Or the time I talked about cereal in therapy.
I have a cereal addiction.
My Noom app, in all its quirky make-you-feel-cozy-about-tracking-calories supportiveness judges me for it. Noom says there are no bad foods, and I whole-grain-heartedly agree. But I know they’re giving me David from Schitt’s Creek side-eye when I log my Life Cereal with Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips and half almond milk half moo cow 2%.
I remember back in my 20s sitting cross-legged, sock feet, pillow hugged to belly, on my analyst’s West End Avenue sofa. I’d finally stopped panic-lying about why I was in therapy, so one day I mustered the courage to blurt, “I think I have a problem with cereal.”
Dr. K leaned back in his Danish leather chair, gave his grey beard a rub, (Oh Dr. K–many things you said make sense now.) and asked me to elaborate.
“Well, you see, I eat several bowls of cereal at night. And I think it might be a problem. I mean, it’s not like I’m eating cake or anything.”
Dr. K replied in his measured baritone, “It’s exactly like you’re eating cake. You’re ingesting simple carbohydrates that give your body a dopamine surge.”
I tried to absorb this. But I was more Corn Pops than Raisin Bran–my emotional sugar armor created an impermeable milk-of-wisdom barrier.
And my cereal desire has gone unabated. It’s a tricky dance partner, and most nights I’m pretty good at doing one foxtrot over to the pantry. If I return for a follow up waltz, I notice what I’m doing and check in with my actual physical stomach to see if he’s hungry.
My brain then says, “But I’m MOUTH hungry!” or “This goes in the cereal stomach! It’s separate!” Or, “We need a carb hug inside!”
All this meditation on serial cereal consumption got me thinking about vocal technique.
You too? Of course. 🎵
I’ve been cultivating my cereal relationship for a good 38 years now. This is what we do with our habits, our things that we do.
My career coach, Barbara Deutsch, used to tell me to say, “Oh, there’s that thing I do” whenever I saw I was about to sell out on myself. Problem was, I wasn’t conscious enough to recognize the sabotage gremlin when it emerged from the desert junk yard of my self concept.
I thought, “What good is that gonna do, Barbara? Just notice something?…No! hand me that cricket bat with the scratched-off decals, and I’m gonna beat the shit out of this old habit and burn it along with all those bald tires over there. It’s the only way!!”
Barbara was teaching me about being the witness. She was introducing me to that mysterious, ordinary, immortal diamond real me that notices when my body is doing unloving things.
In the cereal evening hour, the wise me observes, “You had a tiring day. You want some sweetened baked wheat squares covered in a mixture of plant based liquid extracted from almonds and fluid that’s meant to addict calves to their mommies’ udders. I understand.”
Vocal technique = same.
Here’s what I mean. You’re singing, and your abdominals lock. Singing feels vulnerable. There’s that thing you do.
You’re belting along invested in your story, and your jaw tightens. Expression and vibration in your throat feels emotional. There’s that thing you do.
You judge the resonance you hear in your head and say, “I sound like that person I swore I would never sound like.” We go high stakes with singing — we tell ourselves stories about jobs, recognition, acceptance, competition, love. There’s that thing you do.
There was a terrific music director I worked with who always smiled, always joked, and always got precisely what he wanted.
He would say, “You always get there, you just have to decide how you’re going to take the trip.”
I had never seen an in-charge-of-the-show person have so much fun. And honestly I was worried. I mean, we have to get READY!
And we were ready. He was right. We got there. And there was no drama making the drama.
It’s the same in how you’re growing in your vocal technique and life. If you can meet it with curiosity rather than a cricket bat, things gently and joyfully change.
I invite you to give some air time to your gentle witness. It’s the part of you that can see yourself the same way you see your friend who struggles with the eating disorder or your sibling who fights anxiety. You meet them with compassion and encouragement when they are in their dark days.
What if you met yourself with those same soft eyes, open ears, and huggy arms?
We all pick up the bludgeon method of self-ass-kickery at some point on the road. Let’s leave the splintered cricket bat in the Mad Max wasteland and take a walk by the cool stream. The water’s flowing like your breath, and we all need to hydrate anyway.
Soon, you’ll be like our one-year-old who knows whats up when you’re near a beautiful stream. 👇
Something about hearing a one-year-old say “Amazing!” that reminds you what amazing is all about.
You’ll also notice his left arm is drenched where he tried to become one with the stream.
What’s going on for you right now? What is the thing you do singing or just living that you’d love to have a little more freedom around?
I’d love to hear from you. Email me or share a comment about one of the things you’d like to gently witness on out the door. 🚪byeeeee.
And remember–there is only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can share.