Spirituality

The Life Changing Power of Breath and Taking it Easy

It’s 9:30pm Sunday evening (29 April) as I am writing this and I’m finally in bed after a huge day including an epic gig tonight performing in my band.
 
I’m not sure if you know this but I’m in all girl jazz band called Yas Queen. We play mostly jazz but also leave room for old school pop, rock, blues and soul in our set lists. I don’t want to toot our own horn, but I will. We’re a bloody load of fun. Come and see us sometime!   
 
We played this evening at a quirky little bar in Woolloongabba called Can You Keep a Secret? If you live in or come to Brisbane, you should definitely check it out. It’s run by a fellow Bundabergian and I swear it is where all the big-hearted, creative souls go to hang out. You would feel at home there.
 
Anyway – I had ambitious plans of rushing home tonight from the gig and write you a lengthy article about mindset and how to abolish our singing blocks. This will happen in the near future – but not for now.
 
Instead, I will tell you about a couple of experiences I had today and tonight, which I hope you will draw some meaning from.
 
So where do I start?
 
Let me just repeat - it was a big day. A big weekend, in fact, of cramming in a whole lot of things to do and people to see.
 
It’s Greek Orthodox Easter too, which I inadvertently celebrate as a quarter Greek and a christened Greek Orthodox. *Christos anesti, by the way! 
 
I also live extremely close to the Greek Orthodox church here in Brisbane and it was pumping until 2:30am last night with the clergy singing all of their classic hits from ‘Behold Jesus has risen’ to ‘God Bless the Queen and our politicians’. So, as you can imagine I woke up pretty tired this morning and with a bad case of the Byzantine blues. Google ‘Byzantine Music’ to get that reference.
 
Anyhow after this extravaganza of an evening, I still managed to do a lot today from editing my first video for the Beginner Singer’s Course on my website to celebrating Easter with my cousin Goldie, to learning Aretha’s ‘Natural Woman’ and Gloria Jone’s ‘Tainted Love’ for tonight’s gig. I also made a couple of trips to Officeworks after buying the wrong ethernet adaptor for my Macbook.
 
You are probably thinking, where is she going with this?
 
Well, you see, I had two moments today where either my soul or my body told me to calm the farm down and go easy.
 
Epiphany One: There's always more than enough time and 'rushing' is a choice. 
 
The first epiphany came to me as I was rushing home in the car from Officeworks and I was centimetres away from running into a car in front of me that had diligently stopped for the yellow light.
 
I had the realization then and there that ‘rushing’ can actually be bloody dangerous and there was actually no need for it.
 
It dawned on me that I had time. There was actually plenty of time and it was my belief in a lack of time that was causing me to rush.
 
I not only could have had an accident, but my body was also being negatively impacted. I was in a state of fight or flight for no reason at all.
 
I took a deep breath, forgave myself and did 10km under the speed limit the rest of the way home.
 
Epiphany Two: Breathe and choose to opt out of shit stories + Make friends with Sophia. 
 
After a big first set tonight, I was feeling pretty frazzled mcdazzled.
 
I ignored my inner wisdom to take myself out of the bar for fresh air and have some alone time during the set break. Instead I kept myself ‘on’ and was chatting away to my mates. I was in the middle of talking to one of my friends, when it was like a fuse blew in my brain.
 
I was suddenly very faint, and I literally couldn’t talk anymore. My body became the travel agent from Little Britain, the one who’s catch line is ‘computer says no’.  
 
I excused myself and went outside for air, but instead of chilling out, I bought into the drama of what was happening.
 
I was convinced that I couldn’t do the second set. How was I going to muster the energy to sing three corker soul songs that are taxing on the voice and the body? Aretha Franklin, Gloria Jones, Sam & Dave – c’mon?!  
Anyhow - I had learned this week that Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom. For me, ‘wisdom’ is something we all have access to through awareness. And thank God for Sophia. She brought me back tonight and reminded me that by diving deeper into the story of my body being weirdo and feeling so energetically drained that I couldn’t function wasn’t actually going to help my situation.
 
I took more deep breaths, returned to the bar, collapsed on my best mate Jake and watched our incredible guest artist sing her heart out. Seeing her so connected to her voice and to the music, stopped the negative loop I was in.

[Picture shows the happiness on my face the moment Ella starts to sing and my energy returns. And that's Jake - my bestie.]

[Picture shows the happiness on my face the moment Ella starts to sing and my energy returns. And that's Jake - my bestie.]

I got out of my head, came back into my body and my energy returned in order for me to blast through the set and lug my equipment home.
 
Now it’s 10:55pm, so I should really rap this up.
 
All I want to say is, this week, learn from my experiences today and be gentle with yourself.
 
Let Sophia be your friendly Greek guide. Listen to her. Listen to your body. Say no to the things that don’t suit you and please don’t feel the need to justify yourself. Do things that bring you joy and don’t feel as though you need to cram so many things into your days, unless of course it's exhilarating for you. Meaning, it gives you energy instead of taking it away from you.  
 
When you feel yourself tensing up or your heart racing, remember to breathe. If your mind tries to create a story about it, let Sophia in to remind you that it is simply that… a story.
 
And remember, you are precious.
 
Take care of yourself!
 
Mel Xx
 
P.S. The first video to my Beginner Singer’s Course is in the Student Portal. You get access to this when you book in for your first singing lesson with me.

*Chrisos Anesti is Greek for 'Christ has risen.' Another way of saying 'Happy Easter.' 

A Love Note for the Singers who have turned their Back on Singing

Singing Teacher Brisbane

This is a little note for the singers those who grew up performing in choirs, eisteddfods, and/or community concerts.

Perhaps you were even a gigging singer, with a degree in music, and had aspirations of performing all around the world and becoming the next Lady Gaga.
 
But somewhere along the line, you stopped. Life got in the way.
 
Maybe you had a family or fell into a different career.
 
Maybe you had doubts about your ability and didn’t think you had the talent to pursue a career in it anyway.  
 
Perhaps your voice never felt quite ‘right’. Like, it was massive effort to sing, so why bother pursuing something that felt difficult.
 
So, you turned your back on your voice, your singing and your dreams.
 
This is what I did anyway.  
 
I grew up in Bundaberg and was always performing. I did my AMEB classical singing exams and I won the Senior Vocalist Prize at the eisteddfod. I was pretty convinced that I was going to become the next Maria Callas. After all, I was a quarter Greek. Maria and I practically had identical lives.  
 
As a 17-year-old, I auditioned for the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and got graded an ‘A’, which meant that I was a shoe in for the bachelor’s degree. My life was sorted.
 
When I received what I thought was going to be my acceptance letter, I was devastated to read ‘thanks but no thanks.’ I wasn’t going to the Con.
 
After a year of doing a performance course in Rockhampton, which I didn’t enjoy at all, I decided at 18 that I wasn’t cut out for this career and enrolled in a journalism degree. When I finished this, I found myself working in government and corporate media departments.
 
Years of getting stuck on the corporate treadmill followed, along with developing vocal nodules from singing in rock bands using incorrect vocal technique.  
 
Also, I got stuck in ‘paralysis by analysis’ land from not knowing where my voice sat in terms of genres. I couldn’t sing classical anymore, and after falling asleep in several operas decided that I didn’t want to follow in Maria’s footsteps after all.
 
I loved rock music but wasn’t convinced that my voice was suited to this either.
 
That’s when I stopped singing all together. It just felt too hard.
 
And I have to say, this left me bereft and sad.
 
To fill the void that singing left in my life, I decided to try jazz piano lessons. I had always loved jazz but in the past had never thought about learning it. So, this felt new and exciting.
 
Funnily enough, it was these lessons that led me back to singing again.
 
My piano teacher asked me to sing ‘Misty’ – the only jazz song I knew all the words to. I did and his enthusiasm for my voice but more so my love for the music, put me on the path that I am on now.  
 
I’m obviously taking a lot of short cuts with my story but since that day, I have become a professional singer with a Bachelor of Music in Jazz, which I received after a life-changing three years at the Jazz Music Institute (JMI). I ended up going to the Con to do my master’s degree and have sorted out my vocal issues with good technique practices and pathology. And as you know I’m a proud and passionate singing teacher.
 
Anyway, enough about me. I just want to say that even though you may have turned your back on singing, it hasn’t turned its back on you.
 
You will find your way back to singing again. I promise.
 
That’s all I’m going to say.
 
Lots of love
Mel X

HOW SINGING CAN HELP YOU BE BRAVE

Oh G'day!

Oh G'day!

I told my Fearless Singer posse last week that I would be making this blog post about being courageous and how singing can help us tap into that powerful emotional state of being.

Here it is!  I wanted to post it before my Courageous Masterclass that I held at the Happiness Hub in Brisbane last Saturday. But I’m glad I left it to divine timing because I have a lot more to say on the matter.

Last week, I filmed a little video of me riffing on the subject on what it means to be brave. I had started writing this post and then it occurred to me to put my money where my mouth is and do something that I find confronting.

I’ve never expressed this before, but I find that filming myself speaking is one of the most painful experiences for me, akin to watching Donald Trump’s hair blow in the breeze. Yes, it’s that eye-gouging with hot rods kind of painful.

Why? I’m a recovering perfectionist. Every little stutter or clumsy way of saying something, irks me to tears. Those videos I put out last year took me AGES to do! I would stop and start, throw myself on the floor in a fit before editing the dear life out of them. That’s why there a lot of unnatural pauses and weird facial morphing going on. *On a side note – I’m moving these videos from Vimeo to YouTube.

But I’m learning to love the fact that while I can be an incredible communicator that I’m also a little awkward and clumsy with my speech at times. I’m choosing to accept that this where I am at this point of time.

Also, my intention is always to serve. And if I keep aligning myself with this every time I speak, write, sing – it’s always going to be enough. Because…

Powerful Affirmation Time

I AM ENOUGH! Get this affirmation into ya, will ya! It’s super redic powerful.

It reminds you that wherever you are at this point of time in your life, whatever your skill set is: YOU ARE ENOUGH.

And mate – while you are not fixating on all the supposed shit things about yourself and your abilities, you are in a much better place to learn and improve upon your craft.

So how do we ingrain this belief into our being?

Try singing it! Seriously! I will play a riff on the piano or guitar and will sing ‘I am enough’ over and over again. You can also turn the affirmation into a beautiful art work and put it in a prominent place in your house so that you keep reminding yourself every time you look at it.  

Anytime a nasty thought comes up about yourself, others or the world – obliterate it instantly by taking a deep breath and saying ‘I am enough.’

Funny enough (see what I did there?), it’s about practicing it repeatedly so that it becomes a habit and you start viewing yourself and the world around you with a sweeter pair of lenses.

When you do this, you are connecting to a higher truth that trumps all trivialities and helps you become fully present. And when we are fully present – watch out – we are operating from an uber creative, powerful space. To everyone else watching you, you are being ‘brave’ but in fact you are just being more of yourself. Please take a moment now to let that last sentence sink in. That's right, bravery is the by product of simply allowing you to be more of yourself. 

Anyhow… here’s the video.

Also, here’s some pics from last weekend’s masterclass.

 

I can’t express to you how grateful and humbled I was to work with these eight incredible women. This masterclass was also a life changer for me. I’ve decided that all I want to do now is help people LOVE their voices. My tag line for the last year or so has been ‘Find Your Voice, Live a Life You Love’. I’m changing it now to ‘LOVE your Voice’. Why? Because ‘finding our voices’ is really about learning to love ourselves. It’s going straight to the truth of the matter.

When we shift our focus onto our strengths and love the shit out of our weaknesses, this is when we start uncovering our gems, including our unique voice.

By the way – one of the ladies of the workshop had a massive revelation and declared to the group and the Universe ‘I want to be heard.’  She is a very talented singer and has always wanted to study opera. She auditioned for the Conservatorium earlier this week to do an alternative pathway program and she was accepted. I can’t tell you how much my heart expanded when I heard the news. #superproudteachermoment

 

Anyhow - remember, YOU & YOUR VOICE ARE ENOUGH

Keep you eyes fixated on those grand plans of yours. They can happen.

 
Mel-Lathouras-Signature-Smallcopy.png
 

What do you want to achieve in this lifetime?

 
 

Every now and then, I go off course.

When this happens life becomes a monotonous blur of ‘to dos’ and going through the motions.

I get dizzied by my efforts to ‘make things work’ and ‘keep people happy’ that I lose a sense of myself, my passion and purpose.

With 2016 drawing to an end, I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions to make sense of where I am and where I’m going.

Funnily enough, I have never really taken the time to answer this big pearler of a question and I have to say, the answer brought me out of my self-imposed fog.

‘What do you want to achieve in this lifetime?’

I have to say, it’s so funny how we transition from the mentality of ‘what can I get’ to ‘what can I give’.

In my teenage years right through to my twenties, achievement looked like accolades, being on the property market, making six-figures, jet setting across the world as a famous singer, being married to Leonardo DiCaprio (happy to say, that ‘13-year old girl dream' is over!) and the list goes on.

Now I did achieve some of those things in my twenties – I was making pretty good money and was climbing the corporate ladder - but I couldn’t shake the feeling of 1. being miserable and 2. still feeling like a loser.

I also changed my life completely at 27 years old to study music full-time and become a professional singer and singing teacher.

But it wasn’t until launching my business this year - Fearless Singer - that I truly felt excited and in alignment with my life goals.

You see, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs from both sides of my family. My Dad’s side are Greek migrants who built successful cafes in regional Queensland from very little in the form of money but did it with resilience, resourcefulness and generosity. In fact, they didn’t just build cafes they built warm welcoming hubs for the community. My Dad himself has always been in business and has the amazing ability to ‘dream big’ and see it through.

My Mum comes from a dairy farm and a long line of clever, hard working food producers. Mum changed her life and ours for the better, when she decided at 38 years old to finish her senior certificate to go back to study full-time at university. To pay for her uni fees, she bought and sold antique dolls and bears. She had a little shop in Rounds Arcade in Bundaberg called Toy Zone (named by me).         

So working for myself is a massive achievement. And I must say that after going solo in business, I have an enduring respect for business owners and freelancers.

Because… it’s pretty bloody hard at times.

One of my biggest discoveries this year has been that even when doing something that you love full-time, you will still experience the ‘cons.’

You can also get quite disillusioned and exhausted by it all, if you let it.

But what is supremely beautiful about these ‘cons’ is that they teach you so much about yourself and help you become even more ‘you’. Because the more years I have spent on this planet, I now realize that becoming ‘more of yourself’, IS the ultimate life goal.

The reality is that being uncomfortable forces you to go deep. It makes you ask probing questions, like, ‘why the feckle are you doing this?’ It teaches you to think and act creatively, to learn how to lovingly conquer that voice in your head that says ‘you’re a dick’ and to keep moving forward.

More importantly, it teaches you how to access that infinitely wise source that is always within you.

So go ahead and ask yourself now: ‘What do you want to achieve in this lifetime?’

I bet the answer will surprise, delight and perhaps make you slightly uncomfortable but inject you with a huge dose of love at the same time. I also promise that if you are feeling overwhelmed by life at the moment, it will remind you of the bigger picture.

This is how I answered and I have to say it floored me in the most loving and grounding of ways possible:  

“All I want to do in this lifetime is to make people believe they can sing and are top notch human beings who can do or be anything they want.”

So that’s my message. And if people start believing in themselves after being in my presence, that makes me pretty bloody happy.

P.S Registration closes tomorrow (Fri Dec 9 2016) for MY 6-Week Singing, Musicianship and Mindset Program. It will be your chance to work with me before I start scaling back on my one-on-one sessions.

More info here: =>

http://bit.ly/6weekprogram_FearlessSinger