“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.” Honore de Balzac
We are almost finished with another Lenten, Holy Week and Easter season. Church musicians are rounding the corner, heading toward the end of the finish line of their busiest six weeks, exhausted and craving chocolate bunnies. Even those in academics are well into rehearsals for their final concerts of the semester. And if you are in the community sector, your last concerts loom ahead in the next two months. All the planning and preparation, all the rehearsals, missed or postponed meals and family events you couldn’t attend because of your obligations are bearing fruit. FINALLY!
Was it worth it? I don’t mean to tell you how you should be feeling in this Blog; only get you to think. Have you even attempted to take care of yourself the last few months? Are you crabby? Have you been short with those closest to you? Are you constantly tired and always feel a bit under the weather? And do you push on anyway? What price has this season exacted on you, physically, emotionally and personally?
I used to think it was selfish; now I see the wisdom and am a great believer in taking care of myself so I am able to take care of others. Some may think it counter-intuitive to take care of ourselves so we are able take care of others. But every time we fly we are reminded in the event of a crash, to put on our oxygen mask before putting on the mask of any young child with whom we are traveling. Makes sense; take of yourself so you are able to help those who will need your help the most.
It IS important for you to take care of yourself during the busiest times in our profession. I am not suggesting you neglect or ignore what your need to do to make your worship services or concerts happen. But one or two small things done for your own health and well-being could make a difference in your mood and ability to get things done.
Know what you need to be productive, less crabby and more pleasant and then DO THEM! Try eating as healthy as you are able, with regular meals especially during Holy Week and have a food you really, really enjoy occasionally. A twenty minute Power Nap right before rehearsal could help your productivity and your mood. Are you a big college basketball fan with no time to watch a game and a bit bummed not being to watch the NCAA Tournament? Have a friend or family member keep you informed or record your favorite’s games and watch them later. The Big Game is on the day after Easter so you have something to look forward to after this marathon week.
I know what I need. I crave the occasional cheeseburger, need my “Huey Lewis and the News” and read Vogue on an irregular basis. My favorite candy bar is a Heath Bar but won’t turn down a Milkyway or Three Musketeers. I detest kale and would be happy with a BLT every day for lunch if I could get away with it. In my quest to be healthy, I rarely have a cheeseburger or a BLT, only have a candy bar when I’m riding a commuter train but I do choke down kale regularly. The Vogue is a guilty pleasure and only I listen to Huey and friends when I am cleaning. However, when I am in the midst of yet another screwy concert cycle, I make sure I have cheeseburgers, Vogue with a side of Heath Bar, while listening to Huey, and then a short nap. Can’t forget my nap!
It is too late for this year but please think what your own needs are to get through your toughest times. Make a list and include it in your notes for next year. Consider incorporating those needs in your life all the time; and do one thing you need to make life a bit easier, so you feel a bit more human. Your choirs will thank you. Your partner or spouse or children or parents will thank you. Catching a sports score or eating chocolate or taking a nap won’t change the world but it might make it just a bit more pleasant and YOU a bit more pleasant!