Monday, August 30, 2010

The Holy City: Varanasi Videos

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Diyarbakir video

Success! So here's some more:

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Remember the soccer game we went to in Eastern Turkey where I was the only girl attending? And they won? Here's a video of what happened afterwards:
Read the post here.

India videos

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I never figured out how to post videos from my camera til now...we'll see if this works.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Reflections on music

I feel like philosophizing…since this blog is kind of like my journal so…

I’ve had several chances to get back into my music coming home. Traveling, we don’t have access to a piano or piano music so for the last two years, the only singing I’ve done is at church on Sunday.

And coming back home and messing around a bit on the piano, I’ve realized, though I do miss it, I’m happy that way. This was the right decision.

I’ve decided something about musicians. Professional, serious musicians that is. They seem to have to dedicate their lives to music. It’s all or nothing for them. All their time, energy, and creative juices seem to be devoted to the pastime. This isn’t true with every hobby. But it’s true with music.

Music simply isn’t my only passion, or even my first one. But I was living my life like it was. I just liked to sing. And that’s it. I didn’t care about all the music history and the genres and the opera singers. I just listened to pop and rock.

What’s more, there’s a connection between being a seriously invested musician and being a bit off-kilter, emotionally and mentally. It’s not just me that noticed that. Jacob took a class called Creatively Crazy or something like that at his college. It was a class that studied the many famous composers and other creators who also were certifiably mentally ill. Art is not always a stable thing.

I’ve found that as I’ve moved away from having music as the center of my life and become more well-rounded (getting into shape physically, traveling, and becoming business-savvy) I’ve also become a much less emotionally unstable person. I don’t think this has to be true for every musician—I think some can handle the balance better than I did. But it’s true for me.

There’s something about devoting your life to expression that makes you feel things a little more deeply and be a bit more dramatic and melancholy than the average person.

I performed for two fairly large groups of people this week. Once, at Dr Stripling’s 75th birthday party (he’s my former voice teacher) and once for church on Sunday. They were minor miracles especially since I was not too nervous—I used to absolutely refuse to sing for any audiences for a while. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever sing for people again.

About my third year of the music program at BYU, I started getting major performance anxiety, which I’d never had before. I had a rocky performance and it shook my confidence, causing several more rocky performances. It would seriously stress me out the whole day if I had to perform. I tried all sorts of tricks. I wore red to give me confidence because I read somewhere red is the best color for competition. I practiced for friends. I spent hours practicing alone in practice rooms daily, sometimes singing myself to tearful frustration. But the problem only worsened and took its toll on my health and happiness. My voice, as well, regressed. I got lower and lower scores on my performances in contrast to the increased amount of hours I spent practicing (growing up, I never purposely practiced any of my songs except in voice lessons). And BYU wasn’t the nurturing, always encouraging environment that I’d grown up in musically.

I can’t believe I graduated in it, actually. I sung my senior recital clutching the piano to keep from collapsing. But I was overwhelmed that so many people showed up in support of me.The final song (which is supposed to be a love song but I interpreted it differently) I sang summed up my feelings, knowing I might not choose to sing again:

When I have sung my songs to you,
I’ll sing no more.
T’wld be a sacrilege to sing
at another door.
We’ve worked so hard to hold
our dreams, just you and I.
I could not share them all again,
I’d rather die
With just the thought that
I had loved so well, so true,
That I could never sing again,
except to you.

Knowing what I know now, I would have changed my major. It clearly wasn’t the right choice for me. I wish I could say I had prayed in my choice of a major. But I hadn’t. I had become a voice major and indeed had sung my whole life without thinking about it much. It felt like it just happened instead of being a conscious decision. By the time I was praying to find out if it was the right major for me, I was too deeply invested in it to know if I should leave.

The worst part is, I based my worth on my voice. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know it now. It was one of the major contributing factors to my stress. It sounds silly to say it, but on the other hand…

In yearbooks and in Young Women’s activities, for example, other girls may have gotten messages like,

“You are such a sweet girl. You are so fun.”

My messages usually ran like this,

“Wow, you have such an amazing voice. I love to hear you sing.”

Other people might have been able to just accept the compliment, and move on, but not me. I WAS my voice. This WAS my contribution to the world. It was my value. It was my identity. I took tremendous pride in the amount of attention I received from my talent, instead of just knowing it was something I did on the side in addition to who I was as a person.

I got an outpouring of love and affection after a performance that I didn’t get in other situations. I got compliments about my singing when I didn’t receive much attention in other things.

So having a bad performance or someone criticizing my voice was like someone was directly speaking against ME. It was an unhealthy perspective, but one I didn’t even acknowledge I had. It’s harder for vocalists, because their instrument IS their body, so it’s easier to get more attached to its worth.

So many people throughout my life have put a lot of pressure on me to perform and to sing. It was well-intentioned. It was because they were admiring my voice. Even more than that, I have had a lot of supportive, encouraging people in my life, which I really appreciate. My roommates in college in particular were absolutely amazing! I can’t believe they used to get me flowers for every performance.

But it took courage for me to find out my path in life aside from the expectations of others. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for my gift, but this was truly one of  the hardest periods of my life to try to come to terms with. Especially with all the talk of “burying your talents” and feeling like God had given me a gift and I was ruining it. Not to mention, I had a lot of scholarships and financial aid invested in my voice. Looking back, though, I can hardly believe that I was so frustrated with that trial. It wasn’t a trial, it was showing me that doing music professionally wasn’t my thing—there were better things ahead for me! Hindsight is everything, I guess.

But this experience taught me how I want to be with others in similar situations. And that is, to remove expectations from what I think is best for them, and let them make their own choices. I’ve seen so often how what seems obviously right for someone may not be true and they are the only ones who can live their own lives. For example, I would have never thought Jacob dropping out of college with only one semester left could be the right thing to do. But he made the right choice and I can certainly see that now.

And there may be those who still think that I should have went on to study more music and be an opera singer. But I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do than help Jacob with our internet businesses and travel the world :) One more reason Jacob is perfect for me—he is clueless when it comes to good singing, so he just loves me for me!

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I still enjoy singing. But I enjoy it the most when I feel like it is a choice and done out of love.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pakistan


No, that's not where we're going next ;) hahaha

I received this message earlier this week from a friend on Facebook and thought I'd share it:

Dear Kalli,

Long time. I hope you'd be aware of the flash floods in our country, which have been dubbed worse than the 2004 Tsunami by the U.N.

I'd highly appreciate if you can make a small donation for the flood victims in our area, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I along with a few friends have been busy for the past three weeks in collecting relief goods/donations for those severely affected. The people were poor and downtrodden even before the disaster and now they're in a more sorry state. An overwhelming majority of them are without food, drinking water, shelter and medical help. Your small contribution will make a lot of difference for those in suffering.

You can send your contribution through the Western Union, which's quite easy, fast and efficient!

Kind regards

Sami 

I donated through this website:

http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/assets/margin-items/helpful-links/cash-or-credit-card.html

100% goes to relief efforts. There aren't many charities out there that can say that. You can donate to the "emergency response" fund.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Standing by…

Lots of things going on with us. Jacob turned 29. We went bowling.

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We went to an internet marketing conference in NYC.

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Jacob’s brother Luke came with us. We had burek like old times.

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I went to the Museum of Modern Art and saw some fantastic originals.

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We learned why Carnegie Deli sandwiches are so famous..and it’s not for the taste.

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A brotherly nap at 1291 Bed and Breakfast.

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Flew to Dallas. Regan got home from his mission in Arizona. He can only talk about how he wishes it were not over.

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Grandpa and Grandma Campbell came to visit.

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Kai and Elishia got married. She looked ravishing.

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I got to be a bridesmaid.

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Meanwhile we are involved in a massive basketball shooting product launch, developing a new script to sell coaching on Clickbank, consulting with a major business for their SEO, translating the Jump Manual into Japanese, and so on and so forth. We’re not used to being…busy. We normally take things a bit easier.

We had three funny things happen with stand by last week. We are so blessed to get to fly with my Dad’s passes. We are the lowest ranking standby—we automatically drop to the bottom of every list—yet we have a fantastic history of getting on any flight we want. But…we had some glitches this time.

Flight #1 9 am to NYC. The flight attendant had us waiting in front of the door (along with an Oprah lookalike) but she wouldn’t let us board even though the flight should have left already. We figured out why when last minute approximately 50 Chilean students came massing in at the gate.P1080383

Flight #2 9:30 am to NYC. We almost missed the flight because the agent kept announcing “Miller” and eventually just erased our names from the list. She had to go retrieve someone off the plane when she realized her mistake which had us feeling a little guilty. Usually once you’ve got a seat in the airplane you think you’re going to be flying to your destination.

Flight #3 6:40 pm to Dallas. We didn’t get on, thought it was the last flight of the day, bought a $165 stay at an airport hotel…to find out we would have gotten on the next available flight (there were 2-3 more). Lesson learned: always ask…

Where are we going next? Only time will tell…feel free to leave a suggestion :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Artsy Fartsy

Thanks for a perspective change from my commenter on my last post. I really needed that.

It’s absolutely true that there are subcultures going on wherever you’re at. Though the things I wrote about last post are the most glaring to me upon initially returning to the States, it certainly doesn’t define all of America.

For example, my mother-in-law and I went to the first vegan restaurant I have ever been to yesterday, and it was SO GOOD! It’s called Fud (with an umlaut over the u)

Although you hear bad things about cow’s milk, I didn’t think that I could ever give up dairy because of the taste. But cashew cheese and milk is sooo tasty. Our ice cream was made of cashew milk and it was better than real ice cream! And we had tacos, one with a base of jackfruit in mole sauce and another with wild rice soaked overnight. Wow.

 

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We also went to River Market, a really amazing little place which has a farmer’s market, Ethiopian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern restaurants, Italian, Vietnamese, and Mediterranean grocery stores, and a Polish/Ukranian pierogi shop.

Not to mention the most important thing about America which is why we want to stick around…family!

It is wonderful to be around family again.

 

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Holy cow, I look so young in this picture.

 

Besides hanging out a lot with Al, Laura, and Luke (Jacob’s brother) we went to visit his grandparents in Iowa for the balloons.

 

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And actually, Kansas City is quite an artsy, fun city itself. There’s something called First Fridays, where local artists showcase their latest works and live bands play downtown. And the architecture of the city is really very beautiful. Too bad it has to get so dang cold around here…

 

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The Nelson-Atkins art museum

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My man took me out on a date to the art museum in Kansas City. He sure knows how to treat me right!

Looking forward to NYC next week and Kai’s wedding right after that in Dallas!!!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Thoughts on the US of A

It's really strange being back in a western country after seeing how the East does things. It's hard to explain exactly how I feel after living in so many countries for the last couple of years. I guess I feel like a citizen of the world now more than I feel like an American. My patriotism has dwindled quite a bit. And I'm having a hard time convincing myself this is a bad thing. Just like I think that feeling pride in your state, which is an honorable and fun thing to have, should nevertheless never overpower your pride in being an American (Texans are sometimes borderline in this issue) I feel that patriotism for your own country should never overpower the essential belief that the world itself, all countries and their welfare are more important than the welfare of your own country only.

What's more, there are things that I have begun to realize that I don't have in common with American's values. That in fact, bother me quite a bit about America.

1. Guns

The average American honors and values gun ownership. America has a big violence/crime problem which is also glorified in a lot of the films and tv shows that you see. Most of all, the biggest heroes of America are those who fight in wars. No one is honored as much as those who fight in the military. Our military is the largest in the world by at least nine times. Americans value war.


2. TV

The biggest national pastime of America. I don't watch TV. Not that I'm morally opposed to it or anything, it's just not my thing. I do think a lot of TV is an empty wasteland.


3. Driving

I hate driving. I hope when we settle down I won't have to own a car. It's bad for the environment, it's one of the most dangerous ways to travel, and it's very costly. It's a pain to maintenance your own vehicle. It's also a very isolated way of getting around. And most of small town America is very spread out, with no way of getting around expect by...driving.

4. Franchise stores

More and more, I realize how much of America is made of huge chains. When we were in Morrow, Georgia, population less than 5,000, I saw: TGIF, Olive Garden, Best Buy, Walmart and others that could be found all across America. It feels lifeless, sterilized, and fake to me. I've grown out of Olive Garden. The only good thing about their menu is the salad. I hope that doesn't make me a snob. But chain restaurants have lost their charm for me. Give me a little start up where you can talk to the owner and the menu is fresh and changing any day.

5. Evangelical Christians

Much of the US is made up of people who believe the majority of people that they meet are going to hell. How unpleasant. Not all Christianity believes this, I hope, but I know in the South that there's a whole lotta Bible bashing going on and it's really very divisive.


6. Drugs

Americans are so rich that they don't have anything better to do than burn their excessive free time on drugs. Drugs that often cause a lot of civil violence in other countries to produce. It starts in school. It's not an environment I'd really want to raise kids in. The positive thing is that smoking cigarettes has lost quite a bit of popularity in comparison to other countries.

7. Consumerism

Americans are high rollers, from the day they are born till even after they die. Getting born in a hospital with all the medications and fancy doctors. Dying with a funeral that costs minimum $10000, with the nice tombstone and the carved coffin. And all the days in between, Americans value their possessions and often are swimming in them, always working towards the newest acquisition. Since coming home, I have constantly been amazed at the standard of living expected by even "lower income" kind of people.

8. Privacy

Americans value privacy more than I ever realized until traveling in the east. They prefer to live lives somewhat isolated in fancy homes driving in fancy cars. They often don't spend time with their neighbors. They often don't like to get too close to people physically. Americans value space. It's kind of a lonely way to live.

I know America has a lot of things going for it, too. Some of the best things are the ones you don't see but take for granted, like freedom of speech, business opportunities, free education, and top-notch innovation. Not to mention a passport that can get you into about any country you want. But this time, coming home, these things that never used to bother me, bother me. Dang.

I guess one of the points of this post is to assuage my fears. Will I be able to find a place in America with extremely friendly, kind, open-minded people, mild weather, personality, energy, and public transportation? Will I live in a place where I can make girl friends who enjoy other cultures, visiting art museums, and eating organic? I mean, if I'm going to call a place home after moving around for so long, it's gotta be pretty special. Is there a place in America that can make the cut? It's a blessing that with internet business, we will have complete free reign when it comes to choosing where we want to live--but that makes the decision difficult, too.

I'm thinking maybe the west or east coast, or maybe Austin...when Jacob and I stop traveling--and that won't be at least for another 1-2 years--we're planning on traveling through the States, looking for that perfect place. I hope it's there.
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