply for and receive a research grant. This grant will help fund my education and will provide a stipend so that I can complete my PhD and live comfortably teaching college courses. I ask that you direct me and lead me to the place where I can apply for this grant, and that you will give me favor in preparation of the materials and in any of the follow up that is required. I thank you for this opportunity, and I rest in your sufficiency. I know you have a way planned out for me, and I am trusting in your guidance to lead me to where you want me to go. I also ask that you bless me as I discipline myself for my cello study and for weight loss. I am pursuing these things based on your will for my life, so I ask that you provide what is needed for me to accomplish these things. I thank you now for this past year and all that you have provided for me. I look forward with great expectation to 2014, for I know that you have great things in mind for me, and that you are ready to provide for each and every need I will have next year. I ask all of this in the Mighty and Merciful Name of Jesus, Amen. Thy will be done, Selah! (Pause and calmly think about it).

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