My New Year’s Resolutions

Hey everybody!

So, I took a much needed break from the blog after the One Room Challenge (not that I was great about updating it before that, either, but still).

Frankly, I think I needed to re-center a bit after spending time and money on one room in our home. It’s easy to get caught up in buying and changing and perfecting, and while I loved the chance to think really hard about design and intentions in one space in our home, I also realized by the end of it that I was a bit caught up in trying to perfect something that simply doesn’t need to be perfect. What a cool opportunity it all is, both during the thinking/planning/working/creating phase, and also the aftermath where you sit back and admire the work and re-center yourself to think about the big picture.

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Our master bedroom, my Fall 2017 One Room Challenge space.

In keeping with these thoughts, I’ve decided to share my list of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve never really been one for resolutions; that’s out of sheer laziness, not because I don’t think they’re worthwhile. I just always figure I won’t stick to them. But this year I feel the need to make some. So without further ado, here are my 2018 New Year’s resolutions for myself, for parenting, and for our life.

Teach The Boy to bake. Pete and I are jointly obsessed with The Great British Bake-Off. We’ve watched 2.5 seasons so far, and we both really enjoy the competition, but also the good attitudes of everyone on the show. The Boy, miracle of miracles, doesn’t mind the show, either, so it’s something we can watch as a family. He has shown an interest in baking with me, and we’ve tried a few things so far.

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Our first attempt at homemade English muffins.

The Boy is a super picky eater, and while he hasn’t been brave enough to try most of what we’ve made, I’m hoping fostering this interest will make him a bit more adventurous. I’m going to let my hyper-organized, perfectionist tendencies slide and teach him the right way to do some of the skills, encourage him to experiment, and tackle stuff that seemed a bit to difficult or time-consuming.

Be more intentional with purchases for myself, my son, and our home. This goal is actually two-fold. First, I find it way too easy to spend money sometimes. I try not to buy too much stuff, and I try to make sure it’s real, quality stuff when I do buy things, but I, like everybody else, can cut back more. I spend too much time window shopping online; it’s wasteful in more ways than one.

Additionally, I’m going to really start paying attention to what’s recyclable and what’s not. I’m tired of throwing money at companies that don’t make some effort toward sustainability. If I have to be the annoying lady at the grocery store who’s taking forever to inspect the packaging of her diced tomatoes, then so be it. We already recycle some things, but we can do better.

Grow a garden. This isn’t really connected to the statements above, although I guess it could be. It’s just that we’ve always known that the Huffaker House wasn’t our last stop, so I’ve always been hesitant to put in the infrastructure needed for a real food garden. I’ve done a couple plants here and there, and I’ve started and given away lots of tomatoes because I love taking care of baby plants, but we’ve never put in the kind of garden I had when I was a kid. We can’t quite achieve that size of a plot where we are, but this is the year we plant a real garden so I can enjoy growing some of our food.

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Harvesting our Jack-o-Lanterns. (This one was the victim of duck harassment.)

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These ladies provide us with more than enough eggs during much of the year.

The garden is actually going to go in our little side yard, which currently houses the ducks. We’ll probably have an extensive period of trial-and-error for figuring out how to make a garden/duck yard work, but I look forward to the challenge, and to having a kitchen garden literally steps away from my kitchen door.

More music. This one’s personal and long-winded. Skip if you wish.

I’ve been a singer as long as I remember, at least in my heart. 🙂 I sang all the time when I was kid, and even though my mom wasn’t sure I was all that talented, she and a music teacher (whom I adored) had enough faith in me to start teaching me the right way to do it. I started voice lessons when I was in 6th grade, and as I learned proper singing techniques, I also learned to think on my feet, to accept both praise and criticism, to present myself to people I didn’t know in a way that made me feel proud and capable.

Over the years, my voice helped me find my tribe in musical theatre. The theatre world contains some of the most beautiful hearts, people who love unconditionally, accept others for exactly who they are, and meet every new situation and challenge with confidence, creativity, and an open heart. I’ve moved many times, but almost every time, I’ve found a home with theatre people. When I am onstage, I feel like I’m the best version of myself.

The reason I get to do all of this is because music moves me, I have a talent for it, and I love sharing it with others.

However, about 2 years ago, during a production of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I started having hearing problems. My ears felt like they were popping and not going back to normal afterward. I would be teaching at work and feel like all I could hear was my own voice. I had a sore jaw from trying to pop my ears back. I couldn’t always hear the monitor onstage. I tried to address the problem, but I couldn’t find any doctors who knew what was wrong. I was told to put on weight to correct what might be a patulous Eustachian tube, I had corrective surgery on my sinuses to help with air flow, and I was told I was overreacting (and hormonal OMG) by one incredibly insensitive ENT.

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I finally found a doctor at Vanderbilt after insisting on a referral who diagnosed me with superior semicircular canal dehiscence syndrome. Basically, my ear canals are wearing away, possibly from my heartbeat. My left semicircular canal has a hole in it. My right will, too, someday. All of this makes my body act like a tuning fork; I hear sounds through my bones. My voice reverberates in my head. I hear my stomach grumble from inside my body. I can hear my eyeball move (it sounds like a bowling ball, by the way). If you hit a tuning fork and then touch my right ankle, even though nobody in the room hears the tone, I hear it clear as a bell in my left ear. And loud sounds outside my body make my eyeball jump (it’s called Tulio’s phenomenon, and it’s really weird and disorienting).

All of this has caused a lot of heartache. My voice feels like so much a part of me, but when I started being uncomfortable singing, I just stopped doing it. And because I couldn’t comfortably sing along, I stopped listening to music. Any music. In my car, at home, singing to myself while doing the dishes. Just silence instead. No show tunes at the top of my lungs. No humming (that’s the worst). I even avoided seeing friends’ shows because they were doing something I didn’t feel like I could do anymore. I was jealous and heartbroken and felt like an asshole for not being very supportive.

To top it off, an attempt at corrective surgery mostly failed and left me with a permanent ring in my left ear.

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However.

Now that I have a diagnosis and am realizing the futility of the safer treatment options, and I know that someday (hopefully a long time from now) SSCD will probably completely sideline me from performing in musical theatre, I’m done being sad. I’ve started learning to accept what my voice sounds like to me, now. It’s loud. It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes the letter “M” makes me want to crawl out of my skin. But you know what? This summer, I did a show called Urinetown and had a blast, even though I couldn’t always hum during warmups, and even though a cold made my ears worse the first weekend, and even though I didn’t quite sound the way I wanted to all the time. It was the best. It was so worth it.

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There’s really no fixing this stupid little developmental defect, but I’m not going to let it rob me of the thing that makes me happiest. So I’m going to play music (not too loudly because eyeballs) in my car again. I’m going to sing while I’m vacuuming the house. The Boy and I are going to put on Disney songs while we bake and dance in the kitchen together. I’m going to run into the living room when the Act I Finale of Shrek: The Musical is on the TV and pretend I’m Sutton Foster. And I’m going to keep singing onstage until I can’t anymore. And then I’ll direct.

I’m going to take some baby steps to start listening and singing again. As I go, I’ll have to accept that I don’t sound like I used to in my own head, that it will sometimes be uncomfortable, and that there will be things I just can’t do anymore. But you know what? I can still do a lot. I’ve got time and a lot of tolerance. It hasn’t robbed me of my voice yet, and who knows when it will, so I might as well enjoy it while I can.

It’ll be fine. It’ll be more than fine; it’ll be fun.

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And finally, the resolution I hope we all have, every year, forever: I’m gonna learn more stuff. 

The best part of being human is that we’re innately curious. May we all be lifelong learners, forever and ever, amen.

Love to all of you, and lots of learning about ourselves, about each other, and about cool stuff in the New Year.

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6 Responses to My New Year’s Resolutions

  1. My goal for this blog is to have 500 followers by end of the school year and get more creative with my posts. I hope to see at least one musical this year, which is really a goal for every year. Musicals are an escape for me and they are fun to watch and I have a passion for them even though I could never be one

    • Those are great goals! I love blogging, but I think sometimes I don’t push myself to figure out what would be fun to write about. I think it’s easy to think your blog has to look like other people’s blogs, but really, it’s a wide open medium! You can do anything! It’s your space! And what a cool goal to go see a musical. I’m going to see a touring production of The Lion King in Jacksonville, FL with my mom soon and she’s never been to a big musical- just mine. I LOVE them, and if you ever wanted to be involved, I think you’ll find there are a lot of people who aren’t ON the stage still doing cool stuff. Props, stage managing, light and sound, stagehands, costumes- there are probably 2 people involved in the production side for every 1 person onstage. Most groups are super open and supportive!

    • I actually want to open up a theatre program for the homeless. About musicals, I have been going to the theatre since elementary school.

      My first theatre memory is being in NYC on Broadway with my mom and the two of us saw Wicked together. I was 12 at the time and this was in 2006. I remember my favorite song being Popular and that was all I remember. Despite not having many vivid memories of that night, the impact shows. This musical sparked my love of musicals because through it, I began to understand the emotional and complex side of musical and what it means by having a story emotional connection.

      Fast forward to the school year of 2012-2013, it was my first year of college and I still interested all musicals as happy: it was basically all I had known. Les Mis comes around through the movie and it taught me that yes tragedies do exist in the world of musicals and do belong and even though I knew sad already existed in musical, I was 100% blind to heartbreak. Les Mis showed me a side of musical that I never knew existed. So this musical would turn my love of musicals into a passion.

    • What a cool idea, the programming for the homeless! I think one of my favorite many-layered musicals is Into the Woods. It’s like I hear/see something new every single time, and since becoming a mother, it has taken on even more meaning. SO good!

  2. Oh Audrey, you have an astounding voice! I never got to hear you sing until we went to the musical you did, which is pictured above. You’re the kangaroo! You blew me away with that voice, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can still sing that good, even better now! You inspire me with all that you do, musicals, work, raising a fabulous son, the list goes on and on. I miss you like crazy here at the library, you always had a smile on your face. Don’t let this get you down, please, keep on singing! The worlds needs much more happy songs in it!

    • Oh, Kyndra, you’re going to make me cry! Happy tears, though, so I’ll keep smiling. Thank you, kind friend. I miss you, too– so proud of the work that KPL does, and it’s so fun seeing you and your mom in pictures doing the BEST kids’ programming.

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