Let me tell you about a dream I've been dreaming up for some time now. It's really quite simple. Although some would say it's very unlikely to happen.
Once upon a time there was this girl who went back to school and declared her major as Music Education. This girl, we'll call her Adrienne, decided to major in music because she had a dream of auditioning for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir - which she was told was pretty intense. So, studying music is exactly what she did and has done for the last three years.
As Adrienne continued on this musical journey her dream slowly changed. Instead of being in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir her dream became similar to the dreams of most other musicians: the dream of being a performer. Adrienne imagined the incredible rush one could only get when so emotionally, physically and mentally involved with music. Adrienne came to recognize the POWER music held, power unlike anything else in this world. Adrienne came to see how thoroughly music could connect people.
Well, this past semester Adrienne decided to prepare for a recital. Not just any recital but her first recital. There were lots of hours and days spent with her pieces. Weeks of coming to understand what the music was expressing, how to pronounce the words (because when putting on a recital the singer must sing in multiple languages), memorizing, reviewing and listening. Money was spent paying an accompanist, creating, printing, and mailing invitations. There were some seriously down days, er - weeks, because Adrienne got quite sick during the semester and was sick for eight long weeks leading up to her recital.
The day finally arrived. This was her chance to, not just sing, but to perform.
So, what happened? I'll tell you but not in third person. ;)
I woke up Tuesday, November 29th feeling quite anxious. Here I had spent all this time and money preparing and now it was the big day. I honestly questioned what I had done...was I going to leave my audience disappointed and bored? I even dreamt about my recital Monday night. Okay, they weren't dreams, more like nightmares. Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. As soon as I calmed down a bit (still in bed, mind you) I text Trav and told him I needed him to give me a priesthood blessing when he got home from work.
Fast-forward a few hours and you find me at home, sitting on my floor, writing thank you cards to the many wonderful people involved. I really had such a wonderful group of people who willingly shared their talents and time that night. I wrote 11 thank yous...I could have easily written more.
When Travis came home we closed our door and he laid his hands on my head. Through the power of the priesthood he gave me a blessing of comfort, of peace, and for some specific blessings I felt I needed regarding my recital about to take place in a few short hours.
By 6:30 I was dressed, at the Library, ready to go! I still had a half hour before go-time, so I gathered my willing friends and reviewed the order of the program, how I wanted things to flow, what sort of an environment I was going for, etc. It was really interesting because my nerves were nearly nonexistent. I wasn't shaky or "freaking out" in the least. I was calm as could be and I credit that to the blessing Travis gave me earlier. I could not have done that recital without Heavenly Father's help and THAT'S THE TRUTH.
My voice teacher, Serena, saw me talking to everyone and chastised me saying, "You should be sitting, trying to breathe and calm down!" I told her I would sit as soon as I was done talking with everyone. Some of the other students stared at me in shock. Their eyes said what they didn't, "You don't seem to be edgy at all! Why is she telling you to sit and calm down?!" I simply smiled and kept going. After Serena got after me three times I decided I should go sit down to keep HER calm. Lol.
As soon as I made my way to my chair, Serena, again, came over to me and chastised me for not taking care of myself. I apologized (no need to cause tension or drama just before starting what I'd been dreaming of all semester - plus I knew she was after me because she cares about me so much). Serena then came up to me, hugged me and told me she was really emotional. We then prayed together.
Honestly, Serena is so much more to me than a voice teacher. She is my dear friend. I love that woman. I respect that woman. She is incredible.
Just as Serena was introducing the program, I felt I should say one more prayer, alone. I quietly bowed my head and told Heavenly Father how hard I worked for this. I told him I needed specific blessings for this recital and I justified my asking for those blessings. I then stood up and walked on "stage" with my amazing accompanist, Aaron, and my page turner, Brandy. From there it's a mad rush of adrenaline, FUN, excitement, thrills, and my dream of performing coming true.
An hour and a half later I was done. At my last note I felt such an overwhelming burst of gratitude. Gratitude for the blessing of music in my life. Gratitude for Serena, my parents, my siblings, my incredible husband, my friends, my neighbors, my extended family. All these people spent their evening with me. They came to support me. Why am I so lucky?!
I remember looking to the back of the library as I finished my last song. It was quite humbling to see people leap from their chairs. I received a standing ovation...I didn't dare dream I'd get that. Wow, me?! A standing ovation?! And then they kept clapping! I had gone off stage and was hugging & dancing in the back with my accompanist and page-turner when my accompanist, Aaron, turned me back to face the stage and said, "Um, I think they want you to come back out." THEY WERE STILL CLAPPING! For me!? What a humbling experience. What a dream come true. "My music" had actually reached further than the ears of the audience. It seemed "my music" had touched their hearts and souls. THAT WAS MY GOAL. NOT JUST TO SING BUT TO PERFORM: TO TELL A STORY WITH EACH PIECE.
I found out the next day that there were over 200 people in attendance. That, obviously, doesn't include those who watched online. Nor does it include those on the other side - and I say that because I KNOW they were there. I had a confirmation of it. My Grandpa & Grandmother. My precious Mercydez. They were there along side the rest of my wonderful family.
I can honestly tell you that when I woke up the next morning I couldn't contain my tears any longer. I had stayed composed for most of the night (until my family went out for dinner afterwards and I was hugging them and thanking each of them...then the tears started to flow a little). But Wednesday morning I honestly laid in bed and SOBBED. I cried and cried.
These weren't tears of relief that it was over (as most people assumed). No, these were purely tears of gratitude. Gratitude for my all the uplifting people in my life. Gratitude to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with my specific requests. Gratitude for my education. Gratitude for my music. Gratitude that things went so well the night before. There wasn't a glitch at all! Gratitude for my mom, sister, and sisters-in-law for staying up into the wee hours of the morning Tuesday cooking goodies and assembling beautiful goodie bags for my guests to enjoy after the recital. Gratitude for the many HOURS my mom spent with me in the piano room practicing my songs over and over and over again. Gratitude for my brothers who attended and actually confessed that they got teary-eyed. Gratitude for one of my best friends for attending even though she had just had a baby one week before and was functioning off of little to no sleep. Gratitude for my voice teacher. Gratitude for my INCREDIBLE accompanist who made "getting into my music" easy. Gratitude for my neighbors who love music as much as I do and show it by attending. Gratitude for my extended family who made time to attend, despite illnesses, children, work, homework, etc. Gratitude for my fellow music-loving friends at UVU who attended. Gratitude for previous co-workers, who I consider friends, for attending. Gratitude for The Orem Public Library and their willingness to allow my recital to take place there.
And gratitude the my music was FELT not just heard.
Oh, I could go on and on and on. I really could.
I seriously laid in bed and convulsed because I was crying so hard. All day Wednesday I found myself crying tears of gratitude. Why am I so lucky? Why are there so many good people in my life who are willing and able to support me?
Can I just thank you for being a part of my dream becoming a reality? Thank you, from the purest part of my soul. Thank you for caring. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you so, so much.
I will never, ever forget the scene I witnessed as my dear friends and family literally LEAPED out of their chairs before the piano stopped playing my last piece and offered me an incredibly humbling gift. That of a standing ovation.
Wow. My dream was real for a night. And I thank you for that.
Tonight is the night I've been preparing for ALL SEMESTER!!! I'm so excited to execute this thing!
For those of you who are not able to attend, know you will be missed. I honestly wish everyone could be there!
Now as a heads up there will be annoying advertisements/commercials that will pop up every so often during my recital. This is because it's free for me to do the webcast through UVU. So, I'm sorry. But I simply can't spend more money to avoid the commercials. Just be patient and stay at your computer. They shouldn't last longer than 30 seconds. Again, I'm sorry for the annoyance.
This past Tuesday I was able to experience something incredibly beautiful for my first time. My dear friend, Angel, gave birth to her second little boy, Benson. When Angel originally asked Ash and me to be in the room when she gave birth I nearly fainted. You see, I've never given birth, obviously, and the worldy-physical stuff makes me a little...uncomfortable. However, I decided I needed to get over myself and be there for what I was told was a deeply sacred experience. So, following Ashley's ever-strong example, I agreed.
We arrived at the hospital late Monday night, around 11:00 or 11:30 and waited in the lobby. I brought my younger sister, Auriel, with me. Auriel is wonderful. She's so supportive and cares about people's well being. Anyway, we would have gone back to Angel's room to begin with but we were told she had had a reaction to the epidural and blacked out. So, no one except Angel's husband, Bryan (who is amazing, might I add) was allowed back there. Well, around 12:10ish the nurse came out to the lobby and called us back. By 12:30 Benson was born. It all happened so FAST!
Ashley was to take pictures and I was in charge of recording. No, we didn't record the actual birth. We recorded Benson being weighed, swaddled, and held for the first time. I must say it was miraculous. Witnessing something like that made God all too real. How could there not be a God? HOW?! As I looked at little Benson, just moments after being born, I could help but feel an overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. This child was fresh from heaven. This child was a valiant son of God. I have a little niece - who is so much more to me than a niece - I kept thinking about all night, wondering if Benson met her and talked with her before making his way to earth. My little Mercydez...how I miss that little angel of mine.
We didn't leave the hospital for some time after the delivery of the little guy. We talked with Bryan and Angel and their families. What an incredible, incredible experience. It was a very eye opening experience for me, another testimony of the importance of families because Angel was told she would never have children. She has gone through tests, treatments, surgery after surgery. And here she was giving birth to her SECOND child. I admire Bryan and Angel. They have endured so much, YEARS of negative results, and here they are with their little family. Angel was and is willing to endure whatever may come so she can have her children. She is such a great example to me. I know I can face my fears of pregnancy because I have her as my example. I love you, Angelita. I love you, Bryan. I love you little Jason and even littler Benson.
We also held a family fast for my youngest brother, Kolton, who is serving an LDS mission right now. He's been suffering from some pretty serious head aches the past couple of weeks. These head aches are keeping him from doing the work he so badly wants to participate in. He wen to the doctors and had blood taken, had some sort of an MRI or CAT scan, and was hooked up to wires. All of this led to no answers and his head still pounding so hard he's not able to do anything but lay in bed. The last letter we received stated he was told he may have to go home if the head aches don't go away soon, as it could be very serious. Kolton said he "cried and cried" when he was told this. It's crazy because the doctors can't figure out what's going on. But something is going on!!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!
Kolton said his mission president was going to call our stake president and discuss options, at which point the stake president was going to call my parents and tell them what was decided. As of yet my parents haven't received a phone call from our stake president. We're not sure if this means Kolton is doing better OR if it means something else....
So, I'm going to ask all you people who happen to read this blog to pray for my brother. Please, please pray for his health and strength. More than anything we want him healthy, meaning his headaches subside completely or that the problem is found so it can be corrected. Kolton is such a good guy. We want him to be successful and "anxiously engaged" in all our Heavenly Father has planned for him.
I'll keep you posted on what news we hear, whenever we hear anything. Until then, please pray.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful day. My mom worked so hard putting the meal together. It was gorgeous! I felt I would be most helpful by standing at the sink and washing every bowl, plate, pot and pan I could find. I stood there for hours! But the great news is the dishes were done by 8:30! No need to stress about the horrid dishes because they were D.O.N.E.
After dinner we played the signs game. We had some good laughs with that one. It's always fun to play games with the family. We even had my Grandpa and Grandma Judi playing! Ha! We finally ended the evening with a movie and popcorn. :) It wasn't the most cheerful of movies - more of a thriller/action movie - but it was still fun to gather together and enjoy one anothers company. We missed Kolton. But I'm hopeful he was able to make the most of Thanksgiving down in Mexico. I wrote and encouraged him to find ways to make the day special, assuming he was able to. I'm hoping he was able to avoid feeling homesick and was able to get lost in the work down there.
Anyway, as usual, I completely forgot to take pictures of the whole event. It was the ideal Thanksgiving: family, food, and fun! And what's better is there are plenty of left overs! Yum!
Other than thoroughly enjoying my holiday vacation with my husband and family, I have been trying to take advantage of the extra time on my hands by doing as much homework as possible. I keep telling myself the semester will be over soon! I have written three papers thus far, among other things...I'm ready to call it a successful semester and move on. :)
I hope you're Thanksgiving was special. I hope you were able to find many reasons to be grateful. Heavenly Father has blessed us with so much. Blessings can be found, even in little things.
For all you out-of-towners or those of you who aren't able to physically attend my recital, I invite you to keep checkin' back for details on viewing it online. I'm not quite sure how it works but I'm hoping it will suffice. Singing in the Library is similar to singing in a cathedral. Not the same, but similar. The acoustics are fantastic. However, I don't know how it will effect the webcast.
I had my recital preview yesterday. It was pretty intense. There were a few hiccups but overall it went quite well.
The preview is similar to that of a movie preview: I run through my entire recital from beginning to end while my committee members attend, critique and offer feedback. I must say, I have a wonderful committee. They are such supportive individuals who honestly want me to succeed. They offered great suggestions, noticed nuances, and overall helped me take one giant leap forward.
I am grateful for my voice teacher as well. She is incredible. She finds ways to help me shine. She continually encourages me. She stretches me. She sees potential and won't settle for anything less than my best. For this I am grateful. There have been many times when I would have allowed my "brain chatter" (negative thoughts) to overwhelm me. But she has taught me to "turn it off" and face my fears, never settling for mediocre. She has taught me so much about music, expression, movement, poetry, interpretation, and technique. She is a quality individual and I am so grateful Heavenly Father lead me to her (that's a story in and of itself!).
I am so excited for my recital!!
Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 7:00pm OREM PUBLIC LIBRARY
I hope you have received an invitation to my recital by now. If not, it's probably still in the mail. But if you haven't received one by next Monday, please let me know and I'll get one sent out. I'm sort of at a loss when trying to figure out if I missed someone. I sent out 250 invitations, which is a lot of people to filter through.
Regardless, I would love to have you there - even if it's via webcast. Hopefully that will work as well as I'm hoping! I'll be sure to post more information about the webcast as the date approaches. So for all you people outside of Utah, keep checkin' back.
On a side note, I had the great opportunity to sing at a memorial service last night. It was a beautiful evening. I sang "The Lord's Prayer". A little later in the program Ashley and I sang "Homeward Bound". Both of these songs are special, especially "Homeward Bound" because we sang it at my Grandmother's funeral.
Well, after the service ended a man came up to me and gave me a kind compliment. He then stated, "You blew out my ear drums." I honestly laughed because his comment caught me off guard. Once I regained my composure I informed him that the people in charge had originally offered me a mic! Ha! Imagine how loud THAT would have been!!! If nothing else, at least I know I successfully projected my voice! ;)
My mom beautifully accompanied both songs. I must say I'm so grateful for my mom and her deep love and respect for music. She has certainly been on of my biggest influences when it comes to my music.
I am so grateful to have music in my life. I'm grateful for all my inspirations. I don't have one or two inspirations, more like ten or fifteen inspirations. These people are special to me. Very special. Almost sacred. These are people who have changed me for the better and done so unintentionally. They have changed me simply by living the way they do and being the sincere, strong people they are. I love them.
Note to those reading this: maybe you should bring ear plugs to my recital! Ha!!
Take ten minutes and watch this. It's one of THE MOST famous pieces ever and UVU just finished performing it last week. It was absolutely flooring. The music, the dancing, the strength behind numerous voices.
I am not in any choirs this semester so I had the great opportunity to attend and enjoy as a listener. I'm glad I did. It was fantastic.
So, treat yourself to a ten minute break and take a sneak peak at the great accomplishment of UVU!
I thought it'd be cool to post a portion of Kolton's first letter from Mexico. It sounds like he's staying busy and doing all he can to learn the language! I'm so proud of him!!
The city of Torreón is pretty cool, but it is REALLY dirty here. It is fun though. I am going to include some pictures in this e-mail (hopefully it works). My first week here has been really interesting to tell the truth. The first day that we got here, we landed and went to the Mission Home where we were introduced to the Mission President's wife and family. Then we had what they call La Comida. It is the one and only big meal you eat the entire day (like that is going to happen with me ha!). After that, we talked for a bit, and then a bunch of the Elders that have been here for awhile came to the Mission Home as well. At about 6 pm we were told to go with one of the Elders that have been here for a while to start our first day of contacting! Yay! I was about to shoot myself. Ha I don't even understand why we go to the MTC to learn a language. I seriously didn't really understand anything that anyone was saying to me.
The next morning, a few of us went to the store with our Mission President for the supplies for breakfast. We had eggs with ham (I think) and beans to the side. Also, we had some yogurt drink that is called LaLa. It is actually really good. I have one every morning. Then we cleaned everything up and went to the Church for some kind of training. That lasted pretty much all day. I didn't understand anything of what they were saying to us though, so I don't know what to tell you about that. Anywho, we were assigned to our companion at this meeting thing, and my companion's name is Elder Rasmussen.
He is a pretty cool guy, and he has been here for 16 months now. He is from Oregon, and that is about as much about him that I know because he only talks in Spanish to me unless I absolutely can't understand what is being said.
The third day (Wednesday), we only contacted about 20 people that day (of which I had to initiate the last 19 and continue until I didn't know what to say anymore), and we visited some of the members.
Thursday we contacted about 25 people. We also went to a less-active member's house to say hello, and she made us some things called guarditos. I'm not sure how you actually spell that. But the first one I ate was good in a spicy way, but nasty in texture and taste. My companion later told me it was pig skin. Yum!!! My favorite...lol. Then we went to a member's home for la comida, and she made us some REALLY good food that is called Mole (pronounced mole-ay). She said that it was habenero mole or something like that. It was SO good!! So I had her give me the recipe lol.
Friday was a really good day though! We only contacted about 15 people, but we taught an actual lesson to someone. The Spirit was SO strong!! It was almost tangible. It seriously was so cool! We taught her (Veronica) lesson 1, the Restoration, and I taught the part about the apostasy and how people always reject the prophets and what not. Then Elder Rasmussen taught her the next part, and I had the privilege of teaching her about the First Vision. I recited the scriptures from memory, and it seriously brought the Spirit so strong! I knew she could feel it because she suddenly started talking like she was out of breath, it was that strong! It was absolutely amazing. We are teaching her again on Friday.
Sunday was definitely interesting. We had a Stake Conference, and their Stake is MAYBE the size of our home ward. I couldn't really understand what the people were saying, so I started to try to translate my Spanish scriptures into English. I didn't have my English ones with me though, so I just went for it. I'm happy to tell you that I can translate written words pretty dang well. Haha I just have to work on the spoken words now. That was about all for Sunday, except we had a District meeting, so I met the rest of our district (4 other elders).
Oh, I forgot to tell you that on Tuesday, it was the first day I have really been homesick. It was super hard for me because it was a full day of not knowing what the heck people were saying to me. But I'm good now :).
Today (Monday, October 31st) has been interesting. I bought a basketball because there is a basketball court about 30 seconds from where we are staying, so we are going to go play every morning.
I don't know what my address is here or the best way to send mail to me. Don't send food though. The people that do the mail will eat it if you do.
How are you all doing? I would love to hear anything and everything you'd like to tell me. I probably won't be sending any handwritten letters, so send me an email from your email address if you want me to respond.
Great, isn't it?! If any of you would like to type up a letter for him, you're welcome to! Just type it up and email it to me @ email@example.com and I'll forward it to him. :)
*I posted pictures (below) which he included with this email*
I don't think people fully understand the importance of a musicians recital. It is the climax of their learning - much like a thesis is for a History/English major, the NCLUX (is that how it's spelled) for a nursing student. This is honestly a big deal, bigger than most people give credit for.
So, I'm begging you, please don't be that way. Please. It's incredibly disheartening and hurtful for the one who has prepared so much, worked so hard, and stressed so deeply.
With that in mind, I hope you understand that I am in no way trying to manipulate you into attending. I am simply asking for respect.
Okay, now for the big moment: I wanted to share my invitations with you!! Tell me what you think - there are a lot of them. The wording is identical on all of them, the only difference is the picture.
I won't lie, I hope you can make it. It's going to be a fantastic evening - a huge accomplishment. I would love to share that with you, truly.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 29th, 2011, 7:00pm WHERE: Orem Public Library DRESS: Business Casual / Church attire BRING: Yourselves and children *8 years or older *make sure they can sit still for about an hour
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go... -Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!-