Singing in Sacramento’s Spring

Never have I been more thankful for my teachers and technique, than in Sacramento’s glorious spring.   A layer of gold pollen covers cars, the trees are blooming and colorful flower petals float back in forth in the light valley breeze.  Everywhere I look, there’s flowers, poppies, roses, lavender, dandelions, mustard and wild weeds.  It’s beautiful here and it’s beauty has been a muse to many an artist beit painter or composer.

What does it mean for a singer with notorious hay fever?  Having a good understanding of the typical physiological response to allergens and a plan of action, is so important.  Last year I tried a new product, Sensimist by Flonase and I have finally found real relief.  I still get some breakthrough sneezing so an Allegra on top does the trick.  Kudos to Flonase for coming up with this fabulous product.  


I do my best to head it off early but sometimes still miss the mark.  My toolbox contains:

  • Sensimist by Flonase
  • Allegra
  • Zaditor
  • Albuterol
  • Neti pot
  • Water
  • Water

It’s a well known and ongoing issue which is why understanding the physiological response to allergens is so important for singers.   The natural inclination is to become tense and press- but don’t!  Just don’t!

Relax, fall back. retreat, do some easy ooohs and gentle well placed eeees – resist the temptation to panic and consider your antihistamines and environment.  Listen to the people around you.  So many of the workers in my office have raspy sounding voices at the moment and my best buddy told me she couldn’t even sing the hymns in church on Sunday.  So I know it’s related to the environment and to rely on my understanding of my instrument and careful technique.

There are a few things I’ve done to make it easier performance wise as well:

  • Lowered my repertoire
  • Became good at changing keys depending on the scenario or on the condition of my instrument
  • Learn to trust my technique – go low for the high notes, high for the low notes, never press, sing the vowels and be patient.   When the pollen’s crazy it takes a little longer to warm up, and more awareness to keep the support.

As soon as we bust 100 degrees it gets better.   But look at these guys, is it any wonder??

They’re like little assholes, standing poised to ruin your spring performances.

When you feel their affects, proceed with caution, go back to the gentle basics of good singing technique and if that’s not enough:

  • After two weeks of insurmountable symptoms, see your doctor
  • Hit the Benadryl when you have to.  Though it knocks me out, nothing calms the stymptoms better
  • Rest when you need to, wait for that 100 degree day, adjusting the pitch of your repertoire (still practicing good technique) and
  • resist the temptation to look up various online diagnosis
  • Resist the temptation to scratch your skin
  • Water
  • Ricola
  • Water

If you can afford an allergist and can handle the shots that may eliminate the whole ordeal, and local bee honey is supposed to help as well.  But if not be patient, summers coming!

I’m Gonna Run

Embed from Getty Images

For battered NFL wives, a message from the cops and the league: Keep quiet By Simone Sebastian and Ines Bebea came out today in the Washington Post.  These two brave writers are peeling back the layers and shining a light on domestic violence in the NFL and the tacit reaction on behalf of law enforcement and NFL leadership.  Spousal abuse and child abuse are issues we continue to face in this country and the costs associated with this type of abuse are astronomical.

So what kind of costs am I talking about?  All sorts of costs, health related, educational and emotional costs that put the victim into a type of emotional bankruptcy.  How do you measure the value of self worth or the value of one’s potential?  Abusers are excellent at whittling you down, making you believe that you deserved the beating you got.  Messages like, “you can’t do anything right!” and “you’ll never amount to anything!,” and let’s not forget “you made me do that!”  degrade a person slowly over time until the they start to believe it.  It’s a slow erosion of self worth that will eventually color their perception. Like a form of PTSD, the victim will start to see things only from the abusers angle and actually believe that they’re inciting the anger and if they just did things a little better, it would be different.

Abusers manage the abused in very clever ways.  Their raging anger spilleth over like a pissed off volcano so the abused will look for ways to cope and mitigate the effect. They’ll walk on eggshells,  have dinner on the table, have the house sparkly clean, do a once over the house to make sure there’s nothing to trigger an outburst. They’ll engage in polite supportive conversation that avoids triggers. They may seek to console their pain in substance abuse or forms of repetitive behavior that have a calming effect.

The longer these coping mechanisms are in place the more the abused loses their voice and their power.  Their life gets sucked out by the abusers volatility and the constant effort to keep the abuser pacified. The costs to the physical and psychological body may seem like they can never be recovered but they can, only if the cycle is broken.  The road to healing starts with the desire to reclaim your own self worth and voice and the recognition that something is very wrong.  But for real change to occur, you’ve gotta hit the tipping point, the point where the desire to live in a different way overcomes the abusers conditioning.

How does someone who finds themselves in this circumstance reclaim their voice and their right to live in a safe environment?  Talk about it, reach out, make a plan.  Involve your healthcare provider.  Healthcare professionals in California are required to report injuries related to abuse.  Reach out to the local or national organizations that are available to help.  In Sacramento we have WEAVE.  In Jacksonville, FL, there’s the Quigley House.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233 and they’re equipped to provide local resource information for victims.

The one thing’s guaranteed, abusers escalate.  They get off on abusing and seeing their victim tip-toeing around their rage.  Get out when you can, before it’s too late and before #WhyIStayed turns into #HowIDied.

I wrote “I’m gonna run” with all of this in mind. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month #DAVM.  Let your voice be heard and stand up for every woman’s right to live in a safe environment without fear. Run if you need to.


It’s gotten bad, it sure ain’t good.
His temper’s rising, he’s gotten cruel.
It’s time to go. I’m no longer safe.
Ain’t no therapy, gonna change that face.

I’m gonna run, I’m gonna hide
I’m gonna find, the strength I left, behind, I’m gonna run.

I’ve got a plan. I’ve packed some bags.
Gonna head straight up through North Carolina
I’ve got three thousand dollars, and a clean car title.
I know I’ll be just fine, if I can make it past the state line.

I’ve grown stronger. I’m standing tall.
I may bend, but I’ll never fall….
cause I’m gonna run.

I made the video using images from Flickr’s creative commons and am not monetizing the video.

Most importantly, #KnowWhenItsTimeToRun and #Dontstay #itcangetworse.

Every life is valuable and everyone has something to contribute.  Don’t ever let someone else tell you differently.

Stay Safe,
Kally O’Mally

*Kally O’Mally is a composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist living in Northern California.  She writes and produces her own works.