Concerts, illness, life balance

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote a post. The past few weeks have been tremendously busy, culminating in two concerts in two days, and my getting sick two days before the first one. Today, I am sitting in my comfy chair browsing and reading, while Ted has the kids over at friends of ours. He’s going to bring me a scramble for breakfast when they get home. Thanks to Ted!

The concerts went fairly well, but I definitely experienced an impact on my energy level from being as sick as I was. Not my favorite way to perform.

One thing that has increasingly become clear to me is that a frenetic lifestyle is not sustainable in the long term. It’s ok to have bursts of higher levels of activity, but my current approach to those times, to just attempt to push through with all the same expectations of what’s going to happen and what’s going to get done, is not working.

I need to support my musical career, and that means I need to make time for practicing, rehearsals, and performances. I need to engage with my family, and that means I need to make time to spend with my children even when there is a ton of other stuff going on. I need to take care of myself, and that means I need to be able to take time off from my main job, teaching, when necessary so I don’t run myself into the ground. I need to be present when I’m teaching, so I can give my students (and myself) the best pedagogical experience I can facilitate. I need down time, time for handling life’s logistics. I need time to write, something I usually only manage on a weekly basis, if that. (At that rate it’ll take me another 2 or 3 years to get through my first draft.) I would also like to live in a clean and organized house.

I am starting to understand that I can’t maintain ideal levels of activity in all of these categories at all times. (Not that I didn’t know that already, but I kept hoping, anyway.) Each one will rise and fall. I only have so much time. When I’m prepping for a concert, other things will need to slide. But what I can do, instead of just trying to push through, is to work into the plan little essential elements that I don’t want to lose altogether, like a half hour walk with Hazel, or 10 minutes in the morning one day during the week to vacuum one room.

I keep wanting to ensure that I have two hours to practice every day, that I have an hour to write every day, that I have time for email and house cleaning, for mail and bill paying, for relaxing, for doing the dishes, for cleaning the cat box and feeding the cats, etc., etc., etc..

I can certainly set up systems and circumstances which will be more or less conducive to that level of regularity, but I have to accept that there are no guarantees that what I plan or wish to happen will happen. Disruption is often the name of the game.

Ted and I set up a task schedule so we’d get x and y done during the week. I think we’re going to have to mostly throw it out, and take some time on the weekends to clean and organize, to catch up. Our weeknights are extremely short, and we need to relax, not to spend that hour and a half after the kids are down cleaning, etc.

And I want to come to a level of peaceful acceptance of the level of chaos in our house, because if I allow it to stress me out to the degree it does, the house doesn’t get any cleaner but I feel worse.

And eventually, I think I may have to back down to only 2 nights a week of teaching, because I am not sure that the balance between family and practicing and teaching and household can sustain more, long-term. But we shall see.


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