Friday, December 27, 2013

The New Year Letter to Self

Friday evening musings...

I can't believe we have come to the final few days of 2013.  The year has flown by.  It is ridiculous what "time" does and how/where it goes!

I dislike "resolutions" - they have done nothing for me.  I prefer to reflect on the year,  and see what was DONE,  not what wasn't.  We are all great at beating ourselves up,  I am no exception.  Learning to embrace what we have accomplished is the best way to release the old year, and greet the new!  What we have accomplished,  or even moved closer to, on any and all levels of consciousness,  is worth celebration and worth inner discussion and evolution of spirit.

Maybe you didn't book the show you wanted this past year.  Dwelling on it means you are still THERE.  No one else is.  You are all by yourself,  re-living something that only exists in your mind.  It prevents you from celebrating what you DID do.  Claiming what you DID do, allows you to then see how that prepares you for what you WANT to do,  and what you NEED to do in order to claim that next step!

I love lists.  It gives my thoughts a physical awareness.  In many ways,  this blog has become that for me.  It codifies my ideas and thoughts in this particular theatre.

So perhaps making a list,  or writing a letter to yourself to acknowledge and celebrate what you have done this year is in order. 

Do not write about what you DID NOT do.  Write about what you DID do,  and what it represents to you,  and how it will lead you into a new year full of possibility.

I can write down things negatively without ANY problem - I didn't get the book done,  I didn't lose the weight I wanted,  I didn't sing publicly enough,  I didn't, I didn't...

So,  let me share with you the "lists" in my letter to self:

1.  What did I do for my career life?  NO NEGATIVES!!!!  what changed you?  what poses itself to work for change?  Name 5 things. 

2.  What did I do for my artistic life?  NO NEGATIVES!!!! sometimes these will overlap with career.
Name 5 things.

3.  What did I do for self-care?  NO NEGATIVES!!!!  Name 5 things.

4.  What did I do for/with my family?  NO NEGATIVES!!!!  Name 5 things.

5.  What did I do for/with my friends?  NO NEGATIVES!!!! Name 5 things.

6.  What did I do for my spirit and mental well-being?  (that can overlap with self-care/family/friends) NO NEGATIVES!!!! Name 5 things.

Now - how do THESE MANY accomplishments and growths allow you to move into the New Year with a renewed sense of self and purpose?  Where could they lead?  What do they arm you with?  What do you they create for you? 

And guess who accomplished them? YOU DID.

Congratulations!  You deserve it.  You deserve to dream, to wonder,  to wander,  to grow,  to explore, to feel,  and to strive toward what you are drawn to explore! 

Onward, forward, bringing the knowledge you have gained with you and releasing all things that hold you back.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Solstice!

Today is Winter Solstice...

In the northern hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year.

I remember this day vividly as one of my Dad's favorite holidays.

Today I was able to spend time with Nelson Garzon - the angel I recently blogged about and so many of you were so generous to donate toward his condition,  hemangioma.  His was more advanced,  and began growing again in his late teens,  threatening to take his eyesight and his mouth.  He was able to find surgeons to begin laser surgery to stop it from spreading,  and from growing.  It is working!  Success has begun!

Nelson is a writer and poet - and is writing his memoirs of his experiences in America,  getting treatment for this condition,  and the people he meets.  He hopes he will meet a publisher who would be willing to publish it.  I would think a Spanish publishing company that could translate into English would be ideal.

I will keep accepting donations on Nelson's behalf

If you are able to donate $10 or more,  and leave a message via paypal with your mailing address, I will send you a copy of my CD  "Taking My Turn" as my thanks for your donation!

I think that having an opportunity to share your gifts with Nelson today,  on this Solstice, is so fitting and special.

Solstice allows for stillness,  for reflection,  for anticipation of the birth of new possibilities...

I wish you nothing but wonderful possibilities,  an opportunity to discover the stillness to reflect on your achievements,  and the chance to explore more of what you dream of,  pursue and work toward.

Work,  dream,  discover,  share,  love, laugh,  SING!!!!

Happy Solstice!!!  Imagine,  have courage,  and DO IT!

Nelson and me!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Beginnings and the Endings

Sunday morning musings over a big mug of coffee...

After a storm,  I think what I enjoy the most is the stillness.  Nobody seems to be in a huge rush.  There is no need really.

I was thinking about the anticipation of new projects and then the closing of the show.  Both are major events in our lives as performers and artists. 

We prepare incredibly (or should be!) for a new project.  There is a wind-up process that we create - physically, emotionally, mentally - how we prepare and take on that project.

So often,  we are not prepared to take on the ending with the same understanding.

Post-show blues is very common for us.  In fact,  I don't know ANY performer who doesn't feel some melancholy when a gig is over, or a show closes.  We can feel it on all levels on consciousness - physically, psychologically, emotionally, spiritually.

Is there something wrong?  No.  It's part of releasing that creative energy.  Allowing oneself to feel and sense that fatigue/blues/sadness/emptiness is an important step to understanding the full process of the arc of a project and your part in that.

A project and/or gig can be like a perfect storm.  And then,  after the storm,  the stillness.  Often we, as performers,  want to fill that stillness with more stuff - to keep busy, to keep pushing, to keep doing...

Perhaps the idea of being still is how our psyches allow for ending well.  Perhaps being still gives us that reflective time,  that time to feel melancholy,  to see the arc from the other side,  to give time to discover "closure" before we move past it.

Perhaps feeling blue isn't a bad thing at all.  It allows for so much of who we are and what we do to settle,  re-focus and become a part of what we take to the next.  The ending fills and fulfills the action of the doing.  It needs time and stillness to permeate.  It needs reflection.  It needs rest.

As I have learned in so many ways over the last couple of years,  the body and the soul will always let you know what they need.  You simply have to be aware or they will slam you with it if you aren't paying attention.

The arc of an artist's project  reveals his/her process and it has a beginning,  middle and end.  That ending must be acknowledged in order for you to step back and see the larger picture.

So at this time of year,  when storms are inevitable for those of us who live in the north - and if we look to the celebration of the Winter Solstice  and any religious or spiritual celebration  - it is a time of year to be still.  To wonder.  To reflect.  To allow us to feel,  to hibernate,  to recognize,  and simply give ourselves permission to not run and jump to the next, but rather to focus and assess and be where we are.

The beginning is exciting - full of possibilities.  The ending is melancholy perhaps,  but it is satisfaction,  gratefulness,  contentment.  Allowing oneself to take in the ending,  is as important as choosing a beginning.

Happy stillness.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Angels in our midst...

We all have our guardian angels,  or those people who give us perspective,  magic and simply give us hope.

In the spirit of the holiday season,  I want to share someone with you.

His name is Nelson Garzon.

Every Saturday he stands til 4 p.m. at the corner of 24th and 6th holding his sign with quiet dignity "Donations Gratefully Accepted" and talks about the physical disease he has. His name is Nelson Garzon. The condition is called Hemangioma: a benign self-involuting tumor (swelling or growth) of endothelial cells, the cells that line blood vessels. This happens at birth and often resolves itself by age 10. In Nelson Garzon's case, it did not. He has come to NYC from Colombia to get laser treatment. He has a surgeon, and I have had the privilege to see how the surgeries are making such a difference. He is one of the most beautiful souls I have ever met. He accepts any donation, asks for nothing. He has cards made up to offer to people if they choose to stop and offer him a donation or simply to talk. This is what they say:

Life is an Act of Courage!

Feeling life with its suffering is weakness; inspiring life is strength. The flower is the most symbolic visible form of that life is: Beautiful, Fragile, Ephemeral...Enjoy it! We are an instant that disappears in time; there is nothing to hide; and nothing to lose. Life is suffering becuase of its form; It is beauty becuase of its nature; and a mystery becuase of it its miracle. We have a mind so narrow that we evoke with more strength, a more insignificant offense than hundreds of received benefits. Enjoy a boy's smile and console an old person's tears. Ugliness is like the herb, beauty is like the flower, it one dries up the other withers. In essence they are the same thing.

"I Appreciate all the support that you can offer me" - Nelson Garzon

Meeting him changed my life. He is so full of courage and love and light. Today was cold, so I brought him a coffee. You would have thought I had offered him the moon.

And so, at this holiday season, I want to help him even more. I have set up an email account/paypal to accept donations on his behalf. ALL monies donated will be given to him directly. If you trust me, and can spare $1.00 would you donate it to Nelson? He has come to a new country, learning English, and has the courage to pursue what he needs. He is an example of the true human spirit. If you can, just "gift money" to :

I will make sure ALL of your donations get to him as early as NEXT Saturday when I know he will be at 24th & 6th again. His next surgery is scheduled for February.

Thank you. I have never had someone move me like this before. 

I have never asked for this before.
 He could be an angel...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Vocal Tricks!

Sunday musings...

got your attention?

What are these "vocal tricks"?

Here is the secret....

There are none.

There is nothing that is a trick, or a tip to solid technique and healthy singing.  NOTHING. NADA.

Good technique is something that can be summoned AT WILL. 

A trick is a fluke and cannot be replicated nor integrated into an ongoing development of technical behavior.

So what does this mean?

It means,  vocal reality is about study,  tenacity,  understanding, recognizing,  figuring it out,  and dedication to find the full capacity of your own personal vocal instrument.

We have all been in that moment (or longer than a moment) of "god I hope it works",  or using an unhealthy way of getting through something vocally.  Many of us have faked our technique from time to time.  I am guilty too.  However,  the prayer, the scream,  the push, the "trick" may or may not work in the moment.  It is not reliable.  It is not behavior.  It is fickle.  It will let you down if you decide to put your faith in it.

True technique takes time.  It takes an honesty about where you are,  not where you think you are.  It takes a focus,  takes a work ethic,  takes a certain mentality to find what you need,  what you have to work with,  and the clarity to create a behavior that allows your voice, YOUR voice to emerge.

My philosophy is simple:  I believe the voice itself is always fine.  Where she/he chooses to reside isn't always ideal.  It is the physicality of technical behavior that needs to be balanced and fully realized.

True realization is not a trick.  It creates MAGIC yes, and this is where we often get lost.  We want the magic;  we want what seems to be spontaneous response to the emotional element of the music we sing.

Magic is created when the craft is nurtured.  Magic is real, but only through realization, not tricks.

Realization is rooted in knowledge.  Tricks are not rooted and stem from panic.

So, the next time you hear someone say they have the "vocal trick" you need - as bright and shiny as it seems - RUN!

Often, I have heard singers standing in front of me say "thanks for that trick".  I sigh and know simply from that language that they don't get it.  They are still expecting immediate and now.  They have the opportunity to figure it out,  but often times, they simply disappear because they refuse to recognize there is no trick.  Technique is built one step at a time,  one breath at a time.

If you walked up to a world class dancer and said "can you give me a trick to do the splits?",  they would look at you like you had lost your mind!

If you walked up to world class actor and said "can you show me a trick to do Shakespeare?",  they would walk away from you!

There is a secret...

There are no tricks.  There is just hard work,  the desire to learn,  the decision to see clearly,  and recognize what you have, what you need, and how you can work with YOUR physicality to allow YOUR voice to move in and reside as fully and as balanced as it can.

Being you isn't a trick.  Your voice isn't a trick.

Being you takes time.  Your voice takes time.  No wishing, no hoping.  Work, and time.

And then,  magic!

Do you dare discover THAT?!