Saturday, December 31, 2016

Another year...

It's just another New Year's Eve...

Another night like all the rest...

(if you know those lyrics,  I will fist bump you!!)

I still refuse to accept "resolutions" on New Year's Eve.  It is the Pathway to Fail.

The entire holiday season for me,  gives me a chance to reflect,  to make decisions,  and to begin to focus and and nurture where I am,  where I have been, where I want to be next.

Learning to leave what is where it is,  is crucial to us as artists.  We are never completely satisfied: always wanting to change, to tweak,  to adjust.  This is a wonderful and maddening trait.

I am learning to let go of language that gets stuck in a loop in my mind.  Language that does not serve me.

"If only..."

"If I could do that again, I would..."

"Why did I let..."

"What was I thinking..."

"I can't..."

"It won't..."

And that's just a can add yours to that list! You know you have them!

Language we use on ourselves,  does not need to be black or white.  As you continue to live on this planet,  you begin to realize that much has to do with the hues of gray as people and experiences and decisions and choice are thrown into the mix! However, we tend to be 'all or nothing' and it doesn't serve us well.

What happens, happens.  We do not control that final outcome.  For those of us who have control freak issues (!!) in portions of our lives,  who are "fixers",  who are little bit Type A...we have a hard time with this. we speak to ourselves,  how we attitude our language in that inner dialogue matters.  THAT we can control.  We have agency over that language.  How we RESPOND to that language is within the grasp of our control and our choice.

So, when you review your year,  as a way of closing that particular book,  acknowledge what you must, but don't dwell on those things you did not do;  did not book;  did not achieve;  We tend to fall into the negative more often than we realize.  Well,  I know I do!  That language can be debilitating and create more anxiety and more confusion.

So, review your year.  Rejoice is what you DID.  What you DISCOVERED.  What you UNCOVERED.  What the roadblocks,  energy blocks RE-CREATED for you.

If you can recognize a barrier,  you can change it.  HOW is up to you.

Then let your authenticity lead you to language that inhabits your NOW;  that gives you power,  that gives you purpose,  that gives you possibility.

Those are the words I am leading with for 2017 starting today:

Power, Purpose, Possibility.

Nobody, and nothing, can take that from you,  unless you relinquish it.

Choose to carry your power, your purpose and your possibility and breathe life into them.

YOUR life.

YOUR choice.

YOUR year.

Let that lead you into your next,  and mingle with the energy of like minds;  find empathy for those minds not like yours; discover how to live the authenticity you are claiming just by DOING LIFE.

You truly have what it takes to claim your authenticity and all that manifests.

It means action.

It means reflection.

It means discovery.

One beautiful resonant sound at a time.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Achievement & Focus

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.”  

― George Bernard Shaw 

Focus is a fascinating thing.  My husband tells me when I focus, I am formidable.  I would like to believe the 'formidable' in that sentence is the most important word, but in fact, the most revealing word in that sentence is "when".

WHEN I focus...


As artists,  we wear many hats,  have many tasks,  many attentions,  much that pulls us this way and that.  We have craft,  we have self,  we have family,  we have side hustles,  we have business,  we never stop.

What do we focus on?   How does achievement reveal itself through focus?

I learned very early on that it's not "all or nothing".   There are lots of things that demand our attention,  but what demands are truly our focus?   This is perhaps a clearer determination of what you spend your time, and more importantly, your ENERGY on.  

Achievement is in the eye of the beholder, and has more to do with what you choose to focus on that does not drain you of energy.

When you sit with your music and really begin to FOCUS on learning it, discovering it,  letting it begin to gestate and emerge through your voice, and your body - there is a great sense of achievement:  craft, artistic integrity,  musical embodiment,  and more.  It ENERGIZES us,  it doesn't deplete us.

How do we discover that in other "necessities" of our life in order to weave it all together?

One thing I am recognizing in my own life is how not to WASTE my energy versus GIVE my energy:  to a task,  a person,  a necessary focus I have to explore.

I used to go into a task or a "necessary evil" with a sense of dread and foreboding that would waste my energy and leave me exhausted and noncommittal to the things and the people I wanted to spend energy on.

This can happen with our artistic lives and our business lives.

As artists, our desire and focus to create is strong,  and often, the "necessary evil"  of wanting to make a career is exhausting.  We stop and start and re-start and re-start again and again.  

Why?  Because HOW we focus and connect the achievement just hasn't found a balance yet.  How we focus on our craft versus how we focus on the business of self has not yet discovered the difference between wasting energy and giving energy.

Focus does not have to be all or nothing.  Deciding & and discovering how you best work is paramount:  are you a "to do" list person?  Are you a person that needs open-ended time to achieve focus?  Are you somewhere in the middle?

I have tried to be an open-ended person - and my tendency is just to waste it.  If I have only one thing to accomplish in a day,  I tend not to really focus.  If I have 10 things I have to do and can "schedule" them into my structure,  I get them done,  or at least acknowledge them fully and give them my focus.

One is not better or easier than the other.  This has to do with how you function most authentically.  

One of my ongoing promises to myself to continue to determine tasks,   projects, schedule,  craft,  creative ideas,  business possibilities, by ENERGY.  Am I wasting or giving?  Even if the idea doesn't excite me - what kind of energy does it use,  and then how do I focus that energy to release it,  or put it into action?

Motivation and focus has everything to do with energy in action.  

Achievement has to do with that energy in action simply following through for that specific task,  in that specific time.  If you haven't wasted that energy,  you will have a sense of accomplishment.  If you have wasted it,  the focus wasn't true, and you are exhausted.  

So, what do you want to accomplish now?

What's on your big dream board?

What are you doing to move yourself closer and closer into that orbit?

When you realize you aren't as aligned,  how does it make you FEEL?

As artists,  our emotional and physical energy as so closely and tightly woven. How we feel is felt physically and viscerally.

So, what would change that feeling?  How could you focus that feeling into change for you to move forward and into your "next",  instead of moving in circles and getting dizzy and having to constantly re-start and re-peat and never quite anchoring enough to move forward?

Where are you wasting energy?

Where do you need to give energy?  How will that energy allow you to truly focus on that task or action to allow you to feel as if you have accomplished and therefore achieved?

Start with the little tasks.  Write them down.  Give yourself a schedule each day if it helps.  Don't over schedule yourself if it makes you anxious.  Anxiety is another waste of energy.

Your desire has an opportunity to manifest itself into a clearer focus.  

With focus, comes action.  With action, comes achievement.  With achievement, comes success.  Success of YOU.  

If you say you want it,  but you don't go get it,  who are you fooling?

If you say you must do it,  but you don't do it,  what provokes you to say it in the first place?

Every step,  every decision,  every choice gives you permission to focus.  Every action gives you energy.  It doesn't need to be gigantic.  In fact, the smaller, often so-called "insignificant" actions are the ones that can create the energy we need to wrap ourselves in,  to create the momentum to the next action.

May you find the focus you need to create action in your desires. May that focus reveal to you what those desires truly are,  and not what you think they SHOULD be.  May you follow through with energy and not dread.  May your first step in this awareness be one of focused determination and excitement!

Happy Eve of all things good and light and true.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

What scares you?

There is so much in our world that is frightening - more now than ever.

This sense of fear, of disbelief, of hopelessness,  often renders us mute or stuck or simply unable to take a breath or a step or know what to do next.

Many of us have to learn how to respond to world in a brand new way:  a way that is foreign,  a way that requires us to learn new skills quickly in order to make sense of our purpose and our usefulness for that world in our own little corner.  We have to figure out why it matters, if it matters at all,  and what we have to contribute and what we have to DO to contribute to it.  It doesn't feel 'right',  it doesn't feel 'normal',  it doesn't feel 'enough'...

As you know,  this is not a political blog,  but how interesting it seems, that as I write the above paragraph,  it can be talking to you the artist and you the performer as you navigate the culture of the business,  should you want to pursue having a career.

What scares you?

I mean it!  What scares you?

What scares you about actually developing craft?  What scares you about developing your artistry so you can summon your talent at will?  What scares you about the business?  What scares you about walking through that door and saying "hey this is me,  and this is what I do"?   What scares you about sending out that application?  That submission?  What scares you about walking into that audition?  What scares you about getting that callback?  Not getting that callback?  Opening that email?  Not getting an email?

What scares you about walking into a class?  into a lesson?  What scares you about booking a project?  What scares you about practicing?  What scares you about taking a step outside your comfort zone?  What scares you about finding out what you can actually DO well and release  what you can't?  What scares you about discovering what you NEED to do?

Okay - you may be saying, "Pfff Susan I am not scared."  Fine.  Choose another word then.

Change "what scares you" to "what's stopping you";  change it to "how are you responding to"  or "what motivates you"  or "what stops you".

It all stems from the same place:  YOU.

Denial or dismissal or procrastination (and I have done ALL of it,  so don't with me...I see you!)  is a form of stress management.

When you feel like something is giving you anxiety,  a small or large panic attack,  an opportunity to hide or turn away,  there's your fear right there.

Sometimes what scares you,  is the fear itself.  The fear of failure?  The fear of actually succeeding?  And what is THAT anyway?  Succeeding in what?  Succeeding with what?  Succeeding where?  Succeeding how?

Who is that in the mirror and how do I come to terms with HER or HIM in a way that makes me feel like I am DOING something every day;  not for the business, not for the craft,  but for my place in it.

Your place matters.  The thing is,  you have to create it by being there.  You have to create it, hone it, nurture it,  stand your ground in it,  commit to it.  You have to acknowledge each emotion,  and claim them all as you have strength to.

You have to make that place yours and take it with you.

Think about being on tour:  so many of us create "home" around us in a hotel room - photographs, "stuff" that only matters to us,  that gives us a sense of belonging somewhere.

This is what brings us back to center.  This is what allows us to have a place to respond from and a place to return to.

So,  what scares you?  Do you have a place - your place - within yourself that you can take with you into every situation,  every possibility,  every sudden change?

Does it allow you to meet each situation head on?

More importantly does it reveal to you,  and are you aware when the excuses begin or when you feel the fear seep through and make you back away?

It's okay to be scared.  It's okay to be anything.

Claim it,  and discover how you can DO in spite of it,  despite it,  with it,  beyond it.

One step.  One idea.  If it feels too overwhelming,  stop and sit down and breathe and BE WHERE YOU ARE.  

When we are not where we are,  due to denial,  fatigue,  unawareness, delusion,  we cannot see where we are going,  what we are doing,  who we want to be,  or how we want to be seen.

What scares you?

Take a breath.  Where are you right now?  Claim that.  Stay there as long as you need to in order to make that real for you.  Take that place with you:  from one activity to another and be aware of it.

You are in charge of YOU.  Nobody's the boss of you - except YOU.  So what do you have to say?  What do YOU have to do?  Want to do?  Need to do?  Want to be bothering doing?

You can choose to be scared and do it anyway.

You can choose to be frustrated and find a new way to get there.

You can choose to stop.  You can choose to find motivation somewhere.  You can choose how you feel and how you respond,  not based on the outside but based on YOU.

As human beings and as artists we have this miraculous, wonderful and frustrating as hell thing called CHOICE.  It allows us to respond in ways more creative and magical than we allow ourselves to,  including making another choice!

So, what scares you?
Sometimes it's clear,  sometimes it's not.  Meet it head on,  find it,  and make a choice about what you will do with it.  Your fear.  Your choice.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Are You READY?

It's holiday season...

It's opera audition season...

It's always theatre audition season...

Sometimes, it's successful,  sometimes it doesn't seem to be.

If you aren't getting the auditions,  or the callbacks if you get the auditions;  if you aren't getting seen;  if you feel frustrated,  disappointed,  despondent, ready to take a hiatus...

Your feelings are valid.  Acknowledge them,  give them permission to exist and let them move through so you can get to the next.

What is the next?

A simple, yet complex question:  Are you ready?

Your answer may be:  Yeah, but Susan, ready for what?  I am not getting seen/getting appointments/getting callbacks/getting ANYTHING.

Ah, but what happens WHEN they call?  WHEN you get the audition appointment?

If you are stubborn and crazy enough to pursue this career choice (and you have to be a little or a lot of both!) - you have to be ready.

Once the disappointment wears away,  get your big girl panties on and GET TO WORK.

There is nothing more devastating than to watch someone who SAYS they want a career,  who may go through disappointing seasons of no work/no auditions,  suddenly get an opportunity, and they just are not ready.

It happens more than you think.

Make a commitment to yourself this season.  Make a commitment to be ready.

Sometimes you wonder if a casting director, or an artistic director even remembers you.  Then, out of the blue,  you get a call.  Are your ready?  (and that's not a story, it DOES happen)

What are you doing to be ready?

Is your voice is tip top shape?  Are you studying regularly enough,  are you practicing consistently to access your talent at will?

Are your arias ready to sing and PERFORM?

Is your audition book ready so if the casting director says "what else have you got in there?"  you could sing that cut exactly the way you want it?

Do you know what you want them to see about YOU in an audition?

Vocally?  Dramatically?

Are you ready to take on those roles or those projects that you say you want?

Is your head shot working?

Is your resume up to date?

Have you up'd your game in order to stand out for all the right reasons once you have a chance to show them what you do?

What if that phone call came today?  Are you going to get excited,  get focused and prep or are you going to start making excuses as to why it might not work?

If you say you want it,  then DO IT.  Prepare even when the opportunity isn't beckoning you.  Prepare precisely because it is not there.  This allows you the opportunity to be ready when the pressure isn't breathing down your throat!

Is the presentation of YOU accessible at a moment's notice?  This is the time to assess and ponder and then do something about that!

Little secret:  the business isn't going anywhere.  You can take some time to get yourself in order to truly be ready when the call comes and they want to see you this afternoon, tomorrow or next week.

So, instead of letting the lack of work, auditions, callbacks get you down - let it be permission to get it all together!  Organize!  Plan!  Study!  Practice!  Discover!  BE!!!!

Yes, sometimes being ready means you hurry up and wait.  Waiting doesn't mean dormant.  Waiting means prepared.  Our business is fickle,  and it's temperamental and it changes its mind quickly.  If you aren't ready to meet the challenge when the opportunity beckons or demands your attention,  you will be stuck in your own decisions.

The opportunity will come.  Be ready for what you need to do, in order to DO IT.

Don't settle for kinda, sorta,  maybe.

Kinda, sorta, maybe isn't memorable for the right reasons.

You want it?  You gotta go get it when it presents itself.

That's the best gift you can give yourself this season:  ALL OF YOU!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Reviving the Blog!

happy holiday season!

I have been MIA on this blog and it's time for CHANGE!

I will be reviving this,  and tackling old topics in new ways,  new topics,  new discussions,  new possibilities!

if you the reader want to have a specific topic or idea developed,  don't hesitate to email me:

with your ideas!