1 till I’m 30

“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.” -Iyanla Vanzant

Well, tomorrow is the big day. It has been an emotional roller coaster this past month putting to paper 30 reasons I am grateful to be turning 30. When I decided to take on this challenge, it was to change the stereotype that it is all downhill once you reach that third decade on this earth. Part of this challenge was to celebrate all of the reasons why I love where I am in my life and why I am so grateful to be done with the stress, uncertainty, and growth that my 20s forced upon me. Sure being in your 20s is great and all…and, yes, you have perfect baby-soft skin, but those awkward transition years aren’t all they are cracked up to be. So, what is with this societal notion that you getting older is something to hide? Getting older means getting wise. And I think that’s pretty fantastic, personally. The other part of this challenge was to remind myself just how lucky I am and how much I have to be grateful for. The past few years have been filled with trials, self-discovery, pain, and fear. They’ve also, of course, been filled with joy, laughter, growth, and love. So often I find my mind listing off the failures more than the successes, but this project brought to light all of the reasons I should be thankful for this 30th rotation around the sun. This countdown forced me to share things about myself that I have never shared before. It made me admit things that I hadn’t quite admitted to myself, let alone the entire electronic world. But, in sharing there is healing and I feel that a weight has been lifted off my chest. The stories and memories that I played over in over in my head have now been processed and set free into the blogosphere, where they will hopefully inspire others to cherish their moments on this earth and learn from their experiences. Time is fleeting. Take a moment, sit down, look back on how you have evolved in this thing called life. The little details we take for granted everyday are often the most beautiful miracles. The struggles we survive through often spark the greatest growth. The moments that take our breath away are often the most life-changing. 

What do you have to be grateful for today? I am grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for supporting me through this journey and letting me share a little piece of my story with you. 


6 till I’m 30

“I feel in every little girl there lives a spirit: a wild pixie, that if let go would run and dance in grassy fields until the end of the world. And when that girl grows up, that pixie hides, but it is always there, peeking out from behind old eyes and reading glasses, laughing, waiting to one day dance again.” -Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird

As I get older, I’ve realized more and more that I have a vibrant personality. I like color in my life and life in my color. I like to wear tutus and polka dots. I like to be completely ridiculous and dress up to teach Halloween themed yoga classes to my students with thriller kicks and crazy dragons. It’s fun and it’s exhausting but it makes me happy. The older I get, the more I let my inner ridiculousness out. I let that wild pixie in me shine brightly and dance often (usually on a yoga mat). The lovely thing is, the more I show that crazy, exhuberant, silly personality to the world, the more people accept and love me for precisely those things. It’s amazing how when you are authentically yourself you give others permission to be themselves-to step into their own light. So, find your own wild pixie and let her dance.

9 till im 30

Today I am grateful that, at the end of a long day, I don’t have to come home to homework. I get to make dinner, prep for the next day of work, do a little yoga, and go to bed. I don’t need to stay up all night worrying about pop quizzes and exams after 12 hours of classes, work, and rehearsals like I used to. After 24 years of schoolwork, I am so happy to be done with the phase of my life where I had to write essays, take tests, and cram knowledge into my brain. Now, when I do research, it is on my terms. I decide what I want to learn and I study for pleasure and self-improvement rather than to get a good grade. That choice is so freeing. It’s good to be heading into my 30s and not have to be that overachieving school girl any longer.  Reading for pleasure is so much better than reading for homework. 

20 till I’m 30

10 days have gone by since I started my gratitude countdown and I have to say that this process has made me feel so much better about this coming new decade in my life. 
Today, I am grateful for the fact that I can do things now that I never thought possible–things that I never dreamed of–things that I couldn’t do 10 years ago. 

When I first started doing yoga, I would gawk over the amazing control, power, and ease of the more advanced yogis in my classes. Their skill and poise as they executed postures of strength and flexibility astounded me. Honestly, I never thought I would do a wheel pose, let alone the more complicated deeper backbends. But, I didn’t let that stop me from putting in the time, practicing daily, and changing my body one posture at a time. It has been 6 years since I dedicated myself to yoga and I am still astonished by how far I have come. I can’t wait to see what new postures and variations the next decade brings. Thank you to all of the advanced yogis out there who inspire me daily to progress, let go, and enjoy the journey. 

“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” -Walt Disney


22 till I’m 30

I’m grateful to be turning 30 because I now have officially given up on Young Artist Program applications… and I couldn’t be be happier with my decision. You can only hit your head against the wall so many times before you finally decide to change direction and find a doorway. I gave myself a good 10 years to “make it big” in opera, but the perfectionism, the intensity of the demands, the constant criticism and the endless stream of “no’s” broke my spirit until I lost all joy in singing. There was so much pressure to be perfect all the time that I forgot to just sing. 

Ironically, I never really wanted to be an opera singer. I wanted to be a jazz or musical theatre singer. But, when you attend the University of Southern California as a Vocal Performance major, you sing opera. That’s when the pressure to prove myself began; it is also when my vocal issues began. The stress, the tension, the trying to make my voice something it wasn’t, these things slowly stripped away MY voice and replaced it with a façade I was trying to create. I carried these vocal problems through grad school and then later into post-grad life when I started to hit the audition circuit. I tore my body, psyche, and voice to shreds with each audition as I grappled with being judged, trying to make my voice fit in with each program’s needs, and attempting to remember and adjust every nuanced detail my teachers, coaches, and commentators had criticized me for in the past. The problem was, my heart wasn’t in my singing any longer. Instead, my mind remained active–going through an endless list of critiques, comments, reminders, and judgments as I sang through each aria. I no longer enjoyed singing but instead felt like I had to sing to prove my worth. Each audition and performance left me feeling deflated, horrible, emotionally spent, and broken. And yet, playing the role of the good struggling artist, I kept applying, auditioning, and getting turned down. I wasn’t what they wanted, but they also weren’t what I wanted. I just wasn’t aware of it at the time. 

This past year has been one of soul-searching and self-evaluation. My body forced me to take almost a full year off from singing due to health issues and that gave me the time to reassess what I really wanted out of my vocal career. I used to want to be the prima donna: to travel the world singing on the biggest stages and lead the romanticized life of a famous singer. But, really, those aspirations were taking me nowhere and I was spending so much time preparing to “fail” auditions that I wasn’t spending any time actually singing–and, in the end, all I really want to do is sing. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, since I was 10 years old belting show tunes to the trees in our backyard. I just want to sing. Anything an everything. 

So, this year I have made the conscious decision to skip the YAP roulette wheel and focus my energies on just singing. I’ve rekindled my love of musical theatre, jazz, and cabaret and joined a group which performs just that. I’m joining forces with two other fabulous musicians for a self-produced holiday concert which will mix musical theatre, pop, and classical pieces. I am currently recording two albums which I will have fun marketing throughout my local community in outreach concerts and community performances. I even sang in a choir again (something I haven’t done in 10 years). The best thing is, I’m starting to love to sing again. I’m catching myself humming little motives at the end of the day or singing aloud in the car–things I haven’t done in many years. 

Of course, I’m sad to make the realization that I am leaving the path that could lead to “stardom.” But, do you really need millions of people to hear you to make a difference in this world? Isn’t it enough to bring joy, to spark change, or to create solace and contemplation in just a handful of people? Does that make you any less of a singer? I don’t think so. I am a opera drop out and proud of it. 

It’s time to kiss those Young Artist Applicaions goodbye. 

25 till I’m 30

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will always want to hug a stuffed animal at the end of a very bad day…and that’s ok. It’s just comforting and it makes me feel better, so why not enjoy a little teddy bear cuddle time? I grew up in love with soft, squishy bears. They followed me everywhere-on planes, to the grocery store, to the doctor. Around the age of 10, people started giving me a hard time about always having a stuffed buddy along for the ride. They told me I was too old to carry around a teddy, so I started to leave my bears behind as I began to “grow up.” 

When I headed to college, I couldn’t decide if I would bring a bear with me. I didn’t want to look like child and I worried what others would think, so I ended up leaving my trusty bears at my childhood home. There were so many times when the stress of college life was breaking me down and I just wanted a teddy bear to hug, but I had to appear “cool” and grown up, so all I could hug was a pillow– which is just not the same. 

The thing is, adults can get just as much joy out of stuffed animals as children. Now that I’m nearing my 30th year, I am more comfortable with my love for all things fuzzy. Who cares what other people think? Teddy bears are awesome. 

Recently, Thomas Griep, the amazing pianist and cabaret coach (who I have now turned into a yogi), sent me music for an adorable piece called “Requiem for a Bear” because the storyline made him think of me. The song is a delightful ode to a child’s love for a teddy bear named Mr. Fritz who has finally worn out past the point of repair. I am honored that he cared enough to share this heartwarming piece with me. You can listen to my version of Requiem for a Bear here. I dedicate this song to all those cuddly teddy bears have brought me peace on those no good, very bad days. 

28 till I’m 30

As the countdown to my 30s continues, today I am grateful that I’ve calmed my frantic, frenetic mind with meditation and I know the inner workings of my body and mind more than ever. 

I’ve been plagued with an overactive mind my entire life. I grew up an insomniac. I would lay in bed for 3-4 hours each night before finally easing off to sleep. My mind would race, flitting from one subject to another, full of ideas and lists–some productive, some not so productive. I wrote songs and stories and plays as I layed in bed all evening. I worried and fretted over tiny details; I relived painful memories and stressful situations. I spent my life constantly waffling between hyperactivity and utter exhaustion. My inability to focus followed me through my college career and held me back during my vocal training. I spent most of my voice lessons worrying, fretting, trying to be perfect, and do everything my teachers asked of me that I became more and more tense which caused further vocal difficulties. It became a vicious cycle where I wasn’t even listening to what my teachers were saying because my inner monologue was screaming so loudly telling me all the things I was doing wrong and overthinking every minor adjustment. Most days, I simply broke down in tears, overwhelmed with the viciousness of my mental process. 

Finally, after 6 years of intensive yoga study, I’m making progress at quieting that constant inner critic. I’ve started to recognize when the mental wheels start spinning out of control and I now have the tools and exercises to bring myself back to center and find my focus. I will likely always have difficulty keeping my mind from moving into an energetic frenzie, but it’s a blessing to be in control of my own mind. Here’s to this new decade of peace, deep sleep, and mental wellbeing. 

One of my favorite meditative tools is my Muse meditation headband. This biofeedback support reads my brainwaves as I sit and breath, transmitting the intesity of my mental activity into gentle sounds such as raindrops, wind, or waves. This helps me to become more aware of the thoughts as they pass through. Recognizing my mental patterns allows me to focus on recovery and bring myself back to my breath while letting all else go. I am deeply indebted to my meditation practice for changing my health and my life.