legs-up-the-wall and jesus speaking

I am NOT a meditator and I am not a very focused pray-er. My brain does somersaults and cartwheels and starts singing random songs (mary had a little lamb little lamb little lamb jingle bells jingle bells jingle all the way oh what fun I’ll be hoooooome for Christmas youuuuuuuu can couunnnntttt on meeeeee!!!!!) (being a music teacher is grand) and I cannot focus for any length of time without a musical number interruption. Lately, I’ve been sticking to my guns about my yoga practice, mostly because my doctor has been booked up during my available times and I absolutely know that no legs-up-the-wall tonight means no sitting in a chair without gnashing of teeth tomorrow. So I have been doing this thing every day. It isn’t long and it isn’t impressive- it just is what my spine (and my heart ) needs from day to day. I’ve been trying hard (my TCM doctor would say, “stop trying. just do.”) to set my intention on Jesus. Sometimes I can focus for real and I can really slow down and hear him speak. This is growth for me because I am a really good talker and not so good on the listening front. Want to know what he said to me the other day while my legs were in the air? 

“I know your desires better than you do. I know what you really, deeply want. What you think you want is not really what you want. I know this because I made your heart with all of its desires in place. Katie, I know you. I will give you the true desires of your true heart as I know it and made it to be.” 

So when I turn off the broadway show in my head and stop the mental twirling, I can hear him and what he says is good. I believe him and I’m writing it here so I can come back and read it when I forget. Thanks for yoga, Jesus. Thanks for knowing my heart and giving good things. Thanks for giving hard things that make me break enough to stop and listen because I’m desperate and I need you. 

 

Fibromyalgia brain!!!!!!! Every now and then, I’m not just dealing with pain. Sometimes, my brain just stops working- like there is a cloud in my brain. I can’t talk or breathe right and noise (Oy! I’m a music teacher!) makes me crazy. Yoga says breathe and body says can’t. I can’t demonstrate properly on the clarinet and I have to apologize to my kiddos for being cranky. It makes me think I don’t like teaching. I’m writing this here with you as my witness. The TRUTH is that I love teaching, I am human and humans get cranky. 

Deepest Teacher Fear #1: I will take out my own discomfort and pain on a student the way my teacher took out his suffering on me. 

I try to stay honest with my kids, but even an apology can’t completely undo a harsh word. Kids with anxiety troubles and emotional struggles and ADD and ADHD and everything else are already challenging to teach with kindness and patience all the time because the job is demanding and we are on a deadline. Oh, but I try! Then you add in the fact that on some days breathing hurts, sitting in a chair hurts, my throat muscles spasm and I can’t talk without pain, I try to play my clarinet and my numb fingers won’t move. Then I get so overwhelmed, so absorbed in just surviving the day. I get cranky and usually with the kids who need unconditional love the absolute most. 

My mom used to pray that God would be my mom where she failed. I pray the same as a teacher. Lord, be my students’ teacher where I fail and cover up my failings with your grace. 

Blog friends, pray that I will have strength to love deeply and teach with a full heart this year even when it hurts to breathe. 

I need prayer and I need forgiveness and I need a team backing me. This is truth.

Today was rough and breathing hurts. 

To yoga and to bed. 

Love,

Katie 

I wasn’t going to post this blog on Facebook quite yet, but I decided I would quite enjoy having some readers! So, thanks for reading! 

Today I did my very first real forearm stand at the wall!!! I wasn’t totally comfortable with my head position and I definitely feel some pain sensations in my cervical vertebrae, but HECK! I DID IT. It was so fun to feel so strong. I also have made a lot of progress with my upward facing dog and am feeling my lumbar spine start to bend more freely. I love this so much. I feel so weak so often and betrayed by my body. I have never thought of myself as “weak” but find myself feeling that this label is totally inevitable. Today, my body was really strong for about 40 minutes and the label was defied. Today was a victorious day! 

Ever since the last day I practiced clarinet the way I determined to spend my whole life practicing- the day I remember so well -I have struggled with the belief that others view me and label me as weak and lazy. I believe that in some cases this is warranted, but I also believe that, more often than not, I am simply projecting my fears on others and essentially accusing them of judging me in a manner that they are not. I am so thankful the Lord is actively freeing me from this perception of others as harsh and unable to understand or believe in my physical limitations. My greatest fear has always been that people will not love and accept me. This is so unfounded and such a silly lie from Satan. Though people may not accept me, Jesus has already claimed me as his own and in this I am free to be who he made me to be. Successful in the eyes of the world or not, I am Katie Whaley and I have an autoimmune disease and I am a clarinetist and I am a teacher and I love, love, love yoga and I am a wife and I am an organic-eating, tree-hugging hippy and I love tattoos. Also, I really like who God made me to be. 

I was so angry that I developed this disability or disease or whatever it is. (FYI some doctors have said fibromyalgia, but even if that is the case, I am not going about the treatment of the pain in any normal manner. I’m alllll about the holistic approach and I am a firm believer in simply using wisdom to approach the management of my pain and the total reliance on a God who knows my suffering to carry me through every day of my life.) I am SO not angry anymore. Gosh, I’m so thankful Jesus freed me from this. Now, I totally still get frustrated and cranky and overwhelmed and I take it out on my poor, sweet husband. But, ultimately I know I have finally been able to really and truly rest the state of my physical body in the hands of the Lord. 

Wellllll, maybe. I guess I need to be honest and speak some heart-revealing truth here. I haven’t totally trusted God. I still trust me. I trust that if I eat healthy and do yoga I can control my pain. To some extent, this is just simple wisdom speaking and, to some extent, it is self-reliant pride. Jesus can handle it. I really love healthy food and yoga, so I’m just going to keep it up and try really hard not to boast. I’m seriously, genuinely sorry, y’all, for when I go on and on about health related topics in a know-it-all manner. I like to say it is because I am passionate, but really I think it is because I am prideful. I’m sorry. 

So, anyway, I have found that yoga is totally a means of self-expression for me and that my artistic heart is fulfilled on my mat. Yoga is so beautiful and I am so grateful for the deep truths I have learned from yoga teachers and yoga practicers and from my own practice. Here’s a list. I think it’s cool, so hang in there with me. 

1. Practice is great but sometimes you have to just play (I have totally applied this to music!! Same super concept.)

2. Sometimes it looks really funny when I play around with a new pose. Laughing at myself is healing. 

3. Tuning into my body has shown me how to tune into my heart. 

4. I can feel my spine. I can FEEL my spine! 

5. The muscles I use for downward facing dog are the exact muscles I use to support my clarinet tone. 

6. Watching a room full of clarinet students do downward facing dog for the first time is seriously entertaining. 

7. Parallel learning is the bomb.com. 

8. There is a good kind of sore and a bad kind of sore. Any risk of the bad kind of sore should be avoided even at the cost of the good kind of sore. (Basically, re-injury is bad and I can avoid it be paying really close attention to the sensations in my body.)

9. Competition is good- but only to a small extent. Teamwork is always the best way to learn. 

10. Grace. 

If you’ve never practiced *ahem* played around with yoga, please try it. It is so much fun and can potentially change your life. 

More important than yoga, if you have never met Jesus and you want to, let me know. He will most assuredly change your life. 

Hey hey! Leave a comment for me! 

Love,

Katie 

Goodness, I always forget how much I love two things:

Traveling.

My best friends from Eastman. 

I went to Memphis this weekend to visit these ladies and I am just so overwhelmed by how beautifully encouraging this time was. I almost didn’t go. I am so glad I didn’t make that decision. 

Going to Memphis meant I had to take a bus. Flights are too expensive and Husband wasn’t down for me driving all the way by myself (not to mention all those miles on my poor little car). I was so, so nervous about the bus. I read all these reviews online (I read wayyy too much about this stuff. (It’s like WebMD- I HAVE CANCER! Oh wait, it’s just seasonal allergies.) I get this from my dad though: research it.  Always research. But, then I see all these horrifying reviews about Greyhound and I almost chicken out. 

Let’s segue for a moment here: Greyhound is not a bad way to travel and I am so glad I did it. For anyone who is nervous about taking a bus, here’s the deal. It is SO cheap. $68.00 for a round trip ticket is a ridiculous deal. I couldn’t have driven round trip for anywhere near that cost and my car gets incredible gas mileage. It is TOTALLY worth it. When you get to the bus station, look for the door that says your destination- that is where you will line up. GET IN THE LINE. Don’t wait unless you have to. Get in the line. You need to get on the bus with the first half of the line to get a window seat, and window seats are way better than aisle seats on a bus. Not to mention, it is nice to have a bit of control over who you are going to share a seat with for 10+ hours. If you are first, you get to offer the seat next to you to someone who doesn’t look super shady. This is good. I have to say though, even the shady characters were pretty nice people. There is a communal “we’re all in this together” attitude. It makes it pretty fun, honestly. Seeing strangers bond over, “Wow! Someone actually flushed a t-shirt down the bus toilet, delaying us by an hour?!” is not un-fun. It isn’t my favorite thing ever, but it does restore my faith in the sense of humor of even the shadiest looking characters. By the way, the t-shirt down the toilet really did happen. So maybe I should say, traveling by bus is not for you if you cannot laugh at the ridiculous. If that would stress you out, just pay some extra money and fly. I lived in downtown Rochester, NY for four years. I can appreciate the ghetto-fabulous in all its glory. It makes me feel grounded and remember not to take life too seriously. There is beauty in the hilarious and you are going to see some funny stuff in a Greyhound bus. I had fun. It was colorful. However, guys, don’t complain when a baby cries on the bus. Seriously, that is the most maddening thing ever. To see a grown man complain when a baby cries, especially when the baby’s poor mama is traveling without any help annnnd is pregnant! Don’t you dare complain you jerk. 

While in Memphis, I had a really good reminder about why I don’t ever eat large quantities of meat. Oh gosh, that barbecue was yummy. But when you’re sitting around a card table playing games with a bunch of people and your stomach won’t stop gurgling, it takes a little of the delicious-factor out of the meal that caused the situation at hand. Embarrassing. Oh well. 

The best, best, best part of Memphis was seeing my beautiful friends and getting to hear them tell about where their lives have taken them and what God is teaching them. They are beautiful. They are my best friends in this world and I just can’t get over how special it is to have these friends in my life. They are so creative and so wise. They are so real and so genuine. I am overwhelmed by the things God is doing in our lives and how faithful He is to always provide a way for us to reunite each summer. Overwhelmed by His goodness. Simply overwhelmed.

I spend a weekend in a new town exploring new places with favorite people and I come home refreshed, seeing my life from a different angle. Seeing my life as it really is, unclouded by the pressure I felt before taking a Greyhound bus to Tennessee. A new angle. That’s how I want to see every student, every school, every colleague. I want to see my dirty laundry, my dirty dishes, and my chronically unswept floors from a different angle. Every dirty dish means we are well fed. Every load of laundry means we are clothed. And not just clothed, but clothed beautifully- extravagantly -so many outfits when so many people have just one or two. The unswept floor? I have a dream job loving on children and making music with them. If I am too tired and busy to sweep the floor everyday, who cares. I get to share JESUS with KIDS and I get to share MUSIC with KIDS. And I get PAID to do it. Seriously, what the heck? I am so, so, so, so abundantly blessed. My life is beautiful and your life is beautiful. Life is beautiful. Jesus, keep my eyes open and show me new angles from which to view my life. 

I love this life. Image

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Hey Internet Friends,

I love being a music teacher- it is such a fun job. I get to enjoy all of these cool kids and watch them learn and grow and develop. They are so great. One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to consistently learn right along with my kiddos. I have been able to discover so many things about how to play the clarinet just by having to explain what to do to make a sound to a bunch of students. At Eastman, I had to rush to learn things- it was always a hurry. Every week there were new etudes and excerpts and pieces of literature on which I was expected to make extreme progress. And I did make this progress and it was fantastic. But it was always such a rush from week to week. Sometimes I could really really really tell my teacher was really really really frustrated with me when I couldn’t just “get it” right there and then in my lesson. He has this habit of getting really really really loud in those situations. He really meant it! But he didn’t always say things clearly. He wouldn’t often attempt to say things in different words to try to help me understand the concept. This, I have found, is just so important for a teacher. 

When I find myself getting frustrated with a kid, I am oh so not perfect. Sometimes I also get louder and louder and louder until I start to see a look of “oh no, aghhh!” on the kid’s face. That’s a definite clue to chill. However, as I mature as a teacher, I am really attempting to chill before I see that look appear. This is the trick: find NEW words. Don’t just say the same thing. Most of the time, the student just needs to be communicated with in a different way. It takes patience. Oh my word, am I learning patience. 65 times a week, I am in my student’s clarinet lesson and my patience lesson simultaneously. And, the kicker? I’m also learning to play the clarinet more proficiently myself because sometimes my brain also needs to be communicated with differently and I actually teach myself when I change my words. It’s oh so cool. 

What have I learned from my students?

-How to voice my altissimo register

-That it is more than ok to cry

-That sharing music is the biggest blessing and playing duets with a 12-year-old is seriously fun

-That teachers are not always right

-Forgiveness is really important

-Sometimes, music isn’t the point of a 25 minute period of time because sometimes, just being human together can teach us both more about music and life than actually playing music ever could

-Imperfection is so beautiful so often

-Perfection is overrated (!!!) 

-Metronomes are really really really important

-Kids are totally full of wisdom

-Guarding my tongue vigilantly is absolutely a requirement of life 

-Being a mom is going to be really hard

-Trust God with the lives and development of the people He brings into my life and always be willing to share His grace with them

-My dream job is worth making a little less money than I would like

-Music is the best (Well, I already knew that.)

Love,

Katie 

I have been meaning to start a new blog for a long time but I never actually do it because I am terrified that it will end up being a complete waste of time and that I will end up letting it just sit there taking up a cute domain name that somebody else who might actually, well, update her blog will cry over because I took it first. And because I always, always use run-on sentences in blog posts. Oh well.

I have been thinking about several little personality flaws of mine that all really come back to one obnoxious problem. I am TOTALLY competitive and COMPLETELY judgmental. (This blog is about speaking truth, right?) For example, today I went to the grocery store to get stuff to make tacos for a dinner party. I got in my car and pulled out of the driveway and got annoyed at like every car driver around me. I am so mean (inside my head) to other drivers when they, you know, heaven forbid, drive on the same road as me. This taxi driver didn’t pull up to a red light quickly enough (not like we can go any further any faster anyway) and I start thinking, “Wow he’s slow. How can he possssssibly drive for a living. Gee what an annoying driver.KJWBFL.jbgjbWG.KJAMS VMNK;AFNW;GOKNA.Mjkaebg.” Then I go into the grocery store and do my shopping and get inwardly mad at the VERY first people to walk by me because they were walking too slowly. (Why in the world am I in such a hurry anyway? Yoga-time for Katie. Can I get an “Amen!” ??) Thennnn I finish my shopping and stand in line to check out. You know what I did? I started thinking about how I didn’t like the outfits the people in front of me were wearing. Dude, hang on a sec. I am one to talk. My style is totally quirky and weird and I bet people judge my fashion choices every day. Then, I think, “Hey, I really like the check-out chick’s tattoo. I’m going to be nice and tell her.” So I tell her. She doesn’t really respond and I start judging myself with a bunch of, “You are sooo socially awkward. Why did you think you could just tell her her tattoo is pretty. OF COURSE SHE KNOWS IT IS SHE HAD IT PERMANENTLY INKED INTO HER SKIN, YOU MORON.” Ok. If that is one grocery store trip, I am a piece of work. Oh, by the way, the tattoo chick ended up being really nice. We finally broke the ice when she asked for my birthdate and saw that we are birth year buddies. Now we’re cool.

Anyway, here’s another annoying thing about me. I get my feelings so hurt whenever anybody criticizes me or even disagrees with a decision I made. I want to be liked and I want to have everyone say nice things to me all the time and only nice things ever. But my hypocritical self is so mean to everyone… including me. I have to be the best and so I put other people down to lift myself up and when I see my own flaws so flagrantly out there for the world and me to see in neon lights, I put myself down for good measure. I am so competitive. Is it my music performance training or is it deeper? Well, how about both.

Now you probably think I’m so mean and you never want to meet me and why is her blog all girly if she’s a jerk. I really just told you all of these things to make sense of what I hope to accomplish through this blog. I really want the way I think to change. I know that my heart is where the change has to happen, so if I can speak loving truth from my heart, I will hopefully start to see my mind be renewed and lovely things will come out more often than not. Grace, man. It’s what I need always.

Anyway, this has been my heart lately: to speak beautiful truth into my life and the lives of others in word and action. To pray constantly and to live fully and to see what God might do with my hopes and dreams.

Love,

Katie