Stretching Your Voice

I’m losing my voice.

My throat is sore and scratchy, my energy is low.  I feel crappy.

This wasn’t supposed to happen today. Not this week….I can feel my vocal cords swelling and absolute confusion mounting, as I ask myself

How did I get here?

And the pain underneath of,
I don’t want to be sick.
I don’t have time for this.
This is soooooo unfair!

I don’t want to be where I am.

 

Have you ever felt like this?

I’ve been sharing with all of you my health journey over the past year, and most recently, I completed a very intense 28 Day Cleanse.  My last day was a Sunday, and I had been looking forward to it for weeks.

I imagined a wonderful celebration at the end.

I imagined an inner ticker tape parade, my blood and organs all standing tall, cheering saying,

We DID IT!

Instead, I started to feel sick the evening of my last day.

I had planned to wake up Monday morning, excited to add back in eggs, nuts, and coconut, ready to move back to some level of normalcy.

And instead, I woke up feeling sick and went into management mode, trying to ward off what felt like an impending cold or infection.

I gargled with salt water.
I took tons of natural supplements.
I drank lots of tea.
I made sure to get solid sleep.
I stayed in Astoria, instead of venturing into Manhattan, and didn’t take dance or yoga.

I did everything right….didn’t I?

And yet, come Thursday, after waking up feeling really fantastic and convinced I had beaten off the germs….I started to lose my voice.

Ironically, it happened while having lunch with my voice teacher.

And the panic started to rise.

I had big plans for the weekend.  I also had lots of clients and my business IS my voice.

But, with each sentence, I could feel my vocal cords swelling even more, and my voice getting raspier and raspier, and by Thursday night….it was completely gone.

Despite my best efforts, my voice was done.

So, I stopped speaking.

For DAYS.

I re-scheduled clients, and doubled down on rest, steaming, hot tea, and echinacea.  I started a Z pack, tried a whole new regiment I found from another singer who had lost her voice, and stayed in as much as possible.

And then the cough began.

I felt like I couldn’t cut a break.

Wasn’t I doing everything right?

It was SO frustrating to put in so much effort and healthy intention, and feel like I was moving at a snail’s pace.
Have you ever felt like this?

Been working so hard on what matters in your Creative Passion, and feel like the pace of your results doesn’t equal the level of what you are putting in?

Have you ever wanted to scream,
Can we just BE there ALREADY??

I imagine it feels like you are staring at a chasm.  You SEE your Vision, your goal of what you want to achieve.  You can even hear your raving fans, your completed novel, or hear that gorgeous symphony….

And yet, the question remains,

Why am I not there YET?

Maybe the chasm is there for a reason, though.  And perhaps the real question to ask yourself in the moment is something all together different.

What if in that moment, you took a breath, checked in, and released the death grip?

What if the chasm is actually PART OF the process and there to test you?

What if your Dream simply takes more time?

We all desire the quick fix, but at the end of the day, the test of having to stay in the process is really going to bring to light the most powerful tool we have as Artists,

Your commitment.

And by this, I mean your commitment to your work, and to your audience who is in witness to your expression.  Your commitment to the role Art plays in your lives, how it opens your heart and brings you to song.  None of us became Artists for trivial reasons.  This work is far deeper, and feeds us unlike anything else.

Music
Dance
Art
Photography
Writing

We are all changing lives, and it begins with honoring this within ourselves.

This isn’t automatic.  It’s deeply human, and this kind of work takes cultivation and intention.

When you are in the midst of the struggle, come back to your vision, and come back to your commitment.

Because the truth is, you have NO idea what tomorrow will bring.

Tomorrow,
Broadway may call
Your book may make the Bestseller List
The booker may book your band
A new collector may ask to buy your whole collection

You honestly can’t KNOW the future, but you can CREATE it.

You can wake everyday and continue to put in the effort from a place of honest intention, and doing the work it takes.

So your voice can be heard.

YOU decide.

 

This past week, my voice began to come back, slowly but surely.  My cough subsided, and my throat infection cleared.

It took way longer than I wanted, but I knew I had to stay in it, every day and take care of myself.

And my commitment?

You.

While I may have lost my physical voice, my commitment is that you never do.  And it gave me time to really reflect and come back to why I created my business in the first place and decided to empower Creatives across the globe.

My commitment to remind you of your brilliance, and remind you to stay IN it.

I’ve only lost my voice twice before in my life, so it was scary and frustrating to experience, but it also reminded me of what I’m capable of, and the moment of illness was temporary.

I imagine how scary it can be to start believing you won’t “make it”, but the truth is, with every day you ARE.  You are becoming in every moment, with every stroke, picture and note, the artist you desire to be.

Every day is a new day, one you have never lived before. And the list of “overnight successes” really is speaking to the night it all came together, after consistent work and effort.  In truth, most of these artists just stayed IN the process, no matter what. Tom Hanks was an overnight success after 10 years….take that in.

Live in the stretch and stay committed to your Art.

You create the life you want.

Share your glorious voice..

Descent/Ascent

photo

“Don’t control coming down.

Trust it’s going to be there.

Don’t place the notes.”

 

I’ve recently seen two of my favorite Broadway performers, Kelli O’Hara and Victoria Clark. I caught The Bridges of Madison County in it’s closing weekend, and swooned over the lush score, the chemistry between the leads, and the sad, poignant love story. I felt a deep connection to the piece and like many in the theatre community, was very sad to see it go.

Kelli has always been a huge inspiration to me, with her charm and soaring voice. She shines in slapstick and drama, and brings hubris to each role, communicating very grounded and real characters.

I saw Cinderella last week and got chills as Victoria Clark transformed from her rags into the fairy Godmother to powerfully inspire her charge. Her singing has always appeared effortless to me, ranging from controlled whispers to glorious full-bodied sustained lines.

I feel a deep visceral reaction to this freedom, to witnessing their craft flying out of their throats with conviction

I came to singing as a dancer. I had been taught for years to pull up through my center, to hold my upper body, and the concept of “letting it go” was foreign and scary. A dancer spends hours in front of a mirror in constant critique, attempting pictures, and shapes. None of these shapes included a soft belly, at least none that I had been taught. Usually a teacher was sticking her very long manicured nails into my belly, telling me to pull up!

I started really singing in high school under the tutelage of my choir teacher, Mrs. Lundgren, who took a real interest in me. I had always loved singing along to my Richard Marx tape in my room, but had no formal training. Mrs. Lundgren encouraged me, and I found I liked singing with a group, instead of just to my hairbrush. I joined several choirs, and auditioned for the school musicals. We went on choir trips, did competitions, and I made a lot of new friends.

I was taught classical technique by Dr. Susan Boardman in college. She zeroed in on my dancer habits, instructing me to loosen my belly and find breath below as opposed to high up in my chest. She was the first teacher to inform me I was a soprano. I always thought I was an alto, but the truth was I was cutting off my breath and therefore inhibiting my range. Turns out I had notes I never thought existed and she helped me access these.

Once I moved to the city to start my career, I floundered for a few years without a voice teacher. Then I found Linda Glick, and a whole new world of singing opened to me.

As a dancer first, many directors expected up-tempo bright belt pieces, and mine was limited. I hadn’t been taught how to belt in college, and my attempts were not so successful. My belt range hit a big wall and then flipped into my head with barely a transition. I had never been taught how to move through registers like this.

I burst into tears in my lessons on more instances than I could count. My reaction would be to try to control my voice. Singing required freedom, and brought up a lot of resistance. I felt I had to help my voice achieve this freedom.

I’ve always been driven. Discipline and initiative were taught foremost growing up in a military home. But, falling? Allowing myself to fall? This was a fear felt as deeply as death. I wanted to “place” my fall, control the descent of my voice, because allowing it to happen meant it was out of my control and I would have to trust myself.

Linda said to me, “It’s an old habit. You do better on the way up, but have trouble coming down.” This was true across the board. My drive always got me through the ascent, but I didn’t believe I possessed the tools for coming down.

Then, last year I fell hard and fast with heartbreak and loss. I had no choice but to allow. I couldn’t stop the fall and in letting go of control, I understood the lesson my voice teachers had been offering for years. And in this descent, I was surprised to see I wasn’t alone. I had a community, who held me through each step.

In a recent lesson, I was feeling exhilarated from a sweeping exercise where my voice felt like it was completely out of my mouth. I wasn’t grabbing it back in, and it moved through the registers, soaring between my belt, my mix, and my soprano. It felt incredible.

All my life I’ve watched these great singers, marveling as they embody the present, and striving to achieve the same, pushing all the way. Instead, my lesson was to let go, and fall.

Singing is my greatest practice. It is me facing the pull and control of my past.

 

From Mrs. Lundgren to Dr. Boardman to Linda Glick, they all brought me to this moment; The moment I open my mouth and sing, sing, sing.