As an herbalist and voice actor, my health, and specifically my vocal health, is so very, very important to me. My journey in herbalism began with my Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 17, I’m 38 now. I was looking for ways to incorporate herbal/natural remedies in conjunction with Western medicine to help alleviate my symptoms and slow the progression. As a voice actor, I had a traumatic and nearly fatal asthma attack and vocal cord paralysis in the summer of 2016 that required me to be put on a ventilator and having a tracheotomy. I ended up with complications that resulted in a tracheal resection, a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and subcutaneous emphysema. I say all that to say that I couldn’t talk for nearly two months, I had to learn to care for a trach, etc.
Once I had been discharged and the trach was removed, I had to focus on falling back in love with my voice (my vocal range had changed) and how to best care for my voice and vocal health. Here are my tips for keeping your vocal health front and present:
- Sleep– Caring for your pipes starts with whole body care. Getting enough sleep affects so many body functions; from cognition, immune system response, digestion, mental health, etc. Getting a consistent sleep routine is vital.
- Foreplay – Now everyone knows you can’t just jump in the booth without any prep work and expect your voice to give you its best. In order to coax the best performance out of your voice you have to give it loving attention. Warm that thing up – vo warmups, lip trills, tongue twisters, scales, proper inflection, etc.
- Voice straws* – https://singingstraw.com/
- They are back in stock! Vocal straws train the posturing of the vocal folds and changes the posture of the vocal tube, i.e. it lengthens the Epi Laryngeal Space.
- Cheryl Porter* – https://cherylportermethod.com/
- AHMAZING vocal coach who has an entire program to help you find your range along with practice materials and videos, etc.
- Rodney Saulsberry* – has a great book “Tongue Twisters and Vocal Warm Ups” sold on Amazon.
3. Regular Maintenance– This includes voice rest, listening to your body (when it’s fatigued, stressed, etc. -see #1), maintaining a healthy diet (avoiding caffeine, chocolate, sugar, dairy and smoking -both cigarettes and weed at least 2 hours prior to a session).
- Frankly putting anything into your lungs other than oxygen before a session isn’t the best of ideas. If you are a fan of, procurer or indulger of THC, please don’t smoke before your sessions. It will affect/change the texture of your voice. If you use THC for relaxation purposes I encourage you to eat it (edibles rather than smoking it). CBD can provide some of the same relaxation and anti-anxiety properties without the psychogenic properties that THC has.
- Proper hydration (not just before a session/auditions) is key as well. By the time you realize that you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Keeping your air passages moisturized by using a bedside humidifier with distilled water at night. I wouldn’t necessarily advocate their use in the booth due to noise interference.
- Keep a scarf 🧣 on when out in windy/cold weather. This helps to keep warmth in and cold out. Cold temps cause constriction on muscles and tissues and decreased blood flow to those affected areas.
4. Leave it alone when it doesn’t want to be bothered
- There is nothing worse than someone wanting something from you and you are in no mood to oblige. But you acquiesce to shut them up. Is it your best performance? Nope. Is the other party satisfied or generally let down b/c of a lackluster encounter? Exactly. If your voice is fatigued or stressed and you push it b/c it’s a high paying, high visibility audition you will not give your best. Not only might you not book the job, you may leave a bad impression with casting directors, agents, etc.
- Stress, anxiety, illness, irritation- all these show up in your reads. It’s the equivalent of the elephant in the room sitting on the couch loudly eating your best snacks, drinking your fav scotch and who stole the remote and is watching Seinfeld reruns.
5. Protect your mental mind -give yourself grace and be patient with yourself. Frustration comes across in your reads.
- Be present in the moment and take a step back if you need to regroup during a session. Trust, the director and client will respect that you have a process and need to gather yourself in order to give them your best.
- Practice mindfulness 🧘🏽♀️- make your recording space a healthy and welcoming place, regardless of where you record. I have lavender/rosemary sachets hanging in my closet-booth, led light strips to set the tone and mood, and I meditate and do deep breathing before every session. Whether it is with my coach(es), a workout, audition recording, recording session or training webinar.
- Lavender is known for its relaxing properties and rosemary counteracts anxiety and increases attention. I grow and dry my own lavender, add dried lavender flower and rosemary from my favorite herbal suppliers (The Bulk Herb Store, Mountain Rose Herbs & Monterey Spice Company) and a few drops of lavender and rosemary essential oils to a drawstring bag and hang it in an inconspicuous place.
I hope that these tips help you and cause you to dig a little deeper into your own herbalism journey and vocal health!
Speak Up! – An Open Letter
Since I posted this blog back in March all hell has broken loose
And more today than in March, I and millions of other Americans are resisting and refusing to concede out basic rights.
Come for my birth control and best believe I will leave my kids with you while I work and do everything else I need to do.
Come for my healthcare (I have many pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses that require constant care and expensive medications) and you will bear the burden of my catastrophic hospital bills (I'm talking hundreds of thousands of dollars) when I'm in ICU because I can't breathe.
If you come for my LGBTQ brothers and sisters I will fight for their right to be whomever they choose to be. I don't care what bathroom someone uses just as long as they clean up after themselves and wash their damn hands. 🏳️🌈
Y'all are on notice… don't come for me or mine or attempt to infringe on anyone's rights. I will fight you EVERY 👏🏾 STEP 👏🏾OF 👏🏾THE 👏🏾 WAY👏🏾
Run and tweet that!
An open letter to those who voted for and supported 45:
It's unconscionable that everyone who had a whole hell of a lot to say pre and post election about "Making America Great Again" and that Bernie and Hillary supporters needed to stop whining and get over it are as quiet as sleeping church mice right now. The only sound I hear from that camp are the crickets and blinking peaking out from under blankets, hoping I won't pull back the wool and expose you for who and what you really are.
There was dissent all over my FB feed. I had to block some people and unfriend others because they, for one reason or another, supported 45. They took what they wanted from what he said (Border security and "bad hombres", repealing the ACA, "putting America first" and all the other slime that poured from his ill-tempered, malicious, hate speech spewing mouth) and ignored EVERYTHING ELSE and had the audacity to say that the other stuff didn't phase them. ("You can just grab them by the pussy", "Nasty woman", "Lock her up"… the list goes on and on and on). The only thing that was important was what mattered to them personally, never giving credence to the millions of others that he offended and harangued. You told us that we should "give him a chance" and our outcries of unfairness and fear where unfounded and that we should stop being butt hurt, get over it and support him. You heckled us as we rallied and protested, called us un-American, unpatriotic and at times said our actions were treasonous.
Now that you have come to realize what the rest of us knew from the very beginning, you have the unmitigated gall to be silent while the rest of us resist and protest? GTFOH! How dare you! How dare you stay silent and act like none of this was your fault? How dare you creep around and post that you are tired of politics on FB or social media? How dare you do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and expect those of us who dissented to begin with to fix this? No…no… hell no!
You lost your right to silence the minute you put up your first post supporting this inept, deluded, mentally unstable demagogue. (Did you cringe or roll your eyes when I used a second word in this post that you might have had to look up? Yeah, you did. That knowledge came from attending PUBLIC school in Houston,TX… something that with Backwards Betty as head of the Department of Education our children will be missing).
You need to take responsibility for what you have wrought. You need to step up to the mic, clear your throats and say to the rest of us, "My name is <insert your name here> and due to my own <insert adjective here, such as: selfishness/bigotry/racism/misogyny/xenophobia/homophobia/transphobia/general intolerance for anyone who isn't me> I voted for 45. I am woefully sorry and I see the damage he and his minions have done, both to those who live with the borders of this great nation, and to our allies and our reputation on the international stage. I apologize and I stand with you to fix this!"
But you won't do that, will you? No, you won't because you think admitting you were wrong is a show of weakness. You won't because you can't openly admit your prejudices. You'll swear up and down to any god that you are the most tolerant person ever created. When in reality you prefer separate but equal. Minorities and non-Christians are fine as long as they are not in your neighborhood, attending your children's schools or commingling with you and yours. Your silence far from insulates you from what is going on right now. Your silence breeds further contempt from those of us who refuse to be silenced and shows us your yellow badge of cowardice.
Step up…speak up…
Step up…speak up…
Step up…speak up…
Posted by grahamcrackercrumbs09 on March 18, 2017 in Grinds My Gears, Social Commentary
Tags: ACA, AHCA, BCRA, Betsy Devos, Collusion, LGBTQ, Life, Made in America, Make America Great Again, No Wall No Ban, Opinion, Planned Parenthood, Political, Politics, President, Public Service Announcment, Resist, Russia, Social Commentary, Stay Woke, Tanesha N. Graham, Trump