Monday, December 13, 2010

Filling in the Blanks

It's Monday, the website is up, I'm completely exhausted, but here I sit watching another gorgeous California sunset and feeling better than I have in quite some time.  I've always told myself that I don't like to work hard, but the truth is, I just don't like hard work without direction.  This week has left me sleep deprived, skipping showers, forgetting to eat, scribbling in a notebook that's become a new appendage, spending more time glued to my computer for the sake of productivity than ever before, AND I HAVE LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT!

Several months ago, I was walking home from a friend's place through the streets of Paris after deciding to forego a night time metro ride.  No matter what happened to me during my time there, I never ceased to enjoy a proper stroll through the City of Light.  Paris is not without its charm and beauty, and in my opinion, best appreciated while the city sleeps and the streets are your own. This particular walk was the first time I had ventured that far on foot since being out of a cast and I was feeling good.  As my feet found a calm rhythm against the cobblestoned streets, I began to think about all of the music I loved, how it has influenced me and why exposure to opera seemed a losing battle in the world.  I was blessed with a wonderfully eclectic circle of people in my life, and aside from those I knew in the opera business, most of my friends and family hardly had an ounce of understanding for this art form I had dedicated myself to most of my life.  I would rarely get to have a discussion with anyone about it, and felt that if they really wanted to know more they would ask.  However, that night I thought:  perhaps it is up to me to share this beautiful music in a way that no one has ventured before?  I had become so stuck in "the way things are done" approach that there seemed to be no other option but to give up, until now.  I sat with the thoughts that had come to me on my walk for about a week before I shared them with anyone.  I wanted to be sure this wasn't just another idea I would lose interest in after a while, but once I started talking about it and putting things down on paper, it seemed to flow as naturally as water.  I was excited in a way I had never been before, so I bought a domain name for the website and started to pool my resources, but as it turned out, life still had some lessons to teach me before I would find myself moving any further with this project.

Months later, after arriving in California, I had left behind most of my belongings, a man I thought I was in love with, and several difficult situations that had tested the very fiber of my being.  Feeling like the biggest loser in the world, I had no idea how to begin picking up the pieces of the shattered picture my life had become.  I was still clinging to a relationship that had been dysfunctional for some time, but kept my focus there so as to avoid my own lack of direction.  It's funny how when you find yourself in a situation you don't want to be in, life will decide to change it for you, if you lack the gumption to change it yourself.  Three weeks after leaving France, my then boyfriend broke up with me in an email.  Yes, an email.  As devastated as I felt on the surface, I felt a huge relief of anxiety within.  I really had a clean slate.  For the first time I felt a desire for real change, not just a new city, haircut or philanthropic gesture to a gym I would never use, but the kind that required internal dedication and discipline.  While I've only been at it a few weeks, I feel a tremendous shift and know this is only the beginning.

Opera Revolution is the name of my vision.  I will fight tooth and nail to drag opera kicking and screaming out of the dark ages and into a light that can be seen by anyone.  It is my passion to do whatever it takes to bridge the gaps between the musical genres that have been created in the world.  The website will host all of the building blocks to reach my goal along the way, and for now that first step is a weekly podcast; researched, writtten, recorded and produced by yours truly.  I am beginning the series with an in depth look at Verdi's La Traviata, and promise to do my best to bring modern, accessible examples that will make it an entertaining experience.  There will be a new podcast every Sunday which will be much shorter than the introductory one I posted yesterday.  I look forward to settling into a rhythm with them as time goes on, and adding new layers to the site, which might eventually include a little singing of my own!  I will post links of resources for operatic entertainment and information that won't cost you an arm and a leg or too much time to get into.  Follow me along on the blog as I document Opera Revolution's progress.  I look forward to sharing the difficulties and triumphs, as I am sure there will be plenty of stories to tell.  Looking this challenge in the eye is one of the most exciting things I can imagine.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to visit the site and given me their feedback.  It is absolutely a work in progress and will continue to be updated and tweaked until it is exactly where I want it to be.

....more soon....


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let the Lightning Strike!

Since it's been a while, and I DID promise to follow through, not only to you, but more importantly to myself, I feel it imperative to mention life's activities have taken precedence as "talking" gave way to "doing".
The day I sat down to map out my story board of goals, I was faced with a very important truth, which up until this point I had done a very good job of ignoring. I had NO idea what I wanted to do with my life. Most people who know me are aware that I have always pursued some manner of a career in opera. However, when I stop to look back over the last 14 years, I see it full of other odd jobs to pay the rent and not as much time singing. This started me thinking that perhaps this direction I had been heading in for so long wasn't really my heart's deepest desire. I love opera and I do have the talent to sing it, but also know I never had a thick enough skin to put up with all of the rejection and cruel criticism that came along with it. One trait I do not lack is perseverance in going after something that I want (just ask any customer service representative or guy I have dated) so maybe an operatic performance career wasn't what I wanted after all. When I know what I want, nothing gets in my way. I have no idea why it has taken me so long to figure this out, but now that I have finally admitted it, there is a peace I've never experienced before. This thought brought such a smile to my face as I realised I really could do anything! Of course, it has taken me a few weeks, thousands of miles, more personal traumas, hours of brainstorming, investigating and digging deeper into my soul than ever before to find out, but I ultimately stumbled upon something that has gotten me out of bed like a shot every morning. There don't seem to be enough hours in the day to get all of the work done that I need to do. It's even hard to pull myself away for a meal, and THAT is truly saying something! For the first time in a long time I am able to release that passion which has been locked inside, making me miserable because I couldn't see clearly enough to let it out.

If you've read my personal blogs for the past year, you will know that it has not been an easy one.  Moving to Paris brought one catastrophe (on my personal scale) after another and with it a multitude of lessons that I had to face.  Essentially ending up penniless, homeless, loveless and broken I returned to California.  This was the most humbling experience I could imagine, because it is where I grew up and where I swore I would never go back unless I had made something of myself.  However, after mild November temperatures, countless days of sunshine, the Pacific Ocean and breathtaking sunsets, I can only laugh at my previous notion.  Is there really some place better I could have picked to sit in the rubble of my life and rebuild from a brand new foundation?  There is something utterly peaceful about starting from a blank canvas.  I get to make the rules, forget the past and discard any preconceived notions I had about my life thus far.  Furthermore, I can return to my childlike instinct of defying anyone who tells me I can't do something that way.  Wanna bet?  ;-)

Screw the story board to the sticking place and join me on this endeavor as I reveal my new pet project and big vision within the next few days.  I will document its process, hardships and triumphs all here in this blog, but for now, add yourself to my "followers" on the right hand column next to this posting and you will be among the first to hear about the launch of my brand new website!  It will go live on Sunday morning so stay plugged, tweeted, or facebook'd in for your personal invitation.

Until then!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Story Of My Life"

A friend of mine once said to me, that the best way to cause personal change, is to treat yourself as though you are telling a friend what to do with their life. As someone with a somewhat – or rather – very bossy personality, I have spent plenty of time handing out what I believe to be my pearls of wisdom to a number of people. To keep going with the theme of love for my own ego, I am usually right and have very valid, non-partisan advice to give. I have always had a talent for considering both sides of an argument, usually because I am trying my damnedest to win one, and in order to dismantle one’s opponent, it helps to know their weak points. Mother always said I would have made a good lawyer, but I don’t necessarily like laws or rules in general (or spending hours-a-day studying rubbish I have no interest in) so alas, that dream never got out of the gate, but I digress. I was having a conversation with my friend Jeremy this morning, which covered our usual check in of feelings on life, and displeasure with certain aspects of our own. I then felt the urge to suggest something which I thought might be effective for him, and knowing we have similar habits (good and bad) realised it was one that I should be trying out on myself. SO…instead of doling out decrees from my podium, I told him I had just decided to start a story board of goals to give me something tangible to use toward my desired direction. This was a big deal, because it caused me to take ownership of my advice and apply it to myself instead of avoiding the areas of life in which I have had difficulty and had usually chosen to seal up in a box labeled “miscellaneous crap that I won’t admit to” in the filing cabinet of my mind. This didn’t just come out of the blue, nor has there been a slow build to it. I recently had a final-straw-camel-breaking-back-on-the-icing-of-life’s-cake experience that has occupied my energy for the last few weeks and am not only grateful to return to feeling normal again, but have finally had it with the fucking road blocks. If it’s a sign that I need to find a different direction so they keep from popping up, then FINE, I GET IT!! The detailed story of what I went through is not as important as the effect it has had. Besides, due to the magic of Facebook, I have been reading about all sorts of random tragedies that have recently taken place in the lives of people I know and it gave me some proper perspective on the scale of personal problems.

I have always been a kinesthetic learner, so figuring out what I really want has been a process of elimination by trying new things. I mean, how many times have you heard, “you’ll never know unless you try”? I’m sure whomever first coined that phrase wasn’t really thinking on the largest scale possible, so most people pick and choose what they deem worthy of trying. Admittedly, I operate on a theory of, “I’ll try anything once...and usually twice just to make sure!” That seems a scientific way to go about the proper collection of data, does it not? In order to be absolutely sure, one tries the same thing over and over again to obtain verifiable data which inevitably reaches the same solution. That is the proper way to go about any experiment. Does this apply to human nature? The opposition has the statement from Rita Mae Brown (also attributed to Einstein and Ben Franklin – who dabbled in science… - but was first seen documented in Ms. Brown’s writings, according to the internet) “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Which is correct? I don’t know, because again I’ve strayed from my point. The “learn by doing” method is effective for me, until I get to a place where I stop to contemplate my data and usually end up wasting time. This is why I am creating the “Story of My Life Accountability Board”. I know there is all of this malarkey out there that The Secret spawned about making a wall of your desires, and not worrying about the ‘how’ as it will nebulously figure itself out. Hogwash, I say. Thanking the universe in advance for things you want to have happen, are not going to miraculously come true without a little effort. Sure, I could sit on my fat ass all day in lotus position thanking ‘god’, but I would also have the voice of my grandmother echoing in my ear that said “The Lord helps those who help themselves!” Therefore, putting down onto paper (or in this case dingy cardboard) a storyline which has me on one end, my goals on the other, and graduating goal lines of what needs to be done in order to reach them, seems slightly more reasonable and fun at the same time. I could just write it out, so that it would make a nice addition to all of the other random bits of paper with ‘to do’ lists on them that are lying about, but with this idea, I get to be creative and physically move my little ‘Kristen’ from one line to the next, closing the gap between me and my objective. What will also be good to see, and I’d imagine create confidence as well, is the accomplishment of the little things on the way to the larger. I will need to cut out someone to cast in the role of ‘Me’ that I can push-pin in and out on the journey to her destination (maybe that hot ad of Charlize Theron from Dior…) with a collage of things above the timeline that inspire me to give myself that extra kick in the ass I need every day, because I do not find strength in coffee alone, that is for sho’.

Why am I bothering to share all of this information? A few reasons:
1. My last blog was terribly depressing, and if you were kind(or bored) enough to read it, you deserve a silver lining.
2. Not finishing what I’ve started is a habit I am determined to break, and exposing myself (figuratively, of course) forces me to make it real as opposed to the ponderance of a nice idea I had once.
3. Writing about its progress (albeit in a public forum) will give the scientific side the data it wants and the creative side the outlet it needs.
4. If my insanity is entertaining, then why should I be selfish and not share?

Now, for your optional entertainment, I leave you with the song that inspired the title of today's entry:

Thank you Social D.