Respect

Obviously from this website, anyone who reads this is aware that I am a professional musician, voice being my field of expertise. I, like many of my musical peers, have been at this most of our lives, usually since childhood/teenage-hood. We have years of experience and expertise that only gets better as we evolve throughout our lives as musicians.  This leads me to another aspect of what we do.

As with any profession, one needs to work where one is actually appreciated and given the recognition of sorts, that one has expertise in their field, tons more than the average person who has hardly ever studied the subject in which you have a Master’s Degree.

To that end I am throwing this out to the world-wide community. You owe it to yourself to work in an environment where you are accepted for who you are and the gifts/knowledge/expertise you bring to the table. Otherwise, the obvious, why work there? And it makes perfect sense. How else can you achieve what you want or brainstorm new ideas if people are fighting your knowledge in the first place? I always say, if you didn’t go down the path in life that I did and therefore don’t understand what I am doing, that’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a person who didn’t go down the path that I did in life. And to be fair, I didn’t go down your path. So when it comes to working together and understanding, we give and take according to our expertise on whatever subjects. If I’m the hired musician for the place, then I make the musical decisions and provide guidance in that area. Someone else provides guidance and makes decisions in another area. And so on and so forth.

So this is a sort of pep talk to all of us. One of the most important things you can do for yourself in life is work in an environment that treats you with the appropriateness that you deserve in relation to your area of expertise in this life. Easier said than done, right. But when one finds oneself in a situation where you were hired to provide such as you are able and others defy you left/right/center 24/7, then what? Yes, you can try to make it work for a period of time and see if you are able to move the situation forward. But who wants to argue daily or so about who’s in charge, who knows the best, who is just plain acting stupid or stubborn or belligerent (add your own here) and then work with a peculiar “divide” in the group because all parties won’t be honest with themselves about their own lack of knowledge on said subject (aka…none). It does not reflect badly on you if you decide to quit and look for a situation, or make your own, where you can work on the level and in the environment you feel is right for you.

People like us who are our own business, have to reinvent ourselves all the time. That’s what I call it. Regroup, rethink, look at what the current push is in order to promote ourselves a bit differently and set up our appropriate work environment in a manner in which we can utilize current culture…and relate to our targeted audience/clients. We have to move in a forward direction toward fulfillment and not keep getting dragged back to the stone-age by those who are horrified by the thought of change and/or just want their way…because. We need to get ourselves out of toxic work situations and avoid toxic people as best we can. We owe it to ourselves (see par. 3, line 1). We owe it to our reputation, which is hard-won, and our own well-being.

So there. Another one of Ev’s music speeches. It wasn’t really on voice this time. It will be the next time though. I’ve been saving up some atrocities I’m going to have to rant on sooner or later. In the meantime, carry on!

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Situations and People

In life we all must put up with people and situations we find ourselves in with each other. But I am totally fed up with drama queens, people who connive behind someone’s back, people who cause trouble for you in your job, and especially people who blind-side you. What is wrong with people that they can’t approach you and ask to have a conversation?

This is particularly true in one of my music jobs, choir director to be blunt. I’m faced with choir members hell-bent on having things the way they used to be, not embracing any type of change, who have engaged in backstabbing and sabotaging, who since I arrived 5 years ago, have been in my face more than less, and are still working behind my back to get their way and influence others in the church to their cause. Now to be fair, they treat the priest the same way and anyone else who gets in their way.

Of course, the obvious comes to mind…”who died and left you boss?” And over the past few years there have been numerous atrocities committed to achieve their goals of getting what they want or, sadly to say, just to sabotage our efforts because again, they didn’t get their way. Yes, these are adults we’re talking about and they have families and children. Interesting isn’t it.

I have some rules for myself starting right now! I am a professional musician so that is my area of expertise, voice especially. I have been in administration my whole work life as well so I have expertise in that area. I’ve been officially working for 45 years, maybe more. So. Please respect me or we’re through. Do NOT try to sabotage my efforts or connive behind my back for your warped cause, or especially, blind-side me to confuse me and make a damn fool of me because YOU have issues. Any issues or drama you bring to the table are yours, not mine. Keep them. Eat them. Whatever your fancy. But leave me out of your issues. People I know and love and have good relationships with don’t treat me like that and neither do I. We talk and respect each other and know we aren’t going to get our way every time. In short, we’re adults. If you would like to be like us, please take this advice and grow up. Easy, isn’t it?

So that is my short and sweet rant. I feel better already.

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People

Yes, this is an article about people. And it comes on the heels of the newly installed republican President Trump, and some of his Executive Orders. Apart from the fact that previous presidents signed numerous executive orders shortly after their inauguration, the democrats, aka “those who lost the election,” are panicking and running around like Chicken Little…”the sky is falling, the sky is falling!” And now, with his temporary, yes temporary, ban on people from certain countries entering the US, temporary meaning 90 days, the uproar is worse. This is not only what I personally never expected from the dems/libs but it’s also highly hypocritical. They complained enormously when Trump said he “may not accept the results of the election if he loses.” Yet now, the opposite is true and quite troubling. Plus I have had the misfortune of being drawn into arguments on facebook where I’ve been insulted and at one point, unfriending a long-time friend. I felt bad about that but he started insulting me, which made me feel worse. I won’t be insulted for my opinions. Everyone has a right to their opinions and voice them but this has become a real problem since it’s such a heated situation.

Our country was going and going in one direction for a number of years, what many including myself felt was toward socialism and the death of our American values. Other countries, especially those that mean to do us harm (Iran, etc.) have lost respect for us if they ever had respect for us in the first place, there is an increasing threat from radical Islamic jihadists who would do us major harm, and people are tired of this. Plus the previous president, Obama, ran our national debt to an horrific trillions of dollars. Needless to say, if you are a born and bred “Yankee” you are deeply concerned about our wonderful America.

So people take a right turn and elect a president that is not going in the same direction that we have been going. He reverses the trend. He wants to reclaim the America we all know and love. I have read oh so many times that if you want something different in your life you have to do something different. So. This is what our new president is doing. And those that were not in favor of him are now hollering and screaming and panicking and insulting people and running around acting like fools over a “perceived” injustice that frankly hasn’t happened yet. Folks, nothing has happened yet. Some people legally in the US have been initially detained at a couple of airports but that should be cleared up as this executive order is clarified and put into action properly. And again, it’s a temporary situation.

What therapists say about situations like this is that the necessary change has been made. But those that don’t want to accept it act in ways, threatening as well, that say “change back.” This is what is happening right now in our country. People are so afraid…afraid that they may have to change in order to have an ultimately better life. Many people of course just have another agenda that is detrimental to our country. Premature protests have taken place again, toward a perceived injustice. Yet many of the people protesting don’t have a clue why. And many of the operatives organizing the marches are being financed to do so. What is the agenda for that? Intentional hell-raising which leads to intentional havoc? In short, our we being really honest about what we want? Or are we just trying to cause trouble because we disagree with some initial procedures.

Change in our country’s direction is necessary right now. And as I’ve said many times in the past, the Spirit has moved. It’s all over but the kicking and screaming. Amen to that!

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Snow and its Benefits

So today, Sunday, I had to cancel choir because of a 14-inch snowfall Saturday, the day before. I hated doing it but face it, if you can’t dig yourself out in time to get to Church then you can’t dig yourself out in time to get to Church. If the snow had ended about 3 hours earlier on Saturday, I could have prepared the car in the evening. This previous sentence is a useless thought. Although the congregation might have missed the choir singing their usual, beautifully, the weather cares not.

This brings me to the subject of cancelling a day of activities. The focus is shifted to the very basic digging of one’s car out of a snowpile in order to drive to the corner to get coffee, and give the plow a chance to clear the snow so one can park when one comes back with that coffee. When this type of situation occurs, which can actually happen a few times during one winter, you find yourself with a cancelled routine and have to fill that day with new stuff, sort of ad lib.

It also brings to mind people, namely, the neighbors. My friend and her husband were digging out their SUV when I arrived on the scene to start the process with my car, and they immediately followed me to help shovel the 3 ft of snow behind my car so I could get out and the plow could finish the job. It’s like that in these situations. People help each other because we all could use a hand. People make light of the situation and at some point, the drudgery of yet another pile of snow to shovel becomes a funny, neighborly “we’re all in the same boat” event. That’s so nice. And then we go on to others who are looking to clear their cars and parking spaces, and so on and so forth, all the while smiling and offering what help we can. The snow situation becomes somehow therapeutic.

Now you’re done and inside with that cup of coffee, and you have this day you just cancelled, which means you have this time to fill. Hmmm…all day TV? Boring. Facebook is only so interesting for only so long. Writing a blog as I am doing? Better. Time to clear some clutter out of the house? Now we’re talking. We find time for ourselves to clear our minds, even if it’s in the form of old newspapers or filing Christmas concert music (me being a musician). We end up doing for ourselves. And it’s the impromptu creative process not the daily routine that makes this task fulfilling. Even if we don’t finish everything. Again, this snow situation becomes therapeutic.

I have become so full of jobs and routines in my life that I find myself and my mind going faster than a speeding bullet! When something happens, like weather, I have found myself in the past thinking “oh no, my routine is upset and I will be behind or worse yet, have to cancel something.” The panic sets in and we are just so upset at that snow we can’t control or whatever the case may be. God forbid we have time on our hands! Lately though, I have started to just accept the setback, if it even IS a setback, and deal with it, and try to use that now freed up time to do something for me, even if it IS watching boring TV and relaxing. This has made me a happier person. I think it makes all of us happier people. Again, these “situations” have become therapeutic.

So what’s the moral of this blog story? Me (you). We fill our lives with stuff…necessary stuff indeed! But we do have to carve out some time for ourselves in order to fill ourselves internally, and make ourselves feel full which makes us feel accomplished. We need to clear our thoughts, clutter, feelings that we have to do the same routine or else…nothing can ever change. We need to be excited inwardly…blissful…that we have stolen some time for ourselves and can now do exactly what we want for us, even if the snow and terrible roads do have something to do with it. ha! The weather situation, in this case snow, has truly become therapeutic. Who knew?

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Having Pride in our Appearance

Yes, like everyone else, I too have seen the “Walmart people” photos of people badly dressed. Recently I’ve seen a slide show of the very popular leggings that women wear, out of control. And then there are the yoga pants, not to mention the tons of flip-flops flapping against endless feet, both female and male. I also recently bought a new vacuum cleaner online from Walmart instead of driving to the store a couple of blocks from me because I couldn’t face what I know I would see. OMG!

I understand the concept of wanting to be comfortable. Unless you work for a downtown attorney, some CEO or the government, the tailored suit, hose and heels (for women) are not necessarily part of your workday attire anymore. It’s more like “nice casual.” That’s fine. But why do we wear exercise clothes or “reconfigure” a part of fashion meant to be worn in another manner…all of which pretty much turns out badly! I read once that Europeans can always tell Americans because we always wear sneakers. I personally don’t like sneakers and wear my over-the-top comfortable Clarke’s walking shoes. Just sooooo comfy!

Have we gotten so relaxed in our lives that we no longer care how we look? You don’t have to wash your hair on my account but at least put a comb through it. And please do invest in a full sized mirror…and use it! Turn around and check your backside before you leave the house. Are you ok with it or did you just gasp in horror? Yoga pants are for…Yoga. Leggings were put on the fashion market to be worn underneath a very long shirt or a short skirt, both of which end about mid-thigh; then the leggings take over. They were never to be worn on their own. I know wearing hose is probably old-fashioned, although I know countless women who still do (including me). Yes, one can say it’s hot in summer but there are very light-weight summer hose that feel like you’re hardly wearing any hose at all which still gives your legs a polished look, as opposed to the bare legs look…something I can’t stand. And wearing clothes that don’t fit or are so short that we see other areas of the body trying to escape…that’s just not caring how you look. Do we not respect ourselves anymore? Do we no longer have pride in our appearance?

Weren’t we taught to cover our mouths when we yawn? And brush our teeth after we get up in the morning? How about picking up our feet when we walk? I was at the San Francisco Airport in July returning home from my nephew’s wedding, when I noticed a young woman on the phone walking around and wearing flip-flops which made their signature snapping noise as they flapped against her feet. From what I observed, she seemed to wear all of this like a badge. I was at Walgreens the other day and some teenager was walking around in her big furry house slippers and dragging her feet to the point where I scowled at her feet! I have to admit, I do hair and makeup daily. Not stage hair and makeup but regular attention to my hair and everyday makeup to add some polish to my looks before I leave the house. Yes, I’m a professional person but I also look at this activity as basic grooming. Add fragrance to that as well.

Something else that has bothered me for years is seeing women with perfectly polished finger and toe nails. Obviously from the salon. But, NO makeup and wet hair. Now, what happened here? The first thing people look at when they meet you is your face/eyes, not your toenails! What does it matter to have all 20 nails done to perfection if you look like you just got out of bed!

And I do see people both adult and kids, wearing the worst clothes in the name of comfort. Not only do they wear their leisure pants that they probably sleep in but they also wear jeans and shirts that look like they dug them out of a ditch or from under a train. Seriously? Are we in a competition to see how badly we can dress and make ourselves look, and then present ourselves to society all the while hoping people will faun over us instead of vomit? Did pride in how we look, even when relaxing, take a train to nowhere? We look disgusting folks! We stink!

What makes me laugh is how you read about what big business the beauty industry is. That’s hair, makeup, skincare, etc. for anyone reading this blog that doesn’t have a clue. But to see humanity when you leave the house, you’d think the beauty business would be in deep trouble…bankruptcy even.

I know I can’t change the world. And people’s appearances will still disgust me on a regular basis. Call it what you will but I will still continue to make the effort. One thing it does for me, it makes me feel “finished” in the morning and ready to meet the day. It even makes me want to make the effort in other areas of my life. Yes, one “effort” does lead us to make others. So that’s where I am folks. And I think I look pretty good where I am. How about you? Are you happy with how you look when you leave the house? Better yet, do you care? Something to think about.

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Romance

Well, I thought I might resurrect my blog after a couple of years of no posts.  I will start with the subject of romance.  Yes, I am still in my life trying to find that one, true, unconditional, supportive love of my life.  Who knew it would take my entire life to find this man!  But yes, I guess if you are a bit independent and driven to do what you are in this life, true love seems to avoid you.

And, having dabbled with online dating, like the entire country is doing…world, actually…I have found myself to be a magnet for the Nigerian Romance Scammers.  Ahh yes, to add insult to injury.  They come on strong and they are good!  I understand American creeps are the ones that write the scripts for these scammers because these Nigerians know every nuance, bits of American life for realistic conversation, and yes, they know how to hijack your heart in about 2 days.  It is too good to be true and you have to look past your own personal intimate needs, and take a hard look at a bunch of crap that these people are telling you, in the “name of love.”

The ultimate goal of course, is to have you empty your bank account for them.  Luckily for me, I am snide and cynical and won’t give anybody money other than my own siblings (who never ask for it, by the way), and I have saved myself that horrific scenario.  The first time this happened to me, about 4 years ago, it went on for 6 weeks.  I was so flattered but a couple of friends of mine offered to help me do some background checks and decipher a couple of the pictures this man sent to me. These pictures, by the way, are stolen pictures of models, etc.  With my friends help, my own intuition, and then the help of a website devoted to these issues, I was able to confront the scammer.  Well!  When I did, the names he called me and the insults and wow!  All of a sudden the “unconditional love” turned to crap!  Instantly!  Now, I understand that these people are connected to terrorists in Nigeria.  And yes, there are women and men who are scammed by these people to the point where they hand over thousands of dollars.  Me?  When the guy started asking for plane fare for his niece to get home to the States because her father died, and she was abandoned by her boyfriend in Africa, I basically told him she’s an idiot and I’m not bankrolling anybody that stupid. hahahahaha…I don’t think he expected that!

So I avoided handing over any money.  And I eventually talked with moderators on a scamming website, who told me to halt communication, abort and block the IM address.  I did.  Immediately.  And yes, there are people who still are so “in love” that they can’t understand the horrible situation they are in.  And some people have actually cultivated relationships with these losers, who start using the poor person to ship packages to, like those including illegal drugs, at which point the FBI shows up on their doorstep.  So this is no joke.  And unfortunately, these scammers play on our intimate need for love.  We honest humans all have this intimate need and sometimes don’t think straight when this need hasn’t been filled in a long time. Like me, who at this writing hasn’t had a relationship in 10 years.

So here I am again, dabbling in online dating, and yes again, some nice man approaches me and supposedly is a civil engineer in Newton getting ready to retire.  And yes, after a brief chat on the dating website, he wants to call, and then he texts and emails, and poof…in 2 days he’s in love.  All day texts, texts to ask if I’ve read his email…smothering.  I asked him to slow down since this is way too much too soon.  Yes, he agreed even though he didn’t slow down.  And yes, again I got suspicious and looked up this scamming website again, and yes, confronted the man, politely but nonetheless, and yes, all contact immediately stopped.  Well.  So much for his honesty and “needing to hear my voice” and all the protestations of wanting to be with me and make me happy.  Nothing.  The end.

Well, I am still trying to not give up and throw in the towel or think that all I’m good for is Nigerian Romance Scammers, even though my last 2 “relationships” have been with these people.  I seem to be batting 1,000.  And I’m not getting any younger so I’m trying to not think that true love is lost for me.  But I think I will give up on the dating websites.  They haven’t been kind to me.  And I feel uncomfortable on them anyway.  After all, I shop for shoes online.  Trust me, online dating is just not all it’s cracked up to be.  And I don’t even know what it’s cracked up to be!  But it’s been nothing for me but heartache.  Time to go!

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Singing Myths

I have to write about this one. There are just so many myths about singing. Really! And some are just lack of brain-wave activity in the singer. C’mon man! Here’s one…a baritone I know wants to sing tenor…because he “likes” singing tenor. Huh? Dude, you’re a baritone. But no, he sings in falsetto (men’s head voice). Now this man is a grandfather so he’s not how you say, 25 anymore. That falsetto has seen better days. But, he does it anyway. Well, I don’t have to tell you how this sounds now do I? But, he won’t listen. Still sings tenor to the chagrin of the music director and other members of the choir he’s in. Let’s move on from this stonewall problem.

Ruin your voice by singing a couple of uncomfortable low notes once a week in choir? No. I repeat, NO! Two uncomfortable low notes do NOT (OMG) ruin your voice. No vocal polyps either…sorry. Maybe you were hoping for some? Can’t accommodate you there. Now I actually CAN tell you how to ruin your voice…try yelling and screaming as loud as you can over a microphone at a rock concert whilst almost bursting the jugular vein in your neck. Do that for about…hmmm…10 years +…now you have a great start at obliterating your voice altogether, if you haven’t already. Might I also suggest you’ve already lost your hearing or it’s going fast?

Voices are more resilient than you think. Otherwise, we would not have made it past childhood. Think of all the blood-curdling screaming a baby/toddler does. Then we progress out of that finally, and into teen years yelling and screaming at football games and rock concerts. And we still have our voices as adults. Amazing but yes, our vocal cords survive their horrible treatment by us. But we don’t yell and scream for a living. It’s those that DO yell and scream for a living, and do other horrible things to their larynxes, like smoking, that ultimately either ruin their voices or create some ghastly atrocity that needs surgery…vocal polyps (corns), contact ulcers, bowed cords…all fun stuff that you CAN avoid by not doing the aforementioned stuff. Another situation to pay attention to is loss of voice for sickness reasons…laryngitis. Your vocal cords are swollen and producing some mucous to avoid scarring when you try talking. This is a situation where you absolutely need to be quiet and not force sound. If the vocal cords are sick and not going to easily approximate, leave it alone. You can do damage if you force it. I did once…dumb singer moment! I was teaching a group and felt I had no choice. I paid for it…no vocal damage but I ended up with a lump in my throat that the doctor needed to give me an anti-inflammatory to cure. Never again!

There are a lot of myths about singing. What ruins your voice is one of them. There are more though…a boatload unfortunately. I will try to blog on all of them as time goes on. What comes to mind next is women “should not be singing in low register.” O dear. I need to address that baloney quickly. Stay tuned.

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