Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Save your Voice

I have been using my voice way more now that I am a preschool music teacher. I quickly discovered that I need to save it so I can use it for other things such as talking and singing with my family and leading worship. Here are a few tips that can help you save your voice. 

1. Get some Rest - this is also a good tip for recovery if you have lost your voice. Sleep the correct amount of hours. Take a vocal break during the day. Even if you have to hide, it's worth not using your voice for 15 minutes or so. Rest is something you can't put in a pill, you just have to do it. 

2. Drink plenty of water - I read this article and learned that when you drink water your vocal chords get hydrated. It makes sense because when you are thirsty your voice sure does change. Interesting!

3. Communicate Creatively - I learned that although I couldn't speak as normal, there were other ways to communicate. I was amazed that I never had to raise my voice but that everyone paid attention and followed directions. I saw by example that I have many different ways to communicate other than my voice. Body movement is one way to communicate. Every time I sat down, everyone did the same. Hand movements were the same way. I know that if you teach science you won't be using hand signals but think about different ways you can communicate other than using your voice.

4. Amplify - if you can use a microphone or a speaker, you totally should. I can't but I do use it to my advantage when I can. Another thing I learned to do is NOT to wear out my voice during rehearsal. It makes no sense to scream myself happy before an actual performance. It's all about gradually using my voice without damaging it. 

If you have any issues you don't understand, visit your doctor and get a specialist opinion. The goal of this post is not to substitute medical advice but to provide you with tools to aid in the better stewardship of your voice. 

Have an amazing day my friend!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chevron Houston Marathon Week 14

My first week training "on my own" went really well. There were no classes to attend and I was 100% responsible for my cross training. You'll be glad to know that I got up, went to the gym and worked on core muscles (I did what felt like a million different types of core exercises) and I always added a little walk just to warm up all over. 
God bless Texas! It was cooler this week! Here's my happy face after "hill" training. 
With 105 days to go, I have decided what my race day strategy will be. I will be running intervals during the 2016 Houston Marathon! My running mentor told me I would like it and some of my running buddies told me it's a great strategy. For the past 2 long runs I used intervals and I felt awesome. 
My average time is a bit faster than usual and my energy level is MUCH higher when I finish. When I calculate all the numbers, I believe that this strategy will lead me right into my PR at Houston. 
The goal for the next 16 weeks is to be faithful in cross training, hill training and practice my intervals during my long run. 
One thing I already know I need to work on is not to speed up in the beginning. This is one my biggest faults as a runner: I start out too fast! The problem is that it ALWAYS backfires towards the end of the race. 
Example number one, my first marathon. I decided to keep up with my friends who are way faster than I am and I slowed down at mile 17. During my second marathon, I slowed down at mile 6. I am determined to be smart about my energy use, thus I will be faithful to my intervals. 
If you don't know what in the world I am talking about (I had now clue what that was 3 years ago), check out Jeff Galloway's Run Walk Run method here.
I respect every distance and every runner. We are all so different and our strategies all lead to one finish line. The main thing is to run my own race. 
Another challenge for next week is to run slower during my long runs. I don't want to hurt myself but I will follow the wisdom of those who have done this longer and more efficiently than myself for decades. The thing is not to speed up now but save some energy for race day. 
The nutrition part of my training went well this week and I lost some weight. I am thankful that my husband is enjoying his running so much that it's influencing our whole family. I'm eating better than usual (there are no treats in the house!!!) and the kids are getting some extra miles here and there. 
I have a race day weight goal I believe I will reach as I stay faithful to eating the best nutrition for my calories. 
I appreciate your prayers and support as I press on towards my goal of running my favorite marathon, the Chevron Houston Marathon. I hope that by now you know that if I can run marathons, you can too. I'm a normal person who does it and so can you. It starts in your mind. When your mind is set, I hope you choose Houston for your first marathon experience! There are still slots available through Charity fundraising. Have a blessed week friends!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thinking outside of Digital

I wrote what I thought was an epic post then my blog went off line. It's interesting how real life happens off line. My digital life is such a small part of my real life, and I'm glad. I'm also happy for the people who make part of my real life exclusively. I get to experience life to the fullest with friends and family without the restrictions and imprisonment of a digital screen. 
I'm a digital media user and admirer but never a lover. My love and affection goes to God, family and friends. I know that this digital age is not going to slow down. I'm actually eager to see what the next innovations will be. I'm determined not to become a slave of it tough. 
The challenge I have is to help my children to think for themselves, outside of digital screens. My number one challenge is to teach them how to search for and attain Godly wisdom. There isn't a lack of information but wisdom... we all can use so much more of it. 
Yep, being off line for a couple of days gets me thinking about what I am doing with my little corner of the internet. My goal, is always to spread hope online, one post at a time. 
I also want to remind everyone that we have 91 days till 2016. I am determined not to spend most of my time behind a screen. I am persuaded to live out God's purpose for my life with courage and joy. Have a great evening (or morning, or afternoon) my friend!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Transitioning from Stay-at-Home to Working Mom

The night before the first day of school I stood in my kitchen and cried as I finished packing the last peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I cried because I couldn't take the pain inside of me any more. If you've never experienced what I went through, you might be asking "what pain? Didn't you sign up for this?" It's the pain of saying goodbye to a life that I knew for 6 and a half years. The pain of having to face the unknown. The pain of detaching from my old life while welcoming God's new. Transition is no joke and I know it because I've been through it more than once. I also felt the love and care of my friends and family. The text messages, prayers and phone calls availed much. Some of my mommy friends even surprised me with dinner to wish me well in this new season of life. Friendship is rich beyond measure.

I'm thankful to God for my amazing husband. His strength and encouragement are valuable and comforting. I don't think I could do anything I do without his support. I do have a super man for a husband. 

Transitioning helped me be more organized. I enjoy the challenge of organization and I have welcomed it as a natural part of the assignment God has for me. To be plain about it, I get to prepare at least 20 meals ahead of time, 20 outfits, homework assignments and all the other wonderful things God has allowed us to do. If I don't get ahead, I drown. I get stressed and everyone suffers, which is not fair. Organization is not a spiritual gift, is a vessel for sanity. 

I appreciate the fact that I have found a lot of people who want to hear my heart about this transition. I have friends who have been through it successfully and I have friends who haven't but both groups have a lot of empathy. Knowing that someone cares for me during this season has been great. Knowing that I have people who will listen, care and encourage me is the best gift. 

I still have feelings that are not completely worked out about this whole transition. The good news is, the worse is over.

Allowing myself to feel my feelings was the healthiest thing I could do. Staying away from negativity was the smartest thing I've done. Getting to a place of contentment is was the best thing I could do because there's great gain there. 

My greatest assurance is that God has truly opened this door of ministry for me. My honor is to serve Him well and serve my family well. Here are other things that helped me make this transition doable: 

• Talk it out - talking about my process and feelings has been a healthy thing. I tried not to overload one person with my stuff and I'm thankful that I have several friends who want to talk to me about my thoughts and feelings. When I bottle my emotions in, my body overreacts in ugly ways. That's called stress. I fight against it hard so that I can live a freer, healthier life. 

• Find your why - Knowing "why" I am in this current season brings a lot of peace. My husband and I never make life altering decisions on our own. We get a word from God, we talk to mentors, we pray about it and we ponder how it will affect our family. My "why" is anchored in the fact that it's a God assignment and it benefits our family. Having this anchor helps me weather any storm. 

• Grab your support - I have prayed for a support group and God has blessed me with a wonderful mix of peers and mentors with whom I can do life together. I have an "open door policy" with these people, which means they are free to speak the truth in love and literally drop in whenever they want to reach out. I also pray that I can be a blessing to these wonderful folks.  

• Stay ahead - organization is not my spiritual gift but I decided it is a vessel that leads me to sanity. I stay ahead by packing lunch boxes ahead of time. I stay ahead by ironing clothes ahead of time. I stay ahead by turning on my coffee maker and making sure I get a cup during my early morning Bible reading time. This act of staying ahead has eliminated a lot of stress from my life because I don't rush as much. I get to be peaceful and make the best use of the time God has given me. 

• Do what you love - A lot of people have asked me if I'm "dead tired" yet. I honestly say, not really. I have learned to get enough rest so that I can be energized for the day. I also learned to make room to do the things I love. I love running, so I made it a priority. I love writing, so I write daily. I love reading, so I carved 2 hours a week to do that. You can say that self-control includes having a hold of my daily schedule. I get to do what I love by making time for it. 

There's nothing easy about transitioning in my experience but there nothing goes to waste either. I believe God can use transitions in our lives to help us grow in our character, gain compassion for others and grow the talents He has already given us.

I have learned that the choices before me were to either be upset about a change in seasons or to find contentment in this season thus living it well until the following season starts.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Seven

I love countdowns! Mostly because I feel that I can be intentional about an event. Today I want to suggest 7 things we can do as we countdown to Thanksgiving (59 days away), Christmas (88 days away) and the year of 2016 (95 days away).

1 •  Spending Plan - we all need one and this is the time to make a decision on how much we'll spend during the upcoming holidays. This is also the time to decide how much we will simplify our lives compared to the previous years. I'd also include "time" in my spending plan. I know some families do not mind having multiple events during the holidays, others can use more down time. I'd make a decision on how many events I'll attend just to be sure that the holiday season is about family and not about stress. 

2 • Goals - The new year is 95 days way but it's a good idea to decide now who you want to become in 2016. I'd go beyond pounds to lose to character qualities. Now is a good time to take a look at yourself and decide how will you make progress from the inside out. 

3 • Evaluation - the year is not ever yet, so we can stop and evaluate 2015. We are not going to do it in order to feel guilty or condemned, but so we can keep making progress towards the goals we set in January. Evaluate and keep making progress from where you are. You just don't want to stop or regress. 

4 • Organize - The Spring was a lot time ago, which means we can all use some organization in our surroundings. If we start organizing now, we won't have to suffer through it during an already busy holiday season. I'd start by making a list of things you want to get organized and use 45 minutes at a time to get it done. Read more about it here 

5 • Thankfulness - 72% of the year has passed, which means we have lived through most of our reasons to be thankful. Start reflecting on your year and what you are thankful for. I choose to believe that even during a difficult year, we can find reasons to be thankful. Even if the reason is, I got up each day and put one foot in front of the other. I am alive and tomorrow is another day. Thankfulness makes life richer and more significant. 

6 • Christmas Photos - You and I have a pretty good window of time to get our Christmas photos done. Whether you hire a photographer or choose to write a Christmas letter, plan on getting these projects done now before the holiday rush starts. My family and I usually get our Christmas card photos done in October. I know, I bit early but it works. 

7 • Believe - I find it difficult to be positive on January 1. It's easier for me to end 2015 with the faith that 2016 will be awesome. It is wise to have a well-established belief. My anchor verse for every year can be found in Psalm 65:11 "You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance." I choose to believe that God is good every year and He can even fill the harshness of life with redemption power. 

I pray that I gave you something to think about but mostly hope that God always takes care of you. Have an amazing day my friend.