For me, life IS a musical.

Wow, I just realized that I haven’t written a blog in a week and a half. . . the time must be passing quicker than I realize!  Although I am content with my schedule this semester, the fact that 80% of it is music classes can be sort of overwhelming sometimes.  Allow me illustrate.

Besides my one General Education class (Math) and my Spanish-American Civilization class, I have two music history classes – I’m not sure yet if this is an entirely crazy idea or just a good challenge.  Only looking at that, four traditional classes sounds like not too bad of a semester, right?  I’ve always had my voice lessons and a couple of ensembles added to the mix, so I thought that wouldn’t be too bad to handle.  This semester, though, is much more involved than usual, which sort of came as a surprise, though I should have known this was coming.

So, as a music major concentrating in vocal performance, as well as just a passionate musician, I tend to give a hearty “sure!” to every opportunity to sing.  I think this semester I may have reached (though not exceeded yet, I hope) my maximum capacity for the amount of music I can take in at a time.  First, I am part of Choraleers and Chamber Singers, so we have many new pieces that we are all working diligently on, but I also have several extra pieces to learn because of my absence last semester.  This is a good amount of music. . . but wait, there’s more!  I am also part of the opera workshop, so I am learning selections from three different Mozart operas, I am preparing five pieces for a vocal competition two weeks from tomorrow, and to top everything off, my junior recital is five weeks away.

Oh my.

Sorry to bore you with my list (or complaining), but goodness, it just goes to show you how quickly you can get busy at Erskine!  Granted, this is the area that I choose to spend most of my time and energy in because I enjoy it and I am (God willing!) going to graduate with a degree in music next year.  Somehow it is mildly amusing to me when I think about how excited I was to get back into music, after being away for a semester, because even though I knew I would be very busy as usual, I still did not realize that I would be this busy.  But, I can’t complain too much, because I chose it all; regardless of how overwhelmed I feel at the end of some days, I know that when it comes down to it, I am going to enjoy it all and not regret any of it.

Oh, and by the way, if you like music events and want to see some of these wonderful concerts, recitals, opera performances, or other exciting music events, check out http://www.erskine.edu/academics/music/events.shtml – there are lots of great things going on in the department this semester!

My How Things Have Changed…

Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any busier it did, but this semester, as busy as it may be, is going to be one of my best semesters yet.

Why, you ask?

Because of one word: CHANGE.

For once, I’m actually excited about a majority of  my classes. My schedule is full of new classes and new teachers and new opportunities to learn. Yes, I’m taking about 21 hours worth of curriculum, (No, that wasn’t a typo. I’m just a tad bit of an overachiever who is trying to decide whether or not to graduate early), but I am making the most of my time and enjoying learning in the process.

I’m involved in more leadership positions this year. Being able to truly contribute to making a difference in an organization has been very rewarding. Right now I’m in charge of heading up the committee for The Mirror, Erskine’s student newspaper. Long story short: we haven’t produced an issue since last year, I (aspiring broadcast journalist) want to bring back the paper but in an online format. I’ve got all these ideas rolling around in my head and I’m thrilled that I was picked to be in charge of figuring out how to best bring it back to Erskine’s campus.

Even greater than all of the above is the fact that I am seeing God do some pretty amazing things at Erskine through our ministries. A few years ago we didn’t have a joint worship service in which BCM, The Barn, FCA, and Gospel Choir, all join together to worship the Lord, but this year it’s happening soon! People who are lost are coming to know Christ. Those who know Christ are being strengthened in their faith. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and witness.

Change is not always a bad thing.

I believe change invites the opportunity for us to truly sit back and examine ourselves and the new situtations we find ourselves in on occasion. A change in classes and teachers has taught me that there are always different methods of learning a certain subject. Just because one professor did things a certain way, doesn’t mean that a new professor’s method isn’t just as effective. We get so used to the way things used to be and we forget that a fresh prospective is necessary for true progress. A change in leadership has taught me that sometimes we have to step up to the plate and make things happen. I noticed that we are lacking a venue for students to voice their opinions in a responsible way, therefore, I want to bring The Mirror back to Erskine. We all have opinions and a student newspaper is a great venue for students to report on issues that are current and relevant to us as a student body.  A change in the spiritual mindset of ministry leaders is, perhaps, the greates
t change I think this campus has seen. Who would of thought that leaders from different denominations and different worship styles could come together in such a big way? Back then it was unheard of and why? Do we not all serve the same God and want to see people come to the Kingdom?

Change doesn’t have to be as scary as we make it out to be at times.

It’s a word that births new opportunities to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives on this earth.

A Breathe of Fresh Air

Isn’t it nice when you can just sit and relax and take a deep breathe and not worry about having to do much of anything at the moment? If you say yes, then I can relate to you. Two tests and a paper in a matter of 3 days…the only person who could help me through it was God, and thank goodness He did!! Stress was probably the biggest word that came to my mind when I think about the last couple of days. But now, it’s the last thing that I think about and it’s awesome!!…at least for about 2 days haha. But I would definitely say this year, although more difficult, has been one of the best years I’ve had in a while! Breathing in fresh air and letting out stress just makes life more manageable, but sometimes, stress can be needed as well to whip you into shape. I think God for getting me through this week, because in doing so, this just prepares me for later on in life when I need to know how to properly cope with stress.

This Is Our Time

This evening I had the great privilege and honor to participate in Erskine’s oldest tradition, the JJ Darlington Cup Intersociety Debate between the Euphemian and Philomathean Literary Societies. While I’ll write more about the debate – and my feelings on it – in the coming week when I am NOT exhausted, I wanted to share with you all my oratory for the evening.

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We gather before you tonight as the Philomatheans and Euphemians to uphold a calling laid down by our founders nearly a century and three quarters ago. And we, the Erskine Community, gather together tonight to partake in this, one of Erskine’s great traditions, and to celebrate her illustrious history.

Yet this evening I am reminded of a fable Aesop tells of a traveler who rents a donkey and its owner for a long journey. The weather is unbearably hot and both the traveller and the owner seek refuge in the donkey’s shadow, a shadow big enough for one man. A violent dispute arises as to who has the right to this shadow and in the midst of it the donkey runs off and Aesop leaves us with the moral – “In quarrelling about the shadow, we often lose the substance.”

This past year has been one of the darkest in Erskine’s history. We have seen – we have participated in – division, anger, and bitterness in what should be a united Erskine Community. We have spent the last year quarreling over the shadow and forgetting about Erskine College. That our president could give a mini-session asking “What is Erskine?” speaks to the barest of facts: we as an Erskine Community need to be reminded of what Erskine truly is.

This is our time. A time in which we must focus on the future of Erskine, not the trivial technicalities of the present.

Erskine has always been more than a factory for degrees, always offered more than generous scholarships, she has always left her students with more than a GPA. And it comes to us – this generation of the Erskine Community, this student body, this Board of Trustees, this audience – to guarantee that Erskine becomes more she is, more than she has ever been. This is our time.

We gather tonight not just to uphold this time-honored tradition, but to to examine ideas that will profoundly shape Erskine’s future. This debate is more than the continuation of a historic rivalry, more than an opportunity to receive convocation credit.  It must be more – what is at stake is not a trophy or bragging rights, but what will Erskine become, not only for ourselves but for the kindergartner just learning his alphabet who may one day walk this historic campus. This is our time.

Should Erskine be an authentic Christian Community? What does that phrase even mean? What guides our lives as students and faculty? What does our mission statement and our Christianity mean in practical terms for each and every day?

Tonight is a exercise of intellect and well should it be! Wise words are a vital part of focusing on Erskine’s future. But it cannot stop there. To all of us – Student, Board Member, Alumnus, President – falls the responsibility for action. What we do each day as members of the Erskine Community changes what Erskine will become and so builds or destroys the future of this place. This is our time.

Words can cripple a future or prepare us for it, but only actions can make Erskine the best that she can be – the model church-affiliated liberal arts school.

This is our calling, a calling laid down by our founders and our classmates who have walked this campus for nearly two centuries, a calling we were given the moment we walked Under the Towers. I pray that we will not forsake it, forsake Erskine. Focusing on an unknowable future is the most daunting of tasks, but I know that the Erskine Community has the strength, the passion, and the perseverance to rise to this challenge as we have risen to so many before.

But we can only do it together.

The events of this past year began with students, but soon became little more than a quarrel over a donkey’s shadow. It is time for us to focus on the donkey. It is time for us as a student body to take back into our hands the destiny of our college. This is our time.

Every decision, every action, every step to class forges the future of Erskine and that future – whatever it may become – is ours. We are here tonight to celebrate history and to look towards the future.

But tomorrow, tomorrow Erskine’s future is in our hands through our actions. This is our time.

Beautiful Weather and Broadened Horizons

Ah, Friday. After a rather hectic week filled with classes, work, and various other activities and commitments, it is rather inexpressibly delightful to sit down and relax with a cup of tea and a good book. Of course, this Friday is made especially wonderful by the absolutely gorgeous weather which we are currently enjoying here in Due West. My great grandfather always used to say that there are twenty-six days during the year which are really perfect—not too cool, not too hot, but warm with a hint of cool breeze. And this week, I would venture to say that we have been graced with several such days all at once…which means that I may be tempted at any moment to cease typing in order to join the friends who are studying outside, basking in what seems to be spring-in-February. But before I do that, I’ll share with you a ground-breaking anecdote from Erskine life.

The college setting which I have come to love and which I affectionately call my “Erskine bubble” was, you see, unceremoniously popped this week—though not in a bad way. Every so often, I have concernedly puzzled over my inveterate tendency, while at school, to become so focused on everything I’m involved in here that I become completely detached from the outside world, aside from a periodic phone call home. This tendency is not necessarily a bad thing, since it does demonstrate how full—and far from boring!—life at Erskine can be. Nevertheless, as important as academic study and friendships here are, I highly doubt that utter ignorance of what is happening on the world stage is ever a healthy state.

And here is where the bubble popping I mentioned earlier comes in. Today I took one of the famous New York Times quizzes administered weekly by Erskine’s beloved Politics professor, Dr. Woodiwiss. This meant that I spent *cough* quite a length of time perusing four issues of the New York Times; as a result, I am far more informed on both national and international events than I was four days ago. On Monday, I had only the foggiest notion of what was unfolding in Egypt, and I hadn’t any idea that uprisings have broken out in Libya, Iran, and Bahrain in response to the riots in Egypt. (Ehe, I think I’d entirely forgotten about Bahrain’s existence, actually. Though I shouldn’t have, after taking World Civilizations last year…whoops.) I also didn’t know that a court in Ecuador is suing Chevron for environmental damages or that the Prime Minister of Italy is currently embroiled in scandal. If my horizons have been so significantly broadened in such a short amount of
time, what possibilities might the future hold?

Write this down!

So much for diamonds being a girl’s best friend. In college, I have decided that my daily planner is my closest companion! With classes, tests, quizzes, papers, tours, work-outs, work, and meetings, some things are just bound to be forgotten. Today, the best piece of advice I can give you is to buy a calendar and USE it. You may be in college, but your brain is not always at its strongest and brightest. You WILL forget things!

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As you may notice, I am keeping things very short this week. My load of work has left me buried under books and racing for time; therefore, I did not have hours to create philosophical thoughts and words of wisdom that I know you all love so  much:). (I hope you know I am kidding!) However, I will encourage you as you begin to transition toward college or even if you are already there, start trying to organize your life. You will be surprised what you will find when you clean up a little!

Sleep… Who does that?

All right, so even though this is probably going to be just a short paragraph of a post, I would just like to take a moment to relate to you one of the most exciting things a college student can ever say – I got 7-8 hours of sleep for six out of seven nights in the past week.  Is this possible?!  Not to brag, but this is something to celebrate in college, especially at Erskine, and as an upperclassman!  It certainly made everything much more pleasant, because I only felt sleepy or caught myself daydreaming perhaps two or three times this week when I was supposed to be paying attention – not that I would ever give a speaker or professor anything other than my entire, intense concentration, even after a long, tiring week.  Ahem.  Of course not.  But it is nice to see that when I am actually able to do what I’m supposed to do, it does, in fact, work like it’s supposed to.  Go figure.  I guess this sleep thing is something I should real
ly give a fair chance after all.