In a couple of weeks, it will be exactly one year since I decided to pursue performing arts and entertainment again. Early on, I doubted my decision and wondered aloud if I was being flighty or I had simply lost my mind (as my mother would prefer to believe). Overall, it’s been a great experience and I’m in awe of the opportunities I’ve been granted. I’ve learned a lot in the last 12 months, but the most important lesson is that I have a new personal treasure. It’s called rest. After having bouts of low energy and a sore throat, I needed a couple of days off. I made a doctor’s visit who decided this was the perfect time for me to stay home and go on vocal rest. Vocal rest requires that you not talk, hum, or even think about singing along to your Pandora station so your vocal chords can rest. It wasn’t easy to sit still and it was even harder for me to avoid talking. (who does this? LOL) But the quiet time gave me a different perspective on what’s important at this point in my life. Today’s blog is a simple reminder of what taking a “time out”can do for you.
For one, what worked in the past may not work in the present and you better adjust if you
want to stay in the game. Ten years ago, I was at Disney as a 20-somethin’ with braids in my hair, short shorts, and a sassy mouth. Now, I’m 30-ish, have adult acne, still sassy, and no longer princess like but queen worthy. Back then, I strolled into work and didn’t even think about warming up. Not only that, but I’d drink a soda and stuff a Snickers bar down my throat right before show time without any problem, other than maybe having a nut in my teeth. Now, I pay for it if I don’t do some sort of vocal exercise, and have at least three cups of water before show time. For those who don’t sing, it’s kind of like remembering the days when you could stay out until 4am the next morning and still be wide awake for work without any
“Five Hour Energy” to help you make it through the day. Coming back to Disney was a reality check for me. While I realize I’m talented, I can’t just show up unprepared and expect excellence. For me, that means doing what I used to laugh at others for doing. Now, I’m a better performer when I warm up and watch what I eat. For me, it’s all about healthier choices, even taking time out to rest even when others don’t seem to have the same needs. Which leads me to my next thought.
I can’t worry about what other people think when doing what’s best for me, especially when it
comes to my health. So accepting the doctor’s request for vocal rest meant I had to miss work. It’s easy in corporate positions to roll into the office when you’re sick and swallowing pills and orange juice to get through the day. But it gets a little fuzzy when your money-maker is your voice and the office refuses to let you use a background track to cover my voice
cracks. So, I had a choice, either continue singing on swollen vocal chords just to “seem” like a good employee, or take time to heal from over singing and so I don’t damage my voice in the long run. I felt a little guilty at first missing work, but then realized that life goes on with or without me. I’m learning to not so feel bad when I take a day off. And honestly, that’s why we have coworkers, substitutes, understudies, and contingency plans on the job. Look at the response of managers when an employee puts in their notice to leave the company. What happens? They accept the two-week notice, have a going
away party, but not before posting a notice for a job opening. Just like that. So just like that, I’ve learned to do what’s best for me because when I’m no longer a valuable part of the show, someone will step right in and fill in like I was never there. In entertainment, they use the phrase “the show must go on.” I guess I’ve adopted the mantra for myself, I need my life to go on as well. And not be stuck. So I rest. When I need to, because sometimes that’s whats best for me.
Sometimes we can get stuck in a place because it’s ………..too comfortable. Entertainment is a fickle business and the younger you are, the more valuable you are. The older you are, well the more your stomach may stick out and give
your age away. And so it is that every year in entertainment, human resources either provides you with the stability of employment for one more year, or pushes you out the door by saying “thank you, but we are moving in another direction.”
Vocal rest forced me to stop and think: what’s my goal with performing here? What if I don’t get another contract? Did I
intend to stay here or use it as a litmus test? Now, I focus on what it means to create my own opportunities. I’ve picked up classes to improve my acting skills, audition as much as possible for commercial and singing gigs, and have been able to see that longevity in this business is really about always being connected. With any position, we can get too comfortable with the sick days, the 401k, and forget the long-term goals that led us on this path in the first place. Vocal rest forced me to slow down and really begin to plan for what’s next. It’s empowering to realize I do have other options if I am willing to create them. Not being complacent and putting all of my eggs in one basket is what I call being responsible in this shaky world.
Vocal rest is now something I look forward too with or without a doctor’s orders. It’s my time of rest but more importantly,
another way to have a shhhhhh moment to focus. There is only one me, so I take care my health and spirit seriously regardless of what others think. I’m more focused now on maintaining my value by constantly building my craft. And finally, I am responsible for creating opportunities and will not wait on others to approve or affirm my gifts. To do so gives away my power and I just can’t allow that to happen. When I say I found a new treasure, I really mean it. Good things happen when we stop talking, stop doing, and just take time to rest.