30 September 2013

"When I Sing" - Tyler Castleton Lyrics

A few months ago I shared a youtube video of the song "When I Sing" by Tyler Castleton. I still couldn't find the lyrics so I listened to the song a few times and transcribed it.

Something happens in my soul
When I sing
It’s something out of my control
When I sing
It’s not a masterpiece, but I’m given what I need
To share the words my heart can’t speak
When I sing

Sometimes it’s the only way
So I sing
To share the things I want to say
So I sing
When I can’t express my joy, my song becomes my voice
To testify of what I believe
So I sing

I sing to praise the one who grants me daily breath
I sing to share my deepest fears
I sing to thank the one who guides my every step
I feel Him close to me when I sing my melody

I can hear Him teach me
When I sing
Somehow He can reach me
When I sing
He hears my humble pleas, He knows my every need
If I am still, He’ll speak to me
When I sing

The voice is pure and sweet
But it doesn’t come from me
I feel the blessings of His peace

When I sing

Things Denise Has Been Pondering: Friendship

My ward is amazing. Seriously. I especially love that we have two Relief Society groups because I get the chance to know these sisters much better than when all of us met together in a huge group.

Our president is one of my friends and I love her a whole lot. A month or so ago she spoke to us about loneliness. She asked us to raise our hand if we had felt alone at any time during the previous week. Almost every sister raised a hand. I was one of them. 

Many of my close friends have moved away or are so busy that we have a hard time spending time with each other. Things have gotten in the way of my desire to reach out to girls I want to know better. I haven't been very good at doing my visiting teaching and I didn't have visiting teachers for a long time.

Two months ago our family had to deal with something big, something I'm not sure I'll ever talk about on this blog. I felt totally and completely alone. Sure, I talked to my bishop, my parents, my in-laws, and my best friend but I was physically and emotionally isolated. My bishop told the relief society presidents and made sure our home teachers and my visiting teachers were discovered. Despite the outpouring of phone calls and text messages, the offerings of meals and service, I still felt alone. I probably should have asked a friend to come over but I didn't want to talk about it and I would have probably cried the whole time and I didn't want to be a burden. So I didn't call anyone. I wasn't even sure I was going to tell anyone about it. And I haven't really.

I got new visiting teachers recently, two sisters I sort of knew already, and at the end of their first visit I told them all about what had happened. I wanted them to know what was happening so that I could reach out if I needed to.

But that wasn't enough. I made a choice to be a better friend. If I want good friends, I need to be one. I started texting some girls just to say hello. I started visiting some girls just to chat. I invited them over for game nights. Already I feel more connected to them and it is helping me through this trial.

About a year ago a girl got married and decided I wasn't needed as the friend I had been to her since her husband now fulfilled all her needs. That was a very painful thing for me to process. As I've been trying to make new friends and I've been pondering the role of friendship in my life and in the gospel, I have decided that friendship is needed outside of the home, too. Now, I'm glad she and her husband are such good friends because that is what keeps marriages strong. But the gospel teaches us that we are to be friends with more people than just our spouses and family.

In April 1999, Marlin K. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy, gave a conference talk titled "Friendship: A Gospel Principle". He talks about the benefits of friendship in marriage and in families. Then he goes on to talk about friendship outside the home:

"There is a particular challenge we face as Latter-day Saints in establishing and maintaining friendships. Because our commitment to marriage, family, and the Church is so strong, we often feel challenged by constraints of time and energy in reaching out in friendship to others beyond that core group. I experienced this dilemma personally in recent days as I tried to steal a few moments at home to prepare this talk. Twice, friends from my past, whom I love dearly but see only occasionally, dropped in to visit. During what ought to have been choice times of reunion and reminiscence, I ironically found myself growing inwardly impatient for the visits to end so that I could get back to writing my talk about friendship!

I have since felt ashamed. How selfish we can be. How unwilling to be inconvenienced, to give, to bless and be blessed. What kind of parents or neighbors or servants of the Lord Jesus Christ can we be without being a friend? In this information age, is not friendship still the best technology for sharing the truths and way of life we cherish? Is not our reluctance voluntarily to reach out to others in friendship a significant obstacle to helping God accomplish His eternal purposes?....

Our Savior, shortly before His Crucifixion, said to His disciples: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends.' Having been so richly blessed by Christ’s friendship, I pray that we will now be to others what He is to us: a true friend. At no time will we be more Christlike than when we are a friend. I testify of the inestimable value of friends in my own life and express my gratitude to all of them this morning. I know that when we offer ourselves in friendship, we make a most significant contribution to God’s work and to the happiness and progress of His children."

I feel a connection to these sisters and they lift my spirits and my heart as we develop our friendship. I am grateful that I am learning the pains of loneliness so I can truly appreciate good and appreciated friendship.

27 September 2013

What I've Been Up To

This has been the craziest week.

Tuesday we had family pictures done by my friend, Brooke. It was fun and we can't wait to see the pictures.

Wednesday I ended up working from 8am to 4pm to do final prep for the SHEL-8 (8th Studies in the History of English Language) conference our department helped host the past few days. Tyson's department hosted a recruiter dinner that started at 6pm so I asked the lady who watches William while I'm at work if she would watch him while we were at the dinner as well. We did get to pick him up until 8:45pm. He was at her house for just over 12 hours. It was a sad day and both Tyson and I felt badly about it but there was really nothing else we could have done.

Thursday was the first day of the SHEL conference. I was at work at 7:45am and stayed until 2pm. I think I walked two miles or so in the first few hours of my shift. That night I had choir from 7:30pm to 9:45pm. It was so much fun! We got some new music: two more pieces from Handel's Messiah, a hymn arrangement, and a song I did in high school called "Variations on Jingle Bells". It's the best! Super silly and fun to sing.

Friday was the second day of the SHEL conference. We were up at Aspen Grove by Sundance Resort. GORGEOUS drive up the canyon. The trees are all changing colors. Further up the canyon it was snowing so the multi-colored trees were frosted in snow. It was absolutely stunning, but cold. Tyson had two jobs interviews today. This morning he had one for the Puget Sound Naval Base which is in Seattle and this afternoon he had one for FMC which is in Green River, Wyoming. Here's a little map for you: http://goo.gl/maps/GPPNA
I'm not thrilled about the idea of living in Wyoming but it could be good, right? (Fingers crossed for Seattle!!) I surprised him with lunch from his favorite local spot, Pantruchas (Chilean food). 

Tomorrow, Saturday, I have a choir retreat in Spanish Fork from 8am to noon. Then I'm cleaning up the conference at about 5pm. I'm sure we'll be done before the Relief Society General Broadcast. When that's over I'm going visiting teaching and then we're gonna hang with some friends we haven't seen in a while.

Sunday is church and I've got two orientation meetings for new Primary presidencies.

I need a vacation from my life! Things have been so busy.

My job is only 20 hours per week but I worked 29 this week. Whoops. It's okay though. I had permission. It's been a jam-packed week and I still have grad homework I'm trying to get done. I have a midterm next week for one of my classes and it's my birthday next week too. I can't wait!!

18 September 2013

Random Update

This week has been so busy. Monday we had some friends over for games, yesterday I hung out with some friends, tonight we had a church leadership dinner, tomorrow is choir, Friday is a secret, Saturday I'm working concessions at the BYU v. U of U game, and Sunday is the Stake Primary Leadership Meeting where I am doing a whole 20 minute presentation on my own about teaching music to kids 18 months to 3 years. Which I have never done. Sweet.

Monday night William did NOT sleep. He had eaten some Hot Tamales and they made his tummy very upset. He didn't sleep, so I didn't sleep. I only got two hours that night and last night I only got six.

Today I did a van training at BYU to be certified to drive the 12-person BYU vans. They said that if you get only 7 hours of sleep for three nights in a row, your cognitive function is the same as someone who is drunk, above the legal alcohol limit. Oh, wow! I guess I need to make sure I'm sleeping better. Geez.

I'm jamming on my school work. Today I watched three lecture videos and read an article. I have three assignments left and that's it. I did SO MUCH stuff on Monday since it was my least busy day. Phew! I'm glad I'm busy but at the same time, I'm just tired.

I'm totally looking forward to choir tomorrow and the game on Saturday. I hope it doesn't rain!

12 September 2013

Another Great Rehearsal


I think I'm in love with Thursdays now. Seriously. 

Rehearsal went great, of course. I got there early so I could sit in the front row and I made a new friend. She used to be in BYU Singers (so she's awesome) and I loved singing next to her. It totally made my day when, at the end of rehearsal, she turned to me and said "I really enjoyed singing next to you. You have a great voice." 


What is it about this experience that is just boosting my self-confidence through the roof?! I love it! I haven't felt this great about any part of me in a long time. I am so grateful I have the chance to be in this amazing choir. I hope you all come to our concert on Tuesday, December 3 in Salt Lake City at Abravanel Hall. 

Since William was born I have felt like I've given up all of me to my son and my husband. I was mom and wife. I sort of lost 'Denise' for a while. Now that I'm back in school and doing this choir I feel more me. And, actually, I feel like a better wife and mom, too. I bust it all morning at work and then all afternoon on my homework. When William is awake we play hard and it's a blast. When he goes to bed, I jam on more homework. I'm still learning to balance my responsibilities. These new GREAT things are pushing out the small, time-wasting things that were occupying my life. I love it. It's hard. I have to be very careful with my time and attention. It's totally worth it.

07 September 2013

Book and Journal Publishing: Homework #1

My first homework assignment for Book and Journal publishing was to analyze two publisher's websites: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (http://www.bkconnection.com/default.asp) and The University of Chicago Press (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/index.html). 
We were asked to answer the following questions: Which publisher does a better job of engaging readers and authors? Describe how each publisher employs social media and which is more effective. Which one would you like to work for and why?
My professor left me some good comments about how to improve my arguments but also gave me some compliments! Way to boost my self-confidence! I really struggle with commentary. That's probably why I've never enjoyed English classes. I can participate in an analytical discussion, no problems. Ask to me write a paper about my findings? Not so good. I much prefer to help other people with their commentary, not slush through my own. 
My professor left me comments like "Nice original observation - you have detected one of BK's key strategies" and "Good observation" and "Nice closing". He also said that I should never use "I think..." because it muddies my argument. That's great advice. As I've been writing this post I've almost typed "I think..." a few times but I've stopped myself. Okay, so my blog isn't going to win a Pulitzer but I need to practice good writing skills now while it's not for a grade.
Another writing technique I am trying to follow is to never use "very". Seen Dead Poet's Society? Great stuff.
I'm working on my week 2 assignment for B&J Publishing. I'll have to do a last run-through to catch all my "I think"s and "very"s.

05 September 2013

Great News

This was me when I found out I got into the Utah Valley Millennial Grand Chorus:

This was me when I found out my friend Estelle got in:

And this was me when I found out my friend Jodi got in too so now all three of us are in it together:

Yup. And after today's rehearsal, I continue to be like this.

Probably because I only got two hours of sleep last night since I had to wait until 5am to find out if I got in. I was too anxious to sleep until I knew one way or the other. Rehearsal went from 7:30pm to 10:00pm. I'm one tired lady.

Jodi and I are 1st altos! Estelle is a 2nd alto, of course. This is gonna be freakin' sweet. Y'all better come to our Christmas concert on December 3rd at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake. Seriously. Be there.

04 September 2013

Grad Insights: Publishing Companies

I just finished a time-consuming homework assignment about two different kinds of publishing companies. We were asked to pick two companies and answer some questions about their mission statements and how well we think the company is fulfilling their mission. I chose Scholastic Inc (children's) and Deseret Book (religious/Latter-day Saint).
One of the questions had me find another publishing company in each genre and compare/contrast the mission statements with my original two companies. I wanted to talk a bit about the compare/contrast I did with Deseret Book and HarperCollins Christian Publishing. 

Here's the Deseret Book mission statement: http://deseretbook.com/about/4935914
And HarperCollins Christian Publishing: http://www.harpercollinschristian.com/mission-and-values/

Initially, the differences are amazing. HC was one sentence. ONE. Way to be concise. But DB broke their statement into smaller goals which isn't really surprising considering what Latter-day Saints are taught about goal-setting and the principle of returning and reporting. After taking a closer look, these two mission statements are the same: enrich people by sharing our faith and the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In lecture our professor talked about how mission statements are lofty, continuing, and unattainable. I think HC fits this description but I don't know about DB. Because they broke down their mission into smaller goals, I think it's not lofty or unattainable. In fact, it seems pretty straight-forward and recordable. Okay, not a real word. Roll with it.

Let's break it down and paraphrase this mission statement.

Deseret Book is:

Committed to giving excellent service to customers, authors, and owner.
Committed to providing quality products in a timely manner with good service and fair prices.
Committed to following good business practices.
Committed to expanding their line of products to meet the growing needs of the customers.
Committed to maintaining professionalism and leadership in the publishing community.

None of that sounds over-the-top or unattainable, am I right? In fact, ALL of those are something you could graph. Now that's impressive.

I don't know. Probably no one cares, but that little discovery was cool to me. Even Deseret Book listens to the teachings of the prophets and implements those principles into their company. Sweet, man.

02 September 2013

Choir Blackmail

Earlier today I got some pretty disappointing news about the choir I auditioned for: they've had so many people wanting to audition they added two new audition days for next week. Also, because they've had so many women wanting to audition they've decided that women who refer men to audition have a better chance to get in. So if you don't bring a guy, your chance goes down the drain. At least, that's what it feels like.

Even before they sprung this policy change on us, I had been trying to recruit my guy singer friends simply because I know this choir is going to be an INCREDIBLE experience and I don't want anyone to miss out. Now, I might miss out because I can't get a guy to audition. Tyson can't do it because he'll be watching William and dealing with the semester from heck. I'm so disappointed. I actually feel really badly about this. After all the crap I've been through in the past few weeks, months, years this was one thing I was looking forward to in a big way. I was chatting with a friend about the choir a few days ago and I expressed my nervousness about maybe not getting in (this was before the new policy). She told me that everything would work out because God knows how much I need something like this in my life right now. And now? Ugh.

All the anxiety I felt the day of my audition? It's back. In a big way. I barely made it through last week, dealing with grad school and my audition and other stuff. I've never struggled with anxiety and stress like this. I'm doing my very best not to deal with it like I used to: comfort food. I threw myself into my grad work today and it helped for a while. Now it's 10:30pm and I should be going to bed but I can't. My body is reacting poorly to the stress, my mind is stretched and fried, and my heart feels heavy.

I can't make anyone audition for this choir and list me as their referral. I am trying my best to act and not react. And who knows. Maybe by some miracle I'll still get in, without a guy. The first rehearsal is Thursday evening. I'll hang on until then.

I heard this quote somewhere and I think it applies: When you feel like you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.

I'm hanging on for dear life.

Today: Grad Stuff and Medifast Update

I rocked it today. Seriously, go me.

This is what I got done for my grad stuff.

Book and Journal Publishing: Lecture A and B
Fundamentals of E-Publishing: Lecture A, B, and C; video discussion; anecdotal video; quiz.

This is what I have left.

B&J: 4 short readings (sample author contracts and proposals)
Fund. of E-Pub: Chapter reading, 2 writing assignments, and a forum discussion.

And it's only Monday.

I weighed myself today. No change. Which is actually just fine with me. Since starting my grad work, I'm spending more time away from home which is making it more difficult to do Medifast since a lot of the food is cooked in the microwave or on the stove. But, I got some more meal bars and I'm all set to be back on track this week. I mentioned before that I am doing Just Dance for my exercise and it's great. I love it. My waist is smaller :) And so are my arms.

After this crazy week I crashed this weekend. I got sick too. On Sunday I didn't wake up until almost 1pm. Whoa. William was camping with Tyson's family so I actually got to sleep in. It was amazing. I'm getting on a better schedule though. We have to start leaving the house at 7:30am to drop off William and get to campus well before 8:00am every morning, otherwise I won't get parking. Silly faculty.

Other stuff happened today but it was less happy so I'll save that for later since this is an upbeat sort of post. Cheers :)