I grew up Catholic, but with a non-Catholic mother. And although she had to swear that she would raise her children Catholic when she married my very Catholic father, she found ways to get around that. The whole idea of Lenten sacrifice was something that she really couldn’t wrap her head around. She never sacrificed anything if it didn’t suit her or if she couldn’t use it to make herself look good (I know that sounds harsh, but I’m being honest). No meat on Fridays? She didn’t like fish and her attitude was, “God doesn’t want us to go hungry.” Same thing for fasting – perhaps it was having lived through depression and war, but the idea of going without food by choice was anathema to her.
So giving up things was not something I was raised with. I don’t recall my dad participating in that either (then again, Mom did all the cooking and dad didn’t like fish or vegetables any more than she did, so if he didn’t want to starve, he had to eat what she put in front of him).
In the years since my childhood, I’ve made a concerted effort to give things up. If not for religious reasons, at least to try to break habits for a limited time which would hopefully become long-term. Or to lose weight. Or to be more productive. I’ve given up french fries, I’ve given up Bejeweled, I’ve given up fast food – and it’s always a short-term fix.
So this year, I’m going to try to establish some new habits instead.
- I’m going to practice every day. Mindfully and with purpose. My plan is to put together my audition repertoire for my return to Baltimore – to include operetta, opera, oratorio, musical theater and cabaret. I’ve already started that. It’s hard to practice when you have 40 students between two schools (home and Stritch), but I have to do it. Even if I don’t have time to practice a bunch of songs at one sitting, at least I can vocalize and do something.
- I’m going to write. This doesn’t mean 40 days of blogs. I don’t know what I’m going to write, but I’m going to write something. I have an article to write for the Journal of Singing on the process of leaving a successful voice studio behind and re-establishing my studio in a new city. (Actually, two articles – one in a year from now to document my progress.) I want to get into the practice of regular writing. Before I wanted to be a singer, I wanted to be a writer.
What I’m not going to do is give up Bejeweled or french fries or fast food or vow to exercise every day. I’m going to keep up with my wheat elimination program, following the principles of the book Wheat Belly, because it seems to make me feel better. And I’m going to continue to try to eat at home and not spend money eating out – but I’m doing that anyway. I’ll try to keep up those things because they’re working for me.
What singing goals can you set for yourself for the next 40 days? Here are some suggestions:
- Practice mindfully. Every day. (You can have Sundays off.)
- Learn the International Phonetic Alphabet to help you with your foreign language singing.
- Look into a summer training program. First Stage? Some music camp?
- Sing in a different language.
- Improve your piano skills so you can learn music faster.
- Listen to some singers in a different genre than you usually listen to.
- Audition for a show!
Maybe God doesn’t want me to starve, but He does want me to sing. Of that I’m sure.