what next

What a whirlwind of couple weeks!

Ever since I have posted this blog, the energy level simply continues to rise. I have been learning even more about musical history, uncovering local talent, making new friends and have more opportunities to continue growing in my craft. It’s all very exciting…

So what next? ūüôā

Apparently, slowing down…cause I got sick. I hadn’t lost any weight yet, so I guess there’s nothing like not being able to eat for a couple days to get that old matabalism movin! I have not taken any medication because I had a medical test on my calendar I couldn’t reschedule. So, if you find yourself unable to drug-up on any white pill wonder or the lovely green capsule that knocks you out at night…here is what I had to do to get through.

WATER! Awww yes, the continual push of good clean filtered water.¬†It’s a deal-breaker for me, what can I say?

To that warmed up water, please add a half of a lemon to give your sicky throat a much needed charge. (click here)  

Last, but NOT least add a touch of the almighty honey!

So, warm the filtered water, slice your beautiful organic lemon in half and have that delicious gooy-goodness near for the combination of a life-time! ¬†Pour the hot water in a mug/tea cup, squeeze the ahlf lemon (as much as your weakend sick little arms allow you to…poor thing.) and add a drop of honey. Enjoy nature clearing and soothing your throat.

aaaaahhhhhhh….

SO that is the pleasant part of the blog….part two is not so nice. Weak stomachs, be ware.

As a singer, I am constantly aware of what foods will give me indigestion, what liquids I drink the day of a performance and making sure I am doing what I can to care for my throat and vocals. Unfortunately after today, I’ll need to give myself some major throat love. Oh my dear…

I had everything organized at the foot of my bed for my at-home testing today. I found the kit pieces I had laid out the night before for and thought…start with the blood. Get it done with first. Blood is a silly thing really. Everybody has it and everyone has lost some and we all know it makes more for us when we do, so all is well in the world and there is no need to panic.

I repeat, there is NO NEED TO PANIC ILA! 

You see, I have had a LONG standoff with needles, blood and generally allowing anyone to poke, hurt or those pesky Nurses that are only trying to “help” me…pretty much I have a sick stomach when it comes to all of it. I’ve passed out many places…ugh. There is a story that my dentist continues to tell to this day, from when he first started his practice. My sister and I walked in that day to have different procedures done, but we left with dizzy heads, puke on our shirts and I was the only one who was “allowed” to continue the tooth filling process. Apparently if you puke, drilling in the mouth is still game on! My sister blacked out…that’s a no-go for the dentist staff. (BTW, she is a Dr. now and has completely cured herself of this ridiculous reaction/fear.)

Later in life, I discovered I have a sensativity to eggs. The next time you visit your dentist, ask about eggs in the novicane. Yep! You guessed it…the base is probably egg. I request a different kind of shot now and haven’t had a problem since.

So imagine my surprise today! The kit came with a little self-mutilation tool to “gently ¬†poke” the ring finger and “milk” the blood. o.k., Down went the weapon of choice towards my finger…and back up again. What?! I didn’t do it? So I went for try number two…then three…then four…then…this is silliness! I was battling with myself over something I new wasn’t going to kill me, had no egg in it (or helpful Dr.s near by to drain me of more blood than they need) and I needed to do this test! ¬†The kit told me I MUST milk my own blood in the first 30 minutes of waking; clearly that was not happening a lone. I needed help.

I raced downstairs and begged my friend to help out. During his third groggy attempt (not really on his to-do list for first thing in the morning), he stabbed me. “YAYE!” I thought. oh…wait.. ūüė¶ Ouch! Quickly snatching up the card I began to milk my finger onto the flap of special paper. I thought about the fact that I was “milking” myself…my blood…eww…then I changed my thoughts to the task at hand, until my finger throbbed even harder. Milking finished. Thank GOD! I thanked my blood-buddy (that sounds gross, sorry) and left. ¬†Dizziness flushed over me and I tried to gather control. I said, “I think I might pass out.” He didn’t think anything of it. Then he heard the bellow puking from the kitchen. Between each loss of stomach projectile I called out his name, pleading for help. Then he came a runnin!

What happened was, after I left the room, I instantly became weaker and weaker, until I was on the kitchen floor. I remember thinking that I can’t allow myself to do this, so began to get myself up, but down I went again. Then sicky…oh GOD. As I said, singers really care about what goes in and out of their throats, so when I felt that old friendly puke-gut feeling, all I could think about was how bad it would be on my vocal chords…all that acid! Try as I might, I lost the heave-ho battle…many times over.

I still had more tests to do, so after rinsing my mouth out with water I began to spit into a big plastic tube for the next 20 minutes. Three more empty tubes gleamed from the foot of my bed, waiting for their 20 minutes of warm spittle. This was not how I saw things going this morning…Maybe that’s why the lemon honey water tasted so amazingly good today?

Other things I recommend for singers (or whomever!)

Neti Pot        www.leahswater.com    warm water and lemon

nice softer tissues ¬†(I hurt my skin and nose with the old “toilet paper roll by the bed trick” today…not a good choice.)

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Catching up with you! pages later…

I don’t have to explain to those writers out there in the world, how difficult it is to mentally “go-back”¬† multiple story-lines and play catch-up. To rekindle the fire that was and somehow translate that into writing is not as easy as one might think. Let me explain…

I have been taking care of my grandmother and her husband (he is very ill) and they do not have internet. I hope you all send your well wishes as you many of you have already done for the recently deceased Mr. Medford (the family is doing well) and Etta James…my grandmothers husband does not have much longer with us either it seems. Life is always changing.

As you all know I have settled on the style of country for one of my albums. I have found a lovely local talent who wants to document this process using video and is curretnly building a small crew. She will be at my Bathtub Gin Serenaders performances, my performances, special events and more. It is all very exciting for me and for her, so hopefully I will have more videos to post soon. I had six hours of singing last Friday night and that experience was outstanding! I want to do more. It was a REALLY good reminder of why I need to do those sit-ups and continue on my road to healthy living. WOW! I also met a nice gentlemen who took a big interest in my vocal range (believe me, I’ve worked hard on this) and can hear some of his originals within my voice. We have a meeting this week. As you can see, I have been a little busy-bee, but I have a long way to go. SO! Onto the next…

Last night was all about JAZZ! I sat with a local jazz-cat, and we listened for a variety of perfect songs in the jazz era for hours. Water in hand and fake books in the other, armed with You Tube and a stack of CD’s; we swung out groovy tune after groovy tune. Could I change the rhythm of that one song or would people HATE the change? Big band sound or trio? Maybe I should do both? What about sticking with only standard early 30’s-40’s jazz…but wait a minute…which kind?!! There were so much brainstorming, helpful advice and moments of glee when we found one I REALLY felt passion for, all those hours seemed like small minutes. My music partner eyes bulged out of his head when we both excitingly settled on Ill Wind (You’re Blowin Me No Good). We continued this massive quest, filling our ears with greats like Cole Porter, Gershwin, Ella F, Louis A, Billy Holiday, Doris Day, Bessie Smith and Etta James. We moved into “now” artists such as Jamie Cullum and even discovered someone new! She is a sultry singer who will blow your socks off…check her music out! See Sophie Milman now!¬† The band-mates she has played with are extraordinary talents as well…good people from what I can tell. Go Sophie!What an inspriational evening of jazz music, laughter, research and healthy living! I could hardly sleep last night…Mr. Newcome, when can we do that again sir?!

Pages later of possible songs, I have put a star next to the ones that move me the most…for now. I know how music and really anything in the arts unfolds, so for now, I will ponder them all and keep looking. I want the diamonds in the rough. The songs that are great and should be well known. The ones that I not only relate with, weather due to the behind the scenes story or the lyrics/melody lines, but also those I can embody and represent extremely well. I have a long journey of sifting and believe the right songs will be discovered. For all 5 of these albums.¬† Feel free to send me suggestions of course! (from ANY style of music)

I’ll leave you with this gem of a list

I’m not giving up

duo

heeehee

Remember?

Get ready, get set…!!!.. sit all day??…o lordy

ORGANIZATION IS KEY! I can NOT say it enough…to be organized is to have the key that opens the right door at the right place at the right time. ORGANIZATION IS KEY! The key to YOUR successes in life.

I woke up this morning at 4:00am, much before my alarm I must tell the truth. 4AM was not the plan, but there it was…happening. After some debate with myself while I acted like that of a door on it’s hinge, swinging side to side trying to slam my eyes back to zzzzz-land, I gave up the battle and I tossed myself out of bed. It was 4:20am. What was I to do so early in the morning? Work out of course! Then I remembered I had spent the night at my moms home. Well, I can’t get on the elliptical without waking her. Her husband wakes at a pin-drop, so waltzing around their home at this hour was simply not a good plan. I began a stretching routine next to the bed, while I pondered all of the possibilities. Then I found myself doing flutter kicks, stomach crunches and more stretching…thoughts of music began swimming. What do I do today for my challenge? hummm….which direction do I take to be the most productive? hummmmm again….

I was (still am) excited and could almost “feel” anticipation building in this new 2012 year. I kept kicking my legs. Not just for music, I thought, but for humanity! Oh what JOY! All of these big beautiful bold, nearly grandiose, thoughts were gleaming in my head when suddenly everything came to a screeching halt. I stopped flutter-kicking. I thought, but how will I keep track of everything? Doom. I continued into the next kick and then stretched while in my morning haze until I figured it out. Keep organizing. That’s what.

You see, since my separation, the loss of two homes, businesses, jobs,  and other assets, (another story for a different time), I had a lot to get back into order. I remember driving the second of two HUGE U-Haul trucks from Seattle to Southern Oregon, when I decided I had to sell some of our things. I had moved 9 times over those past 10 years and I grew tired of the moving scene. It was time to simplify.

My mother used to tell me to take care of things because I never knew if I would get them again. And so I have. My mother’s efforts were not in vein, but life had another plan of bill collectors and a mess of gnarly paperwork. Over time it just became this yucky reminder of things gone by and like some battle wound that wouldn’t heal. Every piece of furniture in the storage units, along side unopened mail and old files filled to the brim, just bogged me down.

So purge I must! One day at a time. I would take an entire room full of paperwork and put it in sections-“TO TOSS or TO KEEP”, that was the question. Those I kept, I put them in folders or files, boxed what I was willing to drag around with me and shredded what I could keep electronically or just plain didn’t want to see anymore. I seem to remember some paper-burning parties too. What?! I was safe! Don’t judge me…¬† ūüėČ

I sold furniture and paid bills with it. I sold jewelery to bed frames and even my big red Chevy 4×4 truck and paid bills. I continually organized in order to find the next item on the chopping block for resale. It was a tireless, thankless job for over 5 years and I still take items to a local consignment shop named PRISM just to be sure I’m well-purged. I constantly reevaluating things I own. I didn’t go on a “get rid of everything” kick, more like a constant flow of “should I keep this, pack it, donate it or sell it?”

Tips:

  • The paperwork is usually the hardest, so I always did the big items first so I could see immediate results.
  • Get your home in order while you work – if you have to put piles of things in your garage, so your home is peaceful & clean…DO IT!
  • Tackle a little every day. I looked at it like working out – a bit of it everyday helps in the long run
  • Take breaks and don’t become obsessed –¬† I really don’t have an easy shut-off button when it comes to work historically, but I’ve gotten better though!
  • Tackle the categories that you can easily “let-go” of – emotional items are TOUGH to say bye to. I had jewelery couldn’t bring myself to start with, so¬† began with sweaters. I moved to the jewelry a couple rotations later.
  • Hydrate & feel good music are important! Water helps relieve stress and you’ll make good decisions with a clear mind.

Twelve years is a long time to be intertwined with someone. This morning I realized, it was time for round 2 of my e-mail process. (I’m pretty sure that’s why I went back to bed this morning, cause I didn’t want to face it) After all day working on them, I can say I am almost done! I’d love to say I am finished, but that is just never the reality. And the sooner you realize that purging is a process, the better your process will feel and greater your reward will be! Keep on, keepin on!

Send me your music comments…I’m pretty organized now…I think. ?? ūüėČ

Funerals & music & my divorce=more peace

The journey

Nothing brings clarity of mind as much as a funeral. People ask questions like, “what is really important in this life?” “How have I loved, who have I lost?” When you are the one singing at a funeral, the only question to ask yourself is…”How will this help heal the people left behind.” It’s quandary…

There is sadness from the loss, but joy of memories and Heavenly hopes or re-births. Peace and strife all in an hours time within each person there is a small battle; no matter what economics, background, belief system, foundation of life or walk of life…it’s a time of peace and turmoil…it’s a funeral.

I was asked to sing at the funeral for the man I previously blogged about. It was an honor, of couse, so I excepted. The song chosen was Amazing Grace. Now, Amazing Grace is a beautiful heartfelt piece that according to what I have read, was started on a slave-trade boat and encapsulated by that of a man who at one time was the slave trader on that very boat. No matter your belief in any Gods, the-behind-the-scenes-story of Amazing Grace is both inspiring and a healthy reminder of humanity…both positive and negative. For the funeral, the bag pipes would open the song, then the piano and myself would come in and the bag pipes would re-enter at the end. The bag piper physically left the sanctuary while he was playing the end of the song. It was so powerful. The first time I heard him play during rehearsals, my heart hit my knees. My throat clinched, eyes watered, chest tightened and I was hit with a wave of pride, honor, grief and respect. (Now I want to travel to hear this beautiful instrument in it’s original home-land!)

The day of the funeral had arrived. ¬†As a reminder, I had been spending time with this mans wife and during the ceremony, she was in the front row….His family and MANY friends were packed into the building and some had such a constant stream of tears, I worried that there would be no one at home to console them and I didn’t want them to be left a lone. I wanted to hold them and allow their hurt to get out. I couldn’t be a one-on-one friend, but I wanted to help…and I could do that singing. or so I hoped…

After the guest speaker had spoken, I noticed the crowd “shutting down.” ¬†They seemed to be closing their emotions up and putting them aside for some other time. They didn’t relate to the guest speaker and literally grew restless…the bag pipes began. I sang the best I absolutely could for them. I sang for the deceased, thanking him in my heart for helping keep Jazz Music in the Rogue Valley by supporting our yearly festival and for all of the other good deeds done. Memories of all I had learned about him, his family, the history in the room, the politicians to care-givers to long time friends, flew though my mind. People cried…and the bagpipes left the room.

Lastly, I had my own private challenge. My divorce was final April of 2010. I was married 12 years…the funeral was in the church I had been married in over 12 years previously and I was flooded with memories, flashbacks and emotions. I had stood on that platform before, but was now looking out at a completely different crowd.

The funeral day was not about me, so I tabled those thoughts, until now..for my blog.¬†I think this event will influence my 5 album challenge in as big way. ¬†Thanks for listening…where there is peace, there is understanding.

Getting healthy helps our hearts…and (singing) lungs!

It’s time to get healthy!

If I am to complete this challenge (5 albums and 5 newish instruments to be learned) you bet I need to focus on my health.

“What Ila?!” you may be saying to yourself, “What does getting fit have to do with singing? Is this just another health-kick-push?” My simple reply would be…¬†“A LOT!”

Singers use a gamete of muscles all throughout their bodies. I doubt Barbara Streisand just rolled out of bed and decided to sing for hours upon hours, living off of only coffee, jelly beans, a little leprechaun named Fred (for luck!) and lots of LOVE. ¬†Granted, not all musicians want to tour and live the roadsters life-style, but no musician wants to be cut-off from entertaining or bringing joy to others because of health issues. Muscles in the stomach/diaphragm/back are needed for all levels of tonality and breath support. Without proper support, through time, a vocalist can develop the “N” word. Hearing that you have the dreded nodes or nodules¬†is one of the worst nightmares for a singer. In Lecokers’ blog, they referenced wikipedia having a list of celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Omarion, Rod Stewart, and Victor Willis among others who have battled their¬†throat-foe;¬†nodes. Besides, without this much-needed lung capacity and muscle strength, one may find a tightly corseted soprano collapse on the floor in her beautiful opera gown.

and we just can’t have that…

When I was a Wedding Coordinator, I had to continually remind the wedding party to drink water, ¬†be consciences of their melodic deep breathing and as most adults have heard numerous times throughout their lives…“don’t lock your knees!” Now, when I attend weddings, if the wedding party has not been coached proper, they all look like this guy to me…

Red, sweaty faces with clinched jaws from the groomsmen is never a good look!

So…how does one prepare for five albums in one year?

  1. Clean WATER! Filtered water! No nasty chlorine and whatever else is in the city water¬†pipes¬†or toxic plastic bottled water for me…no thank you! If you want to learn about the value of showering, bathing, cooking with and drinking filtered water, follow those links…you and your family (even the non-singers out there) will be happy that you did.
  2. Walking! Less than 30 minutes a day is WAY better than nothing at all..check out this awesome link. I was inspired and ended up walking an hour the next day.¬†While walking, I remain conscience of my body and what the different sections are doing. Such as, my abs…are they tight? My breaths…am I breathing to my stomach, filling them up through to where even my back cane feel it. What are my shoulders doing? I have a constant issue with storing anxiety in my shoulder area, so reminding my muscles to release the tension there is done on an hourly basis. The problem with the passed out opera singer and the nervous groomsman is that they lost connection. There is a disconnect between the mind and body and even the general understanding of what their bodies where doing. They cut-off their own oxygen supply and blood circulation just by not being aware. To be a GREAT singer, you must remain aware…and that is a very healthy mindset to have on a daily basis.(add light stretches in every day too.)
  3. Do the small things to change your life. I like how this presenter challenges her audience to NOT HIT THE SNOOZE BUTTON. A heads up for those of you tender-eared as there is a¬†little bit of language,¬†but wow…inspiration in a bottle! (or for those comedians…”on a stiiiiiiiick.”)

That’s the beginning level! That’s it…that’s all I started with! I’ve added to this now, but in the beginning…simplify. ¬†*If you eat junk food…that’s a different story. You’ll want to start cutting that back sooner than later, so add a number 4 *:)

At the end of the day, the most important thing is to start….wherever that is for you. That is what I am doing. Start small and appropriately for wherever you are in your health and grow up from there! I’ve had a VERY interesting health discovery recently and have taken many steps backward, but I’ll brush it off and keep moving forward.

Thanks for helping me out gang…I really appreciate your comments as I get healthier to sing more!

The 1st of 5 instruments I will learn, has been chosen! oh man…

Here is the 1st musical instrument that I will learn for the “5 album 5 instruments in 1 year” musical challenge I have given myself. Thanks again for walking each of these days with me…


Here it is..the Ukulele’!

Isn’t she lovely! She’ll sound super sweet on the country album and I hope I will be able to do this instrument justice. I know I will try hard! This Ukulele was bought a few months ago, but hasn’t seen much action, until today! Here are some more pictures of this curvey beauty!

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As I promised earlier, here are some helpful links & information for beginning your Uke journey or for the advancement of it.

  • Cool on-line tuner! FREE http://www.get-tuned.com/online_ukulele_tuner.php
  • The Uke strings used to be made from cat-guts (or so I have read…¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukulele) and the history this instruments holds is immense. For such a small thing, I have to say… dynamite comes in small packages!
  • Another GREAT resource I have found is http://ukecanplay.com/blog/speak-ukulele-course/ I purchased the Uke song book that has hundreds of beautiful songs translated to Uke fingering. There are video tutorials and even a community of Ukulele’ players from across the globe, on-line chatting it up with each-other. They problem solve, discuss purchase possibilities and even video their own efforts and personal growth. It is AMAZING!

So, here it goes fingers…get ready for the ukein’-lovein! OMG!

http://www.ilaselenemusic.com