On Burnouts & Inspiration

Creative Writing, Illusions of Productivity

Feature Photo Cred @fitnessxart

img_3403

It’s a fact – I have too much on my plate. I have FOMO (fear of missing out) and a desire to learn everything and do everything. I work a full time job at a non-profit and do social media consulting on the side; I’m in two music ensembles; I have a personal blog (hello thanks for stopping by); I workout 4 times a week; I’m in a relationship (shout out to my awesome boyfriend <3); and I try to keep up my professional network and friendships. It’s CRAZY. I know. But I’ve always operated this way, packing my schedule to the brim. I am often finding myself in a position where I feel burned out. Here are some quick fixes to recharge my inspiration when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

First things first – routine is everything & a little inspiration along the way can help.

First of all, routine is the key. In case you couldn’t tell from the theme of my blog, I’m all about planning, down to the last second. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t stick to my weekday goals and schedule, then I get overwhelmed and frustrated when it comes time to have professional meetings, rehearsals, or even dates! I feel unprepared, stressed out that I have to catch up (which I ain’t got time for!)

I’ve joined a couple entrepreneur and solopreneur group chats on Facebook that have been really inspiring and has helped me realize that I’m not alone in my insanity. One thing my favorite girlboss duo Sarah Elder and Andrea Holland of PRtraction said was that being an entrepreneur means you’re working ALL the hours, contrary to what people assume (you know, that you get to choose your hours).

My other favorite duo are bloggers Linda and David of Kinlake, they travel the world and work remotely as digital nomads. I love their segment ‘Gone Nomadic’ explaining their journey. It’s encouraging to hear how they debunk the myth of the freelance traveler; it’s more than just wandering around aimlessly – it takes a lot of planning, preparation, structure, and discipline in order to have that freedom.

When I start to get lazy, I change it up.

More facts – I change my bedroom layout quarterly (maybe even more), sometimes all I need is a fresh start. When all my clothes have been piled and scrunched at the foot of my bed for days, maybe a week, with shoes and purses and unopened mail dispersed all over my room in disarray – I know it’s time to move my furniture around.  To me, there is nothing more inspiring than a fresh new layout, a fresh new look, and a fresh new environment.

In a study done at the Princeton Neuroscience institute, they found that physical clutter negatively affects your ability to focus and process information. The clutter competes for your attention, wearing you down and resulting in frustration. Scientific proof or not, I’m sure many of you can relate and agree with this point that in order to get things done, you need a clean desk, countertop, canvas, etc. I know decluttering is key, but sometimes I can lose the inspiration, and that’s why rearranging my room resurges my excitement to have an organized clean space. It’s like buying a fresh pair of white sneakers: for the first couple of days, maybe even weeks, you try your best to keep them clean, paying attention to all the scratches and marks, brushing them off at the end of the day. But after a while, you start to let it go, and eventually they become a bit battered and grey and become your go-to pair for a pickup game of soccer in the park. Then it’s back to the shoe store for a fresh pair.

Dressing for success really is a thing.

On a more extreme level – I like to change my look (obvi); my hair has been blonde, pink, blue and now I just chopped it all off. But I realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (or bottle of dye). But, in this same vein, a less extreme way would be to clean out your closet, sell your clothes and refresh your wardrobe. It doesn’t have to be a huge money venture, one-thing-in-and-one-thing-out is what I (try) to say. You can sell your clothes and buy some pretty awesome gems secondhand.

Insert: My most recent find at the Goodwill 😉 $6 never looked or felt so good…img_3350


In an interesting article by the Wall Street Journal,  Why Dressing for Success Leads to Success, Ray A. Smith states that in dressing up and dressing the part, people were more productive in a work setting. Outward confidence begat intrinsic confidence. Better dressers even tend to think more abstractly – which is the style of thinking seen in senior executives and other people in power.

I like to think about being a little girl and playing around with my mom’s lipstick and high heels. My mom, as a businesswoman, was always wearing the classic 90s pencil skirt with tights and high heels. To me, this carved out my perception of what being a woman was. My sister and I would play dress up and play out these scenarios of working in an office and such. Likewise, as I got older and I started interviewing for jobs, there was and still is a sense of excitement when I get to put on a pair of pumps and walk the walk. All of a sudden, with every high heel click-clack, I felt a bit more feminine (read: powerful).

So when I start feeling a bit drab or like I’m half-assing my life, I change up my look, buy a new lipstick shade, chop off my hair, and I feel like I’m ready to conquer the world again.

Step outside of yourself. Meet new people. See new things.

I mean really.. duh.. this is a given. Like you didn’t already know this. But sometimes it’s easy to forget to just be still and observe. Sometimes when I forget to bring my laptop home from work to work on my other work or if I left my cello at my boyfriends house, I’m forced to think outside of my list of to-do’s.  At those times, (with my Type A personality let’s be real, god forbid I spend this accidental down time sitting on the couch) I get outside and start walking.

I’m fortunate to live in a city where there’s always something creative going on, always an open mic or poetry slam at a nearby cafe. When I get to be an observer of someone else’s creativity, I feel a sense of reassurance and empowerment. I’m not talking about watching an A-list top 40 musician in concert (of course there’s loads of inspiration and empowerment there) but I’m talking about seeing other hustlers who work day jobs who make it a point to pursue their creativity and share it. I always write my best poetry or have the best rehearsal after I’ve stepped outside myself and watched someone else perform their art.

Everyone is different.

What inspires you? I’d be interested to hear about what you do to recharge. So please share!

Thanks for reading and keep on hustling.

May Creative: Paul Dab founder of Fete Concert Series

Monthly Creatives

headshot beach windyMeet Paul Dab, pianist and co-founder of Fete Concert Series currently living in San Francisco, CA. Like Paul, I share a passion for classical music and admire his work and creative endeavors to bring the beauty of classical music to the social sphere of San Francisco’s night scene.

As an Orch Dork (orchestra dork) in high school, my friends never quite understood (especially at that age) the transportive experience I felt, and still feel, when I intertwine in melodies with a quartet; or ride a wave of sound with a grand orchestra. I found myself trying to hide the fact that I was in the school orchestra. People often think classical music is boring. But there is so much more than watching a symphony in a concert hall (which is still majestic in my book). Classical music can be intimate, funny, conversational, and so much more; if you get behind the story of what composers were saying through those little black dots, lines and squiggly marks, it’s really quite interesting what they conveyed through music. Not to mention, the incredible history of a written piece, how sound travels (and survives) through time, as musicians tackle on the notes through different eras and different perceptions -the musical idea still remains the same.

Paul and his crew really bring this essence to the public, and it’s worth sharing this experience which is why I am excited to feature him as my May Creative. I had a great time talking with him over coffee as we shared our passion for this misunderstood art form in the mainstream. If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope you check out his show and experience their creativity first hand.

In fact, their next show is Saturday (May 6th) !

FullSizeRender


How did Fete Concert Series come about? Who is part of it?

Fete Concerts began in 2014 when two of my fellow students at SF Conservatory, Annie Smith and Chelsea Hollow, decided to plan a recital featuring the music of Richard Strauss on his birthday. They asked me to be their collaborative pianist and they commissioned composer Eric Choate to arrange Happy Birthday in the style of Strauss. We included a reception of wine, cheese, and homemade birthday cake. This became the basic format for Fete Concerts and the name came after the second concert. Since the beginning, Chelsea, Annie, and I have been taking care of the programs, venues, receptions, finances, and marketing as a team. Each season has become a bit more organized and fluid.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

How are you personally connected to the mission? Explain a little bit about why this is your passion project…

The mission of Fete Concerts is to display great works of music in a lively environment that encourages socializing and discussion. Each concert is a chance to delve deeply into the work of a specific composer. It is also an opportunity to discover the work of a composer I didn’t know about. As a performer, I get to choose the repertoire that we play and make a program that flows well. There is no one telling us what to play and so we let our love and passion for music guide the process. During each concert we teach the audience about the composers life to give context to the music and introduce each piece with a bit of our personal connection to it. Communicating with the audience about the music I love is a joy for me. It makes me more comfortable in my performance and gives the audience some direction in their listening. We also engage with the audience during intermission and after the concert so they can ask us questions or share their own opinions. This encompasses my dual passions of playing music and discussing music with others.

Photo by Betsy Kershner, 2015.

When did you fall in love with classical music and what made you decide to take it on professionally (going on to graduate school…etc.)

headshot5There is a saying that you don’t choose music, but music chooses me. This has certainly been the case in my life. My grandparents decided to bring me to piano lessons at a young age and I did not stop taking weekly lessons until after graduate school. There was never a question in my mind that I would pursue music throughout my school life and beyond. I chose to attend a high school with a strong performing arts program instead of one with a stronger academic program. This school provided a community of like-minded students and instilled a sense of professionalism in the way I purse my musical life. I played piano, percussion, and violin in different school ensembles but when it came time to think about college, I turned my focus to classical piano and never had a second thought about majoring in piano performance. In college my desire to practice and study piano grew stronger and the more I learned, the more I wanted to keep discovering classical music. There has never been a doubt in my mind that I want to play piano every day of my life and I am working on a career that makes that happen.

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?

I love bluegrass music. I lived in Nashville for five years and found out that I love listening to string bands, mandolin, and fiddlers. There is a great joy and energy in the music and a sense of community among each ensemble. Bluegrass has a great mix of virtuosity and simplicity which draws me in. The solo lines and the accompaniment are sometimes complicated and sometimes straightforward This genre of music is almost impossible to replicate on the piano and so I experience it as a spectator. One day I may pick up the violin that I haven’t played in over a decade and try learning some fiddle tunes.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

Photo: Kersh Branz, 2016.

What does your practice look like? Do you ever run out of inspiration? What are some mental obstacles you face as a working musician? Are you working/learning a piece right now?

I try to keep a regular practice routine every morning at the very least. I have technical warm ups and I have music that I am learning for different performances. I structure my practice around specific goals so that I can keep track of my progress. When life is busy, piano practice is the thing I look forward to and the thing that can also get left aside. Lately, my schedule has been busy and I have several exciting projects and so inspiration is easy to come by. That is not always the case and there are times when I don’t feel inspired to practice. If I am able to, I allow myself to take a break. If I need learn music without that inspiration, then I must structure my time and goals so that I can work efficiently. I also have certain pieces that I can practice and play that will always feed me inspiration. A mental obstacle that I often face is the desire for perfection in what I do. Often times I can hear the music in my head exactly as I want it to sound and I must make a plan for how to make my hands create that music. I try to arrive at each performance with confidence in my playing, however there are always things that can be improved. The concept of what is a perfect performance changes and can never be fully achieved.

What is your favorite piece right now?

Chopin Nocturne in Eb Major Op. 55 No. 2

Any last words about your love and appreciation for classical music? Give me your 1 minute pitch!

Classical music contains an incredible range of styles and characters which give us entertainment, joy, and beauty. By appreciating old music we can see how emotions, struggles, and pleasures from the past still exist today. In listening to music, we connect with people across time and place, giving us the strength to move forward.


You can catch Paul’s performances on Fete Concert Series’ socials.

Please check them out and show them some love!

Instagram

Facebook

Personal Reflection and Growth Mindset

Illusions of Productivity

 

I call my planner obsession “illusions of productivity” for a reason – I’m really not the best at adulting, but I enjoy making lists and goals to make me feel like I am in control and that I am going somewhere with my life. Now that I’ve been actively writing down goals, setting intentions, and reflecting on them month to month, I’ve found that even though I fall off track towards the end of the month, just the act of setting aside time to reflect on myself helps me stay motivated to keep up my positive habits. I want to do so many things, and it takes a lot of time management to put in the work to improve myself in all the different departments I dabble in – music, fitness, consulting, being in a relationship, and personal time… it’s a lot to juggle, but keeping sight of what I’m doing right versus what’s dragging me down helps me grow. So keep at it! Even if you fail, just writing down your goals will help you get there.

Someone asked me yesterday on my Instagram, “How do you view planning and what does it mean to you?”. I had a hard time answering it right off the bat because it was such a personal question. But after some thought, I realized I love to daydream, and for me, making lists, checking boxes and planning, is my way of building a ladder to reach the stars. #justkeepswimming.

March Creative: Danie Darling

Monthly Creatives

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Discover my favorite Creatives

Every month I feature a new artist on my ‘Creative’ page. As a new month rolls around, I will archive them on my blog so that people may continue to check them out. Here’s the lovely Danie Darling, Planner Creative’s March featured artist. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for my April Creative 😉


Danie Darling

11206659_753714364727928_3737753604307207400_o

Mother of 3, this lady does it all. Free lance vintage hairstylist and makeup artist currently working from San Diego, CA. Born and raised in LA, Danie is the epitome of cool. She brings together rockabilly, vintage styles that make her styled photo shoots and artwork one of a kind. Did I mention she is my older sister? Of course I had to kick it off with this lovely lady. She has always been my style icon growing up and I attribute my eclectic style to her.


Deadly Sweet Designs

img_1237

Deadly Sweet is a brand inspired by the beauty of the once living and the curiosity of the unknown.

Deadly Sweet started out as a secondary art endeavor to San Diego based artist Danie Darling. Orignally working freelance hair and makeup, She would work with photographers on stylized photo shoots and would create custom jewelry, accessories and props to bring the vision to life. Just like a butterfly Deadly Sweet is an evolving brand currently consisting of a line of taxidermy jewelry, art decor pieces and soy candles. Deadly Sweet can be found in San Diego based shop- Make Good – which is dedicated to selling 100% locally handmade goods.

Shop Here


Danie Darling Hair, Makeup, & Modeling

img_1236img_1238

248200_10150209181794666_722524_n283013_210658105648476_3145040_n

11127722_10153302690950535_2990298342364009576_o

With Fashion Designer Natalie Yaru at the RAW Artist Awards, LA

11136134_753714274727937_5947651657989354303_o

Follow Danie’s Instagram