What Can Happen on a Godwalk

We singers, musicians, teachers and heart-based entrepreneurs are well-served having regular life check-ins and brain-storming sessions, as I mentioned in my last post.

Here’s another avenue for inspiration and guidance I have found indispensable over the last 20+ years – a practice I call “the Godwalk”. This quick minute and 40 second video describes the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNSqwV7nBOI

Two weeks ago, I headed to one of my favorite stores in all of Portland, Savory Spice Shop https://www.savoryspiceshop.com in Sellwood. I love Sellwood. It has several cool antique shops, a great vibe, and proprietors set out water bowls for dogs in front of the stores (always a plus to this animal lover.)

Since I was already in the neighborhood, I decided to take my Godwalk there instead of in my Lake Oswego neighborhood as I usually do. I randomly turned corners, walked down different streets, found a great book in a little library…eventually finding myself drawn by a colorful sign saying, “Community Church For Joy.”

Community Church for Joy. My, my, my.

Well, well, well, that certainly drew me.

The front door was propped open, so I walked up the steps and right on in. I somehow felt a kinship with the place. There was a sign on the main inside door saying that a class was in session, so I left without looking around for anyone to talk with, yet immediately Googled after I got home, and found the right person to contact, a woman named Rachel. http://www.dancewithjoystudios.com/about/rachel-lidskog/

Rachel is a dance instructor. My body has been calling for me to dance for months now. I’ve had “dance” written down on a sticky note on my calendar and keep moving it from week to week.

Rachel and I met today in person. She’s been looking for someone to bring music, maybe even a choir, to her community for months now.

Right now, I have no idea what will happen from today’s meeting. I simply know that something will. And that it will be fabulous.

If you don’t already have a Godwalk practice, you might want to start one. Today.

To Your Voice,

Laura

Working with Laura has been a huge blessing in my life. I have wanted to learn to sing for years now but always believed I didn’t have a good singing voice. After a couple lessons with Laura I heard sounds coming out of my mouth I couldn’t believe I was making! My skills and my confidence have improved. I’ve performed hip-hop live twice now and voice lessons have helped me with public speaking too. Highly recommended! -Lennon R.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Follow the Strands: Take a Nap, Pet Your Cat, and Watch the Magic Happen

Follow the Strands: Take a Nap, Pet Your Cat, and Watch the Magic Happen

For a good chunk of my life, I’ve had a certain conflict between the desire to reach my potential (or, more dramatically, fulfill my destiny) and the equally important desire to have lots of fun and not take things too seriously or work too hard.

Does this ring a bell with you?

This dilemma is probably more common in the United States than in other countries because there’s such an emphasis on capitalism and financial/material success here.

I also deeply resonate with Lady Gaga’s acceptance speech last Sunday when she won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Shallow: “If you’re sitting on your couch and you’re watching this right now all I have to say is this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time and it’s not about winning. What it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”

Amen, sister!

So, how do we vocalists, teachers, performers and big dreamers keep our perspective?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had corporate jobs that paid me plenty of money but left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve started businesses that ultimately ‘failed’ because I couldn’t support myself. I was married for 12 years, and that marriage ended in divorce. I’ve had friendships come and go and others which have endured for years.

Now, as a voice teacher, ever-growing vocalist, and actor taking on auditions, I’ve found my authentic niche.  I’m in the best personal relationship of my life with my partner of nearly six and a half years, and the friendships I have are mutually respectful, loving and supportive. I’m even volunteering to start a small local community choir.

All the same, I still find myself seeking a better balance more often than I like to admit.

In hopes my experience will help you, here are two practices I’ve found vital to staying on track with my inner, essential self.

1) Regularly check in to ensure you’re living your life on purpose – by design, rather than by default. Details are here on my website in the Me Now PDF under “free stuff”: http://laurahandke.com/free-stuff/.

2) Complete a periodic intuitive brainstorming session, especially if you’re an entrepreneur in business for yourself, to flush out what you want to create/accomplish and break the process down into next steps.  

Here’s an image of the session I completed February 5th. One step that arose was to schedule a video conference with a couple of fellow professional women friends for additional feedback, ideas and inspiration.

The two delightful, accomplished women who joined me for that conference earlier today were Julanne Dalke, voice artist and writer, and Joanne McCall, publicity specialist. Plenty of feedback, ideas and inspiration flowed in the little over an hour we spent together and the biggest theme (for me, anyway) was the balance/perspective I’m writing about in this post.

“Following the strands” is how Julanne has learned to most successfully create the life she loves to live. Julanne has gone through some tough stuff; yet the things she has been able to manifest (some of which have had absolutely nothing to do with the goals she “thought” she wanted) are downright astonishing.

In our conference call, I had mentioned feeling “guilty” because I did basically nothing all day yesterday. I hadn’t slept well and woke up without much energy. So, I cancelled my calendar items and stayed in bed with my cat, napping and finishing up a novel.

I had a lot more energy when I got out of bed this morning.

Strands – ideas, inspiration, next steps, inner guidance “out of nowhere” – can’t come to us when we’re pushing through our to-do list and feeling anxious, with constant thoughts of what we’re not getting done, what went wrong, or what we should be doing.

Julanne’s advice? Take a nap, pet your cat, and let the magic happen.

Focusing upon a solution makes you feel positive emotion. Focusing upon a problem makes you feel negative emotion, and while the differences are subtle, they are very important, for when you are feeling positive emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you want. When you are feeling negative emotion, you are attracting into your experience that which you do not want. –The Law of Attraction: The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham, Esther and Jerry Hicks

As we discussed the power of the mind and our thought patterns, Joanne shared a brilliant analogy I’d like you to envision.

We all know how one pesky thought can lead us into a downward spiraling rabbit hole we’d be better off not following.

Imagine you are sitting in front of a cozy fireplace, enjoying the warmth. A negative thought flies out of the fire like a spark and lands on the sweater you’re wearing. All you have to do is flick it off, and the spark will immediately extinguish before it starts your sweater (or anything else nearby) smoldering and eventually flaming.

How awesome is that?!

See, there’s a reason the strand of scheduling this conference came up in my intuitive brainstorming session.

Now I don’t feel one bit guilty about taking the day off yesterday. I’m looking forward to my upcoming training gigs for the National Speakers Association and Dress for Success, lessons with my four talented students tomorrow, and helping out with the local community choir.

Feel free to take a nap and pet your cat (or dog, horse, bunny, iguana, motorcycle…) You just never know where the next strand might lead!

To Your Voice,

Laura

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

After the Audition

After the Audition

After the Audition

I’m regularly on stage teaching, speaking or acting and am a voice teacher, so I sing all the time. But earlier this month I had my first musical audition in around 20 years. While straight acting auditions have become much easier for me over the years, I was terrified at the thought of singing in an audition. Go figure! Even after working with my amazing voice teacher – and rehearsing in front of friends – I still became so nervous my body tensed, so my singing voice went out the window.

I almost canceled the audition; but before doing so, reached out to the director asking if I could sing a different style of song, one my body knows in muscle memory and I know I can sing even when fear sets in. That song is Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. I learned it with my fiancé accompanying me on guitar, while we both felt Johnny’s presence in the room. (By the way, this is not a practice I would recommend to any of my auditioning students.)

The director encouraged me to keep the audition slot and sing one of the songs in the traditional style I’d been working on, saying his team was very easy to audition for.

After receiving such a kind and encouraging response, I couldn’t cancel my audition slot!

Two things happened after that. 1) A friend and business colleague sent me an MP3 file designed to release fear patterns in the brain, and I listened to it and tapped along (about a 14 minute process) every morning the week before the audition. 2) I chose a different song to rehearse, lower than the other songs I’d been rehearsing – one of my “shower” songs I’ve been singing for years. I have a super high voice, but sang alto for years before beginning voice training in my early 40’s. This song, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, felt closer to Folsom Prison Blues in my body, and in my mind.

That’s the song I sang for the audition. I read for one character from the script (and of course thought of six things I could have differently after I left the theatre.) But I didn’t embarrass myself. My singing voice was fine other than one wavery, weak note right before the end.

I wasn’t asked to come back for the dance audition and wasn’t cast. But I met my goal of having a solid audition, and something has shifted in my brain since I had the courage to do it.

The following day, I ran across a live staged version of the musical RENT on TV and watched the whole thing. I couldn’t stop singing along. I loved the movie and love the soundtrack and have been singing the songs ever since. Now…is it possible?…I’m actually looking forward to my next musical audition?! I will keep singing and working on repertoire for me and my students in the meantime.

Somehow, just having the courage to do this audition has further freed my voice. Isn’t that something?

I learned so much in the process. 1) Performers, singers, voice teachers need to have a regular vocal practice. (I didn’t, until now.) 2) It’s uber important – thanks, Linda! – to regularly check your body for any tension that will constrict your God-given voice, and let that tension go – encourage it to leave. You can’t do this just one hour, or even eight, before the audition. 3) I fully realized how much the thought processes starting with impulses in the brain affect the rest of our body. And our entire body is our vocal instrument.

What a humbling, and ultimately uplifting, experience.

Come sing along with me now, will ya?!

I have worked with Laura on and off over the years – as a professional speaker, she helped me increase my vocal variety and taught me how to project my voice to the back of the room (in such fun and interesting ways: “Money, Money, MONEY!”).  As a professional singer, she has helped me safely roar out the rock tunes and ballads, and taught me how to smooth out my registers, etc. Laura is professional, competent, and knows how to help people with their vocal-goals!  Highly recommended!  -Annie N.

I’ve been working with Laura for 8 months. She has helped me significantly improve both my public speaking and singing voice. Most importantly though, Laura helped me rediscover authentic self-expression and confidence in my ability to positively impact the world with the words that I speak! -Lennon R.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

On Auditions: Tell Me to Break a Leg!

Auditions are the bane of any performer’s existence. Whether you’re an aspiring actress in LA going to massive television/film cattle calls or one like me going to local theatre auditions here in Portland, there are always more actors auditioning than available roles. Auditions can make a performer anywhere from a little nervous to terrified, depending on…well…too many factors to list here.

I’m auditioning for my first musical in 20 years on Saturday. This means I have to sing. Not in voice lessons, not for myself, but in front of the director and his team. I have loved to sing since I could speak…yet after a couple weeks of rehearsing and singing as much as possible in front of other people, my nervous level was still close to the terrified end of the scale. Which really doesn’t make any logical sense. It’s not like some organized crime godmother told me if I didn’t audition, she’d have “the girls” toss my partner or cat off the end of a big cliff to land on a field of huge 5 foot sharpened knitting needles.

All the same…this fear is real for many performers, in many shows, in many locales, all over the world. It’s not just me.

I even considered canceling the audition.

The chances of my NOT being cast are probably, I’m guessing, 100 times more than my chances of being cast. A statistician knowing how many people are auditioning, for how many roles, the experience and confidence level of each actor, their astrological charts, whether or not Mercury will be in retrograde, along with their chances of getting into an accident on the way to the theatre with the weather that day…all of this would be much more precise, I’m sure.

Yet we singers and actors keep doing auditions, because we are passionate about doing this work in the world.

A dear friend, who has directed over 20 plays, reminds me auditions aren’t about any one particular actor…rather about the mix and right fit of different actors working together. At least that’s certainly how it should be for a great show!

My amazing voice teacher, Linda Brice, knows well that fear starts in the mind, yet impacts the body dramatically, and with tension in the body, we can’t sing well. Linda has taught me not only great vocal technique, but how to breathe, visualize, and release the tension in my body for a good chunk of time before an audition or performance. The audition or performance isn’t about me; it’s about how I want the people in the room with me to feel.

Their experience will be directly impacted by the experience I’m having myself.

Josh Pais, founder of www.committedimpulse.com recently wrote:

Emotions, at their core, are simply energy. Your body is made out of atoms – and emotions are energetic fluctuations. These fluctuations are not good or bad – they are just shifts in vibrational frequencies.

Further, these fluctuations are CREATIVE FUEL!

We gotta Ride these fluctuations – not Hide them!

If we disconnect from our body (the source of creativity), where do we end up – in our head – next thing we know we’re listening to abusive shit.

In the moment of creation, understanding or analyzing what you are feeling will not serve you.

In the moment of creation, your job is to create from the badass charge that is in your body.

As we train to stay in our bodies – we learn to give the audience what they want. YOU.
Your truth in THIS moment.

Thanks for that, Josh Pais!

My only goal for Saturday is to give a solid audition – one I’ve honed enough to feel confident in, knowing I’ve done my best.

Will you tell me to ‘Break a Leg’ on the blog? It’s true – ‘Good Luck’ to actors means ‘Bad Luck,’ so only tell me to Break a Leg! And then maybe you can help me figure out where that tradition came from in the first place!

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

I came away with a much better understanding of how to do, and effectively use, belly breathing to speak confidently, efficiently and effectively. -Caroline M.

Laura is a skilled teacher and observer of her students. -Anita E.

Supportive, fun, safe…and immediately applicable tools and skills. -Barbara M.

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.) Laura

Lake Music

Lake Music

Sadly, community music stores aren’t common anymore. My extensive research (comprised of exactly one Google search using the words “community+music+stores+us”) brought up precisely 11 hits from Portland, OR, South Hadley, MA, The Dalles, OR, Brentwood, East Bay area,  South FL, Rivervale, UT, several locations in WI,  and Santa Fe, NM before going straight to Amazon Music.

I feel fortunate to have such a store in my neighborhood. Lake Music, on Boones Ferry Road, is just over a mile from  my house and home studio. I’d been a customer for piano books before I walked in, probably over a year ago, to see if I could post some marketing materials there for my vocal training practice. Since they have music teachers as independent contractors there at the store, I was told that probably wasn’t a great idea…and that a voice teacher might be leaving. 

I thought, “What the heck?” And e-mailed the store owner with my vocal training information, just in case.

Months later, I heard from Tim that they needed a new voice teacher, and was I still interested?

I was.

I’ve been teaching at Lake Music, along with private students in my home studio and via Zoom, since early August of last year, and am so grateful I stopped into the store that day!

Lake Music was founded by Tim’s father, Sid Smither, in 1970, and has taught and inspired thousands of students.  As time has gone by, 2nd generation students are learning the value of music education at Lake Music.  As the website https://www.lakemusicoregon.com/ says: “We are so happy to have been and still be a part of bringing the love and passion of music to Lake Oswego for close to 50 years.”

Along with vocal training, I’m teaching piano students at Lake Music as well. I know Mrs. Hamre, my piano teacher from second grade through my senior year of high school, would be proud.

I love the staff at Lake Music, my fellow teacher colleagues and the store dog, Mary Ann’s dachshund, Kutya. (That’s likely not the proper Hungarian spelling – we pronounce his name “Coocha.”) Kutya is adorable and trails into the music room with Mary Ann when she’s teaching violin students.  I’m working with younger students there I wouldn’t otherwise have met, and have been blown away by the students’ progress, and the joy I experience teaching them.

Here’s just one story, about one student, I met through Lake Music. “H” is 20 years old, and up until his first voice lesson with me, had never sung. Apparently, he’s an accomplished guitar player, and his guitar teacher recommended he explore voice lessons.

Immediately at H’s first lesson, I recognized the inner singer in him that had been waiting to come out and play. He became so impassioned about singing and music, he considered quitting college all together to become a professional musician. His passion, enthusiasm and dedication to his voice are awe-inspiring. Much to – I’m sure – his parents’ relief, H returned to college to study computer science, business and to minor in music! He signed up for the men’s chorus and private voice lessons at the university as well! At our last lesson together, I asked H, “Whatever you do in the future, keep singing!” He assured me he would and gave me a hug. (Sniffle.)

Having the opportunity to nurture and help develop a love of singing, and another person’s voice, like this is humbling, thrilling, and an honor I do not take lightly.

Do you have an inner singer that wants to come out and play? Give me a call! And, if you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, drop by Lake Music, will ya? You’ll find a great variety of printed music, instruments, teachers for all instruments, instrument rental and repair, and a group of fantastic people to help you fuel your love and passion for music.

Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Working with Laura has been a huge blessing in my life. I have wanted to learn to sing for years now but always believed I didn’t have a good singing voice. After a couple lessons with Laura I heard sounds coming out of my mouth I couldn’t believe I was making! My skills and my confidence have improved. I’ve performed hip-hop live twice now and voice lessons have helped me with public speaking too. Highly recommended! -Lennon R.

Every time I have a lesson with Laura, I come out having learned something new about my voice, and my breathing. I try to use these techniques on a daily basis for acting, singing, and general speech. I recommend Laura to anyone hoping to improve their voice. -Noah G. (13 yrs.)

To Your Voice and Your Personal Music,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Business vs. Calling

Simply Authentic…Your Soul Voice is Calling. Business vs. Calling

Business vs. Calling

Have you ever thought about the difference between having an entrepreneurial business versus a professional practice or calling in which you’re self-employed? That there even could be a difference?  Or a focus on money vs. helping people?

I have, because this topic surfaced not long ago in a Transformational Voice® Apprenticeship seminar.

I was an employee in American corporate culture for many years.

Some was good, some not so good.

Here’s an example of good when I worked in the workers’ compensation claims industry. Fellow claims adjusters often asked me for help writing their IME (Independent Medical Evaluation) letters. I reached out to my supervisor, because so many people were asking me for help with their writing. She asked if I’d ever thought about teaching a writing class. I hadn’t. She connected me with the training & development manager and I developed a writing class that helped people become better writers. I rehearsed and rehearsed before first teaching the class but was still shaking in my pumps that first class. Soon, it became second nature and one of my favorite things to do. Eventually I became the first Disabling Claims Unit Mentor.

Here’s an example of not so good. I worked for a different insurance company where we all shook in our shoes every time the manager in Sacramento called or visited. She was a bully/Devil Wears Prada type manager (must have been dealing with a lot of fear) being all nice on the outside while micro-managing us down to the hairs on our toes. Don’t tell anyone, but we had one of those noise buttons in the office – it was the voice of the Wicked Witch of the West.  When you pressed the button down, you heard that evil cackle, then I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!

It helped relieve tension in the office.

Eventually, everyone I worked with in that office quit, except for one young woman who was promoted to a supervisory position and moved to Phoenix, so she wasn’t in the office anymore either.

I resigned from my last corporate job, a great one with an excellent manager, to follow my heart, and my calling. And I left a very good salary behind.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself since graduating from college, it’s that I’m not afraid of taking a risk. And that I will always be provided for if I follow my heart and listen closely to my inner promptings.

Money is just a tool. A great tool. It can be used for great good, or no good at all. Greed and the desire for power; that’s something different. Money is neutral.

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. -Jimi Hendrix

It’s all about the mindset. When fear comes calling – you’re afraid you won’t have enough money, make enough money, or lose what money you have – that fear moves you away from your true nature, which is to be in service to the God-given talents you were given to help others in this world.

You can have a calling, be self-employed in that profession, and be financially successful as an entrepreneur. Perhaps you know you haven’t reached your income potential yet and can do better so you can do more good in the world. It’s all in the mindset.

You can work for a company wherein you feel you’re making a positive difference in the world. It’s all in the mindset.

Now, will you play with me for a bit? Imagine you unexpectedly receive a check for two million dollars in the mail tomorrow.

What would you do with it?

I would honestly love to give more to charities I believe in; for example: Organizations that help bring clean drinking water to people who don’t have it and help educate and train girls in areas of the world where women don’t have rights; Shelters that help homeless animals find loving homes; Non-profit theatre companies that bring affordable theatre to our local communities. Offer more free vocal training than I already am to people who need it. Invest more. I’d like a better computer, a trip to Niagara Falls (a girlfriend in Canada just moved there), a red winter coat, and hand-made pottery from a local artisan.

Gosh, that’s just off the top of my head. What if I wanted to partner with a colleague and start a theatre production company and provide super affordable vocal training, bring in dance teachers, volunteer with some awesome charity to bring free music classes to kids who don’t have them…

The possibilities for doing good and being of service are limitless once you allow your mind to run free. As big as I can dream, two million dollars could go quickly, and I don’t mean on a shopping spree in Manhattan.

How big can you dream if you put on your healthiest (you successful while being in service to others) mindset? Let us know on the blog!

This vocal practice helps people in so many areas of their lives. Bless you for doing this work. -Dr. Scott A, DC

To Your Voice,

Laura

Lake Oswego’s Transformational Voice® Teacher (Transformational Voice® is a registered trademark of Transformational Voice® Training Institute, LLC, and Linda Brice.)