February Goals

Hello everyone,

I am happy to say that I am not writing this a few days past the due date on my bed surrounded by things in my messy apartment. I am glad to say that I truly actually started to follow through with many goals and ideas. I calmly began writing this a few days before the end of the month in my mostly clean apartment from my makeshift desk of a tray table next to my couch. Some may not see this as much of an improvement, but I am quite content with this and hope to continue it. As I sip on my tea from my cozy couch I think it is time to look at the progress I made, confess to things I didn’t do, and set new goals or plans to continue the previous ones.

Things I did Do

  1. Clean my apartment
  2. Started composting
  3. Started to read more books and less social media
  4. Meditated at least 5 minutes a day
  5. Began to post on the blog (somewhat) regularly
  6. Wrote many essays
  7. Began and continued to run
  8. Was more social
  9. Lived my life despite my anxiety.

 

The last one I am actually more proud of I do have to say. For the past few months I have seriously been a hermit whenit comes to my anxiety. However in January I started to push myself. I went out even when I wasn’t feeling 100% great. I would  do jobs, make phone calls, and even put myself in uncomfortable positions. I was still anxious and would need time to recooperate but I can honestly this month I truly started to push myself more.

 

What I Would like to Do in February

  1. Learn more skills
  2. Draw more
  3. Efficiently play the piano
  4. Add about 40,000-50,000 words to my manuscript
  5. Donate or sell at least two large bags full of my stuff
  6. About 4-5 personal projects

 

Plans to continue

  1. I wish to continue meditating every day
  2. I hope to continue to work out on a regular basis
  3. I hope I can keep my living area clean

How did I accomplish so much.

  1. To Do Lists

I would write a list of itmes I wanted to accomplish some of which were small and some were big. This mixed helped me because it encouraged me to get more work done than the previous months would have me believe.

  1. Posting on my wall calender

I actually truly utilized my wall calendar! I posted the dates and things I wanted to accomplish which meant that every single day I would walk buy it knowing that there was something I had to do.

  1. Shared more of my work

I started telling more of my irl friends about my projects. This way they could ask about how my progress has been. Having a buddy system to keep you in check is one that seriously works. I highly recommend it.

 

 

 

In addition to this there should be another mental health related post going up today or tomorrow. Please let me know how your January went. I would also love to hear what are you plans for January.

 

Best Wishes,

Dawn

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The Five People You Meet in Heaven

A Review

Through the first days of the month as I tried to pick up the pieces of 2017 throwing them away for a new 2018 I listened to Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” on audiobook narrated by the author himself.  This is a rather short read/listen that felt like a calming presence as I began to reflect on the new year.

The story follows Eddie, an amusement park maintenance man, on his 83rd birthday as well as the day of his death. He dies trying to save a little girl from one of the rides he would so carefully check as the cables snapped unexpectedly. We then follow him through as he travels through heaven meeting people who affected his life learning a lesson with each new person. With each person the one question keeps on asking is “Did I save the little girl?”

I found this novel compelling. With each new person we were able to see a different side of heaven. I found it interesting that with each new side of heaven we saw through Eddie’s eyes were not only familiar to Eddie but also surrounded Ruby Pier, the place where Eddie worked and grew up.

Part of the enchantment that I found in the novel was the audiobook format of the novel. The combination of Albom’s writing style and narration made me feel as if I was a child again being read a bedtime story. Albom provided different voices for each of the characters. The most distinct voice was given to Eddie who sounds gravely almost a hint of a New York accent which made him sound extremely similar to many old men that I know.

The setting and time frame plays well into this “story time feel” as well. The main place in the book is Ruby Pier, an amusement park like Coney Island, but a bit smaller, that has changed over time. It’s an old time amusement park with great rides, games, and of course cotton candy. Ruby Pier is described as a place where both the young and old can enjoy themselves. Many characters say throughout the book that they wished Ruby Pier had never been built but ultimately the most that comes out of the park is fond memories and the beauty from the ferris wheel.

Another setting to examine is the time period. The time spans the 83 years of Eddie’s life which starts from the 1920s through about the late 1990s and early 2000s. This includes Eddie’s  childhood, teen years, his time fighting in World War II, and his marriage all behind the backdrop of Ruby Pier. I would say the main decades written about in this book were from the 1920s through the early 1960s where we are able to see Eddie’s life more vividly. In the modern American society these are all decades that are romanticized. Eddie is a part of what we call today “The Greatest Generation”. This paired with the background of Ruby Pier gives the book a modern America Fairy Tale quality. Even the writing style lends itself to a Fairy Tale quality with as we look at the past through the years on Eddie’s birthday. With each passing chapter as Mitch Albom read “Today is Eddie’s birthday. . .” the phrase started to feel more like “Once upon a time”.

The book does take an interesting approach on death and how individuals interact with each other. Each of the five people that Eddie meets in heaven not only tells their story but also give him a lesson. In many ways this lesson is comforting. It always feels like a pause in the story where people are supposed to reflect on their life. The lessons are very simplistic and comforting in a way. The focus does not pull on large events but rather the little details of life that everyone takes for granted. The message carries through that even the smallest acts can impact a person profoundly both in a positive and negative way.

If you are looking for a rather short read with a comforting message I do recommend “The Five People you Meet in Heaven”. It gives itself a modern American Fairy Tale in a way. I also would definitely recommend the audiobook version read by Mitch Albom. If anyone has read the book please comment on this post and let me know what you thought of it. Feel free to share this post with friends who would enjoy it. If you liked it yourself feel free to let me know, or if you didn’t feel free to tell me why.

Best Wishes,

Dawn

You Know Yourself Best!

Finding your way through terrible advice

“Push Yourself!” “Be Gentle with yourself” “Do the things that terrify you!” “Take it easy!Be sure not to over exert yourself”  “Get back on the horse! Life goes on you know!” “You deserve a break! Life can wait” This is all advice that you may have heard many times sometimes within a five minute period. Everyone loves telling other people what they should be doing with their lives. This past year in the wake of a personal tragedy, college graduation, and finally dealing with my own mental health head on everyone decided to give me “advice”. These words are meant to be used as a helpful stepping stool to help me live a healthier more well rounded life but can often feel stifling despite their good intentions. The worst bit was absorbing it all in only to realize in a way everyone was correct. So much of this advice contradicted each other but to the core all of it was somewhat true. Thus most mental health advice exists in a dichotomy.

Acoording the the Merriam Webster Dictionary a dichotomy is “1. a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities; the dichotomy between theory and proactive 2. Something with seemingly contradictory qualities”. It is the balance of ideas which contradict each other but true. This idea comes in eastern philosophy as “Ying” and “Yang”, the light and the dark which balance each other out. Even in Star Wars the jedi masters talk about how their must be balance in the force. Many mental health experts, and yoga teacher, talk incessantly that there must be a balance but those of us living the modern western world only hear the words. We understand their meaning but never the less still do not understand how to apply it to our lives.

The fact that life must be balanced creates the dichotomy of advice whenever we are faced with a tough life situation. For those just trying to seek relief this can be overwhelming about what their next course of action or even long term plan can be. This is of course is where my personal least favorite bit of advice truly comes into play “You know yourself best!”

The dichotomy that follows this advice is this is the most accurate advice when faced with a situation but also the last thing you want to hear when you do not know what to do. If you have no idea what to do then why would “You know yourself best” be of any help. The truth is that even when you are overwhelmed you do know yourself best. You are the only one who knows  the delicate intricacies of your personal situation. You are the only one who understands what your day to day life is like, your personal history, and even the way you think. Many people do need the guidance of a therapist and perhaps are seeing a psychiatrist as well. If you are seeing those experts please do follow their advice since they are professionals with degrees and board certificates who are doing their best to help you. However if you are an adult and another adult (who is not a therapist) is trying to give you “helpful advice” you do not need to listen to them.

Ok this makes sense but still not entirely helpful with what to do with a closet full of advice on hand. Fine. I will spell out what has helped me evaluate what I should have been doing Hopefully this will be helpful of knowing what to do when your find yourself in a tough situation or when everyone and their mother has an opinion of what you should be doing.

  1. Assess your situation.

What exactly is going on in your life. What has changed recently that you are starting to seek advice? What is your financial situation? What has been going on with school or your job? How is your support system with family and friends? Do you have to take on new responsibilities such as being a caretaker for a sick loved one? Do you now have to deal a diagnosis or illness? Although this may be difficult try to list everything going on in your life. This way you can see in front of you exactly what is going rather than causing anxiety by raking your brain. It may be difficult to look at or even write out but seeing what is going on can help you evaluate how you may take on the big trouble you are finding yourself in. Problems were never solved through avoidance.

 

  1. List out the advice and options that have been given to you

No doubt that during this time you have been given so much advice or if you are dealing with a medical issue such as terminal illness then a treatment plan. Write all of it down. This may include new time commitments with a new job, activity, or medical treatments. These may be necessary. Of all the advice that you are looking at perhaps you can separate them into two categories. Usually these categories are separated into “Relax More” and “Work More” both can be helpful, but the trick is finding the balance.

 

  1. Divide and Conquer

Now that you have everything listed in front of you try to set out the plan. There is always a little room for wiggle room to balance between work and play. For example starting to do a five minute meditation in the mornings will bring not only clarity but a sense of relaxation to the day which may otherwise be hectic. On the flip side if you find yourself feeling too lazy or lethargic, perhaps it is time to turn to a creative project or hobby. Try to find the small attainable ways to balance out the dichotomy.

  1. Let your Plan Be Your Plan.

You are the only one who knows your situation. Perhaps the only thing you used to fight when getting out of bed was your heavy eye lids and now for some reason getting out of bed in the morning feels like fighting a dragon. Take your time to find changes which will create balance. You do have to find a balance of swaddling yourself in a blanket and scaring the living daylights out of you but in the end the proportion of which you do those actions is up to you. People will always want to add what they think you should be doing with your life. But ultimately that does not matter what others think. You will find your journey at your own pace no matter what you are dealing with. Keep that in mind.

Then as people swarm to you with advice you can just smile. I hope that this has helped you find an easier way to find your way across the sea of mental health advice. The quotes can get cheesy quickly and sometimes even sound dumb. But they usually do hold at least one grain of truth. Then decide which or how much of the opposing advice you are able to incorporate into your life.

 

Let me know your thoughts on this? How do you feel about the “pinteresty” kind of self help quotes?   I would love to continue this kind of conversation.

Best Wishes,

Dawn

Winter Love and Self Care

My Winter White Hymnal

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These past few weeks the northeastern coast of America where I live has suffered under severe cold weather conditions. Heavy snow fall, over 70mph winds, and bone rattling temperatures that stick with you even after several minutes of warming up indoors. It is also the end of the holiday season when for at least a month if not more the world seems like a gray bleak without any celebration. There seem to be a grey blanket that falls on the world at this time that provides no comfort. People spend as much time as possible inside, try to eat foods they don’t enjoy, and over exert themselves in exercise to deflate the round jovial bodies they gained over the past few months. Despite all of this I have always found winter to be one of my favorite seasons. I may be one of the only people who think so but the winter season, I believe provides the best time for self-care.

January presents itself as a brief time of quiet which seemed impossible during the past few months. As the winds howl it presents the perfect time to snuggle oneself in a soft blanket and wear soft clothing such as sweaters and fuzzy socks. The cold nights and little excuses for plans give the perfect opportunity to sit and think. To one ear the winds outside may be howling but listen again and doesn’t it almost sound like a whistle? It’s ok if it doesn’t but trying a new perspective never hurt. As you warm up in your home having a simmering soup or hot beverage of tea or cocoa provides a warm embrace from the inside out.

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For some reason it is only during December when winter has hardly begun when people celebrate the beauty of winter. At sunrise and sunset the mixtures of pinks, oranges, blues, and greys paint the sky with wonder as everyone else bows their heads away from the cold. The sunset may be earlier in the day but that does not make it any less beautiful. When the sun does come out it is brighter and reflects brightly on the snow and ice. As much of a nuisance as getting around the snow may be it is beautiful to look at. If you can perhaps take a moment to admire the snow and ice before returning to the indoors for the promise of a hot shower or bath.

There is a Norwegian saying “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes” so take advantage and layer up. Pile on the long johns, thermals, your thickest sweatshirt, the homemade scarf you have tucked away in your closet, and of course a nice pair of fluffy snow boots if you have them. After all of this is done take a walk. If it is below 19 degrees Fahrenheit, then perhaps stay inside for your own safety but anything above should be fine. Though the air may feel harsh I always find a pleasant crispness to it as if imported from the mountain tops if that were possible. I have recently been doing this and I found myself bundled up well enough that it was ok. I also believe that playing in the snow can be done at any age. See if friends will come over to build snowmen, make snow angles, and perhaps even a snowball fight! Your cheeks and nose may have been bitten by Jack Frost but will give off a pleasant rosiness that is better than any powder or cream will ever give you.

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I recently took my own advice and went for a walk on the beach near my apartment. Seeing a place that is usually associated with the summer in the winter was breathtaking. The snow made the familiar sights breath takingly anew. The snow and the sand swirled harmoniously into patterned hills before my feet. The jetties by the water usually only briefly capped white by the foam now wear a blanket of ice and snow striking against the black rock and greenish grey water. Above all the tide still came in making the same sounds it did in summer and the seagulls were still there squawking as they did in months past. From my walk on the beach many things had changed but many were the same. It’s a fact of life we sometimes forget but amazing when we witness it. Although I needed a nice hot cup of tea right after the walk it had shown me right quieting the anxieties I was feeling that day and lifting my spirits.

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I do recognize that my love of winter is a privilege. I have the means for a warm home, warm food, and proper winter attire. Millions of people at this moment have to sleep near the snow banks and have no way of easing their rattling bones. Winter can be beautiful, but it is also incredibly harsh. It’s important to recognize both qualities. Giving whatever gently used clothing or even purchasing extra socks or long underwear for those in need is an act of care for your community as well as an act of self-care knowing you helped someone in need. Even still those who are anemic can find it hard to warm up after all of this and those with Seasonal Affective Disorder take a serious toll on their mental well-being. So no matter what take care of yourself during the winter.

Winter is harsh but I still see it as a beautiful time. Try to gain a new perspective and use winter a healing time. Many people, including myself, have started to embrace the nowegia idea of Hygge(pronounced hoo-ga) which I will post about in another blog post. The world is crazy. More people are taking action against everything. But as the cold settles in remember to pause and take care of yourself. I hope this has helped. Please tell me what you think of winter and the cold? What do you do to take care of yourself? I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please share!

Welcome 2018

With the beginning of each new year there always hangs the promise of creating oneself anew and reinvention. I have tried to incorporate this every month to constantly create anew but so far at the end of each month I sit on my bed of my messy studio apartment thinking of all of the ways that I could have done better and unfulfilled promises. However along with the month slot changing in the calendar, the year slot has also changed from 2017 to 2018 with this brings the hope that maybe the tide will be turn, and things will be different. I am a person that has always lived in their own version of Fantasyland and decided to escape the real world, I hope that with 2018 comes the promise of returning to the real world more often.

I originally created this blog so I could express my thoughts on anxiety, on loss, on navigating through this world, reviewing and explaining stories from cartoons to opera, and of going through this world creatively. It had so much promise but unfortunately has not seen enough care to grow as a community. I wish to change that in 2018. As of this year I vow to post two new blog posts each week on Mondays and Thursdays. Each week I hope to focus on a creative post as well as one about mental health. In addition to these topics I also would also like have extra posts dedicated to thoughts on life and monthly goal posts.  I feel it is important to keep the monthly goals in check for as vlogger Jenna Moreci says “Public humiliation is an excellent motivator”.

The ways that I am going to make in check is to utilize timers on my phone, my phone calendar, my wall calendar and to do list. Hopefully with all of these in place I can truly restart and be held accountable. I am sure many readers are aware of the dread of seeing a box unchecked. I am still refining my list of what I would like to do by the end of the year but here is my list so far.

  1. Keep updated twice a week
  2. Be able to run a half marathon by the end of 2018
  3. Finish my tshirt quilt and scrapbook
  4. Start and complete more knitting projects
  5. Visit at least two foreign countries
  6. Go hiking no less than 20 times this year
  7. Become a more conscious consumer
  8. Finish the first draft of my novel
  9. Read more books including audiobooks
  10. Make a large dent in my complete collection of Emily Dickinson poetry
  11. Listen to a large variety of music
  12. Make a more conscious effort to visit friends
  13. Volunteer more and attend protests
  14. Learn new skills using skillshare
  15. Meditate and do a mindful activity once per day
  16. Deep clean my apartment once every three months
  17. return to music making
  18. become proficient on the ukelele

 

This list is quite the one to conquer but I plan on going forward with it and adding to this list. I will leave you with this until Monday. Are there any resolutions or projects you have been working on recently?

The Marriage of Figaro

This past Saturday as the first snow of winter fell upon New York, and most of the east coast I was fortunate enough to be warmed inside and out by the Metropolitan’s production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”. Before the performance I enjoyed a lovely Holiday, party thrown by the Met for the Young Associates, of which I am a part. During the days in which I am bundled up in my pajamas eating candy and watching cartoons I sometimes remind myself that I am a part of the Metropolitan Opera Young Associates. It is during those moments that my membership among the Metropolitan Opera Young Associates reminds me that I am a fully fledged adult.  Socializing in formal wear, Christmas Carols with some of the Met’s own chorus members as well as the sparling holiday mimosas garnished with pine and pomegranate seeds given at the holiday party brought a sense of comfort from the frosty wind along with the few great opera master works in which all ends well with no death. The night gave way to a stunning production of “Figaro” letting the audience know, to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare, “All’s well that ends well”. During these rough political times in this world, I believe we all need a little bit of reassuring of this phrase, even if some class war fares are thrown into the mix

When “Figaro” first premiered in Vienna in 1786 it was wildly successful even as it turned heads for its commentary on class structure. The story revolves around the house of the Count and Countess Almaviva on day of the marriage between the servants Figaro and Susannah. The opera opens with Figaro measuring the bedroom to see if the marriage bed will fit as Susannah sews her own wedding veil. They engage in witty banter and you can tell they are truly in love. The Count is a sleaze ball that agreed to give Susannah a marriage dowry hoping to reclaim his feudal right, a law which he banned. The “feudal right” was a law that allowed the lord of the house to sleep with the bride of his servants on their first night of marriage. Even in 1786 this was seen as an old law and of primitive societies and was not commonly acted upon but it was still a law. This is something neither Susannah nor Figaro want. Figaro want the count to stay away, the Count wants Susannah, Susannah wants peace, the Countess wants the love of her husband, Marcelina the lady in waiting wants Figaro as her husband, and the troublesome pubescent page wants love. It is a twisting comedy of lovers in which all ends well, accompanied with the music of Mozart brings delight to those who watch it.

The Sir Richard Eyre’s production which the Met showed this past Saturday and for the rest of December takes place in a Spanish style villa just outside of Seville in the 1930s. There were four “rooms” which looked like bronze gilded art deco towers which spun on a turntable that made up the stage. One of the biggest sets on the turn table was the large tree that made up the pine grove where lovers meet in the last act of the opera.  As the overture played, the lights lowering and the tiny sputnik chandielers of the metropolitan opera rose the tables began to turn. The set began moving with the opening notes bringing both the audience’s ears and eyes into the world of Figaro.

The open set design gave a sense of freedom to the production even adding elements of playfulness. At the end of one scene where the count jealously chases Cherubino we see the characters dodging between the gilded towers of the set. With such an open set it lay the foundation for the blurred lines of the different classes that is noted both in the score and the story.  The open set gave way to an open mindset that fit so well with the story. I believe the updated version and costumes also truly did help connect to audiences better. The life and look of 18th century Europe is so far removed from 21st century lifestyle that although it can be interesting, even comical, at times to look at, that lifestyle can be hard to relate to. Given that many people have preconceived negative notions of how “they could never like opera” I think a more relatable setting is appropriate. There is still the sense of the original world, Susannah and Figaro are still both servants, with the Count and Countess are both seen as aristocrats, but they aren’t wearing corsets which for some modern audiences is spectacle enough. Through the more modern adaptation it is easier to see the characters as relatable humans.

The plot plays with deception as well as constantly questions who is the true fool. What is nice about Figaro is not one true character is seen as 100% a fool this gives way to the sense of equality between the characters even though it is servants and their masters.  When the opera first opened the political implications which shocked audiences we no longer blink an eye at. In the first act when Figaro learns that the Count wishes to seduce Susannah he angrily sings his first, and most well-known, aria “Sel voul ballare”. This is a servant openly plotting against his master while singing in a “minuet” which was a court dance never meant for servants. In the duet in the fourth act “Sul Aria” where the Countess and Susannah plot against their husbands Susannah’s voice begins by merely mimicking the Countess. As the music progresses she gains her own voice full and equal to the Countess’s voice. In the last act of the opera as part of their deception Susannah and the Countess have swapped clothing. This is when Susannah gives her last aria. This aria is not a simple song but a powerful one where even past the deception Susannah’s voice sounds regal enough to pass as the Countess. The visions of the servants having the same power as the aristocrats is what caused unrest in France but Mozart hid well beneath his beautiful music and tale of love.

In modern times I believe it is important to look at the dynamic between Susannah and the Count. He is a man of power who holds both her job as well as her betrothed’s job in the palm of his hands. This is a man who is not used to hearing the word “no” and not getting what he wants. Susannah refuses to give in to his advances, she is the one women to put her foot down to say “No! You cannot have me”. She will not let this man’s power take over her and in the end, she wins! During this time where sexual assault is being revealed I believe it is important to look at this dynamic. This story could have easily been how the Count won’t take no for an answer and Susannah unfortunately ends up the victim. But Susannah turns out to be one of the few women who do get out of this situation with the support of her husband and friends! In that way it reflects a Cinderella story. Many women who are in similar situations have no way of escaping which is a true tragedy but I believe it is empowering to see how the story of one woman was able to escape with a dash of wit and much support.

The friend that came with me actually had an interesting point about Cherubino. The character of Cherubino is a lovesick fourteen year old page boy. His character is played by a woman mezzo-soprano as a “pants woman”.  My friend brought up an interesting point that Cherubino is actually a lesbian or even Trans-Man. Which I think is such a cool way of looking at this character! By the other characters Cherubino is assumed to be male and as a trick the women think of dressing him up as a girl which to them is hysterical. Even just the idea of Cherubino dressing as a woman is ridiculous because he is accepted as a masculine character. This fits with all interpretations of Cherubino as a teenage boy, “butch lesbian”, and Trans Man perfectly. It is not a conventional way to look at the character but there is nothing that objects to these interpretations. The defining characteristics of Cherubino is that he is a young sick lovesick trickster who is passionate and fancies every woman in the villa for the most part. The character does use masculine pronouns to describe him, but it is not cis gendered men alone who use these pronouns. Through this you have a teenage boy who is not afraid to show emotions and would rather flirt than fight, a Trans Man who is accepted by the household and is only run out because he was flirting with the Countess not because of his identity, and a “Butch Lesbian” perhaps is in hiding and does not want to be kicked out of the house. I think these are all interesting story interpretations that the text does lay a sturdy foundation for. In the music Mozart did add some funny moments where it seems that Cherubino’s voice is cracking such as in “Voi che Sepete” or perhaps that is a side effect of mere nerves or even hormone therapy. Art is in the eye of the beholder so it is up to the audience member.

In the end it is truly the music that makes this opera so powerful. Mozart’s score is nothing short of perfection. The music of this opera runs through western culture more than we know. There was rarely an aria which did not feel familiar or seen as home. The music transcends in it’s hidden complexity how the notes seem to fit perfectly into place. At the end when during “Countessa Perdona” I was brought to the edge of my seat with tears in my eyes. It is an easy listen that echoes utter perfection from the opening notes of the aria to the last notes further proving what we already knew, that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a true master.

Figaro comes to a welcome conclusion. For those out there who do have a subscription to the Met Opera on Demand this production is on there. I highly recommend Figaro both as a first or even fortieth opera. During these winter months it will be sure to warm your heart.

 

Opera:more than just fat ladies singing

Like most people I am a lifelong consumer of media and storytelling. The amount of books I have read, movies and television I have watched, and especially music I have listened to is a number so high that I cannot even fathom counting it. I have always loved a good story and flair for the dramatic this ultimately led me to the grand world of opera. When most people think of opera I know it is of a high uppercrust old art form of women wearing fur coats and old fat women screeching. I sometimes do wear my grandmother’s fur shawl to the opera to feel fancy, but I can reassure you there is so much more to opera than this caricature. Opera is not everyone’s cup of tea but neither is fantasy, sci-fi, or even tea itself. I think anyone with any background can fall in love with Opera.

Opera provides to be a multimedia phenomenon of storytelling that is ultimately powered by the music but transformed into magic. It brings together the dramatics of the theatre, lush music from the orchestra and the vocalists, ballet dancing at times, and the visual art creations of the sets and costumes on stage. The greatest feats of on stage technical work for light and set designs I have ever seen were at the Met.

The music in opera holds a special kind of magic and power. Opera pushes the limits of the voice giving it a resonance and full sound or dazzling technical feats. To imagine such a sound erupting from a mere human is almost incredulous to believe. This can be so foreign to our ears that our first reaction is to laugh or simply label it “weird”. But with many new experiences letting the music set in. The most primal human emotions are held within it’s power and it is easily captivating. The orchestra provides a background so even when the characters onstage may be silent we can hear their emotions and innermost thoughts through the orchestra.

Aside from that the stories in opera can range from the well known fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretl, to a girl from the wrong side of the tracks falling in love with an uppercrust man, to a near Lord of the Rings epic. They are passionate! Ludicrous at times but they hold so much passion. The production can add in flair with the costumes and set designs. Opera can truly be a feast for the eyes. Since operas are sung in many languages, primarily Italian and German, there is a way for anyone to understand. At the Met you can press a button on the back of the seat in front of you and the subtitles of what they characters are saying will be displayed in your language of choice.

One of the many criticisms of opera is how it is exclusively for old people of the 1%. But in the times I have seen an opera live at the Metropolitan this has been further from the truth. The time before the opera begins and during the intermission is a feast of people watching. I have seen many people at the opera dressed in both ball gowns and hiking gear to everything in between. Whenever I go the Met I usually sit in the less expensive seats in Family Circle where I have always seen a great variety of people. But I think opera can reach an even more diverse audience. So I say give an opera a try even if it is just to say you tried it.

Tickets to the opera can range from as low as $27-$1,000. I understand that for many people even $27 can feel like much. So if you are lower on funds or do not live anywhere near an opera theatre the Met does have an On Demand Service. It is about $15 a month but you can start a 7 day free trial just to give it a go. The Met does also do screen select performances at the movies on certain dates. If you live close to a University with a music school or department check to see if they are putting on an opera production. I remember for non students tickets were only $10, which is very reasonable.  So I hope for the holidays you can go out and try Opera.

December Goals and November Fails

Hello all it has been a very long time. 30 days really fly by like nothing. This is where confession time sets in. I did not complete nearly half of the goals of my monthly goals. I did an extremely poor job of completing everything. I did complete one big goal, however the first thing is to address my goals and publicly humiliate myself.

Here are the goals I did not complete.

  1. Draw More Using Skillshare

 

I 100% drew more during the month of November then I did during October, however I did not utilize Skillshare or my drawing abilities to their fullest potential. Part of the reason I wanted to draw more was to escape the endless scrolling and social media absorption my brain took in one day. This was a soft failure. I can do better.

  1. Walk every day

This is another failure. I walked more and I noticed the change in my perspective on life. I did not walk every day though. This was perhaps a poorly written goal since taking a stroll on the beach every single day is hard, especially with the holidays in the winter. Taking a break for a quick stroll is something I got better at but I still have a long way to go.

  1. Keep My Apartment Clean

As I am typing this my apartment has never been more messy or filthy. I had to clean out my aunt’s house during Thanksgiving Break which was filled with things that I completely forgot I owned. Funny how that happens? So this is one I really need to work on constantly.

  1. Exercise Regularly

I did not even properly attempt this one. I exercised once before I posted the goals. I noticed how wonderful I felt. My face was pulled into an endorphin crazed smile. Yet somehow the idea of agony during a workout triumphed in my memory. This one needs a larger push.

  1. Practice More

This is another where I technically did practice more but not in the way I should of. I only practiced for a little bit at the beginning of the month and did not regularly keep at it. So there was a step in the right direction but it was not completed.

  1. Finish Finale Project

This is one goal is embarrassing. I have Finale downloaded on my computer, but it is not even registered. I did not do the simple task of even just registering Finale so I could properly use the program. I did not put any effort into this project even though I had thirty days.

  1. Update this Blog

Considering how the last post on this blog is my November Goals I believe we all know how this one went. It is not because of lack of ideas. I have plenty of ideas I want to share with you. Heck! When I am cooking I near verbally dictate what I want to write down. I have two reviews of operas I have seen that have since closed at the Met! Two reviews of productions which can no longer be seen live. I promise to try to do better.

The Goal I did complete.

I won NaNoWriMo! In 30 days I increased my manuscript by 50,000 words! That is such a large accomplishment for me. I was able to participate in events both in the real world as well as online. I even garnered a few amazing writing buddies. If anyone else participated in NaNo this month, even if you didn’t win, I say congrats! You deserve a pat on the back as well as some well deserved sleep! Even though I did not complete many of my goals I seriously pushed myself with NaNoWriMo.

Bonus!

There is one accomplishment that is on my goal list that I did not put on there.

I went back to therapy.

In October I took a break from therapy and found myself skipping appointments. I thought I had gotten over the poor habit of bottling up my emotions. I was proven wrong when I had a breakdown at the beginning of November. This was the sign that I truly needed to go back to therapy. I have been going regularly again as well as doing my best to be patient with myself. Small steps are the best steps to recovery.

 

Why didn’t I complete all of these goals?

I believe that some of the goals I wrote were either too specific or too vague. For example “Walking Every Day” is extremely specific but perhaps a little bit too much. In contrast “Practice More” and “Exercise More” are so vague that true benchmarks are hard to come by. If you don’t exercise at all going out for one run is technically exercising more but that was not what I was looking for in my goals. However a goal such as “Taking a walk four times per week” is measurable as well as a challenge.

Another roadblock I ran into was I did not have a visual reminder for what my goals were. My wall calendar was left completely blank and I even forgot some of the goals I wrote down! Having a list or reminder of what you want to accomplish can be a big motivator to accomplish tomorrow. Do here are my December goals.

 

  1. Starts Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K is a program designed for people who are not used to exercising to become true runners. The plan eases people into running. The goal is tangible rather than just “exercise more”

  1. Sew a Stocking and a Tshirt Quilt

One of the things that I recently got back from my aunt’s place was a large box filled with my old dance and high school band tshirts. I will never wear those things again so why not turn them into something I will use. I am also sewing a stocking for my boyfriend who is Jewish. So these goals should be relatively easy

  1. Begin editing process of my novel
  2. Make a dent in my collection of Emily Dickinson poems
  3. Clean for 20 minutes a day
  4. Update this blog more
  5. arrange a song on Finale

I also have three personal goals. I will be sure to post these and use my calendar. I be posting more blog posts. So keep your eyes out.

Until next time

Dawn

The Brave Little Pufferfish

 

November Goals

So it has been a little bit less than a week so I would say it is time to update this thing! To start off the month right as well as journey back into being a functioning human I decided to commit myself to some goals. What better way to hold myself accountable for goals than to potentially humiliate myself publicly if I do not complete them. This will also will help inspire me to be more organized and not as much as a lazy bum. My productivity has taken a serious decline since I graduated from university. Perhaps that is because I am not in school anymore surrounded by productive people or professors encouraging me to work in order to keep my scholarship.  But I wish to bring myself back up and creating something new all of the time. I am in my early 20s and that is supposed to be a time of taking risks and exploring. So in order to keep myself accountable for everything I am giving myself goals. So here is the list of goals I am giving myself for the month of November.

  1. NaNoWriMo

In case you didn’t know November is considered National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is a nonprofit that encourage everyone to participate in the lofty task of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. That is 1,667 words a day. Back during the summer I had an idea for a novel and have since outlined, researched, and even started the manuscript. Before the start I had 13,397 words and not I have a little bit under 20,000 words. I do feel like my productivity levels have gone up because of this challenge and I am excited to see where it takes me at the end of the month.

 

  1. Draw more and use SkillShare more

I have always been a hobbyist of drawing, painting, knitting, and creating visual art in general. I heard about Skillshare from other content creators and instantly loved the idea but even though I signed up a few weeks ago I have not used it as much as I should have been so this is an attempt to change that! I started yesterday with the two classes Sketching for Beginners and 3 Minute Sketch Challenge, so far I honestly enjoy it. Here is my sketch from today, it is not the greatest but I took time out of my day. If I draw or sketch every single day then I will get better at it. Plus this is also an exercise to help me get away from mindlessly scrolling social media.

  1. Walk every day

I live by the beach and it is beautiful, I am very spoiled in this regard. But no matter what I always find myself trapped inside my apartment. I hopefully will push myself to venture outdoors more. The benefits of being outside are so endless that I can’t even mention them all. I did take a nice walk today and here are pictures from that. Walking by the water really clears my mind and is so humbling. Somewhere there is a quotes about how the water teaches us to breathe. It may be cheesy but it is 100% something I believe.

IMG_3046

 

  1. Reacquaint Myself with Mornings

My job does not require me to get up early in the mornings so I have almost forgotten what they are like. Getting up has never been fun for me or anyone but I do notice when I get up in the morning and have a full day I am more productive and willing to do more than sit on my bed on my laptop all day. Admittedly I got up at 11:00am today which is way too late but hopefully that will start to change.

  1. Keep My Apartment clean

I am naturally a slob and must change my ways. No further explanation needed.

  1. Exercise Regularly

This is something healthy people do. I should be healthy this needs no more explanation in my opinion.

  1. Practice more.

I haven’t been a great musician in the sense that I have not practiced in way too long. I plan to get back to that since it will only better myself as a musician and as a person.

  1. Finish Finale Project

There is an arranging project that I have been working on for my friends and boyfriend to enjoy. It is a rather simple one and I have always enjoyed arranging so why not do it?

  1. Update this Blog

I have so many ideas and writing ideas. I want to share them with the world plus updating on a regular basis will give you the reader more content and hold myself the creator responsible. It may be every week, it may be two times a week who knows? We shall see!

 

Finally I do have a list of personal goals for myself there are about 4 of them. I will announce at the end of the month whether or not I have completed my goals.

 

Until then may all of my fellow pufferfish swim on without “sploding”!

Welcome!

Hello there and welcome to my blog. My name is Dawn otherwise known as the brave little pufferfish! I am a 22 year old who graduated college this past may and live on a beach near New York City.  I felt a bit lost because of something in my personal life and I had been going for years untreated with an anxiety disorder. So I am spending the year creating, absorbing, thinking, and breathing. I am a classically trained musician and an amateur at basically everything else. I love classical music, baking, knitting, writing, tea, coffee, caffeine, fantasy, and all things nerdy.

So here is one of the things I am creating is this blog. I plan to update this with projects I am doing myself as well as reviews of books, movies, tv shows, comic books, operas, and concerts I go to. I intend to also fill this blog with my own personal healing journey with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It took me an extremely long time to address my problems and seek treatment. I believe that sharing my story will not only be therapeutic for me but also may help others struggling as well. As far as mental health awareness as a society we have gotten better but we still have an extremely long way to go.

So the first few posts on here may be quickly put out but I am hoping to update this at least once if not twice a week.
So Swim on my fellow pufferfish, swim on!