Last night I led the singing for a Christmas Caroling Party up in Estes Park!
This past month I obtained handicap designation for myself and my car around three chronic health issues. This step has been something I have put off for five years since being diagnosed with chronic hypoxia.
The most problematic issue has been my spine. I have scoliosis and it has gotten markedly worse over the past few years while working as a professional driver.
I also suffer from a variety of emotional illnesses and always seem to be battling one thing or another around childhood trauma.
It has proven most helpful to get some new equipment for my oxygen supplementation and handicap designation for our car.
I am an Uber/Lyft Driver and having the proper tools in place to do my job well has felt incredibly empowering.
I also have been renting a wheelchair for certain situations to enable me to do more outside of my home.
I used it for the first time last month conducting a ninety minute stake choir practice and the chair was perfect!
We found a used wheelchair on Craigs List and it feels good to own one now.
I am also working with a new young chiropractor and am excited to see what we can do to increase my mobility over the next few years.
She put me on a mold protocol to help cleanse the tissues of my body using herbs and other supplements. We lived in a home in Cedar City Utah for three years that had a serious black mold problem and she believes the mold may have contributed to some serious infections I have suffered with these past few years.
Now I am wondering if the mold contributed to the untimely death of my dog Samwise Gandalf.
Lifelong anaphylactic allergies, asthma, and eczema are always lurking in the shadows and I cannot go anywhere without an epi pen, anti-histamines, and my inhaler.
I also have had several recent breathing emergencies that proved scary and sobering as we have tried to wrestle with how much I can do both inside and outside of our home. I am also learning the limitations of my battery powered oxygen concentrator.
I have been back on 24 hr a day oxygen supplementation for months since a setback a few months ago.
That being said, I am planning to audition for a few theatrical companies this year and hope to spend some quality time making music and performing onstage even if I am on oxygen in a wheelchair.
In the spirit of using music to heal, I started a new playlist on my YT channel to share my songs. Memorizing these lyrics and new arrangements will be a fun fall project.
I have also been starting my day with the three M’s. Movement, Math, and Music.
I do yoga, a Saxon math lesson, and work on memorizing the lines/songs of Ruth from Pirates of Penzance. These types of activities keep my mind and body occupied with positive activity and help my brain to function better.
I pick a musical theatre role I desire to play and memorize all songs, lines, and staging.
I have done this now with Mother Abbess from The Sound of Music, Mrs. Hannigan from Annie, Nettie from Carousel, Mrs. Thenardier from Les Mis, and Bea from Something Rotten.
The daily memorization of a difficult part is really great for overall brain nimbleness and helps beat back depression.
Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you have a great day!!!
PS – I was given a new handicap license plate by the state of Colorado and spent a few extra dollars to choose my own letters and numbers.
And from my Video Audition Page
Please Note that I am completely disabled by scoliosis and have to perform in a wheelchair on oxygen supplementation. I need a dressing room that is ADA compatible with no aerosols (hairspray) or cigarette smoke in use and with close access to a wheelchair friendly restroom.
I like to sleep in my own bed, so if your theatrical company is within a two hour car ride from Longmont Colorado, I will be commuting to rehearsals and performances. This would include Fort Collins to the north all the way down to Colorado Springs and anywhere along the front range and up to Breckenridge in the mountains.
If your company is out of state or more than 100 miles from my home, I will need ADA compliant housing on the ground floor with no stairs, no smoking roomates, and a wheelchair friendly shower stall.
The hardest part for me as these past few months have played out was interfacing with allopathic docs to reup my prescriptions and get the spinal scans and blood/urine work.
I hate allopathy with this viscerally palpable disgust and it galls me that my body compels me to swallow my pride and go get what I need from them every couple of years.
I am grateful to have had a x-ray to just get a benchmark of where I am.
When I was 15 I wore a brace for scoliosis for a year and the S curve was 17 degrees at the top and 32 degrees at the bottom.
The scan showed that the curve is much worse up top which fits with my symptoms. I can feel my left ribcage collapsing into my left lung and squeezing my diaphragm.
How much this contributes to my breathing issues I do not know.
I did feel somewhat defensive with my own children as they questioned the move to the wheelchair. They sorta felt like it was me giving up. One daughter didn’t even know that I have had scoliosis my whole life because I don’t talk about it.
After using the brace for a year, when I was 16 I threw it out and started seeing an osteopath who encouraged me to dance, lift weights, swim, and do anything I wanted to strengthen my back.
This was very freeing because it fit with my own intuition of what was important.
My teenage orthopedist had limited my exercise to swimming.
During my 20’s, 30’s, and most of my 40’s I used yoga and swimming to keep in shape, especially during my pregnancies. But I also walked quite a bit and rode my bike.
It has only been these last few years that I have been forced to slow way down.
And what I have had to confront just recently is that I may not get my health back any time soon.
I plan to keep working on it, of course, but I am reconciling to a life with serious limitations and it has not been easy.
We’ll see how it goes. I am constantly being pummeled with the most intense spiritual warfare for my political activism and all I can say is that it takes a heavy toll on my health.
We celebrated Paul’s 60th!
Theatre Prof with worldwide rep has had enough…
A Romania-born academic recently left his tenured position at Columbia University because the Ivy League school is “on its way toward full blown communism,” according to a Romanian TV interview translated by a Romanian-American immigrant.
Prof. Andrei Serban, an award-winning director, complained about the increasing social justice demands he faced in the theater department in the interview, which aired on Romania’s TVR1 Oct. 26., The College Fix reported.
THE INCIDENTS THAT DROVE HIM OUT
He used the transgender issue as an example. The college declared their unwillingness to fill one retiring professor’s position with a heterosexual white male. They wanted a female and preferably someone who was gay.
The dean of the art school told Mr. Serban and the other professors in the department that there were “too many white professors, too many heterosexual men,” and that it would be best to hire a minority or a woman, or a gay man.
The professor says that he then asked if they could choose a straight white male if the most qualified candidate happened to be so, and was promptly told that they could not. “I felt like I was living under communism again,” he said.
The TV host was incredulous during the interview that the American colleges were becoming communist.
Serban fled communism.
A second incident involving a male-to-female transgender student was the final impetus for Serban to resign, according to the translated video.
While reviewing applicants to the theater school, the transgender student prepared Juliet’s monologue from “Romeo and Juliet.”
She said as much and was met with displeasure. That is when he decided to resign out of principle. There were too many social justice [communist] demands. Too much political correctness.
I recently crafted a new website where I posted my audition video for musical theatre.
I am gearing up to audition for several 2020 summer stock companies and 2019 Christmas shows being produced along the front range of Colorado.
Scoring Mrs. Fezziwig last year in The Longmont Theatre Company production of A Christmas Carol was amazing. But I have decided that is the last show I will do out of my wheelchair with no oxygen supplementation.
I kept my concentrator backstage on show nights and every time I came offstage I hooked up to increase my saturation. But I had several really scary moments, especially during the Fezziwig party scene when Mr. F and I had to waltz.
I did not tell the directors of my disabilities, focusing instead on delivering a knockout audition and always showing up to rehearsals on time and ready to go.
I volunteered to choreograph the dance scene because I wanted to make certain we danced a waltz instead of a polka and I kept the movement very slow with nothing aerobic and lots of arm movements.
If we had polka’d around the stage I would not have been able to do it.
I had three mini bouts of illness during rehearsals and missed a whole week of blocking with yet another eye infection.
There were no understudies, and I was really nervous about tech week. We had an eight hour tech that sent me over the edge and I missed the first dress rehearsal. I have to use extreme judgement when in a singing show in terms of my energy levels, dehydration, and overall stamina.
That eight hour tech came after a key performance with the choir I direct, so it was a big long 14 hour day. I dehydrated down to a worn out prune, even though all I ate that day was green grapes.
If I become truly ill the first thing to go is my singing voice. And it is nearly impossible to sing at this high of an altitude when you are dehydrated.
I had a really big solo in the second act during Tiny Tims death scene, plus I sang during intermission with some kids in the cast and also during the party scene.
So despite the extreme frustration of my director, I spent a day rehydrating instead of attending that first dress.
I had one major breathing incident during a later dress rehearsal that scared me enough to shift to full offense with my efforts to perform without passing out on stage.
When we opened the show I went to extreme measures with my diet.
On show days I ate a small bowl of homemade vegan granola with rice milk in the morning and on the way to the theater I bought four ounces of wheat grass juice.
Wheat grass is incredibly oxygenating to the blood.
Heavy food in my digestive system makes it more difficult to breathe. So I ate high protein meals on non show days and barely anything on show days. Our two Sunday performances I was not able to buy the wheat grass because IntaJuice was closed and so I had those performances to compare. I definitely received a huge burst from the wheatgrass.
The chronic hypoxia I struggle with showed up shortly after I was exposed to some chemicals in 2006 that burned the tips of my bronchial tubes and caused scar tissue to form. I already had childhood asthma and have struggled with high altitudes since I came out west from the midwest in 1991.
I also have extreme S curve scoliosis in my spine and as I have gotten older my rib cage is collapsing into my left lung and compressing my diaphragm. It is becoming increasingly difficult to walk and because one of my legs is longer than the other I am always nervous about falling.
These are the conditions that I have largely hidden away from casting directors for the past seven years since I started back on the stage with CVCT’S production of Annie.
At the Tonys this past year I observed Ali in a wheelchair getting the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical and I had the thought, “maybe instead of killing my live performances, admitting to my disabilities and using my tools might just be the beginning of a less stressful time in the performing arts.”
Directing our Longmont Stake Family Choir in my chair and on oxygen was a game changer for me.
Instead of fretting about standing during a ninety minute rehearsal, I comfortably sat while fully oxygenated and guess what?
I did it!
I plan to begin auditioning for Christmas shows along the front range and all of the big regional companies are looking for their summer troupes right now.
So, I put together this audition video to share with out of state casting agents. It took about five hours to grab photos and video clips and mash them together in this three minute masterpiece.
I have my eye on the Utah Shakespeare Festival..
They are producing Pirates of Penzance and I would love to play Ruth!
Here are the photos from my movie: