Here I am again, writing to you from the road.
Another children’s theatre tour. A very fun show. The kids scream, and laugh, and cheer. And they learn. And we laugh too.
We just finished our first week after a much needed break. This tour has been hard for me for some very specific reasons that I don’t even want to talk about, but I will because I feel my story won’t make sense without them.
There were a few very COOL costume pieces that impacted how I was able to use my body, and that combined with the heavy lifting and hauling of all our equipment, and also combined with my own self-imposed, cookoo-bananas, after-work schedule, meant that my whole body was screaming in pain, and I was in a pretty constant state of losing my voice. It was actually quite scary. You’ve heard of the dreaded “Nodes”? I’m told there’s a joke about it in Pitch Perfect. Anyway, these can be career-ending little suckers that form on your vocal folds when you use your voice too much or improperly. And if you’ve seen or heard anything from me lately, you probably know that music is the thing that matters to me most of all.
Well anyway, some tests and a scope and several very expensive meetings with various voice experts revealed to me that while I didn’t have big messy, bleeding, career-ending nodes, I definitely needed to address several factors and change the status quo. It was devastating, and then humbling, and then actually a huge gift.
The human body amazes me. It has an incredible capacity to heal, and to adapt, but it also speaks to us, even when we don’t want to hear its message. “You’re out of balance,” is what mine said. “I can’t carry on like this.” If my body was a car, if would’ve just broken down, quit, kicked the bucket. But instead it tapped me on the shoulder and told me something about myself.
One of these voice specialists that I visited had me breathe for several minutes near the beginning of our session. Right.Breathing.Iknowthis,Iwenttotheatreschool,Iknowhowtobreathe…
But over those 4 or 7 minutes, I ACTUALLY became still. I realized that despite all my deep-breathing and warm-ups, I hadn’t actually slowed down, been still, and listened in a VERY long time. I was having trouble being present, because I was spinning so fast, running to the next thing at all times.
I guess sometimes it takes the threat of losing what’s most important to us to get our attention.
So here we are, back on tour, and it’s for the sake of my voice that I’m making sure I have quiet time. That I sleep enough every night. That I drink less coffee and beer. That I do yoga twice a day. That I make time to breathe, and be still, and listen. My heart is aching to be at home, making music with Sonia, lounging on the couch with my roommates. But here I am, doing my yoga in the hotel room. My tour partner and I are both tired, and as a way of thwarting misery, we decided to name out loud our favourite thing about each and every show (that’s two per day). That’s a lot of positivity.
And maybe it sounds hokey. (I personally am a fan of healthily venting those negative feelings rather than storing them up…) But the power of this positivity has amazed me. It changes what I’m looking for, what I’m paying attention to.
We got harassed on a playground this week for 20 minutes while loading all our stuff into the gym. A few boys went on and on, mocking us, trying to provoke us, calling us hippies and breaking branches off trees (our company does shows with an environmentally conscious message). I was amazed how much of a child I was in that moment. I felt like a victim. I wanted to tattle on those boys. I wanted to hide. I didn’t want to do the show. By the time I finally decided to act like the grown-up and simply ask those boys to show us the same respect we were going to show them, they ran off and I lost track of them among all the kids. At the same school, a boy deliberately tripped Ryan during the show.
But this rhythm we’d found of talking about what we loved about every show proved it was bigger than the negative experiences we’d had. In the end I felt a little sad for whatever it was that was causing those boys to act out that way, but I’d had a great time with the other 98% of the school, who were incredible kids.
So. There you have it. I’m learning the same lessons I’ve already learned 32 times in my life. And that’s ok. I think it’s ok to be humbled and human.
So, my friends…. Stop. Breathe deep. Listen. Heck, pay attention to your posture. Pay attention to what you love about your day. And accept that you will always be a work in progress.