Saturday, February 21, 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice

Ugh, the dreaded "P" word.  How often, as a kid, do we hear that word and hate the teacher or coach for saying it?  As a piano teacher, I have said it many times, and as a parent many more.  Most of the time I get the same reaction I gave when I was a kid, namely the slump of shoulders accompanied by an eye-roll.  Why? Why do we hate it so much?  For me, it is the fear of the upcoming performance.

I often put too much pressure on my practice times.  When I am learning a new piece of music because someone needs me to accompany them or perform for some event, I feel the weight of the performance and it can overshadow any enjoyment I may get from the experience.  Maybe my imagination is too vivid because I can feel the emotion of being in front of the audience just as strong in my home, with no one around, as I do when actually performing. Contrast this to when I am just playing to play or learning a new piece just because I want to.  At these times there is freedom and if I make a mistake, I try again and move on.  Often these practice sessions feel more like prayer time.  As I make music, I let go of myself and I can feel a bond with eternity and there is joy.

I think this joy is what George Leonard is referring to in his book, Mastery: the Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment when he says:

"Practice, the path of mastery, exists only in the present. . . To love the plateau is to love the eternal now, to enjoy the inevitable spurts of progress and the fruits of accomplishment, then serenely to accept the new plateau that waits just beyond them.  To love the plateau is to love what is most essential and enduring in your life."

We can apply this to all aspects of our life, not just music or sports.  Practicing my religion is one of the areas I can really apply this.  I am not a perfect Christian and will likely never be one, but I am better at it than I was last year, and I can be better tomorrow than I am today.  The Lord does not put pressure on me, only I do that to myself.  He celebrates my improvement and challenges me to keep going, but never belittles when I fail.  He is the perfect coach.  I will work at being a better student of Him.  I am looking forward to the practice.

Gifts and Something to Work On

The introspection of the last few weeks coupled with discussion of my personal character with friends and family (as per an assignment regarding my ability as an entrepreneur or manager) has caused me to think more about the gifts my Father in Heaven has given me and what I am doing with them.  Most especially, my ability as a public speaker and teacher.  I have come to a new realization that this ability is a spiritual gift.  I admit it isn’t one I have ever heard before on any list in relation to gifts of the spirit, but I don’t think that makes it unqualified as a gift.
 D&C 46: 11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts,
and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
I also ran upon this verse during my studies.
D&C 29:34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual,
and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal . . .
With this new understanding, I am wondering what to do with it.  I have been a teacher several times as a church calling and I always except the call to speak in a sacrament meeting, but is this enough?  Is there something I can do in my life to use it better in building the Kingdom of God?  Or to build my community?  How is my study of business going to make me better able to use this gift?  How do I use this gift in the business world?  Is it needed there?  Is it profitable?  What is the message I would share? 
With this ability also comes a level of confidence, or perceived confidence by others.  This confidence can make me unapproachable.  One friend said it was in much the same way a shy person is perceived as being a snob.  No one came out and said it, but it would seem I have an arrogance about me and it can rub people the wrong way.  I am glad they shared this with me, because I wouldn’t want to purposely make someone feel they couldn’t talk to me about an issue.  I need to work on being able to get my point across while still enabling others to share their view too. 
I love the Proverbs 31 woman and strive to be like her.  Verse 26 reads
She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
And in her tongue is the law of kindness.
I think I can be both confident and kind.  To find the balance will make my confidence a success trait instead of a stumbling block.  

Friday, February 6, 2015

Life's Many Missions

 I am supposed to find a mission for my life, but what does that mean?  Is a life mission one big event?  Have I missed it?  Is it still waiting for me?  How will I know it when I see it?  What if I find it but I am unable to complete it? 

What is my mission in life?
The canned primary answer just slips off the tongue. We are sent to Earth to have a mortal experience with a body and learn to be more like our Father in Heaven. While this may be true in the most general sense, the mission of a specific individual is much harder to define.

I believe we have many missions in life.
The most obvious one for me is: It is my mission to be the mother of my particular children.  This has been the biggest one I have found so far.  But there are also many small missions which are easily overlooked.  These are the little acts we do for others as we live our lives.  Who know but that time you showed kindness to someone was a job only you could do.  I believe the Lord has us in situations to do His work for him.  He inspires us to action for the benefit of His children. 

Sometimes we can feel like we don’t have a mission because we are not part of something grand.  We feel small and useless, but the accumulation of mini-missions can add up to a lifetime of service, glorifying not only ourselves, but God as well.  Isn't this what makes a life well lived? 

Doctrine and Covenants Section 58: 27 reads:
"Verily i say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will,and bring to pass much righteousness."

 Most of the time, when we feel mission-less, it is because we have turned our thoughts inward to ourselves.  When we reach out, we find missions every day.  This mortal experience is about finding those missions and completing them well.

I also like the next verse. 28:
"For the power is in them . . ."

The power to find and complete our missions is in us as we follow the teachings of the Savior and listen to the guidance of the spirit.   This is comforting.  I am certain there have been opportunities to serve in mini-missions which I have missed, but that also means I have many more to look forward to.