Friday, June 23, 2017

Stick To The Plan

Let us travel back in time today to early December of 2016.  The world has gone through a paradigm shift which doesn't feel good, at least to me. My career also has me in a funk. While my arts education career continues to thrive, my performing career is in slow gear. Prospects for the future look slim. I have one cabaret gig in early January; after that, nothing.  Auditions are nonexistent. Colleagues tell me this is normal for the holiday season. I don't buy it.  

Of course the ancient crusty voices in my head begin their familiar litany: "Who do you think you are? You aren't meant for this work. Give up."  The fresh new voices are trying to counteract: "I can do this. I'm in this for the long haul. Grit and persistence are my best friends", but they are struggling to be heard through the whiny cacophony of old habits. I know the new voices are right, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot get them to drown out the ancient ones.

Even a 4-day escape to my Secret Spot
couldn't bring me out of my funk.
Despite this inner struggle, I consciously decide to take my own advice and continue to follow my carefully-crafted career plan. This plan is very specific: I am devoting the next 5 years to getting hired for 3 quality performing musical theatre gigs every year. I even have a specific date when this plan started: January 17, 2015. This means performing, refining my skills, auditioning and networking until January 15, 2020. Then I will reevaluate. Until then, get to work.

I sit down and reflect. What was going well?  Let's see, every Monday morning, I am prowling the Internet for auditions and submitting to those that seem right for my skills, and even a few that aren't. The audition tracking spreadsheet I have created is current and well-used. Every Tuesday, I am spending 30-60 minutes practicing - reviewing my audition songs, adding new ones AND working on monologues.  I have contacted a new vocal coach; we have agreed to start working together in the New Year.  There is one area that I could spend more time on - my dance skills.  I recognize I haven't been working on that skill as much as I could, and should. The excuses begin to flood my brain - it's hard to find the right class, getting to a good class takes time and money, I'm really not that good, so why bother? And that's my turning point.

"Why", I ask myself, "wait for the panic that is inevitable when an audition appears?"  Why not be proactive?  Why sit around thinking "I'm never going to work again"? Instead, why not think "The call is going to come and I need to be ready". I immediately thought of a slew of colleagues who have this attitude. I realized they get more work than I do. They also seem to roll with the ebbing and flowing of this career more easily.

That's all it took. "I'm never going to work again" transformed into "The work is around the corner and I need to be ready". Hence my next move is to find a dance class and put it into my calendar. Right then. I don't wait. I'm done waiting.

Lo and behold, this attitude adjustment is reinforced a few days later, as I'm reading about the rebuilding of my beloved Philadelphia Phillies:

"When we look at teams that have successfully rebuilt their organizations, they were teams that started with a plan, followed their plan and maintained their discipline throughout their plan and, almost without fail, they were rewarded in the end," General Manager Matt Klentak said. "The most recent examples are the Cubs, the Astros, the Pirates, the Orioles, and the Royals."

Not one of those teams.

There it is. Exactly what I need as well.  I need to stick to my plan.

And I do. I continue the work, with a different attitude. I now work expectantly, knowing that work is coming soon. Yes, there are days when that feels ridiculous, but I an now able to ignore that feeling and continue to work. 

Let's now fast forward to the present.

Within six weeks of my epiphany, auditions and then an offer came my way for a very nice gig. Which is why I am now performing throughout Asia back in the musical Sister Act for the next seven months. Yes, I am performing and traveling - two passions that are at the top of my life list.

Did my realization manifest this gig? Not completely, BUT, I know I went into those auditions with a much better attitude. My skills were freshly trained  and raring to go. I was open, I was upbeat, I wasn't angsty. I knew this was an ideal opportunity for me and more importantly, I was ready for it. That gave me the confidence to be me in the audition room. 

The moral of the post? Stick to your plan. Even when it seems hopeless.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Archive Time

I'm working on some new posts, but they're not ready yet.
In the meantime, here's one that was a big hit.

A Day at the Office

Once upon a time, I was a young and enthusiastic opera singer.  I embraced the opera world fully. Even auditioning.  I'd truck up to New York, my bag filled with high heels, makeup, fancy dresses, rhinestone jewelry, binders, resumes, maybe a granola bar.  And water.  Always water.  It was an exciting time for me.  I was well-prepared and my resume was spit spot perfect.  Didn't have much on it, but it was perfect.  More about that perfection problem later.

However, there was one area where I was woefully, inadequately, unbelievably, how-did-this-happen prepared - my mental attitude.

You see, at first, I did most auditions on a lark.  I really didn't think I stood a chance (this is where a lack of self-awareness can be dangerously helpful), so I'd bust into the room without a care in the world, sing my aria and just be thrilled that I was singing an audition in the Big Apple.  This attitude actually worked beautifully for me.  Without even trying, I had found the ideal level of "don't careness".  Hence, the music would shine through.  I got lots of interest and quite a few jobs.

Yup, that's me.  Singing Sandman in Hansel & Gretel with Tulsa Opera.  
Just a few years ago.

That success made me care more.  Once you get to sit at the big girl's table, you don't want to leave.  In caring more, I made a huge mistake.  I started to wrap my own self-esteem into each audition experience until every audition became a do or die proposition.  Do an audition.  Die until they call you.  Die when they don't call you.  Spend weeks getting over the disappointment.  Repeat.

Then, one day, I was walking down 7th Avenue, headed to an audition, when I ran into the husband of a colleague.  Tim was further along in his career than I was in mine.  He had sung leading roles in both the US and Europe. People in the business knew Tim and his work. I knew him as Jody's husband.

Like a little puppy dog, I said hello. Everything about me oozed inexperience and naivete.  I asked Tim what he was doing in New York and he said he also had an audition.

"Are you nervous?" I asked,  assuming I'd find a comrade for my nervous state.

"Na," he said.  "It's a day at the office.  See you later.  Oh - toi toi toi."

And he crossed the street.

A day at the office.  Those words hit me like a bullet to the forehead.  Wow.  Even though I was in the early years of my career, I could tell that attitude was important.

You see, for Tim, auditioning was something he did all the time.  He didn't wait for the feedback, the phone call, the email before he went to the next audition.  He did an audition, walked out of the room and moved on to the next one.

It took me years to cultivate this attitude.  I still fail sometimes.  But I always return to Tim's words.

A day at the office.

Still me. Still singing.  Well, okay, I'm holding a ruler, but I also sang.
Viola Swamp in Miss Nelson Is Missing at the Nut.
Guys, guess what? 
Creatavita is 5 years old this Saturday, June 17, 2017!
I can't believe it's been 5 years already.
Thanks for reading and sending me all your fantastic thoughts and ideas.
Keep 'em coming, because I am grateful for all of it.
Here's to many more!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sounds from the World

Wandered out to find the world
Caught a glimpse of you

Wearing your baseball hat
Playing your ancient instrument

Told myself to move on
I'd find the time soon

Life got in the way
Found myself trapped 

Looking out my window 
Was all I could do

Circumstances altered
I wandered back again

Lingered and listened
Let your sounds take over

Lost myself 
Found the world

What if I had never wandered?
What if I had never heard you?

Having trouble viewing this post? Click here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Disappearing Act

I'm staying in the Katong section of Singapore.
In the midst of high rises, darling little houses.
This is the most difficult post I have written. Not because I have anything bad to tell you. I just couldn't get to the right thoughts and then to the best words. Enough. The timer's on for 15 minutes and at the end of that time, I will upload this post.

I know I've been absent for a long time. As most of you know, I'm in Asia on tour with the musical Sister Act.

To be honest, I have been completely distracted by my life, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. The questions, the uncertainty frequently overwhelmed me. I had very little information and no confirmation. Then the project was confirmed and started. And consumed my life. How could I explain that to you when I couldn't find my own way through it?

I lost my blogging habit.

I'm not sure what fruit that is. Interesting, isn't it?
Now I'm on the other side, of the distraction and the planet (although I'll be home next week for most of June). Space is opening up in my brain and ideas are starting to flow. I still have understudy rehearsals and of course, 8 shows a week, and I can feel that I have to restart my blogging habit. But I'm on my way back.

To get started, some photos and a list of possible future posts.

That's the iconic Marina Bay Sands. I work in the same complex.

I've had time to visit one Hindu temple here in Singapore. That's all

Posts to Watch For:

Do Your Job - I have stories.

Living With Uncertainty - destined to be an all-time hit.

Learning to Let Go

Clear Intentions - currently, one of the biggest lessons for me.

Embrace the Good - the other big lesson.

Anything you're curious about? Let me know, preferably in a comment right here on Creatavita.

Time's up.  I did it!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Show Up Again

This post originally appeared at Creatavita in 2013 as part of the You Need To Know This series.

And we're back with another post in the series, You Need To Know This.  Today's topic has been chosen by Maja Lisa FritzHuspen.  

 I love this gal, Maja Lisa.  Like me, she's a native of the Upper Midwest, so she knows how to work.  Unlike many Midwesterners, she takes risks, usually in her fearless approach to having a career as a singer.  She's been richly rewarded for this risky behavior over the past few years, having sung leads with many Philadelphia-area opera companies, as well as some nice gigs in the New York area. Maja Lisa's parallel career is teaching voice.  She has a thriving studio in Glenside, PA, is on the faculty at Muhlenberg College, and has also taught in Guatemala (jealous) and the Adirondacks.  

On to the post.  Maja Lisa has chosen:

Show Up

I have learned one thing. As Woody says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed.  I’ve done both.
Marshall Brickman

I made the statement years ago which is often quoted that 80 percent of life is showing up. People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening.
Woody Allen

You know, I love this Woody Allen quote so much I originally tried to name this blog after it. But I couldn't make it work, so I moved on.

Showing up is definitely one of the main reasons I have had any success as an artist. My desire and ability to show up has always come from an unusual state of innocence. After all these years, there is a part of me that still cannot believe that people pay me to be an artist. This innocence is why it is so hard for me to understand why people don't show up. Don't you love this as much as I do? Don't you feel blessed, fortunate, even privileged? Why wouldn't you be knocking down the door? Heck, why wouldn't you be, gasp, early?

More on that later. Let's start with the practical side of showing up. This is the “rehearsal's at 7:00, so I'm going to be there, ready to go, at 6:45” part of showing up. This attitude says to the person or people who are waiting for you that you care, that you want to be there, that that this project is of value, and that the time of every single person involved is of value. Not showing up in this practical sense is the fast track to failure. Look, producing art of any value or merit is time-consuming and expensive. Always has been and always will be. We can't afford to start rehearsal 30 minutes late because you couldn't anticipate that there would be rush-hour traffic, just like there is every day of the week. There's a very good chance that we can find someone who is just as skillful and talented as you who will show up on time.

And don't think that this attitude is only for those getting started in the business. As many of you know, I recently had the opportunity to perform Miss Lynch in Walnut St. Theatre's production of Grease. At an Equity theatre like Walnut St., every performer must be in the theatre 30 minutes before the curtain goes up. It's called half hour. Because I was understudying, I showed up an hour and a half before curtain; I prefer to be in the theatre early, taking care of any issues that might have arisen since the last performance and focusing my energy. Since the rest of the cast was three months into the run, I was pretty certain I would be the first person in the theatre. Boy, was I wrong. Every night I walked in, there were at least four other performers already there. They were eating and talking, general hanging around stuff for the most part, but they had shown up. And that attitude is a big part of why those people are working at a theatre like Walnut St..

I can think of at least one other Show Up example. This one has stuck with me since early in my operatic career.  I think it was probably the first time the light bulb went on in my head, and I recognized the importance of showing up. 

 I was rehearsing Purcell's The Fairy Queen with Pennsylvania Opera Theater's (or TPOT, as we affectionately referred to the long-gone, Barbara Silverstein-run company that gave so many Philadelphia-area opera artists their first chances).  One member of the cast was an extremely vocally-talented guy who didn't show up for rehearsal and never called (this was before texting and email; yes, I'm that old). And he didn't do it once or twice, he did it three times. Those of us in the room, waiting for him to appear so rehearsal could start, could feel how much the conductor and the director wanted this guy in the production.  To this day, I think they went out of their way trying to give him a break, and I applaud them for that gracious behavior.  But he never showed up. He was replaced and no, he did NOT become famous later.

So let's figure out what we can do about this. Because I don't like to throw out mandates without offering some type of solution.

If you are the person who is always late, grab yourself a drink and an easy chair (preferably outside in some sunshine) and ask yourself why. What's the truth behind this dashing in, spewing “I'm sorry, I'm sorry”, pulling your music out of your bag and throwing your coat on a chair? Maybe it is as simple as being bad at time management (one of my favorite non-artistic topics). Maybe you are not being realistic about what you can accomplish in a day. Maybe you honestly don't believe your talents merit being where you are in life, so you are subconsciously making yourself tardy. Well, that's yucky. Maybe you think it is a sign of power, which is even yuckier. That might be true, but it is still rude, disrespectful and yucky. 

So, let's talk about practical ways to show up. Here are some ideas for you:

- Adapt.  If you live in a major metropolitan area or have a complicated life, there's a good chance that everything takes longer than you expect.  Get over it.

- Allow more time for commutes and projects.  I have a colleague who schedules an extra hour in addition to his estimated commute time when traveling during rush hour.  This might seem crazy, but he's been delayed enough times to know he has to do this to be on time.  If he does arrive early, he finds a coffee shop and uses the extra time to catch up on work or, believe it or not, he just sits and enjoys himself. What a concept. 

I do something similar. I often take our local commuter train into the city. Sadly, our local transit system is notorious for delays. So instead of taking the train that will get me there right on time, I take the one before. It works like this: “I need to be in the theatre at 7:30. The 6:22 will get me there at 7:03, BUT if it is late I'm screwed. I'll take the 5:55 and arrive at 6:27."

See? That way, the train can be delayed and I won't be late.  Plus, I have the opportunity to catch my breath before I head into whatever appointment is awaiting me.

-Going somewhere new and important, for an audition or meeting with a potential client? Well, you can certainly take a look at Google Maps ahead of time. That's simple. 

And this one might strike you as crazy, but why not even try going there a few days before? I know, I know, who's got that kind of time?  But come on, if this is an important event, knowing exactly where you are going might put you in a better frame of mind, so that you walk in confident instead of frazzled.  

Okay, that's the practical, Midwestern-based side of showing up. But let's not forget the other way of showing up that is alluded to in my second paragraph and in Woody's quote. That's showing up for yourself. Don't we all have ideas and dreams that are tough to work with?  Don't we all have aspects of our creative careers that challenge us over and over again?  And don't we all, at times, ignore those?

Show up for yourself.  Act on those dreams, work through the tough times with those creative ideas. Sit with that script, that one line of dialogue, that song that doesn't make sense. Do the work for you, not for the paycheck or the adoration. Walk into the dark tunnel of your art and drop your flashlight. Get lost, get scared and find that art deep inside of yourself. Yes.  Show up for yourself.

This type of showing up is much more challenging than the practical, get-out-of-the-house, allow-time-for-traffic type of showing up. This type of showing up requires us to be disciplined, patient and persistent (see my previous post on this topic here). It also requires us to have a level of confidence and to indulge our creative selves in risky behavior of the best variety. In other words, we've got to take a chance.  

We might not get cast in that production for which we're going to audition. Your mother might be right, your novel might not be any good.  It's true, that opera you've been composing in your head for the past three years might be terrible.  But I still say show up for yourself, for those around you and for the world. Do the work and see where it leads. Maybe this one isn't any good, but, maybe the next one is. You've got to get the first one out to get to the second one, and to the third one and to the fourth one, and so on.

That's it.  Time for me to show up.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guiding Star Week #8: Back At You

Hey, remember me?  I'm your Guiding Star plan. You know, the one you started 2017 with. Remember those early days of January?  Remember how you were all excited about new attitudes, and renovated goals? Remember how inspired you were to finally live the life you know is waiting out there for you?

I know, you got distracted. By your job, the weather, the world. You forgot about me, didn't you? It's okay.  I'm very patient, and a little persistent too.  Because I'm standing in front of you today, asking a favor.  Shouldn't take you more than 30 minutes and get this - you don't even have to leave your computer. Did I mention you'll feel great when you're done?  See, the favor is for me AND for you. Ready?

Now is the time to check in.

There, in the distance, that's your life.

I do it monthly and I call it a report.  I give myself a grade for every section. You don't have to use grades, you can use 1-10, thumbs up or down or emojis.  Doesn't matter. This is life, not grad school. Find a system that works for you. I write a brief (usually brief) comment on each section.  Then I send it off to my Buddy.  You do have a Buddy, right? This year I am doing my report on the 5th day of every month (I put a reminder in my calendar).  Here are some examples from my last report:

Hat: Abundance Lover - A. Off to an excellent start.  I embraced all of the travel (3 days in DC, followed by 6 days in Paris, followed by 2 consecutive days in NYC). I embraced all of the family time.  I embraced auditions, teachings and coachings. I embraced all of the actions brought on by Trump’s election.  I embraced making music for 2 difference cancer patients (both acquaintances) in one day. It’s sloppy, but I’m embracing the abundance.

I used to be a really tough grader, until my Buddy asked me why I was so hard on myself. Good question, right? She helped me realize I WAS tough on myself and that attitude wasn't helping. That said, just to show you I don't give myself high grades all the time:

Here are two of my 2017 Goals and this month's comments:

  • Attend 1 blogging seminar/conference - B. I have researched and have my eye on a couple.
  • Attend 9 dance classes - C. Nothing yet. I intend to get on this in February

See? I don't get to every goal every month.  

Look at these goals from past years:
  • Perform 2 of my compositions in public – B.  Continue to work on a song.
  • Clear out material stuff – C. Wow. Did I go through an entire month and not throw anything out? I guess I was busy with my mental stuff!  
I always end my report with a note to my Buddy. Here's this month's:

I couldn’t wait to do this first report of 2017.  I thought this year would be dark and negative.  So far, I am completely wrong.  The Slogan and Touchstones are with me daily.

Try writing a monthly report. Go ahead! What have you got to lose?

Walk through those chains.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ugly Came to Town

I have a sad story to tell you.  It started last September right here in my neighborhood, the quintessential American melting pot.  We have homeowners and we have renters. We have families, we have couples, we have singles.  We have African-Americans, we have Irish-Catholics, we have Norwegian-Americans, we have Muslims, we have Jews.  We have retired people, we have business owners, we have white-collar administrators, we have blue-collar workers, we have stay-at-home moms, we have graduate students, we have college students, we have kids.  We have people who have lived here their entire lives, we have people who are living here for a few years until they can find a house to buy, we have people who have lived here for a decade, we have people who will be moving out in a few months. You name it, we got it.

It's not going well.

There's a high level of distrust.  It's not fun.  The ones suffering the most?  The kids.  So last fall, when one set of kids of a certain ethnic group started to taunt another set of kids of another ethnic group (because kids will be kids), things went too far.  Punches were exchanged.  To the credit of the parents, they tried to work it out.

They failed.

The police were called.

In this instance, I was on the sidelines, receiving information after the fact.  That's how these things seem to happen.  I'm rarely a witness to the actual event. Which means I have to rely on those telling me their version of the story to be truthful.  Truth, as we know, is a slippery slope.  Remember Rashomon and its cousin, the Rashomon Effect?

This event bothered me deeply.  Confronting the ugly truth that everyone doesn't get along is, to say the least, unpleasant. When it happens down the street, between people you see every day, the unpleasantness grows. When you know it is unlikely that the participants will agree on anything, hopelessness appears. When hopelessness appears, it all starts to fall apart. Should I get involved?  How involved should I get?  What difference can I really make?

I found a partial solution, at least for the one thing I could manage - my personal feelings.  The solution?

I wrote a song.

Truth be told, I started to write a song, which I then worked on, in fits and starts. In fact, I was berating myself for not getting the song finished when I recalled reading this:

"Actually, 'Hallelujah' had taken him five years.  He drafted dozens of verses and then it was years more before he settled on a final version.  In several writing sessions, he found himself in his underwear, banging his head against a hotel-room floor."

At least I wasn't in my underwear, banging my head against the floor.  Reading this gave me permission to let the song appear as it wanted to appear.  I continued to visit it, usually 20 minutes at a time, sometimes on the train, sometimes in a coffee shop, usually in the morning, usually in my studio.  

Then November 8 happened.  

Suddenly this song seemed even more relevant and even more important. Now I had to finish it.  

I extended the deadline into January, knowing the song and I needed time to work together. Eventually, the song appeared. Not all at once, still in pieces, but in the end it appeared.  As did the perfect (and you know how infrequently I think anything is perfect) place to sing the song in public for the first time.

The song is titled "Ugly Came To Town".  Here are the lyrics:

Ugly came to town
In her tattered, satin gown
Sashaying down the middle of Main Street.

Hate strolled up beside her
Like a big old nasty spider
Beady eyes and a smile oh so sweet.

They held each other's hands
And danced their crazy dance
Their mission here was just about complete.

Ugly takes the throne
Hate grabs the microphone
Time for his first meet and greet.

Now hear Hate's suggestions
As he veers around the questions
Masking his tracks like a pro.

Ugly trains her stare
On the back of
Dreaming of her glitzy condo.

Don't let it slip away so easily - Oh no.

Ugly's got her throne
Hate's throwing stones
The blind ones lean into their glow.

Their hands to the sky
They don't see those eyes
Cold as deep winter's snow.

There in the distance
Ready for resistance
The ones who always choose to go high.

They refuse to give in
To Hate and Ugly's spin
These citizens will not say good-bye.

Stand up, stay proud
Be the voice in the crowd
That will not be denied.

Put on your gloves
Do the work of Love
Hope will never die.

Don't let it slip away so easily - Oh no.

Ugly made her appearance at a party on January 20, 2017, the night before the Women's March on Washington.  Here's the video:

If that isn't working, look here .

I could think of a myriad of reasons why I SHOULDN'T post this video of this song.  They include:

It's nowhere close to perfect. It's not even any good. I'm afraid of exposing this part of me to the Internet. I might offend someone. It isn't that good.  I'm not sure I'm saying what I want to say. I'm wearing my moccasins.  The video is of poor quality. You get the drift.  I know you do - you think the same thing about your work.

I can also think of a myriad of reasons why I SHOULD post this video. They include:

I can show others how to use your personal creativity to help make sense of a difficult situation, my creativity might make a difference in the world, I feel better because I have expressed my personal feelings,  I don't need to judge my work; I need to put it out there, now is the time to speak up and finally, if not me, then who?

In the end, the Shoulds won.  In this case, that's a good thing. 

I think.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

From The Archives: The Only Thing

we have to fear is fear itself.

(This post originally appeared on Creatavita on March 6, 2015.)

Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke those words almost 81 years ago on March 4, 1933.  It was the first of his four presidential inaugurations.

Boy, is that ever appropriate these days, on so many levels.

First of all, the world. If you pay attention to most media sources, you'd think that Destruction and Chaos have camped out at your local Starbucks and are waiting for the perfect opportunity to rob you of all your possessions. Recently, I had someone tell me that the world banking system was going to collapse within the next 6 months. She shared the source of this news with me, which was, of course, a video making the rounds on the Internet. I had to point out to her that the video was initially published in April of 2014. And it is now March of 2015. Last time I counted, that was more than six months.

This article from the March 2015 issue of The Atlantic does an excellent job of explaining our unnecessary fear.

I'm not saying everything is hunky dory in the world; indeed, bad guys and problems abound. But they always have and they always will. You can't change that, but you can change your attitude.

Turn off the news, walk away from your screen, or if you're going to sit at your screen, watch the Hanover Eagle Cam. It's much more breath-taking than Facebook, especially when both of the eagles are there.

You know what I do every morning? I don't let my feet hit the ground until I think of three things for which I am grateful. They can be as simple as the fact that I am breathing, the sun came up again and my bed is warm. This way, I start every day with positivity. Establishing the habit has taken, oh 730 days, but it has made a huge difference in my life.

Then there's the fear of taking a chance. I'm surrounded by people who are asking “should I go to that audition or the other one?”, “what if they don't hire me?”, “should I send my manuscript to that publisher?”, “should I leave the job I hate even though it pays well?” and on and on. The real questions that are being asked are:

What if I'm rejected


What if I fail

Here's the truth. I'm not sure what will happen. But I do know this. You are destined to be rejected and to fail by the very act of not acting. When you don't take that leap of faith, when you don't put yourself out there, failure is guaranteed.

If you've done your preparation, heck, even if you've done a portion of the necessary preparation, I am here to tell you – GO. LEAP. JUMP.

The only way you'll find out is if you act.

I speak from experience. Lately, I've been doing quite a bit of leaping, jumping and facing fear. In January, for the first time in my life, I did an entire solo cabaret. I sang and played the piano for the entire program. Was I scared? Yes. But I did excellent preparation, including hours of mindful practice and a trial performance for friends. That was key. I sat by myself before the show started, allowed myself to be scared for 2 minutes and then I was done. I walked out on that stage, I leaped and the sold-out house loved it. So did I, because there's nothing like facing your fears and having them run away.

The following week I started taking an audition class. What?!?! Why are you taking an audition class? Because there is always more to learn. What a humbling experience. I'm the oldest person in the room by decades. I'm supposed to know what I'm doing. But there's a big difference between telling someone what to do and doing it in front of a group of people who are just as focused as I am. I have fallen in this class, but when that happens, I get up and do it again. It's exhausting, it has challenged me to the core and I love it.

I'm taking this audition class because I've returned to the world of auditioning, a world I haven't visited on a regular basis for a good 15 years. These days, you'll often find me schlepping up and down the Northeast Corridor with my audition binder, changing from travel clothes to audition outfits in public bathrooms, hanging out in coffee shops or hallways with mostly twenty-somethings and giving what I've got today. Is it scary? Not anymore. If anything, it feels a little awkward. But I'm facing those fears and once again, they're running away.

I'm not telling you this so you think I'm amazing. I'm not telling you this so you email me or post a comment telling me you admire me. You can do that if you want, but the truth is, I'm rather ordinary. I'm telling you this because I want you to know that you can do it too. You can take that chance, whatever it may be. You will get scared, you will have setbacks and you might question your sanity, but you can do it.

The last fear I want to write about is the fear of growing old. Now, if you're under 30, there's a good chance this makes no sense to you. Good. Until recently, it didn't mean bupkus to me either. I'm quite happy about that.

But if you're one of the ones who are afraid of growing old, I have news for you. Just like every other human who has lived before you, who is living with you now and who will live after you, you are growing old. We all are. From the day of our birth, what happens? We get older.

You have a choice. You can embrace the beauty of being older, like not caring as much what others think or doing the things you've always wanted to do but were too, ahem, afraid to do, or you can whine away your days complaining about the aches, pains and difficulties. Yes, they're real, but they don't have to stop you. That's a choice you are making.

Get out there. Take a chance. Leap. The sun is shining. Life is short. Make the most of it.

Because like FDR said, the only thing we have to fear.....

Joan of Arc, Notre Dame, Paris

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Guiding Star Week #4: Touchstones


I am off on another adventure, but through the power of the Internet (and my own will power), I was able to get this post ready for you before I left.

No, I'm not here.

Let's talk about your Touchstones.  These little phrases can be incredibly potent, IF you allow them to infiltrate your life.

These are my 2017 Touchstones:

- Persisting brings joy

- Create to feel great

- Listen

It's the last one I want you to know about right now.  One word.  Simple, yet powerful.  Right?

Here's the conversation between my Buddy and me from my original Plan.  She's blue, I'm red and she's italics.

3. Listen Just curious. To others? To yourself? Or both? Everything.  Everyone.  Myself. I am often crafting my response as others are talking to me.  I’m often judging people mentally and not hearing them where they are. Then there’s the whole divide in the country.  While I’m still not ready to listen to Trump and his supporters, this reminds me to make an attempt. Good! Isn't it interesting how one word can contain so much?

And my husband. And my colleagues. And my friends. And my students. This year, thanks to Guiding Star, I'm already on my way to being a better listener.

Okay, 2 final things to tell you.

#1 - I'm leaving you alone with your Guiding Star Plans for a month. No worries, I'll still be blogging about other creative needs and desires.

#2 - The clock is ticking down on the super-duper discount!  One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

Positive works
Keep it brief
Feeling stuck? One more week of discount remains!  One-on-one assistance is available at the discounted rate of $30/hour through February 1, 2017 (Click here to schedule a session).

I'm not here either.