Consequences of a crap work/life/diva balance

I am suffering from a poor diva/work/life balance. After finishing the Edinburgh Fringe, followed by a Dido and Aeneus with Opera Ingestre, followed by a holiday (in which I got super ill and ended up on a drip….don’t give me sympathy if I choose to work to the very end of my adrenals what do I expect from my body!) and concluded by taking the entire of September off (nothing like a sick note from the doctor to convince a workaholic to ‘freakin’ STOP’). I re-commenced in October with 4 star Ed Fringe reviews, verbal endorsements of my portrayal of Dido (which I didn’t record…idiot) and a massive hole in my credit  card and overdraft.  I should be diving into my Edinburgh box of contacts but I have a debt pressure to semi alleviate before I can even think about touring. Luckily, it turns out, I’m in demand as a Performance Coach and Corporate Ice Breaker! I say this as my coaching hours in Schools, University and with organisations have tripled. Nice! I thought 6 month out Diva-ing would see me joining the nearest Pub  (as if I could compete for a job against all the young, aspirational graduates who can survive on minimal hours sleep and still be cheery, efficient and gorgeous throughout their pub shift), so this flux of work has been a relief. Not only is it helping to chip into my Edinburgh Fringe debt mountain but I am captivated by the dedication of every one of my students/deligates! From students, NHS Staff and Bankers singing Classical-Music Theatre to Pop ballads, they plunge themselves out of their comfort zones and into the is enormously rewarding for me….and that’s where the whole diva/work/life balance thing goes a bit awry….I find it impossible to walk away from an enthusiastic work force. Unfortunately for me, there are consequences to this, because I say ‘yes’ to everybody and squeeze them into every available blank spot in my diary…including my rehearsal, creative, practice, rest slots…..and it’s not long before the body I have carefully looked after starts taking some serious abuse:

Former daily Diva routine:

7:00 wake up, drink a pint of water

8:00 Siren, steam, stretch, continue to sip water, eat breakfast of eggs and brown rice

9:00 – 19:00 6 meals a day, high in protein, complex carbs, my bodies weight in greens, raw veg and fresh fruit, snacking on sprouts, nuts and seeds, peppermint tea, gluten free cake (come on cake’s CAKE) warmp up, cool down, rest voice, walk, cycle, gym, study, read, revise, teach a bit, tweet, facebook, lesson plan, coach plan, read the newspaper.

Present not-so-Diva routine:

7:00 wake up neck a soya latte (tastes amazing but gives me the shakes..who cares I AM AWAKE). Make packed lunch which may consist of the curry I ate at 22:00 the night before, a piece of fruit and microwavable white rice (IT’S QUICK)

8:00 Drive/bus/train to place of teaching/coaching. Continue to sip coffee

9:00 Teach completely wired, talk constantly, laugh, joke, praise, wave hands round a lot, play piano too heavily, demonstrate classical/pop/theatre singing without warming up or drinking any water.

10:00 Almighty tired slump, start thinking about chocolate

11:00 Purchase high sugar gluten free item (there aren’t many and they are all lacking in nutritional value)

12:00 Eat last nights curry, head for coffee machine continue in this manner until 19:00

19:00 KNACKERED! Start talking at my live in lover and to myself (feel agitated and a bit ranty) go to the pub to relax.

20:00 Wind down with one or two large wines or Greygoose and Tonics. Snack on wasabi peas/crips/quavers.

21:00 Pub food arrives (it’s not going to be a salad) take some home for tomorrow’s lunch

22:00 Go home, neck some ibroprofin to stop wrist from burning, watch Newsroom or Scandal.

23:00 Go to bed. Lie awake, knackered but, for some reason, unable to sleep, check Facebook, twitter, on line news in the dark.

01:00 Continue to lie awake.Get up with a humph (annoying partner in process) watch TV.

02:00 Go back to bed, plug ears into iplayer radio play.

7:00  Start again feeling knackered…reach for the coffee

8 weeks later and (like the rest of the hard working population) I have a cold and worse: I.HAVE.LOST.MY.VOICE. I hasten to add this is not an overnight phenomena. It begins with vocal clearing (otherwise known as coughing) because a thick, unshiftable phlegm is squatting in my throat (that’ll be the coffee and lack of water).  First thing in the morning I wake with a burning throat, as though somebody has taken a kitchen blow torch and kindly caramelized the back of my Pharynx  (late night eating=acid reflux). Then comes the throat ache. I’m a trained vocalist, I know exactly how to get my vocal folds to meet and produce speech so the huskiness alarm warning doesn’t come into effect until it is too late. I have by-passed the warning signs and hit critical. I’m half way through delivering training session 2 and my voice fatigues. It’s a bit like the day after a grueling workout when walking up the stairs feels like hard core trekking. The muscles in my throat don’t want to work any more they want to be left alone….I know at this point that I’m in trouble…I’ve really buggered voice. And sure enough I wake up the next day with golf balls in my throat and zero possibility of producing a siren. This week I can’t sing, I can’t teach, I can’t lecture, I can’t coach, I can’t earn……and I have nobody to blame other than myself…Let the week of

  1. Silence
  2. Steaming (nothing posh: half a cup of boiling water + inhale = temporary relief)
  3. Never eating after 6:00
  4. Sleeping
  5. No fat, dairy, caffeine or alcohol
  6. Copious amounts of vitamin C



About Sarah-Ann Cromwell

"My name is Sarah-Ann Cromwell Britain's 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian, 1st Female Singer (in 30 years) of Internationally touring Cantabile -The London Quartet and Awesome Facilitator (unlocking your awesome)! 4 star reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe, WINNER of Buxton Festival Fringe 'Spirit of the Fringe Award', WINNER of February's Cheese 'n' Crackers and Ice breaking, leadership role modelling and confidence coach for the Private and Public sector. Call me 'Diva'!"

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