Friday, February 28, 2014

30 Before 30: Achievement Unlocked!

Click here to see my full 30 before 30 list
It has been several years since I've been involved in any musical theatre productions - not since college. It's something that I really enjoyed doing and miss doing. As an introvert, theatre is the perfect way to get out of the house and socialize, put on a "mask" by playing a role, and is actually a time when I feel comfortable being the center of attention (not in a diva-ish way, just in a I'm-on-stage-and-everyone-is-looking-at-me way).

When we moved to Madison, I immediately started googling community theatres in the area to see who was holding auditions. I found a theatre company that was holding auditions for two summer shows, Rent and A Chorus Line, and I signed up for an audition slot.

I attended dance call first, and wow...was I completely overwhelmed! I have always been a "dancer," not really having any formal training, but have always felt comfortable and natural in the way my body perceives movement. Though I did almost attend ballet school as a child, and have taken several random ballet/jazz/tap class here and there - so I'm familiar with choreography and dance terminology. And of course, I'm an avid swing dancer/lindy hopper. Anyway, the choreography we learned was the opening dance number in A Chorus Line (should've seen that coming) and after a quick warm up floor sequence, she taught the routine SUPER fast. The combination of not having danced for years and being out of shape definitely took it's toll on my ability to learn it. I probably would've been fine if we spent just a liiiitle more time learning it. But at least I still rocked my double pirouette!

I thought my vocal audition went well, and there were only two other people in my audition slot, so I wasn't extremely nervous or fearful of being compared to them - I just sang my best and tried to emote through my song selections to show off my acting skillz as well (Uptempo: Spark of Creation from Children of Eden, Ballad: I Know the Truth from Aida).

Ultimately, I didn't get cast in either show, but it I was proud of myself for just getting out there and trying out. It's hard being new and showing yourself to a close-knit group with a lot of talented people in it. I'll still be keeping my eye out for future auditions in the area.

And I'm actually relieved that I don't have the commitment for our first full spring/summer in Madison ;) There's still a lot to do and explore!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Networking, Self-Identity, & Design

My shiny new business cards! Contact info is on the back side.

As an introvert, I constantly have a million thoughts stirring around in my brain, but they rarely make it out of my mouth in the form of coherent sentences. I have extreme difficulty expressing myself if I don't have enough time to mentally prepare what I'm going to say. This is why I hate small talk and why I hate the idea of networking. If I don't mentally prepare for conversation, I ramble on, I'm awkward, and I don't present the best and most comfortable version of myself.

That being said, it was networking and cold-emailing that has landed me the last few jobs that I've had—jobs that are in my career interests and were/are beneficial to my personal growth. Just today, I sent out a couple of emails to network and reach out to some people who would be great resources in the area of science writing. But those were emails, a medium which I am completely comfortable with since I can think and plan before perfectly executing what I want to say. And in this case, meeting them in person won't be too bad, either, since I have time to prepare the questions I want to ask and know what to expect from our conversations.

But another fear I have with networking, is that I have many different hats and many different interests. How do I present myself in a niche area when I also have one hand in another niche area? How do I make sure that I stay true to all of myself while also trying to show off my best self in one given area?

I decided to label four self-identities, different areas in which I hold a niche interest (and all areas in which I have had business-type opportunities in the past, present, and hopefully future), but define a part of who I am as a whole person.
crafty pants. I still haven't managed to reopen my Etsy shop, askLOLA, since moving back to WI, and I haven't really made much time for my creative pursuits. But this hasn't stopped friends from ordering custom projects from me: Halloween pumpkin hats, quilled monograms, graphic design projects, etc. One thing I've always regretted was not having a business card to hand out when someone asks me about a custom project. But simply, I love to create and make things, and I hope that will always be a part of me. 
geeky nerd. I've always been known as a "geek" or a "nerd" and have thankfully never been made fun of for it, but rather embraced for it - at least not that I'm aware of! As little kids on the elementary school playground my friends and I pretended we were characters from TMNT, and my boy friends were cool with the fact that I didn't want to be April, but Raphael. As a high schooler, I'd constantly reference Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and Lord of the Rings with my band buddies and quoted Yoda for my senior year quote. Now it's "cool" to be a nerd, and the term has lost it's stereotype and instead become a cultural trend. But I will always be extremely obsessive passionate about the things I like and will always take the opportunity to drop a geeky reference, even when cultural trends change. 
music maker. I've loved music since I was 2 years old and have been making music since I was 4 years old. I've been a piano accompanist, a piano teacher, a wedding singer, a marching band drum major, and more. Now I am in an indie folk rock family band with my husband and siblings, and we are learning how to be songwriters. I had business cards for my piano teaching business, but now that I'm branching outside of just teaching, this self-identification hits all the right notes (*ba-dum-CHING!*). 
truth seeker. This one has a double meaning. I believe in seeking the truth, pursuing the facts, and using reasoning to understand the world. This is why I love science and want to continue working in the science field. I also believe in seeking the Truth, and believe in a story of personal redemption through a man named Jesus. I also believe that science and faith are not mutually exclusive, and one can and should seek the beauty of truth in both cases of the word.
I hope that by highlighting these four identities, I can demonstrate that any one personal or professional interest doesn't define me, but they are all a part of me (*cue Katy Perry song*) and contribute to my one identity.

I designed a business card to be printed and my order came in the mail today. I've always been drawn to a minimalist design, not because I live a clean & simple minimalist lifestyle (Far from it! Just ask my husband.), but because I think it looks classy and smart, while evoking a sense of abstract mystery. I was also told by a friend that if I was a font, I'd be Futura for those same reasons. Finally, I've also always identified with the color red, specifically this darker shade (hex code #99000). By combing all those elements I think I accurately captured a 3.5 by 2 inch cardstock representation of myself. Now I have something to give to anyone who asks for my contact information—whether it's to create something, comment on geek culture, play a piano sonata, or write a science article.

Do you enjoy networking - is it beneficial or not? Do you self-identify with one or with many areas of interest? How do you determine whether to separate your personal and professional identities or not? What would your "business card persona" look like?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Impromptu Game Night

My brother and sister came for the weekend so that we could have a Songs Like Trees rehearsal, so we decided to have an impromptu game night as well. We started out with Takenoko, an adorable game in which you cultivate plots of bamboo gardens through the help of the gardener, and try to eat certain bamboo pieces as the panda. I lost horribly (I was so focused on one of my goals, that I completely missed one that I could've achieved a lot easier), but it was still fun, and a good warm up game.
The cute little panda!
We also played Alhambra, a tile placement/building game, and then a card game called Five Crowns. The big game of the evening was A Game of Thrones: The Board Game. I've played it a couple times before, but every time it's like learning the rules all over again because it's so complicated ;-P The house cards are dealt out randomly, and I played this game as the Starks. They have a decent starting position, since they have most of the northern territories without anyone invading, but then face a bottleneck when trying to invade into the south. I was doing alright, but my brother had the Greyjoy's and completely dominated the middle of the map. It also helped that the Lannisters were completely wiped out, allowing him to easily take their territories.

Those poor Lannisters, about to be killed off.
We don't often get to play these big strategy games, so it was a blast being able to sit down and game for several hours (while munching on delicious snacks like beer bread, beer cheese, hummus, and trifle dessert). What are your favorite games?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

30 before 30: Achievement Unlocked!

Click here to see my full 30 before 30 list

I am now a contributor to the science & technology column at Paper Droids! They are an online magazine written by and for women to provide them with an outlet to geek out over their passions and support women in all areas of geek/nerd culture. My first piece was posted today - check it out here. I hope to submit posts to be published weekly or every other week.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In the Beginning...

"In the beginning, God created..." - Genesis 1:1

The first verse of the Bible begins the greatest story ever told with this simple statement. That statement is sufficient for my faith and hope in the beautiful story of redemption that we are a part of. "Genesis shows that God, by his very nature, is Creator. That He is there before the beginning of the Story."

As a Christian, a believer in the Creator, I struggle writing this post for fear of judgement - that I'll be accused of headed down a slippery slope of atheistic thought.

As a scientist, an explorer of the created world, I struggle writing this post for fear of judgement - that I'll be accused that believing in God is nothing but a fairy tale and inhibits rational thought.

But "it's not as simple as 'A vs B.'"

I'm writing to tear down the false dichotomy, to bridge the gap, to give hope that science and faith are beautifully woven together and are not mutually exclusive.

On Tuesday night, I was one of the ~800,000 tuned in to the live stream* of the "historic evolution/creation debate" between popular science communicator Bill Nye the Science Guy and Answers in Genesis CEO Ken Ham. I went into it expecting that I would agree with Ham on basic theology (God is Creator, the power of the Gospel message, etc), but would mostly agree with Nye on scientific facts regarding evolution. The difficulty in watching the debate was that the two men were debating different things: theology and science. The two are not mutually exclusive nor do they belong in a debate against each other.

Ken Ham insists that "creationism" is reading the Bible as a literal historical account of our origins. He admitted that there Christians who do not read Genesis as a literal account (24-hour days), but basically says that they are wrong. His view of Genesis is that it is historically valid as a scientific text. This is where I strongly disagree. 

I am a "creationist" in that I believe God created. But nowhere does God's Word claim to explain the scientific laws of nature that were created. The fact is that while the Bible is a "living document" (still applicable to our lives today), it was written by and for peoples who lived in an ancient culture. Would Moses be able to read and understand a scientific textbook about gravity or the speed of light? Would Noah be able to understand the complexities of neurological disorders like autism or muscular dystrophy? Most likely, they wouldn't...most people today don't even fully understand these things. Doesn't it make more sense that the inspired Word of God would be more focused on explaining WHY there is a Creator rather than HOW did He create?

I fully admit that I don't have clear cut answers. It's possible that by a miracle, God created in literal 24-hour days. It's possible that a "day" to God is a mere millisecond, and that millions of years could had passed. I DO believe that God created. I DO believe that he chose to create man in his image - not his literal physical image, but that we have the intellect to know him and seek truth. It is through this gift of intellect that man has continued to seek for truth in our world...and this includes science. 

Bill Nye explained several different scientific points - observable data from our natural world (our created world) that evolutionary principles are fact. Ken Ham asserted that any belief in evolution is a "naturalist" view of the world and that there is no compatibility with a Creator. However, Bill Nye confirmed that there are millions of people who have no problem reconciling** their faith beliefs with scientific discovery, even though he himself takes on an agnostic/atheistic worldview.

I'm an "evolutionist" in that I believe that God has gifted us with the joy of scientific discovery so that we can better understand the universe he created and know him. Current scientific evidence of evolutionary principles is real, is observable, and is NOT a gateway to an atheistic worldview. "If the earth is really billions of years old, then I can trust that God is patient." It's simply awe-inspiring to think of the grand scale in which God works. I can enjoy pursuing scientific discovery through the lens of a Christian worldview and simply learn more about God through the observable world around us.

But none of this really matters. Salvation is not based on if you are a young-earth creationist, old-earth creationist, theistic evolutionist, evolutionist, or whatever made up -ist title you want to give yourself. 

We need to stop promoting a culture of scientific illiteracy and instead choose to pursue scientific discovery with open minds. We need to stop finding ways to divide the body of Christ and instead choose to celebrate the much greater story that started "in the beginning..." 

via - my Career Day talk as a service through our church

*You can still view the archived debate for a while longer. They did not give a time period when it would be taken down, but I believe Answers in Genesis plans to sell DVDs as well.
**Here are several responses from Christian scientists and scholars who are part of the BioLogos Foundation. Also, I wrote a bit about NIH director Francis Collins' book before...a must read for anyone who wants further insight on the evolution/creation dichotomy and that there is #anotherchoice.
***I'm open to explaining/discussing more details on the topic of this post if people want clarification. Comments are open. But only respectful, civil discourse will be allowed.