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Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Watch Your Attitude!

Good morning, and welcome to the start of another work week. For some of us it is also the first week of summer, as school is no longer in session. As we begin the summer season, I thought it might be a good time to do some reflection about the next teaching season. The first topic I wanted to bring up is "attitude."

It took me many years to learn the lesson that our attitude is largely in our personal control. The fancy term for this is locus of control. If we have an external locus of control, that means that we allow our attitude to be dictated or controlled by circumstances outside of ourselves. If we have an internal locus of control, that means that we choose our attitude and therefore control the emotions we experience.

Sounds simple, right? This is an on-going project for me, but it has become easier to do as I've grown older. I am ever vigilant, however, about what my attitude is and what thoughts I am running through my head that lead to the attitude. I work to be aware of my self talk every minute of the day so that my attitude reflects what I am thinking.

We amuse ourselves with the riddle of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Here too is the same sort of dilemma: which came first, the thought or the emotion? It may be unclear, but everything is connected. I just work to control what I can. That means I control my thoughts. If I catch myself expressing or experiencing a bad attitude about something, I work to eliminate whatever thought I am focusing on and then substitute a more positive thought in place of the negative one. In other words, I work to fill up my head and my heart with as much of the good stuff as I can. Sometimes I have to hang around with different people and enter into different conversations to keep from perpetuating the negative thoughts. This is not always easy to do in a work situation, but I do what I can to disassociate from negativity wherever I find it. Criticism builds distance in a relationship, so I try to avoid criticism as well.

There is a scripture verse that sums this up in the best possible way in my opinion: "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say." Luke 6:45b (NLT). If my heart is filled with unpleasant thoughts about something or someone, then it is likely that these thoughts will manifest themselves with a spillover out of my mouth in some unpleasant way. Therefore, it is crucial for me to be aware of what I treasure in my heart. I work to keep my heart filled with good feelings and my mind with good thoughts. Then if anything leaks out, I am confident that it will most likely be something good.

This week, try listening to what thoughts you are whirling around in your head and what treasures you are storing in your heart. If you do not like what you find, work to substitute or change it.

Reminder: we are in the second week of the June Practice Challenge. We are playing our Twinkles through every day. Last week I focused on playing my Twinkles in the square of my bow arm and with good coordination between the left hand notes and the bow strokes, and I focused on keeping my bow straight. As an adult, I also focused on whether my back and other unneeded muscles were soft and relaxed. It was a useful exercise. This week, I am going to practice my Twinkles with bigger bows, as I am an advanced student. For those students in book 4 and above, try playing the Twinkles with reversed bowing. If the variation starts with a down bow, try starting the variation with an up bow instead. Keep the sound exactly as it was when the variation started down bow.

Happy practicing and Keep up the Good Attitude!

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