Double Unicorn Rainbow Day At Don Carlos: Men Go To The Opera Solo, Just Like Women Do

You know when you see something that’s pretty rare it stops you in your tracks? It’s like a double rainbow, except even rarer than that. What you’re seeing is so out-of-character it feels like seeing a unicorn or even better a double unicorn! Like you thought it didn’t exist, like unicorns. When you see what you thought didn’t exist twice in the same day, it’s like seeing a double unicorn rainbow. 

Huh? You saw a unicorn? Pretty close. Possibly as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a unicorn.

Here’s what I saw at Don Carlos at Lyric Opera yesterday that amazed me: solo men at the opera. 

I’ve been using Hottix.org this year to get my tickets vs. a Lyric Opera subscription. I get awesome seats for the opera on the main floor at a price I can afford. To clarify, a Lyric Opera subscription leaves me sitting up in the heavens for a price I can afford. Using Hottix.org does mean that I never know where I’ll be seated until I pick up my ticket the day of the performance at the box office. 

In the shows I’ve seen this season using hottix.org, I’ve been seated next to solo female senior citizens. But not for Don Carlos. This time I was seated between two solo men. 

When I say solo, I mean, like me, the person is there on their own with no friend or partner/spouse there with them.

Solo female senior citizens are very normal to see at the opera.

Solo females in early middle age at the opera are pretty rare. This is me now. I’m 41 at the time of writing this post, and I don’t see many women my age alone at the opera or any other cultural experience. I do see them, but they are older than me. Closer to 50s and 60s.

Solo females under the age of forty is a double unicorn rainbow. That was me before I turned 40. I’ve been this person since I was 18 and in college. I had no one who liked to do what I liked to do, see live cultural events like operas, plays, ballets, musicals, symphonies and theater, so I went on my own. I would’ve rather seen the show, whatever show it was, on my own vs. having to miss the show because I had no one else who wanted to go with me.

It takes a double unicorn rainbow to recognize a double unicorn rainbow. Yesterday, I saw a double unicorn rainbow at Don Carlos

Side note: Don Carlos was excellent. I highly recommend you check it out if you’re in the Chicago area.

I was seated between two solo men at the opera yesterday. 

That may not sound like much. But that’s huge. If I had to guess, I’d say they were heterosexual. Super double unicorn rainbow. 

Let me explain if you’re lost. Most women wind up dragging their partner with them to the opera. It’s a double unicorn rainbow situation to see a straight man of any age at the opera alone. This would mean that they came on their own, AND they wanted to be there.

Don Carlos was long. It was the 5 act French version. This was the first time the 5 act French version had been performed at Lyric Opera. So, what I’m saying is that this performance would’ve attracted die-hard opera goers. 

In yesterday’s post, I talked about opera and compared it to running a marathon in your mind. That’s what Don Carlos was like. It was long. It was hard to attach to. You had to really be an opera lover to still be sitting there at the end of the show. A LOT of people left. The core fans stayed, but the non-core opera lovers got up and started leaving during the end of the third act in the first act, during intermission, and during acts 4 and 5 of the second half. These men-they stayed. Wow!

What it showed me was that there are men out there who go see cultural events without their wives or partners dragging them kicking and screaming and resisting to go see the show. For all I know, these men were married or had a partner, and they came on their own anyways because they wanted to be there to see the opera. That’s a very rare occurrence.

Because of stigmas around men and it not being culturally acceptable to do things that are perceived as “stuff women go to”, it was refreshing to see this double unicorn rainbow yesterday.

I go to the opera alone because my husband doesn’t want to go. I don’t want to miss the operas, so I go alone. I don’t push him. I’ve asked him if he’d like to go, and he shows no interest.  I’m ok with that. My husband has gone with me to some events like the symphonies and live theater and he enjoyed them. But he won’t try going to see a live opera. Again, I’m ok with that. I’d rather see a long opera like Don Carlos on my own without having to worry about the person next to me who came with me having a miserable time.

It was refreshing for me to see men in this light: appreciating a cultural event that is considered feminine. I wasn’t sure they existed. I never see them at the opera without a woman attached at their side, or a gay male partner. I’ve never looked for solo men in the past at shows because of an assumption I had in my head. I assumed the majority of men are sports-loving fans that go see football  and other sports games live or that they live and die on the Sunday football game or other sports games on TV. I’ve never been able to understand or connect with that sports-loving man (or woman for that matter). Truthfully, I see them as caveman-like. I don’t enjoy the love of watching team sports where people run into one another in a violent manner, or hit a ball with a bat or put a ball into a net. I made a generalization that all men are like this. In my mind, there were no culture loving men. Seeing this double unicorn rainbow seated on either side of me yesterday shattered my preconceived notions I had about men. They can enjoy cultural events too. It’s rare, but it exists.

What’s the opposite here? A solo female senior citizen at a football game or other sports event? I don’t know because I don’t know that world. I’m the generalization here-women don’t like sporting events. It’s true for me. I’ve attended them before and tried to get into it, and I fit the stereotype that sports are for men and that the arts are for women. 

I’d never looked for solo men at an opera before because I assumed they didn’t exist in that they had no interest in going. I love that I was proven wrong! It was refreshing to see them at the opera. I guess what I really wish is that the stereotype didn’t exist at all and that it was more common to see solo men at the arts. 

It’s good to be proven wrong because it shatters my stigmas and stereotypes that I have in my head. It shows me I have a long way to go and grow in my thinking. It shows me I still have much to learn. I love that I have a lot to learn. Learning keeps me going, keeps me alive, keeps me thinking, and keeps me on my toes. Yes, girl!

Let me know on the sports thing: do solo women go to live sporting events? Maybe I should try going to a sporting event solo. I’ve always gone with people in the past. Maybe I would appreciate the event and be able to focus on it more without the distraction of having someone there. Maybe I will be the double unicorn rainbow: a solo woman at a sporting event. Maybe I’ll shatter the stereotype and stigmas that are placed on women. 

Yes, I must do this. I will go on my own to some kind of live sporting event and give it a try. I’m hoping it’ll give me a better appreciation of team sports. I’m always distracted when I go with other people at sporting events because I have someone to talk to, and it’s acceptable to talk during the game. I never pay attention to the actual game, and usually focus on how bored I feel and wind up eating a bunch of junk food to pass the time until it’s over.

If you have suggestions for a live sporting event you’d recommend I try solo, let me know. I’d love to hear from you at sarathlete@hotmail.com. Let me know your recommendations.

Have a great weekend!

Sarathlete

Opera and Endurance Sports: Training for Your Mind and Body

I am heading to Chicago today to see a really long opera called Don Carlos by Verdi.

Let’s define an endurance sport as a marathon today and call a finishing time 4 hours. For me, that’d be super fast! The only marathon I’ve ever done was Chicago Marathon in 2011 which took me 6 hours and 58 minutes to finish. The time limit on Chicago Marathon is 6 hours and 30 minutes. I didn’t get a book time, got a DNF and barely got a finisher’s medal. They were breaking everything down when I got to the finish line. Such a bummer in some ways. But there’s the fact that I made it to the finish line and I finished that marathon for ME. No matter what any results say, I know I finished that marathon.

Opera is like an endurance sport for the mind. 

In my opinion, opera is excellent mental training for an endurance sports.

Don Carlos is a 5 act opera with a 30 minute intermission. The total run time will be 3 hours and 50 minutes. Let’s round up and call it 4 hours. That doesn’t include going to a pre-opera talk, or the hour drive up or back in Chicago traffic.

The longest opera I’ve ever seen was 5 hours. I almost fell asleep at one point, but I made it through.

There are supertitles titles in opera if you see them live at an opera house like Lyric Opera. Supertitles are used for live performances. If you see an opera through the MetHD in a movie theater, then you have subtitles to view. Supertitles, used for live performances, and subtitles, used for recordings, project what’s being sung in a foreign language int eh opera into the native language of the audience. The version of Don Carlos I’m seeing today is sung in French, and the supertitles for the live performance will be shown in English.

Four hours of listening to a story sung in a foreign language and looking up and down between a projector to see what’s being sung to know what’s going on on-stage requires a lot of focus. Plus there are many stimuli to pay attention to beyond the story. There’s what’s going on with the music, the singing, the acting, sometimes dancing and trying to make sense of all of it put together. Plus, if it’s something I haven’t experienced before, there’s the novelty of all of it and trying to get through it the first time with knowing nothing about it.

I can train myself in advance for what I’m going to see so I know the storyline before I see it. I could listen to the opera before I go. I can attend the pre-opera talk so I have an idea of what to listen for in the music, know a little bit about the composer and learn a little bit about the storyline. If I really wanted to, I could even listen to a pre-recorded version on Apple Music.

Opera is similar to the mental and physical training you have to put in to be able to cross the marathon line. Let’s say neither are requirements in our life. Opera is a luxury and not compulsory. Let’s say the same for marathon. It’s recreational and not our job. Both could be, but let’s say they are just for fun and not necessary components in our lives. 

Just like you’d train for a marathon over many months to prepare your body for it, especially if it’s your first rodeo is a lot like attending an opera. There is mental focus required in both to get you through the event. There’s a physical component more so in a marathon, but it’s there in opera sometimes just to keep you sitting up and not falling asleep because not all opera experiences are the same (some will put you to sleep). There’s the dreaded lines for the bathroom in either scenario. There’s a 30 minute intermission at Lyric Opera for a reason (i.e. it’s an old building and not exactly optimized for long lines of people who use the bathroom at the same time) just like there are porta-potties along the marathon routes for a reason( four hours and beyond is a long time to wait before needing to use the bathroom.)

If you’re looking for some mental training for your next endurance event plus a chance to flex your mind, broaden your cultural horizons, and have a treat for the senses, I recommend you try out going to an opera. You might find that the skills you’ve cultivated as an endurance athlete might help you get through the long event if you’ve participated in endurance events in the past where you had to sit with yourself for long periods of time and focus on getting yourself across the finish line. If you’re training for your first event, I recommend you give opera a try because it’ll teach you a valuable lesson that endurance is a sport of the body and the mind to cross the finish line. 

At some point, 4 hours in an opera will feel easy. Just like being on an endurance course for 6 hours will feel easy. You have to stick at it. Neither opera nor endurance sports are easy at first, but the more you do either the easier it gets. 

My husband and I are going to hear Handel’s Messiah. My husband is not an opera goer. He said that the Messiah was long. I asked him how long it was because I didn’t know. He told me it was 2 hours and 20 minutes. I said to him, “Oh, that’s nothing.” I should’ve clarified what I said by adding, “Oh, that’s nothing for me, but I understand that will be a lot for you.” 

In sports terms, a 10k feels like “nothing” when you’ve gone a marathon distance or longer. In cultural terms, 2 hours and 20 minutes of run time for any kind of event is “nothing” when you’ve sat through much longer events that require much more focus.

For a newbie in sport or culture, though? A 10k isn’t nothing it’s something. It’s hard. Same with cultural events-2 hours and 20 minutes is a lot to sit through when you’ve never heard a piece of music played for you with a chorus singing. 

Appreciate where you started. 

See how far you’ve come. Appreciate where beginners are at. 

Respect the event. 

Respect the distance and time.

Be humble. 

Remember you were a beginner too and things weren’t always easy for you. 

Know that things will get easier over time, and life won’t always be as hard as it is when you’re just beginning.

Realize if a marathon or a 4 hour opera is easy now, that maybe it’s time to do something new that challenges you like an ultra marathon or learning to play an instrument in the music you listen to in your favorite operas (this is what’s next for me in the culture department).

Always challenge yourself and try to do a little more than you did before otherwise you’ll get bored in your body and mind. Keep moving. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck. If you’re not challenging yourself, then you’re never going to grow as an athlete or as a person.

Sarathlete

12 Tips For How to Find Inspiration and Break Through Creative Blocks: Tips For Content Creators

Are you struggling to come up with content ideas? Do you feel like you’ve hit a creative block? In this video, I’m going to show you how to find inspiration and break through your blocks so that you can create amazing content that your audience will love.

Hey everyone, I’m Sara from Sarathlete On The Move, and if you’re anything like me, you know that creativity is key when it comes to content creation. But sometimes it’s hard to get started, or we hit roadblocks that keep us from producing our best work. In this video, I’m going to share my top 12 tips for finding inspiration and breaking through those creative blocks so that you can create content that your audience will love.

Tip 1: Take a break from your work.

As content creators, we often face the challenge of feeling creatively blocked. When this happens, it’s important to take a break from our work and do something that will inspire us. This could be anything from going for a walk and admiring the beauty of nature, to watching a movie or reading our favorite book. By taking some time for ourselves, we can come back to our work with fresh ideas and a renewed sense of creativity. So next time you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to step away from your work and give yourself some time to recharge.

Tip 2: Get organized.

All content creators know that feeling of being creatively blocked. When you’re experiencing a creativity drought, it can be tough to come up with new and innovative ideas. That’s why it’s important to get organized and have a plan for when those times come. 

Organization is key for content creators. Whether you’re a blogger, vlogger, or podcaster, being organized can help you be more creative and productive. That’s why I always make sure to have a content calendar. I map out what topics I want to cover and when. This helps me to stay on track and never feel uninspired or blocked. Trust me, content calendars are a lifesaver! They help to keep you organized and motivated, so you can continue creating content that your audience loves. 

Tip 3: Talk to other content creators.

Creator’s block is a very common issue and talking to other creators who have gone through the same thing can give you some great advice. They will be able to tell you how they overcame their own creative blocks, what methods worked best for them, and what resources they used. This information can be invaluable in helping you overcome your own creative blocks.

Tip 4: Use prompts within your niche. 

As content creators, we sometimes need a little help jump-starting our creativity. That’s where prompts come in! Prompts can be found online or in books, and they can provide the inspiration we need to try something new. Whether we’re feeling blocked or just need a little boost, prompts can help us tap into our creativity and come up with fresh content ideas. So the next time you’re feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to use a prompt within your niche to get the ideas flowing. It just might help you create your best content yet!

Tip 5: Take some time for yourself.

As content creators, we often have to be in “go-mode” in order to meet our own deadlines or deadlines our clients have while still keeping our content fresh. However, this can sometimes lead to us feeling burnt out and uninspired. That’s why it’s important to schedule in some downtime for yourself. Whether it’s taking a few minutes to meditate, going for a walk, or reading your favorite book, taking some time for yourself will help you relax and recharge. And when you’re feeling refreshed, you’ll be able to bring your creativity back to your work and produce content that you’re proud of. So don’t forget to schedule in some “me-time” into your content creation process!

Tip 6: Experiment with new mediums or styles.

If you’re feeling blocked creatively, sometimes all it takes is to experiment with new mediums or styles. Content creators can get inspiration from other creators in our field, but it’s also important to try new things and explore different ways of creating content. If you typically make videos where you’re in front of the camera, try creating a video using animation or illustrations or film B roll and do a voiceover. It’s important to keep your content fresh, and by trying new ways of creating content, you’ll keep yourself feeling creatively inspired while keeping your content fresh and new. The goal is to grow creatively and not get stagnant in your genius zone of creation and flow.

Tip 7: Get outside and explore.

There’s nothing like getting out of your comfort zone to jumpstart your creativity. If you’re stuck in a creative rut and you create content indoors, then get outside, start walking and get your exercise in while you create content and explore a new place. This one is by far my favorite and I always practice what I preach: I take a walk in nature, I will vlog or create content in a park, and I’ll turn on my apple watch and track my exercise while I’m walking around creating. The idea here is to try creating a piece of content in a place you don’t normally film at. Getting out and exploring can help refresh your mind and give you new perspectives that you can bring back to your work. And who knows? You might just find some new inspiration for your next project while you’re at it.

Tip 8: Set simple goals for yourself and stick to them- don’t overwhelm yourself.

Content creators often face the issue of feeling blocked when it comes to inspiration for new content. This happens to the best of us- even I’ve been there! It can be frustrating, especially when you’re under a time crunch. That’s why one of my favorite tips is to set simple goals for yourself and stick to them. When you’re feeling uninspired, it can be tempting to try and come up with a bunch of ideas all at once. But that can actually be overwhelming, and it’s more likely that you’ll get stuck rather than coming up with something brilliant. So instead, start small. Decide on one thing that you want to create, and make that your focus. Once you’ve got that down, you can move on to the next thing. And before you know it, you’ll have a whole slew of content that you’re proud of!

Tip 9: Take care of yourself both physically and mentally.

As content creators, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be creative and inspired. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting to produce your best work, it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating healthy meals. Find time for things that make you happy outside of work. And if you’re feeling blocked, don’t force it. Sometimes the best ideas come when we least expect them. So give yourself a break, relax, and let the creativity flow.

Tip 10: Doodle, free-write, or brainstorm ideas when you feel stuck.

All of the content creators I know can attest to the feeling of being creatively blocked at some point or another. 

One of the best things to do is to simply start doodling, brainstorming, or free-writing. This can help you to focus and to get the creative juices flowing and can often lead to some great ideas. Brainstorming with a group can also be beneficial as it allows you to bounce ideas off of others. Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration from someone else to get your creative content flowing again. So next time you’re feeling creatively blocked, don’t despair; just pick up a pen and start doodling, drawing, writing down whatever is in your head or creating a mindmap of ideas to brainstorm. Write it down, no matter what it is, and you will find your next idea. 

Tip 11: Check out the internet and use paid and free apps online for ideas.

As content creators, we all know that we will get creatively blocked at some point on our journey. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we can’t seem to come up with anything new and exciting. That’s where the internet comes in! There are so many great sources of inspiration out there, you just have to know where to look. For me, some of my favorite places to go are paid apps like Surfer SEO’s content planner, keyword researcher and content editor, sometimes I’ll combine Surfer SEO with Jasper AI for help coming up with ideas, and I love free sites like Answer The Public or Google Trends to find out what people are searching for answers on in my niche or niches for my clients. So next time you’re feeling creatively blocked, don’t despair – just do a little internet research and you’ll be sure to find some great inspiration!

Tip 12: Watch someone else’s content for a fresh perspective.

There’s nothing worse than feeling creatively blocked. You’re staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, and no matter how hard you try, the ideas just won’t come. If you’re struggling to get your creative thoughts flowing, something you can do is take a break from creating your own content and watch someone else’s content for a while. Watching or reading someone else’s content can give you a much-needed dose of inspiration. Seeing how other content creators approach their work can also help you to come up with new ideas of your own. So if you’re feeling stuck, step away from your own content for a while and see what others are doing. It just might give you the fresh perspective you need to continue on your own content creation journey.

Final Thoughts:

I hope you found these tips helpful. Remember to take some time for yourself, experiment with new mediums or styles, set simple goals and most importantly, take care of yourself physically and mentally. And if you want more ideas on how to be creative and productive, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and like this video. I also post exclusive content that I don’t post to YouTube over on my blog at sarathlete.com. Head on over there to check out more.

Thanks for watching! I’ll see you in the next video.

Creative Co-working

I’m a proponent of exploring new places, having new experiences, meeting new people and learning new things. When I do something new, I grow because I gain new knowledge. I believe growth is movement forward in life. As I’m writing this post, I’m trying something new today—creative co-working.

I stumbled upon a new-to-me podcast called The Unmistakable Creative one year ago. The podcast host has a creative network that runs on an app called Mighty Networks. (Note: I’m a tech-dinosaur, so, if I have my titles or app names wrong, please contact me and let me know. You deserve credit, and you shouldn’t suffer because of my ignorance!)

I joined the Unmistakable Creative network three weeks ago. The network consists of a community of creative people who encourage each other, support each other’s work and ideas, and explore new ideas of how to be more creative. A community manager hosts a co-working group that meets on Saturday mornings with the purpose of doing one hour of creative work. I’ve signed up for this co-working session three times, and I backed out twice. Today, I joined the co-working event.

Here’s the format of the co-working event, in case you’re new to co-working, like me:

  1. Enter the room: I entered the virtual video chat room using the Zoom app via a link posted by the community manager in the Mighty Networks app.
  2. Introductions: At the beginning of the hour, there are introductions. Everyone in the group has a chance to state their name, where they’re from, and what creative project/goal they are going to be working on for that hour.
  3. Co-work: After introductions, the camera goes off, microphones are muted, and everyone starts working on their creative project.
  4. Final check-in: After the hour is over, there is a final check-in and everyone has a chance to state the progress they’ve made on their creative project and how they felt the session went for them.

Before I tried this co-working session, I needed to mediate to calm myself down. I was nervous. Meeting new people is difficult for me. While I was meditating my mind was simmering with questions and doubts:

  • Why am I placing my creative life in the background?
  • Why do I give the stress from my day job permission to be my excuse for putting my creativity in the corner?

Quieting my mind was not happening for me. So, I turned off the meditation app, got my iPad ready for blogging, and I connected to the video chat and used the audio-only option. I don’t look fabulous on Saturday morning!

While people were introducing themselves, I quickly wrote down my name, where I am from, and my creative goal for the hour on a sheet of paper. Writing down my thoughts helps me articulate what I want to express. I recited the words from my sheet of paper when my turn came:

  • My name is Sara.
  • I live in Northwest Indiana.
  • My goal for this hour is to create a blog post for my blog I abandoned 4 years ago.

(I get nervous around people I don’t know. When I get nervous, everything I know or want to say goes out the window, unless I have it written down.)

After the introductions, I wrote for an hour. I enjoyed getting my raw thoughts out of my head in an unedited format. I felt creative, productive, and more confident after my hour was over.

During the final check-in I wrote down and said the following:

  • I loved the experience.
  • I wrote about the co-working experience for my blog post during the hour.

I would publish the post later in the day after I’d had a chance to edit the post.

Some lessons I learned during my experience today:

  • There is a tribe of like-minded, creative people out there. I was letting fear of the unknown stand in my way of finding those people. I am not alone. I had to find the courage to reach out and join the tribe.
  • I accepted myself today. By joining the video chat in audio-only mode, I accepted my fear and knew that’s where I was at this morning. I didn’t let my fear conquer me. Although no one could see me, they could hear what I had to say.
  • I showed up and did the work. Showing up played a crucial key to my success. Showing up to do the work is the hardest step for me.
  • I had a positive experience. Having a positive experience with this group made me want to go back on the next Saturday and keep creating. Negative experiences create negative associations. Today was a positive experience and a positive association with creativity as the result.
  • I am accountable for my actions. I can’t blame anyone else but myself for not doing the creative work. Having a community of people, a tribe, is a helpful resource but it’s just a resource—not a substitute for getting the work done.

If you’re reading this post thinking to yourself, “I’m not creative” and “This post doesn’t apply to me”, then you are wrong. If creative work isn’t your skill, then there must be something else. Celebrate yourself and your skills. I dare you!

The podcast host of The Unmistakable Creative always asks people how they would define what makes someone unmistakably creative? I love that question. I want to know what is your unmistakable skill? I know you have one! Leave me a comment or drop me a line at sarathlete@hotmail.com. I’d love to hear from you! I’d love to connect with you and hear or read what you have to say! I’m an unmistakable listener! No one would mistake me for an unmistakable talker.

Keep moving, exploring, growing and learning!

Sarathlete