Because of Hurricane Dorian, our original plans were drastically changed - instead of finding ourselves at the wedding of our dear friends in Cinque Terre, Italy, we instead found ourselves in Winston Salem North Carolina!! We had scheduled a vacation in Charleston, SC, but had to evacuate - honestly, I must say that growing up in Vancouver, I am quite ignorant of such weather patterns, but the authorities of South Carolina handled everything really well.
Our time in New York was fruitful and exciting, and for the first time ever, we felt ourselves not wanting to leave the city that never sleeps! Usually, after a few days, we both start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated by the pace and feel of that city. But this time, it was like we were feeding off of the opportunity and possibility, even amidst the grit and grime. Norman sounded wonderful in the demo recording of Hamlet, An Epic Opera, and I got to connect with some powerhouse ladies including my sister, Karen, Sammi, and Chrissy. LOVE!
Another silver lining of our changed plans, was getting to spend time with Norman's family! His parents were headed east at the time to celebrate Norman's grandmother's 90 birthday, so our paths happily crossed.
After all the travel and excitement however, Norman and I are feeling the need to get rebalanced, refocused, and centered on the season ahead.
I don't usually go in for programatic challenges like this, but I thought it might be fun if we all go in on it together for Living Opera.
Usually challenges like this focus on physical wellbeing and personal self improvement, and there is a component of that in our challenge, but we also feel the need to consider our community as we improve ourselves.
As artists, I think we can all agree that human beings are far more than just a body and a mind. We have a soul, and that soul needs feeding, attention, and care. Our challenge addresses this need. (I don't know about you, but I for one, need beauty in my life. Every day!)
For us this will mean focusing more on things of substance, after a summer of fun times and indulging in some of our favorite guilty pleasures. (I think we ate barbecue at least 6 times, oops, and I'm nearly through the entirety of Madmen. I only watch TV on the plane usually, and there were many, many plane trips.)
These activities can be repeated as often as you like. They do NOT have to be achieved every day. The point of this challenge is to build up the right intentions and habits, not to impose a rigid, joyless regiment.
The tasks range from super easy (come on, make your bed and drink some water!!), to more challenging (eating an apple instead of that cookie you really want), to undesirable but most beneficial, (getting 30 minutes of exercise!), to extending yourself beyond your comfort zone for some of you. (I'll let you decide what that means for your life!)
1. As soon as you get up, make your bed
2. Drink 2 liters of water throughout the day (That's 8 cups for you Muricans!)
3. Get 30 minutes of physical activity (I'll be sharing how I do this!)
4. Study a new piece of music or aria for 15 minutes. Something you know you ought to sing or play, but you've been putting off (for you non-musicians - go on Youtube and just search for a composer you've heard of, but never really listened to. If anything, you'll have good small talk the next time you're at a party)
5. Read a book for 20 minutes (instead of scrolling through Instagram!)
6. Save at least $5 (or euros, francs, whatever!) a day
7. Tell a colleague what you appreciate about them
8. Pray/Meditate/Sit quietly with your thoughts for 10 minutes and just rest in them
9. Memorize one page of music (especially if you've got contracts for roles you don't know yet!!)
10. Go to an art gallery or museum instead of watching Netflix
11. Eat and cook all your meals at home (extra points if your diet is at least 75% plant based!)
12. Write out 3 affirmations about your career, and say them out loud to yourself
13. See a new opera/play/symphony/live event instead of going to a movie (lots of museums are free at least once a month! If we won't support the local arts, how can we complain when others don't?)
14. Do not look at your phone for the first 15 minutes of your day
15. Donate either money, clothing, skills, or time to a charity you believe in
16. Practice your audition arias in expectation! You never know when a door will swing open!
17. Write for at least 10 minutes. Even if you are a terrible writer. Writing is cathartic and you might learn something about yourself. (And in my case, I know I am supposed to write, but I'm guilty of waiting for inspiration to kick in. Sometimes, you gotta just plow through until you strike gold!)
18. Listen to a beautiful piece of music before going to bed instead of watching TV/scrolling/playing games or anything else over-stimulating. Your brain needs rest and your body needs sleep.
19. Buy a friend or colleague coffee/lunch/dinner/a card/gift for no special reason. (I will include my address and phone number if you want to make me that person, LOLLLLLL)
20. Limit your sugar intake. I know eating apples is less fun than cookies, but we gotta do it fam. I KNOW you can do it! We all know the cold weather is coming, and we will soon be inundated with cookies, pies, cakes, turkey, and all that yummy holiday food. I for one, need good habits now, to make sure I don't get out of control when all that temptation hits!!
Obviously it wouldn't be wise to spend all your hard earned money on other people for 21 days, or give all your clothing away to charity, but the point is to start cultivating the intention to do good towards others, and yourself, as much as it is in your power to do so! And no, there are some days where I simply can't exercise and sing, (it screws up my breathing sometimes), but I know I need to do both. I know that my schedule will probably fluctuate and there might be an unexpected trip, but I'm gonna at least TRY. And that's really the point.
We hope you enjoy watching us live out our challenge, and we hope you will join us on whichever of these activities speaks to you today!
Make sure you tag us on social media so we can share all the good your are doing for yourself, and others.
Let's finish this month STRONG! My hope is to go into October with a strong singing voice, new energy and expectation, renewed health, and to be generally well prepared for everything the 2019/2020 season throws at me!
Soula Parassidis, featuring Christos Makridis in Forbes