Saturday, January 31, 2009

Concert Countdown Day 1: Meet Crazy Katie

Moving to the United States after living out of the country for a while can be a real shock to the system. Moving to Provo, UT can be a real shock anytime. At 16, I moved to Provo after having lived in Madrid, Spain for three years. Before that I had grown up on the north coast of California. I was so out of sorts culturally and had a very hard time relating to my American peers if I'm being honest. Meeting Crazy Katie in AP Spanish was a Godsend. She like me, had previously lived in a foreign Spanish speaking country as a mission president's daughter. We hit it off in no time and she has been one of my best friends ever since. Crazy Katie is a treasure among the women of the world. So unique, so independent, so "I don't give a rip what other people think of me." I love it. She has taught me how to let loose and really LIVE life to the fullest. When I first asked her if she would be a guest on my blog she basically said, "I'm anti-blog." Of course she is. She's Crazy Katie! But I somehow managed to squeeze this little gem of a post out of her. Maybe I'll convince Crazy Katie to do an advice column on here. Until then, I will have to let these words suffice:

I don't know anyone else who has a hammer collection. So if you do, please come forward! I don't collect dolls, stamps, coins etc.. I collect hammers. I have rescued ancient hammers from construction job sites and have been the lucky beneficiary of old tool boxes from grandparents and parents. Crazy?! Yes, and I love it!

I have learned a great deal about life from one of the world's founding tools. The hammer has never really been replaced, even in these modern days. Little do we know, we are each so irreplaceable, so important, and we each have contributed to the building of this beautiful human race. I ecstatically acknowledge Stephanie's life as she has single handedly built a world of inspiration for each of us!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Concert Countdown Day 2: Meet Jenny Eckton

I've been thinking a lot lately about how the beauty of this event has been all about meeting new people and having perfect strangers rise to the occasion and say, "I'll do anything to help."  I didn't really know Jenny Eckton before putting this concert together, and I still don't know her all that well.  I certainly hope our interactions don't end here.  She has been the backbone of the silent auction (which is happening on her blog right now!) and has put in hours and hours of service with absolutely nothing in it for her.  Thank you Jenny--a hundred times over.

I first met Stephanie eight years ago. She was sitting in a room at the church, waiting for a midweek youth activity to begin. All I had heard about this new leader was that she was a ski instructor at Sundance. I introduced myself and found her very easy to talk with. You could just sense how . . . cool she was (is). I found out that she was a newlywed (very newly), and a month or so later we discovered that we were expecting babies around the same time.

Stephanie has taught me a lot. She taught me to not be afraid of color -- from the red of her lipstick and the photos I saw of the red cape she wore on her wedding day, to the bold colors of the walls of her home, I saw that my life didn't have to be beige. She taught me that people can be sustained healthily without eating meat, something that I had wished to know about, but I hadn't ever known someone personally who had lived that way. She taught me that it's okay, even wonderful, to wear fishnets to church . . . I've never looked back. It was Stephanie who encouraged me to begin my blog in 2005. When we moved into our new home, Stephanie brought me a small rug and a copy of Real Simple magazine; the rug remains in my living room right inside my front door, and my love affair with that magazine has been long-standing.

Stephanie reminds me that I'm not old-fashioned for wanting to serve my husband and children. She helps me remember that I'm not the only one who had no desire to go to college, but instead have children at a young age and exclusively stay home with them. She shows me the love and loyalty that sisters ought to share, something that I desire for myself as well as for my four daughters.

Stephanie, you're a rockstar. Thank you, THANK YOU for being you. I love you.


Last night my youngest was up at all hours with the stomach flu. My husband tossed and turned with a head cold. Did I sleep? No. Am I desperately tired? Yes. I say: BRING IT ON. I am going to raise money for this benefit no matter what the cost!!!  Are you with me???

Here I go, up to Salt Lake City to promote on Channel 2 at noon.  If you are just tuning into this story, or would like to know more details, Meridian Magazine has covered it today HERE as their featured article (thank you Erin).  This story will change you and make you want to give and give thanks.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day 3: Meet John Graham

When the decision was made to organize another benefit concert for Nie, phone calls were made and emails were sent to conjure up any help we could get. Many responded, but only a handful really committed to the task at hand. John Graham, long time next-door neighbor and childhood friend to Nie, stepped up to the plate from the start, ready and willing to knock it out of the park. I first met John in high school. If I could tell you the two things I remember most about him, they would be his knock-out smile and that he was (is) an amazing dancer. John went on to dance professionally for a number of years. He graduated from BYU in Marriage, Family and Human Development. Now, he trains for marathons and triathlons. And yes ladies, he is single.

If you have been following the story of Christian and Stephanie Nielson you can now look back and see the tremendous recovery that has been made and the magnificent distance that has been covered to this point. It is nothing short of a miracle and I pray that it may continue to improve. I see this progress as a milestone in the marathon of life. Having recently completed a marathon, I appreciate Paul's counsel to the saints to run with patience the race of life in which we are taking part (Hebrews 12: 1-2). It certainly has taken patience to run this race, but I have concluded that this event has brought people together in unity and love. The reach goes beyond family and friends to complete strangers who seek only to extend comfort; to contribute any time and talent they have to the Nielsons' recovery. Much good has been done and much progress has been made. The following verse helped me to complete my own race, and I really feel that it applies here as well. "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (Doctrine and Covenants 123: 17).
- Show quoted text -

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day 4: Most Boring Post of the Week

So, I just met with the Thrillionaires to go over the details for our show. It turns out there aren't many details to go over when you're show is improvised so we just ended up making a goofy movie and eating oatmeal cookies. We all had pressing issues to attend to at home (like watching "Lost"). Now "Lost" is over, I'm tired and uninspired. This post is so super un-special it hurts. But this little tidbit of information is special: tomorrow (Friday), turn on the TV at noon, flip the channel over to Channel 2 News, and you will have a little surprise waiting for you. Then, go make a note in your calendar to check the front page of the Life and Styles section of The Daily Herald on Sunday. Next, go to and buy your family tickets to the Love for Nie Nie Benefit Concert. Finally, put on a happy face.

Day 5: Meet The Glediator

I first met The Glediator when I was but a young lass. He was my Sunday school teacher and I was a smitten teenager who could not concentrate on a darn thing in the lesson. Sounds scandalous, right? Read on. On our first date he removed the silver ring from my middle finger, placing it onto my ring finger and said, "Get used that feeling." Wow. There is so much more, but that is another post for another day. One of the things that I love the most about The Glediator is that he is a big, strong man, but such a big softie on the inside. This is a man who calls up the 800 number on the TV screen and hands his credit card information over to St. Judes, or sponsors an orphaned child in Bangladesh for only $3.00 a day. Nie's story was no different for him and he has been very active in helping in whatever way he could from day one. Enjoy this candid interview, typed as we sat in bed:

Mindy: Thanks for being the first male guest on my blog! How are you tonight?

Glediator: Well, someone had to bring a little testosterone to this estrogen-fest! But, I’m great, thank you.

Mindy: I think you have more than a little testosterone. But anyway, on to the interview. I know you grew up with the Clarks (Nie’s family). Tell us a bit about their family.

Glediator: I guess I started Peter Pan Preschool with Coutrney (C-Jane) about the time Stephanie was born, wow I’m getting old! If I had to describe the Clarks with the first word that came to mind, I guess it would be “solid”. They just seem to have that kind of family. They're so tight. If you have ever had the privilege (and I really do mean privilege) of talking with Steve at any length you just can’t help but come out of the conversation a happier person. His optimism and attitude is contagious, which is obvious if you know any of his kids.

Mindy: I agree with you about Steve. Cindy is every bit as amazing—so loving without any reservations. So, what was Courtney like when she was four?

Glediator: She was a bully. I couldn’t even bring lunch money to school. But she was also smart. I think she graduated Peter Pan summa cum laude.

Mindy: You’re so cheeky. C’mon. What was she really like?

Glediator: Well, I remember her more in elementary and high school. Always seemed to be happy, cracking dry humored jokes and making everyone else laugh.

Mindy: You never really knew Nie. What has made an impression on you the most from reading about her story?

Glediator: At first it was the amazing emotional connection that people have had to their story without ever even knowing her or Christian. How much people have done to help in whatever way they can. I was blown away at the Mesa concert by people who would just start telling me how this event has changed their outlook on life, relationships, God. It was so much larger than I even thought possible. I couldn’t help but cry with so many people that night. Then I started reading past posts on Stephanie’s blog and it was easy to see the emotional attachment that everyone had. I found myself getting caught up in it, yes even crusty old me. The way she speaks about her kids and husband are truly an inspiration to so many, including me.

Mindy: I told you he was a softie! Just a big, sweet softie. Thank you darlin'!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day 6: Meet *erinannie*

Erin McBride is one of the smartest women I know.  Web analytics?  No problem.  HTML?  Piece of cake.  She is the brain behind all of my online marketing and has some pretty ingenious ideas.  That's why we're both so rich!  This is a photo of Erin looking out the window of her private jet.  One of the coolest things about Erin is that she is an aspiring foster parent.  One of the weirdest things is that her cat likes to sit on her cell phone, hence she never hears my calls.  But that's beside the point, which is that Erin is a beautifully honest and persevering human being.  Here is how she has been effected by Nie's accident:

I wish I could start off this missive by telling you how I have known Mindy and Nie forever. But actually, I have only known Mindy a few months, and have known of Nie even less. If you would like to know the back story (that I believe was divinely guided) that brought me here, I invite you to read the story on my blog HERE.
I first came to know of Nie because of her accident. I had in my blog reading addictions run across the Nie Nie Dialogues before. But as a selfish and self-centered single woman, what I read was about a perfect mom, with a perfect husband, and perfect children, and even a perfect dog, just rubbing it in that I would never have those things.
So I ignored her blog. I liked my misery. I didn't need her sunshine and rainbows.
But then I heard about the plane crash.
I was just stunned to see the incredible amount of support from her blog readers and friends. And I wondered, if something like that were to happen to me, would anyone even notice I was gone? Would anyone rally the troops to come to my aid? Would anyone even care?
And why did so many people care about this blogger? What was so great about her anyway?
So I decided to learn more about Nie. I wanted to find out what made her so special.
I'll be honest. It didn't take me long to find out.
When I read her words without the colors of my tainted heart changing the story, I found a woman who didn't have a perfect life. She has a husband who leaves town. Her 2 year old runs around naked. She doesn't live in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. She misses her family in another state.
Maybe I could relate to her after all. At the very least, I could learn from her positive outlook on life.
There's a little something for everyone in Nie's writing. I suggest you check it out. And if you need another reason to get involved in the Nie Recovery Fund activities, I leave you with this question-
If it had been your sister in that plane crash, what would you do to help?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day 7: Meet Hailey Smith

I first met Hailey Smith when she and Jake Suazo (both from the Thrillionaires Improv Theater Group) hosted Guitars Unplugged at the Marriott Center.  More recently, I have had the chance to get to know her better through Nie concert preparations.  I am so excited to share the stage with her!  She is a gem, people--a real gem!  I feel a special bond with Hailey because neither of us have much of a desire to scrapbook or keep house.  In fact, if we only had one day left to live, we would probably eat take-out and watch "Lost" episodes.  So here's a little background on this gorgeous red-head:  Hailey grew up in Utah, Colorado, Texas, Illinois, and California.  She went on to BYU, where she received a degree in Acting.  Shortly after graduating, she started performing improv and now, eight years later, she is a co-founder of the Thrillionaires Improv Theater Troupe.  Hailey loves doing improv because it's an awesome outlet and she enjoys the rush of creating something out of nothing with amazingly talented friends.  She lives in Provo with her husband, Ben, and their four children: Mila, 8, Ethan, 5, and Lucy and Lane, 2.  Hailey wishes she could say her other hobbies were scrapbooking, cooking, and exercise, but she has to admit they are, in fact, singing, eating, and Tivo.

I have never actually met NieNie, but she happens to be the sister of my good friend Chris.  I found her blog through her siblings, and I was immediately impressed by the joy and radiance that exuberated from her posts.  Having four children myself, I felt a connection to her as a mother and I was also drawn to her love of beauty.  I know she has been a wonderful example of a faithful and devoted mother and wife to many women out there, and more than one friend of mine has admitted to me that NieNie is the reason they started blogging.  Since that fateful day in August, I have followed her story through her family members, and I have been overwhelmed by her ability to endure.  Hearing about her journey has reinforced my own testimony.  Of miracles. Of family. Of a Father in Heaven who blesses us with more good things than we could possibly receive.  I am grateful to her for her courage and for allowing the world to be uplifted by her beautiful spirit.  I hope that many more women will continue to be inspired by her story.  Thank you, NieNie, for never giving up!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 8: Meet Julianne Beasely Mitchell

It was 1997 when I moved to Provo as a Junior in high school. I first met Julianne Beasely in seminary. I did not know anyone and spent a lot of time observing people. Julianne was a cheerleader (hence, her close friendship with Nie) and beautiful cheerleaders can be a bit intimidating at times. But as I settled into the school year, I came to learn that Julianne was a really down to earth, kind and spiritual person. But most importantly, she was voted "best body" our Senior year. Those are the things that really count!

Ok, seriously. She approached me back in October before and volunteered to organize this whole concert. She has spent more hours than anyone else in making this event become a reality. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Julianne Beasely Mitchell!

I have known Stephanie for almost 16 years now and I remember when we met like it was yesterday. Her ability to "not follow the crowd", yet still remain cooler than even the coolest in junior high and high school, still influences me today. She stuck to her beliefs and herself and didn't waiver, ever. I strive to be more like that still, she had it down when she was 12. Stephanie has always been a dear friend, a true friend; the type of friend who you could call on for a fun time and also for support. She listens. She always listens. She is an example to me as a wife, a sister, a daughter and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Shortly after I was married, I asked Steph for some advice about how to be a good wife, the kind of wife that she is and strives to be. "Serve your husband. Respect and honor the Priesthood he holds. Serve your husband." Her words have inspired me on a daily basis since she gave me this advice. Her ability to love life and to do what her heart tells her is an inspiration to me. I feel fortunate and blessed to know Steph and can call her a dear, dear friend. I have always admired her for her determination and devotion to being a woman who serves the Lord. I strive daily to live in a way that reflects the influence Stephanie has had on me for the past 16 years. I love you Steph.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 9: Meet Krista Maurer

Our guest today is one of my favorite people on this planet.  I first met Krista Maurer when I was signed to Lumen Records with Excel Entertainment.  She was my publicist for several years and has been one of the main directors for Shadow Mountain Music Group at Deseret Book for the last several years.  She, like an angel from heaven, recently called me up and offered to help out with this upcoming benefit concert.  "Will you be the executive producer?"  I asked.  "Done." she agreed without hesitation.  She was also responsible for the large success of the Nie Benefit concert in Mesa, AZ.  A dreamer, a writer, a painter, a poet, please indulge in Krista's beautiful thoughts on Nie:

Perhaps it was her love for silhouettes that drew me in, made me smile, and think
of my own childhood profiles that hang by my bed in my room:
(me at 5)

Perhaps it was her sisters,
who love her somethin' fierce,
that I,
with all my heart,
understood and related to.

Perhaps it was her utter adoration for all things mother/wife/& home
that stirred within me
the plans and hopes I keep for "someday,"
but carefully put away
(and don't usually acknowledge)
because it aches to not have them.

Perhaps it was her love affair
with a man named Mr. Nielson that
renewed my hope
that those kinds of stories really do exist...
and that maybe I can have one too.

Perhaps it was her color,
her flair,
her creativity that
awakened me to a remembrance of who I am
at my core.
That is--a creative being.

Perhaps it was the immediate and unquestioning aide
I saw pouring in from thousands of strangers,
who reached across boarders and oceans and religious lines in her behalf,
that fed my belief that humanity does still exist in this world of ours.
And in turn
ignited in me
a desire
to be more,
and do more,
for my fellowman.

Whatever the reason,
I can honestly say that I have been changed by her story.

-Krista Maurer

How do I love Nie? Let me count the ways . . .

There are officially ten days left until the Nie Nie Benefit Concert.  Every day until the concert I will be having special guests on the blog to share thoughts on Nie and how she has inspired their lives.  Let the countdown begin!


Well, since it's 12:30 a.m. right now and I just decided to do this, I will go first.  But check back in for tomorrow's AWESOME mystery guest!

You know, it hasn't always been easy for me to make solid girlfriends.  Let's just lay it out on the table.  It's a sensitive subject.  As I was organizing the Nie concert in Mesa, AZ, one of the volunteers called me one night to talk about concert details.  Toward the end of our conversation she shared that in the recent past, she had been going through some personal difficulty.  Stephanie, knowing of her trials,  gave her my first album as a gift explaining that it had helped her to feel peace.  The girl took one look at the CD and said, "Wow, she looks like she could be a brat!  Are you sure this is good?"  Stephanie quickly came to my aid exclaiming, "she is the  sweetest person you will ever meet!"  Somewhat shocked at this girl's honest confession over the phone,  yet deeply impacted by the way that Stephanie had stood up for me, I sat speechless for a few seconds.  It's always interesting to hear conversations that go on about you when you're not there.  It may seem a small thing, but no one will know how personal this was for me.  I cried.  Through the night.  (I repeat, it's a sensitive subject.)

What I adore the most about Stephanie is that she is not guarded in the way she expresses love--and she loves everyone.  This is always a sign of sincere confidence and self-respect.  I did not know her all that well in high school.  But after graduating, she contacted me and took the initiative to reach out to me in friendship.  We became friends through email and I was always so excited to see "Stephanie Nielson" in my inbox.  She signs her letters with expressions like "kisses" or "xoxoxo" which may seem strange from a person you haven't known all that well in the past.  But this is her way.  She is genuinely loving, so selfless, so extraordinary, so "Nie-ish."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I hate that you're a singer!"  my oldest son, Jackson, said with tears and trembling voice one evening when I announced that I would be leaving to perform out-of-town.  This was not an uncommon routine a few years back.  It ripped my heart out to hear him declare that he hated one of the most defining aspects of my personality.  Still, something had to change, and I knew that something was me.

While I have not balanced my life as a singer-songwriter very well in the past, I am learning.  Admittedly, I have beaten myself up for mistakes made and time lost with my family during seasons of stress.  Truly, the days when Jackson is resenting my singing, are my least balanced.  But beating myself up is not the answer nor is giving up this gift that God has granted me.  

My son is a great teacher.  When I can tell that he is feeling anxious and insecure, I know that I must slow down and simplify.  Over time, things have drastically improved as I have noticed how my behavior effects his.  Now instead of a broken heart, my heart melts to see that he has hung my autographed picture on his wall or when he tells me, "I'm so glad that you're a singer because all my gifts come from you."  The learning curve has been well worth it. 

Having gifts and letting our children see how we use them is essential to their upbringing.  My sister-in-law Cami, a gifted photographer, recently expressed that being a mother to her daughter Jane,  and a professional at the same time can be such a frustrating balancing act.  "Am I a mother or am I a photographer?" she shared her thoughts out loud one day.  She has contemplated giving up photography so that she can focus all her energy on raising Jane.  While this may absolutely be the right answer for some, I propose that it is still possible to be both if you so desire.  As an outsider I can see so many positive benefits that her photography has had on her daughter. For one, she has the most exquisite documentary of her daughter's upbringing (you've never seen so many gorgeous photos of a toddler).  On photo shoots where Jane has accompanied Cami, she has been able to observe her mother interacting with others professionally.  Work trips that bring her home to Utah allow Jane to bond with her grandparents and cousins.  These are all such treasured experiences! 

Raising Jackson with the influence of music has also had it's positive rewards.  He sits at the piano for long periods of time and composes or plays movie themes by ear.  He has taught himself to sing harmony during our bedtime songs.  He is collecting different instruments and has made it known that he is starting a band.  I wonder, had I given up music long ago when the road seemed too hard, would Jackson be this way?  Perhaps.  But, children are great imitators and they tend to recreate the familiar.  If I am stressed and anxious about things, I can usually count on him recreating similar feelings.  If I am balanced and enjoying motherhood along with writing and performing, then I notice a definite increase in his self confidence.  

I think of the times when I brought Jackson, as a baby, to my voice lessons or Concert Choir rehearsals during college.  Not easy.  I wanted to die when I brought him to a sound check at the Marriott Center and he knocked over a bunch of expensive sound equipment on stage.  Then there have been the road trips to out-of-town performances; fits in the car, sleepless nights in shared hotel beds, with little feet kicking me in the shins.  It's so easy to feel exhausted by things in the moment, but now I'm just so grateful that these experiences are mostly good memories for him.  Surely, by including him in this process his personality is being shaped into something beautiful.  And if that's the case, then I hope there are a thousand more sound checks, road trips, and shared beds with my little man.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Streptococcal.  Go ahead, say it out loud.  It's a very fun word to say, but not the kind of bacteria you want to have partying on in the back of your throat.  I just returned from the doctor having tested positive for strep.  Bummer, I know.  

However, today I am grateful because at this moment a team of volunteers is hanging posters and placing flyers for my upcoming concert with The Thrillionaires.  I just don't know what I would have done if I had to go out into the cold and run around the valley hanging posters in my pathetic, strep-infected state.  So, THANKS A MILLION to all the volunteers who are making this concert happen.

This is not just any concert, you know.  This concert will make you laugh until you cry and then cry until all you can do is laugh at yourself.  This concert is for my friend, Nie and her husband, Mr. Nielson.  They were severely burned in a plane crash back in August, leaving their four small children to be cared for by Nie's amazing sisters during their long and expensive recovery.  If you buy tickets to this concert, 100% of your money will go toward their recovery.

But that is not all.  Three incredible women, Emily Craig, Kristen DeGraff, and Jenny Eckton have teamed up to create an awesome silent auction that also benefits the Nielsons.  It begins here on Jan. 23rd and ends at 3 p.m. on Feb 2nd.  Then, the night of the concert, all goods to be auctioned will be in the lobby of the Covey Center where the starting bid will be the last highest bid from the online auction.  Doesn't make sense?  Read more here.  

I am continually amazed at the snowball effect that Nie's example is having on the people of this world.  Her sphere of influence grows larger by the minute.  Never heard of Nie?  She will change your life.  You can check out her blog which romanticizes the mundane at

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Nickelcade Birthday

In case you were wondering where the hottest and hippest new hangout is in the Valley, it's definitely the Nickelcade on State St. in Orem.  At least, that's what Thatcher tells me.  Thatcher turned five earlier this month and we celebrated by wasting money and playing mindless video games in a filthy environment.  Awesome.
Jackson is entranced by a case full of golden coins.

Dad and Aunt Nikki battle it out on the dance floor.
Back at home, Thatcher secretly wishes for more trips to the Nickelcade as he blows out his birthday candles on a cupcake he made himself.
Happy Birthday Thatch!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Bed Time Story for Claire and Jane, Part Two

Now, let's see . . . where were we?  Ah, yes . . .
The little girl did not want to sing for anyone, at any time, ever again!
She stopped writing songs, she didn't care to sing much anymore, and the sounds of music in the world around her grew fainter and fainter until she could barely hear them at all.  Somehow, she had allowed the voices of her young friends to drown out the music that made her heart glow deep within her chest until only a tiny spark remained.

The day soon came when the young woman's parents said, "It's time to go home now.  But we are not going back to the place where you once ran barefoot through the mud and tall grass.  We are going to our new home on 1271 Aspen Ave. in a place called Provo, Utah.  You will like it there."  Together, they boarded a big airplane that would take them across the world to this strange new place.  The airplane zoomed into the sky.  Up, Up, Up they soared!  But as the airplane ascended, tears fell from the young woman's eyes.  She felt small and lost as she surveyed the patchwork expanse far below.  Who am I?  Where is the happy little girl with the muddy feet?  Why has the music all around me grown so quiet?

She closed her eyes and relaxed, feeling the tingling vibration of the airplane.  It had been a long time since the young woman had sat still, feeling and listening to the world around.  She liked this feeling.  It reminded her of when she was a little girl, laying under the piano as her sisters played Rachmoninov and Debussy.  Suddenly, the young woman realized that it wasn't completely quiet on the airplane.  The vibrations of the airplane created a soothing humming sound.  She began to hum along and the spark deep within her chest flickered.

Without the voices of the past to drown things out, little by little, the young woman began to hear the music again. In her new neighborhood, all you had to do was walk out your front door and the sound of a trombone, or a piano concerto would waft out of nearby windows.   At her new school there were musical plays, marching bands, and choral voices flooding into the hallways from the music room.  The fire in her heart began to glow brighter than it had in years.  Of course, she wanted to be a part of it ALL.  

She tried out for the school musical.
She did not get a part.
She tried out for the chamber choir.
She did not make it in.
She asked Momma if she could take voice lessons.
"We don't have the money," said Momma.

The young woman did not want to lose the music again.  She did not want negative voices, even her own at times, to decide how her life would be.  
"Since no one will give me a chance," said the young woman, "I will create my own way to make music."

At once, she found a job and made smoothies so she could pay for voice lessons.  She started a band, she got an internship at a recording studio and the young woman began to learn.  She graduated from high school and started college.  Again, she tried out for plays, musical ensembles, and choirs.  Again, she did not make it into a single one.  

"Maybe you should study something that you're really good at, like Spanish!" said Dad, only trying to be helpful.

No, thought the young woman.  I will not give up!  It is a very good thing the young woman did not give up because you know what happened?  She tried out for the School of Music the next year at her college and for the first time, she passed an audition.  She was in!  Not long after that, she got into the best choir, then she got a record deal and made a CD that won some awards.  Yet, while these things were cool, awards and record deals did not make the fire glow deep within her chest.  She felt that fire the most when she sang for people, just as she had as a child.

On a warm October night in Arizona, the young woman sang under blue and green lights on a concert stage.  This was a special concert because it was dedicated to her dear friend who was in the hospital.  The 
most amazing part of the concert was when her friend's two little girls came on stage with twinkling eyes.  The three of them sang a lullaby together for their friend and mother.  The song was not perfectly sung, but the spirit of it was perfectly exquisite.  The audience cried and then cheered!  But the little girls were bummed out that things didn't go as smoothly as planned.  So the young woman wrote them a bed time story.  She told them all about the time when her friends laughed at her after she sang a song.  She wrote about how she tried out for a hundred things and never got in.  But the moral of the story is that we should keep on trying even when we make a mistake!

I happened to be at the concert when the young woman and the two little girls sang, and when they did, I felt a little fire glow deep inside my chest . . .

Sweet dreams my lovelies.

Sharpening the Saw

"Table for one," I tell the host at the Foundry Grill, my favorite restaurant and part of my favorite escape, the Sundance Resort.

Just as soon as I am seated, I close my eyes.  I listen as pots clang in the kitchen, ski boots thud on the wide plank flooring, silverware clinks on china, snippets of lazy conversations travel past my ears, "are you ready for the film festival crowd?" . . . "you should try the tequila . . ."

At this moment, I sit.  
I need to be here right now.  I need to not think about anything but silverware, and china; the smell of citronella and reclaimed wood; the delicious mushroom and feta pie, wrapped in a delicate phyllo crust that is placed before me.

My house lay in shambles as I sped away from it's curb with reckless abandon this afternoon.  Shreds of red and silver pinata from the previous day's birthday party glimmered in the snow through my rear view mirror.  The giant snowman in the front yard with a long metal pole speared through his heart, gave me one last pleading look.  (I live with little boys--that should explain the speared snowman).  

I don't know if it was the Christmas holiday, the slew of winter birthdays in our family that came with it, or various music projects but I find myself simply exhausted these days.  This week I've had a pinched nerve in my neck which has aggravated the fatigue all the more.  The night before I fled up Provo Canyon, a little voice in my head stated, "I hate the world."  Now, I normally consider myself a rather peaceful and positive sort of person.  But when I hear voices in my head and they are hating the world, I know it's time to turn off my phone, get a babysitter,  and  totally remove myself from the situation at hand.

This may strike you as a rather irresponsible thing to do, I know.  But I assure you it is not only very responsible, it is essential to our well-being.  Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) calls it "sharpening the saw."    The only problem with the way I handled my melt-down was that I waited until it culminated.  I guess there's a reason why Covey explains that sharpening the saw should be a habit and not a once-in-a-while activity.

Today I feel much better and I find that I do love the world once again.  It's remarkable how stepping out of the chaos can give you valuable perspective on it and a renewed empowerment to harness it and solve problems that once seemed unsolvable.  Is it possible that you might need to go sharpen the saw at this moment?  I highly recommend the fish tacos at The Foundry Grill.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thanks to Ryan Tanner for designing these beautiful posters!

A Bed Time Story for Jane and Claire

Once upon a time there was a little girl.  She often ran barefoot through mud and grassy fields, playing and singing songs out loud.  She hummed along with the microwave and harmonized with the honking horn of Momma's big, blue van.  The little girl had music in her soul without even realizing it.

At school, Mr. Lindsay, the music teacher would say, "Come up to the front of the class, little girl.  I am going to play a note on this xylophone and I want you to harmonize with it."  Mr. Lindsay taught the little girl to play the xylophone, the recorder, the flute, and the drums.

At home, the little girl laid beneath the family piano while her older sisters practiced Debussy and Rachmoninov.  The vibration of the piano made her whole body tingle.  When Grandma Ruby would visit,  she laid under the quilting frame and listened  carefully as Grandma told stories and sang classics from the 20's and 30's, her needle poking in and out of the soft fabric above.  In the mornings, the little girl held onto the edge of her seat in the big, blue van while Momma played "Flight of the Bumble Bee" en route to Freshwater Elementary School.  Soon, she began to realize that music was all around her and whenever she heard it, she felt a little fire start to glow deep within her chest.

One night at a slumber party, the little girl laid snuggled up in her sleeping bag in the dark, surrounded by other giggling fifth grade girls.   "Sing us a bed time song!" they all chimed.  "Come on, sing to us!"  The little girl's voice sailed softly into the night air, hushing the giggling girls.  The last thing she remembered before she drifted off to sleep was a fire beginning to glow deep inside her chest.

Momma signed the little girl up for voice lessons.  "Red leather, yellow leather, red leather, yellow leather, red leatheryellow leather," she would sing up and down the scale.  

"These voice lessons are not my thing!" the little girl told Momma.  Momma listened and understood.

One day the little girl, now a seventh grader at Zane Jr. High, was in the locker room after P.E.  The sweaty, noisy crowd had all gone and as the little girl gathered her things for the next period, she heard a sniffle from behind another row of lockers.  She peered around the corner and saw Julia Blanc, alone on a bench and crying.  The little girl sat by Julia.  She did not know what to say.  She put her arms around Julia and began to sing a song.  Julia felt much better, and the little girl once again, felt a fire begin to glow deep inside her chest.

Not long after the locker room incident, the little girl's family moved away.  Far, far away.  They moved to the land of Spain; a land where people have sung with intense passion for thousands of years!  She learned to sing in Spanish and even began to write her own songs.  She sang in parks, at school, in churches, and as a guest in peoples' homes and the fire deep in her chest began burning more brightly than ever before!  Until . . . one day.  The little girl, who was now a young woman, was not in the right place at the right time.  She was with a group of young people.  One of them asked her to share a song with them.  She sat down at the piano, and began to sing a song she had written all by herself.  But something did not feel right this time.  She continued on, however, and when she was done, the room filled with laughter!  Everyone made fun of the song.  The young woman felt the fire deep within her chest die just a little that day.  She did not want to sing for anyone, at any time, ever again!  To be continued tomorrow night . . .