Well, I've made it through week one of my meme challenge. And, what a week it has been....
Remember where there world was a week ago? I hardly can at this point.
Some things have not changed: I am still in Hamburg because, believe it or not, my performances have not been cancelled. The house I'm performing in is smaller than the 1,000 seats mandated for closure. So, tomorrow night, we will sing The Magic Flute to...empty chairs? Ourselves? All of this is yet to be determined.
Mind you, I have no business complaining that my performances have not been cancelled as I have so many talented colleagues whose work has been stopped. If you yourself are not a performer (or, a lawyer for that matter), I urge you be acquainted with the term 'force majeure' and its impact on the freelance community. I highly suggest that you start reading a fantastic blog by tenor and writer Zach Finkelstein, called The Middle-class Artist. Zach takes a detailed look at those of us who are not the superstar artists, but still sing for a living. His article on the impact of 'force majeure' on freelancers in this time is sobering. If you do not realize this, the majority of us only get paid if we sing. And if a we are sick, or the show cancelled, that money is lost to us. Moreover, I have many colleagues who have been rehearsal for weeks and none of whom will receive pay, as their payment is directly linked to their performances, not their rehearsing. And because these cancelled performances fall under an 'act of God,' companies are not obligated to pay at all. Force majeure indeed. This is a very scary time for freelancers. May I humbly suggest that, if you have purchased tickets for a performance, before requesting a refund, please check to see if the theater or organization is setting up a sort of fund for its affected artists and donate your ticket fee there. As Zach's article outlines, the chance of many performing middle-class artists needing to file for bankruptcy is high.
But how are you doing? Have you also been living better through memes?
I wanted to give a brief update of my meme-living:
I am happy to report that, while I have not achieved 8-hours every night (I stretch which I already knew at the start), I did have three days this week which achieved that count. The other four nights ranged between a piddly 6.5 to a not-bad 7.5 hours. Considering my sleeping difficulties of the past two years in which I sometimes was not making more than 5.5 hours of sleep, this is definite improvement.
The effect? I'd like to say that I had more energy to do things...I'd like to say that, but the lack of sun proved difficult. And even when there was sun, on the days that I slept my 8 hours or more, I actually felt more sluggish. I wonder if my body has adapted to less sleep over the years?
This one I'm also happy to report I improved upon. Five of my seven days I reached my water goal. The other two, I came in just under. I'd also like to acknowledge the ladybug that gave its life for my little experiment. I have an unusual number of ladybugs that just show up in my room. I don't know where they come from---my windows don't open. This one apparently decided that it was needing to take a dip in my glass of water. I noticed after it was too late. As is stated in one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes, 'a lady[bug] always knows when to leave.' Fly high, little ladybug.
The effect is that my skin is not nearly as red as it was looking a week ago and everything just runs a little smoother. It does still not feel natural to intake this much water, but I'm working on it. It's a worthy habit, especially in these virus-ridden times. Whether you're sick or not, water is your best friend. Oh, and sleep. See above.
I had three sunny days to enjoy, one of which was in Berlin. You can check out my post on Berlin below if you're interested. The other days I had to employ my SAD lamp. I don't know if I've felt a noticeable difference yet, but I can say that the return of the sun is a reminder that summer is coming. That makes me smile.
This one was pretty split. I had milk tea, but only requested 30% sugar. I had a chocolate bar, but it was dark chocolate with mint filling. No extra sugar/honey in my tea, but I definitely partook of the sweet stuff.
This one is hard to measure over the span of a week. I am no where near the sugar intake of the past eight months, I am proud to say. As I stated before, the less of it I eat, the less of it I want.
30-minutes of Reading
I definitely achieved this this week, but not always reading for entertainment. I had three nights of reading before bed just for pure enjoyment. The other four days were reading usually related to my Chinese studies (which I do also consider pure enjoyment), or articles related to a variety of subjects.
On the nights where I read before sleeping I don't believe that I woke up early or in a panic, things that often happen to me for no reason at all. I also felt the desire to read more when I read, if that makes sense? Again, it's just a matter of building a habit here, and we all know that habit-building is rarely a linear path.
Workout 3x a Week
This week, I definitely achieved this, but again in different ways. One day was a HIIT workout that I did in my room which I described in my previous entry. Then my days in Berlin, I walked 14 km and 7km respectively. Believe me, having the freedom to do this while my family members in Northern Italy are quarantined in their homes is not lost on me. Yesterday, I was craving something old school workout, like 80s Jane Fonda or Kathy Smith. Ultimately, however, I landed on a fun 30 minute dance workout called the 'Old-School Hip-Hop Grooves Workout' by SugarPop Fitness on YouTube. The moves remind me of a little Boyz 2 Men, a littleTLC, dash of Salt-N-Pepa, and maybe just a smattering of MC Hammer. It was fun. I broke a sweat. I'll check out the other videos they have for free on YouTube. I also did a little bit of yoga this week for good measure, a quick 20-minute good morning flow. It's easy for me to get stuck in the it's-only-a-workout-if-I-go-to-the-gym mentality. I have to consciously remember that there are lots of things that I can do to benefit my body, my cardiovascular health and my muscle tone without any equipment and without leaving my home. How timely.
This was much more difficult than I expected this week. I was able to do it four times. I always managed to find a reason to 'do it later,' which then never happened. I have suffered from chronic pain for about 14 years. Again on a not so linear path, I have seen that frequency and intensity of pain decrease dramatically over the past year. I even cancelled a physiotherapy appointment a few weeks back just because I didn't need it. Meditation has played a huge role in that, specifically the guided meditation that I found in the App 'Curable.' If you suffer from chronic pain, even if it's a long-standing pain like mine was, if you've tried everything but still aren't ready to give up, please consider trying the Curable app. It's part educational tool, part meditation guru, and part therapist. You have to be willing to go deep into where your pain source is. I was ready for that change. And I can honestly tell you, even if you think you know where your pain is coming from, you don't. It's very likely that it is just the tip of the physco-emotional ice berg which you've managed to freeze yourself into. It is not free: there is an annual subscription fee of around $100. When I think about the out-of-pocket expenses to my whole team of physiotherapists, psychotherapists, acupuncturists, Alexander technique teachers, Feldenkrais instructors...shall I continue? All of these helped me immensely, but when I finally and thoroughly committed to doing the work on my own with Curable I finall felt like I had control over my healing and wasn't reliant on those outside sources anymore.
One other thing that I've really stayed committed to this week is eating vegan. I started a slow slide into this when I got to Hamburg and met person after person eating this way. As I've mentioned before, eating dairy-free was suggested to me a number of years back after I discovered my allergy. Being gluten-free makes eating vegan difficult, but I've done a solidly good job in exploring my options. I am beginning to wonder if this is final piece of my pain puzzle, because with a tremendous decrease of meat in my diet, I've had NO pain. As things have been getting better over the last few years, I was down to maybe three or four times a month with a flare up. But now, nothing. And most importantly, its such a significant decrease in pain that my brain doesn't even look for it anymore (if you're a chronic pain sufferer, you'll understand what I'm talking about). Those pathways that track my pain are shutting down. 'Physician, heal thyself?' Actually, yes.
Don't ever give up on living a pain-free life. There is something out there that can improve your quality of life...you just might have to fight for it. Fight for yourself.
Stay well, my friends. Wash your hands.