Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I hope you are all taking lots of naps and relishing the chance to relax like I am! It's snowing where I am and I am in heaven, also somehow wine seems to be cheaper here.

With 2012 just around the corner, I guess I'm trying to come up with some goals for myself and spending sometime think back over the year and about all the things, both good and bad, that have happened. I certainly have been rich with friendships and new professional relationships.

I have loved 2011, because it's taught me a lot. I wonder what is coming next?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday: Stocking stuffers for your favorite singer (edited to add more!)

Okay, guys! I had a couple of major discoveries this weekend, and I'm putting them down here. If you need a little gift for a singer, these are fabulous ideas.

1. Eucalyptus Essential Oil
You can get it at Whole Foods, and it makes your morning shower a spa experience-- just splash a few drops on the wall of the shower once the water is hot and there is a lot of steam. Plus, it is great for use when steaming.

2. Bromelain
This is a dietary supplement made from pineapple enzymes. It reduces inflammation, and worked amazingly well on my fatigued vocal cords yesterday when I had a concert to sing. You take one right after a meal, a couple hours before your gig. It just calms everything down in there if you've been singing a lot.

3. Practicing Peace in Times of War by Pema Chödrön
With such a far-reaching, lofty sounding title, you would never know how incredibly relevant to everyday life this book is. It's short, it's sweet, it's life-changing. It is currently changing mine as we speak. It's not about countries and politics. It's about the human heart. Unbelievable and mind-blowing. It's inexpensive, and even less expensive if you buy it for your Kindle. I think my copy was a little over six dollars!

Have a great week, dear readers! Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday: Discomfort is my comfort zone

As singers, we almost become more comfortable with discomfort than comfort, in many ways. We become accustomed to having teachers ask us to do humiliating things and make rather humiliating sounds in the course of lessons, because we have learned that ultimately, it always helps! We pay coaches to lovingly insult us into being better performers and more careful linguists. In fact, I have always had the distinct sense that when it comes to singing, if I'm not kept on my toes, I'm wasting my money! I think we would also all agree that there is nothing really that comfortable about singing art music in public. Sure, it gets easier every time, but ultimately, in order to even approach professionalism and a competitive level of work, we are performing with lots of focus and attention and energy. There's nothing cushy about it, in fact, it's pretty darn intense.

So, in that aspect of my life, I make a bee line in the direction of discomfort and ultimately growth.

It's the rest of my life that I find it's easier to fall into a pattern of comfort. For instance, sometimes its literally more comfortable to be angry with a someone that pisses you off than to make the effort to just get over it, and move through the discomfort of having to let it go. How funny that living with something damaging like anger is actually where my brain wants to go! Discomfort is my comfort zone. Yikes.

Just a couple of months ago, I made the decision while walking down the street that day to make a particular person in my life my spiritual practice. This person became my challenge to myself to see how much I could let go of anger, resentment, and annoyance that I found just seeping from my pores in their general direction. It has been really difficult sometimes, and nothing about it has been comfortable. But the changes it has made for me in this relationship with this person has been unreal. I am still struggling in my own way with aspects of this person's personality, but I now see it for what it is-- unnecessary. When I feel myself going there, I make the choice to let it go, and instead, react with kindness.

Something else completely out of my comfort zone: eating salads. I am making a huge effort to keep fresh greens in the house and just eat a salad a day, but it's hard, because I always have excuses and reasons why I'd rather be eating almost anything else. I'd rather be eating chips, you better believe it.

All this goes against my long held personal motto of "Sometimes you just have to do what you want."

And that is true too, except when doing "what you want" is actually bad for you.

Oh man is that deep. Whatever happened to frivolous Fridays???

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday: things to stop doing!

Oh YES, please read this blog post NOW!!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


The whole thing with me right now is Christmas.

Oh my goodness. I sang my last audition of 2011 on Monday, and did not embarrass myself despite intense exhaustion after the previous evening's emotionally taxing gig. In fact I sang competently in spite of the "interesting" accompanying. Now all I have to worry about are the church job concerts and Christmas Eve services, and since they are not really solo gigs, I find them less stressful. Oh, yes, and I haven't bought any presents for anyone. Nor have I finished trimming my tree. My holiday party is this weekend, and I spent all of last night making meatballs. The house has the distinct fragrance of, as Joe would say: a meatery. Every single fiber of my home is fully infiltrated with the smell of sauteeing pork. But I can check that huge job off the list. All I have to do now is make about twelve batches of pizza dough and buy some more wine, some cheese and some veggies.

Ahhh. I really do love the holidays. As long as there is wine.

Friday, December 09, 2011


My body is freaking out completely. My skin, etc. It seems like the perfect storm of a break down of bodily function. I asked myself this morning as I got up and looked at myself in the mirror: What in the HELL is going on?? It took me all of five seconds to realize: it's stress. The intense schedule, combined with a brain that never rests (re: memorization), along with some family drama: all these equal cortisol levels through the roof. Add to that, I haven't been able to get to yoga this week. So I'm a mess.

This morning I was blow-drying my hair, which is kind of a project (It's getting a bit too long for convenience), I was hot, tired, late for work, and I could feel all that frustration and angst rising. I almost had one of my famous tantrums (ask Joe, they are legendary), just because I needed the release of freaking out. Then I thought, okay, what good would that honestly do? It would upset Joe who also has a stressful day ahead of him as well, and I would only be more hot, more tired, and more late. So I took a breath and calmed myself down with my favorite yoga teacher's mantra: I am grateful, oh so grateful. Sounds cheesy, but it works.

There is comfort in the fact that what will be will be. The words of my pieces will probably come out mostly right. I have devoted a lot of time to them. I have to relax and believe in my own effort. The shopping will get done, the baking, the rehearsing, the overtime at work, it will all get done. It's time to stop giving myself a hernia over the whole thing.

Of course, I cannot just say those words and stop worrying. It's a process of constantly staying on top of my thoughts and the part they play in getting me so worked up.

But I need to cut it out because I look like the wicked witch of the west.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wednesday: part 2

“Ignore those that make you fearful and sad, that degrade you back towards disease and death.”
― Rumi

Wednesday: Over-Correcting

When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them. (Maya Angelou)

Words to live by. Words that I have not been following as closely as I should be. I have endeavored to stop making excuses for myself, why do I make excuses for others? When I see a glimpse of goodness and want to believe in someone, I forget about all the meanness.

So I've realized, I think it is possible to over-correct in the journey to non-judgement and acceptance. Especially as a professional singer, and when it comes to others you choose to work with. There is NO reason, NONE to work with someone who doesn't respect us, and all the things that we went through to get to where we are. I'm not going to allow it, and neither should you.

No jerks allowed. The last thing young classical singers need is negativity.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Tuesday: Memorization station

Friday's audition was rather kick-ass if I do say so myself. The whole commute to NYC went so remarkably smoothly, comfortably, and non-annoyingly that it almost scared me. I enjoy auditioning for so many reasons. Very near the top of the list would be observing other singers in their not-so-natural habitat. I love to see what the girls are wearing, I love to hear the chatting, the lingo, I am energized by the environment. I am learning to turn off the comparing voice in my head when I see the thinner, more beautiful sopranos walking out of the audition room, so that no longer is such an issue for me, and it's crazy how much more I enjoy the whole process of going to sing an audition. I don't want to give the impression that I'm THAT evolved, however, that with the right combination of hormones, things couldn't seriously deteriorate, if you know what I mean.

Focusing on what IS my job and leaving all the other stuff out of it makes life way more fun.

Well, this week, despite the fact that ye old google calendar looks like crayola threw up all over it, (aka I'm really busy), I kind of need to memorize ten pieces for a recital on Sunday. They're at that scary point in the process where I still screw the words up waaaayyy too often, but it's ALMOST there. Yikes. Onward.