Monthly Archives: May 2015

June Goals

30th May 2015


Another month gone! The past thirty days have been packed with a lot of singing and growth.

They’ve also been packed with a lot of fatigue, a nasty upper respiratory virus that I’m only now getting over, and a little bit of General Malaise™.

Not too get too vulnerable with you, Internet, but I find myself feeling more than a little overwhelmed. I feel like there are all these things I want to do–these ideas swirling in my head, ready for me to accomplish–and at the end of the day I feel like I’m too tired to do them.

I feel like I’m not accomplishing much, though I know that’s not true. I know I’ve done a lot. But I’m not being kind enough to myself about it.

So, rather than review how I did on my goals for May (though at quick glance, it seems like I did pretty okay), I’m going to set just one goal for June:

Be kind. To myself, to others.

Just be kind. Give grace to get grace. Give myself the benefit of the doubt. Give others a little leeway.

I know what needs to be done in other areas of my life. I am just going to set this one thing for June. Kindness. It takes gumption to be kind.

Do What You Can

19th May 2015

Southern Fried Soprano - Piano

Sometimes, practicing singing sucks. It may be my number one frustration as a singer.

Yes. I love singing. I really do. I love it entirely too much. I love it so much that occasionally, I never want to sing again, because what I’m doing or feeling is so mind-numbingly painful or unpleasant that I would rather cease making music for a day or a week or forever than continue to do something I dislike.

Singers: practicing is not always easy.

Anyone who said that you were going to go skipping to the practice room (or, in my case, a 20 year old electric keyboard [real classy, Georgeanne]) 100% of the times you’re going to have to go practice is lying to you.

But. I feel guilty when I don’t want to practice.

I think about the number of singers out there–the competition is fierce. How many of them are practicing when I’m sitting here with my dog, poking around gardening forums or watching a Cops marathon? I think about the sacrifices my mom has made–I think about the sacrifices I’ve made–for me to study music.

It seems almost like an act of rebellion to avoid practicing.

But, y’all. Not wanting to practice is okay. It’s okay. I am here to tell you it’s okay.

Maybe you’ve worked an eight hour (or more) day at the survival job you’re working to afford YAP auditions. Maybe you’ve had a fight with your mom and you just don’t feel up to anything. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep last night because you were up working on a paper (or you were up late the previous night practicing).

What do you do in this situation? You do what you can.

Sometimes, “what you can” is small. That’s alright. If you’ve only got it in you to work on one measure, work on that one measure and then call it a day. Something is infinitely better than nothing.

Set a timer for twenty minutes. Work for those 20 minutes and then stop. Don’t judge yourself for working those 20 minutes. Don’t think about the people who worked 30 minutes or the people who worked for hours. Those people? They’re not you and they’re not feeling what you’re feeling right now. Their circumstances are different. They’re in a different place. They might as well be a world away from you.

What matters is that you’ve done what you can.

I promise you: you will get done what you need to get done. You will learn the music you need to learn by the time you need to learn it. Will you learn it all tonight? Probably not.

Tomorrow, or maybe the day after, your “what I can” will look very different than what you’re feeling right now. … But tonight?

Start somewhere. Do what you can. 

Living an Authentic Life

8th May 2015

southern fried soprano - social media

Am I living an authentic life? What does that even mean, anyway?

I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed when I noticed two of my friends posted links to the same ESPN article. It was a powerful profile on the life, public and private of Madison Holleran–and her eventual suicide.

Its revolving theme? Her social media. Madison was a promising student and star athlete, attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she ran track. She, like most other college students, also had an Instagram account.

How could the seemingly-happy, smiling college freshman in the photos on Madison’s Instagram end up jumping off of a nine-story Philadelphia parking garage?

Everyone presents an edited version of life on social media. People share moments that reflect an ideal life, an ideal self.

Checking Instagram is like opening a magazine to see a fashion advertisement. Except an ad is branded as what it is: a staged image on glossy paper.

Instagram is passed off as real life.

The truth is, no matter how wonderful life looked like through filtered Instagram snapshots, Madison was having a hard time.

No one can ever really know why Madison Holleran took her own life. We can speculate to the cows come home on what her friends, family, or therapists could have done to intervene. We might think of our own experiences with suicide–how we could have helped.

Who knows? I don’t.

There’s a huge buzzword in the blogosphere right now–“authenticity.” We need to be living authentically. We must create an authentic life.

The problem? No one seems to truly define what this “authentic life” is, and while an argument can be made that the definition is intentionally made vague so that you can “form your own definition”, I think the issue is a little deeper than that.

What is curious to me is that so many preaching the Gospel of Authentic Life™ seem to also have the most curated, branded lives. They style their supposedly candid Instagram photos (you cannot tell me that all four members of your family wear your brand’s color palette EVERY DAY, ma’am). They say the right things in their weekly re-caps. They’re relentlessly positive.

And I think that’s dangerous.

Some of this is just very strategic marketing. We’ve gotta hustle, y’all, and I get why it’s important to present an image that our ideal client (whoever that is) might want to have for themselves. I do. I get it. It’s savvy.

I’m no stranger to this life-curation thinking, either. I do it all the time! I’ve strategically presented the best parts of my life to the Internet because I’m scared of what it means to present the uglier parts.

How will what I say on social media impact my career?

Who hasn’t taken a selfie and then agonized over which filter to use to make sure my eyes look a little bluer, my eyebrows look a little more defined, my double-chin a little less prominent?

Who hasn’t waited until the exact right time to post a Facebook status for maximum ‘likes’?

Who hasn’t felt just a little bit cooler when a tweet goes mini-viral?

(I’m sure that someone is reading thinking [well, I haven’t! Not me!] and to that I say: hooray! good for you! I am but a weak millennial.).

I don’t want us to stop doing any of those things I listed above. But only posting the happy-go-lucky portraits of ourselves, those carefully curated, branded images of our lives and experience?

That’s not living an “authentic life,” blogger lady, and I won’t believe you for a second when you tell me that it is.

I want us to post more selfies. I want us to send photos of our happy, cheesy grin faces into the world. I want us to celebrate our lives, our experiences. And there’s no better way to do that than by sending that out into the digital world for everyone to see! 

But I also want us to live in a world where it’s okay for us to be vulnerable on social media.

There is no guarantee that posting the sad and frustrating parts of life on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram will lead to fewer articles like the one I posted.

But there are so many benefits to making our online spaces safe for people’s unfiltered (pardon the pun), unbranded thoughts.

A world where we can openly talk about our struggles with mental illness and other life struggles is a world I want to live in.

Seems pretty authentic to me.

Earning Extra (Easy) Money for Dummies

7th May 2015

earning extra money

Earning extra money while working a full-time job and maintaining my practice schedule is no joke, y’all.

In preparation to move 450 miles away to Kansas, I’ve been thinking of ways to save and earn extra money.

Since I’ve been home, I have been lucky enough to have reduced cost-of-living by staying with my mom (shouts to the Tixqueen!).  Let’s be clear, though, I totally have expenses right now, too–just not as many as I’m going to have in Kansas.

Maybe you thought that I had amassed quite a nest egg for my eventual move during my gap year from undergrad to grad. “Surely she has some savings,” you thought, stroking your beard!

I would have laughed and dissolved into a puddle of operatic tears, because it costs thousands of dollars to apply to graduate school and travel to those auditions. I’m still taking donations for frequent flyer miles [/shakes tin cup]. But I digress.

Being the resourceful Girl Scout that I am, I’ve been thinking of ways I could earn a little extra money while still maintaining my practice schedule and sanity.

Here are just a few of the ways I’m earning some FREE money by doing absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t otherwise do:

1. Cash Back Grocery Apps

You’ve gotta eat. This is non-negotiable. Why not get some cash back for the purchases you already make at the grocery store?

There are a host of totally free smartphone apps that can help you with saving money on food–sometimes, if you combine these promotion with coupons, store loyalty programs, and store-specific deals, you can even make a profit! Here are a few of my favorite grocery cash back apps:

1. Ibotta

ibotta logo

I use Ibotta the most out of all of my grocery cash-back apps. All you do is sign up/download the app, unlock rebates, and then head to the store.

Once you’ve gone shopping, you submit your receipt and verify your qualifying purchases. Then bingo–cash is deposited in your account!

You can redeem your rebates for either cash (via Paypal or Venmo) or gift cards. Easy peasy!

You might be worried you won’t be saving money because you’ll be buying things you wouldn’t otherwise buy in order to get the rebate. Do NOT do this–just use Ibotta for the purchases you’d already make! What I really like about this app is that they always have rebates that aren’t for brand name or packaged products.

For instance, right now they have a rebate for soda–any brand (including generic store brands). There are always produce rewards, too.

Join Ibotta here: join Ibotta.

2. Checkout 51

 checkout 51 logoJust like Ibotta, Checkout 51 pays you for the purchases you’re already making. Pick the offers you like on everything from apples to deodorant, go shopping, upload your receipts, and get paid!

For those of you not into gift cards or dealing with Paypal, Checkout 51 pays you with a check. Yup. It’s that simple!

I like Checkout 51 because they’ve got a “pick your own offer” option, where you can select from a few different things for a rebate. This week, I’ve gotta buy potatoes, so I’m saving on that!

3. BerryCart

berrycart logoMaybe you’re worried that saving money on groceries means having to sacrifice your healthy eating. Nope!

With BerryCart, you can earn cash back for eating healthy and by purchasing organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free products. That means all you Whole Foods and Sprouts junkies won’t have to give that up!

Once you’ve hit their cash-out threshold, BerryCart will pay you back in your Paypal account or you can select pay-out in the form of gift cards.

2. Swagbucks

swag-logoI’ve been using Swagbucks for years and couldn’t tell you how much money I have saved. There are SO many ways to earn Swagbucks–which you can redeem for gift cards to hundreds of stores (or Amazon, which is what I use mine for).

Watch videos, take surveys, enter sweepstakes, or just use their search engine and get paid for searching the web. Yes, really.

I get paid in Swagbucks to search for “cute cat videos” because I have their search engine installed.

If you do a lot of online shopping, many online retailers will give you Swagbucks for every dollar you spend (just use their online portal).

Join Swagbucks today!

3. Paid Surveys (via InboxDollars)


When I come home from a long day of rehearsal or work, I like to sit on the couch with my dog and do absolutely nothing.

Doing nothing is fun, but doing almost nothing and earning money for it is even better. That’s why I use InboxDollars.

It doesn’t take any energy–just a little patience–to complete surveys and free offers that earn me money. Also, by receiving a few emails, I earn cash, too!

Survey-taking is a little more irksome than other ways to earn cash, to be honest, but there’s always a trade-off. I recommend you get a dummy email account so you can avoid cluttering your mail email accounts.

4. Tasking Apps (via Receipt Hog and Shopkick)

1. Receipt Hog 

receipt hog logo
Go to a store. Buy whatever you want. Upload the receipt. Earn coins, which you can redeem for Paypal cash or Amazon gift cards. Easy!

Join Receipt Hog, use my referral code (jamp6282), and you’ll get extra spins to earn even more cash!

2. Shopkick


What I love about Shopkick is that I can walk into a store, not buy a single thing, and earn points toward cash back.

Shopkick shows you deals at stores near you, but you don’t even have to buy anything to earn.

The location-based app allows you to walk in and earn “kicks” just for being in the store. JUST FOR WALKING IN. You can earn extra kicks by scanning items, which I find super fun, because it’s like a scavenger hunt!

Cash your kicks out for gift cards. Join Shopkick and get money just for window shopping.

Super easy ways to save money!

What ways do you earn easy money? Have I missed anything? Let me know in a comment below!

(This post contains referral links, which allow me to save a few extra pennies at no extra cost to you! Help a diva out, y’all.)

May Goals

3rd May 2015

southern fried soprano may goals

Is it really May already? I feel like 2015 just started and soon we’ll be half done with it! Weird. 

Admittedly, I wasn’t very intentional about my goals for April. I rushed in setting them, because, like, that’s what I do–I set goals! I do things! I am a goal-setter.

Which, you know, is cool and everything, until you realize that the whole purpose of setting goals is to try accomplishing them. Instead, I set goals because it was expected.

I didn’t feel any impetus to complete them because I wasn’t attached to them. But let’s review and see how I did.

April Goals

1. Read at least one more book. // Done. I finished Wolf Hall. I actually finished Bring Up the Bodies on May 1st, too, so.. I’ll count that as April. Am I right? GOOD FOR ME.
2. Write at least 5 letters. // I wrote two. Fun fact: I want to write letters when I’m happy & I don’t when I’m sad.  I apologize to all my pen pals. I’m in a lot better state of mind now and hope writing won’t be as laborious as it was!
3. Save $50. (This is really small, but..) // Did this! Now that I know where I’m going to school in the fall, saving is a lot easier for me. When you’ve got something tangible to save for, it’s not so hard to put away money for the future. Who knew?
4. Stick with my eating plan. // I did this. I finished the last round of my eating plan.

So, here’s what’s on deck for May:

May Goals

1. Read two books. (This should be easy [famous last words]; I’m already halfway through one!)
2. Have a wonderful tour for Bremen Town Musicians.
3. Write at least 5 letters (Writing is really important to me and I want to be consistent)
4. Save at least $100. (Let’s up the ante.)
5. Write a blog post at least once a week.
6. Keep up with my money-saving, rebates, & rewards apps (I’ve been using quite a few apps recently to earn points/rewards that I can use for gift-cards for groceries and other items in the fall! I’m planning to write a post about this, so stay tuned.)
7. Keep up with my garden journal. Record daily temperatures.

Do you have any goals for this month? Share them with me! Let’s cheer each other on; I feel life heating up for me and am going to need all the encouragement I can get!

Opera for the Next Generation

1st May 2015

Opera is dying. No, wait. Opera is dead. Only old people like opera. These are the headlines I’ve read in the millions of thinkpieces about the state of opera in 2015. I’m not convinced, and here’s why.

If you’ve been into Eggshells Kitchen Co. over the last week, you may have noticed that yours truly has… well, not been there. I’m taking a bit of a vacation (thanks Lindsey!) for my (cue trumpets):


If I sound stoked, it’s because I am. I’ve known about this gig for awhile, but I’ve kept hush hush about it because I’ve had so much other junk going on. Let me take this opportunity to tell y’all a little bit about it!

bremen town musicians wildwood park 1

I have been cast as Barcarolle the Dog in a production of John Davies’s The Bremen Town Musicians. Davies’s work takes the classic fable and uses music from Rossini, Offenbach, and Sullivan–fun, bouncy tunes that don’t always get their due in the operatic canon.

bremen town musicians wildwood


Our production of Bremen Town Musicians is part of the revitalization of Wildwood Park for the Arts’s Art to Go! program, which has been dormant for the last couple of years.

Wildwood Park for the Arts contains the largest botanical gardens in central Arkansas and is (in my opinion) an incredibly underused resource for the arts community here.

It used to be the home of a very respected regional opera company and I hope that someday, opera can return full-time to Wildwood. People still use Wildwood for festivals, art workshops, weddings, and other special events, but I would really like to see fully-staged opera make its way back to the park.

In the meantime, though, there’s Art to Go! to carry on the operatic tradition at Wildwood.

Rehearsing for the production has been a whirlwind. We began rehearsals on Monday and have successfully blocked an entire 45-minute children’s opera in four days. It’s hardcore memory work, y’all.

wildwood park for the arts bremen town musicians 2

The other three members of the cast, our director, rehearsal accompanist, stage manager, and all other personnel involved have committed themselves body and soul to putting on a high-level, engaging show and I couldn’t be prouder to call myself part of this team.

Children’s opera is not high art–our goal is not to initiate an existential crisis in seven year olds. We don’t need to tackle big issues of philosophy or life in these pieces.

Our goal is to engage these kids–and to expose them to some beautiful music and theatre through a fun story.

We’ll be taking our opera on the road beginning May 11th. It’ll be just the four of us in the cast and our stage manager in a van, loading and unloading our set pieces and high-tailing it all over the state to elementary schools.

wildwood park for the arts to go bremen

Educational outreach is an important part of the trajectory of a young singer, but it’s a lot more than a mere stepping stone in our career.

Outreach gives singers an opportunity to share our love for this art form with the next generation of opera lovers–and yes, I really do believe the next generation of opera lovers will be sitting in a gymnasium at an Arkansas school!


I can’t wait for this show. I never had anything like this when I was a kid in elementary school, and I wonder if I would have come to love opera a lot sooner if I had.

There are still open spots in our touring schedule, so if you’re located in Arkansas and are interested in introducing your school or group to opera, please give Sofia Gonzalez a shout by emailing her at or by calling 501-821-7275, ext. 259.

Or, if you just want to see me dressed up as a German canine, come see me May 17th, 2015 at 2PM at Wildwood. It’s going to be a really cute show!

Have you ever seen an educational outreach opera?

(photo credit: Wildwood Park for the Arts/Sofia Gonzalez)