Friday, July 31, 2015

Another New Beginning

As I sit here on Friday night, my last of the summer, I find myself reflecting on what has been amongst the hardest months of my life. This is not the first time I have felt this way, nor the last I would imagine. Each time the tough trials get tougher I have managed to remember one sure thing: I have overcome each of them.

A few months ago I was let go from my job. A job I loved passionately. The type of job I'd wished for since becoming a bone fide adult. It was a big blow, as nothing I did caused its occurrence. By all accounts I had been, and still am (!), a fantastic educator. In fact, over the course of the last few months I've had more praise handed my way than I can ever remember. (I love praise but am embarrassed when it is received and don't always acknowledge it well. So thank you to each who have said something kind!) From co-workers who have called me brave and a big loss to friends who have admired my tenacity and perseverance to my family who have seen my character my entire life and have served to enforce belief in myself and my abilities. Even today I was told I am "a hot commodity" being certified to teach in three content areas and at two different education levels. These are all things that have kept me going.

There was an episode of TURN: Washington's Spies where a character gives a toast saying, "Loss begets gain." When you are in the thick of losing something you so dearly wish to keep it is hard to see the truth behind the phrase. But now, I have what is shaping out to be an amazing new job in a new district and I am already seeing the gains I have been given. All of the co-workers I have met are beacons of light in the sea of education. They are passionate, collaborative and hard-working. They have all been friendly and have embraced me and trust me a lot. I certainly hope I live up to that trust in every way possible!

It has been difficult to find ways to write about this change over the last few months. I wish no ill upon my past employer and I'm coming closer to letting go of the difficulties I faced as a result of their decision.

There is joy in believing things happen for a reason. And I do believe it! I'm thrilled to kick the new year off on Monday. I hope to wow the socks off of people I will be working with. I can't wait to hike up my skirts and help students see the world and challenge what they know and believe about that world. To help them gain new skills in technology and engagement.

Happy last day of summer all. Happy....


Post Script: TURN: Washington's Spies is a fantastic, historically-based TV show on AMC. If you haven't seen it, give it a go! I was recently part of a global Twitter campaign to push for the show to be renewed for a 3rd season, which, I am happy to report, was approved in small part to the contributions of our social media campaign!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Singing Makes A Heart Happy

It has been a long time since a blog post. But my experiences this weekend warranted a write. Here's a taste of how I felt after singing this weekend at Church.

...There was a moment this morning with just under a minute to go in the 11am service that Andi, one of the worship leaders at church, came over to the choir before the mics were live and said he had heard nothing but amazing things about having the choir back this weekend. He thanked us. We all thanked him. It was a, "thank you for thanking us" moment. We joked together, all the while he strummed his guitar which was also not flipped live. I watched the clock tick down those last few seconds and away we went with the first song of the service.

There is something magical about performing. It doesn't matter if it at a rock and roll show or a church service. There are many similarities. But there is much that happens, even at a church, that people that attend don't ever see unless they are up on that stage. Here are a few of my favorite moments.

First of all, the choir rehearses about 3 times prior to services, at least that has been the case the last 3 times we have sung at church. Next time I think we get 4-5 rehearsals, but either way, it isn't a lot as a group.

On Saturday, around 2pm, the band, production crew and choir get to church. It seems early, since service isn't until 5pm but trust me, it takes a while to make it all perfect. The first hour is the band's time to get everything set. The choir sits patiently in the first few rows and watches the magic happen. This is everything from tempo, to getting the right sound in each members' ear piece, to messing with keys. You'll hear things like, "can I get more clicks? Less loops? I need more of Andi's guitar. I can't hear myself enough, can you turn me up and the clicks down?" There is a lot to get right so that you can focus on worshiping once the time comes. Then there are the key changes. Andi has a great vision for the service and a great mind for music. That's why he is a wonderful songwriter. He can sense the song. There was a point yesterday when he told the band he was going to apologize for what he was about to do. He changed the key from E to F#. If you are a music person, you know that is less pleasant. As a guitarist, I hate the F chord. F# just makes it worse. Thankfully, capos are cool, and just like that the band was off again playing the song in the new key, with no fuss and no mistakes. So amazing.

Finally the choir hopped on stage to check spacing and sightlines. The spot-lights were very bright this weekend. Typically, the words are projected on the back wall for the service. Everything from the song lyrics to the prayers to the notes for the Pastor's welcome message. With those spots, it was hard to see the words. Thankfully, there are monitors down on the floor in front that display the words, too. They are good so long as the worship leaders aren't blocking your view! (Choir doesn't typically rehearse the worship set, just the choir specials, but we sing the worship set, too, so words can be helpful!) The monitors also show images of what the cameras are shooting at any given time. And on Sundays, it shows what it happening at one of the other church campuses to make sure we are on pace with the rest of the churches in the Harvest family. When video announcements also are displayed there when the cameras aren't trained on the stage.

Speaking of the cameras - there are 4 of them. Two on each side, one in the back and then the big boom/swing camera. If seeing the hundreds of faces in the crowd isn't enough, there are always the orange lights on the "live" camera to let you know which angle is being used. But, that can also be seen on the floor monitors. Not that I'm really looking at them! I'm worshiping and trying to just sing to God!

Rehearsal can lead to a bunch of laughter. It is a great time to get out the mistakes. When we are all one and really belting it out (hard not to do in rehearsal but there are THREE services to come after all) it truly is magical. Harmonies paired with drums, electric guitars and piano are just awesome!

Then there is the service. There is always that moment in the 1st song that you wonder when the congregation will get to their feet. It happens at different times in each service. When they do all start standing, there is a surge of adrenaline that hits you, because the emotions are just filling the room and worship is all around you. I love that feeling. At that point, I just let my voice flow and smile and try and just let the congregation see me smile as I sing to God. Usually I can forget about the fact I am on stage, but not always. It is not a performance but you are still leading the church in song. I can't ever entirely let go and let it just be me and the Lord. Perhaps I am prideful. Either way, it is a wonderful time with wonderful people!!