Keep On Keeping On in 2020

It is the start of the New Year and the standard time to make resolutions. A long time ago I decided I didn’t care about new year resolutions. I make them throughout the year. I don’t only reflect on life the week after Christmas. I generally assess how things are going month to month. If I am able, I make adjustments mid-year. Why wait? That doesn’t mean that I spontaneously decide on a goal and immediately start working on it. I do make a plan and aim to start at an optimal time. Sometimes, that is the New Year. Sometimes is the next Monday. Sometimes the start date is unknown, and I have to wait until after a period of extra stress and upheaval is over so that I can reduce the number of obstacles in place that would interfere with establishing a new healthy habit.

But since the New Year is the time when public announcements about resolutions are made, I might as well share what I aim to do and how things are currently going.

First and foremost, I plan to keep on doing what I am doing. More of the same. More performing, more teaching, more composing. More healthy eating, more exercising, more reading. More herbal medicine, more yard work/gardening, more hiking/camping. Everything I’ve been doing, just ramped up a little. I have already identified problems and worked on some strategic planning. Some habits have already been put into practice. Some will be implemented once I am back into routine (looking at as late as January 6!)

Back in early November I made a commitment to myself to compose from 6-8AM (minimum) just about every day. I planned for two days “off” a week – Sundays and Tuesdays – since I have to leave the house so early on those days. Well, I am happy to say I have done it. I have kept that commitment. There have been a few weeks where I took more than two days off because I had an unusual schedule that week. I did take a few days off at one or two points to let my mind rest, either because I wasn’t in a good emotional state or because I had just finished a piece which causes me to go into this sort-of anti-gravity state where I am feeling a little disembodied. I have to wait for that to subside or know what project I am working on next in order to feel grounded enough to compose again. If you have ever finished a novel and then felt like it took days to re-enter reality, you know what I am talking about.

Since the start of November, I finished two pieces. The first was a choral piece which I sent into a competition (I didn’t win.) The second piece was a commission from my own husband who asked for a solo classical guitar piece for a concert he has coming up in early February. Is it really anything to be “commissioned” by your own husband? Yes, indeed it is, but the explanation will have to be reserved for another blog post. I was under a bit of a deadline because I had to make sure I gave him enough time to practice the piece before the performance, and I was very afraid I wouldn’t finish it in time. But I did. I did because I stuck with my commitment.

Through most of December, I got less than six hours of sleep each night. Rehearsals and performances kept me out late. But because I kept my commitment to compose every day, I began and finished a piece in December while maintaining a schedule that included eight concerts, five tech/dress rehearsals, regular rehearsals, hours of practicing a solo piece I had less than two weeks to learn before performing it, an interview/audition, an 8hr round trip to pick up my son from school, a 5hr round trip to the luthier (our son doesn’t have enough experience to drive the finicky van which will stall without the special touch), a 7hr trip to New York on Christmas Day to drop him off for a last-minute trip to China (for real), preparation for an out-of-state visit to see my in-laws, and some time in the kitchen to make specialty foods for Christmas. This habit of composing from 6-8AM obviously works. I will keep doing it.

I do have to tweak things, though. I generally don’t get hungry until 1-1/2 to 2hrs after I wake up. Unfortunately, that wasn’t working too well with my composing schedule. Many times, I could have continued composing beyond 7:30 or 8AM, but my stomach was growling too much. Hunger won, and I headed to the kitchen to make breakfast. I considered eating protein bars for a quick breakfast, but that is just not sustainable for me, both in taste and cost. I dealt with the problem while I considered a solution. While on vacation, I have thought of a potential solution: overnight oats. I *love* oatmeal, and I found a bunch of recipes. This may just be the perfect grab-and-go, already-made, eat-while-I-work breakfast.

One other challenge I have found is trying to fit in both composing and exercising. I no longer want to spend valuable time driving to the gym, but I didn’t want to quit exercising (never a good idea for anyone, really.) So I started preparing ways to exercise at home. I need direction, so I needed videos. I researched and watched many online and found a Youtube channel I like, which is the most similar to what I had been doing in the class I took at the YMCA. I picked up some equipment, and now I am ready to work out at home.

I already structured my day to include more reading and study, and I already implemented that. I already eat pretty well, but I am always trying to figure out how to save time without compromising taste and nutrition (not easy.) If I have one brand new New Year’s goal, it is to keep a food journal so I can prove to the doctor I eat well.

I already began my journey into learning herbal medicine mid-year 2019. I will continue that. I already made efforts to increase my performing and teaching work. I landed a new job as an accompanist for another chorus, and I put out a Facebook ad for private lessons. I will probably do that again. But the point is, I have already worked on my resolutions.

So, Happy New Year! But remember, every day there is an opportunity to start anew.


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