Sunday, March 15, 2009

...and that has made all the difference

My writing lately has, frankly, stunk. My husband told me a couple of posts ago that I was just phoning it in. He was mostly yanking my chain, because when you've been married to the same person for well over half your life, harassing them becomes your number one form of cheap entertainment. (Making sure my husband overheard, I told Amber on the phone today that he wasn't just an agent, he was a "special" agent, which meant he rode the short bus to work every day. Can you just imagine an eternity of this kind of thing?)

But my son, also a writer, suggested that I was 'thinking about my writing instead of writing what I was thinking.' Which was simply a kinder variation on the theme of "phoning it in" my husband was whistling in the background.

They're both right, of course. I really do enjoy the lighthearted times we spend together, especially since it has always been my great good fortune to find myself surrounded by smart, sassy, kooky women (and very patient men...) I love the fact that, in your comments on my posts, you'll riff off of what I was doing or how I was writing. So when I wrote about 25 goofy things I hate, all your comments started with "Don't you hate it when..." And when I wrote an 'epistle' in scripture language, you all commented in scripture language! How funny is that?? SUCH a good time!

But I've been trying to write "happy" when really, I've been kind of sad for a couple of weeks. And evidently I'm not a good enough writer to fake it.

See, I made a tough decision two weeks ago. It was one of those things where you rediscover the power and peace that come from fasting and prayer. It was most definitely the right thing to do, as was further evidenced by the fact that the other people involved came to the same conclusions, in the same ways, albeit with a slightly different objective in mind.

This is the Las Vegas Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, the Northwest Children's choir, and Deseret Strings, which is a children's orchestra. I direct the first three named groups, and my partner Jenny Jackson directs Deseret Strings.

This isn't a super-clear image, but if you look very closely, perhaps using opera glasses and a healthy dose of imagination, you can see me in the back left corner. From left, there is a blond woman (Jenny), a taller man kind of behind us, and then me.

I won't bore you with the details, but the upshot is, after four years of directing the Las Vegas Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, four years of all but selling my soul for the work we were doing with those wonderful kids, I decided to resign at the end of this season.

What's more, the chorus part of it, which really was my creation, will no longer exist. Period.

Oh, I can't even begin to tell you how painful this decision has been. How many tears have been shed. How many times I've asked myself whether I could possibly give the kind of love and dedication and energy to anything else after everything that I have poured into this organization.

In my life until now, I have been blessed with a pretty clear vision of the path ahead. Not so this time. This is the first time I've ever walked 'away' from something like this without heading 'toward' something new, and it's requiring faith and patience and trust in the Lord like I have never really had to show before.

But I do trust that good things are ahead. If there's one thing I've learned over the last 25 years, it's that He never takes something from me without handing me something bigger and better and filled to overflowing with opportunities for growth and joy. Never.

So I'm sorry for the distracted air with which I have been writing lately. I feel like somehow I've been dishonest. I do enjoy writing for writing's sake, but occasionally I need to remember that this is a log, a journal of sorts, and that often the best writing I do is that which really shows who I am and where I'm at on the journey.

And where I'm at right now, I think, may be a different kind of beginning. Standing in Frost's 'yellow wood', so to speak, looking down diverging roads as far as I can until they bend in the undergrowth of the unknown.

But I have learned, as Paul paraphrases for the Corinthians, the truth of Isaiah's faith-filled, hope-filled, joy-filled declaration:

"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

You know what? I'm counting on that.


Hel said...

DeNae!! I totally recognised you in the picture before you even explained where exactly in the top left corner you were. Now that I can recognise you in fuzzy small photos, I believe it means we are true bloggy friends.

I am so sorry to hear about your sadness - and to be honest, you are VERY good at faking it... I wont tell your husband ;)

We have just gone through the same fasting and prayer for a major decision kind of thing and my stomach is doing flip flops. Shall I pray for you to be called as Relief Society President? That should fill up your time nicely.

SO said...

Decisions like this are always hard, change is difficult but it stretches us and helps us grow. I love the scripture you quoted. I need to remember that. Sometimes in the midst of change all you can see is the difficulty and you don't focus on the good that will come. That scripture sums it up nicely. Good luck with road less traveled.

Kristina P. said...

What a tough decision! It sounds like it was the right one for you, though.

Devon said...

You know, for some reason I had the impression you lived in SLC--I'm not sure why. Hmm.

Anyway, I understand how hard it is to make a decision like that, but I do believe that you are right and God has bigger things planned for you! Good luck and I can't wait to see what you do next!

Arliss said...

Wow, that is a big decision. My heart goes out to you and I'll be waiting to hear what you are up to...maybe a rest!
Take Care

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the scripture that goes "Well done, thou good and faithful servant...." Someone with your talent won't be overlooked for long. Maybe you will get that second chance at Relief Society president! Love, Aunt H.

InkMom said...

Oh, DeNae, as good as you are at the funny bits, I relish this side of you -- the introspective wordsmith, who struggles to be heard over the comedienne sometimes! (I have just the opposite problem.)

Just keep swimming, my friend. He's sure to have something in mind for you shortly. I can't imagine the good work you did for those kids, but sometimes we do have to move on, don't we?

DeNae said...

Oh my goodness, it's a HELEN conspiracy! Aunt Helen and Helen of Australia, I love you both and am genuinely surprised at how casually you have tossed me into the RS president fire! What did my poor ward ever do to you?

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I think one of the best tools that God ever gave us to keep our independence in check is a little think called an "uncertain future." Personally, I prefer it over "sudden, unexpected, painful trials," but it's still difficult. You probably don't remember, but I'm pretty sure there was a time in your life when you longed for a period of calm, where you could focus on hobbies or even acts of service that there never seemed to be time for. This is your chance. Dig deep and you will find you have a stockpile of discarded desires and wishes that you can draw upon. These "down" times are important in our development, too. Elder Maxwell called it being "underwhelmed in the kingdom," and taught that these are times for soul-shaping. I bet you'll look back on this stage with gratitude and it will make perfect sense in hindsight. Your scripture was awesome, and I think that faith will make it all work out for good.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I meant thing, not think. I wonder if I will ever be able to write a comment without sending a second to edit it?!

Melanie J said...

On the one hand, it's great that you have people who respect you enough to call you on your writing when you're "phoning it it." On the other hand, I'm now depressed because your phoning it in beats my slaving away.

Anyway, I feel for you on taking a leap of faith with you resignation. I'm sure your mind will be eased when the purpose for that prompting is eventually revealed. Funny how prayers work that way.

Mona said...

DaNae --

Dale and I founded and produced (he directed) the touring Central Florida Messiah Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 13 years. We felt the same sort of mysterious "time to move on" feeling one year and it took GUTS to let go, knowing the organization would die, just as it seemed ready to go to new heights. Very shortly thereafter, Dale was unexpectedly transferred across the country and in our new home we were put smack dab into a whole new talent pool. Amazing opportunities led to our creation of "With Mine Own Hand" which was staged at BYU Ed Week last year. It never would have happened in Florida. It is distressing to step into the dark, but as you say, the Lord's imagination far surpasses our own, or as I say, my scheming just never compares to his Plan for me.


aunt dyanne said...

Dear DeNae.... I have been wallowing in your blog with great pleasure since I found it. In doing so, I have found ONE thing I can say I miss from my past... and that is your writing.

Your humor,honesty, sincerity, dedication and even phoning are generally just what I need and at the right time. I have come to realize what my mind has been telling me... and I hate to be that selfish - so thank you, for posting - no matter the inflection.

I am serving in RS for the first time in my life and on the Stake level to boot. NOT something I felt was of inspiration... the poor sisters of our stake. Maybe the calling was for them - - to learn patience and interpretation.

Anyway... in short *ahem* (cuz - I have lots I would love to say) I will just say... What Elder Oaks said to my fellow sisters and I yesterday....Be still, and know the Lord is there. Listen while things are quiet - so you will recognize his message when it comes.

Maybe this is your still time. If your prayer was answered to be so - then those youth are blessed and will be better adults, musicians and saints because of the influence you have had on them. May God CONTINUE to bless you FOREVER! I know I have been blessed to have found you. HE knows how much I need "you" right now.

Sincerely (with heartfelt tears)
-lil' old me.

That Girl in Brazil said...

Well, girl - your "thinking about writing" is a hecka lot better than my "writing what I'm thinking." (Tell your son that was a fabulous way to put it, bytheway.)

I do understand what that's like. But I can't imagine how hard it must be. Tell us about it - we're here for you.

AS Amber said...

Wow. What an awesome outpouring of love. I love this blogging community. People that have never met you really, truly, and sincerely care about you and, dare I say, love you? Like Aunt Dianne, I have also found your posts to be a sort of refuge. Your spiritual posts have been at times when I needed them and your lighthearted posts have literally had me in tears with laughter.
There is no question in my mind that you've received the inspiration you needed to come to this decision. And i'm certain your next "creative" venture will be exactly what you were meant to do. Why wouldn't it?
Love you!

TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

Don't you love those times when you just aren't sure what's in store but you have to take the leap of faith anyway. I'm sure Heavenly Father has something grand in the wings...He always knows what's best for us. We'll all be excited to hear about it.

Della Hill said...

I thought this was a pretty honest post, actually.
And it's nice to know that even you aren't clever, witty, and inspired all the time.
I'd give you words of support, but I think you already said it better than I could.
There is something awesome waiting around the bend.

R Max said...

I would never have known you were faking which makes me wonder whether I should start investing in grown up diapers for when you REALLY let loose with the funnies.

Lisa Loo said...

Dang--and I had just finished my "I follow DeNae because she never fakes it"--shrine. Dang! What am I going to do with all these candles??!!

Seriously--you are in a whole other talent galaxy from me--but I love frequenting your blog and laughing and (gasp) thinking even! Do you think they told us that earth life was going to be this kind of ride??!!

Motherboard said...

That was simply beautiful. I bow to my sensei! You are a fantastic writer.