Friday Free-For-All – 02/24/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

As of 4:30 pm today, I’m officially on vacation until March 8. Woooooohooooo! I have been waiting for this trip for forever, and I can’t believe it’s finally here. We don’t fly out until early Monday morning, so I still have all weekend to do laundry and pack and get myself together. I only ever take carry-on luggage, so packing for 10 days might be challenging, but I’m fairly confident in my abilities. I also think we will have access to laundry facilities, which will make it that much simpler.

I have to go bathing suit shopping this weekend. Blerg. I’ve been wearing the same one piece bathing suit (which was also a hand-me-down from a friend), for close to four years now, and it’s less than inspiring. And the two-piece that I’ve had for 6+ years no longer contains my chest. Being a busty girl makes bathing suit shopping REALLY hard, but thankfully, Athleta has some good bra-sized swim that I think I can make work. I just wish I’d gotten a new bathing suit when I still had that sweet employee discount…

Audition tomorrow. Eep! I know I said that I was mostly thinking of this as a practice audition since I don’t anticipate getting the role I want, but after listening to the music and thinking about it a lot, I’m definitely fully emotionally invested in the outcome of this audition. Crap. I feel like I’m as prepared as I can possibly be, and I’m just trying to remember that NOT getting cast will mean a relaxing summer where I actually get to have a life and do fun things. It’s basically a win-win, right? Right.

Because I will be in the Bahamas for 8 days and likely not have any wi-fi or internet access, I probably will not be posting while I’m gone. Apparently some of the bars and restaurants have wi-fi, so if I can, I’ll be posting to Instagram, but otherwise, it will be radio silence until I get back. Have a great week, everyone! ❤

 

My Favorite Products and Tips for a Healthy Voice (Plus Some I Think Are Total BS)

I’ve been doing musical theatre for 20+ years now (holy crap, that’s crazy to think about), and along the way I’ve picked up a lot of tips, tricks, and favorite products to help me out. I know this is a bit of a departure from my usual running chat, but due to my impending audition, it’s on my mind, and hopefully someone can benefit from it.

FAVORITE PRODUCTS

Please note that I am not being compensated in any way to mention these products or companies. I promise none of them even know I exist. These are just my tried and true products for good vocal health.

Favorite Tea
My go-to used to be Traditional Medicinal’s Throat Coat. That was the most common “throat soothing” tea, so it was what I drank. And with its delicious licorice flavor, plus some honey, it was tasty to boot. Now, though, I use Yogi Tea’s Throat Comfort. It has the same licorice flavor, plus wild cherry, slippery Elm, and mullein. It tastes even better than Throat Coat, and I think does a better job of soothing my tired chords too.

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My Favorite Lozenge
Grether’s Blackcurrant Pastilles are the ultimate throat soother. And I don’t just use them for singing. If I have a sore throat or a bad cough, one of these does ten times more to soothe my throat than a normal cough drop, and they taste ten times better too. They come in several flavors, as well as sugar-free options, but I prefer the original blackcurrant flavor. I just wish I could find a store near me that sells them so I didn’t have to buy them on Amazon.

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Neti Pot
This is something I was introduced to my senior year of college, and I don’t know how I ever did without it. I have always had minor seasonal allergies and post-nasal drip, so excess mucus has long been a problem for me. A neti pot is basically a tiny teapot that you use to pour saline solution into your sinuses. Using the neti pot every few days flushes all the irritants and excess mucus out of my system, so it doesn’t build up in my sinuses and chest. Fair warning, it feels weird AF and takes some getting used to, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an invaluable tool, especially if you’re prone to sinus infections.

Alkalol
No, not alcohol, Alkalol. It’s a nasal rinse similar in idea to the neti pot, but instead of using saline solution, you use a proprietary blend of antiseptic essential oils, menthol, AND saline. This stuff is the big guns that I break out when I’m actually sick, versus the everyday preventative nature of the neti pot. This stuff will clean you out, but it also feels even weirder than the neti pot. Consider yourself warned.

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Fire Cider
This is another product that’s more in the vein of mitigating the symptoms of an actual illness versus prevention, although some people swear it can help boost your immunity if used regularly. For me, I just gargle it if I feel any kind of sore throat or excess mucus on my vocal chords. It clears it up instantly. Fire Cider tastes FOUL. Like, seriously bad, but damn does it work! You can make your own, but I use it infrequently enough that I just buy it from my local health food store.

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Vicks Personal Steamer
This isn’t something I have or have used in the past, but I want one, bad. The benefits of warm steam for vocal health have been touted over and over, but it’s hard to bring a humidifier with you to the theatre, and sitting hunched over one can be uncomfortable. This baby brings the steam right to you, with a comfy face mask and different steam levels for ultimate comfort. Mama want.

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BEST TIPS FOR MAINTAINING GOOD VOCAL HEALTH

Drink All the Water
Simple, but effective. Hydration is critical to maintaining good vocal health. I keep a 32 oz water bottle on my desk at work, and aim to drink two per day. I’m not as good on the weekends just because I’m usually on the go, but I try to remember to bring a bottle with me as much as possible.

Use Your Good Vocal Habits All Day, Every Day
Breathe well and support your speaking voice. Don’t whisper or scream. Avoid vocal fry (if you don’t know what that means, go Google it). Warm up properly before you do any singing, even just goofing around in the car. Your voice is your instrument, but one that you can’t replace, and one that is very difficult to repair if it gets broken. You have to treat it well every day, or you’ll be in trouble.

Get Enough Sleep
You need sleep to stay healthy. ‘Nuff said.

TIPS I THINK ARE BULLSHIT

There are a lot of urban myths about vocal health that are continually bandied about, and some people adhere to them religiously. I’m a bit of a rebel when it comes to a lot of this stuff, but especially this first one:

Avoid Dairy Products, Because They Cause Phlegm
I’m sorry, I just can’t even with this. I have been doing musical theatre for two decades and I have never once given up dairy for a show. Not even during Chess, when I significantly cut back on my alcohol consumption, did I give up dairy for theatre! I did once give up dairy for a month or two to see if it might be causing some stomach problems I was having, and not only did it not solve my stomach problems, it did not solve my post-nasal drip and excess mucus issues. I have been known to have a milk shake right before a show and suffer no ill-effects. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, and maybe dairy really does affect some people’s voices adversely, but I’m not one of them.

Avoid Caffeine, Because It’s a Diuretic and Will Dehydrate You
Again–I can’t even with this. I’m not saying I’m Lorelai Gilmore over here drinking my weight in coffee every day, but I LOVE coffee and find it difficult to start my day without it. And with lots of late night rehearsals, sometimes I need the caffeine boost. I’ve even been known to chug a Red Bull on a two-show day. I can’t say that I’ve gone more than a few days without caffeine since I started drinking coffee regularly at age 18, but I’m generally really happy with my vocal stamina and quality, and I’m skeptical as to whether or not giving up caffeine would really make anything better. I’ve never noticed that my voice was any better or worse on days when I had more caffeine, and I drink more than enough water to compensate for the potential dehydrating effects of my moderate caffeine consumption.

Singers, any tips or tricks I’ve left out? Do you give up dairy during a show?

(Long) Weekend Update – Sleep, Eats, and Skipping CrossFit

Happy Tuesday, all! One week from yesterday I will be landing in the Bahamas, so I’m pretty much focused on that as I start this short week. Let’s look back at the long weekend, shall we?

Friday
Friday was the usual work–>CrossFit–>rehearsal deal. I booked it home and pretty much went straight to bed, because I wasn’t feeling 100% well. Boring.

Saturday
I slept in LATE, almost until 11, which is quite unusual for me, but I was just trying to kick this cold. Ben took off to go snowboarding relatively early, and I just hung out for a while, waking up and deciding what to do with my day. I opted for equal parts relaxation and productivity, doing some cleaning and tidying around the house, reading, video gaming, and lots of other randomness.

In the evening, we met up with a group of friends at Stone Corral, a brewpub a couple of towns over. It was packed, and we had to wait a while to snipe a table, but it ended up being worth it. I had some delicious fish tacos and two tasty beers, and there was live music too, which was nice.

We finished up the evening with a nightcap and dessert at our friends’ place, and then headed home for some more sleep, as I was still feeling under the weather.

Sunday
I was up and at ’em by 8:30 Sunday morning, even though I didn’t have rehearsal until 1pm. Knowing that I had all day Monday to do things like meal prep left me to enjoy a leisurely morning at home. My father in law made breakfast, and I just lounged about, reading and slowly getting myself ready to go into town.

Sunday vibes at the Drew house.

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Rehearsal was a relatively short deal, working on some of the larger dance numbers at a local dance studio. It’s always nice to have mirrors to help you see spacing and make sure you’re doing the moves correctly.

Ben’s Aunt Maureen was up for the night to visit Grammy, so we had a nice dinner of lasagna, garlic bread, and salad, and spent the evening chatting. We still went to bed relatively early, though, since Ben still had to work Monday.

Monday
I was up pretty early again, feeling much better rested than I have in a while, though my sinuses were still full of junk. I spent most of the morning reading, then spent a good chunk of the afternoon doing meal prep. I made my usual batch of rice and beans, but this time I also sauteed some boneless, skinless chicken thighs to add a bit more protein into the mix.

Meal prep on a Monday off–beans and rice with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Cheap, easy, and delicious!

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After that, I made the decision that I was NOT going to go to CrossFit. *GASP* I know. I really do love CF, but I just needed to relax at home a bit longer before going in for rehearsal. I was able to spend another hour and change at home, read my book, eat dinner, and THEN go to rehearsal, which was a long and somewhat arduous affair. Lots of hurry up and wait. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but it was frustrating nonetheless. Once I got home, I immediately got ready for bed and went lights out.

I would say that today I’m feeling about 90% well. Honestly, the only thing that’s bothering me is my sinuses. They are just unpredictable and full of stuff. I’ve been religiously using my neti pot and my desktop humidifier, so I’m confident that I’ll be totally well before we fly out on Monday. Eeeeee!! I can’t wait.

Did you have a holiday on Monday? What did you do with it?

Friday Free-For-All – 02/17/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

I just had my three year anniversary at work. I honestly can’t believe it’s already been that long. I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but I’m very lucky to have the job I do. Sure, it’s not a field or subject I’m passionate about, but the pay is great and the people are awesome. Also, I’m now fully vested in the 401(k) program, so, yay for retirement planning!

Long weekend ahead! We have Monday off for Presidents’ Day and I couldn’t be more stoked. Of course I will still have rehearsal and CrossFit and such, but it will be nice to have an extra weekend day for fun and productivity. And sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.

I’m fighting a head cold and I hate it. Ben was sick all of last weekend and most of this week, and I can feel my body starting to succumb. I’ve got a dry, swollen throat, and some nasal congestion. I’m doing my absolute best not to give in, and fighting back with lots of tea, sinus irrigation (love my neti pot!), my desktop humidifier, and resting as much as possible. Which isn’t much because I’m stupid busy. But I’m trying. I simply don’t have time to be sick right now. My audition for Dogfight the musical is next weekend, and we leave for the Bahamas a week from Monday. No. Sickness. Here.

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Do you have a long weekend too? Any fun plans?

One Month CrossFit Check-In

My first CrossFit workout was on January 13, and since then, I’ve been to fourteen total classes, so now seems like a great time to do an update.

Long story short, I have drunk the metaphorical Kool-Aid. I love CrossFit. Here are just a few of the reasons why:

The Coaches Are Awesome
One of my greatest concerns going into CrossFit was that I would be pushed to do things that were beyond my current ability level and end up hurting myself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Every single workout, one of the coaches checks in with me at the beginning to a) make sure I know what I’m doing, and b) make sure I have appropriately scaled weights or alternative movements. I still get an incredible amount of one-on-one coaching, so I never feel like I’m at risk of performing movements incorrectly and potentially getting injured, and I’m never taken to task for doing modifications or lighter weights as necessary.

The People Are Awesome
I was also concerned that the majority of the people at the box would be stereotypical power-lifting types who would judge me for not being strong, or not working out every single day, or not knowing what I was doing immediately. I have to say, though, the vast majority of the people I’ve met are “normal” people just like me who are looking to get stronger. Everyone is incredibly supportive and encouraging. There’s definitely a team mentality where everyone is on everyone else’s side, and we all want each other to do our best. Now that I’ve been there for a while, there’s at least one person I know at every class I go to, so I’m really starting to feel like I belong.

The Workouts Kick My Ass, but Give Me ALLTHENERGY
It’s weird, but true. The workouts are always different, and always kick my ass in different ways, but no matter how hard I work and how exhausted I think I am after it’s over, about 15 minutes post-class, the endorphins kick in and I feel AMAZEBALLS for the rest of the night. This is especially valuable because I go to CF before rehearsals, and the extra energy helps me get through rehearsals without feeling grumpy and sluggish.

I Can Already Tell I’m Getting Stronger
If I can say one thing for certain, it’s that CF works. I’m starting to see more definition in my arms and legs. I can do one real, good form, honest-to-goodness push up. Almost two! My squats are deeper and smoother than they were when I started. And I no longer have constant DOMS. I took some measurements last week, and weighed myself at the beginning of February so I can keep track of progress in those areas as well, but the goal truly is to get stronger, and as long as I continue to see improvements that way, I’ll be a happy camper.

I’m so happy I started going to CrossFit, and I can’t wait to see my continued progress. I just wish it weren’t so dang expensive!

 

Weekend Update -Seafood Extravaganza!

Happy Monday, all! I hope your weekend was as good as mine, because it is definitely helping to buoy my spirits today. Everyone in the fam got to stay home today except for me, my commute blew because of snow, and then I dumped my entire Dunkin Donuts coffee moments after arriving at work. It’s been a doozy of a Monday already, and it’s not even 9 am…

Friday
Friday night was pretty full–CrossFit from 5-6, rehearsal from 6:45-10, and post-rehearsal drinks until a bit later than I would have liked, but it was too fun to pass up. Sometimes you just need to eat french fries and nurse a vodka and soda until 11:30 pm. Ben actually texted me all worried because I NEVER stay out that late, haha!

Saturday
I slept in until almost ten, then loafed around for a bit, reading, sipping coffee, and eating breakfast. After that, it was time to clean house. I vacuumed the first and second floors, did laundry, and cleaned our room, then played video games for a bit, and read some more until company arrived.

Earlier in the week, my father in law had sent out a group text that he would be going to Maine this weekend, and bringing back whatever we wanted for what he called “Seafood Extravaganza.” We invited a bunch of family friends over, everyone ordered whatever they desired, and we just ate delicious, fresh-caught oysters, lobster, and steamed clams all night. Oh, and of course, had some libations as well.

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Sunday
I got up pretty early on Sunday considering two late nights in a row. I was feeling overtired and a little headachey–it turns out that seafood isn’t a great base for drinking. Oops! After some breakfast and some coffee, though, I was right as rain. I did some meal prep stuff for the week, put away my clean laundry, and read until it was time to go to rehearsal.

The promised snowstorm had already arrived, so it was slow going, but I made it into town without incident and had a fun dance rehearsal. Due to the snow, they ended up releasing us an hour early, which was great, considering that my commute is one of the longest. It also worked out well because we were having company for supper, so I was able to get home in time to help clean up and make food.

We had some fresh steamed shrimp (held back from seafood extravaganza) as an appetizer, and had homemade chicken curry with winter root vegetable slaw for the main meal.

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Right before our guests arrived, Ben got the phone call that he had a snow day today, so the evening had a somewhat celebratory air, even though I sadly didn’t get a snow day. I went to bed promptly at 10:15, but Ben stayed up reading for a while since he didn’t have to get up for work today. Color me jealous.

How many of you had a snow day today? I really regret not using a vacation day and just staying home…

Friday Free-For-All – 02/10/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

It’s been a pretty light rehearsal week. This is always nice. Especially because the further we get into things, the less likely it is to have an easy week. We’ve nearly finished blocking the show, so we can expect to be running larger and larger chunks as we go on. I’ve been enjoying every minute of my downtime by just relaxing at home as much as possible.

I am SO HAPPY it’s Friday. I don’t know why, but this has been a tough week. I’ve been feeling more exhausted than usual, and cranky to boot. I’m excited to have another weekend at home, so I can catch up on sleep, cleaning, and video games 🙂

I downloaded the audition song for the show I’m interested in this summer, and I’m obsessed. The show is called Dogfight, and it’s a newish musical by the same guys who wrote the music for the current Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen. This song speaks to me so, so much, and I’d love to get to play this role. Check it out!

I will be doing some Instagram posting for 9 to 5. The organization, Lyric Theatre, has an Instagram account that I will be taking over for the rest of the rehearsal and show period and I’m SO excited. I feel very passionately that a stronger social media presence would be really good for Lyric, so I’m excited to hopefully help demonstrate that. If you’re interested in seeing what we’re up to, follow @lyrictheatrevt! I will only be posting a couple of times a week for now, but there will be more to post about the closer we get to the show 🙂

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning? I like to sleep in and then eat a big breakfast 🙂

A Very Race-tastic May

I know I haven’t been running much lately, but in spite of that, the month of May is chock full of races. I haven’t got many races that I’m planning on beyond May because I just don’t know right now what this year is going to bring, but let’s take a look at what I’ll be up to in the oh-so-full month of May.

Vermont Corporate Cup Challenge 5k – May 11
This is a race that you all probably recognize by now. In spite of the fact that it’s one of the oldest road races in Vermont, organization continues to be lacking. Parking and potties are a cluster, and race etiquette is non-existent. You may ask, “If it’s so bad, why bother?” I keep coming back because a) I get free registration through work, and b) it’s a team-building exercise that usually ends with dinner and drinks on the company. Who could say no to that?

Vermont Respite House Jiggety Jog 5k – May 13
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I run this race every year. It’s a fundraiser for the Vermont Respite House, which provides end-of-life care for terminally ill Vermonters. My grandmother passed away there, so it’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s also super well organized, with great post-race food and prizes. I’ve also gotten a birthday-week PR the last two years running, so it’s safe to say that I love this race and am excited for it.

Craft Brew Race 5k – May 20
My friend Hannah really wants to do her first 5k this year, and she asked if I would run the Craft Brew Race with her. Of course I said yes! I did this one a couple of years ago, and while the noon start time made for a stupid hot race, I enjoyed both the race and the brew fest immensely. Plus, Hannah is one of my favorites, so it will be fun to hang out with her for the day.

Vermont City Marathon Relay – May 28
This one is a little iffy because I know my friends Jaska and Penelope are getting married that day. I think depending on the start time of the race and the start time and location of the wedding, I can make it work. I want to make it work. My office got a relay team spot, so I’d only be running one leg of the marathon, and I think it would be really nice to have a positive experience on the course after my disastrous marathon attempt last year.

I’m glad that these are all short races, because it means I can train for them relatively easily, without having to commit to a full-on training schedule or lots of long runs. I’m also optimistic that all of the CrossFit will have helped make me stronger by then, so who knows what I might be capable of?

Do you have any races planned for May? Do any of your months look like my May as far as number of races?

Weekend Update – Much-Needed Rest

Happy Monday, all! Well, not really. I mean, who’s ever happy it’s Monday? Certainly not me. I definitely hit the snooze button a few times this morning. I’ve been trying not to hit snooze lately because supposedly it’s not very good for you, but I simply couldn’t help it this morning. So, what did this weekend look like?

Friday
Immediately after work, I hit up my usual 5-6pm CrossFit class. My coworker Kelsey recently started going to my box, so it’s been fun to get to know her a bit better. As usual, I was full of energy and feeling good post-class.

I grabbed a quick dinner at Panera, and then headed off to a shorter-than-usual Friday night rehearsal for 9 to 5. We’re working on one of the fantasy scenes, which is HILARIOUS and lots of fun. I get to be a demented bunny rabbit. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I mean.

After rehearsal, I headed home. Ben had to skip broom ball because his axe wound is still healing, so we had a couple of beers and hung out with his parents until we were too tired to stay up any longer.

Saturday
We slept in until about 9 and loafed around for a while sipping coffee and eating fried potatoes and eggs for breakfast. I got some laundry going, and then did a bunch of cleaning, bullet journaling, and generally getting caught up on life stuff that always falls by the wayside during the week.

Originally, we were supposed to go to a big, annual bonfire that some family friends throw, but right about the time we were supposed to leave, Ben turned to me and said, “I don’t really feel like going,” and I said, “Yay, me neither!” Instead, we took turns playing video games, drank some beer, and were in bed by midnight. It’s been a while since both Ben and I got to just stay home and enjoy each other’s company on a Saturday night. A quiet night in together was just what we needed.

Sunday
I ended up waking up right around 8, which is pretty early for me on a weekend. My father in law made blueberry pancakes and ham for breakfast, and then I got right into making my mondo batch of beans and rice for meal prep. I was done in pretty short order, and was able to relax and paint my nails before rehearsal.

DIY manicure. Right hand vs left hand. Nothing a little polish remover can't fix!

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Rehearsal was lots of fun–more work on the silly fantasy scenes, AND they let me go almost an hour early, which was great. I grabbed some snacks and headed over to my friends Aimee and Andrew’s house for Super Bowl viewing. I ate my body weight in French Onion dip, snuggled a cute baby, thoroughly enjoyed the half time show, and then left around 9 because I had to drive back to Underhill and the Pats were sucking hardcore.

My Super Bowl buddy ❤

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Shortly after I left, it seems the Pats pulled out a miraculous turnaround for the win, which basically says to me I shouldn’t watch important sporting events if I want my team to win. When I got home, I packed my gym bag and rehearsal stuff for today, and turned in shortly thereafter.

Who were you rooting for in last night’s game?

Friday Free-For-All – 02/03/17

Photo Jul 14, 10 05 37 AM

My coworker Stacey brought a giant box of pastries into my office first thing this morning. Words cannot describe what a delightful start that was to my Friday. I made an extra cup of coffee and sipped and munched and YES.

I didn’t do my meal prep stuff this past weekend and I’ve been struggling all week because of it. For a while, I was on a roll with prepping meals for the week on Sunday mornings, but I’ve definitely fallen off the wagon. I need to get back on, quick. Buying lunches every day (plus dinners on rehearsal days) is causing me to spend way too much money.

I think I’ve decided to audition for only one show this summer, and will only accept a lead role. Like I’ve said before, stating that I’ll only take a lead role makes me feel like a total schmuck, but I just can’t commit to another three months of rehearsals unless it’s a lead role. I don’t anticipate getting this particular role because I’m not right for it physically, but I need to practice auditioning more so that it’s less stressful for me, and going into an audition where it’s not super high stakes emotionally will be good for me. I’m mostly looking at it as a practice audition at this point.

Do you bring your lunch to work, or do you buy lunch?