Monday, September 5, 2011

I choose HAPPY!

“Happiness is something that you are and it comes from the way you think.”
Dr. Wayne Dyer

As I think about those words, the truth in that statement is huge.  I have decided that in my life positivity must reign supreme over all choices I make.  It is a choice to be happy, folks.  In order to be happy in our lives we must choose to be without judgment of others/situations/feelings:  observe without judgment, accept, understand, forgive, empathize, love.  This has been a long journey for me, and it is not an easy task to accomplish.  We may never individually be able to attain pure happiness or bliss, but the choice to be happy is a perfect process in itself.  I am not perfect.  I am not made of titanium like the Terminator.  I am human.  This is what makes me who I am and sometimes makes others uncomfortable with my giddiness, excitement, happiness, and positivity.

Scientists and doctors have studied it, but the explanation of how we form thoughts or from what source we come is still a mystery.   Thoughts are created by us as individuals, and we all have the choice to respond to outside stimuli in whatever way we wish. 

“What we think about expands.”

This is another quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer who has brought much clarity to me in this path that I am on spiritually, physically, emotionally, and musically.  I have not been successful all the time with choosing the most positive way to respond to outside stimuli coming at me from all sides.  I sometimes react emotionally in a negative way, and this has affected me conversely in a much more powerful way than I ever thought it could at certain points along my life’s journey.  We can choose to be miserable or to be motivated.  We can choose to love or to hate.  We can choose to judge or to accept.   Listen to  the words that people say—they are based on thoughts.  The energy that surrounds you when you speak or think a certain way has an effect upon those who associate themselves with you.  What kind of effect would you like to have upon your friends, family members, or those who are closest to you?

“You alone choose your emotional state each day. No one can make you feel any different than you choose to feel on any day. Therefore take full responsibility for the emotional states that you choose to embrace each day.”

I have made my choice to live a child-like existence of bewilderment.  Picture in your mind the eyes of a child walking down Main Street USA at Disney World for the first time.  It’s almost the same for me on a daily basis!!  I am in awe of amazing occurrences in my life.  They come to me on a daily basis in this business that I have chosen (singing and teaching of singing) and in my daily fitness adventures:  a creative thought, laughter, interesting turn of a phrase (verbally), amazingly beautiful sounds from voice students, creating art, being silly, a breath of cool air on an extremely humid run, being giddy…I have stopped apologizing for any of it. 

 I am a happy person for many reasons because I choose this.  I choose to be positive, I choose to uplift, I choose to encourage, I choose to laugh, I choose to love, I choose to fill my life with levity, I choose to motivate.  I choose this existence, and it sure beats the alternative of being grouchy, judgmental, frustrated, stressed, driven, anxious, or negative.   Dr. Dyer has taught me to observe what is going on around me, to make notice of it, and to deal with the stimuli the best way I can within my abilities at any given moment in time.

At what point do we lose the unconditional happiness that resides within children?  It most likely comes with life responsibility and the pressures of success in career, family, finances, schooling.  These are real concerns, but why have we lost, as a society, that joy?  I choose joy.  I choose happiness.  Is it that simple?  Well, there are many variables, but the constant is you.  It is your choice, your existence, your journey.
Now, choose to live happy and GETCHUSOMMADAT!.  Until next time, people, get outside, swim, bike, and RUN HAPPY!  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cheerfulness as put by Wayne Dyer

Blessed Are the Cheerful!

In terms of outward appearances there is something noticeable about people who have reached a high level of spiritual awareness. They seem to be in a constant state of bliss. In my own life I know that my state of cheerfulness is a reliable gauge of my level of spiritual enlightenment at that moment. The more cheerful, happy, contented, and satisfied I am feeling, the more aware I am of my deep connection to Spirit.
Ask yourself this key question, “How do I feel most of the time?” If your answer is that you feel anxious, anguished, hurt, depressed, frustrated, and so on, then you have a spiritual disconnect. This could mean you have allowed your personal energy field to become contaminated by the debilitating forces of low energy around you.
When you are spiritually connected, you are not looking for occasions to be offended and you are not judging and labeling others. You are in a state of grace in which you know you are connected to God and thus free from the effects of anyone or anything external to yourself.
I ask myself, “How am I truly feeling inside?” If my answer is “Not so hot” or “Upset,” I meditate and go to the quiet place where I can plug into my spiritual power source. The state of cheerfulness returns quickly. Every teacher who has been truly significant in my life has demonstrated this wondrous quality of being able to laugh, to take life lightly, to be silly and giddy.
Use this measure to test your own level of spiritual awareness, and if you are not of good cheer remind yourself that you will never be fully satisfied but in Spirit.

**Well put by Dr. Dyer.  He has be instrumental in the shift that has happened in my life over the past few years.  I am in the process of writing my next entry titled:  Run Happy, Live Happy, Be Happy!  (to be completed soon).

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Super Easy Ginger Carrot Sweet Potato Soup (celebrating an awesome run)!)

Ran my best paced training run today in a few months with my strength and running coach, Jenny Palamar, along with her husband Mark and friend Lisa.  Today was the fastest I've run since the beginning of June.  It felt so good that I was inspired to make some soup today.  I'm still unsure as to why soup is on my mind almost constantly in this sweltering heat (probably one of  the hottest mornings we've had in recent memory as far as humidity is concerned).  94 is the high today?  What is this guy thinking?  Well, I've always wanted to dabble in sweet potato soup, and I got it right on the first try.  Here's the recipe:

What you will need:
3 pounds of sweet potatoes skinned and sliced in food processor (or cubed by hand)
1 pound of carrots peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet yellow onion (vidalias are my favorite) diced
64 oz of broth (veggie or chicken)
ground tumeric
ground ginger
ground cinammon
garlic powder
sea salt
pepper (black or white..if you don't like seeing black flecks in your soup, then use white! hahah)
ground nutmeg
two large soup pots
food processor

1. sautee diced onions in one of the pots adding spices to taste (pepper, garlic, salt etc.) until soft and slightly         golden brown
2. combine following ingredients to onions: sweet potatoes, carrots, and chicken broth.  Stir.
3. I didn't measure spices, but did shake both tumeric and ginger shakers over the entire surface of the soup.
4. Add cinammon---going to say about a tablespoon?
5. Add about a teaspoon of nutmeg
6. Bring all to a boil on high heat then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes stirring occasionally.
7. Allow to rest/cool for a few minutes
8. In batches, pour soup into blender but do not blend too much soup at once--hot stuff!
9.  Blend until extremely smooth.  Add each portion of soup to other pot you've set aside from the beginning (2 pots necessary for this one, remember!)
10.  Should have a very thick consistency.  Definitely a spoon needer!!! If thinner soup is desired, add coconut milk, regular milk, or additional chicken stock at beginning of process or before your next soup experience!

Enjoy!  I really love knowing EXACTLY what I'm eating when I make this kind of thing, especially with ingredients I can actually PRONOUNCE!!  Carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, chicken broth.  Got it!  :)

Now eat some yummy soup, get your butt outside, into that gym, on that bike, in that pool and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!!!  :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hitting milestones and not getting knocked out

Greetings from the swamp aka Tampa Bay area of Florida.  It's been raining for 2 days straight, and I wish some of this rain would make its way to Texas where it's actually needed. Anyway, I digress from my much neglected blog.

According to the dictionary, a milestone can be defined as the following:

  • A stone marker set up on a roadside to indicate the distance in miles from a given point.

  • An important event, as in a person's career, the history of a nation, or the advancement of knowledge in a field; a turning point.

  • Hitting milestones and not getting knocked out
    I will address both definitions because I have reached both in recent weeks.  

    Last week, I logged my most miles running (broke 30 miles for the first time in my life).  A mile marker or milestone for sure.  Within the last few weeks I have run 3 trail runs through sand, dirt, mud, and water.  A milestone?  Sure!  Each had a mileage attached to it (10, 5, and 11, respectively).  This is certainly a milestone in my current training for the Savannah Marathon in November!  Yess!
    Trail running will become a major part of my running life after spending 11 miles on the trails at Croom State Park in Brooksville, Florida on Sunday.  Here are some amazing photos of this amazing trail:

    Here's a video of the 16 mile race at Croom that I will be running in October as a preparation for my marathon!


    The video doesn't show the amazing hills that make up the last few miles of the orange trail which consists, I believe, of one of the highest elevations in all of Florida (the regulars call it Croom Mountain)--all of about 130 feet in elevation, but in flat Florida, it looks like a mountain!  My favorite area is called the Pit, which is a sharp descent into a giant, well, Pit..and an immediate run up a steeper section to get out of said pit.  I enjoyed every second of this run, and I really wanted to do some more miles when I completed the eleven mile loop because it was so beautiful (this could have been a result of dehydration, but I still can't be sure of this..haha).  What an amazing place, and I can't wait to go back.

    Onto milestone number 2.  After working with my personal trainer, Jenny Palamar, for about ten weeks of high intensity circuit weight training, and 4 or so runs per week, I went shopping today.  Yes, I shop, but usually not for clothes.  On this occasion, I needed a pair or two of new jeans and some shirts.  Well, much to my surprise and happiness, my waist is now the smallest it has been since I was a teenager.  When I got to high school, I wore a 34 inch waist.  Before that, it was just medium, large, extra large youth sizes.  Today, my friends, I am in size 30 waist straight leg jeans...not relaxed fit as I have been in since high school.  Regular cut, people, and in athletic cut and fitted shirts.  This marks an amazing turning point in my life of health and fitness (I am even going to have to buy a smaller hydration belt!!).  I haven't bought new clothes for myself in about two years (yes, I need a new wardrobe now...oh, shucks)!  Elizabeth and I have decided that a lifestyle of mostly "clean" non-processed foods is the key to a successful health and fitness journey.  This milestone not only helps me physically, but also in my career as more and more casting decisions are based upon lookism.  It is a sad truth, but real.  If you're not in shape and sing just as well as someone else, but they are in amazing shape, guess who gets the job??

    Another milestone happened recently as well.  My cholesterol level is down from 195 two years ago before I seriously got into training and eating properly to 147 two or so weeks ago.  There is a correlation, people.  Look into it!

    So, tomorrow, I strap on my new gps training watch, my newish sneakers and one of my not-so-loose-anymore running shirts to take the next steps towards my ultimate goals which includes a 16 mile trail race, a 26.2 mile marathon,  half ironman triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run), and eventually to the pinnacle of all craziness the full ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run).  Building and maintaining lean muscle mass is going to be the key to my success in all of these important milestones.  

    Until the next milestone, folks, get out there, move that body, pedal that bike, swim in that ocean, or pump that iron and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!!!!!!

    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Seeing yourself reflected...Monday Musings!

    It's been a few days since my last blog, but I was waiting until after my students' recital yesterday to post.

    When I look back at my vocal training and education, I wish that I had more opportunities like this growing up, especially in high school.  My voice teachers, for the most part, didn't perform anymore, however, focused mostly on teaching.  There is absolutely 100% nothing wrong with this, except for the fact that I never was able to see the technique that they taught first hand put into practice by their own singing, except in grainy vhs videos.  This was also way before Youtube and the ability to post videos online (it was before the internet...yes, I'm that old, folks..hahah).

    It was such a treat for me to sing on a recital that featured a majority of the singers of my teaching studio yesterday afternoon.  There were some on vacation, back at home around the country, resting from the constant nagging and pushing of their voice teacher (haha), and some that had already graduated (a few of my high school students).

    With the exception of two or so of these students, most of them had never heard me sing a full aria (some saw me sing recently in a production of The Merry Widow, but the song I sang was more light operetta than big honkin' opera..).  I began the concert with Valentin's aria from the opera Faust.  I'm not sure what came over me, but I can honestly say this was my finest performance of this aria that I have been singing for over ten years.  Coincidence?  No.  I would say it was a beautiful reward from the Universe for the energy I have given and received from my voice students.  Teaching on a daily basis really is like having a several hour-long voice lesson for me!  Time stood still..It was an amazing moment for me.

    This moment didn't last long because right after I sang, my students began their individual performances.  When I watched and listened, it was so magical to see the technique that I have been able to pass along to these students reflected right back to me.  The sounds they were able to make were amazingly beautiful.  Some of them were not able to do this on the recital they gave last year.  I am so proud to be a voice teacher, and when I see myself in my students, my soul is so filled with joy that I can help them experience the same love of singing and making music with the individual instrument they have been blessed with as I feel.  An absolutely sublime and surreal moment for me.

    One of my students has also became a runner recently and has lost almost thirty pounds in the process.  One of my students is number one on his tennis team.  I have several other students who are athletes or workout on a consistent basis.  Health and wellness are directly proportional to my students' ability to use their whole person as their instrument.  It's the only one they've got (their voice), so in order to care for it, he/she MUST be in good shape to maintain the energy necessary not only to sing operatic arias, but to sing full operatic roles which call for a great deal of stamina (this, of course, applies to my musical theater students, as well).  Now, of course I'm not asking my students to become muscle bound juice heads, but core work, aerobic circuit weight training, cycling, running, swimming, yoga...whatever your choice can raise the level of vocal production.  The core is the absolute root of all singing, and with a weak core, the muscles around the larynx automatically engage while singing which raises the potential of something going wrong vocally either immediately or further down the road in the future, especially when not addressed early on.

    I closed the program with singing one of the most beautiful duets written for two male voices in the entire operatic literature from the Pearl Fishers by Bizet (same composer who wrote the opera Carmen).  What a great opportunity for me, but also for my student to really open up and make some amazing sounds with me.

    Most of these students have made huge strides in their singing in short periods of time, as late as even a few weeks or days prior to this concert.  Nothing gives me more joy in my work than to see a particular technique finally "click" in a student's mind, and the look on his/her face is absolutely PRICELESS.  All of the blood, sweat, tears, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and all of the other stuff that I've had to deal with in my early career is completely erased when a student experiences the beauty of their true voice for the first time.  Not some contrived "version" of what, perhaps, a previous teacher has said was the way, but the way THEIR voice should sound when produced with health and freedom.  I love to perform, but equally so, I love to teach.   I am so excited to see the musical journeys each of these students will be on in the next few years as some of them move on to college or to graduate school to study voice.  Cheers to art, to music, to health, to fitness, and to the glory of music!

    Now then, get outside, on that bike, in that gym, on that yoga mat, in that pool, or in those sneaks and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!!!!

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    A few quick clean eating recipes I've been throwing around...

    I've had some requests for these so, here's a quick run-down.

    Clean Curried Zucchini and Carrot soup


    1 medium yellow onion
    1 pound peeled and shredded zucchini
    1 pound peeled and shredded carrots
    Optional Yellow pepper (I tried this last night, and I like the sweetness it adds)
    32 oz  chicken broth or veggie broth (I use low sodium..I like to use sea salt instead--kind of cancels it out, but, whatever..haha)
    1 cup milk (I haven't tried soy, but I'll bet it's great!)
    Spices:  Garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt, turmeric, curry powder, cayenne pepper (optional)
    chopped parsley (optional---I've tried with and without, and I prefer without)
    This is SUPER EASY!  I just bought a blender and a food processor, and this makes a TON of soup.

    1. Using a food processor, shred onion
    transfer to soup pot and sautee onion until soft (you can also just dice the onion and other veggies if you do not have a food processor)--usually about a minute or two
    2.  Shred or slice peeled zucchini and carrot and add to onion
    3.  Add spices to taste--I usually sautee onion with garlic powder, salt, and pepper
    4.  Add turmeric and curry (a few tbsp of each? or to taste..I like it very aromatic)
    5.  Mix all together, including diced yellow pepper over heat for about two minutes
    6.  Add chicken or vegetable broth and milk, bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes
    7.  Let soup rest for a few minutes
    8.  Add half contents of soup pot to blender, and blend on high for 1-2 minutes until smooth, put into another soup pot (for storage or heating later) (make sure there is venting for the steam to escape, and be very careful when pouring soup--do it in the sink as to not burn yourself...yipes!)
    9.  Add other half of soup to blender, repeat process, then add to previously blended soup

    let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate uneaten soup.  I eat it with toasted Ezekiel sprout bread.  The interesting thing I noticed is that after dipping the bread in the soup, the soup doesn't spill off of the bread--so dense and yummy.  I will add cayenne pepper to the soup once served.

    I don't have nutritional information, but Weight Watchers says that points are only for the milk--so, if you use skim it's 1 or two points for the ENTIRE batch?? HUH?   Filling is not the word for this soup....I'm still searching for a better adjective, but I'm drawing a blank.

    Clean protein bars:
    1 cup natural peanut butter (I like crunchy!)
    3 tablespoons natural honey
    1 cup of oats
    1.5 cups protein powder
    1/2 cup of water.

    combine peanut butter and honey in a microwave safe bowl
    microwave for 30-45 seconds until warm
    stir peanut butter and honey,
    add oats
    mix in protein powder and water

    I'm guessing on the water...the recipe asked for 5tbsp of water which was wayy too dry to mix the protein powder, so just experiment.

    After getting all ingredients mixed, put mixture in 9x9 pan (or in my case 13x9 because I don't have one of those..lolol), and press pretty firmly to flatten to desired thickness (for 12 servings)

    Calories are 211 per bar, just as a reference.  Don't worry, these are so dense you won't want to eat more than one at a time!!!

    Enjoy, folks!  Now getcher butt outside, put on those sneaks, get on that bike, get in that pool, get moving, and GETCHUSOMMADAT!

    Sunday, July 10, 2011

    Eating Clean---Why waking up in the middle of the night just ain't worth it

    Okay, folks.  Now that I have become a 6 day a week athlete (core fitness, swimming, biking and running), my body has become a machine.  What you put into the engine reflects directly how said motor operates.

    Last night, I woke up at 3am sweating and feeling awful.  I had run a great 10 mile run in the morning, and guess what I ate for two meals yesterday.  Ding, Ding...give that man/woman a prize...JUNK.  There is something in my brain that signals to me that one day a week I need to "junk it up" in order to make up for the calorie deficit that I usually create with all of the activity I do during the week.  Let me put it plainly to you all:  Junk food is crap.  It's kind of like putting stale, 10 year old gas which has been sitting in a red can in your garage then putting it into your car.  Ick.  Calorie dense food such as nuts, etc. are much better choices for making up calorie deficits.  Is is easy for me? No.  I mean, come on, I can make up that calorie deficit in minutes from Chic fil-A or Pizza (or in yesterday's case...both...what the..?).  Do I feel sick hours after eating that crap?  Yes, but they are manufactured to make you feel euphoric while eating and after consuming.

    How do restaurants/manufacturers of foodstuffs keep you craving and wanting their food?  Process and additives.  Every time I even think about going to McDonalds, I think about Super Size Me, the movie.  In it, the documenter discovered that McDonalds calls its patrons "users" and those who eat more that a few days a week "heavy users"....Huhhhhh?????  If you haven't seen this movie, it will change your life, your perception of corporate food America, and cause you to think twice before putting that kind of stuff into your body.  The experiment was to see what effects eating McDonalds every meal for 30 days would do to your system.  I won't spoil it for you, but the results were STAGGERING.

    I would much rather be a "user" of clean food than "food filled with crack."  A simple rule of thumb:  if you can't pronounce one or any of the ingredients on the label, it's processed.  Oh, and "made with natural ingredients" doesn't mean it's so....SO FRUSTRATING!!! AAARG!  Elizabeth and I have been really trying to live by asking the following questions:  Does it come from the ground?  Did it have a mother?  Easy questions?  Yes, easy to do all of the time?  No.  This is what makes us human.

    The question that we all need to ask ourselves as athletes or even human beings  is, "is this crap going to help me get healthy, faster, or fitter?"  Quickly the answer makes itself clear.  Hell. No.  I'm not perfect.  I eat white flour bagels as a pre-race or hard workout glycogen spiker.  I eat Clif Builder protein bars.  I'm just in the habit (wow, there, Freudian slip...habit?  Yes, most processed foods are a part of habit and addiction, perhaps??).  I think that balance is great---cutting out white flour is really the way to go, but eating a high fiber meal before a hard workout just spells gastro challenges that I just despise (bloating, cramps, etc).

    I made some amazing raw soup the other day, and I could sense how clean the food I was eating was.  It's 93 octane clean gas for your engine....put it in, and I guarantee that you will notice the difference.  There are recipe books for clean eating, and a quick google search can point you in the right direction.  I've found a lot of recipes that I absolutely love, and I hope to, this week, to create my own clean protein bar recipe using raw honey instead of sugar.  I will post my recipe as soon as it becomes ready to roll, and I'll post the other recipes I consider my favorites in the future.

    Let's do this, people!  Yes, it does cost more to eat clean, but isn't it worth the investment in your body, your future?

    Now, people, get outside, get yourself on that bike, in those sneaks, or in that pool, and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!! :)

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    Facing disappointment in the face and WINNING!

    Disappointment is par for the course in this crazy business that I have decided to pursure as a career.  I'm so thankful for every opportunity to perform no matter how small, but small bumps in the road sometimes cause an artist to question his/her sanity as to why he/she has chosen this profession.  This is one of those weeks for me.

    When faced with adversity in our lives we can choose to be miserable or to look at challenges that arise with a sense of the big picture, with grace, and with perspective in life.  The rain that has been falling for the past few days in this area really has helped wash away the disappointment that I'm going through.  When taking a look at the grand scheme of life, small roadblocks like these only make us stronger and more aware of our own gifts/strengths to deal with these kinds of issues.

    I am surrounded by an amazingly supportive family, friends, and colleagues that keep my feet on the ground.  My students inspire me on a daily basis as I guide others on their musical journeys.  As many friends have dealt with illness and tragedy lately, I can honestly say that what I'm going through is nothing compared to what they have/are experiencing.  I am healthy, prospering, and growing musically and vocally.  How can this be a bad thing?

    The strength I have comes from the energy that others give me. I make it my own and feed off of that amazingly prominent energy.  My five strengths in life are:  positivity, strategy, communication, maximization, and the ability to win others over.  I have to keep moving forward, and if others wish to be a part of my life professionally or personally, that's not really up to me.  I am who I am, and those that accept me for that, I fully invest myself not only in those relationships, but in those projects for which I am hired.  I take my job and profession seriously, but it is not what makes me who I am.  I am fortunate to have weathered this storm (figuratively and literally), and I will emerge a better person and artist as a result.

    On the fitness front:  I signed up for my first marathon over the holiday weekend.  Savannah Rock and Roll marathon is held on November 5th.  I am excited, thrilled, a little scared (not going to lie to you folks), and extremely pumped that my fitness journey will be taken to a level that not many people have achieved.  My training for this marathon began Monday, and I will continue to keep you all informed as to my progress with this amazingly awesome task before me.

    One of my voice students has joined the running club of which I am a member and has begun his journey to health and fitness to improve his ability to make himself more marketable in this business of singing.  Let's face it, folks, we cannot deny that in any performing art form in recent memory that lookism abounds.  I'm so excited this amazingly talented young man has chosen this path, and that as a result of my example, he has made this a priority in his life.  Nothing brings me more joy as a teacher and mentor.

    My workouts with my personal trainer are going amazingly well focusing on running specific strengthening exercises.  The amount of negative energy that I release in these intense circuit training sessions with very little rest in between sets is assisting my fitness by leaps and bounds.  Plateauing will be inevitable, but I'm enjoying this process (especially the increase in stamina and in core strength) so much and feel so much better as a result!

    A 10 mile run is scheduled for in the morning....and so the ramping up of mileage slowly per week begins.  Now everyone get outside and GETCHUSOMMADAT!!!

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011

    My birthday muse.

    My birthday is this Saturday, July 2nd!   As I look back on the past ten years or so, I remember, mostly, spending the summers at a music festivals singing opera and musical theater---probably five or six different companies in my young career.  I always felt growing up that I got the shaft because my birthday is in the summer....Oh, how that opinion quickly changes when surrounded by artists and colleagues.  If you've never had an apartment or any other space filled with the sound of many opera singers crushing Happy Birthday, you have lacked an amazing experience. High notes, low notes, harmony--all at the decibel level of a 747 jet!!

    These relationships that I have built with colleagues in the singing world run deep.  Some have to compartmentalize so that when the summer comes to a close the emptiness that follows doesn't depress them.  I connect immediately and openly, and I really miss the friendships that I have made over the years, especially those who live far away.  If there is any drawback to this summer filled with art it is missing Elizabeth, my family, and my home.  One trades one for the other in pursuit of a career in this ever-changing amoeba we call opera singing.

    These past two summers have been spent here at home.  Some in my field would say that not singing during the summer is a failure...Not so!  Although I miss the performing and the connections with colleagues, I'm so happy to be around my family and my extended running/triathlon/fitness family that I have developed over the past two years.  What's so wonderful about connecting with other athletes is that it doesn't matter what walk of life/religion/political affiliation/et al you are---you share a very important bond.   Running/triathlon training and racing really is a lot like performing.  It is very personal because in singing your instrument is you.  In athletic events and training, you are the motor, you are the power, you are the sweat, you are the tears of joy, sorrow, anguish, and empathy.

    Just as quickly as my friends in the "business" come to my rescue, my friends in the athletic community do exactly the same but in much closer proximity.  I have noticed so many amazing things happening in my running club, the Suncoast Striders.   In my head, I see so many different faces from so many different areas of the world and the United States.  When someone gets injured, they are quick to encourage.  When the loved one of a member becomes ill, they are quick to console.  When someone experiences tragedy, they support and love.  I have experienced this firsthand on many levels:  injury, sickness, losing friends to cancer, frustration with the business of singing.

    In the classical singing community, the same holds true.  If one of us experiences loss/sickness/injury we rally around them and lift them up.  My voice teacher, Susan Eichhorn Young and her lovely husband Thomas were almost killed in a car accident last week.  How quickly life can be taken away in the blink of an eye, in the flash of steel and metal.  We are fragile human beings---it is okay to be this way.  The body is an amazing truth in this world---it can heal itself, but with the love and energy from those with whom the injured person has connected, the healing is expedited.  Coincidence?  No way.  The day to day frustrations that I experienced these past ten days or so pale in comparison to what others have had to go through recently (injury, tragedy, uphill battles against cancer).  Perspective is what keeps me grounded, and connections with people are what fuel me.

    Three days before my birthday I am in a state of reflection.  I am in the best shape of my life.  I am singing better than I have ever sung (coincidence?  maybe..).  My performance and life anxiety are under control (well, we all have our days, don't we?  Let's be real here...).   My voice students are making more progress than I could have ever imagined. Is it the positive light and energy that I try so hard every day to surround myself with?  Is it my best friend, wife, and constant Elizabeth?   Is it the support of my classical singing and instrumental friends?  Is it the love of my blood family?  Is it the love from my athletic family?

    YES.  And I am so grateful for it all.

    Now, get outside, get moving, and GETCHUSOMMADAT!

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011

    There's a first time for everything, I suppose.......

    Wow, I'm blogging.  So, what do I do now?  Those of you that know me realize that I am never short of words to say, but this, somehow, seems different.  This is kind of surreal, but I think that as communication is one of my strengths (thank you Clifton StrengthsFinder 2.0: that I will now begin the process of unloading all of the stuff that's up in my head here rather than upon my loved ones, especially Elizabeth, my wife of over 15 years.  She's kind of heard it all, so I'm going to unload thoughts, musings, fitness ramblings, strategies, and other nuggets of information that will help me but also may help others as they journey through life's weird twists and turns.

    I am a singer, performer, teacher, athlete, husband, and doggie and kittie daddy.  This is what I do for a living and what I do in my life.  

    I'm hoping that this blog will give me the outlet that I need to communicate rather than burdening others with what's going on professionally and in my fitness journey.  All this stuff needs to get out of my head or I'll go nuts, so this may be the place.  Let's hope so!

    I've been singing and teaching for the past 15 years or so in a private studio based out of my home(a very nice sized studio of singers of all walks of life) and singing regionally and locally (meaning smaller, well-paying gigs) in opera, musical theater, and concert work.  I have a graduate degree in voice/opera from Rice University and an undergraduate degree in voice from Florida Southern College.

    I started on this singer as athlete kick only about three years ago when I took up running after a very long hiatus after a calf strain in 2003 and a stress fracture in 2008.  I hadn't ridden a bike since I was a child until last year (2010), and I hadn't swum in a pool since childhood until 2008. Since I began training in all three sports, I have done two Olympic distance triathlons (last November and this past May), I have completed running races in 5k, 10k, and half marathon distances, I will run my first marathon in the next year, and then I will hopefully complete a full ironman triathlon in the next few years.

    The place I am now is nowhere near where I was even just three short years ago.  I almost quit singing and teaching because I couldn't handle severe anxiety that had been plaguing me since childhood.  Running, swimming, biking, personal training, and nutrition have saved my career and my mental health.  I could have asked for no greater gift, so if I can give back to the Universe for this gift, I will do it in any way I can--this being an interestingly easy way to do it. 

    My goal (now that I've thought about it) for this blog is to share my story of health and fitness as it relates to my singing, teaching, and performing in this absolutely crazy business.  It certainly takes a bit of craziness or just stubbornness to stay on this career path, but somehow I've survived.  Without fitness as a balance, I think I could have bought a first class ticket to the "funny farm" years ago. 

    It's probably going to be some sort of place for me to post musings and observations, but I really want to help other singers who struggle with the same sorts of life/performance anxiety that I had to go through and continue to have to deal with on a daily basis.  Who knows what the future will bring for the Teaching Singer/Athlete blog...

    Until we meet again, friends, colleagues, supporters, and detractors (haha)!!

    Now, go outside and GETCHUSOMMADAT!