The Pearl in the Sky

Finding Pearls

Walking on the Santa Monica pier, the ferris wheel turned,  the wooden pier was paved by the moon lit sky,  my clients asked to me, “Maggie, why are you in fitness? You’re not like the rest of the trainers out there. You have a talent.” I think she’s finished, and then she quietly adde, “…and a brain.”

“ Um…thank you?”  I wasn’t sure how to respond to this. So, I waited a moment to absorb her “compliment.”

Slightly put off, I shyly acknowledged her with a small yet demure smile and whispered “thank you.” And as I went to elaborate on my thanks, opening my mouth to speak, my client cut my off! With a piercing look in her eyes, she stated,  “why don’t you do something else? I really don’t understand why you’re wasting your talent and your time with this industry! You’re better than that” Shaking her head in disappointment and as if a lost cause, she walked away before I could respond.

“Wait!!” I thought, “Come back!”   Why are you leaving? What did I do wrong?  Was it me? Did I say and do something to aggravate her? I didn’t understand.

As I stood at the end of the pier over looking the vast deep moonlit sea, I felt empty and alone. The melody from the aria “Trees on the mountain entered my mind and played over and over again like a broken record, haunting me. “Come back,” I echoed inside.

I felt like I had just made a mistake and made the “wrong” choice with my life.  Yet, I was helping people. I was helping my clients; I loved my clients. I loved helping my clients. I loved helping that client; she was my friend.   She loved our sessions and she asked for my help on the daily.   Disappointment followed by my realization that I, Maggie Lane, wasn’t living up to my potential had finally sunk in.  I felt like I had “failed” them and ultimately failed myself!   I thanked my client for a fun evening, and then she and I parted our ways for the day.

Alone, I began to cry.  What was I doing with myself and with my life?

As tears fell down my face,  it was clear to me that I had made the wrong decision; I had let my client, my friend, down by choosing to live a healthy and fit life.  Not understanding the irony in this statement AT ALL, the tears continued to fall.  All I could see and hear was failure.

Later that night, perhaps to sabotage myself and my “fitness” potential, I began to emotionally eat.

My eyes only saw: ICE CREAM and ICING galore!! CUPCAKES and MORE! At that moment, I was the eternal child in a candy shop, feeding my sad empty soul.

Although, I wasn’t hungry, I continued to stuff my self with these sweet emotional comforts.  My stomach had its fill; I felt like Agustus Gloop, and kept on eating and drinking from Charlie the Chocolate Factory’s treasury sweets. Stuffed, my heart and soul were craving more.

Finally I gathered myself together; gaining composure, I put the self-sabotaging sweets away.

Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be in the health and fitness industry? Maybe I wasn’t supposed to be a fitness personality.  As I cried, I felt as if I wasn’t good enough.  Even though, I loved to help others and live a healthy and fit life,  I still felt like I was wasting my potential, my talents and ultimately my life!  Even though I had accomplished so much and continued to accomplish more, I still felt as though I wasn’t good enough. I truly thought that I wasn’t good enough to pursue my dreams, to make my thoughts, visions and dreams a reality.

Yet, what were my dreams? Were my dreams coming true?  Always taught to keep the peace, and make others happy, I struggled with what made me happy I honestly didn’t know.  It was quite ironic that I helped others define their goals and helped their dreams to become a reality, but I truly didn’t know what it was that made me happy  As I began to ponder this reality, I fell deeper into a rabbit hole of despair.   I let others’ opinions of myself and of my life lead my actions. I grew up with a very regimented schedule where there wasn’t time to decide for myself and wasn’t time to choose, I just did what was put in front of me, got an “A,” as close to a 10 in gymnastics as I could and the leading lady role in opera.  No time to think and decide for myself.  “Just do,” they said; and so I did.   Now, however, alone with my sweets, I had the time to think and evaluate my thoughts, my emotions, my actions, and my life!  I didn’t know how to process my client’s words. I was clearly confused and at a loss. Why would she say something like that?  It was if my client was yelling at me for my talents. Was I supposed to be ashamed? Why did I feel this way? Again, the tears started to fall.

Stop. Breathe. And try to think happy thoughts.

These thoughts sparked a memory of my college career counselor, Wendy B.  I worked for the college career center, editing resumes and helping students with formatting, using fancy “ schmancy” words to get them jobs in hopes to jumpstart their professional careers post Pepperdine.  Yes, I like words; and yes, I like to write. Why not? It passed the time, kept me busy and productive while helping others accomplish their goals. It was fun and fulfilling, AND it felt good to help others write and be expressive!  At that time, I thought that one that guides always has his our her own guide to help provide a clear and polished path, aiding them along their prospective journey; thus, what sparked my conversation with Wendy, my college career counselor and guide.   Seated across from each other, asking for guidance and clarity about my uncharted career path, out of the blue, abruptly, she jerked her head in my direction and with piercing stare, Wendy yelled “Maggie!”  Just look pretty and stick to singing!” As forcefully as she turned her head and yelled, she stood up, jutted to her office and slammed the door.  Today, I have no idea what this conversation was about, however I do remember the feeling she left me with was everything but uplifting.   I felt awful. What did I do to spark this reaction? I felt as if I didn’t offer anything valuable to the world! Streams of tears gushed down my rose colored cheeks, I fought off the jade and puddles filled my once bright and wide turquoise colored eyes.

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Photo by Alik Griffin.

Pretty in Santa Monica

When I was the “fittest” and the “prettiest,” people shamed me for being “fit” and “pretty.”

And I? Well, I was ashamed of myself. 
 
People would grab my arm and squeeze my biceps and want to touch my body as if I wasn’t a real person. Without asking, they would grab and squeeze me as hard as they could. 
 
Ouch! That hurts!  
 
In shock, I was silent.  I could not believe that people would be so rude and disrespectful to my space. I remember being out to dinner in Santa Monica on Main Street, my home, dressed conservatively and covered up, yet with my arms exposed and someone would grab my arm, turn me around and squeeze. Being a single woman and a midwestern woman with good wholesome midwestern morals and values, I was in shock.  I had no words.  
 
I was raised to say “please and thank you,” “yes ma’am and no sir,” respecting people of all ages, all races, genders, colors, WHATEVER.  We all have firsts, and this was certainly a first. Well, in this “first time for everything situation,” I didn’t know what to say. As the man was grabbing my arm, with a soft voice, I whispered “excuse me that hurts my arm.”  I tried to pull away, yet his grip tightened as he violently turned me. He were certainly amused, his lips churned upwards with a twisted grin, as if knowing he was doing something devilishly inappropriate, bragging to his buddies that “this girl has muscles! Hey guys, look!!”  I jerked my arm loose, my arm started to bruise, and I was completely violated, offended and shocked. As quickly as it happened,  one of his buddies swiftly apologized to me for his behavior.  Rubbing my newly bruised arm ashamed and made a mockery, I quietly said it was ok and I went home. My friend and I ended up ordering in and we didn’t really mention it.   I never dress up. I am a simple, sweet, midwestern girl who doesn’t like to cause problems or attention to herself, yet this evening I did.  This night, I had just finished a competition, so my friend and I were celebrating my first callouts.  I rarely go out, and it was supposed to be a celebration, and this night was definitely something.  
 
 
I didn’t like this type of attention, I didn’t like it AT ALL.  Yes, I am a performer, and it is clear that I am used to being on the stage as a gymnast, dancer, diver, singer and fitness competitor. However,  Shakespeare said it best: “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances;” and perhaps this was my exit? 
 
 When I am in out in public, I am quiet and shy.  And I shy away from attention.  Yet when I am in an environment in which I feel supported, I am fun, bubbly and very outgoing! I have once been described as being “effervescent.” I loved that; it made me feel special and beam from ear to ear!  It is clear that if you truly know me and my character, I love to be kind, loving and caring, and I always carry a huge smile on my face and a song in my heart.  Yet when on a stage, “all the world’s a stage” and it’s showtime. Whatever that stage may be and on all platforms, one is expected to carry a certain air about themselves, one of confidence and knowing, accompanied by any characteristics in which the directors see fit. Who is the director? You? Your boss? Your friends? Your parents? Why, who pray tell? Who?  …Who dictates you? Who dictates what to you?  Who dictates to you what to do? 
 
 
Back to my story.
 
 
In this particular experience at the restaurant in Santa Monica on Main, I was not performing and not on any “stage.”  I was meeting my dear friend for dinner with whom I feel very comfortable in a new and unfamiliar environment. My guard was down, and unbeknownst to me, my personal property was about to be violated. And so in return, I felt violated and I felt interestingly enough, humiliated;  AND the gentleman “frankly, my dear, [didn’t] give a damn.”  It’s as if I was on display for people to poke and prod without any humanity attached, no room was given to emote.   Writing about this initially brought me back to a violated victimized state with feeling of discomfort, shame and later, anger.  I have never written about this experience, so it’s quite interesting to reflect upon it, to remember, relive and ruminate on these thoughts and emotions. Before I get swept away down memory lane and flooded with emotions, I remember to breath.  So, I stop. 
 
 Pausing, I slowly inhale and exhale.
 
I breathe. 
 
I do so until I feel at peace, both mentally and physically.  When we feel certain emotions, our bodies literally physically react, causing harm to our internal organs, hormonal systems and digestives systems etc.  It is for our own safety that we must remember to calm our thoughts and emotions and to literally “think happy thoughts,” or in this case, to invoke a knowing that everything is ok and that this is an experience worth remembering.   
 
I must remember to give thanks for this experience because it has taught me a lot about myself and to recognize my growth as a woman and being. And I thank God for that growth and the voice that I have developed off the stage and in life.  I now know how to speak up with grace, elegance and dignity of a lady.  I now know that it IS ok to be a strong, graceful, beautiful woman, inside and out.  
 
Perhaps, I’m writing this to let others know that they are not alone.   I should have felt proud of my body and proud of my hard work, proud to be a beautiful woman proud of my accomplishment; however, the truth was that I didn’t. 
 
 I was embarrassed of myself.  I was ashamed of my accomplishments.  What is wrong with this picture?  Why are we taught that it is NOT acceptable to take pride in ourselves, to be proud of our accomplishments?  Why do people shame others? Why are we NOT uplifting others and encouraging them to reach their goals and to believe in themselves?  This angered me about our society. I was upset. People bullying others, shaming others, putting others down.  
 
What we should be doing is supporting each other and speaking positively of others and each other.  
 
 
We are all hear to learn, grow, love and expand our awareness of ourselves AND of others.  This shouldn’t be about bringing shame and guilt.  If you don’t like something about someone else, that usually means that you see something in them that reminds you of yourself OR that they have something you don’t. Regardless, it doesn’t matter.  It means that you, or WE rather, should ask for help with love and kindness. Ask for guidance with kindness, and learn and lead with love. 
 
So let’s support each other, praise each other for our accomplishments, encourage each other to learn and grow, reach our goals.  Let us teach each other to believe in ourselves, leading with LOVE.  
 
It is time to do so. 
Now.
There is no time like the present. 
 
“There’s no time like the present,
No present like time.
And life can be over in the space of a rhyme.
There’s no gift like friendship
And no love like mine.
 Give me your love to treasure through time.” – Georgia Byng.  
Beautiful SaMo Nights

Beautiful SaMo Nights

breath of life

Breath of life

Breathing.

 A magical experience.
 
 Breath is the gift of life and a constant gift, given every single moment we are alive. It is the only constant we experience throughout out life time; as we may not always be aware of the breath, it is always there the constant silent reminder of our being, our body, our mind, our higher true uninhibited self. Our breath is a silent reminder of this gift and an audible reminder of our health.  

 
Often times, we can make our unconscious breath conscious by bringing that sonorous inhale and exhale into our existence— the ujjayi.  
 
Ujjayi breath is conscious breathing.  It is that forever reminder of the ocean breath; it is a constant reminder of the ebb and flow of life.  Rolling with the waves and life’s forever changing current, the breath— this gift of life is always present.  This alone, I find this quite comforting.  And one knows that I certainly like to be comforted.  Now turning that focus internally, I am learning to comfort myself and my conscious and unconscious being.  
 
I am learning to recognize that even amidst a storm, one can always find serenity and peace of mind.  It is the simple knowing that our breath is always present, whether seen and unseen, audible or inaudible. 
 
Our breath, that gift from God who is the giver of life and all things is not only the symbol of life but it also symbolizes that we are thankfully never alone. Even when surrounded by chaos or silence, that knowing soothes my mind.  As I write this, a random thought pops into my mind, perhaps that is a good time to invoke the ocean breath. That sound alone reminds us that God, our giver, is near and even when in the eye of a storm we can have access to that knowing and lends to a renewed peaceful state of being. Thanks be to our creator, our giver of life.   
 
To know that we are not alone is something to remember and praise because that knowing alone calms my breath, my body, my mind and spirit. That alone is a beautiful thing. To think that is all thought was invoked by a single breath, focusing our awareness on a single inhale and exhale.  Thanks be to ujjayi.
rose

Thoughts.

When is the last time you stopped and took a walk? When is the last time on that walk that you stopped to look at the sights around you, to breathe in the smells, and drink in that earthly atmosphere? Where did it take you? Your mind? Your body? And your everything?

I often forget to stop and smell the roses, enjoying the journey and each colorful experience along the way. Yet, today I was reminded to stop and literally smell the roses.  As I went for a walk I couldn’t help but notice each and every bloom my eyes came across, unique in not only color but also smell.  I was reminded of the journey and how enjoyable it is meant to be experienced and how it is meant to be lived. It was on this walk that I decided to take the advice of that age-old cliche and “stop and smell the roses,” except this time, I stopped for a moment to smell one particular flower that stood alone. Nothing was near it, yet that single rose seemed to sparkle, and reflect the rays of the sun as if it were an early golden globe shimmering in broad day light. It was one small but glorious golden rose in full bloom.  As if I were a honey bee, the rose lured me closer and closer to it’s succulent bloom along it’s scented trail. With each step I took and as time came to a subtle halt, I imagined what it would be like to drink in it’s sweet nectar.  In reality nothing stopped, life kept buzzing and booming, everything around me was certainly moving, but my focus was on that single rose with it’s golden glow drawing me nearer to it’s bloom and so much so that nothing else seemed to matter.

To relive that moment over and over again, enjoying each inhale and savoring that experience with each delayed exhale, would be utterly blissful.  What seemed like an eternity was only one second in reality, yet with that short amount of focus so much life was lived and gained through that one moment and exchange of energy on a single delicate and dainty flower.

Imagine if we did this daily and with everything how your life would look, feel, and be? If we focused our energies, our inhales and our exhales, with such deliberate intention and focus, think of how much joy and pleasure we would experience with every movement, moment and minute in our lives be?

Focus and breathe.  Calm your mind and just be.

Today, we are over stimulated and have over inundated ourselves with everything– information from social media sites,  apps, pics, buzzes, pings, beeps and rings.  Writing that sentence alone has caused a bit of anxiety within me, and I had to stop and remember to breath. WE are in control of our own reality.  Learning to focus, be still and calm all the calamity is something that I am doing and reminding myself to do daily. We are always inhaling and exhaling, but are we present during those inhales and exhales?

Clearly, I do not always follow my practice, but I always try to remember to do so.  I love being in control of my mind, my thoughts, my breaths, my movements and my everything. Am I perfect? No. Am I consistent. No. But I sure as heck try to be.  I love to journal and reflect upon my everything, learning from each experience so that I can have a smoother journey along a sometimes bumpy unpaved path of unnecessary worry.  This is when I am reminded to calm my mind, stop moving and remember the flower, that single radiant golden beauty that I once experienced, now a memory.  Yet if I focus my energy on that memory of ever so fragrant ambrosia and faint delicate outline of painted perfection,  I can again see glimpses of our creator’s reminder of infinite beauty. With each breath the memory of this masterpiece becomes clearer and is no longer a distant memory.  My mind and my body are yolked by the synchronicity of my breath, soothing my spirit. Our mind is a powerful component of our being.

As I write this entry, I am reminded of it’s power by how I feel sentence to sentence. For example, when I use the word cacophony versus harmony or melody. I must prefer the latter two. Of the three words each effect my body and my breath differently due to their connotation. Thus, I am very cautious of the words I choose and the imagery that each produce. And in all honesty, I choose joy, peace, love, and harmony. Ha! As cliche as this may sound, I prefer to live this way. And in life, I, like many, choose to feel good. If it is morally and ethically sound and it makes me feel good, and I mean really good, by all means I will do it.  Perhaps this is one reason why I journal; I like to be reminded of what makes me feel good.   That memory of the flower makes me feel good.  Writing this makes me feel good. When I reread my journal entries, I feel good. When I meditate I feel good.  And when I feel good, I breath with ease, my heart is at ease, my body, my mind and my spirit is, yes, …… at ease. :)

It all begins with a thought and manifest in the body and I am reminded by my breath. I didn’t intend to write this, but I am going with the flow of my thoughts, my memories, my feelings and my everything

. A single rose

Treat your body to something healthy and sweet. Good for you on the outside and in!

Love the Skin you’re in.

Love the Skin you’re in!

 

This seems to be quite the trending topic, Self Love. Well, this is true. One should love him or her “self.”  And Dove got it right, everyBODY should love the skin they are in. Yes, everybody and every body is unique and beautiful, but the skin that covers that body should be loved and treated with the utmost care as it is the largest organ on your body! So, perhaps one should take the saying “love the skin you’re in” a bit more seriously and literally by truly loving the “skin” they’re in and by showing more care towards the actual…skin.

The skin is an incredible and vital organ at that, acting as the guardian of the human body and all things in it. With multiple layers of tissue, the skin guards the muscles, bones, ligaments and internal organs. Each layer contains different components such as oils, perspiration glands, sensory receptors, hair follicles, and blood vessels etc.  Thus as stated above, it is imperative that we take the utmost care of our skin and show more love towards it.

When looking at skin care and hygiene, the ingredients of a product truly make a difference since the skin is porous and will absorb an average of 64% whatever you put on it, with the face having an absorption rate of several times more permeable than the larger body parts, yet the underarms and genitalia has 100% absorption rate.   It is safe to say that if you can’t put it into your body, then you should probably not eat it.  This includes a variety of products such as: foods; topical creams; gels; liquids, and most importantly including the water and it’s quality.

Below are 4 foods that are beneficial and safe to use on your body and skin. Not only are they good for you, but you can also taste good as well!

4 Edible Foods that improve your skin.

1. Avocado

Avocado is a wonderful fruit that helps improving your skin tone. It not only makes its look and feel healthy, the omega-9 fats can also help reduce redness, irritation and inflammation, repairing damaged skin cells. The vitamin E within the avocado also guards agains photo-aging from sun exposure while the vitamin C helps the skin maintain it’s elasticity and firmness by creating elastin and collagen.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple is an age old remedy that many women use from all over the world to prevent acne, dissolve black heads and dead cells from the skins surface while also unclogging the pores, preventing buildup.  A rich source of vitamin C, antioxidants and alpha-hydroxy acids, the pineapple acts as a protective agent against free radicals, slowing the aging process and perhaps lessening the appearance of scars and wrinkles. Pineapple is very strong, so a little goes a very long way. Be cautious when using it, for it might burn. A wonderful mask idea is combining crushed pineapple with honey, which leads to the next natural and edible skin remedy.

3. Honey

You always win more people with honey than vinegar, they say. Honey is known as a humectant, meaning that it is a substance that attracts moisture and keeps it locked inside. It is also beneficial for oily skin as well; the sweetener helps the skin retain moisture and elasticity without drying it out, as some conventional facial cleanses may do.  Honey is also a natural antioxidant. Antioxidants protect internal organs from any damage known as oxidative stress. Like the avocado, honey also is a natural form of sunscreen. It also has antibacterial benefits (when it makes contact with a wound, it turns into hydrogen peroxide), speeding the healing process.

4. OatMeal 

Oatmeal is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, potassium and many more, all of these health benefits can be applied to the skin. Like avocado, it reduces redness, irritation and inflammation. Due to these anti-inflammatory and anti-itch properties, oatmeal also treats poison ivy, chicken pox, insect bites and eczema.  It also moisturizes the skin quite well. Another use for oatmeal is treating acne, absorbing and removing excess oils and bacteria on the skin while also gently exfoliating dead skin cells, the byproduct of the application will combat the acne. Also, like the honey, oatmeal creates a lubricating gat that moisturizes and provides a protective layer over the skin, fighting UV rays.

 

So why not treat yourself on the outside AND inside? Love yourself, and certainly love your body. EveryBODY should love the skin they are in and themselves in their entirety! Why? You are worth it! So with that said, let’s celebrate and cheers to loving the skin and every inch YOU and your BODY are in!

Below is a recipe for a healthy smoothie. Once you make it, remember to toast to a healthy and beautiful YOU, inside and out!

Protein Smoothie Recipe:

Mix in a blender:

2.5 oz of avocado

1 tablespoon of honey

1/4 cup of oats

1/2 cup of fresh diced pineapple (or frozen)

Favorite Isolate Protein Powder, I like Vanilla or Birthday Cake.

1 cup of water

1 cup of  ice

Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy!

Now let us cheers to you, your skin and every inch of YOU and your beautiful BODY!

Maria Callas

2011 Classical Singer Article on Body Image, Health and Fitness in the Singing Industry

In July of 2011, I was interviewed by Michelle Latour of the Classical Singer Magazine, and below are my responses.

You can find her article in the Fall 2011 Issue.  It is very fascinating for me  to read what I deemed as “healthy and fit” in 2011 and to see my evolution as a young woman, opera singer, and fitness professional.

I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did.

 

 

 

Dear Michelle,

 

Thank you for your interest in this topic!  We live in a society that is laden with body image issues for both men and woman alike.  As women in today’s society, we all in some way have encountered with body image disorders. And speaking for myself as a former gymnast (with weekly weigh-ins) AND an alumna of an all girls school (a breeding ground for eating disorders), I strongly resonate with this topic.

 

One can look at “body image” in the classical singing world as a positive or negative influence. I could say “poor pitiful me,” sulk, do nothing and then play “the victim” to my experiences. OR I could make a positive change! How exciting is that? I look at this as an opportunity to do something positive with my experiences and knowledge about this subject. Daily, I decide to take control of my life and make positive choices…healthy choices.  Some say that to be an opera singer is to be an athlete. The body must be active to sing. It is your instrument. To care for your body is to respect your body, your craft, and ultimately yourself.  Thus, why not take care of your body, eat right and be fit? There are so many benefits to living a healthy life style. And it so happens that in singing, if you make good choices (sleep well, exercise, eat healthily), you have a well rested and fine-tuned instrument (your body), you feel good about your voice, body and self, have more confidence and as a result, have a longer career! When you like and respect yourself, others will also like and respect you…and want to work with you!

 

I am a classical singer. By night I sing in operas, weddings, shows, private parties etc… And by day I am a yoga instructor, personal trainer, and gymnastics teacher.  I find it the perfect combination–fitness and singing– for singing is a workout in itself. It takes control, discipline and breath control. hah!

 

Below, you will find your questions and my answers.

 

Singer questions

  1. How would you describe your overall body image?

I have been an athlete my entire life and to be “fit and healthy” has been ingrained in my genetic makeup.  Yet like all humans, I have my insecurities. And as a woman living in a male dominant society (perhaps sexist at times), I have always felt the pressure “be thin, beautiful and forever young.”   However, my goal as a woman in today’s society is to embody a smart, graceful, strong, fit, beautiful woman with strength in character and will. I first ask myself have I done everything possible to be content with myself and with my body image? Do I make healthy choices; do I exercise and eat well? If there is work to be done, then I do it. I always work to improve myself. However, if I have done all that is possible, then I take solace in the fact that I have done my best and I am at peace.

 

As you know, life is a journey. And it is along that journey that we experience, we learn and we grow. Yes, I am a perfectionist about everything in my life: my grades, my competitions (athletic, academic and artistic), my performances and my body, criticizing myself if I didn’t reach my definition of the word “perfect.” However, this past year I have learned to recognize that everything (my experiences, my journey…everything) is perfect. And if I have done all that I can, my personal best, then what else can I ask for? Nothing. Although cliché, I am perfect the way I am and perfect where I am right now. You are, we all are perfect the way we are.   Again we talk of the journey. It is not a stagnant journey, however; we are always learning and growing through our experiences. It is an evolving journey, one that moves, improves, and expands forward while focusing on the moment and not the future or where we are going but right now.

Thus, as long as we do our best right, then there is nothing more one can ask for! Knowing that I have done my personal best right now gives me peace of mind, solace, and happiness. And no one else can take that away from me, not a singer, director, teacher, and not a single being. And that is a lovely way to live life. It is about self-love and acceptance. And once a person is self-loving and accepting, then others will be attracted, want to be around and want to work together. It is truly lovely.

  1. Do you feel your body image impacts your singing? How?  

It has in the past but not now. Before, I was caught thinking about sounding pretty, being accepted by others, the singers, teachers, directors, composers, conductors etc… It consumed all my energy, taking my focus away from the music and robbing my audience of my voice and their experiences.

 

Now, I look at my body as an instrument. My posture determines how the sound is produced. If I don’t have the correct body posture, then I will not have the optimal sound…

 

As I stated above, to be an opera singer is to be an athlete; singing is a workout! One: my body and mind are engaged/active/focused; two: I am working the cardiorespiratory system (breath control, pranayama;); and three: I definitely have burned quite a few calories during the process!

 

But when it comes down to it, the act of singing is all about the efficiency. Yes, singing is all about the sound, lyrics, and emotions evoked, filling the soul; however, that sound is produced by the body. Our bodies are our instruments, and our bodies need to function like a fine-tuned machine, creating that beautiful sound effectively, smoothly, and with the utmost efficiency. And I aspire to have my movements, posture, and breath be used to produce the most beautiful, rich and lush tones possible in the most efficient manner. It’s the 80 -20 rule. Of my actions, what will reap 80% of the results with 20% of the work?

 

When I do let my ego get involved, often I am filled with negative thoughts (I don’t sound good enough, or because I’m pretty directors must think I have an ego/attitude/diva complex). This is not good and certainly not fun. When I am thinking about myself and how others see me, I am not being true to the music, the composer, the character, and ultimately the audience. This robs the audience of the music and cheapens their experience. Thus, I am learning to let go of the negative and return to the positive, remaining solution focused. I ask myself what are my areas that need strengthening and the solutions needed to make me a stronger and better performer? If I make singing about my posture, then it is not about my body image, my ego, nor myself. What a relief! The voice takes care of itself if the body is in alignment. And knowing that alone is an amazing feeling!

 

  1. Have you ever had a voice teacher, conductor, or director tell you that you needed to lose or gain weight in order to get hired?

 

No. However…

I have had voice teachers tell me that to be a singer one can never have a six-pack. In others words, they say that opera singers (to be successful, top tier singers, they) should have fat around their mid section, abdominal area. And I find this completely bothersome because fat in that area is usually a sign of “unhealthy, cancerous fats.”  And those that are associated with these cancerous fat cells should be monitored. That is why I find it important to eat right and exercise accordingly.

Also, I have found that singers, voice teachers associate muscles, lean, defined (specifically the abdominal) muscles as “tight” or “held” causing tension in the body/voice, preventing the diaphragm from releasing. The abdominal sheath/wall can be “relaxed/free/released” while still remaining lean.  Despite what I have been told, the body does not need the layers of fat surrounding it, in order to release the diaphragm.

Just be healthy and respect yourself, your body, and ultimately your instrument.  It is a simple equation that will reap a wonderful result!

 

  1. Do you feel that your weight issues, if any, will narrow your chances of having a successful career? Why?

No. However, I have friends who have been told numerous times that they need to lose weight by directors. And they have lost job opportunities because of their weight. It saddens me that they have experienced this; yet, I would rather have singers look at this in terms of their own current health status and ask themselves whether they are truly “healthy” internally.  A person can be healthy at any size and unhealthy at any size, and perhaps this is an opportunity for us all to improve our health, regardless of “size.”  This is exciting because with this awareness, we now have an opportunity to make a change- a positive change–and live a more healthy, well balanced (& longer) life!

 

 

Michelle,

I am passionate about health, fitness, wellness and singing. And I believe it is possible to be a successful, fit, well-balanced, healthy singer. And a little health can go a long way. We in the classical singing world need to recognize this as a wake up call, something exciting and as an opportunity to improve and better our lives! We don’t need to beat ourselves up about whether we are “too fat” or “too skinny.”  What we need to do is make a positive change for our own health benefit.  Each singer can make healthy choices for themselves so that they are living with a well nutritional, emotional, physical and spiritual balanced life.  Hopefully we can live longer, healthier, happier lives, which will in turn make for a better, happier, longer, successful singing career!

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you!

 

Warmly,

 

Maggie

09 July 2011

www.maggie-lane.com

 

 

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Friends joining hands, running down the street.

Running with Jewel

“In the end only kindness matters…”

This morning, I heard a tune of an oldie moldy but definitely goodie. It was a gem of a song by the artist, Jewel. I couldn’t sing you the song, but just one phrase: “in the end, only kindness matters.”

I was on repeat, not bothered at all, like a broken record. I kept skipping the beats, and it didn’t matter because in the end, there is only kindness and love. This was my message sent for the day from Heaven up above. 

During my run, I couldn’t’ stop singing her song…over and over again.

“In the end, only kindness matters…”

For a singer, I simply cannot do her song justice…at all.  I’m sorry Jewel, I know that your song is much more than one line, and in fact is beautiful and long; however, for one reason or another that line sings to me.

“In the end, only kindness matters…”

Jewel has many facets, reflecting a spectrum of colorful lights.  Jewel is an incredible artist, inspiring many with her lyrics and beautiful melodies, and that one phrase alone I kept singing was one that made me smile and feel so fulfilled, spirited and bright.

What a great way to start my day!

On my run singing Jewel’s song, wait that one liner…Oh dear, my poor head…yep, that was me! 

“In the end, only kindness matters…”

It was still on repeat.  Nonetheless, that one line made me so very happy. So, I sang it to myself and to you, my dear chappy.

I ran down the street with a skip and a hop, you’d think I was a cute spring bunny. With my hipitty hop, I have no doubt that I looked quite funny.  Yet, I kept singing that dang song all morning long.

During that therapeutic run under the sun, I paid no attention, no matter, no mind to any one, still running, and singing about the key word “kind.”

Still smiling and spreading tunes of good cheer for passers by on my run and for all to hear.

If you heard the pitter and patter approaching, I hope it was my sunny disposition you heard, it was my bright spirit running you felt, and my love and lighthearted kindness encroaching.

I hope you chose your words wisely and that they were filled with warmth and kindness, sending a message from above, one of light, heart and love.  So, if you choose to add to the chatter, choose the message of love and one of kindness, for your words truly do matter.

“In the end, only kindness matters…”

So, let’s hold hands and run down the street, and sing that one line above and our hearts’ skipping beats!

Let’s: Press play. And then, Repeat. :)