Sunday, January 31, 2010

What Happened in Vegas...

Yesterday, my roomate Sarina Thomas and I went to Las Vegas.  A month ago, we bought tickets to see "The Lion King."  So we went down early to do some shopping and eat lunch, and made a whole day of it!  The combination of our pre-planned activities and spontaneous additions made yesterday a PERFECT DAY!  I can't think of anything I would have changed!

Our first stop in Vegas was to pick up our "Lion King" tickets!  Sarina & I decided to take our pictures then, since the lobby was totally empty!  I think we got some cute ones!

Next stop: THE BELLAGIO to see their pretty indoor gardens and eat gellato!  Yum!  Yum!  YUM!!!  LOVE IT!
Then... we went shopping at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.  We decided to get 10 minute massages... and again, LOVED IT!!!
After some shopping, we walked down the strip to the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace.  No walk down the strip is ever complete without a sighting of the King!
Again, always looking for photo ops, Sarina & I got some pictures in front of the BEAUTIFUL fountains at Caesar's.
Then we went to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.  It was phenominal!  And my herb-crusted salmon looked so pretty, I just had to take a picture of it!
After lunch, Sarina and I realized we'd be pressed for time if we tried to walk/drive down to Mandalay Bay, where "The Lion King" was.  So we took a cab!  It was fun, and was made even more exciting by our cabbie constantly talking on his radio AND texting on his cell phone while driving!!!
SHOWTIME!!  We had decided to go all out and got the expensive tickets on the 6th row, center aisle!  I think it was totally worth it!  The show was PHENOMINAL!!
Both of us had seen the show years ago, but I had forgotten just how amazing it was!  I cried 6 or 7 times during the show, because of the beauty of it, and the messages I saw within the text and music.  It was incredibly moving!  And I was really grateful to have been there with Sarina, who as a fellow Drama Queen, also fully appreciated the experience, and cried, giggled, and got goosebumps with me!  I can't imagine anyone better to share it with!

Our original plans for the day had ended with "The Lion King," but gratefully, while shopping in the Miracle Mile Shops, Sarina & I had decided to get tickets for the late show of "Phantom" at the Venician.  We had a couple hours before that started, SO... instead of leaving to go home, we took another cab back to the Bellagio, where we'd parked, and got a great view of their famous fountain show!
The whole thing was really beautiful, and watching it with the mini-Eiffel Tower in the background, I understood how people find Vegas romantic!

After the water show, Sarina & I walked to our car and drove to the Venetian where we parked and went to pick up our tickets for "Phantom."  Once again, we took advantage of the empty lobby to get our pictures in!
We still had quite a bit of time before the show, so we walked around the Venetian a little bit... and finally ate the cheesecake we'd gotten to go from the Cheesecake Factory earlier!
At 9, we went to be seated for "Phantom."  Since it was a spontaneous addition to our planned trip, we had bought the cheap tickets for the show.  However, when we got there, one of the ushers upgraded us to the EIGHTH ROW, center section!!  SO LUCKY!!  The theater was renovated for "Phantom" and was spectacular!  The chandelier was ENORMOUS, the chairs looked antique, the walls all around were draped in fabric that then was pulled away when the main "DUH! Dun dun dun dun DUH!" theme is played at the beginning of the show!  Amazing!
After "Phantom" we drove home, and with the time difference, we got in pretty late!  BUT, in a move I find most impressive, both of us girls were on time AND pretty for 9 o'clock church this morning!

What a wonderful day!  Yay for girl time!  And for loving your roomate!  And for delicious desserts!  And for fabulous theatre!  And for making wonderful memories!

Monday, January 25, 2010

An Overdue Apology

Dear Long Hair,

I am sorry that I cut you.  I know I said I was sick of you, and that I always did you the same way, and that I felt like I'd kept you the same for 10 years and needed a change... but I miss you.  It took me almost 6 months to admit it, but it's true.  I miss how pretty you looked when I curled you.  I miss how shiny you were when you were straightened.  I miss throwing you in a ponytail and not needing bobby pins to make you stay.
I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  And please, please, please, please, please, please, please grow back quickly!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Anne Bogart

Anne Bogart, a world-famous author, director, and theatre practitioner, was the keynote speaker at the Utah Theatre Conference this past weekend.  She is famous for her application of dance techniques to acting, known as Viewpoints.  Anne is one of the most influential theatre-practitioners of our time, and has in countless ways, revolutionized the world of theatre.  Hearing her speak was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity... and her insight and advice was incredible!

I understand that non-theatre people might not fully appreciate what it means to learn from her, but I felt like her thoughts applied not only to theatre, but to life in general!

Here's what she had to share (sorry if it's hard to make sense of my bullet points):
  1. Follow the pulse!
    • As an actor and individual, you must follow your own unique impressions and impulses.
      • Be attentive to that "goosebump factor" and don't ignore it when it comes.
    • Never talk down to your audience... instead, enlighten them.
    • Enthusiasm is everything!
    • When something happens, you must follow it!
  2. Make a mark!
    • Picasso said: "The first stroke on a page is always a mistake.  All the rest are to correct it."
    • Don't be afraid of that first step.
    • The French word for "rehearsal" is "repetition."
    • What are you going to do that is worth watching?
    • Make a memory!
      • Watching something literally releases hormones in your brain that create memories...
  3. Create the world you want to live in!
    • "Theatre is the one art form where the subject is always society."
    • We must ask the question: Can we get along?  How?
      • We can and must create a model society within our rehearsals.
    • Theatre (verb): to remember.
  4. Finish the sentence!
    • The reason for using phrases like "And I was like... You know... Umm..." is political
      • Thost who can't finish sentences are no threat to anyone.
    • "Being an artist means being articulate in the face of uncertainty."
    • "Find your words... The first won't always work out, but some eventually will/"
    • D. Schwartz said: "In dreams begin responsibilities."
      • What are you responsible for?
    • Don't describe yourself in low terms.
      • Use words that give value to what you do!
  5. Be unreasonable!
    • Your actions must have some logic, but must be centered on something that seems unreasonably impossible.
    • "In every action you do, you have to take a leap of faith in the middle of it!"
      • Don't stop!  "Form the experience while you're falling!"
    • Don't know too much!  Allow yourself not to have all the answers!
    • A character will always be either smaller or bigger than you.  Let it be bigger!
      • You'll expand as a person as you rise to the challenge of filling it.
    • Resist certainty.
    • The Steps to Creation are:
      1. Show up.
      2. Pay attention.
      3. Tell the truth.
      4. Don't hang on to what the results are.
  6. Bring attention to where attention is needed!
    • A director must be the most discriminating and attentive audience a performance will ever have.
    • The act of watching something changes it.
      • Observer-created reality... the Cinderella test
    • The quality of one person's attention affects other peoples' perceptions.
    • Catharsis (verb): to shine light in dark places
      • We must select those dark places in the world around us and in life and shine light in order to encourage change.
    • We must expand the definition of what it means to be human.
    • Mother Theresa said to Morgan Janess (a director and Anne's friend):
      • "In my country we have famine of the body.  In yours, you have famine of the soul.  You must continue doing theatre."
  7. Cultivate attitude!
    • The German word "halto" means attitude.
    • We can choose to feed forward (as in jumping up to hit a volleyball) or to feedback (as in our response to something)
      • Find the balance... Go out and get a sensation back!
    • We have the ultimate responsibility for our posture/attitude/mood.
      • We can either poison or make magical any situation.
      • YOU alone choose your opinion & attitude... IT MATTERS!
    • May we all have the will to go out and the grace to receive.
    • Don't look at the world from the middle distance.
      • Either look too close or too far away.
      • Pick the right perspective!
    • 3 things required to really make something:
      1. Passion
      2. Something to say
      3. Technique
I left her keynote address feeling so impowered and motivated!  I love feeling like you've learned something that requires thought in order to digest it fully!  Even now, retyping it to share, I can't help but marvel at her insights!  This speech alone would have made the trip worth it!  SO glad I went!

Pasek & Paul

At UTA, I had the chance to meet and work with songwriting duo, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul!  These guys are incredible, and are up-and-coming in the theatre world, developing music for tv shows, and being commissioned to create musical adaptations of stories like James and the Giant Peach for Broadway.  They were SO great with the kids, and were so fun to work with!

I am now borderline obsessed with their music which can be found and downloaded HERE or watched HERE!

Warning: Some of their lyrics would need to be edited before you sing them.

But the melodies and stories behind their songs are SO refreshing and alive, it's hard not to enjoy them!  And it's such an opportunity to meet with people like this who really are making it in the theatre industry, and who in five or ten years will be world-reknown!  SO much potential!  SO much talent!  SO much fun!

And how lucky are these Utah high school students who get to have these experiences as teenagers?!?  JEALOUS!!!

Students, Teachers... Student-Teacher.

I also had the chance to see several of my students from when I student taught at Lehi High School a year ago (I can't believe it's been that long!!)  It was SO good to see them, although it made me miss working with them and made me miss my other students who graduated last year and weren't at the conference!  How great to see these ones, though!  They made such a mark on my heart and in my life, and it was wonderful to relive some old memories and make new ones too!

My mentor teacher, Mindy, and I
My old students!
Paul & I
Mason & Kayli
Favorite Boys!!!

I also got the chance to see some of my old professors... It was wonderful to have the chance to thank them for the many things they taught me... as well as to ask their advice and opinions on some things I'm facing now as a real teacher!

Megan, George, Me, and Shawnda
Amy, Me, and Rodger

If anyone who ever reads this is considering studying Theatre and BYU, I would say DO IT!  These wonderful teachers will mentor, support, and enlighten you!  They will change your life as they have mine, and you will be so much the better for it!

In short... it was fantastic to see the people who have helped me become the teacher that I am!  I love them!  And am happy to have worked with them!

Conference & Cousins!

I just got home to St. George from my trip up to Provo for the Utah Theatre Association Conference this weekend!  The 3 day event was WONDERFUL!  I learned SO much and feel so re-energized to go back to school and work with my students!  I also feel so grateful for a job I don't just like, but am passionate about!

I will share some thoughts about things I learned at the conference once I can locate my notes and such... but for now I'll share some pictures!

In addition to learning about theatre and seeing many old friends/students/professors this weekend, I got to spend time with MANY family members!  HOW FUN!  I stayed with the Haynie girls (I guess Kendra is the only Haynie and the only one I'm actually related to by blood... the other ones just feel like family).  But somehow, Kendra, Francie, Star, Taryn, and I did NOT get a single picture this weekend!  BOO!!!  Don't know how that happened, but I find it completely unacceptable!  I am considering turning back around to remedy the situation!  Regardless, though, I can't thank you enough for sharing your apartment, beds, shampoo, and even pajamas with me!

I did, however, get to see Glen, Connie, and Cailey, who I love SO SO SO much!  I lived with them last Winter and Summer, and I have missed them VERY much!  It was great to visit them, and especially to chat it up with Cailey (who will be 16 in about 2 months... anyone have a cute little brother?!?!?)

Have I mentioned that I love and miss this girl?!?  We got so close in the 8 months we shared a bathroom... it's like having another little sister!  SO glad we got to catch up!

Last night, I also had a chance to catch up with my Cappellucci cousins, plus Ashlee Prisbrey (who designed my new-and-improved blog, remember?!?)  It was a busy night at the Cappellucci house... Kendall was at college, so I did NOT get to see her... Chase took off for Jr. Prom (looking studly, of course), Laurel went to go babysit... Quinn took a long bath and an early bedtime... and Cole & I went on a little date!  After the big kids split for their activities, Kathy, Steve, Ashlee, the little boys, and I played a game, and then Cole & I went out!  We got home and fell asleep on the Love Sac before nine!  How lame of me!

Look how handsome these boys are!  Am I lucky or what!?!?!
Laurel just keeps getting more beautiful!
Just LOVE these wonderful role models!
Cole & I ate Chipotle!!  YUMMM!!!

I feel so blessed to be part of a tight-knit extended family!  I can't imagine not knowing and loving these wonderful people, and I am SO grateful for the support and I love I feel from them on a regular basis!  Thank you girls, Haynies, Cappelluccis, and Ashlee, for letting me spend time with you this weekend!  I love you!

CrEdiT fOr CuTeNeSs!!!

Special thanks to my cousin, Ashlee Prisbrey, for designing and creating my new blog template!!  Ashlee is SO talented and so generous!  And SOOO crafty... check out her cuteness HERE and HERE!  I know she spent hours this week doing it for me, on top of an incredibly busy schedule... being a mom, cooking delicious food, adopting a pig, making adorable cakes, etc... I don't know how she does it all and manages to maintain her sanity!  I hope I can achieve that same level of generous multi-tasking one day!  But in the meantime, I just wanted to thank her, and make sure credit for the new-and-improved cuteness around here goes where it's due!

P.S.  Did you notice how cute that signature is?!?  Guess who made it...  Yep!  Ashlee!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Did I Not Post This?

I was editing my school blog this morning and saw this old post and laughed really hard while watching it!  I was shocked when I realized I never posted it on my personal blog.  So here it is, 5 months late...

This was a suprise performance at our school's opening assembly... my one and only chance to make it in a boy band! 

It was AWESOME!!!  Coolest moment of my life!  Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hooray For...

  • checking things off my to-do list
  • eating brownies with chocolate ice cream
  • making new friends
  • getting a pedicure
  • trusting the Lord
  • having a clean house
  • being excited about something
  • missing my family
  • getting older
  • getting wiser
  • learning new things
  • remembering old friends
  • feeling content
  • being responsible
  • having dark pink bed sheets
  • dreaming big
  • smiling all the way to your ears
  • loving where I'm at
  • new beginnings
  • feeling expecially hopeful
  • making good, but difficult choices
  • setting goals
  • achieving goals
  • reading a good book
  • cooking a yummy dinner
  • knowing who I am
  • getting a bigger, better perspective
  • dancing in my living room
  • prayer
  • looking at old pictures
  • helping other people
  • Disney Scene-It
  • working out
  • waking up before your alarm
  • time to ponder
  • warmth when the forecast said cold
  • not needing to know everything
  • being excited for tomorrow
  • making plans
  • bubble baths
  • going to Disney Land for spring break
  • wonderful girls
  • belting in the car
  • candle-warmers
  • lazy days
  • a new pair of jeans
  • reading the scriptures
  • lotion
  • feeling proud of yourself
So many things to be happy about!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let Your Light So Shine

So... one of my students posted this comment on my teacher blog!

"Miss Houghtaling ..... you are just so purrty to me i mean there is just sometyhing abot you that shines and pulls the happiness out of me!!!! I may not be in your class but whenever i am around you i have the best time that i could ever have!!!! :)"

There's a legitimate chance this girl is just sucking up for a good part in the musical... but on the chance that she's being completely sincere... YAY!!!  It means SO much to get little notes like this from the kids in an email or a sticky note or whatever.  So many of these kids are facing some humongous challenges at home and really lack parental support and/or positive role models on top of that.  I really feel a huge responsibility for setting a good example in the lives of my students!  It's nice to know that they can sense that, even if they can't put it into words!!

In fact, this just made me think of Alma 17:11.  "...Be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls."

Some days I think that should read "...Be patient in fourth and fifth periods..."

I've often heard that you can't measure the influence of a mother.  Can you measure the influence of a teacher??

I want, more than anything, to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, to become who He wants me to be, and to help these kids!  Not so that they can all become Theatre majors or Choir teachers one day... but so they can recognize and seek out the light that "shines" in those around them.  So they can surround themselves by uplifting people.  So they can make right choices and help others do the same.  So they can be happy!!

Right now, I'm feeling very hopeful about that possibility!

I Make Children Cry.

I just posted the callback list for High School Musical Jr.

I was SO blown away by the amazing talent I saw at auditions... 81 kids showed up!  It was fantastic!  SUCH a hard choice!  I need to cut at least 20 for the show!  Good thing I have a few days to decide who and how many!

Callbacks will be held Thursday, and I'll post the cast list Saturday morning!

But in the meantime, let's focus on the fact that I had one kid break down in the middle of his audition, and at least four more break into tears when they walked out the door.  Plus however many cried reading the list tonight!

Does that make me a bully?  If I make small children cry??

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thoughts For a New Year...

I have been thinking a lot lately about the love the Lord has for us, and His desire to bless our lives and show us His love.  At times, we all struggle to feel His presence and His peace.  This can happen for many reasons.  Perhaps we may be struggling with temptation, frustration, or even discouragement.  How wonderful it is to know, then, that the Lord can help us overcome all of those obstacles, if we let Him.

I'm reading in Alma right now, and learned an important principle... After having persecuted the Church, Zeezrom has a change of heart and desires to repent.  Alma goes to visit him, and offers him counsel.  "And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ, thou canst be healed" (Alma 15:8).  The Lord has power to heal all wounds; those inflicted by other people or circumstances, as well as those brought about as a consequence of our own actions.  I have gained a testimony of that, particularly in this past year.  I know that if we exercise faith in the Atonement of the Lord, we will feel His peace.

As I work to develop my faith in Him, I am able to recognize His love more fully, and am more prepared to heed His invitation.  "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God" (Moroni 10:32).

One of the places I have come to know and love the Lord more fully is in the temple. As I have prepared to worship there, and am diligent in doing so, I really do come to know Him. Through that experience, I have gained a testimony that His grace is sufficient for me. It is enough not only to save us from our sins, but from our discouragements as well. As I am able to recognize His hand in my life in that way, I find it impossible to deny His power! 
I love the Lord!  I am grateful for the blessings He extends to me on a daily basis.  The past year has been the most difficult AND most wonderful I've had so far.  And I love the peace that comes from knowing that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and who gave His Son for my sake.  As I look to this new year, I do so with an increased desire to come to know Him, and a heart full of peace and hope.
In fact, a la my cousin Lindsey, I have selected "hope" as my word of the year for 2010.  It's a word that I will try to focus on throughout the year...  Here's what it means and why I picked it:

1. the feeling that events will turn out for the best.
2. a person or thing in which expectations are centered.
3. To wish for something with confident expectation of its fulfillment.
4. To have confidence; place trust.
5. the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God's help.