work life balance

Coming Soon: Self Care September Instagram Challenge

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September always feels like a fresh start to me, so that's why I'm hosting Self Care September, a free 30-day challenge with daily prompts to share on Instagram. We can collect new ideas, and know that we're in it together - you’re all invited!

⁠There will be a daily prompt that you can post on your Instagram page or Stories...and maybe even a giveaway!⁠

I'm really passionate about self-care as a way of life, not as something we earn as a reward, but as a basic human right. Sometimes it's pretty and Instagrammable (like a bath bomb or a candle), sometimes it's boring or even unpleasant (like dentistry), but there are always accessible ways to care for ourselves better, and plenty that don't cost anything except a little bit of time! ⁠⠀

Next week I'll post the prompts and exactly how to participate, but you can also hop on my email list below to make sure that you get a reminder before September starts, and in the meantime, follow me on Instagram at @rebecca_hass, and the hashtag⁠ to use is #cfcwselfcareseptember!

Balancing Spring Energy Checklist

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HAPPY FIRST DAY OF SPRING!

(No, it doesn't feel like spring outside yet, I live in Minnesota.)

After a pretty rough winter, the spring equinox is long-awaited, even if it’s only a ceremonial beginning. Despite the fact that it’s not warm yet for many of us in Northern climates, we’re still feeling the energy of spring already - we’ve gained lots of daylight in the last month, and the sun angle is now much higher.

Coming out of dark, hibernation mode into bright, active mode is more of a shock to the system than we realize, though, so if you feel unsettled or anxious around this time of year, that’s normal. If you're having a hard time adjusting to the changing seasons, there's nothing wrong with you - it's probably because transitions are hard and take a lot of energy (even long-awaited, positive ones). ⠀⠀

I usually forget this every year, but this year I finally remembered to mentally prepare for my increased anxiety and restlessness - spring comes with more stimuli and energy. I've heard others say that spring is a tough mental health time of year for them, too, but it seems like “YAY SPRING” is the more mainstream narrative, so it doesn’t get talked about as much. ⠀

Balancing Spring Energy Checklist

If you've been following along with me for any length of time, you might know that my most critical daily habit is taking a walk, and that's been a potent strategy for dealing with the excess of energy I've been processing, and on one of those walks this week, my overactive mind came up with an actionable checklist for what to do when you feel this way. (Thanks, brain!)

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If you're feeling the same way about spring, you can download that right here (and it's also good for anytime you're feeling scattered or anxious).

I hope that this resource ishelpful for you - it certainly has been for me, and I’m revisiting these strategies constantly (because self-care is a practice!)

If you need extra support to keep yourself feeling like a full and healthy human during this season, I offer a few different ways of working with me through Coaching for Creative Wellness, including email coaching for people on a budget or with less time to schedule a call.

I also have some free resources available here, as well as my weekly newsletter which is chock-full of supportive real talk about staying well while doing creative work. Sign up at the bottom of the page!

If you're having a tough time right now, you're not alone, and it will pass. Treat yourself well in the meantime, you deserve it! ❤️⠀

What do you do to take care of yourself during the transition into spring? Let me know in the comments!

Take Care of Yourself By Making Small Changes (Guest Post on NewMusicBox)

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by making changes in a new year, you’re not alone! I’m scaling way back on the amount of goals and aspirations I’m setting in 2019 (more about that in my next post), in favor of honoring rest and detaching myself as much as I can from being achievement-focused. That doesn’t mean I want to do nothing, but I do want to make sure that I execute goals and new habits in a sustainable way.

I got to write all about that in a guest post (Take Care of Yourself By Making Small Changes) for NewMusicBox, the online magazine of NewMusicUSA!

I talk about some of my favorite topics like mindset, burnout, rest, habits and routines, and self-compassion (the biggest game-changer), and this stuff works no matter the time of year.

Hop on over to NewMusicBox to read it!

Holiday Self-Care Roundup

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Somehow it’s December again? I don’t know what happened.

I also feel like it’s already been winter forever (since I live in Minnesota and it actually did snow on October 14 this year). So, you know what that means:

Time to up our self-care!

(And we probably need more than we normally give ourselves, anyway!)

Here’s a round-up of useful blog posts and podcasts that I hope will help you stay more grounded and present this holiday season:

This is one of my most popular posts ever, and it has plenty of applicable stuff for creatives of all types, not just musicians.

Tracy Benjamin from Shutterbean has some great quick tips, and I love the visual style of her blog, especially her handwriting!

Angela Beeching, a career consultant for musicians, highlights gratitude as a way to not only de-stress, but ultimately to help your career. I love how she focuses on mindset.

We always talk about what to do during the busy lead-up to the holidays, but Lauren Cummins of StarHaus Psychotherapy, who created the Self Care Solitaire decks that I really like, wisely focuses on how to take care of yourself afterwards, as well. She also has some good ideas about how to embrace winter here.

PODCAST EPISODES

If you’ve been following along with my posts for any length of time, you probably know how much I love Mara Glatzel’s work and podcast. In my opinion, the most important factor in taking care of ourselves is knowing what we need and giving ourselves permission to go after it.

I loved this episode because it focused not just on being over doing, but also talked about rituals as a way of connecting to the winter season (I’m all for trying to make friends with winter!)

This episode with physician Beth Ricanati focuses on baking as a ritual for self-care (since that’s what her book is about), but encourages us to give ourselves permission (there’s that word again, why is it so hard sometimes?) to take time for self-care.

EDIT: I also did a Facebook live about holiday self-care, which you can watch here!

I hope that these resources are helpful for you - they certainly have been for me, and I’m revisiting them this season (because self-care is a practice, and wellness is always a moving target).

If you need extra support to keep yourself feeling like a full and healthy human during this season, I offer a few different ways of working with me through Coaching for Creative Wellness, including email coaching for people on a budget or with less time to schedule a call.

I also have some free resources available here, as well as my weekly newsletter which is chock-full of supportive real talk about staying well while doing creative work. Sign up at the bottom of the page!

What do you do to take care of yourself during the winter and/or holiday season? Let me know in the comments!

5 Tips for Creatives to Bring Wellness Into Their Lives

Anyone who’s ever talked to me about nutrition in the last year has heard me sing the praises of Lucia Hawley from Essential Omnivore, who I worked with to revamp my diet last summer. Or you might have seen me feature her in a Sunday Shout-out early this year. Her mission is “to teach diet perfectionists how to bring calm back to their bodies from the inside out”, and I totally appreciate how she keeps it real while helping people make sustainable changes to their overall health. 

Lucia invited me to contribute a guest post over on Essential Omnivore, 5 Tips for Creatives to Bring Wellness Into Their Lives, which you can read right here. We could all use more wellness in our lives, right? Especially in an easy and actionable way? (Yes!)

I’m also going to be a guest on her podcast this fall, airdate TBD - stay tuned for that!

(Edit: Here’s the link to my episode of the Essential Omnivore podcast!)

 This is the album cover!

In album-related news, I submitted my artwork and master this week, so my CDs have begun production! 🎉🎉🎉

The official album release date is coming up soon on October 24, and you’ll be able to buy and stream it through all of the usual places - stay tuned for more details on that.

And, if you’re in Minneapolis/St. Paul, you’re invited to my album release show on October 18, featuring all of the guest musicians on the album (Tim O’Keefe, percussion, Jenny Klukken, marimba, and Laura Harada, violin). I’m also planning on live-streaming it. More details here.

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my gig mailing list here!

End-of-Summer Update + Navigating Transition

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Hey everyone! I know, long time no blog (except for sheet music releases and Kickstarter stuff) - all summer, in fact!

If you’ve missed the style of writing from my usual blog posts, you can still hear from me every week in my newsletter that’s chock-full of supportive real talk about staying well while doing creative work. Sign up at the bottom of the page!

Now that we’re past the ceremonial beginning of fall, I thought I’d pop in to let you know what I’ve been up to.

If you follow me on social media, I know you couldn’t have missed the Kickstarter for my upcoming album Florescer.

(Spoiler: we did it! The project was funded, which I am SO grateful for - thanks very much to everyone who contributed!) I also did a really fun online concert to celebrate the last hour, which you can watch here:

If you did miss the Kickstarter, don’t worry, because the official album release date is coming up soon on October 24, and you’ll be able to buy and stream it through all of the usual places - stay tuned for more details on that.

And, if you’re in Minneapolis/St. Paul, you’re invited to my album release show on October 18, featuring all of the guest musicians on the album (Tim O’Keefe, percussion, Jenny Klukken, marimba, and Laura Harada, violin). I’m also planning on live-streaming it. More details here.

If you want to stay in the loop on the album and upcoming gigs, be sure to hop on my gig mailing list here!

So, what else did I do all summer?

A lot, it turns out! No wonder this summer seemed to go faster than ever. Workwise, I:

(NON-WORK) FUN STUFF

  • traveled to Denver to celebrate a good friend’s 40th birthday

  • traveled to New York to see Dream the Combine’s installation at MoMA PS1, which Tom spent most of June helping install, saw some college friends, and got to have a lesson with my teacher Vitor Gonçalves.

  • visited Tom’s family cabin in Hackensack, MN

  • drove to Iowa for a friend’s wedding

  • spent as much time with family and friends as possible

  • saw some great music: Ivan Lins, Bobby McFerrin, Matra, Hamilton de Holanda + Roberta Sá, and the Twin Cities Jazz Composers Workshop premiere concert

September is always a pretty crazy month, with the beginning of the school year, but this year promises to be even more so, as I wrap up Kickstarter rewards and prepare for my album release. I’m also going to New Orleans to attend the Being Boss Vacation at the end of the month, which is coming up fast! I’m really excited to connect with more fellow creative entrepreneurs, and keep living out my word of the year (CONNECT!)

NAVIGATING TRANSITION

All in all, it feels like a really big transition time right now:

  • I’m adjusting to a new school year, in a new teaching space

  • The seasons are changing (yet teasing us with warm weather, right when I was ready to be cool and cozy)

  • Tom is a few weeks into a new job

  • Etc.

I’m reminding myself:

  • That transitions of various sizes are constantly happening and take mental energy

  • That bigger and/or simultaneous transitions take even more energy

  • Even “good” transitions can be hard, and that’s fine

  • I need to cut myself some slack, generally, and especially during these times

  • I don’t need to start anything else new during a transition time, unless it’s something I really need

  • I can (and should!) do extra nice things for myself when I’m feeling out of sorts

  • I don’t need anyone’s permission for that...and neither do you!

If you need permission to go a little easier on yourself, here it is!

Are you going through any challenging transitions right now, school year, seasonal, or otherwise? How do you deal with it? Let me know in the comments. (You got this.)

Let Something Go - Roundup of Posts for Busy Times

The last couple weeks have been pretty crazy, what with writing and submitting a grant to make my upcoming album, family events, extra gigs, rehearsing for a faculty recital at MacPhail tonight (look for video of that soon), rehearsing for our Brazilian Carnaval next weekend (yes, it’s later than the real one in Brazil), and health insurance fun. 

Naturally, I wanted to make my life a little bit easier by not writing a new post this week, AND I want to promote the idea that we can let something go every once in a while, in support of giving ourselves what we need (in this case, a bit more rest). Nothing terrible will happen, because there’s no such thing as a blogging emergency!

If you’re feeling frazzled, I invite you to consider what you might let go of, just this once (or completely, if needed).

So, here’s a quick roundup of posts for surviving (and thriving, if possible) during crazy times:

I hope these are helpful to you - wishing you a restful weekend!

Balancing Rest and the Hustle (The Struggle is Real)

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So today was supposed to be the post where I tell you that my sheet music store has launched and my tunes are ready for purchase. But I'm not done yet.

I feel like I need to explain why it’s not ready, since I had hoped to finish by the end of last week, and I’m not going to finish this week, either (I, like most humans, am bad at estimating how long things will take to do). I also know that I don’t really need to explain, since these were self-imposed deadlines and no one is mad at me, but the reason I haven’t finished the project is worth talking about: I decided to rest instead of working more.

Rest instead of work?!

That feels weird, almost subversive to type, since musicians are supposed to always be hustling or whatever, but if you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I disagree with that notion.

I’ve been feeling kind of sick/low energy off and on for the last week, and last Friday after going to Creative Mornings and having a 2-hour rehearsal, I was spent. I had already done everything that needed to be done that day, but I had so much trouble convincing myself that I was allowed to rest! I kept feeling guilty that I wasn’t working on editing sheet music, having visions of what all of my other musician friends must have been working on, making mental calculations of how many hours I had already worked that week and whether that afforded me some couch time - total craziness! I’m my own boss, in part, because I want to have control over my own time, which means that I can do what I need to do more often (and I often turn into the kind of boss that makes you work too much).

After a bit of mental arguing and a walk to process my thoughts, I decided to take the rest of the day off, and spend it watching TV and reading, which is apparently what my body was asking me for. I still felt extra tired all weekend, so I continued my relaxation, which, on one hand, felt great (I rarely give myself that much), but there was still a bit of nagging guilt about my looming deadline. Since I know what it’s like to feel burned out, I always respond sympathetically when friends need to cancel or postpone something, for whatever reason. If they need time to rest, I 100% support that, but I am still having such issues extending this sympathy to myself! I also know that when I push through instead of resting, it just prolongs the amount of time I feel sick or tired. Rest is a necessary part of the work cycle, and our health is absolutely essential to fuel our hustle (and my friend Amy has a whole podcast about this!) 

My rest/relaxation mentor Rusty the Cat, who, admittedly, does not pay the bills, but is really good at what he does. (Full disclosure: I’m on the couch with Rusty on my lap while writing this.)

My rest/relaxation mentor Rusty the Cat, who, admittedly, does not pay the bills, but is really good at what he does. (Full disclosure: I’m on the couch with Rusty on my lap while writing this.)

Listen to your body

I always attempt to take extra-tiredness or slight sickness as signs from my body that it needs rest, but it’s still really hard for me to actually cancel or postpone something having to do with my own work, let alone something involving other people! I always feel like I need permission to do so, and I obviously struggle with giving myself that permission. (Embarrassing example: last March I launched myself into a bad case of burnout while TAKING A CLASS about rest. Mara’s class is great, BTW, but you actually have to take the advice to get a lot out of it. 😳)

Also, what’s tricky is that balancing needed rest time with work time is always a moving target, especially for educators like myself with ever-changing workloads who are trying to balance teaching with performing and our other rotating creative pursuits. There’s also the tendency not to realize that we need more rest until after we’re already exhausted or sick. I wish that this were a how-to post with a tidy resolution, but I’m still figuring it out (I think most of us are). I’m at least doing better at recognizing my own work cycles, behavioral patterns, and the signs of the slippery slope toward burnout!

The real question is: WHY?

Why am I working so hard? Part of it is that I’m working on a project that means a lot to me, but part of it is still that baked-in Midwestern-farmer-descendant work-yourself-into-the-ground-because-that’s-what-we-do quality that I try so hard to lose.

Is it worth it to push through when you’re not feeling great? Maybe? Sometimes.

There are a lot of factors to weigh: whether you’ll be able to rest more after the period of “hustle”, how healthy you’re feeling, whether additional stressors are present in your life right now, whether it’s a typically busy season, etc. When it comes down to it, is it worth it to you to give up rest, time with loved ones, hobbies, home-cooked meals, etc. in order to pursue your career goals? Or how much of that is okay to give up? And for how long at a time?

My work has always been really important to me, but I think that I have always swung too far to that side of the rest/work seesaw, at the expense of a lot of things, including my own health. So, even though I do struggle with it, I am committed to resting and recharging as a basic personal value, even if it means that I make a little less money, or that some of my goals take a little longer to achieve. After all, no one ever says “I wish that I had worked more” on their deathbed. I want my workload and lifestyle to feel sustainable (which is obviously going to be different for every person). 

This is not the post I thought that I would write this week, but these important questions are always rumbling around in the back of my mind (unless I’m too busy to think about them!), and I wanted to share my honest experience, since they might be in yours, too.

The sheet music store is coming!

As for the sheet music store, this is an idea that’s been brewing for a long time now, so it’s important to me to finish it soon, also because stagnating to-do list items start to rot and fester in my brain, making me feel even more stuck than I would have otherwise (the topic of Tuesday’s Instagram post. So, barring any further sickness, I am planning on finishing it by the end of January for sure, and I will welcome you to check it out next week!

P.S. If you want to stay in the loop about this kind of thing, you can also hop on my mailing list:

To start, I’m publishing 5 pieces, a mix of piano pieces and lead sheets:

  • Anelante, a Brazilian choro serenata (both in lead sheet format, and fully notated for piano)

  • Gingando, an uptempo Brazilian choro (lead sheet)

  • Rusty’s Dream, a funny little chase/pounce adventure about my cat (piano piece)

  • Centimonk, a piece dedicated to Thelonious Monk on his 100th birthday (lead sheet)

  • A nostalgic autumn-themed waltz that still needs a name! (piano piece)

(If you have any ideas, let me know, and if I use your idea, I’ll send you a fun surprise!)

The store will keep growing from there, with at least 1 new piece per month for the rest of the year (and beyond!)

How do you (or don’t you) balance rest and work modes as they ebb and flow, hopefully staying sane? I’m interested to hear about it!