Awake Dreaming

christmasvic.jpgThis is where I will jot down memories of my life and career. My first memories of a child are of constant travel. If the outside seemed dark and overcast, with humidity unbearable, and little sun.. we were in New York. If the air smelled of jasmine and the streets literally sparkled….we were in Los Angeles. Trips were chaotic and sudden. But as a family it made us very closeknit. My sister and brother and I were all we knew. My Grandmother, the woman who taught me so many life lessons it would stagger my recall and embarrass me in my ungrateful behaviour as a child, was the one who taught me to read and write. Mom and she were quite amazing and I went to a school the very first time for sixth grade. My siblings and I tested three grades ahead but we stayed to our age, and tried to adjust. Didn’t quite fit in at all. I knew I would sing from an early age. I curtsied to the Principal and she looked horrified. I never understood why. Perhaps she knew how I might be scrutinized by the eager to pass judgement children of my own age who didn’t quite know what to make of me! But the rest will be saved for the agony of a bio some day. I will fast forward to my first coming to New York.anet01.jpgCarl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems: Powerful and I love it.I AM THE PEOPLE, THE MOBI AM the people–the mob–the crowd–the mass.Do you know that all the great work of the world isdone through me?I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of theworld’s food and clothes.I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleonscome from me and the Lincolns. They die. Andthen I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will standfor much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.I forget. Everything but Death comes to me andmakes me work and give up what I have. And Iforget.Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few reddrops for history to remember. Then–I forget.When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, thePeople, use the lessons of yesterday and no longerforget who robbed me last year, who played me fora fool–then there will be no speaker in all the worldsay the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.The mob–the crowd–the mass–will arrive then.c37-regini-35.jpg
Wonderful Yiddish Proverbs:
If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living.

Yiddish Proverb~
The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks.

Yiddish Proverb/
What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth.

Yiddish proverb/
A hero is someone who can keep his mouth shut when he is right.

Yiddish Proverb / One old friend is better than two new ones.

Yiddish Proverb/ One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.

Jewish Proverb/ Old friends, like old wines, don’t lose their flavor.

Jewish Proverb/ A wise man hears one word and understands two.

Yiddish Proverb/ “Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.”

Golda Meir (1898-1978 ) to a visiting diplomat :

“Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself”.

Golda Meir~Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex.
It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Albert Einstein/ Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

Albert Einstein/
When his wife asked him to change clothes to meet the German Ambassador, he said “If they want to see me, here I am. If they want to see my clothes, open my closet and show them my suits.”

Albert Einstein Intellectuals solve problems; geniuses prevent them.

Albert Einstein/ The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax.

Albert Einstein/ You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

Yiddish proverb/ I don’t want to become immortal through my work. I want to become immortal through not dying” /

Woody Allen  “I’m not afraid of dying – I just don’t want to be there when it happens!”/
Woody Allen “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.  

Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton.  
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts ~

Albert Einstein~
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them~    

Albert Einstein~  Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school~

Albert Einstein~Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.~Albert Einstein  


firerainbow.jpgArriving in New York…..November 21, 1981 for the first day at the Met Nov.22.1981 in the freezing snow. Raging fever, no place to live. I hunkered down at the Empire Hotel across from the Metropolitan Opera.20070815__catherine-louis-vuittonp1.jpg

Absolutely my blonde ideal…..and giving total sense to the name of this section….awake dreaming….. If the David in Firenze came to life. Yes, yes, I know, Sex and the City guy. I am searching now for the dark haired ideal……


or this that was sent to me by a fan  on Myspace. The eyes. To start with ….. 

marlenedietrich.gifFirst day at the Metropolitan Opera November 22, 1981.  So thrilled yet, I wanted a more old fashioned building.  Said hello all around.  There had been a lot of talk about my coming.  How special I was.  And I was hysterically sick.  Did NOT take well to coachings with MANY people.  Smorgasbord.  I was confused and unhappy, and very defensive. Argued with everyone.  Trying to do special and personal things with the music was picked to pieces.  One person said, “You can’t do that.  You have to be a star to do that…..”  and I interrupted fiercely, ” and I never will become one if I don’t!” to which I was shown the door!  “She’s difficult!!!” wasn’t even whispered it was shouted in my face. Rough everywhere.  

Thank God for Larry in those early days, and for Alberta Maisello.  She had just left a year or so, but sent me a fabulous note.  “Be strong. You have the message, soon everyone will know.”     Ah yes, she and Jeanine Reiss were the only two people that got me early on.  Thank God for them.  And Larry.  All alone in New York, my momma flew immediately hearing the bruising I was taking.  

We began the New Year’s 1982, me hoarse, no voice, momma defiant, a great bottle of DOM and a brand new gift my mom gave to me, a portrait of Callas as Tosca.  As the snow fell, the glasses raised, one after the other, and our spirits soared and we gave thanks for everything.  Across the street from the Met but feeling further away than that.  And wanting to be.  Mom knew better.  “Stay calm.  Larry is very smart.  Trust. You have something that will scare a lot of neophytes in opera who know nothing.  They want to control something they have no idea about. When Levine sees what he has in you, all this will change.  I trust in your talent and HIS.  He will know.  Until then, keep your head up, give no ground and and wait for him to see.”  She was right. She always was.  gwili20roar2.jpg 

“It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

“When your friends begin to flatter you on how young you look, it’s a sure sign you’re getting old.”

You may know Mark Twain for some of his very popular books like Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He was a writer and also a humorist, satirist and lecturer.

Twain is known for his many – and often funny – quotes. Here are a few of my favourite tips from him.

1. Approve of yourself.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

If you don’t approve of yourself, of your behaviour and actions then you’ll probably walk around most of the day with a sort of uncomfortable feeling. If you, on the other hand, approve of yourself then you tend to become relaxed and gain inner freedom to do more of what you really want.

This can, in a related way, be a big obstacle in personal growth. You may have all the right tools to grow in some way but you feel an inner resistance. You can’t get there.

What you may be bumping into there are success barriers. You are putting up barriers in your own mind of what you may or may not deserve. Or barriers that tell you what you are capable of. They might tell you that you aren’t really that kind of person that could this thing that you’re attempting.

Or if you make some headway in the direction you want to go you may start to sabotage for yourself. To keep yourself in a place that is familiar for you.

So you need give yourself approval and allow yourself to be who you want to be. Not look for the approval from others. But from yourself. To dissolve that inner barrier or let go of that self-sabotaging tendency. This is no easy task and it can take time.

2. Your limitations may just be in your mind.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

So many limitations are mostly in our minds. We may for instance think that people will disapprove because we are too tall, too old or balding. But these things mostly matter when you think they matter. Because you become self-conscious and worried about what people may think.

And people pick up on that and may react in negative ways. Or you may interpret anything they do as a negative reaction because you are so fearful of a bad reaction and so focused inward on yourself.

If you, on the other hand, don’t mind then people tend to not mind that much either. And if you don’t mind then you won’t let that part of yourself become a self-imposed roadblock in your life.

It is, for instance, seldom too late to do what you want to do.

3. Lighten up and have some fun.

“Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.”

“Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

Humor and laughter are amazing tools. They can turn any serious situation into something to laugh about. They can lighten the mood just about anywhere.

And a lighter mood is often a better space to work in because now your body and mind isn’t filled to the brim with negative emotions. When you are more light-hearted and relaxed then the solution to a situation is often easier to both come up with and implement. Have a look at Lighten Up! for more on this topic.

4. Let go of anger.

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Anger is most of the time pretty pointless. It can cause situations to get out of hand. And from a selfish perspective it often more hurtful for the one being angry then the person s/he’s angry at.

So even if you feel angry at someone for days recognize that you are mostly just hurting yourself. The other person may not even be aware that you are angry at him or her. So either talking to the person and resolving the conflict or letting go of anger as quickly as possible are pretty good tips to make your life more pleasurable.

5. Release yourself from entitlement.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

When you are young your mom and dad may give a lot of things. As you grow older you may have a sort of entitlement. You may feel like the world should just give you what you want or that it owes you something.

This belief can cause a lot of anger and frustration in your life. Because the world may not give you what expect it to. On the other hand, this can be liberating too. You realize that it is up to you to shape your own life and for you to work towards what you want. You are not a kid anymore, waiting for your parents or the world to give you something.

You are in the driver’s seat now. And you can go pretty much wherever you want.

6. If you’re taking a different path, prepare for reactions.

“A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

I think this has quite a bit of relevance to self-improvement.

If you start to change or do something different than you usually do then people may react in different ways. Some may be happy for you. Some may be indifferent. Some may be puzzled or react in negative and discouraging ways.

Much of these reactions are probably not so much about you but about the person who said it and his/her life. How they feel about themselves is coming through in the words they use and judgements they make.

And that’s OK. I think it’s pretty likely that they won’t react as negatively as you may imagine. Or they will probably at least go back to focusing on their own challenges pretty soon.

So what other people may say and think and letting that hold you back is probably just fantasy and barrier you build in your mind.

You may find that when you finally cross that inner threshold you created then people around you may not shun you or go chasing after you with pitchforks. 🙂 They might just go: “OK”.

7. Keep you focus steadily on what you want.

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.”

What you focus your mind on greatly determines how things play out. You can focus on your problems and dwell in suffering and a victim mentality. Or you can focus on the positive in situation, what you can learn from that situation or just focus your mind on something entirely else.

It may be “normal” to dwell on problems and swim around in a sea of negativity. But that is a choice. And a thought habit. You may reflexively start to dwell on problems instead of refocusing your mind on something more useful. But you can also start to build a habit of learning to gain more and more control of where you put your focus.

8. Don’t focus so much on making yourself feel good.

“The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.”

This may be a bit of a counter-intuitive tip. But as I wrote yesterday, one of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to make someone else feel good or to help them in some way.

This is a great way to look at things to create an upward spiral of positivity and exchange of value between people. You help someone and both of you feel good. The person you helped feels inclined to give you a hand later on since people tend to want to reciprocate. And so the both of you are feeling good and helping each other.

Those positive feelings are contagious to other people and so you may end up making them feel good too. And the help you received from your friend may inspire you to go and help another friend. And so the upward spiral grows and continues.

9. Do want you want to do.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Awesome quote. And I really don’t have much to add to that one. Well, maybe to write it down and keep it as a daily reminder – on your fridge or bathroom door – of what you can actually do with your life. 

Ah yes, having just gotten my driving license, my sister and I moved to New York with all our meager start belongings, enough to leave the blue station wagon we were driving cross country little distance off the ground.

Around Arizona it also dropped it’s muffler which was dragged remarkably all the way to New York! My memory of it is so vivid, of my sister’s incredible stamina and will driving sometimes 13 hours straight. I managed a stint of 11 hours.

The pull of the big rigs, the slopes of the roads and the turns and curves of Colorado, the wide open passages of Arizona and of the Nevada. We stopped once in Las Vegas, and called New York hearing I had a rehearsal in three days. We never stopped again making this huge trip in 2 and a half days! The rain and the heat and the cars……miles and miles of road stretched in front of you….it all picked up around Cleveland where we ran out of money and someone kindly cashed a check for me just on good faith. Those days are gone.

Arriving in Pennslyvania with it’s lush green and fog, I LOVED it. I felt HOME, The coming into New York like a covered wagon. Only when you are young I submit, but thrilled to have done it once, especially with my sister. I will never forget it…..this is a fun video of someone else’s trip but it fits close enough.

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