October Goals

Nicole at Treasure Tromp is so good about setting monthly goals for herself and then checking in with herself to see how she did. I want to give this a shot for myself. So, here goes!

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1. Have at least two voice lessons.

I haven’t had a voice lesson since I got back from Germany, and my voice is a little bit of a mess right now. I’m having one on Friday and it can’t come fast enough, especially with a lot of auditions around the corner.

2. Go to barre class at least twice.

Exercise is another thing I’m really bad about doing consistently. I can’t focus through an entire yoga class, and I’m not strong enough for Pilates or flexible enough for ballet, but this is a combination of all three, so I can find ways to be successful.

3. Learn all my recitatives in Don Giovanni.

Next spring I’ll (tentatively) be singing Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with a small company here in San Jose, and I need to start working on the role. A great first step would be to have all my recits (sections of singing that are more like speech and less melodic) learned and memorized by the end of the month.

4. Save at least $300.

Now that I’m back from Germany and working consistent hours again, I should be getting a full paycheck tomorrow. T and I are starting to think a lot more seriously about what the next couple of years will look like regarding home buying, so I want to contribute to our savings every month.

5. Finish the book I’m currently reading, That Hideous Strength, and read another book in its entirety.

That Hideous Strength is the third book in C. S. Lewis’s space trilogy. I plan on posting a review of the entire trilogy when I finish this one, and then I’d like to read a whole other book by the end of the month.

So there you have them, my goals for October! I plan on checking in about halfway through the month to let you know how I’m doing. Will you share your goals for the month?

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Irrational Fears

Today I’m participating in a link-up hosted by Casey at We Took the Road Less Traveled. She prompted us to share three of our irrational fears, so here we go…

1) If you’ve been following me since May, you know that one of my biggest fears is Ferris wheels. It makes absolutely no sense, but they freak me out and make my stomach turn. I’m proud to say I took a huge step toward overcoming this fear when I rode the London Eye earlier this summer.

Take that, demon machine!

Take that, demon machine!

2) I really hate being home alone overnight. It doesn’t happen often, but on the rare occasion when it does, I triple-check the locks on the front door and keep the TV on until the last possible second before I go to bed, just to hear another human voice. Even so, I get super jittery once it’s completely quiet and there is no one else in the house. The cats aren’t usually much comfort either. Also, T is going on a short-term missions trip with our church next February and I’m already dreading him being gone for a week.

3) This one has gotten a lot better over the past few years, but I get unnecessarily nervous about driving long distances by myself, especially when it’s dark or I’m tired. I take more precautions than necessary: tons of coffee and snacks and water and music on my iPod… you get the idea. I don’t actively try to avoid long solo drives, but I do get a little pit in my stomach before making drives that are more than a few hours long, if I don’t have any travel buddies.

How I feel about driving by myself for many hours at a time: strongly "meh."

How I feel about driving by myself for many hours at a time: strongly “meh.”

Now that I’ve written them out, I notice that two of my three biggest fears are directly related to being alone. Clearly I am very needy when it comes to social contact.

Anyway, what about you? What are your biggest fears?

Friday Favorites: La Lune Sucrée

When I was in grad school, one of my go-to food stops before, after, and in between classes was La Lune Sucrée, a Europe-inspired café right across the street from the campus. My friends and I would go out of our way to eat there, running (okay, speed walking) all the way to the other side of campus from the music building and across the street, wait 20 minutes for our sandwiches or crepes, and rush all the way back to the music building for our next class. Sometimes we wouldn’t even have time to eat until after the next class, but it didn’t matter because we had food from “La Lune” in our possession.

Me (second from right) and three friends on one of our frequent lunch dates at La Lune.

Me (second from right) and three friends, including Julie at Alone With My Tea, on one of our frequent lunch dates at La Lune. Photo courtesy of Julie herself. 🙂

I happened to be downtown today running an errand, so naturally I paid a visit to La Lune.

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Look how cute it is!

Beautiful painted window that I love.

Beautiful painted window that I love.

Just part of their menu. It's all so delicious!

Just part of their menu. It’s all so delicious!

My sandwich of choice is the brie and ham, which comes on a baguette and also has apple slices and toasted almonds on it. Yummmmm. I didn’t have time to eat there, so I brought it home to enjoy while packing for church camp this weekend.

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Look at that goodness.

La Lune Sucrée is located at 116 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA 95112. Next time you’re visiting downtown San Jose, I highly encourage you to stop there and enjoy one of their life-changing sandwiches, crepes, or pastries, or even just a cup of coffee or a pot of tea.

Note: This is not a sponsored post.

Weimar, Germany: Excursion to Erfurt

On our one free day during my month in Weimar, a group of us girls took the train about fifteen minutes away to the town of Erfurt. It was a Sunday, so there weren’t many shops open, but we had a great time wandering around the town.

The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof.

The Erfurt Hauptbahnhof.

Me in front of one of the many adorable streets.

Me in front of one of the many adorable streets.

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The lovely group of ladies!

The lovely group of ladies!

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As we walked further into the city center, we discovered this gorgeous Gothic church, the Katholischer Dom St. Marien. It was actually open, so we wandered in to admire it.

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When we came out of the church, we found ourselves looking straight down at a wine festival. Oh darn! It was a wonderful way to end the day.

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I would have loved to go back to Erfurt had we had any more free time. Maybe next time!

Who Am I

Earlier this week, I posted a little bit about the career/existential crisis that I’m currently going through and the criteria for my mysterious, elusive dream job. Last night, as I was driving home from seeing Susannah at San Francisco Opera, I had a revelation.

I was listening to the song “Who Am I” by Casting Crowns, which is still a fantastic song even though it was released when I was in high school. One repetitive section of the lyrics goes, “Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done / Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who you are.” I was singing along, and all of a sudden I realized that so much of my time and energy during this existential crisis has been devoted to wondering how I would identify myself if I decided not to pursue opera as a career anymore. I wouldn’t be able to call myself an “opera singer” or a “professional singer,” and that’s been a hard bridge to cross.

But what if the very reason I’m struggling with singing and having this existential crisis is just that?

What if God is actually, purposefully taking away the possibility of a singing career BECAUSE he wants me to find my identity in something other than being a singer? Specifically, being a follower of Jesus?

And also, how did I not realize this before?

1 John 3:1 says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” There’s no better identity than that.

I know many of you don’t share my beliefs, and that’s okay. I know some of you might think I’m overreacting to the rejection that comes as a normal part of a singing career, and that’s fine too. But as soon as I made this realization last night, I knew it was the truth. God doesn’t tempt us or test our faith, but sometimes he puts up roadblocks or challenges in our lives in order to bring our focus back to him. I’ve known for a long time that I need a new perspective on singing, and now I’ve taken the first mental step towards not letting it control my life.

Finding my identity and worth in God instead of singing won’t hurt me at all––I know I’ll be able to continue singing. It’s not like God is asking me to never sing another note. What it will do is put me on the path that I should be on, that I should have been on all this time: living my life with Jesus as the central focus, not how/when/where/what I will be able to sing next. It will only be good for me, and I know it’s the truth because just thinking about it gives me peace.

I wish I had three-hour solo time every week... I might have made this realization a long time ago.

I wish I had three-hour solo time every week… I might have made this realization a long time ago.

My Dream Job

I’ve been having a bit of a career crisis lately. In case you weren’t aware, trying to make it as an opera singer is really difficult. Shocker, right?

It’s more than that though. Singing, as both an action and as an industry, is extremely psychological, and when it doesn’t go well, it can have a very negative effect on your psychological well-being. (The good news is, this is normal. This article about rejection is actually pretty comforting.) Lately, the big question for me has been whether or not I want to continue dealing with rejection as part of my work for the rest of my life. And really, what sane person would want that?

At this point in my life, I have many other things that are important to me. I have an incredible, wonderful, loving, godly husband who deserves 100% of my heart, and kids are within our five-year plan. We want to be homeowners and have significant time to devote to our families and friends. We love being youth leaders and guiding students on their faith journeys. And over the past few months, I have started to wonder if my attempt at a performance career is truly compatible with all of those things.

This picture from our youth group houseboat trip in June includes so many of my favorite people.

This picture from our youth group houseboat trip in June includes so many of my favorite people.

A few months ago, Julie at Alone With My Tea (who is, incidentally, a wonderful real-life friend) posted her criteria for her ideal job, which inspired me to write down mine:

-Has a flexible schedule, or at least allows for some time off

-Lets me spend a lot of time interacting with people

-Has a major creative element

-Is compatible with my love for music/singing/performing

-Helps people in some way

-Is something I’m passionate, or at the very least excited, about

-Isn’t repetitive or boring

-Includes projects or goals to work towards

-Is something I am excited to do every day, and a bad day is the exception rather than the rule

-Seems meaningful and relevant in society today

-Doesn’t ask me to compromise my beliefs, morals, or values

-Is compatible with having a family and good relationships with them

-Provides significant enough income for me to make an actual contribution to our family finances

What do you think? Are these reasonable expectations? Based on these criteria, do you have any ideas on what I should do with my life?

Travel Bucket List

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (obviously) earlier this summer. One more country checked off the bucket list!

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower (obviously) earlier this summer. One more country checked off the bucket list!

I write this post from my office job, which, while far from the worst job ever, or even a bad job, is certainly not an exciting way to spend my summer. I’m finding myself daydreaming about T’s and my next big vacation. The world is our oyster, really. So I thought I’d share with you my travel bucket list.

• Obviously I would love to go back to Italy, as I shared in this post.

• The Holy Land. We had an opportunity to sign up for a trip next January through our church, but it’s just too expensive for us right now. Sigh. Maybe another time.

• Australia. Specifically Sydney, because duh, the opera house and climbing the harbor bridge. Bonus points if we can find Nemo. We may even expand to New Zealand by T’s request.

• Russia, mostly for my family’s history.

• The east coast of our own United States. T, who has his degree in American history, has shamefully never been back east, and I feel it’s my duty as his wife to take him there. My top three stops would be Washington DC, New York City, and Boston.

• Hawaii. One can never get enough Hawaii.

That’s my short list. Once we begin to cross those off, I would like to expand to Asia and maybe some of the smaller countries in Europe. One of the perks of being a singer is that I’m getting to know people in all corners of the world, which opens up lots of travel possibilities!

What are some places on your travel bucket list?