Growing up I wanted to be Judy Garland. That voice. That style. That passion. Her voice and her stage presence were mesmerizing. I wanted her life so badly. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be important. I wanted everyone to instantly hush when I opened my mouth. As I grew older, I realized the cost such vocal and charismatic gifts can take on your body, life, and psyche. Poor Judy’s personal life and health were at the mercy of her stardom. The exhaustion of constant performances, guest appearances, roles, and rehearsals literally broke her. Her debilitating struggle towards the illusive perfection, first in her voice and later in her body, forced her to waste away. Depression and anxiety plagued her and she lived in a never-ending state of fear and worry.
During my college years, I followed in Judy’s footsteps. I spent hours upon hours in the practice rooms repeating note after note trying to force myself to “get it right” until I was hoarse. I ran from studying to class to practicing to work to the gym in an attempt to be everything and do everything. I spent countless nights sitting on the floor of the practice rooms or in my bed with tears falling down my cheeks because I wasn’t “good enough”. My health declined; I was constantly ill; and I always had a stomachache from my endless anxiety. And yet, I kept pushing. For many years, I lost the joy of singing. And still, I wanted to be a performer. I wanted to sing. I wanted to be adored and live a glamorous life.
When yoga entered my life, it was a true game changer: not only for my body and mind but also for my voice. I learned not to push so hard and to just let myself be. I learned to find joy again in my life and in my voice. I learned to be at peace with where I am and not play the comparison game. I learned that my identity is more than just my voice and my worth is more than how many “likes” I can get on my YouTube videos. My life has changed drastically; but, I often find myself reverting back. There are moments when I feel that I’m not living up to my potential–that I should be performing, practicing, and doing more. I see the number of likes on other singers videos or recordings; I see the amazing performances and opportunities others are getting and that evil little guy jealousy rears his ugly head. In those moments, I have to breathe deeply and remember that fame is not everything. I am making a difference in my tiny, yet musical, town. I am living a life filled with music, yoga, singing, and teaching amazing students the power of this combination daily. My life is so much happier now that I’ve found a balance. Yes, I’d love to perform more and to find more opportunities; but, for now, easing off and giving myself space to “play” with my voice again and recreate that childlike joy is where I need to be. Judy Garland, I love you and you were an amazing singer, actress, and perfectionist; but, I wouldn’t trade lives with you. I’m doing a pretty good job being me, imperfectly.
Tuneful Tuesday Week 26: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
It’s taken me 30 years to get to this point, but I’ve finally let go of many of the toxic relationships I was retaining due to family obligations. I’ve never had that traditional nuclear family. We’ve never been all smiles and sunshine at family gatherings–you always knew that someone would end up screaming, someone (me) would end up crying in the corner, and someone would end up drinking too much and saying something inappropriate or picking a fight. But, they are family and I was always told to stand by your family, no matter what.
For years I kept trying to play nice and mend those family bonds, at the expense of my own physical and psychological health. I continued to try to make them happy and be what they wanted me to be, even when it meant taking the blame and allowing myself to be an emotional “punching bag” for their own issues and grievances. As an empath, I tried to please people, but it left me drained, broken, and in an constant state of anxiety.
When I began my yogic journey, I started to realize how toxic this situation was. I began to recognize the way my life and even my singing voice were in complete shambles due to the control these people had over me. It took me another 6 years of self-study, tears, and pain to summon up the courage to let go of those energy vampires and the power they held over me. Though it meant saying goodbye to the greater part of the family I grew up with, my life is so much better with my smaller more tightly-knit pack of family and friends. We may be a small group at family gatherings, but it is not the quantity but the quality that counts. I’d rather have a group of 5 caring, respectful, individuals surround me than 50 sneering, dominating, emotionally-unbalanced, narcissists (though that may look better for family photos.)
Sometimes the right decision is the one that is the toughest to make. But I am glad that I will be entering into my 30s as a blank slate–someone who is completely in control of her own life, emotions, and choices.
We may be a small family, but we’re a strong family.
Revelation of the day: I like me.
That is definitely something to be grateful for.
I didn’t always like myself. Actually, for a good long while I was my biggest critic. I never saw the good in myself. I never thought I was enough. I listened when people put me down or hurt me. I let them make me feel small and weak. I played their insults on constant repeat until I believed that I was what they said.
But, as life has aged me and changed me, I’ve realize that I’m pretty darn cool. You’re pretty darn cool too. We’re all pretty darn cool. I don’t think we give ourselves enough credit for what our bodies, our minds, and our spirits go through in this crazy ride we call life. It’s quite amazing when you sit down and think about it. Yes, sometimes we do things wrong; we fail; we make bad decisions; we don’t always look as good or achieve as much as we may want; but, in the end, we are all just doing the best we can. We are beautiful. We are strong. We are powerful beyond all measure. Like yourself. It changes everything.
“Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problem. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity. No matter what they say or do, don’t you dare doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep on shining like you do.” -Scott Stable
How often do we look upon our bodies with disgust? We glare at the lines left by a lifetime of smiles. We wince when seeing our large, muscular legs trying to fit into skinny jeans. We poke and prod our bellies wishing that the strong abs below the surface would show definition on the skin level. We shake our triceps counting the number of “jiggles” our arm flab creates. We are constantly berating our poor bodies and not seeing the strength beneath the surface. Our bodies, which heal themselves, keep us living, keep us breathing, do things that are seemingly impossible, and strive to do our bidding moment to moment, get nothing but harsh words and criticism from us. What if we offered love to the parts we hate most? What if we gave our slightly crooked nose a thank you for allowing us to smell such a beautifully scented flower? What if we appreciated the girth of our thighs for the fact that they keep us walking, running, jumping, and yogaing? What if we cultivated gratitude towards those fine lines for giving our faces expression over the years? What if we love our love handles for providing the breath support neccessary to sing our hearts out? What if we just dropped down on the side of the road and gave our knees a nuzzle? How would your body respond? How would your personality and self-confidence change? How would the world and the advertisement industry change if we suddenly began to love these bodies we’ve been gifted? So, give yourself a great, big hug, kiss your beautifully nubby knees, and love this body unconditionally. You only get one.
#detoxyobody challenge day 4: kiss your knee