DREAM BIG…. Why not?

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On Saturday at approximately 3pm, I will take my fourth “at bat” for Team Adam Levine on NBC’s television competition “The Voice”. Talk about shooting for the fences… Pretty exciting right?

In non-baseball terms, I am going to stand in line for many hours (historically 5)  and sing my story for a producer from NBC and hope to high heaven that this time, I AM in fact, what the producers are looking for this season. When/if that happens, they may ask me to sing a “back up” song. When/if  I make it past that round, I get a “red” card which means I was “called back” in two days and then I have to sing 2-3 current songs two days later, When/if I make it past that round, that’s when I get the chance to fly to Los Angeles and sing on national television.

As you might be able to tell from this progression, as long shots go, this one is very long.

Yes, it’s a VERY long shot, AND I am still going to take it because who is to say, that I am not exactly what they are looking for THIS season.

Beyond watching the show since 2011, and DREAMING about being on the show, what can one do to prepare for such a potentially life-changing audition? Well, in a word, practice.

So back to the list, if you were doing “the math” that’s five songs to get “performance ready”. I have read at least 20 articles about artists who auditioned and did and didn’t make it and artists who chose not to go to Los Angeles though they were chosen for one reason or another.  I have read tons of blogs about what people who have auditioned and made it past the blinds have done.. but at the end of the day, the only thing I can be responsible for is what I do to prepare. So I teamed up with my truly awesome vocal coach and we prepped, and prepped and I feel ready. This time, I didn’t just prepare the one song, I prepared all five and they are ready to go. It’s scary to even type that, because what if.. what if…. The very act of preparing FIVE songs, not just the one or even two means I am letting myself walk out in belief that this MIGHT actually happen!

First things first, I updated my DREAM board (Thank you SUSIE!) with a picture of me singing for the coaches on the “Voice” with special attention to “Adam Levine” – A long time aficionado of Maroon Five, I have favored him as my coach from the inception of the show, and I continually nod my head in agreement with what he says as he coaches his current team, often remarking to my husband, “That’s my coach, right there!” It’s heady stuff to think about it, and I realize it’s a VERY VERY long shot but that doesn’t stop me from doing it. Here’s the thing about the dream board you see, almost everything on it, has come to fruition in the years since I created it. (special thanks to Ryan Avery who says “DREAM BIG” and this is advice I take to heart)

Music is very, very, very important to me and my family. I sing to my daughter all the time, sometimes in English, sometimes in French. Let’s face it, there would be no daughter without my supportive and talented husband.
It is because I love to sing that I even met him.

So to say music important to the Haston family is a strong understatement

The very first time I ever did karaoke, it reawakened in me the desire for performing, which had lain dormant for many years. I started going to karaoke and singing. I was in a few plays but nothing musical, my strength is 80’s hits and something you might hear on Broadway, as well as some current artists but mostly I trend towards standards by people like Bette Midler and her ilk, so you know.. no pressure.

With help of a talented music coach, I branched out and learned how to sing several different genres including opera.

I got my first singing part with Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Austin’s production of  “H.M.S. Pinafore” in the Summer of  2006. I was asked to be in the chorus and loved it, It was hard work and extremely rewarding and I added opera to the genres of songs I sing.

I kept singing and then my husband, then fiance (we were planning the wedding) we heard about this show, “The Voice” that was going to be on tv, we said that’s cool, it should be fun to watch. As we heard more about it, and watched the first season, one of the commercials talked about auditions and we both got excited and decided to audition in August 2011 (right after our wedding) and I made the mistake that time of singing a song but changing the phrasing and it did not go well for me. The second time I auditioned was in Austin, in July 2013, and I met some awesome people in line (she is actually auditioning again too!) – The third time I auditioned, I drove to Houston to stand in line with over 9,000 people in cold and blustery (did I mention it was outside?) and I sang “Maybe this Time” from Cabaret, (gotta love the irony!) – I posted on the blog about that one and then when they sent out the email saying that auditions were in Austin again, I got excited all over again and reached out to some of my other very talented friends to ask if they were auditioning too. I know what you are thinking.. why? would you tell other people and thus lower your chances to get picked? Here’s my thoughts on that, If I am meant to get picked for this season that won’t stop anyone else I tell about who subsequently auditions from getting picked.

Remember, dear readers, my mission in life is to inspire one person at a time.. What if my telling them gets them to go audition and they make it? How awesome would that be?
Of course I hope I make it.. you don’t work this hard or prepare this much to just do it “for fun”.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, maybe just maybe, so it will inspire you to shoot for the moon and go for something that seems big and scary. What do you have to lose?

I guess the better question is, what do you have to gain?

Think About It…

 

 

Self Loathing or Self Loving?

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Dear Readers,

Yesterday I had occasion to talk to several people in my capacity as coach and it was not until much later in the day that I realized that what I had said had made a difference and helped motivate someone to do something that they were scared or nervous about doing.

In case you are wondering, I am being vague to protect their privacy.

I am bringing this up because over and over again, I hear people around me say things like.. ” I am not creative but.. ” or “I am not really organized but..” basically painting themselves with labels like “can’t” or “I am not”  and the truth is.. what you say about yourself tends to stick.. Take me for instance, for YEARS, I said.. ” I am not good at math” and I even made jokes that were clever and verbose to cover my embarrassment…. e.g. “I have a fractious relationship with numbers”

Then one day I realized that it didn’t serve me to say it because it’s not true and saying it like that over and over again further cements the notion. To be brutally honest, my husband is better at them, and I have skill with numbers despite telling myself for most of my life I was bad at them.

I am not saying you can just “tell yourself” you are good at something till you believe it and that is enough.. No. You need to take action as well.

In reality, I am really good with numbers. “I have worked hard to become so.” Every time I calculated how much was left for us to pay on debt (and I mean down to the penny) — since according to Jeremy, we paid off 37,000.00 but according to me, it was 36,945.91 to be precise that we paid off to get debt-free.

I used to say, “I am not creative”. Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Dr. Keya Howard in fact, said, It’s a good thing you are so creative (just off-hand) and I didn’t even blink an eye while agreeing with her because it’s true, I am creative.

I spent a lot of time telling myself otherwise, until my Mom, and several other friends and family of choice members pointed it out to me, here and there and I began to realize it’s true, I am creative.

But back to you dear reader, what do you regularly say about yourself that isn’t true?

Here are some examples, I heard recently

“I’m not creative, I leave that to other people”

“I am not organized, so I am scared that this will all fall apart”

“I am not a runner”

“I can’t write a book, who would read it?”

We have the potential to be our #1 fan or our absolute worst critic, most of us choose the latter, but why not the former?

I challenge you to choose your words carefully, especially when talking about yourself.

What would your life look like if you chose to hold up the pom poms for yourself and shouted YAY ME!

Think About It…..cropped-cropped-imagejfminc.png

Whatever your size or shape, You are beautiful.

 

Dear Readers,Joyphoto

Today’s post is dedicated to you and your beautiful body. Read that again.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! You are sexy! You are perfect just as you are!!

I am so excited to be in this show about positive body image and a show that promotes the message, “You are perfect, just as you are”.. The fight to tell you otherwise is subtle and unrelenting, and it is already starting for my daughter, She isn’t hearing it but I am. “She is so chunky” or “Gosh, how big is she?” — and “That’s a big girl”  things commenting on her size. I realize I am probably being oversensitive in this area, but I have to say it’s hard to hear it, I know people mean well,  sometimes they say it because they think it’s a compliment or they THINK it’s just conversation.

They can’t possibly know how completely debilitating it was to me to hear things that were similar as I was growing up,”you have such a pretty face” or “you would be beautiful if you just lost a few pounds” “Your only hope is to marry rich” and all the times I heard it and things like it I steadfastly believed it..and it’s only very very recently that I have come to terms with my weight and my body and have learned to love myself just as I am.

I think the first time I felt overweight was in gym class, I literally couldn’t climb the rope. I remember holding on to it and trying as hard as I could to get myself up there but I lacked the arm strength and had a lot of weight to try to hoist. The only thing I had to show for my efforts were rope burns and chafed thighs.  I would be the last pick for dodge ball and I tried out for the dance team and didn’t make it. I certainly can’t prove that I wasn’t picked because I was overweight but it certainly didn’t help matters.

My parents didn’t really help me with this, they would tell me not to eat sweets and try to limit the desserts in the house but there was a lot of them and there were birthdays and special occasions and so then I would eat sweets, every chance I got I would eat them. Let’s not forget the ones I ate away from the house as well.

As an adult, I tried a lot of different diets. The cabbage soup diet, the Atkins diet, the paleo diet. The only time I have ever significantly lost weight was on paleo and that was when I was also exercising 3 times a week, and eating nothing but paleo. I lost over 75 pounds and had a glamorous photo shoot to celebrate. That was three years ago and remains a very happy memory as it was the beginning of where I am now on this journey to acceptance and body love.

Recently, I decided to give up dieting. I will eat mostly healthy foods and exercise but won’t be gazing at a scale for “results”. I will respond when the 4 year old in me says, “I want ice cream” because sometimes it’s really important to feed that 4 year old. It doesn’t happen every day, I would say roughly about once a month, I really crave ice cream. I had a pint in the freezer that lasted me almost three weeks, and then there are other times that I eat the whole pint in one sitting. So, it varies.

Here and now, I declare I am done with the guilt, since the guilt has never and will never cause me to lose weight or feel better, in fact it’s quite the opposite, it makes you want to eat more because you feel bad.

The goal will be to use food as fuel and if I want a cupcake or a piece of candy, to go ahead and eat that food. It’s a combination of the intuitive eating philosophy and my mentality about abundance. It also involves REALLY listening to your body. The other day, I wanted mashed potatoes, Jeremy being an awesome husband, offered to get them for me, and I said, no, I am just noticing that I want them, I am not sure why but it’s bubbling up in my head.When I waited a minute, the craving went totally away.

If you choose to diet or count calories, more power to you, but I have decided that way is not for me.

This dieting demon has haunted my menu and eating choices long enough and I am delighted to report that this show is exorcising that demon really effectively. I will be keeping an eye on how I feel about this and as always, report back to let you, my dear readers know how things are going.

Think about it….

Dear Parents, Can we agree to stop judging each other?

Dear Readers,

I have to be totally honest about this. Before I had my daughter, I really didn’t care about breastfeeding, but I took the class and went through the motions with the plastic baby and took copious notes in class and thought to myself, I am not going to to get worried about this because I really don’t know what is going to happen, it’s different for everyone, and right now I am just freaking out about the fact that with every childbirthing class, this whole idea of A LIFE YOU ARE BRINGING INTO THE WORLD IS REALLY NOT JUST AN IDEA BUT A PERSON WHO WILL CRY AND SLEEP AND EAT IS ACTUALLY going to be here and soon!!!!

So I told myself, it’s a natural thing, but I don’t know if she will or won’t so I am not going to worry about it, because until she is here, we don’t know how things will go.

So I reiterate, I didn’t care about breastfeeding. That is until they told me just hours after she was born that we had to supplement with formula because my milk had not fully come in yet. So less than 24 hours as a mom, and I already sucked at it. Totally irrational? yes. How I felt? yes.

So I sat in the hospital bed and tired and sleepy and miserable. I started to cry because the most “natural” thing in the world, wasn’t happening. She was losing weight so it was pretty urgent for us to supplement, I kept telling myself it was ridiculous to be so upset about something that just 24 hours ago I hadn’t cared about at all.

It is maddening and frustrating to have such mercurial mood swings but hey, that is hormones for you. So we supplemented that first night, and I used the nipple shield and kept trying. The lactation consultants I had were pushy and in a hurry and not ONE of them told me it was normal to struggle, they were very matter of fact about how we had to keep trying and even though I was exhausted and so frustrated I wanted to scream, I kept trying because I felt guilty for not being able to nurse my child.

She was fussy and hated it, and never fully latched and the nipple shields (helps to shape your breast to make it easier for the baby to eat) helped a little, but it hurt and it was not fun for either of us so I started to pump (for those that don’t know, this is a machine that simulates what your baby would do and gathers milk from you so you can feed a baby through a bottle but still give them your milk)  and made the decision, okay, she is still getting my milk and nursing is just so frustrating for us both, I am going to just pump, I mean it’s not going to hurt anything if I do that so I made the decision to stop trying to nurse.  I called my mom to talk to her about it, and she said, “Who is her Mom?” I said, “Me” and she said, “right.. so when her life is hard or there is something that is challenging are you going to let her give up?” I said, “No”.. there was a long silence on the line, and I realized what my Mom was saying was that I needed to keep trying so I did.

So we got home from the hospital and tried every position and it still wasn’t clicking. Occasionally there would be a glimmer of hope and we would have a good session (I went back and looked at the “milk logs” and I celebrated when she nursed continuously for 7 minutes or more, and then we would have one of those sessions where she was fussy and wouldn’t feed. Then a good session, then a bad one.. So it was still hard, it still hurt, and it sure didn’t feel like a “bonding experience”. We kept going, and about 20 days after she was born, my milk supply started to lessen so when I pumped, I wasn’t getting as much, of course I started to worry, which is actually a factor in milk reduction, so let me get this straight, worry about not enough milk can cause you to produce less milk? Are you kidding me?!

It’s not bad enough the milk isn’t here, now that I am worried about it, it actually makes it worse not better? Come on, give me a break!! So I reached out to my friends and fellow mothers and asked them what they did and how they coped. Several of them were kind enough to say, ‘It’s not you, it’s really freaking hard!” “I gave up after the first day, it was pissing her off, and pissing me off and it just wasn’t worth it”- ” I couldn’t nurse, and I have always felt bad about it” , “It took a while but we finally found our groove” -“Keep trying, it’s super hard and frustrating and painful and know that WHATEVER you decide is right for you and your family” so I persisted, though very frustrated and really ready to give up.

Thankfully, we have a great pediatrician who suggested we get a lactation consultant, I had not considered that because it reminded me of the ones we had in the hospital who were so off-putting and I HATED to admit that I NEEDED help. Why? Why? Why? Why do we have such high expectations for ourselves and have so much pride that we can’t say, “I don’t know what I am doing, please give me advice!” or you know, admit you need help and call a professional? – I am lucky enough to have some very kind friends (You know who you are) who put up with my constant texts and phone calls in those early days- So what made me finally give up and admit I needed help? My daughter.

October 30, 2016 11:47 p.m. She is inconsolable, wailing and will not stop crying, no matter what I do, she will not stop crying, I fed her (botched attempts at nursing (AGAIN) and changed her and walked her up and down the floor, I have rocked her and I have done everything under the sun to try to calm her down and she just will not settle. I put her down in the crib and walked away because I could not take it any more. Funny thing, when I put her down and walked away, she fell asleep…I passed out on the air mattress we had in her room from sheer relief. When I woke up the next day (well-rested and clear-headed for the first time in many days), I was going to call a lactation consultant, i didn’t care what it cost but I was going to get some help and if they couldn’t help, I was going to give up on breastfeeding once and for all because it was so heartbreaking for me to fail repeatedly at something so basic.

To Jeremy’s credit, when I mentioned it, he was extremely supportive and said, let’s make sure I am here so I can get some tips on how to help you because it was clear to him how much this meant to me. So I had to wait a few days for the consultant to come see me, but when she did, My God, so much relief! She weighed Vivienne before I attempted to feed her, and then weighed her after so we could gauge how much she was getting in each feeding, She took pictures of the proper positioning, she showed me exactly what to do and why what I had been doing was not working. All the while restoring my sanity by saying things like, “It’s normal to struggle.” – “It’s not innately a skill” – She sat with me for 4 hours and with every passing minute I was reassured that this could work and I could do this basic thing of feeding my child. I am not going to say that it got better overnight because it did NOT, It took a solid three weeks of trying all the different positions and instructions and then finally, finally GOD, FINALLY, we got a great latch and then another and then another, and then it was like we had always been doing this nursing thing.

Time is also an amazing thing, today marks 4 months of consistent nursing and a mix of formula for our child and she is thriving, healthy and happy. vivmombreastfeeding

I rarely post personal things, and to me, this is intimate and personal, but if my experience can help even ONE new mom feel better, it’s worth me being vulnerable about my experience.

I was inspired by something I saw online depicting how breastfeeding is hard and that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, despite what movies and television try to tell you. It goes into some detail about how many mothers can’t nurse and how many supplement with formula and how much judgment they get from society, other mothers, not to mention the judgment we put on ourselves. So please, let’s all agree to stop judging each other and let’s go one further, let’s encourage each other to not judge ourselves.

If you breastfeed exclusively, that’s awesome. If you feed your baby with formula, equally great, I am not here to judge, or say one way is better than another. Only YOU can decide what works for you and YOUR child. I am here to support your right to parent in whatever way YOU see fit.I made my choice and I am happy with it.

What you do for your family and your body is YOUR choice.

Think about it…

Speak it, Write it, and then DO IT!

Dear Readers, this is not a new concept.. it’s actually been around long before I drew a breath, but its a worthy reminder- here are just a few quotes to illustrate

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. -Colin Powell

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision. -Dalai Lama

Last night I was privileged to take part in an activity called “Vision Boarding” and though I have never done it before I really enjoyed thinking about my life and what is coming and what I want. The range is as broad or as narrow as you DESIRE.

This is all about YOU. Being selfish is not only allowed its ENCOURAGED in this exercise.

Do you want a different career or move up in the job you have? Do you want to travel more or less? Do you want to be something you are not today? Put it in writing or put it in pictures and then put it in FRONT of you so you have a visual representation of what you are working towards and BELIEVE it!

It has already made a difference in the choices I am making and more importantly the words I am using to describe myself and my future.

THINK ABOUT IT! and then go do it!VisionBoard

What a difference twenty minutes can make!

Dear Readers,

I am prepping to walk/run a 10 mile race in 24 days.. AIYEEEEE .. that is a very scary thing in black and white but its the truth and one of my running buddies said, you know I know you are busy at work but you really need to get on it to make that 10 mile race count.. I agreed with her (grudgingly) and she said.. start walking twenty minutes on your lunch. I have been at this two weeks now and I have to say it makes a world of difference in my outlook!

It truly refreshes the soul to walk away and be outside (okay its 40 degrees so I didn’t stay out there but I did walk up and down the stairs 7 times in 20 minutes)

This post is not to brag on myself, its to tell you that baby steps are crucial. I have said it time and time again. Meet yourself where you are. If you are tired today, walk for five minutes. If you are having a good day, walk for twenty.. Strive to do better tomorrow but don’t beat yourself up for what you “didn’t do” today.

Go, Do, BE! Go be Awesome — whatever that looks like for you TODAY!