Time For Me

Lately, I have been running out of time. Not just losing track of time -I am doing that, but actually finding that there are not enough hours to get everything done. It all came to a head this week, when I found that I wasn’t able to complete some projects that had a deadline. This is unusual for me.  No matter how tired I am – or how busy I get, I always manage to complete things on time. Turns out I can’t do that anymore. I’ve also noticed that I have started cancelling appointments, and sighing with relief when other people cancel on me. I find myself falling into bed completely exhausted and actually sleeping for a few hours – this is the one positive thing that has come from all this over-scheduling.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine about this- and she had a brilliant idea via Michelle Obama (not that they are friends or anything – she went to an event/lecture by her). Mrs. Obama talked about how when she is constructing her calendar, she schedules in her must do things (for herself or for her children) first, before scheduling other meetings/events/appearances.

I was listening to this, thinking I have a very different kind of life than the former First Lady, but I definitely have a scheduling problem. So, while I have a completely insane schedule for the rest of February and March (which includes working 7 days a week), I can try this out for April and the subsequent months.  Now, I already have a proposed calendar – but I have managed to do a bit of moving things around and I think I have come up with a plan. It feels like I work 80+ hrs a week. What makes it seem like I am always working, is that I don’t ever schedule in things like billing, or scheduling, or lesson prep. I do those on my own time.  And so I am often sending out invoices from my phone, while I am waiting for a movie to start on a Sunday night. This is unacceptable.  But if I take a careful look at my calendar, I notice that I have a 2.5 hr block between lessons on a tuesday, where I can do my invoicing and follow ups (and so Im going to schedule in some admin time – DONE!). I shouldn’t have to look at that every week – which gives me a few extra hours a week for practicing, and checking in with parents, and maybe even do a bit of marketing.  So instead of using that time- for scarfing down dinner or madly preparing for the next lesson, I can invest that time back into my own business.

The one aspect that my calendar is missing is time for me.  I have already made lunch hours a time to get a bit of exercise (me).  I have an entire freezer full of already prepared dinners, so I don’t have to worry about cooking for the next 3 weeks, but I rarely schedule fun.  Mostly because by the time I get around to it – Im fast asleep.

Here is what my average week looks like:

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Work = 40 hrs
Ensemble Rehearsal = 7.5 hrs
Lessons = 15.5hrs
Admin = 2.5 – 5 hrs
Practice= 10 hrs

And if you add in the volunteer hours I work, you can add in an average of 2 hrs a week. That brings me up to almost 80 (hah! so I was right).  But there is definitely time for me.  In fact, I am quite surprised at how much white space is in my calendar.  I don’t feel the need to schedule every single minute of my life – but I like knowing that there is room for almost everything I want to be doing.  And now that I have realized that I can reschedule things, in order for me to have a  more balanced life, I feel like I won’t be missing deadlines, or forgetting things. In fact, I feel like I have quite a lot of room to breathe. Maybe so much room, that I should take on another project. Or maybe just schedule in some fun things, until I start feeling like me again.

*I purposely don’t put my practice hours into my calendar because right now, I am feeling the need to be flexible with my playing.  Also did you notice – no therapy sessions for March! Time for a bit of a rest.

Rainy Days and Mentors

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I have a mentor. Or I had a mentor when I had a business. I guess now you could call him a friend who is much wiser than most of the people I know. He is kinda sage like. He also understands the way my brain works, which makes him unusual. Basically he is around to bounce ideas off of. And then helps me focus the ideas into something real or at least something a bit more focused (after a couple hours of chaotic brainstorming). Sometimes he puts ideas into my head. But usually the conversation between us starts off like 2 bouncing balls – they start out manageable – but with each bounce they get more and more excited and out of control.

Its been exactly a year since I decided to shut down my studio (which I closed in July of 2016), and I have spent this past year walking around in a daze. I have been so lost. I have ideas, but they don’t stick. I want to move to Spain – but I don’t have the money – because Im paying off studio debt and trying to save during this time, has proven impossible. I have wanted to relaunch the studio into something a bit different, something a bit entrepreneurial – but every time I seriously start thinking about it, I talk myself out of it.  And honestly, I really don’t want to work with children anymore- so its probably best that I just lay it to rest.

So to mark the one year anniversary of me making a decision – the mentor/sage/friend comes over to have a chat. Or give a tough love talk. The tough love talks take place during a walk in the rain. This is how it plays out (in actual fact, having tough talks and walking in the rain is a lesson he learned from me):

Mentor (him)- Lets go for a walk. Leave the umbrella inside.
Laura (me)- Im not up for it.
Mentor – Im not asking you.
Laura – …. sigh fine.
M  – You are not 14 and I am not your mother.  Lets go!

M-(starts singing a song about an oyster whose greatest dream is to be a part of a gourmet meal to be eaten).
L- smiles a little.  joins in but I don’t know the words so I just make them up. I suspect he has written the song -but the tune is too good to be his.
M- Stops singing.  Ready to talk?
L. I guess. But I don’t have anything to say. I wasted the year, and I still don’t know what to do.
M. Ready to listen?
L- …..
M- Do something. Anything. If you don’t want to teach, don’t teach. Build skyscrapers out of lego if you want. Do anything but stop sulking. Tired of kids – thats ok. Kids are tiring and sometimes boring.
L-I just cant figure out what comes next, nothing feels right.

M- The universe is telling you to let go of this dream for awhile. You are injured- you cant even play guitar.You want to continue on this path? Because Im telling you – you have been here before.You either do something different, or you will stay in this place forever, and I know that isn’t what you want.The last time this happened – you changed the way you taught music – and it was completely unique. Change it again. Either musically or non-musically. Just change it.
L- OK
M-What are you going to do?
L-Stops walking and stares at a puddle. I am completely soaked by this point. I shake off some of the water, wipe off my glasses – look at the mentor and say – what do you think I should do?

M.  I think you should write a book. What do you think you should do?
—-
This isn’t the first time this has come up. Well, its the first time this has come up with him. But the suggestion isn’t a new one. I could probably be a fairly ok children’s book author. But his suggestion was to write a book about my method of teaching. A sort of manual – but in a reflective style.

I don’t know how to write a book. Other than starting with an outline, I know next to nothing about writing. But I’ve been thinking about this for several hours now, and I haven’t talked myself out of anything. I haven’t talked myself into anything either, but that’s neither here nor there.

The mentor strikes again.

*Photo Source – somersetman via flickr

The Calling Card

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While I am taking a break from a creative life, I don’t want the people I have worked with to forget about me.  So I decided to send out Valentine’s Day cards (like the ones we gave to everyone in our fourth grade class). The postage is easily more expensive than these little cards, but I thought it would make my former clients smile a little.

I chose to send Disney Princesses, because the majority all of my clients (aka students) were between the ages of 4 and 17. A lot of them are girls who are just crazy about these ladies, and it will make the boys that I taught roll their eyes and laugh, and say something along the lines of, “ugh Laura is such a marshmallow”. Yes I am!  I am also determined to be remembered fondly; so that whenever the next venture starts, these people and their friends are going to get in line to sign up- or sing my praises – or whatever. But they most certainly will not forget about me. If the memories of our times together fade – the weird little mailers I send are going to remind them that those lessons really were the good old days.

I don’t really subscribe to the whole Disney Princess thing, I was more into going to the beach, and seeing if I could dig all the way to China, and explore new lands along the way, then dressing up in gowns and tiaras, but whatever you are into is fine with me. However, this got me thinking, if I was going to be a Disney Princess who would I be? So l took a quiz, and…

No I didn’t take a quiz. Of course I didn’t. I am the least princess like person on the planet. And I am happy enough not being one. I’m kind, independent, smart, and interesting in my own way. I don’t need the tiara. I just don’t want to be forgotten.