11.30.2013

How about just indulging?

I'm basking in post-Thanksgiving gratitude.

There's a whole crapload (not a great descriptor, I realize.) of good things, wonderful people, comfort and challenge around me. And I realize that, while it's simply part of my general makeup to be slightly dissatisfied, it doesn't reflect my circumstance: life is, in fact, exceedingly good.

In fact, sometimes it's that exceedingly good stuff that sabotages my holiday season...because I want to stuff everything as full of goodness as is possible. Events, gifts, people, food, drink - the season is the perfect excuse to overindulge in almost every single way.

I'm thinking that's maybe not going to be my style this year.

I overindulged (for me - my compadres were relatively unscathed, but I just couldn't keep up.) on Thursday. Not epically, but enough to make Friday wholly unproductive. (Bonus: hard to go to Wal-Mart on Black Friday when you're napping on the couch. I'll call it a win.) I ate very little, and had a fitful night of sleep. (The animals overindulged, too - but we all were keeping each other company on the couch in front of BBC America reruns of Sherlock Holmes at 4am.)

The side effects of an unintentional day of aseptic living, however, are quite lovely. I'm feeling lighter, less anxious. I was actually able to forget that the yoga class I was taking was really crowded (and the poor 20-something next to me was struggling something fierce - I've so been there!), and actually get to a decent mental spot to work through some of the poses I find most difficult without flipping out/immediately giving up.

The big question: can I sustain it? Can I underindulge until the moments when I'd really like to indulge? And can I find a way to skip the whole overindulging thing for just this one month? (January, with its new beginnings and the mass push towards diet and exercise, is traditionally an easy time for me to get on the bandwagon.) It's only 30 days. Will consuming and buying less give me more room to be kind to friends and colleagues, more brain cells to use towards giving thanks as opposed to stressing out?

Maybe?

I'm going to spend some time this afternoon making a 30-day plan for December. Regular exercise. Enough sleep. Less alcohol/butter/candy than I will want. More nourishing food. Time to reflect and journal as this year comes to a close. I realize that there is a large chance that I won't make it: some of you are wishing me a hearty hasta-la-vista already, I'd guess, and you'd be justified! But it's a marathon, not a sprint...even so, it's time to put toes on the starting line.

If anyone has tips or tricks for making it through the holiday season with more good feelings that stressed feelings, please hit me up - I'm all ears!




11.23.2013

Time Out.

I have had my fanny handed to me.

My body is trying to secede from the union. My tongue is craving only things with questionable nutritional content. My eyelids weigh 2 metric tons. 

Not to whine too much: I had a lovely lunch with a pal who lives on the other side of the beltway (and who I see far too seldom, given our proximity) and an interesting phone call. And my adorable neighbors stopped by at the end of their afternoon festivities to bring us nibbles and tell us that they missed seeing us. (feeling SO loved!)But I've opted out of everything else today - the only things that I seem to be able to willingly handle are one-on-one conversation and movie-watching. 

Two things that I think you should see (for the sheer AWWwwwww factor):
Aside from spending tomorrow recuperating from whatever it is that I've done that's making me feel like an old woman, I'm looking forward to spending turkey day cooking with one of my nearest and dearest: to working only 2.5 measly days this week (HUZZAH): to spending tomorrow sitting and reading and doing laundry and cooking and little else. If I've learned anything (and granted, I'm a slow learner), it's to listen when my body tells me to recharge. 


11.21.2013

Stretching.

You know that moment when you realize you've not been practicing what you preach?

I had one a few months ago...was in the process of telling someone that getting out of their comfort zone might provide them with some of the insight/inspiration that they were looking for. And then I went home and grumped in my journal about feeling stagnant and self-absorbed.

(Physician, heal thyself.)

So I applied for a program that I had heard good things about, but didn't really get. Didn't get largely because it wasn't music/arts focused, or education-centered - my two primary professional areas.

Today I woke up (much too) early, and spent the day with a group of folks as we were walked through some of the big point of local government. We met and talked with several members of the Board of Supervisors. We ate lunch with members of Fire Station 40, and learned about the primary concerns of the police chief, fire chief and sheriff's office. We saw both the primary 911 crisis response center and the secondary center. (In case of large-scale emergency, redundancy is a very good thing!)

I'll be honest: as someone wholly, blissfully unfamiliar with all of these things on a daily basis, I'm feeling both grateful and completely overwhelmed by the amount of information and the generosity of the people who run these places, these offices. Because - regardless of whether I agree with their policies or politics - they've all set out to make a difference, and to serve their community. Some of these folks are in my class, and on my content team. I'll be honest - knowing that one of them could be the person on the truck coming to my aid if I was injured or in crisis is a HUGE relief - they're great people.

Noble stuff. 

(And a serious perspective check for Little Miss Navel Gazer.)

Feeling grateful for the exposure to people and places that I wouldn't have access to, for information that changes my worldview, and for a glass of wine and some quiet time to process it all. 

11.17.2013

Lessons in flexibility. Inflexibility.

I took a yoga class yesterday. One that I knew would likely be a little outside of my comfort zone - mostly because my comfort zone is currently in a dark theater where, at 10-minute intervals, strangers sing loudly, in foreign languages, in my general direction.

So. Yoga. Stretching and chatarangas and using muscles that I haven't used in months. It was not, as you could guess, a walk in the park. 

But the thing that stopped me in my tracks, both during the class and upon reflection? The teacher.

Full disclosure: I thought I was running late. I followed her into the gym, not knowing she was the teacher... In fact, not even convinced I would take a class: thinking that a few miles on the dreadmill would be sufficient. I was wholly irritated that she couldn't sense me behind her at the entrance, didn't even pretend to hold the door. 

But I walked into the class, found a mat at the back of the room, and started to take stock of what hurt and what really hurt. And in walked the teacher. She surveyed the room, realized that she hadn't seen me before, and came over to talk to me. She crouched down; met me at eye level, and introduced herself. Asked some basic questions about my practice and injuries. Encouraged me to modify as I saw fit. Asked my name, and repeated it to herself, as if she was trying to remember it.

The conversation was short, but it felt like it took a long, long time. Open, gentle eye contact. Space in which I could answer.

There was no rush.

And I realized how stinking fast my internal clock runs, how little patience I have for slow thinkers and talkers, even knowing that I'm one of them on my most thoughtful, least knee-jerk days.

How often does the detritus of my day and messed -up head blind me to people seeking a small moment of real connection? How often do I direct my gaze downward so as to not engage?

(Far too often, I'd guess.)

Goal for the time being: more eye contact, more listening. Less jabbering. 

11.13.2013

Best. Day. Ever.

I know, I know. It's Wednesday. A random, run-of-the-mill November Wednesday, only distinguished in that it's the coldest Wednesday in recent memory.

But, even for the chill, it's been pretty damn awesome. 

(In a very low-key way.)

After being on the road for the biggest part of six weeks (and officially completing NaNoWriMo, if team submissions were allowed - our comments added up to 89k words! Plot is ancillary, right?), Little Miss World Traveler turns into Little Miss Homebody. The clock strikes 7am, and upon waking I'm filled with a strong disinclination to leave my home for more than 30-minutes at a shot. It happens like clockwork, every fall, and I'm so lucky to have a day at home to indulge my nesty tendencies.

I've spend the day listening to music that is decidedly non-operatic in scope. 90s singer-songwriters (Shawn Colvin, Jonatha Brooke, Wilco, Ryan Adams in his druggie days) and mellow modern-ish guys (Band of Horses, Grizzly Bear, Rogue Wave, Sufjan Stevens, Local Natives) have spent equal time on queue, with me bellowing along. I've touched work email briefly, but only glancingly. 

Mom sent me not one but TWO scarves that I'm going to live in the next few months (between the purply one she sent earlier this fall and the cobalt one from last fall? I'm toasty AND chic!), reminding me that non-bill mail is, indeed, fantastic. I bought holiday cards (I've learned that the writing of them is easy, but if I actually want to send them I need to spend some leisurely time writing them, rather than just signing my name...otherwise they languish in the back seat of my car until March, when I throw them away in an ashamed fit of pique.) and colored ink for my fountain pen. I daydreamed about France. I cleaned out the fridge and restocked it with things that won't give me botulism. I started doing the cubic ton of dirty laundry in the basement...and actually finished a load. (Which is significant because if I am wholly unproductive for the rest of the day? I've still done something. WIN.)

I grocery shopped my pudgy butt off. (HA. Wishful thinking.) I put a chuck roast and onions and garlic and tomatoes and red wine in the oven to cook for hours and hours. (You should be wishing for smell-o-blogger, the fragrance at chez moi is that good.) I might've had a little bit of that red wine to wash down a decadent snack-lunch of popcorn popped in coconut oil. (A director this summer made it on several occasions, and it might be my new favorite thing. So happy to have the time to try it today!) I've written and daydreamed and napped and researched and checked pesky things off of the to-do-list. 

So, really? It's been a bang-up wonderful day. 

And (here's where the lame comes in), I only wish that GL and KaPoW were around to join me. It always feels a little like withdrawal to leave the crazy audition structure behind, to have to figure out what to do on my own rather than having someone new walk through the door every 10 minutes to sing. What has become the new normal is no longer, well, normal. (Ok, let's be real. Never was it actually normal.) I don't have any reason to call them - but part of me wants to, just to say hi.

(Why yes, the administration is revoking my HardAss Card as we speak. Why do you ask?)


It's November, so in the spirit of thankfulness, I'm bringing back the Five: 5 things for which I'm grateful.

1. Colleagues in whose presence I take genuine delight. They're some awesome peeps.
2. Stove-popped popcorn. Reminding me of childhood, while simultaneously allowing me to put wonderful things (maple sugar & sea-salt: truffle oil and parmesan cheese; coconut oil!) ontop without giving me cancer from the microwave.
3. Band-aids. (My hands are a mess between the dry air and raking leaves and klutzy tendencies.)
4. Rewards. Stopped into BR to get some base layers, and they gave me an extra 10% off of the day's 30% discount because I was there early. Catchin' the worm, beeyatches!
5. Heat. I'm still amazed at the way heat can transform food. Low heat for a big ol' roast and carmelized onions: watching popcorn kernels turn themselves inside out. While the burn on my pinky (see #3) stings, I'm happy to have a day putzing in the kitchen.




11.10.2013

Sunday evening.



I'm home. Even though there are two days of auditions remaining, I'm home. (It makes some things more difficult, and some easier, professionally speaking.)

Yesterday I raked leaves for close to 3 hours. (You would barely have been able to tell had you walked past...although my sides and forearms are secure in the knowledge that they were overworked yesterday.) The neighbor boys have a new lawn-vacuum thing, and they practiced their skillz by catching the large piles of leaves that I missed. The yard looks goooooood!

Today I jogged around the golf course (slowly. oh so slowly.), and in doing so donated 75 cents to the ASPCA via Charity Miles.  (There's an incentive to run more, right?) I moved the French lavender and rosemary pots inside. I switched my summer and winter clothes out, and then totally mucked up the kitchen by freestyling dinner and dessert. (Acorn squash with maple butter and chicken apple sausage, and honey roasted figs with almond pecan shortbreads and ice cream.) I did about 15 minutes worth of work, but for the most part was totally, blissfully divorced from all things operatic. 

Reset: achieved. 



11.02.2013

Houston


Houston, is traditionally really good to us. And I'm going to sound a little ungrateful when I say that it was a little off its game this time. The travel karma abandoned us, the weather totally punked out (for the first time since I started traveling here in 2007), and my attitude needed a serious adjustment.

And then. We saw people. People who we adore. 

Folks at HGO - colleagues and former Trappers. A sweet alumni night at a charity bar (Okra, if you're ever in Houston - what a fantastic premise!). A great dinner with a close friend (whose wife is also a close friend, but we saw her in Chicago. How do they do it??), and a night at my first Aida - loud in volume and visuals. (To our favorite designer Bradon McDonald: if you were looking for fortuny-pleated gold lamé for any challenge, I can guarantee that this show has the country's entire stock.) 
I finally met a pint-sized, cast-sporting young man, who totally charmed me by wrapping his arms around my knees and then stating "I like grills." Now, I'm not a groupie or anything, but I've been hoping to meet this guy for a few years, so it was pretty exciting. And while his comment coulda been a non sequitur, I'll choose to think that he likes me. (And barbecue.)

After the news from LAX, I'm a little jumpy about another travel day (with another connection). Jumpiness + Imminent Thanksgiving celebration = the return of thankfulness lists. 
Thankful for:
1. For wonderful, inspiring friends, all over the country.
2. For the honest conversations that time and distance allow.
3. For non-operatic music. (I know it exists, even if I can't remember what it sounds like.)
4. For the guileless greetings of sweet kids.
5. For homecomings. 

Thanks for reading my occassional drivel. I am thankful for you, too!