***Language alert: if you're offended by strong language, you might want to avoid this post. ***
2015 had many joys and challenges. What year doesn’t? For me, the joys included my singing work, which included two company debuts and a role debut, many new friends made and reconnections with old ones; possibly the best season of Spotlight on Opera we’ve ever had, along with the triumphant and long-awaited award of our 501 (c)3 status; my 15th wedding anniversary to the most wonderful man I’ve ever known; and most recently, deeply treasured time spent with my extended family, including my two youngest nieces who I rarely get to see.
There have been two major challenges, both hard to talk about, so all I will say about those is this: I have learned things from them, and continue to learn from them. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is this:
This is my New Year’s resolution. I apologize to those this graphic word offends, but I find its strength and ferocity necessary to convey the meaning of my resolution to myself, if not to the world.
It’s been a long time coming, because mine is the heart of a people pleaser and that probably will not change entirely; it’s in my core. But I am inspired by the example of the inimitable Carrie Fisher, a survivor if there ever was one, who has recently reminded women everywhere that you can be a princess AND a general and thoroughly kick ass at both. At age 59 she has dominated the press tour for the blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens simply by being herself and by refusing to take crap from the Hollywood press and from society at large over --- well, anything; but especially her unabashed commitment of the greatest sin known to womankind --- not being sufficiently fuckable in the eyes of any mouth-breathing loser who chooses to so opine. Carrie Fisher stated well and succinctly something that needs to be said often: “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments.”
Carrie Fisher is Over It, and so am I. I’m over apologizing to the world and to myself in various ways for failing to be slender, stay young, and be sufficiently pretty, but it’s not just about looks. I’m over worrying endlessly about whether someone appreciates what I have to offer as an artist, my sense of humor, my cooking. My goal for the new year is to be more concerned about whether *I* approve of myself than whether others approve of me.
How will this manifest? I haven’t worked that all out yet. Right now, I’m simply practicing recognizing and quelling negative and unmeritorious thoughts and asserting positive ones. Plotting future projects, of which there are many. Resting up and refilling the well --- a necessary though often neglected component of any artist’s lifestyle.
It all sounds rather New Age-y and woo-woo, and you can call it what you like --- regrouping, navel-gazing, reorganization, meditative retreat --- but I believe that we as artists all need time out of the limelight to let the challenges of our world slide away for a while, to bask in silence and sloth, to re-energize our minds, bodies, and spirits through homely domestic tasks like digging in the garden or cooking or cleaning off our desks. That’s how I intend to spend my January.
And after that --- watch out, world. I’m coming for you, with a new motto.