Sunday Christmas and MoTab Singing

I am one of those lucky people who, along with 60,000 of my fellow fans, will be attending one of the three nights of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert next week. This is a family tradition, starting from when I was old enough (8 years old) to attend the concerts with my father. My mom sang in the ‘MoTab’ for twenty years, from the time I was six until I was twenty-six, and this 15-20 hour week commitment on her part has my dad saying he was a “bishop’s wife” for twenty years. In fact, my mother’s singing in the choir was one of the best feminist examples I could have had growing up in my very traditional family, an example where my stay-at-home mother shared her non-maternal talents outside the home, and where my sole-provider father cared for all the children, tucking us into bed on weekly rehearsal nights (every Thursday, many Tuesdays, and more when they were planning for an event, tour, or recording a CD), and getting us up and ready for Church early on Sunday mornings. Annual choir tours were three weeks long, with my mom, and sometimes my father, leaving for Australia, Hawaii, Eastern (then-communist) Europe, Western Europe, the Southern US states, and many more places to be missionaries for the Church through music.

I love the Choir. I love each director and what he brought to the Choir. How I used to thrill when the men of the choir would file into the Tabernacle, singing in unison, “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel.” The Christmas concert has changed a lot over the years. The Orchestra at Temple Square has been added, much to my delight. Having the Christmas concert at the Conference Center has allowed it to become more pageant-like, with dancers and special guest singers and narrators, generating DVD sales and bringing tens of thousands to the concerts, although with over 1 million ticket requests, most who register in the free online ticket lottery come away disappointed.

As proud as I am to have watched my mother participate and give service in this way, there is one part of her career that I don’t remember fondly.

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Adventures with Ham-Fried Rice and Respect for Others

My CEO wanted to have lunch with each project manager on the team, so I planned out our lunch appointment carefully. I outlined two successes that my team had experienced and two things I thought our team could be doing better. I even thought carefully about what to order at lunch since my CEO had chosen an Asian restaurant close by, and my CEO is Jewish. I usually ordered the pad thai at that restaurant, but I thought it might be disrespectful to eat pad thai with shellfish included. So I had planned ahead to eat the tangerine chicken instead.

What I didn’t count on was that I’d have to choose sides that weren’t offered with my usual order, and choosing rice proved to be a little sticky. “White, brown, or ham-fried?” the server asked me. Without even thinking, I said, “ham-fried.” Then it hit. Seriously? I couldn’t believe myself. I knew enough to plan out nearly everything, but then in a moment of being off-guard, I go ahead and order pork in my rice.

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As Many Names: The Middle Name Gender Divide

Kmillicam’s post about Gender Bias in the Book of Mormon, and the DoM podcast that inspired her post, got me thinking about other ways that language is used to distinguish women from men, and one  way we do this is through the use of middle names, or lack thereof.

When I was born, my parents decided not to give me a middle name. They did the same for my sister three years later, but both of my older brothers have middle names: my dad’s name for my oldest brother, and another favorite boy’s name for my other brother. The reason they changed tradition with me, they always told me, was that when I was married I would use my surname as a new middle name. Unfortunately the use of my maiden name as a middle name, and I have been questioned why my parents gave me a boy’s name as a middle name because my old surname is also a boy’s first given name (like Scott).

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Yarn and Grape Hyacinths

Yarn and Grape Hyacinths

As a busy professional, I often struggle feeling connected to people in my private life. I admit that a lack of connection is one of the hardest parts about being a liberal Mormon in my family and ward. But after an amazing 18-hour car-ride and conversation with Amelia, Stella, and a few others, I have been thinking more about the holiness and godliness of human connection, and so I’ve decided to magnify the connections I have in my life, to see how I can improve them.

Around my wrist is a bracelet of simple white yarn wrapped three times: Once for my mother, once for my grandmother, and once for me. I wrapped this bracelet a couple of weeks ago at a Blessingway for two Exponent friends and their babies.

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Cultivating Mindset: The Trouble with Bright Girls and the Women They Become

In this recent Huffington Post article, “The Trouble with Bright Girls,”Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson describes how professional women and men typically see their talents and their opportunities differently. Professional women, while often achieving lower levels of authority and power in their organizations than men, often view their skills and professional worth in fundamentally different ways than men. Women seem to have more of a closed mindset, meaning that they see abilities as innate and fixed, rather than subject to change and expansion (see Mindset by Carol Dweck). By contrast, professional men seem to view their skills as open to adaptation and development, and they do a much better job of selling their skills to their employers and overcoming challenges they face on the job.

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