Sunday, October 27, 2013

Finding Balance

How does an active performer/teacher find balance among touring, writing, arranging, teaching, traveling, practicing, booking tours and learning music? Furthermore, how does one balance all that with a healthy home life, mental and emotional health, physical health and spirituality? Any busy artist can tell you it is certainly not easy. I have found prayer and meditation to be critically important in helping me keep my busy life in perspective. Firstly, I strive to do everything for God's glory--after all, He is the one responsible for the gifts I possess, and it is my responsibility to share those gifts with the world to the best of my ability. Reminding myself of this helps me also remember that whatever I am currently facing is possible with His help. That means I must take care of myself when I begin to lose my balance. Too much stress can wreak havoc on physical and emotional health, so it is imperative to find ways to manage and release my stress whenever possible. Physical exercise is a great help here, so daily workouts are part of my routine. I also try to keep focused on my family every weekday evening--bringing work-related stress home will not usually improve it anyway!

I have found that time management is a vital, but often elusive factor in whether balance is achieved or not. Remembering to spend time on important, but non-urgent things is key to maintaining my balance. Priorities like exercise, prayer, family time and adequate rest are such important attributes of the balanced lifestyle. "Urgent" demands (like emails and phone calls that you are expected to answer in a timely fashion, work with deadlines attached, and piles of undone projects that others expect you to finish) can easily push more important tasks to the fringes of the day. I am learning that "urgent" items are often not as urgent as they seem. Consistently chipping away at the "urgent" tasks and big projects on a nearly daily basis can help them seem less ominous and more attainable, and will likely reduce stress as you approach a project deadline.

The name of the game for me is to avoid becoming overwhelmed. This week, for instance, I have several extensive projects to complete and submit at work. I also have the largest number of student appointments to keep because it is advising week at our university, so my free time to work on those projects is non-existent. Further, I am traveling at the end of the week to record thirty to fifty pieces over three days (I sing three tracks per piece) with Alfred Music Publishing in Pennsylvania. This will be a very demanding weekend for my vocal and physical stamina, so I must take care to prepare myself physically, mentally and vocally for that trip, regardless of all the other demands I face.

I am thankful for my life, my family and friends, my music, my opportunities, my job, my students and for so many other things. Keeping THIS mindset is by far the best way for me to remember how to maintain balance. There's nothing like an attitude of gratitude to do my heart good! When I pare it all down and realize what matters most, I can accomplish what I am meant to each day, and leave the rest. Learning this has been, for me, an avenue toward peace.