Thursday, January 8, 2015

Mundane Muggle Musts

Doing chores is one of the most miserable, feet-dragging, dreaded activities that I have the displeasure of doing every day.

I've tried:

-calling them "tasks" because of the negative association with the word "chore".

-rewarding myself after chores with something fun.

-breaking them up into 5-10 minute periods of speed-cleaning throughout the week.

-making a weekly chore chart that's all color coded and fun

I'm still on the quest to make chores more bearable.

When I think about the witches and wizards in the Harry Potter series, and how they can use magic to do chores, I feel very jealous.

Even though I'm very magical, since I didn't go to Hogwarts, I haven't learned how to use magic to avoid or quickly finish chores.

I realized, this is a muggle problem. So, I'm making a chore list based on this fact. While I was researching other words for "chore", I found this:


The antonyms for "chore" are "happiness" and "peace"??? Sounds about right.

Here is my super awesome and fun chore list: "Mundane Muggle Musts"

You even get to check off each "must" with a snitch. How freaking cool is that? I'm grateful to FontMesa for making this awesome font, "Magic School".

If you would like your own magical chore list that might make housework a little less sucky, here you go. (let me know if the link doesn't work)

Also, please tell me if you have discovered some way to make chores a less awful, or even *gasp* enjoyable experience.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

29 Years Old

It occurred to me that I have a "double whammy" of new beginnings at the start of the new year, since my birthday is just a few days after New Years. 

I used to focus on the fact that everyone either missed my birthday completely (it was always over Xmas break), or that people would give me a "combo" present for Xmas/Birthday. 

I realized that in my past, I depended far too much on others being responsible for my happiness.

This is my last year of being in my '20's', and I intend to make the most of it.

I am responsible for my happiness, and for satisfying my own desires.

Any kindness that I receive from others is a beautiful, wonderful, supplemental bonus.

I am filled with warmth and light that comes from within me

It is my hope that we can all have the intention to depend on ourselves for our own happiness.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Be A Failure

In my (almost) 29 short years of life, I've quickly learned how much pressure and disappointment I can put on myself by creating new year resolutions. A resolution is so daunting/intimidating/looming. Instead, I have intentions.

(It's funny how changing one word can make such a difference.)

I don't just create intentions at the new year, this is something I like to think about year round. But still, there is something renewing about the idea of a fresh start with a new number; 2015.

I've been holding myself back. Big time.

In the past, I've been such a perfectionist, that I'd rather not do something at all than to do it, and have it be "sub-standard." This has been incredibly limiting for me, because that only leaves the things I'm super-duper good at! Granted, I think I'm a very talented individual, and that I happen to be good at a lot of things. But how will I grow, become more well-rounded, or discover new interests if I only do what I know I won't fail at?

Failure is scary. Not many people enjoy the feeling of screwing up on something.

Here's the kicker: It is especially painful if you attach your sense of worth to the success of an endeavor. If your value is based solely on how well you do something, a mistake can seem catastrophic.

Here's my truth:

Regardless of if I fail or succeed, I have value. My value doesn't change with the quality of my work our output. Failure or mistakes don't mean I'm less of a person. To try, knowing there's a significant chance for failure, is brave and admirable.

So this is my intention for 2015:

 I intend to step out of my comfort zone a little each day. If something inspires or intrigues me, may I take action to pursue this inspiration, with bravery and zeal. I intend to make friends with failure. I plan on spending a lot more time with my new friend this year.

How do you feel about failure? Is it this daunting, negative concept you avoid at all costs? What would happen if you let yourself fail? Remember, your worth is not dependent on the outcome. You have worth no matter what. I truly believe that you have something beautiful and meaningful to contribute to the world, even if you don't know what that is yet. It is inside of you, and each of us. Maybe we just need to let our new friend Failure lead us to the truth.

P.S.Do you like my inspirational hipster art at the top of the post? My "Hipspiration" if you will. :D

♥ Emily

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Beginnings Part 3

So, as the final installment of my "New Beginnings" series, I will tell you how my audition for the Seattle Opera went! Well, the mind map worked absolute wonders. By having sent my intention out into the world, it truly had it's effect on the actual outcome. Traffic was fine, I found parking easily, and arrived on time. when I got there, a practice room opened up. In the past, I would basically drill the music over and over, until I basically exhausted my voice. I warmed up just enough to get centered, and then sat in the waiting area.

I was incredibly aware of how I had the tendency to compare myself to the other women auditioning. The other women were also giving me glares, sizing me up, judging me. I closed my eyes, stayed centered, and reminded myself that I was connected to all of these women through music.

When it was my turn, I walked in, feeling genuinely excited to be able to sing for someone. The judges (for lack of a better term) could sense my excitement and energy, and the mood was lighter than any audition I've done.

I took a deep breath, and sang. I was fully present in the moment, expressing the words and the melodies like I never had before. I felt like I was on a different plane of existence.

Afterwards, one of the judges told me that my performance of Non so piu, cosa son cosa faccio was one of the most expressive and accurate interpretations she had seen. They also told me that they thought I had a lot of talent, though I was a bit rusty technique-wise. We discussed why I hadn't been singing for the last few years, and they asked if I had a voice instructor in the area. When I said no, they suggested a mezzo in the area who teaches at Cornish. They told me they really enjoyed the audition and they wanted me to come back!

The best part was that I had a wonderful, positive experience. I've learned that mental preparation is just as if not more important than technical preparation.

Throughout all of this, I've still remained undecided about singing professionally, but I know that no matter what I decide, it will be enjoyable!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Beginnings, Part 2

So,  here is the continuation of my last post. Beginnings are easy for me, but finishing things are another matter, so when I say "continued tomorrow" I probably mean "continued whenever I can force myself to get around to it".

So now, we're in Seattle. Moving here, I was forced to face quite a few things about myself that I didn't want to face. We moved here in 2011, and by that point I had been aware for over a year that I had been struggling with an eating disorder most of my life. Thankfully, there was an incredible clinic here specializing in eating disorders, and my husband had incredible health insurance with his job. If anyone wants to know more about this facility, I'd be happy to provide you with information.

This is where my intensive healing path began.

I started intensive out-patient treatment at this clinic, and the growing pains (and healing) began. I also started doing my own personal work outside of the clinic (aka therapy). There is such a negative stigma about therapy in this country. What I'd like to say is that growing up I was always against the idea of it, because in my mind getting help was admitting I was "weak" or "messed up". That's not true. Everyone needs help now and again, and there is nothing to be ashamed of about that. Besides we've all been hurt or wounded in our life. Not one person can escape that.

So, I suppose the last year and a half has been spent doing intensive, painful, enlightening work that has helped me to be more functional, at peace, and better able to pursue my passions. 

One of my biggest fears was of failure. I would rather not try, than try and potentially fail. I started to get really fed up with holding myself back. I also realized that singing has been a form of therapy for myself my whole life. In fact, there were times in my life where singing may have been how I survived. I realized that I need this in my life again, no matter how painful the process. 

Something that I'm learning about myself is that I can go from zero to sixty in a split second, shocking everyone, including myself. I hadn't sung more than five or six words for three years, and then I had a sudden urge.

 I was going to audition for the Seattle Opera. I had been looking at singing opportunities online, and saw that the Seattle Opera Chorus was holding auditions. Now, keep all of these things in mind: I was incredibly out of practice due to not having used my instrument for years, and there may not have been any openings for mezzos, as they have very few positions to begin with. The auditions are held regardless of openings in the chorus, to keep the current members in the "lowest tier" on their toes in case they've been slacking.

Equipped with new mental tools, and a wonderful support team, I prepared for the audition. I only had a couple of weeks to relearn songs I hadn't looked at since college. These are the things I learned during this process that I will carry with me into the future. I believe they apply to a lot of things in life other than singing. What I learned deserves it's own post, so I will do that separately.

The most profound tool I used for the audition is...

Mind Map!!!

This is a technique that I wish I could share with the entire world, because it truly is magical. It works for anything you could think of. Are you stressed about going to a party where you don't know anyone? Mind map it. Are you giving a big presentation at work, and hate public speaking? Mind map it. Do you have a phone call you have to make, and are dreading it? Well, you know. And in my case, I was about to go to an audition for a legit opera company. I will teach you about the wonders of mind mapping in a moment.

 My goal was to have a spectacular audition. And by that I don't mean, "I blow my competition out of the water. I'm the best looking, best dressed, and all-around most talented, awesome person there". I can't control what the judges will think of me, nor can I control who else will be at the audition. I wanted this to be spectacular for me. I wanted to feel that pure ecstasy that all singers know when you're present in yourself, feeling every note and every word, and the emotions that come along with them. This was quite the goal, considering my audition history had left something to be desired, to put it lightly. Most every audition I ever did was terrifying, and extremely stressful. I was so worried about things I couldn't control, I wasn't able to enjoy myself. I remember once, my voice teacher in college said he knew a woman who loved auditions, because they were an opportunity to perform, where you had people's full attention. That concept was so foreign to me, but I longed for that feeling.

So, I was taught how to mind map, and now I will teach you. Seriously, I want to teach this in master classes at music schools around the world.

Mind mapping starts with a simple bubble chart. Here is one that I found online as it applies to business.

When doing a mind map, think of all of the things that may stress you out, frighten you, or worry you. These are the things you will address on your mind map. Most importantly, what are your intentions for this audition/event? The mind map should be filled with your intentions. Obviously, you will create the mind map sometime before said-event.
Here are the simple, but very important rules to mind mapping an event:

Everything that you put on the mind map must be positive
Let me give you an example. Let's say that you're stressed about the other people going to the audition, and you don't want to spend the whole time comparing yourself to them and obsessing over who is prettier/better dressed/better singer. 

What you may want to put on the mind map is : I am not comparing myself to the other singers.

That is a negative statement, and doesn't belong on the mind map. Instead you need to come up with a positive statement to replace it.

 I chose: I am my own, unique, beautiful person. I am here for my own reasons

Some things may seem difficult to spin in a positive way, but it gets easier with practice.

Everything is in present tense, AKA No Futurizing 
This is important. Just trust me. 

What not to do: I will be present while I sing
What to do instead: I am present as I sing  
Whatever your wildest dreams are, put them on the paper

This is something I didn't understand the full extent of on my first audition. Basically, in your dream world, how would this event go? Don't let worries or pessimism get in the way of this part. Do you wish that a blue elephant would magically appear during your audition and start harmonizing with you? Put it on the mind map. But seriously, any limitations you put on yourself will affect the outcome of that day. 

For example, I put all sorts of things that I hoped for on my mind map, but I didn't put one important thing; "I am selected to be in the chorus". Do you want to know why I didn't? Because I didn't believe in my wildest dreams that it would happen. I let my own insecurities and beliefs about where I was with my singing hold me back from having that as my intention on my mind map. The world has a funny way of responding to the energy you send out. You can't hide those beliefs, not even behind fake confidence.
And with those rules in place, I give you a mind map! I will bare all and show you my mind map for the audition. I recommend doing them by hand, which I did. But because it's pretty messy and I doubt you'd be able to read my handwriting, I've replicated it on the computer.
So, do you want to know how my audition went? I will tell you in the last part of this three part series! This time, I won't promise to do it tomorrow. I'll write it when I'm ready.


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