Since I was a fetus swimming in my mother’s belly, I have known that I was destined to be a world class performer. Like any journey on the road to achieving great dreams, there are obstacles that shape who we are and force us to find greater strength within ourselves.
At 10 days old, my mom noticed that I was wheezing and turning blue. Soon after, my parents were at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto and were told that I was having heart failure. My survival rate: only 20%. By 11 days old, I had my first heart surgery, followed by two more at ages 5 and 14.
With the cutting of nerves, muscles and bones, my range of movement was restricted and lived in so much pain that I could not sleep through the night for the 15 years following my last surgery.
How does this relate to my dream to sing?
For years, my ability to sing was dependent upon how much pain I was in that particular day. On a good pain day, I could breathe into my body and sing beautifully. On a bad pain day, my ribs would be constricted causing my breathing to be shallow. To get through a phrase was a challenge.
Time and time again I would have a bad pain day, go into an audition, sing badly and be torn apart by the panel. With each mounting criticism, I grew terrified to sing as I never knew what would come out of my mouth – it was just too unpredictable.
Eventually I drew the conclusion that I just wasn’t meant to sing and gave up. I turned to teaching music privately. I often found myself telling my students “Go after your dreams. You can accomplish anything you put your mind to!” Then it hit me. Who am I to preach to these kids when I am myself had given up? What a hypocrite I was.
It was time to heal. While meditating I would say, “I choose to live in a free and flowing body. Show me the way.” A month later I was at a teaching conference in which an osteopath was talking about the body in relation to performing. I started treatments with him – he gently moved the bones in my torso, releasing tension and opening up spaces. Within weeks of therapy, a miracle happened: I slept through night for the first time in 15 years. I laid in my bed weeping with joy. I also felt muscles moving that I had never felt before and my breathing was deep and open within my torso. Suddenly, I was singing beautifully every day, consistently. Singing with joy and freedom is my miracle.
Since then I went on to release my first album, Don’t Rain on my Parade, sing solo opera with symphonies, star in musicals and live my dream to perform. I am grateful that I have entertained tens of thousands of people across North America and will continue to perform for many many more.
I believe wholeheartedly that it is important for us to be grateful for what we have and give back when we can. In beating my odds, I wrote my book, Kiss Your Monsters Goodbye, to guide and empower others to do so in their own lives. I also make sure to sprinkle a little inspiration into every performance and talk I give. I just adore uplifting people, getting them up dancing and ready to soar!