Monday, April 24, 2017

A Hamilton Wedding Gift from Jason Lyle Black

Jason Lyle Black is a friend I met just last year. I want to tell you more about how talented this guy is, so I will, but first, with his permission, I share with you this super thoughtful wedding gift he sent to John and me:

THANK YOU, Jason! How very kind and thoughtful of you to take the time to put this together, record, and send to us. Thank you.

Jason Lyle Black, YouGuys. He is brilliantly talented (oh, was that the guy you saw playing the piano backwards on Ellen? Yes, that's him), as one would have to be to not only play so well facing the piano, but also to play it backwards and upside-down. We've seen him in concert where he takes requests from the audience via text message, which I like. He's an award-winning performer, he's professional, he's fun, he's great.

I'm a believer in supporting talented people who are also thoughtful. So if you're not familiar with Jason's work (or if you are), check him out on YouTube, and also check to see if his tour this year reaches a town near you. We're looking forward to seeing him again in concert at the Sandy Amphitheater this summer.

Thanks again, Jason! Your choice of songs to put in this medley was spot-on.


Monday, March 27, 2017

Riding Bikes

Once I rode a bike.

I mean, I'd been riding a bike my entire life. But even as a kid I looked forward to when I could ride the bike I had been taught I was meant to ride, the right and best bike to ride, the bike that would make me the cyclist I was supposed to be: the bicycle built for two.

It would be easy, now, to criticize my younger self for how quickly I hopped on that bike. It would be easy to say I began riding that bike when I was too young, not ready, or with reckless abandon, but what good does that do? I got on that bike.

That bike requires the work of two, it should go without saying. I remember, early on, doing a lot of pedaling but not a lot of steering. I also added a seat, and rather quickly. The most difficult part of that-- or any-- bike I've ridden was adding a second seat and then having to remove it. I'd end up adding four more seats, one by one, with time for adjustment. Once those seats seemed securely in place, I looked up and found I didn't understand where we were, so I began to do my best to steer, or, to share steering.

My legs got tired from pedaling. Not just tired, but worn out. And I couldn't steer it all by myself and keep the balance of a bike with, in total, seven seats.

I did my best. I tried my hardest.

And I fell off the bike.

It hurt. It didn't just hurt me: everyone who fell off that bike got hurt, and we've each got our own unique wounds and scars from it.

Getting up from the fall, I found two new bikes. The first was like the one from earlier in my life, for one person; the second was just like that, but with five extra seats. Terrified, I took turns riding those bikes, always riding one or the other, learning new things with each ride, difficult things, things I didn't know existed. To be honest, I'm not sure how I didn't fall off one or both of those two bikes; at times I was sure I would. The cost of keeping those rides as smooth as possible was high, but I did what I had to do: I focused on riding those two bikes.

Many people around me were riding the kind of bike I had fallen from. I'd see them and wonder if I'd ever get on that kind of bike again. Sometimes I wondered with hope; other times I wondered while challenging previously held beliefs, trying to reconcile that my two new bikes would be mine forever, working on being okay with the exhaustion, seeing the benefit of such hard work, and being okay with the lessons I was learning. Concentrating on seeing the benefits of where I was rather than where I thought I'd be helped me steady my riding. And, very importantly, I learned lessons I wish I'd learned earlier about how competent a cyclist I can be-- just me, of my own merit, on these, or any, types of bikes.

While getting more comfortable with steadying my rides, I began to get to know someone who, I didn't realize at the time, was riding the same two types of bikes I was. We were fast friends, uncovering similar interests and things in common almost every day. A few weeks into this new friendship he started to tell me about his own experience falling off his previous bike, and about the bikes he was riding. His second bike didn't have as many seats as mine, but was similarly cumbersome in its own way. We had found another shared attribute, similar enough to empathize with and support one another, and different enough to help each other see new perspectives.

As our friendship developed we each continued riding our respective bikes. Together, we'd spend time riding our singular bikes, talking about how those rides affected us. One of us was more embarrassed than the other about having to ride that kind of bike at all (one of the scars from the fall), but we both took comfort in learning to ride side by side. We were surprised at and delighted with how much we enjoyed riding our bikes, though not connected, together.

Though the friendship grew stronger, there were tough times. Sadly, those times would sometimes include bike criticisms: pointing out that the other wasn't riding one or both of their bikes the best way, or expressing anxiety about each other's extra seats. Scars from our falls were emphasized, wounds reopened. There were even times when we each contemplated (even threatened) an end to our side-by-side rides.

But we didn't want to stop, so we didn't. We reminded each other to remember. We worked together. We strengthened each other. We both kept moving. And because we didn't stop, we didn't fall.

Eventually, it happened: while riding together, side-by-side, savoring the joy (maybe moreso because of the shared sorrows and subsequent shared ascents), we saw something and, together, paused.

And looked.

It's like nothing we'd ever seen before.

It's a bike. Built for two, but side-by-side, not front-and-back. And this bike isn't one where you can start from scratch, adding seats one-by-one, and slowly acclimate to the added weight. This bike already has eight extra seats, adult-to-child-sized, plus a permanent laceration from where a seat was removed, plus the current construction of a soon-to-be-added adult-sized seat. It also seems there will be seasons when some of those seats will be heartbreakingly empty; not everyone in those extra seats will want to ride.

This bike is ready-made for the kind of hard work only two people who want to make it work can do.

So that's what we're doing. We're not falling off our bikes this time, we're setting them down as we climb onto our new bike. Together. And we're doing it with intention and determination, and a commitment to keep strengthening each other and keep moving.

It will be simultaneously exactly like what we've been doing together for over a year, and also like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Just like riding a bike.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Tim Timmerman, Hope of America

A new film hits select theaters today, Tim Timmerman, Hope of America. I took a few of my kids to the premiere last night, it was a great event.

Three of my kids with Aaliyah Rose, who sings in the movie, and who went to middle school with another of my kids...and who you should maybe look for on The Voice

Last night wasn't the first time I had seen this movie; I went to a screening last week, too. This film has been on my mind for a while.

The story follows Tim Timmerman, high school senior in the fall of 1994 (hey! That's when I was a high school senior!), student body president (hey! I was student body president!), and all-around charming slacker (hey! I...). Tim has his sights set on winning the Hope of America Award as a way to achieve his Ivy League aspirations. His hijinks catch up with him, however, and, as I'm sure you can imagine, a measure of chaos ensues. Throw in a rival-turned-romantic interest, Pearl Jam, and a game called Assassin, and you've got a satisfying movie with some solid laughs and a bunch of feel-goods. 

Here's the thing: for being a Utah movie, I'm impressed. I both hesitate to mention, and am happy about, this being classified as a Utah movie. Many elements of it are universally enjoyable, like the '90s pop culture references; others I have to wonder about, like referring to Salt Lake Community College (SLCC, pronounced, 'slick,' locally) as having a reputation of being sub-par (no disrespect, SLCC, promise). Then again, maybe it translates, being a community college (no disrespect, community colleges, promise). I'd guess that joke gets a bigger laugh in Utah than elsewhere. 

My kids liked it. A lot. They like recognizing local places where film scenes take place. In fact, this morning, as soon as other kids got into my van for carpool, my kids began, "We saw this movie last night, it was so funny! It's called Tim Timmerman, and...." And one of my kids brought...what are these, pass-along cards?...with him to school today.

Overall, I like it. The cast and characters are strong (Andrew Caldwell's character got the most laughs from me), and the many story lines are wrapped up neatly. There are a few things I could have done without, like the creepy teacher and...well, I guess that's really the only one. I love that about 50% of the story is autobiographical for director Cameron Sawyer. But look at how we mid-'90s student body presidents are doing now! Flannel's back, and maybe, because of Tim Timmerman, we'll see a retro resurgence of Mazzy Star

Go see Tim Timmerman, Hope of America this weekend!

*This post, while honest and true, results in enough dollars in my wallet to feed my kids pizza for a couple nights. #spon

Monday, February 27, 2017

Theatre Nerds INDEED

Remember that time I told you about My Shot Working With Lemons?

Turns out, thought that video was great enough to include in their article Watch These Mind Blowing Musical Theatre Tribute Videos (where do they come up with this stuff?). And that's super cool.

Looking through the article (thanks, John, for posting it on my wall!) I was glad to see we're in good company-- Peter HollensEvynne Hollens, something called Vocal Point...  And THEN I saw who else was included and THAT'S FINE.

I'll take this as a win for being in the same article as Lin-Manuel Miranda and Audra McDonald and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jane Krakowski and James Corden.

You'll get that (P)EGOT, LMM. You'll get it yet. #JustYouWait

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Thing About #LightTheWorld

The #LightTheWorld campaign last holiday season was great. And while I'd intended to post about things my kids and/or I did and/or saw to represent what was highlighted each of those days in December, it just kind of trailed off, because: December.

One cool day for us was talking about Day 15, Jesus Worshipped Through Song and So Can You. Music is a very important part of my family's life. My son talked about enjoying singing in his school choir Christmas concert.


A daughter mentioned how touched she was to be the very first recipient of Peter Hollens' newest album A Hollens Family Christmas this year. He sent it as a gesture of friendship with Get Well wishes.

Another daughter was caught up in finding ways to serve others each day in different ways at school; this was quite common among their classmates.

But here's the thing about didn't end when the season ended.

The brilliance of the campaign is in the actionable possibilities. My entire adult life I've heard others lament the commercialism of the holiday season, expressing wishes for a miracle of actually feeling the spirit of service and love and peace during a time of year which is supposed to celebrate exactly those things.

And #LightTheWorld did that.

There were actions documented by videos widely shared and posts with hundreds of likes, and there were countless more efforts not recognized or lauded. A sister helping a brother with homework. A son making his mom's bed. College students reaching out to neighbors they might not otherwise. Spouses using softer voices and looking for ways to serve. Those who are lonely receiving visits and surprises from hands which will forever be unknown and appreciated more than words can express.

I know my home felt closer to how I wanted it to feel during the holidays, moreso than any in the last handful of years at least.

Then last weekend I was with a daughter at the store, and as I was loading my bagged goods into my cart, I noticed she was helping the lady in line behind us, who was in a motorized cart, load her goods onto the belt.

When we got into the car, my daughter laughed as she told me how the older woman bemoaned not being able to find the cookies she was looking for.

If the idea was to teach people-- kids and adults alike-- how to be more thoughtful, more service-oriented, how to contribute in ways that make the world a nicer place, well then, #LightTheWorld, well done.

Monday, December 12, 2016

#LIGHTtheWorld Days 11 & 12

My family and I have decided to share how we honor the spirit of the holiday season and how we and others #LIGHTtheWORLD. We'll talk about service-- how we serve, or how we've been served-- in 25 Ways over 25 Days. You can learn more here

This post was created by my 17YO daughter.

Jesus Ministered to Children and So Can You, and Jesus Taught Others and So Can You.

"My best friend and I are peer tutors and help teach kids everyday life skills, and are there to play and learn with them, too. They are the sweetest and funniest kids."