Several of you have requested some musings about balancing LIFE in this crazy business we call singing! Can we do it all? Can we have it all?
So, here are my thoughts, observations, and ongoing rhetorical questions...
What is having it all anyway? Only you can determine that for yourself and your situation.
Often the question is posed, can you have a family and have a career?
My simple answer is, yes. HOW you do it is up to you. I look at the Asian culture of martial arts as a way of creating a template: there is balance, there is flexibility, there is internal and external force that create release and movement - and thus, the dance begins.
Finding balance is key. This has to do with commitment but it also has to do with flexibility - and we need to discover this within ourselves first before we can find it elsewhere. The commitment to flexibility in our lives, gives us the permission to decide what the priorities are and know they change position each day. Some days our practicing takes tops priority, sometimes our children do, sometimes our spouse, sometimes ourselves. We need to be present enough to discover that daily, and even let those priorities morph within the day.
Focus on our craft does not mean rigidity in our lives. It means careful planning perhaps, but it also means spontaneity and the ability to make changes in a moment to re-create and re-distribute focus and energy.
Don't confuse priorities with chores (physician, heal thyself - and those of you who know me, know what I mean!!!) Chores can be put off - they are not life and death and they don't demand your heart and soul, only your time! Priorities are full of your soul - YOU, your artistry, your spouse, your children, your family, your faith, your cats - whatever FILLS and FULFILLS you.
Sometimes when we are trying to explore balance we create lists - the infamous "to do" list! This is about chore not priority and can often become confused. When this happens, everything feels heavy - physically, emotionally, psychically - and we begin to discover guilt and fatigue and resentment all too quickly. The "to do" list is about chores - and even certain "business" things that need to get done and just take time - NOT our true priorities. Our priorities are what give us strength, uplifting, focus, joy, and create space and fulfillment in our lives.
How often we confuse these and end up bogged down by the fatigue of it all! In the confusion, we second-guess what is truly ours and what truly makes us who we are!
The internal balance of self - and artistry DEMANDS external priorities - like practicing, preparation, nurturing. It also demands the integration of relationship as we discover ourselves in the giving and nurturing of another.
Who needs the nurturing and giving with each day? These are the priorities that only change ORDER - they do not disappear. Your spouse is still a priority, as are your children, and perhaps TODAY, YOU need the nurturing, or your artistry does. Perhaps that manifests itself in rehearsal, or performance. And tomorrow, the priorities exchange, and the artistry needs only to be acknowledged to allow date-night, or an afternoon with your daughter.
Discovering what feeds you as an artist does not make you selfish, but rather, self-full. That artistry grows and manifests in further dimension by the priorities that you draw into your world.
Create PRIORITIES and do chores. Let go of self-imposed guilt and negative expectations - these are external pressures that we allow to mask as internal markers. Know what FILLS you and what FULFILLS you and draw on self-full energy. This then develops the space between you and every priority that could possibly come into your day. And the day then becomes a significant thing, and you, the artist, can maintain your relationship with self, and all those who are important to you. These priorities begin to recognize the relationship to YOU as well, and the fluidity of your life begins to find presence and purpose.
Balance comes from your willingness to invest in ALL your priorities - in the order they present themselves each day. And in that release, the purpose of the day, and finding ALL OF IT will become apparent.
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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