Feeling better
We buried my grandmother three weeks after my miscarriage...what a month it has been!  It was a blessing for her to finally go, Alzheimer's is such a horrible disease.  However, it led to some overwhelming emotions.

I am starting to feel better.  Yesterday I went to the ob/gyn expecting an order for another ultrasound and then possibility of surgery...and was told I need neither, that if I stopped bleeding, I'm ok.  I was not only really shocked, and relieved, but also feeling like, wow at least my body could do something right!  Apparently the fact that I had a healthy pregnancy between my miscarriages means I have a decent chance of doing so again, whereas if I had had the two miscarriages back to back, that would mean the chances are really low of things working out.  Of course the doc wanted to know if we were going to try again, I said we didn't know.  I honestly have no idea...I'm still mad that I spent a whole year trying to decide, after thinking for four plus years that we were done, and then to go through this....    Obviously not ready to be making big decisions yet about what happens next.

back in the UK
Singing for the National Opera Studio programme on Friday.

Coached with Allyson, who I saw in October, and who loved the changes, said the voice was more lined up, and gave me a few small pointers but lots of encouragement and boosted my confidence.  Today I saw Richard, who will play my audition because Allyson isn't available.  He was also very good and follows well, which makes everything easier to sing.  Tomorrow I have nothing on except keeping myself relaxed and ready, and Friday the audition is at 11:20, which would be 7:20 am at home.  So I'm doing ok with the jet lag, but also not giving myself a ton of stuff to do.  Today I actually slept in til almost 11, which will NOT work Friday, so I'll be sure to be up early tomorrow.  I have some store bought pasta to heat up in the oven, but I can't figure out how to turn it on, so I'm going to wait for the people I'm staying with to be around.  I also have some chicken to add to it, mmmmm protein.  I haven't been eating enough really in general, so that is a goal for tomorrow.

Last night I managed to get into an artsong recital that the current trainees of the Opera Studio were doing, and I really enjoyed it.  I was really surprised though, at how big the voices were.  Even the light voices were full, lyric sounds, as opposed to the super light ones we hear around Toronto (especially training programs).  What was great was to be in the space, where it sounds like I'll probably be doing the audition, and get a sense of it.  Also, I've never heard many Rachmaninoff songs before, but they presented 14 of the songs from op. 34, and the vocalise was the only one I'd heard.  They were stunning.  (The first half of the programme was Schubert.  They were good, and now I have some ideas of some pieces that might suit me.)

Trying to decide if I will stay home tomorrow, do some yoga, etc, or if I will go into the city and do some sightseeing... I don't want to tire myself out, but I don't want to get too into my head in terms of anticipation of the audition, either.   RIght now I'm in a good space, I'll have to see what tomorrow brings.

too much time on my hands....

Leads to too much time reading the internet.

But an interesting discovery.   A few articles about the misogynistic culture that surrounds sports and I realized that THAT is why my hubby and I aren't fans.  We'll occasionally watch hockey or baseball or soccer.... but we can't STAND the culture surrounding them.


I noticed this a few weeks ago when there was another athlete in the news for murdering his wife... and all the news was about his career-ending deed, and how "it came out of nowhere," when there was apparently quite the history of spousal abuse.  (Of course I can't remember any of the details, because I'm that far out of the sports loop.....)

I don't have a ton of time before my flight to say much but these are the things I'm reading/thinking about/exploring.





Wanted to share while I'm thinking about it but not necessarily to make my facebook wall a soapbox when I'm about to get on a red-eye and start adjusting to a time change.  (Oh yeah, I'm going to London, Berlin, back to London... just 12 days this time though, not 10 weeks!)

learning to chill out

I need to learn to chill.  I'm not so good at that.  Which, for as lazy a person as I am, should be easy, too....

Tuesday I had a lesson with another teacher.  It was fine, I think she totally was headed in the right direction, but I started really tense, and didn't feel we got very far.  I don't know if I was still tense because I was grieving my poor kitty (today was the first day since we had to put him down that I felt less tight), or from the drive being so far, or if something about her made me nervous.  So I don't know if I don't want to go back because what she was doing was slow, or because I didn't feel I showed myself well enough.... or what.  All I know is my gut says her technique is good and yet she's not the right match for me.  I DID want to schedule another lesson with her when I was there, but I think I need to cancel it, and I can't really decide why... just a gut thing.  Which I'm assuming I should go with.  She is also expensive, but she has a good track record.

John is closer, cheaper, and CHILL.  Mel was really good for me, because of how chill he was.  I'm not so good at being calm, at letting go... I want it too much.  I got so calm with John and everything was easy and out poured all this sound... I guess I've made up my mind just by typing it out.  Good to know.  I see someone tomorrow that is more a networking connection than a real candidate for a teacher.

Now, anyone out there a type-A personality that has learned to chill?  HOW do you do that?

I have 3 weeks tomorrow til my UK audition, and if I can chill out, I will be FINE.  If not, I'm going to work myself into a tizzy and into knots before then and waste a bunch of money.  Today I found a nice quiet moment where I wasn't freaking out and gradually warmed up on commercials while watching last night's tv online.  Then, when I went to sing, it was all there, all the "surround sound" feeling of letting everything vibrate and it taking no effort (as opposed to the make-it-work trap I tend to fall into where it doesn't sound or feel as good but I convince myself I'm working hard so that must be worth something!).

I suppose it's time to explore some meditation...

Teacher shopping.

I've had 3 lessons so far, and 2 more scheduled next week.  As of right now there are two people I want to work with in tandem, (who would both be ok with that) and they are both cheaper than what I was paying before, which is exciting.

However, I don't want my decision to be based on who is cheapest, obviously, but on what works best.  Next week I see my coach again, and then the teacher she has recommended (as presenting the most solid technical results in students), and another teacher (closest to me, just in Niagara Falls) who may have some connections to gigs in the area but I'm not sure I want to work with privately.

I want to write a note to my previous teacher to explain that I'm grateful for all she taught me but feel it's time for a change, but have been putting it off because I've never had to do that before and it feel so awkward.  Anyone with any pointers?

I'm basically a month away from my audition in London.  Trying not to feel it looming over me and just work towards the long-term without feeling overwhelmed.  Not putting everything on the audition, just happy to fly over there and have some fun.  Also, going back to Berlin to work with John Norris, who started this whole fach change thing by getting my tongue out of the way and teaching me to breathe for real!  I had 3 days of nothing in between the prelims and when we find out about the finals, and then it turned out he was teaching those days!!  So two lessons and a masterclass with him in Berlin and then I'll fly back to London.  Maybe sing in the finals and if not shop or see museums or something, then fly home, teach, have Easter, and be right back at it.

Also, doing small gigs, April 12 at my grandma's retirement home, April 28th at a restaurant in the Falls.  It might be a bit small for my sound, but it'll all end up being people I know coming anyways, so I'll just plan on having my family sit closest so they are the only ones who get blasted.

Trying to make sure to sing everyday, which I was not doing before.  Everything feels good right now, so that is very reassuring.

thanks, gov't. thanks a lot.
The Canadian gov't student loans program misplaced a portable hard drive with personal info for over half a million student loan borrowers on it.  Both hubby and I are among those whose privacy was "breached", as they are calling it.  

Our DOB, SIN, contact info, loan amount, may all have been stolen or leaked into the ether.  I'm SO furious but have nothing I can do except monitor everything closely, and potentially call the two credit agencies here and pay the $5 fee or whatever it is to flag my account (and then of course, hubby's too).  Also, because of this spent the entire morning on hold for various numbers and will have to do that with the credit report companies too.  


heading into 2013

I got my fill of babies over Xmas.  Brother and his wife had a little one on the 28th, and hubby's sister and her husband have a little one about a month old.  Got to hold and cuddle and give back, while catching up with family cuddles with Chris and Nahum.  I think missing them when I was away in Europe was expressed as wishing for another, but it was really about the intimacy of all of us cuddled up in the bed before we start the day and other special family times, as opposed to really wanting to return to pregnancy, breastfeeding, and diapers.  Those were all wonderful experiences for me, but I don't know that I want to do them again.  So for now, it's just us, and I'm perfectly ok with that.  

I am super thankful right now for the 3 friends that are N's godparents, because they are SUCH good friends.  (Hey surferjupiter!)  They have all been super supportive and encouraging and INTERESTED in my European adventures and what they might mean for my career.  Unfortunately, my being away has brought out the green-eyed monster in a more local friend, who I'm now having to treat like any other church lady.  A nice church lady, a friendly, likeable church lady, but someone around whom I must censor myself nonetheless.  It's all about her own baggage and unhappiness with her own life, but it makes it very difficult for me to talk about singing, travel, or my hopes and dreams without either A. backlash/comments that try to squash my enthusiasm or B. her bitching to my husband (who is also her friend) about how ungrateful I am.  

She made a comment to me that I "owe" him for my time away, "one year for each week away".  Seriously?   I'm in debt for a decade now??? Um, no.  First off, our relationship doesn't work like that.  I didn't go in SPITE of him, he encouraged me to go.  We both worked and planned and saved for 2 years.  And we BOTH would like to end up in the UK or somewhere in Europe for a few years.  We see this not JUST as something for me, but for all of us.  

But she doesn't see that I saved and planned, she sees that my dad helped and sees that as a hand out and thinks he paid for the whole thing.  I think she thinks I was living it up and throwing money around instead of budgeting my ass off and cheaping out.  She doesn't see that I worked every weekday evening last year, barely saw Chris and almost never had a family dinner time, because I was saving.  She's insane about it because she wants to travel and feels trapped but instead of doing something about it will just sit and bitch.  

So our relationship is going to be different now, and that's ok.  It's sad that she's not the friend I thought, but I can live with that... she just has too much baggage to be supportive.  Our entire families are friends, I just need to be on my best church lady behaviour and all will go well.  And hopefully her hubby will still come for voice lessons, as WE get along like a house on fire.

That's one of the intangibles that has come from the trip.  I don't have time for "friends" who are less than supportive.   The "opera company" friend who can't be bothered to use me... this "friend" who can't share my successes without questioning her choices in life... No time.  No hard feelings, but no time, it's not worth the energy.  I need my energy to move forward, to keep going.  I remember almost 12 years ago going through something similar where I stopped contact with 2 of the women who had been my bridesmaids, and I've seldom regretted the decision.  Regretted the loss of friendship, yes, but not the black hole the friendship had become, where I was pouring in my energy and not getting anything back.  

Hubby refers to me as a black or white person, that friends to me are people I can tell everything to, or they aren't.  It's not really that, I just don't rank those people in my life that I really have to censor myself around as "friends".  Acquaintances, sure.  He's an introvert so he keeps a lot to himself anyways, and I don't.  I'm and extrovert and need people I can share things with, openly.  I have a few singer friends I can do that with even though they aren't super close to me in other ways, and I have the 3 amazing close friends I mentioned earlier.  And maybe that's tons.  

But I'm going to take care of myself this year, and focus my energy on what is WORTH it.  Same with students... if you are a drain on my energy, it's not worth the money.  Chances are the Les Miz movie will be good for business and new students, so fingers crossed for busy-ness and income!

I've applied for the UK Nat'l Opera Studio.  It's a long shot, but what isn't in this business!  A year of coaching and making connections in the UK could be amazing for me... so that's worth a shot.  If nothing comes of it, I get to go back to the UK and I have some focus to my next couple of months as I integrate this new sound and breathing stuff.  No loss there!

Anxious to see my coach and teacher in the new year, and get some feedback on the changes, but not worried about whether or not they are "right" -- I know they are, because it makes everything so easy to sing.  Such a late bloomer... but so happy to be coming into my own

I've learned how to breathe!
You know those moments when you figure something out and you go - holy shit, I know how to sing!?!  Yeah, that. I know how to sing!  

All the amazing stuff I learned with the body work coach I am able to do on my own if I'm paying attention, even though I've barely sung in a week.  I've spent a lot of time thinking about the breath in that week.  Sang through some arias for my friend here in frankfurt and she can hear (and likes) the difference from when I first showed up 9 weeks ago.  

Once I'm over the jet lag - learn some new stuff in between revamping the old stuff.  Breathing and keeping the tongue out of the way.  

Then I'll take the world by storm!!!

About to run off at the mouth... or the keyboard.
I'm in Frankfurt with my friends and go home to my boys on Tuesday and CANNOT wait.  I've been digesting my European adventure and want to write about it here, and I'll get there eventually but right now I'm about to EXPLODE all over facebook.


Yeah, of course the US should have tighter gun controls.  That's a given.   (Sorry, I'm Canadian...even to the most pro-gun Canadian, that's a given about the US.)  But that is not going to fix everything that's going on here. 

BUT OMG what about the mental health issues that CREATE the people who are capable of doing this?   What about the society that only values physical strength and power in men and doesn't value generosity, caring, and nurturing?  What about the taboos that silence people that need help, or someone to talk to?  Most of those in poverty are actually there because mental health issues keep them from functioning fully.  SO many people who could be helped by medication or counselling suffer silently or in denial because they don't want to be labelled as crazy or unwell or weak.  

Someone had on facebook something about always praying for children around the world that are abused or hungry or hurting, but do they now need to pray for little innocent happy children as well?  It was a friend of a friend so I didn't feel I could respond in a publicly acceptable way, and I came here instead.  

I wanted to scream NO you need to pray for the poor suffering souls who don't get the help they need so they turn into monsters capable of doing this.  Praying for the school kids won't prevent another attack like this later.  Dealing with our issues around how we define strength and weakness and masculinity and power is the only way to prevent this.  Something about the way we raise our boys IS NOT RIGHT.  The way we teach people that it is wrong to ask for help is NOT RIGHT.  The way we JUDGE those that get help and make them feel "less than" for having the courage to deal with mental health issues or emotional issues is NOT RIGHT.  The way taboos isolate those that are hurting makes things worse until they can no longer cope.  

I don't know what else to say, I'm just trying to keep myself from spewing it all over other people's facebook walls and offending people... but I do pray and I do (in my own way, not really as traditionally as most) believe, but praying for the little innocents is NOT AT ALL what needs to happen!!

game changer
Yesterday I had a private lesson with the bodywork guy.  He's a director but is able to understand and break down all the singing technique stuff too, and has great ears.  He had me put a ball between my knees, a candy on my tongue, etc, to find different sensations but the SOUND he got out of me was awesome.  SO easy. He changed my concept of support by breaking down the elements into steps before singing (pelvic floor engages, 'belly' fills, cords come together) and by pulling out on my belly. My undergrad teacher used to try and have me push from there and I'd lock up, and since then people have mostly left it alone -- apparently that's what's been missing.  Through my middle voice, there was ALL this sound.  I've never made sound like that before, and certainly not through the middle.  THAT is the sort of sound that would make me believe I can sing the spinto rep people have been suggesting for 2 years or more but I haven't jumped into fully.  So I have some work and exploration to do... and I'm hoping to work with this guy again before I go home. 


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