18 Apr Endolphins. Not A Typo.
First published in the NZ Woman’s Weekly – Cover Date 17.4.23
“Endolphins”. That’s not a typo, it’s a new word I believe I just invented.
It describes that exhilarating sensation you get in your body when you feel a rush of joy, which I encourage you to picture henceforth as a pod of tiny dolphins swimming and leaping merrily through your veins.
So endorphins (the happy hormone that deals with pain and stress) but shaped like everyone’s favourite aquatic mammal.
Weird? Oh, for sure. But that image, and the word, came to me in a blissful dream the other night, and I feel like we know each other well enough for me to risk sounding a bit mad. And honestly, it’s not a million miles from describing nervousness as a tummy full of butterflies? And, I feel, way nicer.
What inspired the “endolphin” dream? This sudden clarity of porpoise? (Sorry, not sorry.) It happened after a day of driving and – this is the important bit – singing in the car.
I had forgotten how much I love singing. I’m not a great singer – not terrible, it’s not caterwauling. People don’t grimace when I join in on “Happy Birthday”. But no one is going to ask me to find the first note either.
This has been a disappointment – singing is the talent I’d have asked for if I’d been allowed to choose. When people asked eight-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said cheerfully, “A singer”. People had looked askance. Not, as I say, because I was terrible but my enthusiasm, their faces said, surpassed my ability. It could be a hobby, not a job.
Here’s a general observation – at some point, as an adult, you stop doing the things you are not outstanding at. We focus on our strengths, nurturing skills that enhance our career or show us at our best. In the busyness of life the other things fall by the wayside.
So – unless it is our particular thing – we stop drawing pictures, playing games, dancing, dressing up. We can no longer tell you what our favourite colour is. We don’t daydream about who we want to be. We stop doing things we are “ordinary” at, even the ones that bring us joy.
And so I had forgotten how much I love singing, and hadn’t really done it for ages. But I’ve started again – kind of on doctor’s orders. I use inhalers now that make my voice croaky so a serious vocal warm up before I get on stage to talk is now an essential part of the process.
And I’ve learned the best vocal warm up for me is to make a playlist of favourite songs and sing them in the car on the way to the gig.
Usually, that’s a short drive but an event in Taupō gave me four hours of belting out hits, and I couldn’t help but notice how gosh darn happy, uplifted and positive I felt by the time I arrived.
Turns out, this is science. Singing releases all the happy chemicals – serotonin and dopamine as well as my personal endolphins. Plus it oxygenates your blood and improves lung capacity, and totally amuses anyone who catches you pulled up at the traffic lights where you’ve grabbed the opportunity to throw in some full body emoting. Honestly, you’ve made both people’s days.
Not everything you do has to be brilliant – ordinary is also a thing we are allowed to be. Especially if it brings the kind of joy that has us swimming with endolphins.