A Change is Gonna Come…

Hi friends! It’s been too long since my last post, and I’m sorry. 2015 was a very busy year, and 2016 is off to quite a start. I went back to OperaWorks in January for 2 blissful weeks of intense and amazing work with talented singers & faculty from around the globe. OperaWorks is my happy place. I made some new friends there who changed my life…and exciting things are happening for us all. Stay tuned.

I’m writing especially to let my followers know that I am moving thedivadigests to my new website (currently being designed by the lovely Kristina Driskill), and you’ll be able to find everything you could possibly want about my performances, voice studio, health coaching practice, & this blog! The site that Cherry Duke designed for me is still up & running, and the new site will occupy the “old” place at http://www.erikaperson.com when it’s complete.

Thanks for following me here, and donor giving up on me. 2015 was the year of THINK, but 2016 is the year of DO, so expect to hear more from me at http://www.erikaperson.com.

Can you believe it’s almost March? We’re that much closer to SPRING!!

Feeling lost? Maybe you need a new map…

Like this one from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A 6-month Roadmap To Health & Happiness. It’s a gift from me to you. It is never too late to choose happiness. It is never too late to choose health. You may stumble on the road – but at least you know where you’re going, and you’ll have some guidance. Is your health holding you back from making your dreams come true? Are you stressed out? Exhausted? Addicted to sugar? Feeling like you’re not reaching your potential or serving your special purpose in this world? Think of your health as your foundationnot your goal. Strengthen your foundation, and your perception about what’s possible will shift. And you will become unstoppable

If you are interested in a free wellness consultation, drop me a line at thedivadigests@gmail.com – I would love to help you on your journey with your very own, totally individualized 6-month program.

Rose Colored Glasses

I have this friend, Rose. She is one of the most creative thinkers I know. This makes her one of the most imaginative and interesting performing artists I have ever seen. She can improvise an aria or a dramatic scene or a nonsense song in your voicemail like nobody’s business. She’s also an intensely good listener, highly intuitive, and keenly insightful. She actively reflects what she hears, which ensures that we both get to the heart of the matter. If she chose to, she’d make one heck of a life coach. Last Sunday, Rose and I finally celebrated Christmas (it’s a long story) and had a lovely picnic overlooking the Hudson where we discussed an endless number of subjects while soaking up some sun and eating some delicious organic food. 

I feel like I’ve been in transition for the last few years. Last summer, to pursue a relatively new interest, I registered for the Health Coach certification program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. (I’m more than halfway done and just got certified to start seeing clients, so be sure to stay tuned for more info!!) Now, this is on top of my full-time job as a legal secretary, my career as an opera singer, church musician and voice teacher, and my involvement with Team In Training and the LLS. I’m not bragging. In fact, I’m exhausted. Possibly even over-committed. When you’re chronically busy and life is always hectic, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and that you’re barely keeping it together. Although I’ve recently gotten much better about acknowledging my accomplishments, it’s still way too easy for me to undermine my own confidence and belittle what I’ve achieved. (As Marie Curie said: “One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”) So I complained to Rose that I was tired of being a chicken, of holding myself back because I hadn’t taken as many big risks as I wished. Rose quickly fired back that she wouldn’t let me get away with that kind of talk. She sees me as incredibly brave person who leads with her heart and is infinitely capable. Huh. 

Which got me thinking — how we see ourselves is critically important, and we’re often told that how others see us doesn’t matter. But I want you, as an exercise, to try to see yourself as your most trusted friends see you. It can change the way you see yourself. I swear it’s true!! They don’t see you that way for no reason — they see you that way because they can see your essence more clearly than you do! Especially if you’re in a rut or a funk (and not the cool kind of funk), ask your 3 closest friends for the 5 words that best describe you, or the 3 qualities that they admire most about you.

I always laugh when friends say they think I’m organized. HA! But they think I’m organized because of the sheer magnitude of stuff I do in a week. If I wasn’t organized (even in what I think of as my own feeble way), I wouldn’t get anywhere or do anything! Every week, my chiropractor comments on how strong I am. HA! Doesn’t she know I’m seeing her because my body is weak? Well, no, actually, maybe my body is having a normal response to the incredible stress to which I subject it every day and my strength is what keeps me from falling apart completely. Huh. So Rose thinks I’m brave, big-hearted, and infinitely capable. HA! Wait. Maybe she’s right…

According to Answers.com, you have to hear a thing an average of 7 times before you believe it. Cue THE MANTRA. (No, not Mothra. Mantra.) Our friends at Wikipedia define the etymology of the word MANTRA thus-wise:

The Sanskrit word mantra- (m.; also n. mantram) consists of the root man- “to think” (also in manas “mind”) and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be “instrument of thought”.

An instrument of thought… A tool with which to guide the mind… When you get lost, you ask for directions. So when your spirit feels a little lost, why not ask for guidance? It’s a relatively simple thing to write yourself a love note (a/k/a mantra) and tape it to your medicine chest. You’ll see that note several times a day. If you look yourself in the eye and speak the words aloud every time you go to brush your teeth (2x/day) and wash your face (2x/day), that’s 4x/day that you’ve delivered the message. Type up the same phrase (or a collection of inspiring, confidence-building quotes) and use them as a bookmark for your favorite book, keep messages taped at eye-level at work, and you’ll hit 7x in no time. Some simple self-esteem building mantras (borrowed from various sources) include:

  • I am a well loved and well respected person.
  • I feel secure in who I am, and do not need to compare myself to others.
  • I am free to make my own choices and decisions.
  • I am a unique and a very special person and worthy of respect from others.
  • I deserve all that is good. I release any need for misery and suffering.
  • I release the need to prove myself to anyone as I am my own self and I love it that way.
  • My mind is full of gratitude for my lovely and wonderful life.
  • I consciously release the past and live only in the present. That way I get to enjoy and experience life to the full.
  • Confidence comes through action.

Some of my favorite confidence-building quotes are:

I leave you with a challenge: ask your Rose and your other besties how they would describe you. Write down their answers. And then learn to see yourself the way they see you, through your very own pair of ROSE COLORED GLASSES

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

All we need is just a little “Patience”…

So, NYGASP’s production of Patience, Gilbert & Sullivan’s second-longest running operetta of their time (behind The Mikado and ahead of H.M.S. Pinafore!), just closed Sunday after four fantastic performances at the Symphony Space. We had an incredible write-up in the New York Times, and I have to admit that it was gratifying for that venerable paper to recognize NYGASP’s efforts (and those of her fearless leader, Albert Bergeret, and her individual players) to preserve Gilbert & Sullivan’s legacy and ensure its future.

I didn’t know Patience before my first engagement as Lady Angela with NYGASP in 2012 — but now I can’t imagine how I ever lived without it! Gilbert’s creation of the character of Bunthorne, in particular, is genius. In my opinion, it’s some of his best work. And while Patience may not have some of the catchiest Sullivan tunes, I think he turned out some really beautiful melodies – “Love is a plaintive song” and the sextet in the Act I Finale (“I hear the soft note”) come immediately to mind. This parody of the 19th century Aesthetic movement is really a timeless masterpiece. And I’m so pleased to have had the chance to have had a proper run (four whole performances! as opposed to our one in 2012, which felt like a dress rehearsal – a great dress rehearsal, but was a bit of a nail-biter for the whole cast). This time around, we had the opportunity for, oh, I don’t know, character development. (What??? I KNOW.) Our formidable AD, David Auxier (a very gifted performer, too), gave thoughtful notes to really help us bring sincerity to the silliness.

I wish we could take Patience on the road, but we would definitely have to offer the audiences a glossary, as there’s quite a bit of flowery language (about indigestion, no less – hilarious!), and since it’s a relatively “unknown” work, it’s harder to sell than the Big Three (Pirates, Mikado and Pinafore). The cast would relish the opportunity to become as familiar with our Patience roles as we are with, say, those in the Big Three. (If you missed it, here‘s a link to our video preview — I meant to post it long before we opened, and somehow failed to publish that post. Oy.) NYGASP’s is a labor of love, and I for one am grateful that there is still one professional company in the U.S. dedicated solely to the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, (though we certainly have the talent to do any other number of things – and to do them well, too! – we have great opera singers, musical theater divas, dancers, brass players, drag queens, ukulele-ists… I’m beyond thrilled to share the stage and call “friend” this brilliant and eclectic bunch!), struggling and striving to sustain and relevate (that’s my new verb for “keep relevant”) the G&S canon. The Players play on, because we simply cannot stop.

“I hear the soft note of the echoing voice of an old, old love long dead.
It whispers my sorrowing heart “Rejoice” as the last sad tear is shed.
The pain that is all but a pleasure will change for the pleasure that’s all but pain,
And never, oh never, our hearts shall range from that old, old love again.”

We are old souls, indeed, and shall never range from our old, old love. (For many, our first love.) I hope you’ll check out NYGASP’s touring schedule here, and be sure to catch them/us in a city near you! I’ll be in Idaho in February and Denver in March for run-outs of Pirates, but you shouldn’t miss my compatriots in Pinafore if it comes to your hometown. It’s a treat for the whole family!