NYC adventures – facing fears, dream chasing & meeting Josh Groban

I was in NYC this weekend for a much needed vacay and the theme that kept presenting itself was being fearless and embracing who you really are – your messy, beautiful self. Also, accepting the gifts of opportunity that present themselves along with the importance of believing in yourself and chasing your dreams.

Before seeing shows on Friday, my friend Karen and I went down to see One World Trade Center and took in the views of NYC from the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Gorgeous! It was such a bird’s eye view of a city that I have come to love. After that, we walked down to see the fearless girl statue by the raging bull – it was so inspiring seeing the young girls stand next to it, smiling proudly. It made me think of some of the hard choices I’ve made in my life and it made me proud to be a strong female, someone who encourages young women to stick up for who they are, love themselves, and embrace everything life throws at them. It was a touching moment.


Friday night we started seeing shows and Pete joined us from Maryland. When traveling to NYC, I try to fit in as many shows as I can because it helps me process my own emotions, laugh, cry and learn more about myself. Theatre is life! Our selections over the weekend certainly did not disappoint.

Friday, we all saw the show Bandstand, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Choreography. It was a ‘sure, that looks good’ kinda choice at the TKTS booth…. Little did we know how much the story would take us on an emotional ride, kicking us in the heart with stories of fighting in the war, love, loss, grief, artistry and putting your heart and soul into a band, for the love of music and friendship between those who have served. It was smart, funny, and incredibly touching, a rollercoaster of emotion – sadness followed by funny lines that made you laugh amid the tears. It was real, raw emotion, shown through the eyes of relatable characters. Afterwards I felt drained from releasing many, many tears. Enter delicious sushi, sake and a good night’s sleep to help us recover from the emotional ride. 

Saturday, we saw a show called Puffs, a take on the untold story of the kids from Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter book series. It was hilarious. Witty, funny and filled with music from the 90s. It was nice to laugh so much, but also emotionally taxing. Enter burgers and wine. Thank goodness for wonderful friends to share these experiences with and Pete hugs – priceless let me tell you. 🙂 

Saturday night, Pete headed back to Maryland while Karen & I decided to keep the ‘show weekend’ going. We saw Waitress; like the other shows, it was such a great performance and incredibly touching. Before the show started, I ran into Jill, a musical friend of mine from Annapolis, sitting directly behind me… What are the odds? 🙂 Talk about the universe putting people on your path for a reason. 

The show itself was a beautiful story of love, standing up for what you believe in, human kindness and following your dreams – in this case, pie making. It was beautiful, and at one point the main character sings:

“She’s imperfect but she tries 

She is good but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

She is all of this mixed up

And baked in a beautiful pie 

She is gone but she used to be mine”

I sobbed throughout this; it was like she spoke straight from my soul. I am a good person and try to be my best self everyday. I sometimes lie to myself, saying internally that I’m ok even when I know I’m not to save face or be professional. I’m certainly messy, hard on myself and imperfect. I am beautiful in my own way. The old me is gone and a new version of myself is here today, rebuilt and stronger than before. Somehow there’s a comfort in admitting your life is messy, and learning to accept the choices you’ve made and the lessons that have helped defined you on your path. More tears. Growth, through love, friendship, choices. Another beautiful story that helped me see parts of myself in a new way. 

Karen and I were a hot mess after the show, and on our way out of the theatre we saw the poster in the picture below. More tears streamed down my face, in public, just as they are now while I write this. It’s true, I am a giant creme puff of emotion somedays… Yay theatre!!


I don’t know where my dream of singing and teaching will take me, but I sure as hell have not given that up just yet. Enter Sunday.

Sunday was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time. We started off the day with coffee and lobster tail pastries from Carlos Bakery, then wandered our way to the Pride Parade…. What a fantastic experience! So many people uniting together in love, standing for what they believe in. 


Karen and I were bursting with happiness, and didn’t want to leave, but after being tossed t-shirts, beads and witnessing one of the most amazing displays of unity and love, ever, we had to hoof it to midtown to see Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Through ticket karma and Pete being amazing, we managed to snag on stage tickets for Karen & I. 


Wow. Omg, what a fantastic experience. Seeing the performers up close, watching Josh Groban play the piano, seeing the conductor lead the band with passion from all areas of the theatre and taking part in a crazy Russian party with egg shakers, letters, and Moscow mules to drink. We left the show on even more of a high and waited outside to meet the cast with hundreds of other fans. We had some great chats with the performers and Josh Groban came out at the end. He was sincere and totally sweet, giving up much of his time to sign autographs and take pictures. 🙂


After the amazing highs of the Pride Parade, seeing Great Comet and meeting Josh Groban, we went to one of my favorite bars in town, the Russian Vodka Room to eat delicious food and have one of my favorite martinis, complete with blue cheese stuffed olives. Yum! 


We were sitting there, eating dumplings, potatoes and shrimp with sauteed veggies when someone starts playing the piano. He was amazing! We thought ‘what a perfect ending to an incredible day’. Then, an amazing tenor voice started singing opera arias…. Say what??!? 🙂 The good times weren’t over yet! We spoke with the tenor, and he just happened to be friends with my friend Tai, another fantastic tenor that I spent last summer with in Sicily. Turns out, it’s opera open mic night at RVR! After a bit of convincing from Karen and discussions with the pianist, I decided to sing an aria. Keep in mind, I haven’t been singing much over the past 9 months, and I was in NYC, 2 drinks in, full of potatoes… I was more than a little terrified.  But, facing this fear, why not?! The audience was warm and appreciative, Karen was super thrilled and I just sang from my heart…. It was SO fun!! People clapped and it wasn’t a disaster. After, I sang a duet with my new tenor friend Omar, and then Tai showed up and sang a piece as well. Goodness I miss Tai’s high notes! The owner even asked us to come back in 2 weeks time to sing again and graciously gave us drinks on the house. 


Lesson learned, always have digital copies of your rep with you – you never know when you might end up in a bar on opera karaoke night, with a bunch of tenors. 😀

What a weekend. It was an incredible reminder of what I love about the arts, filled with synchronicities and moments that I’ll never forget. While I’m proud of the strides I’ve made over the past few years in overcoming my self doubt (mostly), facing my fears, learning to love myself, and rebuilding my new life in Ottawa, this trip was a wake up call that I need to make more time for singing and art. Time to harness this inspiration and continue following my dreams. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! ❤️

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Self-Pity & Gratitude

The last 24 hours have been rough. It seems that everything comes at once when I’m experiencing dark emotion, like the universe is sending me more badness on top of the existing stuff, or I’m attracting negative things while I’m in that state. Some days I feel like it’s a test to see how much I can bear in a single day and I look up at the sky proclaiming ‘really???’? I can sometimes wallow in self-pity and feel really bad for myself. I think we all do this to some extent. I try not to hang out there and do my best to process the emotion rather than sitting in the cess-pool of pity for too long.

I rolled out of bed this morning feeling really down. I was sad about a bunch of things, mostly relationship stuff. Like, why do I attract people who are emotionally unavailable, unwilling to commit or unable to see the good I have to offer? Why am I so bad at letting people go from my life that I either care deeply about or truly believed in? I think it is hard to admit to myself when something isn’t working and the perfectionist in me doesn’t want to give up just yet. There’s always a way to make something work, right? Perhaps there is not and there is only a lesson.

Going into work this morning I felt like an emotional roller coaster… normally bubbly and full of smiles and hellos, this morning I walked in looking at the ground and hoping no one would see me. Really. I felt like I had a black cloud following me around. My computer was giving me grief, the arm on my chair was broken, and I felt the pressure of the giant to-do list that accumulated over the past few weeks while I was running a conference. When the vacuum cleaner guy came around, my hyper sensitivity kicked in – the noise was simply too much and I had to step away before I blew. Trying to maintain professional composure (with minimal success I might add), at one point I went for a walk to try and re-gain my composure, determining if perhaps I should just throw in the towel and try it all again tomorrow. People were kind and someone even gave me chocolate. I persevered and somehow made it to 5:15pm before I left, running into all of the people who I would never want to see me in the state I was in. Of course. *Perfect*. Fortunately, I had a Reiki session scheduled tonight, so I left work looking forward to that. Perhaps it would help me process all of the emotion I was feeling.

IMG_6881After work, I decided to grab some food and go watch the falls at Hogs Back Park to re-calibrate. I hit the McDonalds drive-thru and grabbed a Big Mac and fries, something I normally never do – maybe once every 2-3 years and usually when I’ve been drinking. But ‘what the hell’, right?! I took my meal and sat on a park bench where I could hear the rushing water, and it was calming somehow. Until I started seeing all of the lovey couples holding hands, and the little kids with their parents. It made me feel sad again because I’m alone and often wonder if I will find a partner ever again. Tears. Self-pity again. Then a hoard of noisy teenagers arrived, so I moved down to the less accessible part of the park and found a nice rock to sit on in peace while I thought about my life and my day. I focused on my breath and thought about the good things that happened. And the fact I could buy myself food and spend some time enjoying the beauty of nature.

Then I went to my Reiki session. Pam, you are incredibly gifted and I am so thankful our paths crossed! We started the session by pulling an Angel card, and what did it say? Gratitude. IMG_6889Of course. I am focusing on the negative today when I should be thankful for the immense blessings in my life. I proceeded with my reiki session and resonated with so many of the messages I received. During my session I thought ‘I should write a blog post on all of the things I’m grateful for, to remind myself of the good’…. so, here I am!

Tonight, I am grateful for many things. In no particular order:

  • Family – Even though they live many hours away, I am so grateful that I get to see my family a few times a year and it is a joyous occasion to catch up. I love my parents, my brothers, my sisters-in-law, my niece and my nephews, my aunts, uncles and cousins. They are loving, wonderful and fun people who have listened to my crazy stories and even when they don’t understand me, they hug me and give me advice. Cause that is what family does.
  • Technology – I am able to keep in touch with so many people because of the internet, reach people I care about, do research about fun music things, watch tv shows, see videos of my little niece and nephew, and tell people I miss them when I think of them. Thank goodness for video chat.
  • Peter – Pete has been my rock for 15 years, and even though we are separated, he is still one of the best people I have ever met. I am so grateful for his continued friendship and support and cannot imagine my life without him in it. Same goes with his family – the Anderson clan are some of the best people out there.
  • Friends – I am blessed to know SOOO many kick ass people with such unique perspectives, talents and swagger. I am so grateful to many friends who I would consider family – those people who I call on when I need a hug, wine, or to travel with…. the kind of people who you can not talk to for a year, but pick up right where you left off. Your hearts and giving natures astound me, and you come from all walks of life. Thank you for keeping me afloat and being so kind to support me when I need it most. My Mom reminds me often how much I’m loved and supported by my amazing friends, and she is quick to tell me when I’m feeling low. In fact, just tonight, a friend emailed me to say she saw my post on Facebook and wanted to tell me how inspiring I was… on a day I felt like I wanted to disappear forever. It made me cry – you just never know how your authentic sharing can affect someone else.
  • Pain – They say you cannot appreciate the highs until you have felt the lows and I certainly recevied that message again tonight. I certainly feel like I am going through everything I am for a reason, although some days I wonder if I’ll have the strength to make it. I am tearing up as I write this. It has taken much courage to open myself up again after being hurt, to be vulnerable with people and trust my instincts, to be hurt again, to learn to get back up and keep smiling despite feeling not enough, unworthy and like I don’t matter at times. Yet, I know the sunshine comes after the rain and good must lie ahead somewhere… I have grown and gained so much perspective this year through the pain, which has only made my appreciation for the good that much better.
  • Opportunity – My entire life, I have felt lead to something big, I’m just not sure what that is yet. I try to work hard and do the best I can every single day of my life, and the opportunities that have surfaced in my 37 *cough* years on this planet have been immense. I can’t believe the small town New Brunswick girl has represented Canada in the US, sang an opera role in Italy, travelled the world, managed a team of IT peeps in the government and is now living in the heart of Ottawa, teaching, mentoring, and learning how to love herself. What an incredible gift that is.
  • Love – As most of you who know me understand, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I often ask myself why I can’t change and be more protective of my heart… because it is not who I am. I like to give to others and be all in. I like giving 110% to everything and everyone in my life, although sometimes at my own expense. Sometimes it works, sometimes I get hurt. It’s part of the journey and it’s helped me give and receive in ways I never thought possible.
  • Nature – As evident by my choice of dinner location tonight, nature grounds me. I love animals…. I miss my kitty cat, but I know she’s happy and having fun watching the birds in Maryland. I love kids… they are so pure and go with their instincts so much more than the average adult. They are love from the minute they are born. It’s inspiring to see how nature works together… the beach, the forest, the sunshine, the moon and the tides and everything in between. It is all so beautiful and this country girl feels so grounded in it. I’m starting to sound like a hippy….. lol
  • Life – As my Mom reminds me, when I was a child, I had such a zest for life. I would light up like a Christmas tree and experience joy with so many little things. I am slowly trying to return to that child-like state, but it’s hard with all of the supreme adulting that’s been happening this past year. 🙂 Life is very short and I think we often take the time we have on this earth for granted. I for one am searching for my own truth, for honesty, for true love and for whatever I’m here for. I sure hope I find it.

That was a long one…. if you got this far, thanks for reading. May you be abundantly blessed, find your own truth and feel much joy in your own journey.

Gratitude, it’s that simple. Pull yourself out of the pity party, look around you at the abundance of awesomeness and tell me what you’re grateful for?!?!

Hugs and much love,

Melly

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An Ode to Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my wonderful friends and family who are Moms! To my Mom Norma especially – I don’t know where I would be without your support this past year, during all of my crazy life change!! Mother’s Day is normally a wonderful celebration of life and love, but I admit this year I’m a bit solemn about it all, maybe for the first time in my life. I feel for all of those people who have wanted to be parents and couldn’t for health or other reasons. And to be honest, I thought I would be a Mom by this point in my life… but it just hasn’t happened to me. Some days I feel like a bit of a failure as a woman. My plan to have a child at 30 and another at 33 clearly didn’t pan out.

My fur baby lives in another country, and I’m at a point in my life where I doubt I’ll have time to meet someone and have my own kids, because my age timer is about to expire. I will be on the lookout for kids who I can help out and love in other ways, or perhaps eventually I will adopt. Who knows what is in store for me over the next few years. I’ve been thinking about getting a couple of new fur babies now that I’m a little less busy with work. I think that may help me fill the void of not having anyone to nurture.

All of that being said, I want to celebrate all of the things I love about my Mom. An Ode to Norma! 🙂 In no particular order, here are the things I love most about her:

  1. Compassion – No matter how I’m feeling, I’m grateful that I can always call my Mom no matter what and tell her what is going on in my life and she wants to help me through it. She has a tremendous amount of compassion for the situations I’ve been in and has heard me cry more times than I can count. She is empathetic and sensitive, one of the strongest women I know.
  2. Unconditional love – I know that Mom will always love me regardless of where I am or what I’m going through, and for that I am incredibly grateful. She is like this with all of her children… we are very lucky.
  3. Caring – My Mom cares about everyone she comes in contact with. She watches everything that is happening in my virtual life (Facebook, etc.), she calls me to check in on how I’m doing and will always give me hugs in person or caress me like only a Mom can when she knows I’m having a rough time. I appreciate knowing she is there when I need her and I am very grateful for the deep chats we’ve had and caring support she has given me. Especially this past year.
  4. Knowledge – My Mom is a part-time librarian and an avid reader. She can often recommend new fun books for me to read and she knows me well so I tend to like everything she suggests. She will also research any subject in depth and provide me with summaries of things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn about.. like gardening, finances, astrology and more. 🙂
  5. Family – To my Mom, family is everything. She lights up when we are all together. This year, over Christmas and Easter, we had everyone all together and it was wonderful. I surprised her with a visit over the Easter break and she teared up, as did my Dad. I love seeing her light up with joy as she watches her grandchildren grow. She sacrificed so much of herself to give me everything I could ever need as a child, and I will never, ever forget that.
  6. Values – My Mom has taught me the value of honesty, respect, love, kindness and doing what is right. Those values have carried me through life in ways I never thought possible, crossing continental and cultural barriers. She and my Dad taught me what being a good human being and maritimer is all about.
  7. Family meals – My Mom does everything she can to bring our family together over good food. At the holidays, she works tirelessly to make sure everyone is well fed and has access to their favorite special foods like squash, pie and everything else in between. She’s taught me how to make some amazing dishes and recipes that I will cherish for life.
  8. Perfection – Mom is all about the details – things have to be done right. She instilled in me a love of taking time to do things well, and right, to the extent that perfect can be. With everything.
  9. Independence – Mom is ok being by herself. When my Dad worked really long hours she would occupy herself with lots of shows, books and creative projects. It is inspiring for me, especially now, to know that alone time is important and needed for one’s growth.
  10. Creativity & Art – Mom has to be one of the most creative people I know and she appreciates and supports the arts. She is a talented drawer and painter and has commissioned works from various people throughout her life. She appreciates dance and good pop music with a beat. I think I got my artistic side from her and I am so grateful that she’s used her creative gifts to help to so many, including decorating for weddings, painting of animals on rocks and and writing calligraphy for music festival certificates. She enrolled me in piano, helped me learn how to sing and speak in front of people and took me to many inspiring artistic events as a child. I have learned so much from her on this front!

IMG_4658 2There you have it, an ode to my Mom! 🙂 Special thanks goes out to many other incredible women who I’ve looked up to as mother figures over the years as well – Paulette, Aditi, Sandra and so many more who have helped me grow and be a better person. You are all loved and I hope that you are treated super special by your children on Mother’s Day, and always!! ❤

 

Love and blessings to you all,

Melly xo

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When life hands you lemons…

You clone them and make super lemons (Clone High anyone?)… Or you make lemonade?!? I’m not sure. It’s been a rough week fighting sickness, my inner demons and oh yeah… My car getting broken into. Talk about lemon juice straight to the eye.

I’m writing this post to show that you can turn any situation into something for the better. Even when things get hard, there are positive perspectives and we have a choice in how to react. While this is not musical, it’s still relevant to my journey as a human since we all have challenging times.

I woke up Monday morning after feeling very sick /down on Sunday for a number of reasons, which I will not bore you with. I thought ok, it’s a fresh start to my week, I can do this! As I headed to my car in the parking garage in my building, I saw glass on the ground and thought ‘oh…. That totally sucks’, and then realized it was MY car that had been smashed. Poor little Quinn, someone had smashed the driver side window and opened my dash, gym bag and compartments to look for anything of value. Crap. This was not what I was expecting and to be honest after the down day I had on Sunday, it made me feel awful and violated. But then some good things happened. 

Some very nice people saw me assessing the situation (read:struggling with tears) and offered me the phone number of the guy who maintains our garage, showing me that it is possible they caught the guy since a camera was directly pointed at my vehicle and there was a card with the Ottawa police report and a case number on my windshield. They gave me the garage owner’s number and wished me luck, which was sweet. I called him and he informed me that it had happened late Saturday night, they caught the culprit who was high and the police were already aware of everything that happened. Score, thank you parking guy! I then evaluated the scene (noting nothing had been taken but my stuff was thrown everywhere), I called the police to acknowledge the incident, called my insurance and sorted that out, and got some quotes for a new window… People were friendly and it was 21 degrees Celsius and sunny outside, so that made for a bit of relief on the weather front.

I began cleaning up the glass from the break in (it was everywhere, dusty and annoying) so I could at least drive the vehicle and not ruin my seat by sitting on all of the safety glass. As I was cleaning it up, all of the emotion flooded back from an accident I had years ago that cut my face with safety glass and left a lovely scar by my nose (but fortunately no other injuries)…. I shed a few tears and kept on trucking. Unfortunately my insurance deductible is too high to cover the costs of the fixes, but fortunately, people were pleasant to deal with. I was at work again before noon with repairs scheduled for Thurs and back in regular life…. Until that night when I had to race a thunder/rain storm home with no driver side window. I barely made it, and called it a day once I was parked. I then promptly had some drinks with a friend from Maryland who was visiting, so the day ended in a high note.

The whole thing was not an ideal situation, but the humans involved in helping me sort it all out made me realize that it could have been much worse. Nothing of value was taken, they caught the guy, my fellow Canadians were helpful and my colleagues made me laugh with ideas on how to tape up my window until I got it fixed. While the time to get things sorted and the money it will cost me to fix the damages are annoyances, they are small in comparison to the gigantic ordeal it could have been.

So… Here’s to say, you can choose how to respond to things out of your control. You can play a victim, which I certainly did for a little bit (this sucks… Why me… I wish I had someone to help me through this challenge… Let’s add to the crappy weekend I’m already having) OR, you can take charge, figure it out, look at it as an experience and realize that sometimes you just have to laugh at these situations that can happen to anyone.

I’ll be much happier on Thursday once the glass shards are out of my car, I have a window again and I can add some vodka to my lemonade…. 🙂 Here’s a pic!

Cheers to choosing how you respond to the events life throws at you,

Melly

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Proud Canadians at ‘Come From Away’ on Broadway

It seems fitting that I write my latest post from a plane. This weekend while in NYC, I was super excited to watch the last preview of the Broadway Musical ‘Come From Away’. A story about humanity and the kindness of a small town in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, who on 9/11 hosted 38 jetliners making emergency landings on their way to the USA. The size of Gander doubled, and they took care of housing and feeding everyone who was there, animals included, for several days. Wow. I mean, I always love Broadway shows, but this one struck home in so many ways and left me feeling incredibly proud to be a Canadian from the east coast! 

Proud.


Several moments stood out in this show; without giving too much away, some of my favorites scenes were the typical newfie lifestyle and getting the town gossip at Tim Hortons, seeing several cultures come together in prayer for their loved ones and the world in a church, a female power ballad about breaking through gender stereotypes (the first female Captain for American Airlines was one of the pilots!), a good ol’ newfie screech-in and the sheer combination of so many different human emotions in dealing with the events of 9/11. The reference to moose, the Celtic party music, kindness to animals, and the power of a good drink made me miss my home in the Maritimes more than ever. And my roommate from first year at UNB (loves you Patey!) and all of my friends and family from Newfoundland!

In addition to the show being amazing, the way they showed the perspective of 9/11 through the Canadians and passengers eyes was special. I remember that day clearly as I was still in Fredericton at university. We watched the TV in our lounge at Mackenzie House, surrounded by friends and house mates, in complete disbelief and horror as the events of that day unfolded.

One of the reasons I’m writing today is because I wanted to capture many of the fun things happened as part of this experience, in addition to the show being awesome:

  1. Before the show, Pete and I were downstairs putting a pin where we were from on the map that they had provided in the lobby – Pete is from Nova Scotia, I’m from New Brunswick. We hear a friendly voice say ‘where abouts are you guys from exactly?’ in a familiar accent, and meet a lovely newf who’s come to the show, but she now lives in Fredericton with her family and actually knows where Harvey Station is (sort of a miracle when you randomly meet someone in NYC). We all hit it off and are chatting away, when a lovely woman from Georgia and her daughter come up to us and say they love the show (have seen it 3 times already) and it’s so cool to hear real Canadian accents. We all laugh, chat and finally head to our seats… If we weren’t leaving to drive to Maryland directly after the show, we would have grabbed a drink with our new friend from Fredericton afterwards… It’s just how we maritimers roll.
  2. It turns out a guy from Fredericton who I used to sing with in Music Festival is one of the alternates in the cast, so that was a fun discovery as I read through the Playbill! Tony LePage, you don’t really know me but I was proud to see your name in the program!!
  3. As I’m balling my eyes out at the end of the show (me=giant creme puff with all of the feels), after the audience has leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, I overhear some of the people behind us talking. They were actual passengers from the planes that landed in Gander, NFLD and some of the townspeople from Gander!!! Some of the people sitting behind us were the real versions of the characters just portrayed on stage. Mind. Blown. Including the Mayor of Appleton (super close to Gander), who was the mayor in 2001. He was chatting up a storm with everyone who was there. I thanked him for being such a wonderful ambassador for Canadians, told him I was from New Brunswick and he gave me a big hug saying ‘you’re from home!!’. He had tears in his eyes from the show and told me it was too bad our curling team wasn’t doing better this year. Lol… 😂 It was really special to see so many people moved. I later found out that opening night was the day after we saw the preview, so it made sense that so many of the ‘real’ people were there to be part of it!
  4. We spoke with a lot of the cast after the show and I got some of their autographs – such wonderful, humble people! We even got to meet some of the families of the actors, who I assume were there for opening night. So cool. 

So, now ya know! I’m so grateful to have been able to witness this production and I’m so proud as a Canadian to see such a difficult topic portrayed in such a beautiful way. The show is now open and received rave reviews – get yer tickets now before it sweeps the Tonys!!  đŸ™‚

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Life update and feeling ‘enough’

I once asked the people who follow my blog and personal journey what they enjoyed hearing about most. From the replies and WordPress stats, it appears that people like to read about my challenges – raw, honest accounts of how I feel, and how I pick my chin up and move forward. So, as I travel to NYC today, these are my latest musings.

I think it’s safe to say that most artists have a point in their life and careers when they don’t feel good enough or 100% confident in their abilities – it’s part of what keeps us on our toes and always learning. I have been struggling with that a lot lately as I reintegrate back into Canada, live by myself for the first time ever, and try to figure out what I want to do with my life moving forward. Some days I feel like a feather floating in the wind…. It’s nice to have a clean slate and to start fresh, but it’s also very scary at times when you feel alone and are unsure where life is headed. 

Do you ever wish you were 20 again, bright eyed and bushey tailed, keen, full of hope, confident that you can take on the world and do anything you want? I sure do at times, but at the same time I don’t – ignorance is bliss, right? 🙂 My life has taken a series of interesting twists and turns these past few years and I’ve been forced to take a hard look within, many, many times. I’ve learned a ton about myself, this universe we call home, and lots about peoples thoughts, hopes and fears. I realized this past summer in a personal coaching session how much I depend on others and external experiences for happiness, when I really need to find my happiness from within so I’m not constantly vulnerable and susceptible to disappointment when the external factors or people aren’t there. Thank you Nadine!! 😊 I’m trying to balance my work/careers, personal life, spirituality, physical health, and figure out where I’m headed. As things start to feel clear, they can also feel completely chaotic and turbulent… One day I feel confident, like I can take on the world and achieve anything I put my mind to; the next I feel like a little girl who knows nothing and is nowhere near good enough, in need of tremendous love, support and protection. It’s a bizarre dichotomy I live in. Even if I look like I have it together most of the time, I usually feel like I don’t. I’m an actress and good at faking it when I feel I have to.  

I’m single for the first time in what feels like forever and it’s taking some time to get used to. I’ve gone on a few dates (my first one on Valentine’s day – didn’t realize it when I agreed, oops!) and it’s forced me to look within yet again to figure out what I really want in a partner. I’ve spent a lot of my life going with the flow, making other people happy and putting others needs before my own. To be honest I don’t really know what I want in my life, other than feeling fulfilled, happy and making a positive contribution! I keep taking steps to do that, from making my home more cozy to spending more time with people who bring me joy. I do miss having a partner, I miss having my family close (the twins are growing up so fast!!) and some days I really wish I had my own children to care for, as I see so many friends enriching their lives through parenthood. (Seems fitting that as I write this post a toddler screams in the seat next to me on the plane… Haha.) I have no idea where my life is headed right now, but my gut instinct tells me I’m exactly where I should be, so I take heart in knowing that. My intuition feels stronger everyday.

These are the things I have figured out about me – I love writing, learning, reflecting on life and becoming a better person. I like making people feel comfortable and at ease around me, so I can understand their perspectives and what makes them tick. I also love teaching, coaching and mentoring people. I could do it for hours and it never feels like work – it inspires me to no end, even when I’m exhausted. I love music and being able to express myself through singing. Will I be a famous singer or an opera superstar? Very unlikely and that is totally ok. I don’t necessarily have the magic recipe to make it happen (youth, size, interest in taking time to always look fabulous), and to be frank, I don’t want it bad enough. There are others I know in the field who are incredibly talented and have much more drive than I do because they can’t imagine doing anything else in life; this is a key element to success in my humble opinion, and it just isn’t me because I love many things and have a variety of random skills. It doesn’t mean that music and singing can’t continue to be a big part of my life, but a performance career of any sort at my age is not realistic and won’t pay the bills. There, I said it. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my dream of singing for a living, it just means my dream has morphed as I continue to find myself and understand who I am.

Since returning to my government job in IT, I must say I have an overwhelming sense of pride and I feel lucky that I can mentor people, lead, learn and grow while helping people achieve their own goals. I am very thankful that I have an amazing team and a wonderful chain of leadership above me. It’s all about the moments when you know you’ve made a difference. I certainly have moments where I feel like I know nothing (surrounding yourself with uber smart nerds will do that!), but overall I feel like I can contribute and am valued for what I do. It’s rewarding and I am grateful. 

Today I’m headed to NYC. I am excited to see some shows, explore the city and then later this weekend I head back to Maryland to see some friends, and my kitty! 🐱😀 However, my trip today has brought up a lot of feelings, hence the blog post. I’m feeling vulnerable and angry at myself for not spending more of my spare time on music, singing and practicing. I feel like my time lately has been spread thin between work, life, healing and teaching. Practicing hasn’t been a priority. I feel like I’m slowly going back into autopilot mode and I need to reset and take some time to figure out what I want long term… I’ve been thinking perhaps I would eventually like to try being a life coach, someone who can mentor people to believe in themselves, to embrace the challenges life throws at them and to love and value themselves. It’s an interesting concept and one I may explore more moving forward. Perhaps my sensitivity, practicality, life knowledge, leadership and other random skills can be put to good use in helping others. 

I’ve also been thinking about writing a book about my journey to self love… I have reflected a lot (a tiny bit captured here on my blog), and I would love to document all of the crazy synchronicities that have happened to me over the years. If sharing my journey to love myself and how I’ve overcome my struggles would be helpful to anyone, it would be a fun and worthy project. Even if ends up being just for me. What do you think – would you read such a thing if I wrote it? More to come. 🙂

I write this post not to ask for encouragement or sympathy, but to share a part of myself and my journey with you. To own my story and align what’s happening inside of me with what I’m sharing on the outside. Raw honesty. There will always be people who judge and who don’t understand our perspectives or choices in life and that is ok. Bless them on their own journeys. As I’ve mentioned before, we are never truly alone – our situations are rarely unique and as humans, regardless of race, religion and sex, we are way more alike than we sometimes want to believe. It is in sharing our truths and connecting with others that we truly learn to give and receive love, realize we aren’t alone, persevere through our challenges with support and accept ourselves, quirks and all. At least in my experience… 

I’d like to end this post with a favorite quote of mine from one of my favorite Broadway performers, Sierra Boggess: ‘You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are!’ Truth!😊 Thank you for reading. 

Love, light and blessings to you all from the sky above Newark, NJ!

❤️ Melly

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Ottawa Opera Debut!

Last weekend I had the immense pleasure of making my operatic debut in Ottawa singing in both Suor Angelica and Pagliacci with South Ottawa Performing Arts Collaborative (SOPAC). From our very first rehearsal,  I was SO excited to sing with such a great group of artists. A cast ranging from 12 – 65+! For me, it meant a lot to be included in these productions, since I *just* moved back to Ottawa and was struggling with my identity as a singer through all of life’s recent changes.img_5604

What I loved most about this experience was the people. First, the production team was outstanding (amazing, organized and collaborative WOMEN! YEAH!!) and the singers were also top notch. Not just in skill, but they were lovely human beings. As per usual, there are always moments of stress when you’re putting a production together (especially in 4-5 days!), but everyone was always kind and thoughtful, and everyone lifted each other up. People were genuine and I was so happy to be back in Canada, performing in a place that I have always loved and called home!! I left the first rehearsal thinking ‘yep, opera people are my kind of people’! Hooray for new music friends!

It was a new experience for me leading up to these shows – my first productions where I’m single and living on my own (no one to come home to for hugs/food/debriefing) and also, the first time singing in a place so COLD and DRY. Omg, that was fun – yay Ottawa winters! Also, I was juggling my full time government job with the singing rehearsals and shows. It was a lot to handle, more than I think I had anticipated it would be. Turns out your body actually likes to rest once in awhile when you’re asking it to make beautiful sounds, think clearly and have energy to give in rehearsals and performance. Who knew? 🙂 Lol. img_5647 Being a crazed villager and running while singing in Pagliacci was a challenge at first, but super fun in the end – opera is not just stand and sing, my friends!! I’m really grateful to have an incredible support network, both in the government and with my singing colleagues – I would not have been able to survive the past few weeks without everyone being so understanding and amazing. Hugs, chocolate, naps in church pews, coffee and laughing about the craziness of life with friends definitely kept me sane.

I had several favorite moments during the productions, but I have to say one of the biggest things that struck me during rehearsals was how much one’s body remembers about particular phrases and interpretations when you’re singing an opera for the second time. I am fortunate that I came into the production of Suor Angelica, having performed it in Italy this past summer. However, despite the musical parts of Italy being a glorious experience (and, well, Italy) , personally I was struggling with my massive life changes that were coming – I felt broken and I didn’t know where my life was headed in July, which was scary. I was preparing to live and be on my own for the first time ever, I didn’t know how I would necessarily support myself or know where I should go; if I should change careers yet again, give up on my opera singing dream, throw in the towel or carry on. There was a lot of emotional turbulence on the personal front this past summer as I was singing the beautiful music of Suor Angelica. As I rehearsed 6 months later in Ottawa for the same opera, my body certainly reminded me of the massive change and personal growth I’ve undergone since last summer. With exhaustion setting in, and the beautiful Puccini melodies that brought up all of the emotion, I broke down during a break in one of our rehearsals. One of my new singing buddies caught me and I so appreciated the hug and chat – thanks TL!! It was a lot to process, but I had to release the memories and pain that bubbled up to heal. I felt like I shed an outdated piece of me (much like a snake sheds its skin) and it was so incredibly cleansing!! Music is such a powerful healer when we allow ourselves to open up to it.

The other absolutely amazing thing that happened from being part of these productions was the sheer number of people who came out to see an opera, for the FIRST TIME! Woohoo! One of my friends exclaimed ‘I never knew opera could be this fun!’ and I had a lovely chat with a friend’s daughter who was nine about the fact that the singers in our production didn’t use microphones. 🙂 For me, I am always thrilled to expose people to this often misunderstood art form, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so, especially given my recent move back to Ottawa. To all of those who made the trek to the Glebe to support us in these productions – THANK YOU!!! It was incredible to share what we are passionate about with so many people and to have such an overwhelming response, even on Superbowl Sunday! 🙂

Here are a few pics that were taken during the production and also a few backstage selfies! Wearing a habit never seems to get old….

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To sum up, I’m so grateful for everyone who contributed to the success of these productions. The people always make it, and the passion and dedication to the details for these shows was evident. Morgan, Tania, Nadia, Alaina, Maureen, Susanna, Jason, Alan and everyone who sang – BRAVI, BRAVI, BRAVI! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be part of this, for making this such an amazing experience for so many of us, and for your commitment to this beautiful art form. I cannot wait to see what is coming next!

A la prossima volta, tutti!

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Peace out 2016!

2016 has been a pretty intense year for many people, myself included. So many challenging things have happened that I am ready to light the torch on 2016 and say goodbye forever. But before I do, I want to share an alternate perspective of dealing with these challenging times. My question to you is, as you end this year and start another, how have you grown? What have you learned? What perspectives have you gained? Moving forward, what are you going to tackle in 2017 to improve your own life or the lives of those you love?

I am a huge fan of reflection and re-calibrating for a new year. For the past few years on NYE, I have taken time to look back through my calendar, and give thanks for the abundance of life experiences. While I have found this year to be challenging on many fronts, there have been many good times and I’m very grateful in many ways for how this year’s experiences have changed me for the better. I’ve re-learned to really appreciate the good things in life that money can’t buy: love of friends and family, talent, perspective, opportunity for growth, sunshine, time and freedom. What would a diamond be if it hadn’t gone through pressure? Resilience is important. Taking the mistakes, the challenges, the hard times, stepping into the uncomfortable, growing and coming out stronger than before. 2016 did not kill our most beloved celebrities and the universe is not out to get us. I promise. If we pay attention, the universe can be one of our best teachers. Life is not black and white, but many shades of gray and there are also many different perspectives on those shades. These are some of the key thoughts that have gotten me through this year.

In 2016, I came through making new friends, losing people I loved dearly, separating from my husband after 12 wonderful years together, supporting family and friends through heart attacks, job loss, divorce & death, changing careers again, finding out my kitty had thyroid & kidney disease, saying goodbye to my home of 7 years, moving countries, and more. I also got my first tattoo, which reminds me everyday that I am strong (forte in Italian), music will always be part of me and that love prevails. I had some great travels, ate a lot of delicious things, sang my heart out and gave back to society as much as I could. It’s been one hell a rollercoaster ride, 2016. 

Now, it’s time to look forward. I’m declaring 2017 to be a year full of opportunity and joy; being present and open to what the world has in store for me next. My happiness will be mostly derived from within, instead of from anyone else or any material things. I will  truly be my own best friend. I’m already making a list of things I want to do in 2017 and I encourage you to do the same! 

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To sum up, I’m most grateful this year for my support network – I honestly wouldn’t have made it through this past year without the love and support of so many. Family, friends, Pete, colleagues who welcomed me back with open arms, teachers and new friends I made this year through music and my travels. Chances are if you’re reading this, you fall somewhere in that group – thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through some of my darkest days. ❤️ I’m grateful for the shoulders I’ve cried on, for those who have made me laugh, for those who helped me learn to love myself and for those who hurt me and helped make me stronger. This life is one heck of a journey and we shouldn’t take it for granted, you never know when it’ll be over. Don’t live life with any regrets – tell people how you feel, eat the delicious things, use the fine china, and cherish those closest to you. Stepping off my soapbox now… 😉

Wishing you love, light, and all good things as you start your journey into 2017 and beyond.

❤️ Melly

 

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NHL National Anthems Audition

Yesterday I had an audition at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa to possibly sing the US and Canadian national anthems at upcoming events being held there. If you’re a hockey/NHL fan, you likely know already – that’s where the Ottawa Senators play! It was a pretty cool experience auditioning in their arena.

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Pre-audition selfie outside the CTC

I arrived yesterday for my audition slot (complete with cute outfit and Sens scarf), expecting there to be maybe ten people in my time slot. There were only two of us! I figured they’d be auditioning many singers but it turns out there were about 20 in-arena auditions in total from over 100 applicants. Hooray for making the short list!

We snaked through the underbelly of the CTC and stood by the ice with the mic after the staff explained the audition process to us. We had 3 mins to sing both anthems a capella, and the audition panel scattered themselves throughout the bowl to listen.

The other candidate started first and she had a beautiful voice! I had all of the normal nerves inside of me while I was waiting for my turn to sing, but they were excitement nerves more than anything – I’ve never sung in a massive arena before! I kept reminding myself that it was all for fun and to just enjoy the experience. When the girl auditioning with me was finished, she had applause from an audience of little hockey players who were getting a tour. It was super cute. 🙂

When it was my turn, I took the mic, introduced myself and sang the US anthem first, followed by the bilingual version of O Canada. Despite not having anyone there other than the audition panel, I tried to pretend like the stadium was filled and sang my heart out. It was cold (but not as bad as I was expecting) and very dry, but it was so amazing to sing in such a big space! It was my first time singing O Canada in front if anyone since returning to Canada in October, so it was special for me to be able to sing it in such a unique and very Canadian place…. A hockey arena. 🙂 #ohcanada #welcomehomeeh?

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Look Mom, I sang in an arena!

When we were finished we asked about taking a photo, since this isn’t an opportunity that comes up very often. The Sens staff were really nice and they accompanied us back to the office after we were done. The whole thing was over in about 10 minutes total. The other singer and I walked out together and debriefed the experience – how fun!! Turns out she is a Leafs fan, which she fully disclosed on her initial application. I love the honesty! 🙂

 

While I really have no expectation to get anything out of this, it was a really cool experience that I’ll never forget! Thank you to everyone who sent me love and good vibes yesterday via Facebook, I really appreciate your support!!

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Enduring massive change

It’s been a pretty crazy fall, full of lots of massive life change all at once – a phase I’ve affectionately referred to as my ‘tornado of change’.  An international move, a separation, and a career change. Boom. *Insert exploding gangsta hands here.*  To clarify, I moved back to Canada just over a month ago after living over 7 years in Maryland. After I came back from Italy in August, me and my husband of 12 years mutually decided to separate. Although it was an amicable decision and we are still great friends, it was a really tough decision… we truly just want happiness for each other. When you’re with someone for a long time, splitting up all of your stuff, saying goodbye to your kitty, life partner and home of 7 years and moving to a new country is…. a challenge. October 2nd was a very hard day. For me, Canada is home, and I’m so grateful to have a network of friends and colleagues in Ottawa – it has been absolutely wonderful catching up with so many awesome people. But I miss the US, my friends, my musical colleagues and my students too… it’s a weird combination of loneliness and the occasional glimmer of excitement for new beginnings. It’s the first time I’m living on my own, ever. Part of me is happy to be able to start fresh, decorate my new little place and get all setup, but it’s still just… different. Very, very, different.

I’ve been jotting down lots of thoughts through the past few weeks in an effort to help myself process all of this change. This is the first time I’m actually publishing anything as I feel I’m ready to share my thoughts. Why? I feel that sharing things gets it ‘out’ of me, allows me to own this part of my journey and most important, I want people to know that they aren’t alone in enduring massive change, like we often feel we are. I know many people who are going through life changes right now, and the one thing I will say is don’t be afraid to talk to someone about what you’re going through – it helps immensely when you’re feeling scared and alone. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for support, anytime. I mean it! Recognize that the feeling is temporary;  acknowledge it, let it pass through you and know it won’t be like that forever. It takes an immense amount of courage to step out of your comfort zone and do what is best for you. I would not be where I am right now without the help of my family, several amazing friends and even some helpers from afar who have been wonderful supporters by email and text. I also wouldn’t have an apartment – thank you Lisa! It’s the little things that I’ve been so grateful for since I arrived. For example, friends coming over with wine and flowers to help me setup while my apartment is a disaster. To reconnecting with old friends I haven’t seen in a long time and picking up like we haven’t missed a beat even though it’s been years. To spending time with my friends’ kids – they bring so much joy without even knowing they are doing it. I didn’t even realize it was Canadian Thanksgiving a few weeks ago until like 4 days before (clearly I’ve been in America too long)… but I was thankful that I got to spend both Sunday and Monday with great friends, eating lots of delicious food and spending quality time together. There is so much magic in the little moments.

Everything is still surreal and doesn’t quite feel real just yet. I feel sometimes as though I’m watching someone else’s life through my own eyes. Some days are better than others and I’m still taking each day at a time right now, riding the roller coaster of emotion. I truly believe things happen in our lives for a reason and even though the past few months have been painful, I have grown so much. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… and gives you some great stories to reflect on later in your life. 🙂 Having faith that everything works out as it is supposed to has also been important for me to remember. Also, we are stronger than we think. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, spread love and know that at the end of the day, it’s about the journey and life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Listen to your gut instincts, trust in yourself to make the right choices for you and do what makes you happy. Oh, and of course, express those emotions – don’t bottle them up! Write, sing, workout, talk, do whatever comes to you. And trust that you will get through it and be stronger for it. You will. Promise. These are the things I keep telling myself… so far so good, I think it’s helping. Some days. 🙂

What have I learned in this process? You never know what life will throw at you. I certainly never expected to be where I am right now, back in Ottawa, living on my own and starting life with a clean slate. You have to take one day at a time when you’re going through change and be gentle with yourself. You want wine? Yes. Chocolate? ok! Long walk to process the billion thoughts running through your head? Great. Crying? Of course. All of the above. I’m bracing myself for the cold that Ottawa winter brings – I’m a total wimp and not looking forward to it. Maryland winters were quite nice, I will miss them. 🙂 I’ve learned that the people who are meant to be in your life will be there to catch you when you need it most. Some people will be silent and some will disappear from your life during the change too – it’s all ok. Many people have reached out but didn’t really know what to say, and that is perfectly ok, I don’t mind at all. Lately, just being in communication means more to me than anything. It’s nice to know you’re not alone and people care when you’re going through big changes. I’ve also learned that you have to reach out to people when you need support – people can’t read your mind. Connecting with people, living in the present and appreciating the things we do have are so important to our happiness. Thank you to everyone who have been so supportive to both me and to Pete during this massive transition – all of you carry a very special place in my heart!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes, I’m still pursuing my musical passions and have not abandoned my dreams. I have a desk job again (like many artists!), but am grateful to be able to work doing all of the things that I love and NOT have to worry about Visas – woo Canada! 🙂 I took a bit of a singing hiatus while focusing on adulting over the past few months, but I am excited to get back into lessons, performing and teaching. If you’re in Ottawa and know of anyone who’s looking for lessons in voice or beginner piano, please let me know! Also, I’ve been cast in an opera here in Ottawa in February 2017, Suor Angelica. I’ll provide more info as it becomes available on my Facebook page – please ‘Like’ my page if you’d like to hear the latest with my singing adventures,  or let me know if you’d like to be on my email list!

Onwards and upwards, cheers to wonderful people and life’s new adventures!

Love and light,
Melly xox0

 

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