On the 23rd of September 2021 my partner Scott and I boarded a plane from Glasgow, Scotland with destination Auckland, New Zealand. This trip had been planned for a year, since we decided to emigrate out of the UK in August 2020 in the middle of the Covid Pandemic.
As you may or may not know, I lived in New Zealand in my twenties and that is why, being a NZ citizen I was allowed in through the closed borders. This decision had not been taken lightly and had been a long time coming.
When I left NZ ten years ago, after a bad break up I vowed never to come back but after visiting on holiday a couple of times and seeing how Wellington had changed and especially after experiencing the gradual collapse of the UK after Brexit and then the not-so-wonderful leadership of Boris I felt like my time was running out and I better retreat to a country that still offered a glimmer of hope in terms of quality of life.
I could not imagine myself living my old age in the UK, given that, in my view, the worst is yet to come.
The journey here was not an easy one. Not only getting a visa for Scott was hard work, but selling the house in Edinburgh amidst various complications and dealing with the move was a stressful endeavour. Other problems started to arise especially in September when one thing after another went wrong culminating in a journey in which we were booted off our plane due to airsickness and ended up stuck in Kuala Lumpur's transit lounge for two days and two nights.
After pulling a lot of strings we are now spending our mandatory time in Quarantine in the Crown Plaza hotel in Auckland.
After such a protracted and suffered journey I am feeling really happy with the current situation. Some people hate quarantine, but what is this but a much better version of spending one year in lockdown in a shitty room in Edinburgh?
At least here I have a better view and room service! Sure, I don't get to eat what I want and I cannot go for a walk except for a supervised one every two days in a car park where I have to maintain a two metre distance from everyone for thirty minutes at a time, but at least I am in New Zealand!
At the end of the day I am a great believer that mindset is what counts in life, and it's not what happens to you that really matters but your attitude and the way you respond to events. After all we cannot control the outside, but we can control, to some extent, the inside of ourselves.
So my effort so far has been to focus on the positive, and to try to make this time the best I can. In order to do that I have set up a kind-of routine that I loosely follow all day. I wake up at 7, shower, eat breakfast and have a zoom session with either a friend or a client at 8am for an hour. Then I do some exercise, walk about the room or dance.
After some admin work I make sure I spend 45 minutes doing yoga every day. Then it's time for watching the news and lunch. Reading comes next, followed by playing some music on the guitar or my shitty roll out piano (this one is really not worth the money, I mainly got it to practice scales but it's not pleasurable at all to play) Then it's dinner and a movie until bedtime at 10:30pm.
If you had told me routine would work for me when I was young I would have laughed in your face. However, I have found that practicing good healthy habits is the foundation for building strength in body and mind. As long as one is not rigid and can add some variety to the routine when needed, health boosting daily practices build up the skills I need to do what I want to do.
For example, in January I took up the piano again, after literally decades of not playing, and only a daily practice has made it possible for me to be able to play and compose songs after only six months. It was an eye opener that made me realise the reason why I never really achieved a masterful level in any instrument before.
The thing is, you become what you do. No matter what you spend your time on, you will take on the characteristics of what you do most often. It makes sense to me now that if I want to achieve a goal I need to dedicate time and energy to it most days or I won't see results. Of course, since we all have limited time and energy each day, this means prioritising some activity over another and this is not always easy for me to do.
I am one of those people that finds it hard to choose one thing over another. I want to do it all and end up losing too much energy on too many things and not accomplishing much. But this has begun to shift. I now recognise that I cannot go on like this because that I am becoming someone I don't want to be (focusing on the wrong things!)
So the question I am asking myself in this transitional period is: what do I truly want to do? What do I want to spend time on? I am lucky enough to be able to pursue my passions, so I am privileged. I should appreciate, honour and make use of this in the best way I can by acknowledging it and using my time in a way that satisfies me.
I think we live in a society that glorifies business and money above having a balanced and satisfying life. Being 'happy' is seen as some state to chased in the future and as a side product of having specific things, including material possessions or social status . I think this attitude is dangerous and particularly insidious. It makes me doubt that making music is a worthwhile activity even though I love playing, composing and learning new songs.
On the other hand my psychological work has been rewarded with money and social status in a way that I believe is unfair when compared to the same hard work I have put into music. It takes a lot of effort being a good musician. It takes a lot of energy, learning and dedication to produce your own work to a high standard. It takes even more skill marketing it (and this part of it I truly dislike). So why is it not rewarded as much monetarily or in terms of social status? Because we live in a capitalist culture that does not value anything that is not strictly a 'product'.
Music has become a product like any other, and as such music has become cheap, because of the law of supply and demand. I think this to be a huge shame and I am sure you will agree with me. So while I would love to be a full time musician I need to put food on my table and that is why I work as a coach and therapist as well.
Although I love my job, in the last few years I noticed it taking more and more of my life, relegating music to a dark corner. This has made me miserable and has become a focus since the beginning of the pandemic. This is what I want to change in my life.
However, for me, a major motivation is knowing I have an audience. I don't just play for myself. I play to connect to others and I need to know there is someone listening out there. So if you want to support me, please at least let me know you are there and that you want to listen to what I am making. Heck, you could even make a request if you feel courageous enough. I might end up writing a song for you! Leave a comment below!
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