Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Resolutions 2014

I am not about setting goals about what I want to become... I figure I'll become exactly who I become.

My resolutions are about actions I want to participate in and focus on in 2014.

1) I want to write about 12 different events from my life. I'm going to spend a month writing about each topic/moment/event. I'm going to focus my writing and develop my style. And by the end of the year, I'll have written 12 chapters in my book of life! I will spend 2 hours a week working on this.

2) I have a giant crock pot. It's getting dusty. I'm going to use it once a week. I will try a new recipe at least once a month.

3) I'm going to move every day for 20 minutes. It could be dancing around the room, walking, juggling, moonwalking, skipping through the mall, or playing hopscotch. I just want to move every day for 20 minutes.

4) Socialize. I'm going to go out on a date or go to an event with single people around my age once a month.

5) Keep Gratiblogging. It's been a lot of fun. Why not keep going?

What new things do you want to try this year? 

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013--The Gratitude Year

This year, I just set one goal. I wanted to blog daily about my gratitude.

The really interesting thing is--the days I didn't blog were generally days I was too busy.  The blogging helped me to shift and focus and move forward. The very fact that I didn't blog on certain days is proof that the experiment was successful.

So how do you wrap up a year like 2013?

With words, of course.

Top Moments of 2013

1) Stabbing my lover to death with a garden hoe behind a couch in Reefer Madness and then belting my guts out with blood running down my arms. The lighting was perfect. I was a hot mess. It was one of those moments you dream about.

2) Sitting in the soundbooth, listening to the cast of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown nail their harmonies in "Book Report" while Snoopy hung like Jesus on the Cross from the top of the slide. Super satisfying for a music director.

3) Standing at the bottom of the escalator watching my brother Nick and my Uncle Tom walk towards the rest of the family after Nick's LDS Mission to Stockholm, Sweden. I didn't realize until that moment how much we all had missed him.

4) Singing with family and friends for family and friends at Le Jardin at my Autumn Song Concert in November. I made myself make it personal, and it was. Ben Mayfield was masterful on the piano, the audience was with me for every song, and I got to perform with some of my favorite people. It was magic.

5) Being on the set of Stop Pepper Palmer. It was so hot. I was so nervous. It was so gratifying to use my training to calm myself down, to listen, to react, to embrace stillness-while still being a part of the action. I got to work with amazing people. The whole experience was just amazing.

6) Standing in the middle of the dancers in my super awesome corset in Carousel.  I don't ever dance on stage, despite the fact that I was born under a dancing star. I move. I got to move with such glorious purpose while bodies turned like carousel horses around me.

7) Watching and listening to the beautiful cast of Avenue Q. Night after night.

8) Like a good little capitalist--I thoroughly enjoyed setting records and meeting goals at work! I love being a manager.

9) I'm in the middle of letting myself unmask. Right now, it still feels safer to hide everything I am. But I've learned this year that unmasking is not only safe, but inevitable. And it won't happen too late. It will happen exactly when it needs to. In my own perfect time.

10) Being in the temple. Seeing my parents as temple workers in the Brigham City temple, peak around the corner while I held my grandma's arm. Learning. So. Much. Feeling the spirit of my father's grandmother Esther. Experiencing a powerful "coincidence" for the third time. 

11) Singing with the church choir.

12) Talking to my dad about God and love.

13) Connecting with dear friends.

It has been a wonderful year. I am overwhelmed by my blessings.

Thank you for being a part of this year with me.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bad Brain

Christmas was fantastic. Seriously. I love my family. Fantastic day!

This post isn't about that.

This post is about how my brain stopped working in two very important moments this week,

It started when I thought Christmas was on Tuesday.

I had it in my mind that I had to work the day after Christmas--on Wednesday.

I completely spaced that I have Thursdays off.

I told everyone I'd be back on Thursday. I planned everything around working on Thursday.

It worked out great. I was able to spend Christmas morning and lunch with my family in Tremonton and then head back to Salt Lake to spend Christmas evening/birthday with my dad--who turned 61 yesterday!

But I wasn't scheduled to work today.

When it finally dawned on me that I had two days off--I called the other manager and told him to enjoy a day off. I already had it in my mind to work. There's no undoing it now.

But who does that? Who completely spaces these things?

Apparently, I do.

As I was leaving for Tremonton on Tuesday, I threw all my laundry into the laundry bag and grabbed a few other things. I was showered and looking good. I was so excited to stop by my grandma's house and enjoy a Christmas Eve lunch with her. I thought to myself, "Self, Did you forget anything?" And I really really thought I hadn't. I had the presents wrapped in the trunk. Everything was ready to go...

It wasn't until I was getting into bed that night that I remembered my CPAP machine.

Those of you who sleep with a CPAP machine are now gasping in horror. You know this moment. You've been here before.

I stared at the pillows and tried to figure out how on earth I was going to sleep without the machine.

Sure, I slept for 33 years without a CPAP machine... I think.

I tried sleeping with one pillow, with two pillows, sitting up, on my back, on my side, mouth open, mouth closed, in the pitch black, in the silence, with netflix going on my phone, with the light on. I would fall asleep for 15 minutes and jerk myself awake when I stopped breathing. I finally gave up and just watched TV for a few hours, falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. I think I actually slept for a couple of hours in there, but I was absolutely exhausted all of Christmas day.

When I went to bed last night, in my own bed, and I put that sweet beautiful mask on my face--oh the sweet sweet joy. I slept like a rock from 11pm until 7am. It was so good!

So why does this happen? How do you completely forget two things like a day off and the machine that makes it so you're not a walking zombie?

Today, I'm grateful for sleep and for the extra money from working on my day off. Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Allowing Magic

Last night I watched Saving Mr. Banks.

It's good. It's subtle. The magic in the show is in admitting the need for magic.

The theme seems to be that across the board, we all need more magic. So we rewrite our stories and add flying laughter and dancing penguins.

Too many times we revel in the reality of our struggle. We remove the magic from our day and think we're doing ourselves and everyone else a favor. That somehow by eradicating faith and hope, we are somehow further along.

Right now, I'm in a place where I feel acute reality. Still poor. Still fat. Still relatively bummed. I keep remembering sad times. My mind lights upon betrayals and the hurt that friends feel.

I'm filled with anger towards selfish people who who hurt my friends. I am seething over friends who choose selfishness and cling to every excuse possible for not growing up. I'm disappointed in my own wrong choices and hurtful behavior.

My mind is crowded with resentment and disappointment.

I need magic. I need to make room for dancing penguins. I need to let go of the sadness and the anger. I need a flying umbrella and to fly to the top of the ceiling with laughter.

But I don't want it right now. Right now, I just want to curl up and sleep. I want to cut myself off.

So how do you want the magic when you know you need it? How do you let the anger go? How do you ignore all the stupid people in the world?

Today I'm grateful for answers that will surely come. I'm grateful for dancing penguins and people dedicated to changing the story. I'm grateful for the desire that will surely well up inside of me as I allow it. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Heart Full, Tummy Empty

It's been a while since I really wrote... And catching up is NOT going to happen.

Right now. I'm feeling this weird emptiness that comes during the aftermath of an illness.

I use the word aftermath optimistically. It was a rough illness.

They say pain is forgettable. I remember it pretty clearly though. Constant, sharp, pain.

It overwhelmed me. It pushed me out of my comfort zone.

I like eating, a lot. I couldn't eat for a week, without pain.

Needless to say, I didn't eat a lot.

I read that the stomach will actually fold up on itself when it's completely empty. I'm still pretty uninspired by food in general.

You wanna lose weight? Give yourself shocking pain every time you take a bite of anything.

The fever is gone now, the fatigue is gone, the headaches are gone. The mouth pain persists. I'm excited to see how much weight I'll lose! So far, it's 20 pounds during the past week.

And for that, I am grateful.

I get to sing in church on Sunday for Christmas, and I'm going to look good in my dress!


There's a new show on TV called...

I love this show for a few reasons.

1) It shows that fat and skinny girls suffer from the same insecurities. 

2) The stories show great behavior on the part of men. In one particular storyline, a guy that the main character is about to hook up with in a hotel room discovers she's never had sex before. Instead of taking advantage of her new adventurousness, he refrains and offers to take her out on a nice date later. It's pretty cool to see that kind of chivalry on television. So far, I've seen three awesome guys on this show. 

3) It is hilarious and encouraging. The storylines and the characters. It makes me feel better about my life and the world in general. 


Sunday, I was part of producing two big Christmas events--the Parley's 7th Ward Christmas Program and The Midvale Main Street Theatre Christmas Party. Being frightfully ill, I fell in my responsibilities. 

At church, our fearless music leader, Stephanie, stepped up to the plate and translated an amazing story about "Silent Night". Our Choir Director played, conducted, and helped us present beautiful musical numbers for the ward. Our narrators were wonderful. And the congregation filled the tabernacle with their beautiful heartfelt voices.

At the theatre, I heard great things! I shirked. The technical guru Jennifer took over the event after I groggily passed info on all the performers onto her. It was a pretty horrible thing to do someone at the last moment.  But, like most things at Midvale Main Street Theatre, it was an event filled with laughter, love, and generosity. Everyone who came brought money to donate to a needy family. 


During the illness of all illnesses...

I have felt supported and loved. 

On Friday morning, I felt my Heavenly Father's love come into my heart. I felt inspired with the thoughts that he had blessed certain friends to bring over specific remedies and that I would be given everything I needed to recover. And a package arrived from an old friend from elementary school. Another friend brought over herbs and oils. Other friends brought over gatorade and broth. 

My dad came over Saturday and helped me wash all my clothes and blankets. He vacuumed and did all the dishes. 

And I lost 20 pounds! 

Best. Detox. Ever!

I have a lot to be grateful for this month. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nick Stone

I love photography. I love capturing a moment. To me, photography honors the magic of the present. So much of our time is caught up in imagining the future and reliving the past. But there are precious instances that you watch yourself in a moment and realize that the only thing you have is this moment.

Nick Stone is one of my favorite photographers.

For a while, I got to take actor head shots while living in and around Washington, DC.

Well, now Nick Stone is living in Washington, DC. If you want photos taken by a pro who understands what actors need, who understands the technology and artistry behind the camera, and who has studied acting, theatre, and film--check him out.

I asked him to send me a few samples of his work.

I really should edit this post, but honestly, I can't hold back. These photos speak for themselves.

The man is an artist.

To message him or see more of his work, visit http://nickstonephoto.com/

Monday, December 2, 2013

Opportunities to Give

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat! Puhlease to put a penny in the old man's hat!

If you're looking for places to places to give your pennies, here are a few suggestions....

1) The 4th Street Clinic on the corner of 4th South and 4th West has a donor who is matching donations--$2 for every $1 you give--but only thru Dec 10th! They provide medical services for the very poor and starting in January they will be providing dental services.

2) Valley Mental Health--Store Front/Safe Haven--located at 550 West 700 South--provides housing and resources for the mentally ill. They're a great resource! They help people to find apartments where you only have to pay for 30% of your income. They will cover the rest. After that, you have 2 years to come up with the resources on your own to pay your rent.

3) The Rescue Mission--located across from the Maverick on 4th West and 5th South. They provide food and clothing for the homeless, but like most charities, they need cash as well.

All week, I've had grateful homeless friends come and talk about the many Thanksgiving blessings they received this past week. They had a big Thanksgiving feast at The Rescue Mission last Tuesday, where Governor Herbert served their food. On Wednesday, they enjoyed another big feast at the Energy Solutions Center where the Millers and the Utah Jazz players served the food, and on Thursday the Greek Orthodox Church served a big Thanksgiving Feast for lunch, and the Cathedral de Madeleine served a big Thanksgiving Supper that night. Various church groups have stopped by with hygiene kits, sack lunches, and one family even handed out $15 gift certificates to Denny's. I'm so happy to live in such a generous city.

I'm always most touched by the generosity among the homeless though. One gentleman received a $20 bill the other day, but felt inspired to give it to another homeless woman. She began to cry when she received it. He told me, "Every time I give something away, I get more blessings." If you keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, God will provide the resources so that you can have the blessings of giving this holiday season.

Today, I am grateful for opportunities to give and for the good people of Salt Lake City! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Garden

My mother's house is a garden. 

She has beautiful living plants all over her home. I use the word living to differentiate between the dead plant currently resting peacefully on my kitchen table and the living plants she keeps in every room of her home.

Yesterday was a lovely Thanksgiving. We ate delicious food and just enjoyed one another's company. 

My baby brother Nick turns 21 this week. In celebration of the baby becoming a man--we decided to open the presents my grandma gave me to put under the tree. (There is no tree... We don't really get very Christmassy...) It was a riot. We were staring at this box of presents and my mischievous mother just says, "You know, we could just open the presents now..." I got a couple of books and a pretty necklace. It was awesome. Merry Christmas to me!  

Then we watched Doctor Who together. And again... Merry Christmas to me! 

One of the books is about a man who makes his fortunes finding and growing exotic plants. 

It seems everyone is better at growing plants than I am. 

Today, I am grateful for my family. I'm grateful for a beautiful home to visit. I'm grateful for people who keep plants alive. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


 Just so we're clear, I wasn't snapping photos during Sacrament Meeting. I think it was before Sunday School was starting. And I liked the way the light came in. It was just a pretty picture...

I think Thanksgiving is catching up to Easter as my favorite holiday. It's a holiday that demands that people act the better part. Be grateful. Before the madness of Christmas begins--be grateful. 

On Sunday, the bishop asked us (the music people) to create a Thanksgiving program. Because Stephanie was going to be in Sweden all month and Cecil is a busy high school music teacher and Christmas is fast approaching--it fell on me to bring things together. I like bringing things together. I like how you start with nothing and how you can plot, plan, collaborate, listen, move and voila! You have something! 

We started with the music first. Cecil had a beautiful arrangement of "Because I Have Been Given Much" that he wrote in college. I found two beautiful singers. Stephanie mentioned that we had a flutist and a violinist who wanted to play "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing". Done! I had this song "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" rolling around in my brain. I wasn't sure how it fit the Thanksgiving theme--Apple Tree=Apple Pie?--but I kept coming back to it. And Cecil and Tiffany chose a beautiful, albeit incredibly difficult, choir song called "Pilgrim Song". Add a congregational song--and you have a program! 

I get to assemble the narration for the programs. It's easier to find narration than it is to find music. So I waited until the music was in place to try and fit the narration together. 

As I looked for talks and scriptures on Thanksgiving, I came across these words: 

"If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues. Someone has said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”  President Thomas S. Monson. 

You can't talk about gratitude without really diving into what you're thankful for. So the rest of the narration became about remembering all the things that bring us joy and peace. I found scriptures from Revelations that talk about the peace that will come to those who have suffered. I found scriptures from the Book of Mormon about the Tree of Life and the love of God. I found scriptures that expressed thanksgiving and praise over and over again throughout Psalms. 

Thanksgiving helps us to find heaven on earth. We revel in our blessings and experience a breath of contentment that allows us to just enjoy life in this moment. And those moments include gratitude for what was and what will be. Our joy is a state of mind. Can't I find the same joy as I imagine the peace of the future? As a parent watches a child begin to learn, the same feelings of pride exist at the impetus of their learning as exists upon the day of their graduation. The feeling is the same no matter where the event exists on the timeline. Thanksgiving allows us to experience the joys of heaven in the middle of mortality. 

It is such a privilege to live here at this time. 

I wish I had a recording of our church choir singing "Pilgrim Song". It took everything in me not to cry while singing the song. 

"My soul doth long to go where I may truly know, the glory of my Savior. And as I pass along, I'll sing the Christian song, I'm going to live forever."

I hope you have a beautiful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the beautiful things of life tomorrow. From football games, to pie, to laughter, to a good book, to awkward conversation. Just enjoy! Thanksgiving is not a day for planning--but a day for reflection and contentment. Most of all, take a moment to be grateful for yourself--for every part of you that contributes to your joy. Your strong arms, your smile, your eyes, your hands, your brain, your heart. Take a moment to just love yourself and be grateful for the good things about yourself. Rather than making plans to change yourself like we do at New Years--take a moment at Thanksgiving to be grateful for the good things about yourself. 

I am grateful for a lot of things this year. It's a little overwhelming to think about the good things in my life right now. But mainly, I'm grateful that our forefathers and foremothers had the good sense to create a day where we get to sit around and think about how good we have it! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Christmas is for the Kiddos!

When I walked into Pottery Barn I felt like I was in this lush paradise. I don't like buying clothes... but I could spend a fortune at Pottery Barn.

As I walked into the Pottery Barn, I could hear laughter.

I came upon a talented storyteller recounting the tale of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"--complete with eyebrows and a moldable face.

I ran to the register to make a donation to St. Jude's and stood off to the side to enjoy a little of the holiday spirit. This was where I was going to kick off my Christmas season!

Marissa Poole talked about the good things that the people of St. Jude's do for children and families who are suffering all over the world. One thing she mentioned was that the scientists share their discoveries openly. She talked about the need to care for the families so they can focus on their children.

 Doug Irey and Brooklynn Pulver Kohler shared real letters to Santa Claus. From other children. Although, I think it would be a riot to hear their Christmas letters personally.

Talented singers, storytellers, and musicians donated their time and talents to help those in attendance to feel the spirit of the season.

 I sat next to this gorgeous shimmering tree.

It both encouraged and discouraged me. I really want to get a tree... but I really don't think I should spend the money on a tree... And would I really be happy with anything that wasn't this beautiful?

I think I'd rather give money to charity honestly.

Christmas is for the kiddos!

Pottery Barn at Trolley Square will be collecting donations throughout the season. Stop by and see them and make a donation. Or if you want to donate directly St. Jude's, visit their site directly by clicking HERE.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Madame Thenardier

I decided to wear this blue polka dot dress that I got from Walmart. I bought it on a weird shopping trip I went on after midnight. It's the only time I like shopping really. I still have the dress 12 years later.

My friend Susan went with me. They had the auditions at a hotel in downtown Salt Lake City. There was a big lobby. Everyone was wearing a black pencil skirt and a button down blue shirt. I was wearing a blue polka dot dress. Susan went around pretending to be auditioning for young Cosette because she's a comedic genius. I wasn't studying MDT (music dance theatre), I was getting my degree in Acting-- so I didn't feel too much pressure. I just thought it would be fun to tryout for the Broadway tour of Les Mis.  I mean, why not?

I went in and I sang "Sunday in The Park With George". I had fun. They were impressed. I was told I had a call back.  And to my surprise, I was one of about 5.

I was handed my sides and told to come back in a couple of days. I went home and I read the sides.

It was the music from "Master of the House" where Madame Thenardier swears a bit. I don't mind swearing, but I hate taking the Lord's name in vain. It bothers me. I use all the other words with far too much abandon, but I don't like disrespecting God.

I prayed about it. I remember kneeling at my bed in my little basement apartment. I wanted to do the right thing. And I got an answer. I could feel my answer flow into my mind.  I should do the audition with confidence. I was representing an evil person. The words were written to reflect the disrespect that this wicked woman felt towards divinity. In order for me to tell the real story of her wickedness, I had to swear.

So I did. I had a great call back. After a few phone calls back and forth between Provo and New York--I stopped hearing from them. I think the tour was coming to an end or something like that. And honestly, I felt a bit young for the part.

Fast forward a few years to 2013.

The blue polka dot dress is still in my closet. It doesn't fit. I would like it to fit. I have a beautiful blue and white dress though. I put that on and ratted up my hair, lest they wonder what part I wanted.

I walked into a sea of nervous actors. I ran into several friends that I had worked with over the years. We were all nervous, but I was so happy to see them again. Auditions are wonderful places to reunite and show love and support.

The song went well. I sang the "Drop Kick Me Jesus" line from "I Could Have Gone To Nashville". It was funny, fun, and I could show off a highish belt.

I got a few smiles from the powers that be and I left.

That was Monday.

On Friday, I saw my name listed with 6 other powerhouse divas. Over 600 people auditioned--and I was one of 7 women called back for Madame Thenardier. I wasn't called back for ensemble--which worried me at first--but neither was Brooklyn--and I think she is wonderful.  So I wasn't too worried.

Saturday afternoon I went in for the call back in the blue dress again. Before going, I meditated on love. I focused on filling my heart and my whole body with divine love. I just wanted to have a beautiful experience. Of course, I also rehearsed the song. I had made my peace with the words back in 2001--but I decided to call on some of my training. I looked for gestures of supplication to underscore the words. I worked on stretching my torso and finding beautiful gestures, and then contrasted that with ugly shapes so that without the words, my body would still tell the story. It was wonderful to work.

At the call backs, I felt genuine love and affection for everyone there. I sat in the room and listened to the ensemble sing. I cried as the Marxist anthem rose up. My little liberal heart was in heaven. I mistakenly joked with Mark Dietlein, not realizing that he was one of the producers. I just thought he was one of the actors up for the bishop or the Master. I introduced myself to new friends and we waited. The Thenardiers auditioned at the end of the day. We all went through our songs a couple of times--trying to be as prepared as possible. I imagined all the ways casting could go.

The men went first. Then the ladies stood up and sang through our part of "Master of The House". Sally Dietlein quickly stood up and announced that we would be auditioning the parts with edits. She changed God Almighty to Holy Mother, God to Who, shit to spit, and bastard to master. I wrote the changes down--but I had put the words into my gestures. I couldn't hold a paper. I was impressed with all of my dear diva sisters' auditions. When I got up--I did my best to maintain the madame's grotesque and evil nature, while singing the now muted/neutered words I'd just been given. I was so grateful for my good movement professors who taught me how to tell the story with my body. I heard the panel of directors and producers audibly gasp at one point. It was so satisfying!

After we left the room, the musical director offered me his hand and asked, "Why aren't we friends?" It was a lovely and appreciated gesture. We all complimented one another. And again--I felt such love from and towards my fellow auditioners. I walked to the car with Camille and we both complimented one another on our past work. I raved about her Matron in Chicago and she raved about my Mae in Reefer Madness. An hour later we became Facebook friends.

It was a great day.

And now a week later, they have chosen the cast.

 I'm not Madame Thenardier.

It breaks my heart a little. I would have loved to have played the part.

And honestly, knowing my divine answer about the words from all those years ago--I wish I had had the moral conviction to refuse to edit/neuter the character in the audition.  But I was too chicken. I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to sing the songs and to perform with such great actors. And I was thinking about the extra cash.

But I didn't get cast.

I am delighted for the women who did get the part. They will be do an amazing job.

And someday I'll play Madame Thenardier. In ALL of her glory.


Today, I am grateful for my craft.
I am grateful for the hundreds of you who showed your love and support.
I am grateful for the divine opportunity to be an actor.

And I'm grateful for all the time I have to pursue other wonderful opportunities! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the Heights

Friday night I met up with my friends Ben and Lyn to enjoy Orem Hale's fabulous production of In The Heights.

If you've never been to Hale in Orem--it's soooo small! And you know I love small theatrical spaces.

When I first saw In The Heights, it was on Broadway. I was in the upper balcony with my friend Mike. We were sitting next to a guy from Toronto. As I squinted to see the people, I liked the show--but I didn't feel a part of the show. Friday night, as Lyn and I danced in our seats, and I watched the cast fill this tiny space with Spanish and English, with dancing that moved through the actors from their toes to their hips, and I felt each actor's specific choices--I fell in love with this show.

I originally planned to go to see my friend Carolyn Crow play Daniela.

Photo Credit Daniel Silva
As expected, she was absolutely wonderful. She was funny, compassionate, and powerful. 

I was surprised to see my friend Marcie Jacobsen in the cast as well!

Her Abuela was magical. She's too young to be anyone's abuela, but I adored her just the same. And pictured to her left is Ben Wille as Usnavi. He was powerful, vulnerable, hilarious, and absolutely inspiring. I'm getting a little vaklempt just thinking about it!

Surprisingly, they cast a white guy as Benny! 

But Keith Evans was wonderful. And in white bread Utah--it's easy to see how white people struggle with class issues as well as any other race. I was impressed and delighted. Xandra Wille as Nina Rosario has a perfect voice. It was such a joy to see and hear her story unfold. 

I'm not going to gush about everyone--but I will comment on Shae Robins' Vanessa. She was perfectly complicated. A strong, sexy, ambitious woman. She made me want to be a latina living in New York--not because of how pretty she is--but because of how powerful she was from the inside. 

And I can't ignore Sonny! Oh Sonny! Elijah Thomas was hilarious. Comic gold is that man. Passive voice am I using. Sigh.  As I google to try to find an image for him, I have discovered that there are a lot of Elijah Thomas's in the world. 

The show is probably sold out. But go if you can get tickets!

Hale Center Theater in Orem, Utah. Visit http://webticketing.haletheater.org/ for tickets. They close Saturday night! 

Big kudos to director Christopher Clark, choreographer Jennifer Hill-Barlow, and musical director Justin Bills. The ensemble was incredible. It was a beautiful night at the theatre! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Next To Normal

I saw the show two years ago when Midvale Main Street Theatre did it. I know the show pretty well.

Last night, I went to opening night with my dad.

Watching a show about a family that loses a child with your father who lost his child is pretty gut wrenching. And cathartic.

At intermission, we gabbed with folks and pointed out the characters that matched best with our own experiences. I'm not 16, but I was definitely a Natalie. And my dad was Diana--despite the fact that my mom's name is Diane. But he was the one always seeking for new drugs, new religious paths, new answers to his pain.

It's not about anything earth shattering like AIDS or puppet sex. It's about next to normal people trying to figure out why despite their many many blessings--they just can't find happiness. It's a completely first world kind of play.

It's a wasp kinda play really. The problems stem from the very waspish sentiment that ignoring our problems will make them go away. And you wouldn't think that there would be much material there honestly. And yet, there it is. Singing in gorgeous tight chords and haunting melodies two feet away from you...because we were on the front row.

I think most of us can handle earth shattering. We pull out the big guns and we conquer. But the little things like photos, a straying memory, and a music box... things we ought to be over... but we're never really. These are the things that undo us. Because it isn't about the big guns, the waving flags, a revolution, or even dancing on tables at restaurants.

The song "I Miss The Mountains" speaks volumes to me. Officially, 4 of us in my family have been diagnosed bipolar. Wanna know how many of us are still on that horrible regime of medicines they put bipolars on? 0. Well, one of us is dead now, so that doesn't count. And I don't feel bipolar, despite the diagnosis. I have too much respect for friends who are really suffering to own that diagnosis. They talk about how doctors put these big names on an assembly of symptoms. But the medicines just seem to make things worse. And then some work. For a bit. And you keep working. And you think that someone should write a musical about this. And so they do.

I cried three or four times. And during those times it was when the actor was visibly trying to be happy. The struggle to be happy is more heartbreaking than sadness. No one tries to be sad. So in those few moments where I would see the actors struggling to smile--the emotion would well up. My dad on the other hand just sat there with tears streaming down his face for much of the show.

The cast is amazing. Sara McDonald is this powerhouse dynamo personality and her portrayal of Diana helps me to love her, to understand her, and to feel with her. Dustin Bolt has a grounding affect on the rest of the cast. His voice is soothing and powerful. But last night, I saw this quiver of vulnerability seep from him in contrast to Diana's confidence. The two actors maintained a gorgeous dance of strength and vulnerability with one another. Aaron Ford's Gabe was focused and complicated. I cried for him. Despite sinister choices, I felt they only highlighted his real need. My only criticism is that his feet never seemed to stay all the way on the ground. He was always gearing up for something--and it distracted me from the amazing work he was doing. (Also his shoes were awesome and my eyes went there every time.) Cassidy Ross is Natalie. Knowing her personally--she is that perfect combination of rebellious and over achieving. I enjoyed every scene she was in--watching her character arch through powerful to vulnerable, from stupid to wise. Ryan Fallis was technically fantastic--and he looked super handsome. But I never really bought the rock star thing from him. It's such a hard transition to make--but I wanted MORE. I wanted him to feel the rock star in his pelvis. So, go further Ryan! But his love and concern for Diana and for Dan was touching. I trusted him. I trusted in him. Brock Dalgleish's Henry brought much needed light and humor to the show. And it doesn't hurt that he's kind of pretty. I loved the chemistry he had with Natalie.

I talked about it before--but the harmonies were so tight.. And the balance of their voices was perfect. It's a terrific feat when a musical director can pull off such gorgeous chords from a small cast. Big kudos to Jason Campbell for that feat.  Ben Mayfield's orchestrations were gorgeous as always. And a big shout out to Kristina Rene Stone for her work as Stage Manager.

The lighting (Jennifer Hairr) was amazing. The set design (Sean McLaughlin) was inspired. You just have to see it. Technically, my biggest complaint was that there was a good 5 minute stretch during the second act where I couldn't hear the dialogue over the music. I'm sure it will be resolved by tonight. My dad thought it was on purpose to demonstrate chaos--but I knew there was actual dialogue.

The costumes were gorgeous. The photos I'm posting are from rehearsal--so no one's actually in their costumes in these pics. You'll have to take my word for it. Jan Harris's costumes are incredible.

The colors, the lights, the action, the music--everything came together so beautifully. Sometimes I think directing is one of those thankless jobs where you "just" balance a thousand different elements. Tammy Ross's directing genius is in her ability to trust her collaborators--including the actors--and steer a ship of related factors towards a cohesive ocean of storytelling. To her credit, she doesn't try to be a one woman show, micromanaging everyone and everything. But with her talents for collaboration, she manages to produce and direct while her theatre grows with every show. It's only been 5 years since she bought the theatre and they were doing children's shows. Now the theatre toggles back and forth between family friendly children's theatre and intriguing musicals that rival any other company in the valley.

The show runs just two weekends. Nov 14-Nov 23--Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm with a Sunday show on Nov 17th at 6pm.

Get your tickets to Next to Normal by visiting www.midvaletheatre.com or by calling the box office after 5pm on the days of the show 801-566-0596.

(photo credits Ryan Fallis... which is why he isn't in any of the photos.)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Being Rebellious and Grateful

I've been relatively good at posting my gratitude this year.

Perhaps not daily.

But I have this evil rebellious streak that just stops me from doing what's expected of me.

It's the reason I'm horrible at diets and for some reason, during the month of gratitude, I find myself with all sorts of excuses not to post my gratitude.

Other rebellions I have--

I never make my bed. Despite my mother's teachings. Despite the fact that life just feels more organized when I have a made bed.

As you walk into my apartment, there's a chair sitting in the middle of the floor and a wet towel sitting next to the chair. Right as you enter. Why? Because I  can. No other reason. It annoys me, but I felt like putting the towel there last night as I got ready for my audition.

I have a plate of dried out, burnt brownies sitting by my lounge chair.

I have a pile of clean clothes sitting at the base of my bed. I have them spread out nicely so that the clothes won't be too wrinkled when I pull them up to wear them later.

I'm not filthy. It would take me 45 minutes to have a clean apartment. But I love that I don't HAVE to have a perfectly clean apartment all the time. It's freeing.

Reporting my gratitude during November just feels too mandatory. And so I don't.

This is ridiculous of course. Gratitude is a gift, a privilege.

So on that note. Here's a catch up post for November.

Friday, Nov 1: I was grateful for the chance to see my super talented friend Kjersti play Carmen in Curtains. I knew she was talented--but it was so great to see her shine!

Saturday, Nov 2: I was grateful for the haircut my friend Christie gave me!

Sunday, Nov 3: I was grateful for church! I fasted. I was so ornery. I was uber grateful for the food that I devoured after church and the great conversation I had with my dad after I ate. Before that, I hated everyone and everything because life without food is horrible.

Monday, Nov 4: I had a great voice lesson with a talented new singer. It is so much fun to hear your student sing out so beautifully!

Tuesday, Nov 5: I won tickets to the new movie About Time and enjoyed the screening with my brother Nick. I am grateful for artists dedicated to quality storytelling.

Wednesday, Nov 6: We rehearsed Hairspray songs. This cast is magnificent, generous, and kind.

Thursday, Nov 7: I had a final rehearsal with Ben Mayfield in preparation for our concert.

Friday, Nov 8: The night of the concert!! I don't know how to write about this. I'll have pictures to show soon enough. It was magical. There are just too many people to thank for this night. It deserves so much more than a footnote in one blog. But for the purpose of this post-- I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who blessed me with friends and family members who supported and loved me through a beautiful evening of music. 

Saturday, Nov 9: Another Hairspray rehearsal--a great day at work--and a great rehearsal in preparation for singing in church.

Sunday, Nov 10: I'm grateful for the chance to present a beautiful song in church with my friends Sarah and Marianne. I'm also grateful for my friend Dan's lovesack and his steak.

Monday, Nov 11: I'm grateful for auditions and the chance I had to see friends from different walks of life. It was like being in a time machine. Scott and Clin from the college years, David and Kasey from the high school years, and Kande from the Egyptian.

And today, I'm grateful for Windex. I've cleaned sooo many windows and mirrors today! It's beautiful!

My rebellion is squashed by the privilege of gratitude. And tonight, after rehearsal, I'll pick up the stupid towel. And the chair. And I'll do the dishes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Click

I feel like I'm floating. My fears are falling away. The tentacles of anxiety are breaking loose and my heart, once weighed down, is floating in my chest.  It's glowing.

I'm surrounded by love and support.

My friend Blair Howell writes for the Deseret News. He offered to help promote my concert. It was so touching to see his promotional article in print yesterday. It just made everything real.

You can see the article here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865589652/Concert-to-reflect-the-beauty-of-autumn.html

It started off as a germ of an idea. That idea turned into a discussion. And now it's real.

Theatre is this beautiful opportunity to create something from an idea.

We're working on the music for Hairspray!--plays in January at Midvale Main Street Theatre--and we're at that horribly uncomfortable stage where the music is not quite clicking. We'll hit it again and again until it finally settles into the brain and clicks. And after that--things get really fun. But I'm so proud of and grateful for hardworking artists who hang in there through this hard part and keep singing until it clicks.

The same thing happens in life. Life gets hard. You know that eventually things will click--but in the meantime you're just going through the motions, hoping that eventually something will catch and you'll be able to finally relax and just enjoy the chords and the rhythm of life.

I feel like things are clicking.

Today, I am grateful for supportive friends.
I am grateful for opportunities to create and the magic of the click.
I am grateful for this moment. Right now.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sometimes I Cry

I got a hair cut!

After blogging about my long hair--I cut it!

Well, not me. My friend Christi cut it for me. Well, not cut--she razored it. Razoring the hair is like tearing out your hair, in a very particular fashion, so as to create a lovely bouncy style. I feel fresh and new!

Yesterday was good.

After having a fabulous visit with Christi and baby Evangeline, I went to my friend Heather's housewarming.

I pulled up to the house and watched people go inside. Suddenly, I didn't want to go. Big tears started to fall down my face and I almost drove away.  I began imagining excuses I could tell my friend. I just felt so unequal. I can't describe it. I felt so awkward. The only thing that got me out of my car was that I was hoping I could take the opportunity to give my sincere wish for happiness to my friend and her hubby in their new home. If it's about someone else, I can generally get over my social fears. So I sucked it up, went inside. Hugged my friend, oohed and ahhed over her gorgeous home, ate an eclair, and left. Sigh.

I decided I needed a night to myself. I came home and nursed myself. I went to bed really early and just let my heart and body heal.  It was good.

I don't know why I cried. I could guess.

I think it has to do with hormones though. And needing an afternoon nap.

Today I'm grateful for my haircut.
I'm grateful for my friend's beautiful house.
I'm grateful for my friend Christie's beautiful baby girl.
I'm grateful for this month of gratitude.
And I'm really really really grateful for that extra hour of sleep last night.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Being Beautiful and Not

I'm photogenic.
This is lucky for me since my personality is better looking than my face oftentimes.

Red heads have this funny thing where we either look super duper good, or we don't. We're not "cute". We're not pleasant looking. We're striking.

For example.

This is Julianne Moore without makeup:

This is Moore all dolled up.

Most days, I wear glasses, no make up, and I pull my hair up in an easy bun.

I remember seeing my mom with long hair and a bun while I was growing up. I thought to myself, "Self, we will not wear a bun every day. We will do our hair."

But alas, I have other things I'd rather do than such trivial things as shower and wash my hair every day... or brush it. And it doesn't take a lot of effort. Just a little bit goes a hilariously long way.

Today, I am going to see a play. Knowing that I would be running straight from work, I decided to dress like a person. I put on a green dress and a white sweater. I washed my hair and brushed it. Still in my glasses and still not wearing any make up. (Just not feeling the make up right now.) But it's still a big enough difference that three men have come into the office to discuss my looks with me.

Why? HellifIknow.

The first guy just said I looked nice. Innocent, kind, generous. I won't analyze it further. He simply said I looked nice.

The second guy. Ahhh. The second guy. That was just funny stuff. How do I share this conversation? I guess I just have to suck it up and type it out like a dramatic novel. I shall write in third person.

He entered the office with a purpose. This was a man on a mission. He needed to use the restroom. As he made his way across the front of the office he suddenly stopped and looked at the woman sitting behind the desk. She noticed him looking. She raised her brow with suspicion. "What?" Then remembering that she should exercise a measure of congeniality and customer service, she quickly followed that up with, "How may I help you?"

 He stared at her for a moment, thinking. Finally, he spoke. "When's my bill due?"

She started to speak. "What unit are you in?"

He interrupted her. "Nevermind. I need to use the restroom first."

Tick tock.

He reemerges.

"You know I'm 54." He says this with a little wink. She stared down at her keyboard trying to figure out why he was telling her his age.

"Your bill isn't due for a week. Did you wanna pay in advance?"

"Yea, I'll put some money on it now."

"Okie dokie."

He blurted out. "You know, you look good. You've lost weight."

From her seated position at the desk, she wondered how on earth he would know this.

"I haven't. But, thanks."

"Nah, you've totally lost weight," he insisted.

"Nope, not a single pound."

"What are you doing to your eye brows?"


"You don't pluck them?"


"What'd they look like in high school?"

"The same."


"You got children?"

She looked left and right, trying to give herself a moment to decide whether she should invent an elaborate family. She gave up. "Nope."

He laughed with joy. "Good for you!"

She furrowed her brow and tried to go about the business of her business, printing receipts, writing due dates, circling important information.

"You changed your hair color."


"It's darker."

"Okie dokie"

"You been to any good restaurants lately."

She surrendered to the conversation and contributed a thought about downtown cuisine stating that she enjoyed Christopher's Steakhouse on Pierpont more than any other steakhouse in town. As the words came out of her mouth, she wondered if she had remembered the correct street name. Then she thought about how much she would enjoy a tasty steak. He continued to spout off the names of fancy restaurants around town. She wasn't interested. She just wanted him to stop talking about her various traits and let her get back to watching Thursday night's episode of Scandal. 

Eventually, he left the office.

She made a mental note to remember the conversation and blog about it later.


The third guy came into the office a few hours later. His comments were brief.

He wore a stuffed teddy bear on his head.

"Do you like my hat?" 

"Did you kill the bear yourself?" She asked.

He laughed.

"I missed you the other day."

"Yup, I was gone Wednesday."

"The ugly guy helped me."

"Good! I'm glad to hear he was helpful!"

"I missed you."

"Well, I'm here today!" She smiled trying to just take the compliment and enjoy the kindness in the words.


This is what happens when I brush my hair.

I can't decide if it would be easier if I just looked nice EVERY DAY. I have friends who are stunning on a regular basis. Perhaps I wouldn't run into these issues if I just made an effort every day. I think it's the DIFFERENCE. I really need to make an effort.

Today, I'm grateful for the funny guys who come into the office.
I'm grateful for the adventures of being single. Perhaps married women have similar experiences, but I wonder...
I'm grateful for my red hair.
I'm grateful that I get to be both beautiful and not so beautiful, depending on how I feel that morning.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Country Music

I grew up all over Utah--but it wasn't until I was 13 that I heard the twangy twang of country music. I had no idea who Garth Brooks was or why men wore tourniquet-like-pants around their nether regions. The Valley of the Bear River had a slew of cultural gifts that I had not expected to receive.

I remember telling my friend Ronda that I just did NOT like country music. I lamented and lambasted it. She told me that someday I would sing country. Her words haunted me.

Over the years, I have become incredibly fond of country music and blue grass in particular. In memory of that conversation, I am going to sing a country song first sung by a Canadian Indie Country music star--Neko Case.

This is the song.

I have loved the show
 since last year.

Why? Because of music like this:

The song is sung by two unknown artists, Scarlett and Gunnar. In real life--it was written by two unknown songwriters in Nashville--Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmerman.

I think the thing I like most about the show Nashville is that you see the artistry of each musician--whether they're working as a bartender or doing a world tour. At the end of the day, it's about the music. And it demonstrates that exposure isn't always the most important element of a career making music.

I am grateful for a life filled with opportunities to make music. I am especially grateful for the chance to sing good country music.

You were right Ronda!

For more information on Nashville and the songwriters, visit http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2013/05/14/183643357/when-the-right-one-comes-along-how-nashville-tells-stories-in-song

Here's a video of Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmerman singing.