Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Thrills, Trills, and Frills!

When I worked at Dixon, we went to a festival called, "Trills and Thrills." It was an adjudicated choral performance followed by a day on the roller coasters at Lagoon.  The past several weeks, I've experienced Thrills, Trills and Frills!


Every year during Spirit Week, the teachers and staff do a faculty Lip Sync.  My friend Claudia (she works in freshman success) coordinates it.  For years, she has wanted to do Michael Jackson's "Thriller."  This year, our film teacher (Jenny) and our dance teacher (Erin) both knew the dance from the music video and were willing to teach it to the rest of us before and after school.  I took it very seriously, as dancing is not my forte. I probably attended eight practices or so.  At the end of the Thriller routine, we transitioned into, "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift.  It was quite a production.

 My student teacher (Tree) is an expert at zombie and she and our drama teacher (Mikell) helped with the makeup.  The welding teacher (Denise) torched all the shirts we got from consignment shops.  There were probably 30-40 members of the faculty who participated! See my facebook for individual shots of most of the participants.

 As funny as it sounds, acting like dead people was a really unifying experience for us. We even started a faculty fitness program so we could continue burning calories together!



This was our audience (over 1500 students):

And here is the full cast:

Watch the completed, edited music video here!


I went to my first ever National American Choral Directors Association conference in February (ACDA).  It was held in the Salt Palace and on temple square and was absolutely amazing!  What does training for choir teachers look like? It's four days packed with concerts all day of the best children, middle school, high school, and university choirs around the world. In the mornings, we gather together and sight read through a packet of arguably the best choral music out there right now. We get a copy of each song for our own music libraries.  The evenings feature guest artists like The King Singers, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Real Group, the Desert Chamber Singers, and more.  The mornings are filled with classes about all different topics, like using technology in the classroom, effective warm-ups for beginning choirs, how to teach a men's ensemble in high school, and so much more.  The hardest part is not being able to go to everything.  It was a blast to meet up with colleagues and friends from across the state.  I was so fortunate to spend the weekend with one of my very best friends, Melissa ("Many").  We went through the choir program at BYU together and later were roommates. Now we are colleagues and swap tips about work along with leaning on each other for emotional support as we navigate our way through lives that have taken similar paths. 

As we opened the reading packet compiled for men's choirs, Reed went, "Oh, it's me!" Sure enough, one of his choral works was distributed to hundreds of teachers as an example of an excellent song choice for men's choirs. I know pretty cool people!


The King Singers and Real Group concert was packed, but I happened to snag a pretty good seat that no one else wanted :-).


I snuck away during one of the evenings to see my dear friend Nathan's middle school production of, "Beauty and the Beast" at the school that feeds in to my choir program.

Melissa and I were thrilled to reconnect with two of our mentors from BYU, Vicki McMurray (Women's Choir director) and Anna Mooy (voice teacher).

The most amazing choral performance I've ever seen came from the Desert Chamber Singers.  This poem was read as part of their program and it had a profound effect on me.


Last weekend, Melissa and I decided to drive up to Wyoming after work to attend a baby shower being thrown for Kate by friends from her ward.  It was a glorious weekend of refuge and joy.  Kate and Darren have waited a long time for this exciting period in their lives.  Neither Melissa nor I had seen Kate pregnant and we didn't want to miss out on such a wonderful time in the life of one of our best friends. Now we can tell the girls someday that we knew them before they were even born!  When we walked in to the room where the shower was held at the church, we were all stunned by the thoughtfulness and the beauty of each and every detail.  I couldn't stop crying! Kristal, Kate's friend, did an incredible job organizing the shower.  Melissa made little favors for everyone to take home with two different kinds of seeds to go along with Kate's garden theme in the nursery.  We were so excited that Kate's mom was in town for the shower.  Kate and Darren hosted all of us in their home.  All of us sat and talked for hours and could have continued for another week at least! The next time we see the Mylers, they will be a family of four!  You can expect us back in Pinedale soon, Kate!  Hopefully we will have our Tessa May with us.  We started out as a group of four girls and now there will be 8 of us!

In case you can't read it, the banner says, "Myler Twincesses." So darling!


Darling crocheted animals custom made by Christina!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Gluten and the Gospel

I'm in a fight with myself about gluten. When I eat it, I don't feel sick. That's why the whole diagnosis process was a royal pain and went on for a couple years. I ate gluten, and nothing happened. Over time, however, I was exhausted and had painful stomach cramps at random times (though not necessarily after eating gluten). They would last a couple days sometimes. Two doctors suggested I try the gluten free diet. I did for a short time, but the illness seemed completely unrelated to eating gluten. There was no way I was going to switch my whole lifestyle if it was just a "maybe." I finally had an endoscopy and got my small intestine biopsied. And it was damaged. And I had to go gluten-free. So, 3 years later, I've been doing my best. I even started learning to cook. I buy expensive (and every once in awhile disgusting) gluten free ingredients to ensure a gluten free life. When I'm at home, it's easy. When I go out, it's hard.

In the event that I ever choose to cheat, however, I don't feel sick. Others I've talked to throw up and feel miserable within hours of eating it. I've heard of cases where people cannot even breathe it in without feeling ill. It is SO HARD to stay motivated to continue eating gluten free when it has no immediate consequences to my body. I told the dietician I met with after the diagnosis about my unique situation. She said even if I don't feel pain, gluten is still causing damage and I cannot afford to cheat. Her words always stayed in my mind, but lately, I've kind of stopped believing them.

Which brings me to this weekend. Not only is it inconvenient (and not much fun) to eat gluten free when I travel, but I sometimes feel like I am living a lie. Isn't that a funny thing to feel guilty about? I feel like a gluten free poser. I tell everyone I can't eat gluten, but I eat it and feel fine. Other people have REALLY sever reactions, and I don't. It feels like I am mocking them by pretending to be in their category. So, I went ahead and ate whatever glutenous items I felt like. So there, gluten. Humph.

But, of course, I couldn't ignore the dietician's remarks from years ago. Am I intentionally hurting my body? This evening, I googled the following: "The doctor says I have Celiac disease, but I don't get sick when I eat gluten." I found this website that was quite telling:

It was language geared towards a little child, but it was perfect for me, as I was kind of acting like one. I realized I have to recommit. Has anyone out there heard of similar cases to me? I would be very interested to learn more.

Now for the gospel connection. This experience has given me a greater appreciation for, "The Word of Wisdom," a code of health I follow as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realized that I was not treating my body as a sacred temple, a principal I was taught and have believed from a very young age.

As a Young Women leader and a high school teacher, I've gained a huge appreciation for the strength of today's teenagers as they strive to treat their bodies as though they are holy. It is NOT easy to maintain high standards in a world where such things are undervalued. Just like gluten doesn't immediately affect my body, a kid can have an alcoholic drink, try drugs, and/or experiment with sex without immediate physical or emotional consequences. Just like I decided to stop eating gluten-free this weekend because it seemed outwardly harmless, a teenager could easily justify behaviors for a long time because the effects appear insignificant.

When I consistently eat gluten, however, I become run down over time. I can't function normally and my ability to work is impaired. Similarly, the effects of drugs, alcohol, and premarital sexual behavior inevitably take a toll on a teenager's body and spirit as he/she enters adulthood. Often, these consequences cannot be seen with the human eye. There are many people suffering internally from addictions formed as seemingly insignificant choices were made over time. Similarly, my insides did not become damaged overnight. I couldn't see what eating gluten was doing to my body for years. And by the time I figured it out, the damage was already there and I had no choice but to drastically change my life in order to fix it.

So how do we avoid the heartache associated with mistreating the bodies God lovingly gave us? For me, I think it all boils down to faith. For my gluten allergy, I need to have faith that the doctors know what they are talking about. Faith that even though I have no way of examining my own small intestine, it is becoming damaged and I will eventually start to feel it. Faith that hundreds of small choices eventually lead to big consequences. Faith that following what the doctors tell me will eventually save me.

For teenagers, it's the same thing. They need faith that the prophet and their other church leaders are teaching them truths from God. Faith that avoiding behaviors that seem like no big deal will eventually yield peace of mind and abiding happiness. Faith that hundreds of small choices will eventually lead to big consequences. Faith that following the teachings of Jesus Christ will eventually save them.

It isn't easy to believe something one cannot see or feel. But, over time, truths are made known in the form of consequences, whether good or bad. I've experienced this. I think we all have. And, as frustrated as I am with the weird workings of gluten on my body, I am grateful for the reminder this weekend that I have to trust those who know better than I do. I'm also so grateful that tomorrow I can start over again. I made a big mistake this weekend, but it isn't too late to mend what is broken. And that is a different gospel analogy for another time...