Brian Raphael Nabors
I’m Still Trying To Get This “Self-Care” Thing Right! You, too? Let’s talk about it.
Updated: May 14, 2021
Are you tired?
I’m sure you are...in this last year alone, the world has gone through a plethora of fierce adversities that no living thing on this planet saw coming.
Like so many of you, I’m learning more and more each day, that the more I want to build, share, give & bestow requires that much more care of my mind, body and spirit. Artists especially know what I’m talking about. Most of us exist on a special existential plane; empathetic to many of humanity and the world‘s wounds (and there are many!).
Between fighting hatred, racism, bigotry, wars, climate change, political discourse, and way too much more to name, we often forget we need to sleep. We forget we need to eat. We forget we need to breathe!
I want you to stop reading this for 2 seconds and just take complete stock of everything you’re doing...thinking...and feeling. Then clear your brain and just sit. As I’m typing this, I’m definitely saying this to myself. The purpose of this post is to encourage you AND ME 😄...to do better.
My fellow artists, friends & colleagues, as creators we draw from a special place with an abundance of empathy. It is a place where your spirit dances with the essence of what makes the world “a better place.” Our imagination gets to travel to that “perfect reality“ where nobody hates, fears, nightmares are extinguished, and love abides. Through our creativity, we also grant emotional capacity for people to see and feel the truth of a vast number of human experiences. This beautiful result too often happens at the expense of our own health.
I am all too guilty of this and have been doing it all of 2021 😭. Sure, there were moments when I thought I had it together, but I still slipped right back into old habits. I’m often so focused on constantly refining my craft as a composer, making sure my brand and artistic image is right, working to ensure that my art is saying, doing and communicating everything I want it to, that I constantly have to reel it back in and make sure I’m actually taking care of my physical health. “Omg, did I eat?” “Am I moving my body enough?” “Am I drinking enough water?” ...and a big one...sleeping + so much more...
We also don’t stop to appreciate the “now.” When you’re constantly on the grind for the betterment of craft, always looking for the “next level,” it’s easy to neglect the present. We gotta take the time to celebrate every aspect of the journey. As far as we know, we only get to do this thing once. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m trying to make mine worth while. Though I will say that success in your chosen field, as we all know, takes an abundant amount of work ethic and dedication. I don’t think I’ll ever stop working as hard, but what I’m constantly trying to improve is how I’m working. I love the way productivity feels. I especially love the spiritual high you get when you tap into that creative zone.
Ahhhh the ZONE: It’s the place where, yes, you’re doing A LOT but NONE of it feels like work because your life is balanced. You don’t get tired and you don’t feel guilty when you stop to take a break because any/all other tasks have their place too. No two things overlap each other and there’s an overall sense of relief with seemingly no other expectations regardless of whatever else you’ve got scheduled into your calendar. I’ve only experienced this bliss a handful of times, and have been clawing my way back to it ever since only to get derailed by teaching, Zoom calls (as of late), emails and so much more. Although, I absolutely LOVE teaching very much. So yeah, I suppose the ”word of the day” is “Balance.” ‘But balance not just in terms of daily activities, though.
It’s about tapping into a balance of your mental and emotional capacity as well! That right there is the very thing that will stop that one email or the anticipation of that one Zoom call from derailing the creative workflow of your entire day. I often have my materials strategically mapped out with a week’s worth of game plan parsed out as to how and when I‘ll compose, down to exactly when I will finish certain sections or the whole piece. Welp, 99.99999% of the time I’m WRONG and it usually takes 1 whole week after I said I would be done writing! It‘s usually because I didn’t take the time to get my mind right. Sometimes it’s so easy to fall into these slumps where you just are on autopilot and don’t have any desire to create whatsoever. Most folks would call it burnout. Heck, with all the woe and depression that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused, I can think of a whole other post to make about feeling the need as an artist to give and heal, but having ZERO drive to. I‘ve got some personal stories about that one ’cause I wrote A LOT of music primarily centered on the effects of Covid-19 and our healing from it + racial injustice with absolutely NO CAPACITY to create any of it. I’ll save that one for later though!
Remember the “creative channel” that I was talking about earlier? ...The one where all the music lives? A composer’s source of inspiration can vary greatly from person to person. For me, it’s a direct line to the creator. Regardless of what your religious/spiritual background, most artists might say that humans are truly connected by spirit. For me, it’s the voice of God himself. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get all preachy, just telling you my experience so that you can make whatever you need to of it later, 😄.
I feel His presence immensely. It’s in the air, trees, sun, moon, stars, the wonders seen and unseen, the laugh of a baby, the falling of leaves, the crashing of waves, snow-capped peaks of mountains, the way my gecko‘s 🦎 big greenish-gray eyeballs look at me and his little hands reach out when he wants to be held, Saturn’s rings and hexagonal storms, the tender hug of an elder, the innocence of a child...and on and on...
That’s the reality and the wonder I bask in before pen strikes paper. Whatever that is for you, tap into it! Nothing unauthentic resides there. There’s no room for an imposer syndrome there...because everything is real...it’s all just love...Anyways, when I don’t pray or tap into it, other things that exist outside the creative space (like adulting/societal blah-blah) start becoming bigger daily obstacles when they should be simple tasks that make ripples in the lake that is “your day” as opposed to tidal waves! 🌊
I can tell you, like so many of us creatives, I wanna give so much! I wish I could fight for every initiative in the world, every homeless or hungry being. I wish I could rescue every abused woman/man/child/animal. I wish I could single handedly stop pollution and the temperature of the earth from rising. I wish I could eradicate systemic racism, police brutality, senseless killings, stigmas, judgements, fear & purse clenching...with one blink.
“Blink!...it’s all gone....”
You know what, though? ...WE CAN‘T...
You know what else is absolutely beautiful, though?
The word can’t shouldn‘t put any of us down. That word is one of many that offers us balance. Without negative to counteract the positive, there’s no balance. Negative energy, doubt, etc., enables us to appreciate everything that’s so very good about the world. Without the rain, the flowers can’t grow...How in the world do you expect to grow without the rain? You’ll burn up!
What we’ve got to do is take those thoughts of doubt, minuscule worries of what’s on our docket, phone calls, emails, bills, etc...and:
Acknowledge them for what they are...responsibilities...
Don’t just go through the motions of your day expecting to create at optimal capacity. It’s time to file these pesky, nagging thoughts of what so-called “responsible behavior” is and:
Acknowledge that we are indeed treasures. We are spiritual beings that need rest and care and love and laughter and ice cream and Netflix and video games and walks near large bodies of water and trips and time alone and time with family and TIME PERIOD...to just...BE...
I‘m here to tell you (and MYSELF) that its okay to just BE...Stop the madness for just one second and actually inhale...
You’re alive...You know what a profound gift that is? ‘And if you’re doing well and have a measure of good health, you’re doing phenomenally!
One of the principles I‘ve been working on in my journey of self care is this idea of “overflow.” The goal is to create an ever-growing capacity to love, listen and be present on my journey by minimizing the small things that tend bog us down daily, and maximize the things that give inspiration and abundant joy so that no matter what happens on any given day, we have an “overflow,” an abundance of space and patience to lead with love.
....Y’all...it is HARD! When we live in a society where the little things are BIG and things that matter seem cheesy and not worth talking about, it’s extremely difficult to combat that. It feels as if you‘re fighting against this natural order that everyone is a slave to...and you are.
’But the change starts with YOU. Master it for yourself. Let your light shine so that others can say, “Man, I want what they got!”
INHALE-EXHALE-Let it go, make a plan, take it day-by-day, task-by-task...and enjoy the ride!
I’m gonna go and feebly attempt to do the same...☺️.
I love you...