Got My Mojo Risin’

Good evening, boys and girls. It’s been awhile!

So, nearly two weeks ago, I came home after band rehearsal with a little twinge in the throat and a headache thinking, “Geez, not another cold!” I quickly went from a sniffle to nearly crawling from bed and onto losing my voice entirely. Wow. You just don’t appreciate your health enough until you don’t have it.

A friend of mine, who’s also a singer, said, “Are you the kind of person who just pushes through?” I thought it a strange thing to say, but suddenly realized I knew exactly what he meant. Ego, it’ll get you every time. What he meant was that while I might think that being Super Woman is a requirement for the job of career woman, wife, mom, and aspiring opera singer (in no particular order) and stopping to take care of myself is a guilty pleasure, it’s actually hubris to think that I can do this or be this in the first place. Virus or no, I think my body just said, “Listen. I’m tired, and you’re not paying attention to me. So, I’m taking a break, whether you like it or not!” The fact that I truly lost my voice and couldn’t even speak, let alone sing, made the point hit home.

With an entire week of not rehearsing and canceling two concert performances, I was very depressed. At one point, I actually talked myself into thinking that performing was too hard, too time-consuming, too much stress, too whatever, and that I’d be totally happy to focus entirely on teaching for the rest of my life. I mean, how in the world can I be careful about viruses with two preschoolers running around and teaching kids every day?! Not to mention, I’m competing against other singers who know the daily humidity level and the reason people freak out about brain-eating amoebas in sinus flushes…I’m not exaggerating.

But, today I sang. And I didn’t sing just anything. I sang glorious music by Donizetti…bellissima musica! It was heaven. Even when sounding like a foghorn and getting raised eyebrows from the tenor, it was bliss. Think my mojo’s on the upswing now.

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Does Weakness Make Us Stronger?

Some of you avid readers might have noticed that I haven’t blogged for the last couple days.  As it turns out, I had a great day on Thursday, working through some kinks in a lesson, teaching a few classes, and landing the role of Lucia in Lucia di Lammermoor for my opera scenes class.  Yay!

That evening, though, I went to band rehearsal and began to feel crummy through the evening.  (Did I mention that I play trumpet in a community concert band for enjoyment?)  At any rate, Friday morning I was feeling lousy–headache, body aches, sore throat, stuffy head and nose, and my voice was sounding froggy.  Saturday came, and I had a final rehearsal for a concert I was invited to perform for on Sunday.  I still sounded froggy, and now my head was in the clouds from taking cold medicine.  Today (concert day) arrived, and after not sleeping well for three nights due to a nagging sinus headache and a lack of oxygen (i.e., my nose was stuffy), I was exhausted.  How in the world was I going to perform three demanding arias back-to-back when I was getting winded walking up the staircase in our house?!

I sent frantic texts to my voice teacher, accompanist, coach, and mom, wondering what I should do.  I have never canceled a performance in my life–not as a performer and not as a teacher.  In fact, last year, I stayed up all night retching from stomach flu, but still made it to an 8am performance my students had for our annual school fundraiser breakfast.  I rarely miss any obligation I commit to, unless it’s because my children are sick.  It feels weak, and I don’t like being weak.

However, everyone I spoke with said it was better to cancel the performance and get some rest, especially since this week is going to be very busy with last rehearsals for a big concert on Friday.  I was disappointed because some of the musicians today were part of the AZ Opera orchestra, and it would have been great to connect with them.  On the other hand, it would have been awful if I wasn’t at my best in front of them.  So, in the end, I canceled.

My husband reminded me that although most people can slog through jobs when sick, singers are sort of like athletes.  If your body isn’t working at its best, you simply can’t do your job.  Your instrument is your body.  So, I guess it’s time to really pay attention to my body.  I’ve been sort of skirting the issue for the last year–working too much, not eating well, not exercising enough, etc.  *sigh*

My  mom reminded me that sometimes being weak forces us to pay attention and teaches us to be strong in other ways.  She should know; she’s certainly had her share of struggles in life.  I guess today’s canceled concert is a lesson in acceptance of a situation out of my control, forgiveness of myself for being human, and patience to analyze what might be out of alignment in life priorities.

I want to succeed at what I’m doing, but pushing myself will only cause stress fractures.  It’s important to pay attention on the journey.