Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I Love Christmas

It would be impossible ... or rather improbable ... to grow up in the house I did and not love Christmas. Mom loves Christmas so much, it is her favorite holiday. December is her birthday too, so it was always a big deal around our house. Christmas music started playing in our house as early as my dad would let it. Meaning when he was not around we blasted it! Grams used to sing "Little Drummer Boy" to us year round when rocking us to sleep. She always had a holiday boutique where she would sell cards, wrapping, and crafts she made. Christmas was a big deal growing up. 

Now that we are grown it is no less special. My siblings are married with children; this year two of them are in Washington with their other family. That means we just get to celebrate Christmas longer. My sister is just as much to watch on Christmas morning as my nieces and nephews are. She is giddy when presents are around. She shakes them, trying to guess what she is getting for Christmas. It is just fun to watch her. 

We have traditions that started the first year the folks were married that we have carried on now for 41 years. (I saw we like I was there, I am not quite that old yet.) Every Christmas Eve we get together with as many of the family as are around and make waffles for dinner. We used to have a tradition where we would make donuts after decorating the tree. And for breakfast on Christmas Day we had little boxes of cereal. The one tradition I admit to not missing is on Christmas morning we used to have to wait to go upstairs to open presents until everyone was awake. (Ok I actually miss that bit because we used to all gather in the folks room as we woke up and lay on the floor or the bed until everyone was up.) What I do not miss is Dad walking up the stairs to turn on all of the Christmas lights. He then would line us up youngest to oldest at the bottom of the stairs. Only then would he say "Well, Santa did not come this year, might as well go back to bed." Got old, do not miss it. Sorry Dad. 

When we were younger, after we had our family Christmas, we would go to visit Grams and the Aunts. Most of the cousins would come  by throughout the day so we saw most of the family. I loved that and miss it every year. Grams passed almost 13 years ago and that tradition sadly died with her. I think it is so important to not only have, but uphold, family traditions. Sure Christmas is celebrated in Pagan ways with the tree and presents. But Christmas is a time for family. I feel a loss at Christmas when family is not around. This year, thanks to Skype, we were able to celebrate with family away from us. I still missed being together in person. 

Christmas is about family. It is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is about good company, and good will. I love Christmas. I love it all. The music; the snow; the fire in the fireplace; the stocking stuffers; tracking Santa with NORAD; the food; the lights; the sounds; the smells. But mostly I love spending time with friends and family. A very Merry Christmas to all of you who I call friend or family or both. Thank you for making my life better by being in it. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

I spell respect: AUDITION

I am the Producer for the Midvale Arts Council. It is a great job and I love it. I get to produce 2 shows a year, one musical, one play. I have some great friends from doing shows. It is never dull, and usually an adventure. I have deep respect for those who put themselves on stage, with hope of a part, and nothing but talent and desire to fight for a role. It is nerve racking to stand in front of people you may or may not know auditioning for a show. I have done it often myself. Sometimes I get the part, more often than not I do not. But each audition is a teaching/learning experience. Last night we had a few such hopefuls join us for a callback for Steel Magnolias. Even more nerve-racking than an audition ... callbacks. At a callback each auditioner has additional hope that they will be given the part because they made it through round 1. The auditioners all try their best to show what they can do, how hard they will work, how much fun they will be to work with, how talented they are, and how much they want the part. They size up the competition and try to outshine them. Often good friends are up for the same part, and often they either both lose or one gets it while the other does not.

Sitting on the ProStaff side is slightly easier, but not much. At auditions we know what the magic number to cast the show is. When we hit that number of auditions often I will say "Well we can at least cast it." After that it becomes a difficult job to decide which actor is best for each role. Often I have had to choose from friends, foes, and random people I do not know. It is hard to know which person will be the best fit in 16 bars, or 60 seconds of monologue. I have gotten it wrong before. More often, I get it right. The worst part is having to tell a friend that he or she was not the right fit for this one. I have turned away super talented people before because it just was not right for the show. But I made a promise to myself that I would put aside my personal feelings and cast based on what is best for the show.

As a producer I get to give suggestions to the director on casting, but ultimately they get to decide what they want and I get to approve or veto. The ProTeam is just as nervous as the actors at the end of the night. The actor waits to hear, the ProTeam struggles to make the best choice. I have so much respect for those involved in the whole process. The actor for putting themselves out there, and the ProTeam for putting aside personal feelings to make the best possible decision. Actors, directors, and producers are vain creatures. We have to have tough skin to do what we do, and to be rejected as often as we are. It hurts every time I am told no, I am not right for a role. I always wonder if I am not talented enough. It hurts every time I have to tell a hopeful actor that he or she is not right for a role. It is doubly hard when it is a friend. It is gut-wrenching when it is a good friend. It is a thrill to offer parts to those who earned it. I have had people walk into an audition I have never met and I cannot wait to work with them. I have respect for each person who keeps coming back regardless of the outcome. I have respect for each person involved in the process. I wish I could cast everyone. But it is not realistic.

So thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to those who sit on both sides of the table. For those who keep coming back. For those who make it easier. For those who respect the process. For those who keep smiling and hugging me even if they are not chosen. For those who work hard when they are chosen. For the directors who work their cans off to earn another show with me. For the actors who so graciously want to work on my stage. It is an honor to produce shows for those who want to act on my stage, and those who come to see the show to be entertained. I give you my respect and thanks right back.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Problem

I have a problem with a very real aspect of society that truly affected me today. I live right by the local elementary and middle schools. I have kids walking by my house all day. It starts about 7:30 in the morning and I still have kids leaving school around 5:30 when I get home from work. This morning I saw a kid walking the wrong way, away from school. He was crying. I was just leaving my house and did not think much of it. Shame on me. I got in my car and pulled out of my driveway. When I got to the corner of the street I saw this same kid walking back toward school physically upset and crying. I had an internal struggle within myself "I should help that kid." "You cannot help that kid, you are a stranger." "I would want someone to help my kid, if I had a kid." "He does not know you and you could be scary and dangerous." I actually had this fight in my head. Shame on me again. So I finally decided that if the police wanted to arrest me for doing the right thing I was fine with it. I rolled down my window and asked him if he was ok. He said no. I asked him if he needed help. He said yes. I pulled my car over and got out. I was blocking traffic, I was a stranger, and I did not care.

We live in a society where the good people are terrified at times to help out the innocent. I am fully aware that there are very bad people in our society, that do very real and bad things to people. I am fully aware that there are very sick and twisted people who will hurt young children in vile and disgusting ways. How sad that these people have made me so paranoid that I had to even pause before helping this kid. Because there are more good people in our society who want to do good. There are good people who helped me growing up, and helped me see good. I wanted to walk this kid to school and make sure the very capable secretary at the elementary school was aware of him and his needs. I wanted to give this kid a hug and a tissue; let him know that everything was going to be alright. His problem was very real and big to this kid. And there is nothing I can do to help him.But I could not take this kid the rest of the way to school because someone could have thought I was kidnapping him. I could not hug this kid because that is sexual harassment. This is very sad and disturbing to me. All this kid, DJ, needed to know is that someone loved him. Literally, he did not think anyone loved him. And I could not show him any affection because of our societal stigma. What I could do was listen to him, talk to him, and encourage him to talk to a trusted adult at school. Then I called the school and asked the secretary to bring this kid down and have him talk to someone who was a trusted adult.

As I was doing this I had people honk at me for blocking traffic, I had the crossing guards rush over to make sure I was not a threat to him, and 30+ cars full of parents drove past me not helping. That to me is sad. I know that society is full of good people. I say the good people unite and take a stand. I want to be able to help kids who do not have good and love around them without the fear of being hauled in for questionable actions. I want to know that I can help the DJ's of the world and that they will grow up to be good people too. So bad people of the world, you can suck it! Good people, let's take back our society and do good.

Woah, how did that soapbox get under my feet?

Thursday, October 18, 2012


So let's be honest here: I am going through the change of life. There is a post back here that explains too much information about the hysterectomy I had almost 6 months ago. Since I had a total hysterectomy I was placed on a hormone patch to help with the changes that my body is facing. It makes me think of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes where Kathy Bates' character goes through what Jessica Tandy's character calls "The change of life." In case you have not heard, menopause makes some of the women a little CRAZY!!!

Here are some of the things I have noticed have been changes for me, in no particular order:
My memory sucks!!
Hot flashes suck!!
I get tired and lethargic.
I am moody.
I am more girlie now (more on this below).
My  memory sucks!! (Wait did I already say that?)
I cry for no reason.
I cry a lot when there is reason.
I get sidetracked by shiny objects.
I take a lot of things very personally.
I have less of a germ problem than I used to.
I feel different about myself and how I look, how I feel.
I have a little bit of a lower self image than before. 
My appetite is completely different.
I am lonelier than I used to be, I need more love and affection that I used to.
I do not miss periods, and I do not miss the pain.
I am more honest and blunt than I used to be. (which is a big thing because I have always been blunt)
I am needier in my relationships than I used to be (see I am more girlie now!)

Really my two biggest issues are my memory and the slight change in my personality (see I am more girlie now!)

Here is the fact of the matter, if I am asked to do something, go some where, attend something, etc and I do not write it down, it does not happen. I have triple booked myself for evenings and have to make a choice as to what I am going to do or where I am going to go. I am lucky that one of my friends did not break up with me because for a stretch there I did not write anything down that we planned. I was that person ... the one I used to roll my eyes at and wonder how they put their pants on in the morning. Now I am pretty good about writing things in my calendar. I say pretty good, because honestly I still forget. (Note to you: if we make plans you may want to just say casually "So Steph, did you put that in your calendar?")

The harder struggle for me is being needy, lonely, feeling unloved though I know I am very loved, and taking things personally when there is no real reason. I have a lot of emotions that I am not really used to. I do not think I will be able to effectively express how different my emotional status is from 6 short months ago. 6 months ago if I had a friend cancel plans with me I would have shrugged it off. Today I take it as personally as if a boyfriend were to break up with me. (interesting, I know, that my other issue is memory lapses where I have stood friends up. The irony is not lost on me!) I crave emotional and physical connections now more than I did. Also very interesting since I have always been physically affectionate with those I love. The crying is what gets me. I have a dear friend who is not now, nor ever has been, afraid to cry in public. I said just the other day "I am the new Carrie!" The crying is all new, I was not much of a crier before though I am not one who made fun of criers. Post surgery I missed my godson's birthday party because I woke up crying for no reason, and could not stop. (They increased my hormones after that one!) Now I am a little more regulated emotionally, but still even a little thing sets me off. One day I was sitting in my new office and I was feeling overwhelmed. I got a text from a friend just to say hi or something innocent like that and I burst into tears because someone loved me. Old Stephanie figuratively stood next to me and shook her head "tsk tsk, it is not logical for you to be crying New Stephanie." New Stephanie flipped her off and told her to shut up because it is ok to feel things! The issue is that I need more physical affection and, for the single lady, it is problematic some days! So when I get stood up or cancelled on by a friend my new-non-rational-hormonal-gonna-rip-someone's-head-off brain breaks down a little because that is one more day without someone to love on. I find I am not as exuberantly happy as I used to be (friends ask me all the time if I am alright because I just do not seem happy), I am more pensive which I attribute to not having to overcompensate for the pain I used to feel, someone asked me the other day if I was depressed because I was not smiling,  and I get lonely. I have been a single lady for 36 years and have come to terms with being single; and it is not even really about not having a man to love me that makes me lonely. There is a sense of finite emptiness that sometimes fills my heart. (Note to you: if we make plans and you want to see me cry, cancel on me ... of course then you would not be seeing me ...) 

The point of the post, if there is a point, is that I am trying to make the best of finding out who the New Stephanie really is. Who is the new me? How do I come to terms with the changes I am feeling because my body is compensating for menopause? When will I ever stop crying?! I find things are not logical, and it is ok. I find that germs are not as scary as they used to be (Shout out K, God made dirt and dirt don't hurt!) Perfectly organized life is not a possibility, and I just have to role with the punches. That being said, there are many aspects I do not yet understand about how or why I feel or act like I do right now. Towanda! The new me. Thanks for being patient until I figure her out. Thanks for the extra loves and kisses when I need them. Thanks for not cancelling on me or being understanding when I cry when you do. Mostly thanks for the love. I need a whole hell of a lot more than I used to! (Sorry mom, I swore ...)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Low, Medium, and High Impact

There was an exercise program when I was growing up that showed low, medium, and high impact exercises. There were three people on a various leveled stage at the same time and you, the exerciser, would follow the person you felt you could. If you went low impact at it you probably would not work up a very big sweat. If you went high impact at it you could get a good workout. Now follow my bouncing ball here, but when I think about friends I think that there are low, medium, and high impact friends as well.

There are those friends who you call on when no one else is around (low impact) and those you call on because they are the best friends in your life (high impact). I think of low impact friends as social media only friends. Those people who friend you on Facebook and once a year you hear from them as they leave a birthday greeting on your Wall or maybe 'like' a picture of you. Medium impact friends are those that you see frequently in person and you want to invite to your birthday party; the friends you love to hang around with on a regular basis. The high impact friends are those you are certain that your life would not be the same without. These are the friends that make you want to be better, that make you a better person because you know them. (Yup, went a little Wicked at it!) These are the friends you cry with and laugh with. These are the friends who you cannot wait to text when you have news to share. They are the ones who when they hurt you hurt. They are the ones who when you hurt are so grateful that they understand and hurt with you. These are the friends who hold you when you just need to cry for no reason, these are the friends who cry with you when you have good reason. These are the friends who stay up until 3 in the morning at impromptu sleep overs and tell you stories so they can have their nose back which you stole. (Don't ask) These are the friends who come over for the award shows and know not to talk and only make fun of the actors that you all do not like. These are the friends who you do not feel an obligation to entertain when you are together and can sit for hours in silence and not feel awkward. These high impact friends are the best friends because they love you even when you do not think you deserve it.

I had a friend give me a sign once that said "A good friend is hard to find, harder to lose, and impossible to forget." I am so blessed to have high impact friends.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is This Thing On?

Tap ... tap ... hello? Is this blog on? Tap ... tap ... hello?

Apparently life exploded and I have not been able to blog in far too long. But I wanted to share something today that Candice shared with me. I love this, I support her message, and not just because I am fat as well. Because it is right.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Change is not always my favorite thing. I decided today that my scale to determine if a change is good is as follows: (since I like to sleep in Saturdays) if a thought of  change wakes me up before I want to be awake and a smile breaks across my face it is a good change! If a thought of change wakes me up and I want to do Snoopy dances laying in my bed it is a great change. If a thought of change wakes me up and I want to jump up on the bed, do a Chandler dance, and cannot control a scream of joy and happiness from escaping me then it was a life changing change worth waiting for! Sometimes change is not only good, but worth the wait!

Monday, August 6, 2012


It is late, or very early, and I'm having a hard time sleeping (I started this about 2:30 a.m.) Partly because I worked in my yard a few days ago and my body hurts, but mostly because my brain won't shut off. Today I heard a mom tell her son "you can't do that" in regard to an activity that all of the other kids were doing: a bean bag toss. This mom went on to tell her son that because he was autistic he couldn't do the same things other kids can do; worse, she told everyone there why her son could not do something. I about lost it. So I handed her son a bean bag, and told him how to toss it. He did not make it in the hole the first, second or even third time. But he eventually figured it out.

Labels are very dangerous things! Some people will have some limitations, but no one, NO ONE should be told that they can't do something. How sad when they believe you!

How many labels do we toss around every day? Stupid, idiot, fat, ugly, short, worthless ... I can go on and on. Nothing is more sad to me than when kids pick up on this and start using labels to describe another kid. I will be the first to admit I use these words far too often myself. I am fat. It is just a word to me; it does describe how I look, but it is a very dangerous word! This one word has changed my life entirely because of how people use it. Sure at 36 I can use this word as cavalier as I just did. It's a word to describe one single attribute about me. A little kid does not know what it means until an adult teaches him or her. Because a child does not understand all that an adult does, fat becomes a bad word.

Words can damage far worse than physical violence. Cuts, breaks, and bruises heal and are easily forgotten. But words stay with us and become who we are. Words like 'can't' and 'don't' become stumbling blocks to a child. I have been told that I can't sing so often that sadly I started to believe it. Imagine how different my life would be if I didn't listen OR if someone had taken the time to tell me what I needed was a good vocal coach!? 'Can't' should be banned! I can sing, everyone can sing!

Language is powerful. Language can be hateful and hurtful. How many of us have said offhandedly "that was stupid!"? How did you feel the next time your kid came crying because some other kid called him or her stupid? What did you say? If you are anything like me (or my sister because I do not have kids) you probably cried a little because your baby hurt. Kids, after all, are just very young adults! Hate and anger are learned behaviors for littles; as adults we can learn to be good again. Look at an infant, they are not born with the ability to tell someone that they are 'dumb' or 'can't' do something. They love, and cuddle, and cry, and eat, and poop. The rest is really learned. We are all born good; we have to learn the bad.

Human beings place labels on one another: white, black, Christian, Jew, smart, dumb, prett, ugly, fat, skinny, tall, short, rich, poor, blonde, brunette. Words are just words until we define them. Words do not define who we are. Yes, I am 'fat'. But that is not all I am! What is more: that is not WHO I am!! I cannot be summed up in three letters. I reject that as a label! And I reject anyone who would try to define any child with their words and limitations.

I work with people with Special Needs at church. All too often they are told that they cannot do something. Physical or mental limitations do indeed make it harder for them. They might be slower at an activity but I truly  believe that people with Special Needs can do anything that they set their minds too. Medical labels are the worst! We use them as excuses why a person cannot do something, not as reason why it takes a person longer. ADD, ADHD, obesity, autism, aspergers, deaf, Downs Syndrome ... these are not defining characteristics, they are limitations. They are reasons, not excuses. My niece with aspergers can do everything that every other kid can do, she just sometimes takes longer to do it. Sometimes she has to learn how to do it herself. Sometimes she just does not have the desire to do it at that time. I have never heard her parents tell her she cannot do something. They always encourage her to try, and figure it out. That is good parenting.

As an adult I now have things I have always wanted to do but have not ever done either because of fear or self doubt. It is not that I can't do something, it is that I have not yet done it. It is time to break the bands of CAN'T! It is time to break through the labels, and fight against the doubters in the world. I have always wanted to run a marathon. So I am going to run a marathon. I can run a marathon, it is going to take small steps to get there, but can't is a four-letter word. My Mom always taught us to avoid those nasty little four-letter words! Especially around kids!

Monday, July 30, 2012


I have a memory problem lately ... like a big memory problem. If I do not write something down, put it in my calendar, or set a reminder on my phone it just does not get done. Plain and simple. That is not normally how I roll ... not normally. It hit me the other day that this has been since having my hysterectomy. I have deduced that the source of my power was my ovaries. They removed the source of my power and thus removed my memory. I was at an event Saturday and saw a lot of people from high school. With the exception of the people I still am friends with, I could not remember a single one of them. I could have blocked them out of my memory ... let's be honest high school was an awkward time for me ... but all of them?It has been 18 years, but that is kind of ridiculous! There is a new woman in my church congregation that used to live in one of the areas I served as a missionary. I honestly do not remember her or the area. The source of my power is gone! Horrific cramps versus no memories ... nah, I made the right decision. But I think I should write a book similar to What to Expect When You are Expecting ... What to Expect Now That You Have No Ovaries ... the problem is, I cannot remember ...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

That Kind of Friend

After a few days of doing a live performance in the same outfit ... well let us say nicely that costumes start to smell and get makeup on them. So last night we piled all of the Act II costumes into my car so I could wash them. (Act I costumes are dry clean only.) I mentioned that I would take home whatever they needed washed short of their 'unders' because, as I said, "I love you all, but not enough to wash your unders." Kristen told me she loved me enough to wash my unders ... she often tells me that God made dirt, and dirt don't hurt. I admit to having a bit of a germ problem.  So as I was up late washing the laundry I was a-thinkin. Of course I was thinking about it. What else was I going to do until 11:30? In hindsight I could have watched the latest episode of Drop Dead Diva.

Do I really love these girls enough to wash their unders? Yes. Yes I do. Is that what it is really about? No. I try my best to be the kind of friend to others that I want in return. (That includes the snarky and sassy that sometimes comes out of my mouth!!) I want, and have, great friends. Friends I know I can call late at night if I need to REALLY cry or if I have great news to share. I want the kind of friends who I can invite into my messy house (currently) and not feel ashamed of the mess. I want the kind of friends who I can laugh with about nothing in particular and who do not judge me when I think I am funny but really I am not. I want the kind of friends who I think will flip over a little tchotcke I see in a store so I get it for them. I want the kind of friends who believe in the same things as I do, or will not slam my beliefs. I want the kind of friends who love me unconditionally. I want the kind of friends who sing their guts out and do not mind if it is off key. I want friends who will listen to me even if I do not make sense. I want friends who will give advice only as needed. I want friends who love hugs and cheek kisses. I want friends who can put in a movie and fall asleep if they are really tired! I want the kind of friends who laugh, love, and live life to the fullest. 

I have these friends in spades, I love them with all of my heart. So I want to be that kind of friend for them as well. I might not always succeed, but by golly I love my friends! I have a lot of BESTS. I have the best kinds of friends! I have that kind of friend ... the kind of friend I find worthy of being MY friend. I love THAT kind of friend! So YES, Kristen, I would wash your unders because I know you would do that for me. How great would the world be if we all were THAT kind of friend? The kind of friend we want in return, so we were that friend for others. 

I love my friends. I have the best kind of friends!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I heard a comment that really made me think about appreciation and being grateful for what one has in life. It is not the first time I have contemplated this topic, but I have not been able to put it out of my mind since hearing the comment the other day. I find it interesting that people, myself included, will play the "what if?" game about the past. I play it! What if I had not become a nanny and gone to school instead? What if I had waited until A was off his mission before I left for mine? What if I really had become a drama teacher? What if I had not directed X show and not met X? What if I did not have a hysterectomy? What if I were married? What if we had kids? What if I had been born in England during Pride and Prejudice time ... would the book be about me? What if ... ? What if ... ?

I personally do not think that wondering what would have happened if we had taken a different path in life is a bad thing. Where I think we enter dangerous waters is when we covet a life that is not ours based on the 'what ifs' in life. I do not know a single person who does not wonder what life would be if they were married; I have heard multiple married people tell me how lucky I am to still be single because I can travel and do not have to fight over the toilet paper role, not thinking how it might affect me because I would love to go home every night to someone who loved me. People with 1 kid wish they had more; people with many kids wish they had fewer. Those who own a house complain about doing yard work; those in a condo complain about HOA fees. People with jobs complain about their work environment; people without a job blame it on politicians. The list goes on and on. And on. I am guilty of doing this so I include myself in this ... whatever this is ... telling off ... rant ... vent ... whatever. 

It struck me last night that it is so important to be grateful for what I have. A few weeks ago my work shuffled job responsibilities and I have a new job at work. I had my old job for 13 years and was VERY comfortable doing it. Now I have to learn, and frankly create, a whole new job. The thing is, I am still employed. I never lost my income, I never lost my job security, I did not lose my seniority. But I was not comfortable yet, and frankly still am not, with the unknown of what was happening in my life. The weekend after it happened I was having dinner with a friend who is not employed right now. How could I complain about what was happening to me when he did not know where his futureincome would come from?

I am so thankful for what I have been blessed with in my life. I am not married, I have no children, I will probably never have children; so be careful when you offer me your unruly kid because I will take one of you up on that one day! I think it is alright to be frustrated with some aspects of our lives, however we always will be thankful for the blessings that we do have. I am so blessed to have a family who loves me. I am blessed with a home to live in. I am blessed with food to eat, and money to spend on things I want to. I am so blessed! So the next time I feel the need to complain about rolling over my foot with the set at least I am blessed with feet and the joy of doing a play. The next time I feel the need to complain that I am all alone when I go home at night, at least I have a home to go to and MANY people who love me who happen to not live with me. Being frustrated is one thing, complaining about things is another. There is a line from the musical Aida "If you don't like your fate, change it. You are your own master, there are no shackles on you. So don't expect any pity or understanding from this humble palace slave." It is said to a prince by a slave because he is complaining about his life.  We are indeed the master of our destiny. I believe we choose to be happy or miserable in most instances. (I am not debating the validity of mental illness and hormonal imbalance, which I believe are very real things and can affect our moods; I am strictly talking about finding joy in our lives.) In most instances we can choose to be happy and find joy in this life. As I type this I am looking out my (current) office window at the fluffy clouds and blue sky and it makes me happy! What a wonderful world to experience and find joy in!! Today, I appreciate and am thankful for many things! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sucker for a Good Cause

Kids say and do the darnedest things!! I love that they are born good, and have to learn bad things. I do not love that they learn the bad things ... oh you know what I mean. So when a kid comes up with a good idea to earn money for something I am all in! I cannot pass a lemonade stand in the summer without stopping. I usually tip the kid and rarely drink the lemonade. When someone comes selling the cookies, or flags, or wrapping paper, I always make them tell me why they are raising the money, etc. Rarely do I let the parents tell me! If the kid wants my donation, the kid needs to ask me! If a kid wants to spend the money, I think they should earn it.

Well I am making this one time exception because the kid lives an hour north of me, and I do love his concept. My chum Peggy has this kid Jack who cracks me up! When Peggy and I would scrapbook Jack would tell me stories that had me in stitches. Jack came up with an idea, after reading a book in school, to raise money to donate to the local police department to get Kevlar jackets for the K9 unit. It is a summer long project for him, and Jack is selling sno-cones every Thursday to raise this money. Good idea, right? Take what he learned in school, apply it to his life, help his community directly. They live in Clinton and the local PD has Kevlar for their K9 units, but have vowed to used the funds to help their K9 Delta out with other things he needs. I love love this idea. And I am not even a pet person. Midvale has a K9 unit and our dog was shot in the line of duty a few years ago so this is a cause I believe in.

If you are interested in more information, and if you want to donate to help Jack with his cause, please visit my friend Peggy's blog and read about the story. She has added a donate button on her blog. They are asking for $1 in person. $0.50 for the cone and a $0.50 donation to the cause. Donations are accepted in any amount, though. He is about a third of the way to his goal for the summer. He wants to raise $300 for the dog and his officer owner who spends money out of his own pocket to get him what he needs. Small amounts sure do add up fast! Jack has raised $105 already $1 at a time. Sure if you donate over the net you do not get a sno-cone, but then the dog gets all of the money!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Critics ... or ... a good review

There is a website in Utah that will arrange for a reviewer to come out and watch any production, of course based on availability, regardless of the theater status. As a community theater group we do not have the chance to have a review by a major publication otherwise. It honestly is just not feasible to have major publications come do that for all of the local community groups. So Utah Theater Bloggers steps in to fill that void. I have been reviewed, or have had a show reviewed by them, three times. I always get sick to my stomach nervous knowing that they are coming. I do not know why I get so nervous, they have never been uber critical of the work that I have been involved in. In general these reviewers get it right! I appreciate their honesty from a patron standpoint, as a producer I get nervous only  because I would hate to get a bad review for the organization or the actors. But hey, that is life in the theater!

Well the latest review is out for our show The Marvelous Wonderettes. Here is the scenario of getting this review:

I knew the reviewer was coming Friday night. We set aside tickets for him, and were starting to set up when a HUGE wind storm hits the Salt Lake Valley. We perform outside, and we were in trouble!! The Council made a quick judgement call and decided to move the show inside. There is a small stage in the bowery in the park behind our big stage. We moved as quickly as we could, the reviewer showed up just in time to see the backstage drama of it all. We did not do our mic check before the house opened because we just did not have time. The bowery is a metal building with an echo. I was mortified by what was about to ensue. I need not have worried. The cast and crew rolled with the punches, of course they did, and the show was amazing. If anything they performed it better than I have ever seen it. The crowd was engaged, the setting was more intimate, and sound even worked.

The reviewer came up to me after the show to thank me for the ticket and tell me he thought the review would be out by the end of the weekend. We got mad props for not cancelling the show because of weather. With a bigger show we would have had to. Thanks heavens for the small show!!

The review came out tonight. We went out to eat after the show, because it is a law in Utah I guess ... to go out after a show with the cast. Pretty much everyone had gone and Mel got a text that the review was out. I was filled with an instant anxiety and thrill of anticipation. In short, I was sick!! She read out loud the review. What did we ever do before smart phones? And the review was good!! The reviewer treated our show with so much respect, and my actors with praise, that I almost cried right then and there in Chili's. And exhale!

It is a good show. It is a smaller show than we normally have during the summer, outside musicals usually have a LARGE cast. So our ticket sales are lower than normal, we do not have the adoring grandparents coming to see their grandkids. But it is a good show. Check out the review, if you are so inclined, then get your  buns out to see this show! What are you waiting for? A sign? Richie give them a sign!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be Marvelous!

L-O-V-E that spells LOVE! I just posted as my fb status update that I could not love my cast and crew any more than I already do. I have had a ball working with a small cast and crew this time around. 4 actors, 9 crew, heaven! The pic below pretty much sums up how I feel, and I wish I were behind them with my arms around them too ... cheese!
l-r Paige, Megan, Melody, Kristen photo taken by Kate Johnson
The Marvelous Wonderettes is a show about 4 friends in high school and then their 10 year reunion. The women playing these 4 friends just happen to be great friends of mine. I say, as the producer, that I was not intimately involved in the casting decision. I supported the director in casting but I did not say "Cast my 4 friends!" especially since 6 of my friends auditioned ... turning down 2 friends was not my favorite thing ever! Blog for another day. Well these 4 friends of mine are women I respect and love. Working with them has been a treat for me.

In the play they say "Be Marvelous" more than once usually after a character has done something petty or less than marvelous. Well let me tell you, these actors have been marvelous to work with. I would work with them again and again. This is BJ's first show. We have worked every vocal bone in her body! I am so pleased with how willing she is to work as hard as she can to make this the best experience for her. S and I have worked on 2 shows together. She has a dry humor that lightens pretty much any mood. She has really had to step out of her comfort area for this role and I admire her for it. CL and I have been chums for years and years! I think this is our 5th show together. Her voice is soulful and sweet at the same time. She makes me laugh with her facial expressions on and off stage! M has a voice like an angel! I have missed sound cues because I have been mesmerized by her vocal range. I am uber jealous that my high note is basically her low! I cannot wait to work with her in the future Together these actors blend and harmonize into one cohesive unit on stage. It has been my pleasure to sit and watch these masters at work. 

I love, adore, respect, and am in awe of their courage, devotion, talent, and friendship. There is a camaraderie that exists between actors that is different than it is between the producer and actor. They literally have spent the last 6 weeks together pretty much nightly. I have not had that and am jealous of it! I miss being on stage with fellow actors and the bond that that creates. When you are on stage together you have to have the ultimate trust in one another.

I love love love these girls! These are my girls! They are my family away from family. (Yes my family is close, but you know what I mean!) I would do almost anything for them ... I stop short of illegal acts! I threatened a gang member because they tagged the "house" that "my family" plays in every night which in hindsight was not a good thing. But they messed with my family. Nobody messes with my people.

With that said, come see my family and support my girls as they perform their guts out! Yesterday it was 102 when we started the show. They give it everything they have up on a hot concrete stage every day. They amaze me. The show opens tomorrow and runs nightly except Sunday until the 21st. Visit this link for all information or to buy tickets.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Belle in the Hood

Candice just shared this link with me and I loved it so much I post it here immediately!! How clever. Todrick Hall created this vid called Beauty and the BEAT! If you are a fan of Miranda and GloZell I believe you will enjoy this. I believe you will enjoy this if you like Beauty and the Beast. If you have a sense of humor, I believe you will enjoy this.

"I came to get my hair did!" "What did you call me?!""Oh isn't this a hot mess?!" Hilarious!! OKRR?! I watch it again now ...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My talented friends!!

I have so many talented friends being in theater. Like seriously talented!! I have been blessed to meet so many people who I could fall asleep daily listening to sing. I wish that I could name them all, but alas ... this is about one specific friend. Casey is auditioning to sing at the Scott Alan master class in Salt Lake in a few weeks. Her video is below ... Enjoy!!

Talented, right? Right! She was just cast as Roz in 9 to 5 at Hale Centre Theatre. So best of luck to you Squitch! I hope they pick you! Love you, sis!!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Sometimes, with my overwhelming lack of natural hormones, I have really low days. Conversely, I have really high days. Having “off” hormones is a bit of a bipolar, out-of-body experience. Often I have one single quote going through my head. It is from the brilliant Broadway show The Drowsy Chaperone by Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison, Bob Martin, and Don McKellar. Man in Chair starts the show including  this gem: “Hello. How are we today? A little quiet? I’m feeling a little blue myself. You know, a little anxious for no particular reason, a little sad that I should feel anxious at this age, you know, a little self-conscious anxiety resulting in non-specific sadness: a state that I call “blue”. Anyway, whenever I’m feeling this way, blue, I like to listen to my music. So I was going through my box of records this morning – yes, records – and I was about to put on the 1962 sound track recording of Meredith Willson’s The Music Man – I had a craving for a young Ronny Howard. But then I said “no! Let’s have a treat! Let’s disappear for a while into the decedent world of the 1920’s. When the champagne flowed while the caviar chilled and all the world was a party” – for the wealthy anyway. So, I dug about and what did I find – but one of my favorite shows Gable and Stein’s “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Remember? Music by Julie Gable, lyrics by Sidney Stein. It’s a two record set, re-mastered from the original recoding made in 1928. It’s the full show with the original cast including Beatrice Stockwell as the Chaperone. Isn’t she elegant? This is a full 15 years before she became Dame Beatrice Stockwell. Can you believe it? Let me read to you what it says on the back – it says “Mix-ups, mayhem and a gay wedding!” Of course the phrase gay wedding has a different meaning now, but back then it just meant fun. And that’s just what the show is – fun. So. Would you … indulge me? Let me play the record for you. Please.” Isn’t it amazing how music can match ones mood? It can either lift my spirit, encourage the tears, or enhance the particular mood I am in. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Tony Sized Tweet

So last night, while watching the Tony's, Candice casually says "Did you know Scott Alan is coming to Utah?" She is the one who introduced me to his music years ago. Scott Alan is a brilliant composer! I have 3 of his CDs and am looking forward to his next one coming out. I follow him on Twitter because he has a show opening on Broadway soon called Home. I cannot wait to hear the whole show. He is brilliant!! 

Well last night he had been tweeting throughout the Tony's. I shot him a tweet ... just because I could. And he replied! I admit that I thought it was pretty cool. 

What you want to see it closer? Sure ... here you go. 

Well he is indeed coming to Utah for voice classes, master classes, and a concert. I was pretty excited! Sure he is not bringing any of the stars he has worked with in the past such as Shoshana Bean and Stephanie J. Block, but to hear his music ... I am all in!!

Check out Shoshana Bean singing Home

And Stephanie J. Block singing Never Neverland (Fly Away) ... there might be a swear in this one ...

The word excited is not even enough ... extracited is more like it. More info about his visit to Salt Lake can be found HERE!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Urban Farmers

I recently bought my Grams house which has a big yard and many memories. The garden that Grams used to plant was huge and on the side of the house. I remember helping to plant, weed and pick the veggies there. Peas were a particular favorite of mine; I loved sitting on the driveway shucking peas with Grams. Well now the garden is smaller, it is in the back of the house, and it is in planter boxes that my Uncle Ed built. We have a nice crop this year that includes some of my favorites and a few things I detest, but that others in my family like (cough green beans cough).

Right next door to me are true farmers, though. Adam and Dianna have one of the prettiest gardens I have ever seen. They run a nice business similar to the one where you go pick up a basket of food ... I cannot remember the name ... weekly. Anyway the one run by Adam is called Adam's Heirlooms. They have 4 farm sites in the neighborhood where they have built planter boxes and grow a variety of spring, summer, and fall produce. They grow their starts and sell them (I have their onions in my garden this year) and then during the summer months they sell their crop shares to the public. What a great idea! They love gardening and it is nice to see them do something they love.

Adam's garden from their website
In addition to the vegetables, they also have bee hives in the back yard ... which is why I think my garden is doing as well as it is. My favorite thing about living next to them is their compost pile. The first time they asked me to throw over my excess food and weeds I was like "um ... I do not think I can do that!" Honestly for the first few months I felt like I was doing something wrong by throwing my crap over the fence into the neighbor's yard! The time last fall when I raked my leaf pile to the fence and it all went over made me feel like I was the worst neighbor. I am so over that now! The weeds from my garden went over the fence last night and I finally did not feel like I was doing anything wrong. In fact Dianna was at the fence line working and smile broadly when the weeds went over. I loved throwing my rhubarb leaf pile over a few weeks ago. (btw I have some extra rhubarb washed and in the fridge if anyone wants some.)

Their compost pile got pretty high last fall and I guess they had an adventure with one of their chickens ... oh yes they have chickens too. Well on my side of the fence there is an apple tree, which I hope they use this fall! One of the chickens, apparently, saw a low hanging apple; said chicken climbed up on the pile, up to the fence, and came on over to try to get it. I apparently had a chicken loose in my yard because the creature could not figure out how to get back over the fence. Adam said he came to retrieve the chicken, I had no clue was over my fence. They raked down the compost pile so that did not happen again. I had no clue chickens ate apples. Insert your own mental image of a chicken eating an apple now...

Moral of the blog post? If you are looking for some produce this summer, I know a guy who can help you out. Check out the website for more information. When they claim to be locally grown, they mean it! So local, in fact, I can see it from my backyard! And some of the crap from my yard will fertilize their produce. I bet that will make them taste better to my friends!

Monday, June 4, 2012

FAQ: Theater

I am asked often about being a producer and director for theater and what I like more and what is my least favorite part. So here is a list of my FAQ about theater ...

Which do you like more: Directing or Producing?
I prefer directing a show. However, my job on the Arts Council is to produce. There are some changes coming to the Midvale Arts Council which will make me officially in charge of all productions. I.E. I get to choose what show we do, hire all of the staff, and help cast the show. I am not prevented from directing under these new rules, but it is hard to do both. I will be training some people to help me produce (they have to sit on the Arts Council to do this) so that I can direct as well.

What is the difference between directing and producing a community show?
The producer chooses the show that the council performs. The producer then is in charge of all of the budget and funds. As the producer I hire the staff, I pay the royalties for the show, I have to arrange musicians or recordings for musicals, I pay all of the bills along with the City reimbursing me, I oversee auditions and make sure that the show is cast right, in addition I have to make sure that the audition notices are sent out. During the rehearsals I drop in from time to time to make sure that the interests of the council are met and that it is still a (fairly) family friendly show. I take care of the program and advertising for the run of the show. During performances I make sure that the ticket sales are tracked and deposit the income from the sales.

As the director I get to let my artistic mind run wild. So I admit that I can usually read a script and see the staging come together in my mind. It is certainly fun to see that vision become a reality. The director gets to cast the show, with help from the producer, and gets to play every day with the actors. As the director I get to design the set and costume ideas that work with the vision of the show. I am a pretty laid back director where I let the actors come up with their character, then I step in with ideas of how to build their performance. I also let the actors do what feels natural to their character in regard to blocking. I step in with help in blocking when something just does not look right on stage. I think it is much more fun to direct because it is like moving chess pieces around the stage to win an imaginary game I play with myself.

What is the hardest part about doing theater?
Easy! The hardest part about doing theater in the South Valley of Salt Lake is that I am friends with MANY of the people who audition for me. It is hard to have to turn my friends away from shows. I have had to do it often, and it never gets easy. Never. This past Saturday I had to turn away 2 friends from a show that we had auditions for; they are both super talented, and I have worked with them on multiple times. The community of theater here is small. I have been blessed to work with so many talented people. I hate turning friends away from being cast. I always worry that people will take it personally and that it will affect our friendship. I have been turned down by friend I have auditioned for. In fact I was not cast in a show where there are only 2 women parts. 2 women auditioned for the show so I thought I was a sure thing. Not so much. They went out looking for another person to do the role. It was very hurtful at first, then I remembered that the director has the whole picture of what he or she is looking for and I did not fit in that vision. So I remembered to be gracious to him for not casting me because I have had to be that person and want people to treat my decision with the respect that friendship dictates.

What is the worst part about doing theater?
The drama. I do not mean in the script. I hate the drama that some actors will bring to rehearsal or performances. There is enough drama on stage, leave the crap home! I like to come to rehearsal or performance ready to leave all of my personal crap at home and become someone new on stage.

What is your favorite show you have ever done?
This is a hard question to answer because I have worked with so many GREAT people and amazing scripts. I admit I like to direct plays more than musicals; I also like smaller shows than the bigger ones. That being said I think my favorite show I directed was Cash on Delivery in 2001 because it was my first. My favorite musical was Nunsense in 2004 because the cast was small and easy to direct. I loved working with the cast and crew of Birdie and Seuss in 2008 and 2009 respectively because the kids in those shows worked pretty well with the adults.

What is the best part about doing theater?
I love seeing someone who normally would not shine as an actor make an impression on me. I have seen little kids come into their own as a force to be reckoned with on stage. I love playing pretend when I am on stage, and it is fun to see someone else do it as the director. I love working with volunteers in community theater because they want to be there and they put their whole soul into their part. I saw this happen with Seussical. I had actors dressed up as cats, birds, elephants, kangaroos, etc. I remember one girl dressed as a bird who owned the stage when she was on it because she owned her super sexy character. The other bird had to tow around an outrageous number of tail feather and would whip that tail around for the audience to see and you could tell she was proud of her work. I loved also in that show when the Cat would do little things to the other actors while they were performing (with permission) like spray the elephant with water during a rain storm. Often times the funnies things in the show are adlibed by the actors during rehearsal and I keep in the show.

Do you have a favorite person to work with?

Are there people you will never work with again?

Will you tell me who?
Um ... no. But thanks for asking!

Why don't you perform on stage more often?
Oh that is easy! I like to boss others around. But stay tuned because there is a dream role coming up and I hope to play the part!

Is there anything I can do to ensure getting cast?
Really no. However if you have talent, a pure desire for a part, and are willing to play any part it can go better for you. People who are only willing to play a certain part, ie a lead, might not get cast in the show at all. If you are willing to do any role offered I, as a director, am more likely to give you a shot. I honestly think that even really talented people who have played leads in the past should take a part in the chorus from time to time just to really appreciate the leads when they get them. I also think that not assuming you will get a part will make you fight for it more!

Are you a fan of people pulling pranks on stage or inserting lines?
That depends on the show. Usually I am not a fan at all. I do not think it is fair for the other actors and sometimes it is in the contract we sign that the council could be in trouble if caught. But I certainly think there are shows where it is appropriate depending on the reason. I.E. if there is some sort of technical issue and the actor needs to explain away an issue. An example is when we did Pirates years ago there was a HUGE skip in the cd one night. So an entire song was skipped. One actor quickly summarized the finer points in the song that were important for the plot and moved on. But doing it just to break another actor's concentration or character is not appropriate. The audience that comes closing night deserve the same show as those who came the rest of the time. They pay the same price for the ticket, they deserve the same show.  I do like having fun, do not get me wrong, but that is what the cast party is for.

So, that is it. That is all I have the time or energy to write about that. These are just the ones I am asked most frequently. Since I have not been a regular on my blog, I thought it would be an interesting topic ... at least for me!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Audition Notice for The Marvelous Wonderettes

I am producing another show for the Midvale Arts Council. I am looking for some really talented women to be in this show. This show calls for 4 women who can play 18-28. Information is below for those interested in more information. 
Auditions for The Midvale Arts Council's production of "The Marvelous Wonderettes" will be held on Saturday, June 2nd at 11 am - noon. Callbacks will immediately follow. The address for the Midvale Performing Arts Center is 695 West Center Street (7720 South.) Auditioners should come prepared with 16 bars of an upbeat Broadway song or a song from the 50s. A pianist will be provided. Headshots and resumes are preferred. The show is being directed by Karen Chatterton with music direction by Janzell Tutor. Show dates are July 13 - 24 at the Midvale Outdoor Stage in the Park. Roles are available for 4 women (16 & up) and all roles are open. No appointment is necessary. For more information email Stephanie@midvalearts.com. Visit www.midvalearts.com for additional information.

The Marvelous Wonderettes takes you to the 1958 Springfield High School prom where we meet the Wonderettes, four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts! As we learn about their lives and loves, we are treated to the girls performing such classic '50s and '60s songs as "Lollipop," "Dream Lover," "Stupid Cupid," "Lipstick On Your Collar," "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me," "It's My Party" and over 20 other classic hits! You've never had this much fun at a prom and you will never forget The Marvelous Wonderettes-a must-take musical trip down memory lane!

Character Descriptions

CINDY LOU (plays 18 & 28) she knows she is the prettiest girl at Springfield High. She knows she will be named Prom Queen and acts out against her best friend Betty Jean when things don’t go her way. She makes the biggest change between Act 1 & 2, having learned the lessons of true love and loss. MEZZO SOPRANO BELT– sings lead line on most songs. Among the songs she sings are: ‘Allegheny Moon’, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, ‘Maybe’.

MISSY (plays 18 & 28) She is the over-achiever of the group. Very controlled, very concerned that everything at the prom turns out wonderful and perfect. Head of the prom decorations committee; and absolutely smitten with her music teacher. Her best friend is Suzy. SOPRANO – WIDE RANGE, VERY HIGH VOCALS AND BELTS THROUGHOUT THE SHOW. Among the songs she sings are: ‘Secret Love’, ‘You Don’t Own Me’, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’.

BETTY JEAN (plays 18 & 28) the class clown, tomboy, always vying for attention with Cindy Lou, her best friend. It’s also highly probably that Betty Jean wants to be with Cindy Lou herself, but just doesn’t even know what those feelings really are. Cindy Lou steals Betty Jean’s boyfriend away, which causes a lot of the friction at the prom. She holds this grudge against Cindy Lou until they make up at the 10 year reunion. ALTO WITH A STRONG LOW RANGE. Among the songs she sings are: ‘Lipstick on Your Collar’, ‘I Only Want To Be With You’, ‘That’s When The Tears Start.”

SUZY (plays 18 & 28) Best friends with Missy, she is the happy-go-lucky one of the group –sometimes stereotyped as the ditzy blonde. Always smiling and giggling, nothing ever seems to bother her. In love with the lighting operator, completely surprised when named prom queen. Frustrated, sad, hormonal, and pregnant in Act 2. MEZZO ALTO, BOTH SWEET AND SOUL VOICE. Among the songs she sings are: ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Hold Me, Thrill Me’, ‘Rescue Me’. This role requires a consummate belter, excellent part singer and expert comedienne. Do not hire a ditzy person to play the ‘ditzy blonde.’

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Personal Post ...

This blog post is rather personal containing information that you may or may not find comfortable to read. I do not think it is an uncomfortable subject, but it is rather personal. A week ago I had a total hysterectomy. I have been suffering for over 20 years with painful menstrual issues. I will not go into too many details because of the 2 male readers I know I have and frankly this is the interweb and once something is out here, it is always out here! So if you are uncomfortable with this subject of girlie bits, this is probably not the blog post for you to read! I am not one to make up cute names for anatomy, I usually use the real words. Plus this is going to be a LONG post! You have been warned ...

I was 10 or 11 when I started having menstrual periods. By the time I was 17 they were so painful and erratic that it affected every aspect of my life. Once when I was a junior in high school my cramps were so bad that I passed one day missing a chemistry test. I remember vividly going to the ob/gyn the first time at 17. He was a funny funny man! After the exam he told me that I probably have endometriosis which means that my endometrial lining grows outside of the uterus. This lining adheres to various body parts. The body then reacts like it would to any injury and tries to form scabs, or adhesions, which in the case of someone with endo forms scar tissue which between organs. This causes pain worse than cramps. He put me on birth control that day and I have been on it since. I knew at 17 that one day I would eventually have to have a hysterectomy.  He told me if I could make it to 30 I would be doing good.

When I was getting ready to serve a mission for the LDS Church it was decided I needed to have a laparoscopic surgery to clean out the endo and adhesions. I had my mission call, but decided to postpone leaving so I could have the surgery. That went well, I was able to leave for Michigan a few months later. I lived relatively pain free for a while after the surgery for about 2 years. After the mission I moved back to Chicago and after a year the cramps were so bad I needed to move back home and take care of the issues.

By this time my male ob had been involved in an accident that left him paralyzed, but I was able to get into see one of his colleagues who has been my doc since. She is amazing! She got me on some new birth control that made it so I only had a period every 6 months. Then we went to 3 months. After about 5 years of this treatment the pain came back and we tried shots that put my body into a medical induced menopause. This jumped started my body to reboot, in essence. I was pain free for almost 3 years! So that is how normal women feel monthly! After 3 years the pain came back and we did the shots again. This time they did not work as well. The pain returned after 2 months, but worse ... much much worse. There is a new medication out of Europe that I tried that did not work. I had horrible weight gain, joint pain, irritability, and cankles that you would not believe!!

I have known for years that I would one day have to make the hard decision to have a hysterectomy. I put it off as long as I could. I hoped that one day I would get married and have children before I had to make this hard decision. I am now 36, I am single, and I have no children. But I also had daily cramps which were often debilitating. Cramps for me are not like normal cramps for many other women. I get nauseous from the pain, I have passed out on more than one occasion from the pain, and it is a daily, constant thing. I do not have cramps just a few days of the month. More like I do not have cramps for a few days of the month. If I could go more than a day without pain I thought it a victory.  

A few months ago I talked with Dr. L about my options. I had a few to choose from. I could have another laparoscopic surgery to clean everything out again, I could live with the pain, I could investigate IVF or surrogacy options, or I could have a hysterectomy. I weighed every option very carefully. I am a true believer that the Lord answers prayers. I included Him in my decision. I talked with some of the wisest women I know: my Mom and sisters. While all of the options posed to me serious options, the only one that was right was the hysterectomy. After prayer and reflection I knew it was right. I knew I had made a tough decision. But I knew it was the right one. So I scheduled my surgery for April 24.

I went through some very interesting emotional turmoil after making the decision. I mourned for the children I would never have, I knew I was making a decision that would affect the rest of my life and the life of a possible future husband. This mourning lasted about a week, and then there was peace. I knew I had made the right decision, I knew I would be alright regardless of what the future brought, and I knew that any future relationship would be alright as well. The hardest part became the wait. I scheduled my surgery early in February, and I had to wait until the end of April for it to be over with.

Last week I faced a finality I had never experienced before. Not only would it be the end of my child bearing ability, but an end to the pain I have been experiencing for 20 years. I truly believe that the painful cramps have had a positive effect on my life, even though it has been hell. It has shaped me with more compassion for those in pain, it has made me a stronger person physically, it has been my constant companion for 20 years of my life. But it was time to let the pain go. I had the memory of when I was younger and would play with my young girlfriends they would talk about having babies; I would talk about adopting babies. The thought came to me that if the Lord will have me raise children, He will give them to my care in His time and in His own way. I truly believe that the Lord gives us blessings and trials for our benefit and growth. Crams have been a constant trial in my life, having a hysterectomy at 36 is a trial in my life. However, the blessing of raising a family comes in many different forms. I have the blessing of 4 beautiful nieces and 2 amazing nephews that I get to help shape and form into good and righteous people. Sure these are not my children, but they are my family.

If the Lord wants me to raise children of my own, I know He will provide a way for that. If there are no children for me in the future, then I am okay with that. I am not saying that it will always be easy to not have children, but the Lord's will be done. I will never begrudge those who are blessed with children their joy and happiness just because I will never have any of my own.

So last Tuesday my wonderful Mom drove me to the hospital at the butt crack of dawn to have all of my lady bits removed. They took everything: ovaries, tubes, uterus, and cervix. I was calmer for this surgery than I have been for any procedure that I have been through in the past. I thought my blood pressure was going to be through the roof, but it was 129 over 75, which is just slightly above my normal. Dr. L came in and walked me through the surgery. I told my Mom I love her, and they wheeled me in.

When I woke up a few hours later, I still had peace though a bit more pain than when I had gone in. The surgery went well. They were going to do it all laparoscopicly, but ended up being able to do a dual surgery. There are three ways to do a hysterectomy: cut the abdomen open like a c-section, lapro, or vaginally. In the case of women who have had children most are able to do it vaginally which is a vastly easier recovery. Since I have not had children I would not be able to do it that way. But they were able to only cut 3 small holes in my abdomen, laser out all of the scar tissue and endo they found, cauterize the organs and remove them vaginally. Doing this will make my recovery time much easier and faster. I am truly grateful for this. Any time I have had any moment of doubt that I might have made a bad choice I remember the scripture: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46: 10.

I stayed in the hospital overnight, but I am home now. Mom moved in with me to take care of me and I have been well taken care of! I have some amazing people who have brought me more chocolate than I think I can eat, movies to keep me occupied, and books to entertain me. I am doing well. I actually am doing much better than I thought I would both physically and emotionally. I still can do very little for myself but the women in my congregation at church have been coming over daily to help me make lunch and Mom takes care of me at night. In addition Mom has been working for me full time so I can take time off of work to heal.

I know that being a mother is important, and I would like to one day have that opportunity. But I know that I have made the right decision for me. I know that I have made the right decision for my life. There may be some who think I have made the wrong choice as a woman because who wants to purposefully take their reproductive ability away at 36? I have actually had people judge me for this decision. However, until they have walked in my shoes, and experienced the pain I have had to endure for the last 20 years, they have no right to judge me for my actions to my body. That being said, most of the people I told prior to my surgery were sympathetic to the circumstance and supportive of my decision.

I share this experience for some selfish reasons, frankly it is easier to share in one place than to tell people individually. I also hope that sharing this may explain some personal demons I have overcome. I share this also because the decision making process increased my faith in prayer and answers. It has increased my faith in the power of the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God” I hope will power my life forever as it has these last few months. I am by no means advocating hysterectomies as the answer for all women who have endometriosis. It was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. I would hope that any woman who is facing this decision does not have to do it alone. I would hope that any family that faces infertility or a myriad of other issues will remember my simple story. Decisions that are hard to make are made easier with the help of the Lord. That decisions made with the help and faith in the Lord are easier to endure because He is with you. Who knows what the future holds for this 36 year old. I may be single my whole life, I may get married in a year, I do not know. But I do know that I can do anything with the love of my family and friends, and the health and strength I find through my knowledge and faith in my Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chemo Brain

A cancer patient who has had to go through many rounds of chemotherapy will often experience a lapse in memory and can claim that he or she (he/she) has chemo brain. It is a real thing, and many patients truly do experience it. The question I pose is, what about the caregivers? Can they claim it too ... by mere association? Because by golly I am lately experiencing an outrageous bout of chemo brain. I have had too many conversations that I do not remember lately and it seems they all seem to be happening with one person. I swear I pay attention! And once I am reminded of it I totally remember! So I think I have what I now will call "associated chemo brain." ACB, as it is now commonly referred to, is now an official, real malady that affects caregivers of those who have had chemo. So say we all.

On an completely unrelated note I saw the husband of a dear friend today, only it turns out it was not him ... because his name is not Juan and he does not speak only Spanish. So that happened!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Tri - Volunteering

Calling all volunteers. So here is the deal: The Midvale Arts Council is planning a fund raiser and I need some help getting it organized and executed. The event is a little bigger than our current council can organize alone. Excited to find out more? I know I would be!

We are putting on a mini/sprint triathlon Saturday June 9 for 4 different age groups. I am still organizing the groups, so I am not ready to announce them, but it will be young children up to adults. We will start with a swim, then bike, then run. The adults will do a full sprint tri, the younger kids will do a mini tri of our design.

If you are interested in helping I need help in two categories: planning the event & volunteers on the day. Organizing needs to take place before we can execute, obviously. I am looking for help in not only organizing but also in fundraising (can you believe you have to fund raise for a fundraiser?) I also need help planning the routes for the different groups, organizing the volunteers, etc.

On June 9 I need an army of volunteers to help guide the groups through their routes. Help me keep organized.

What do you get?! Well there is a nice t-shirt in it for you! Plus the thanks of a grateful nation ... or me. AND 2 tickets to the summer show for Midvale. Plus, there is a nice thank you note in it for you ... because I will find a volunteer to write them for me! lol.

I have not even told you the best part! The name of our event is Tri the Arts. How great is that?! I wish I could take credit; alas, it was another council member's name idea.

Interested? It would be ideal if you could email me at stephanie@midvalearts.com to let me know. I promise a good (and slightly stressful) time to all who volunteer! I really would be grateful to work with people I know and trust already. (i.e. my friends) Let me know!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Dolla War

When I lived in Chicago all those many years ago, I had some amazing friends. There were different groups of these friends: Nanny and Non-Nanny friends. My nanny friends all set up play groups and we saw each other often. The non-nanny friends I saw less frequently, mostly at church on Sunday. I had been living in Chicago for a few months when I was asked to serve in the Ward Relief Society presidency with some great ladies: Molly, Christy, and Margo. We became pretty close. We would meet together often, usually including Ghiradelli cheese cake from Olive Garden ... back when they served it and it was AWESOME! We took a yearly trip to Nauvoo, Illinois together and included another really great friend, Renee (whom I call Nee Nee.) These women are some of the most influential women in my life for who I am today, what I have become. When I was 18 years old I had some pretty interesting choices to make, and they showed me by example how to make good choices.  They are all older than I am, they were infinitely more mature than me they ARE infinitely more mature than I am. I have nothing but respect for these women. When we were released from the Relief Society I remember feeling lost, like I would never see them again (give me a break, I was 20!) I have been blessed in my life that we still keep in touch and see each other as often as travel permits. I love them with my whole heart. Christy once called me the crazy glue of the group, I am fairly certain the emphasis was on the 'crazy' part of that phrase! :) 

Nauvoo was always an adventure! The 5 of us would pile in a car (usually Christy would borrow her mom's Explorer because we all had single girl cars!) and take a 5 hour drive to Nauvoo for the weekend leaving after work Friday and coming home Sunday late; or if Monday was a holiday we would come home then. We had a system where everyone would pay for certain things and then we would just settle up at the end of the weekend. We split the trip 5 ways, always sharing the same hotel room, and usually ate a lot of Smuckers Goober (which was pb&j in a jar already mixed.) I think back often on these trips with fond memories! Well except for the one where Molly was injured and had to spend the weekend in the hospital. That was not a good one! That was the first time (not the last) that I found a feminine hygiene product useful in a first aid trauma use.

On one trip, September of 1996, Nee Nee and I were a dollar off of what we had spent. Now Nee Nee will tell you that the story I am about to share with you is fiction, or an exaggeration of the truth. I submit to you it is fact, all fact, and nothing but the facts! She has the chance to rebuttal anything in this post ... I do not think she will find anything in the post to rebut. Is rebut a word? It must be, the spell checker is not freaking out.

Back to September 1996: Nee Nee and I were off a dollar. After looking at the math I owed her $1. So I fished out $1 bill and gave it to her. She gave it back to me inferring $1 was not a big deal. I gave it to her again. She gave it back to me. This all happened in the car at the end of the trip. So as to not fight at the end of a great trip, I just let the dollar come back to me, vowing she would accept the 'dolla' one day. I found fun and creative ways to give it to her (like folded like a tie and stuck onto a teddy bear); she always found equally creative ways to give it back to me. So after a while it became a game of sorts: the dolla war was born! The dolla war has been going strong for 16 years now. I will prevail!

The original dolla on the right, second dolla on the left. Second dolla, you say? Keep reading!
The backs of the dollas
So this dolla has been passed back and forth for 16 years, through the mail, hand delivered, often found with treats or presents ... etc. Nee was the first to write a message to me on it. Each time we deliver it back to the other person something more gets added. She delivered it to me when I was on my mission in Michigan with some Doty Chocolate bread once. (That was a bread only found in Crystal Lake, loved loved loved it!) Once I sent it to her in an envelope that looked like it contained a wedding invitation. She was planning her trip out here for my wedding when the dolla emerged! I have to admit, it has been one of the greatest fights I have ever been in.

The second dolla joined the war a few years back. Nee was attending the theater with some mutual friends: Brian and Ranell. So I told Ranell to slip her a dollar bill, as a joke. Well she did. Nee sent it back to me with the original dolla. I submit that it is not my dolla, but Nee remains firm in her resolve that since I told Ranell to give it to her, I am guilty by association. Alright, fine. I will admit my guilt in the second dolla, however, the first dolla is all hers! Nee Nee, that first dolla belongs to you! 

In looking at these dollas one cannot help but notice that they may or may not look defaced. I could have just Photoshoped the writing, stickers, pictures, etc on. I could have. But each message reminds me where she and I have been over the past 16 years. There are reminders of vacations Nee took, or the mission I served for the LDS Church, Christmas Past, 12 year anniversary, the chocolate bread, trips to Disneyland, something about a duck candle ... that one I do not remember ... Nee?

Last summer another girl tried to give me a dollar, though she did not owe me. I was quick to shoot her down and let her know that I would never give up on giving her back the dollar. She kept the dollar. Though she does often threaten to give it back to me. I told her I had been passing a dolla back and forth with another friend for longer than she had been alive. That is not accurate, I think she is now 19. 

So Nee there is the "dramatic untrue" version of my side of the dolla war story. Rebuttal? You have my email address. I promise to print anything you send. With the knowledge that I can rebut as well! :) 

16 years, 2 dolla, infinite memories! Love you Nee, and Christy, and Margo and Ranell (since I know you read this blog too) and Molly. I love and miss you much. Thank you for many years of positive memories, and a wonderful influence.