What is WORK?

I know the pandemic isn’t actually over. But the performing work is hitting my inbox all the time now, and I’m having to make decisions. I don’t want my NOW to look exactly like my THEN.

Lots of people are rethinking their relationship to work these days. I was just reading about the number of businesses in my area that are struggling to rehire labor. Turns out, when you give people a HARD STOP in their lives, and a chance to reassess what’s important to them, they get less interested in showing up for low-paid jobs that aren’t enjoyable. People are moving into new fields, people are starting their own businesses, people are changing their relationships to working. Maybe flexibility is more important now. Maybe wages have to go up. Maybe, as a consumer, I don’t NEED to be able to grocery shop at 2 am or get a hamburger at 10am. Maybe it’s better for society for more people to be at home with their families, sleeping through the night, rather than doing jobs that aren’t wonderful for them. I celebrate these changes! 

I have steady orchestral work throughout this month, which I do not take lightly. I’m glad to have it – AND I am having to be very thoughtful about what work I will take and how I want it to look. Because I don’t want my work life to look exactly like it did before, when I was overloaded and burned out and exhausted. I love the teaching I’m doing right now, I love the creativity I am developing, I love the performing – and I want to keep on loving it all. 

I know what I need to thrive. I know what my body needs to be healthy, and it isn’t four daily hours sitting in a car eating road food. So in this new era of work I’m getting really CONSCIOUS. I have a plan in place to hold a free weekend every month with no gigs. I am being PROACTIVE about my self-care – packing delicious snacks, prioritizing exercise and stretching every day. 

I’m making a practice of making my gigs be treats. Or at least incorporating treats into them.  Yesterday on the way home from Chicago I stopped at a coffee shop and took a zoom meeting from there – outdoors on the patio, enjoying the fresh air and the caffeine and the luxury of not being at home. If I had been at home I’d never have left, if I’d driven home from the gig zooming in from my phone and splitting my focus I would have been resentful about both the gig and the meeting.  But as it was, it was a treat. 

Does this sound familiar at all? Maybe you are in a different time in your career than I am, one in which saying NO feels less possible. But – and this is an important point, which I also make in my BOOK – you always get to choose. 

My book will come out in October. I’ll definitely keep you posted, you know I will – but would you like to be the first to know when it’s available?  Do you want to hear all the updates and get special bonus content along the way? Hop on the list right HERE!

2 thoughts on “What is WORK?”

  1. Jennet, I hear you. Let me tell you about my last gig.

    My (and my husbands) last gig was in 1994 – 8 concerts and 4 rehearsals of Die Fledermaus In Santa Barbara- a 1 hour drive for us. Driving home, on New Years Eve, with checks for a mere $250 each, my husband and I looked at each other and made the decision on the spot. This was it. I was steadily rising in my career as a Computer Scientist and my my husband (Charles Lehrer) was nearing the end of a long career teaching at the University level. We didn’t need this kind of money for this kind of time and quality of life commitment.

    It is so difficult creating a career in music, and I love what you are doing becoming and educator as well as a performer.


    Ps – my schedule now M-F reeds and practice after work. S-S oboe duets with Chick.

    1. I love this. And it makes me sad, too – you clearly made the right choice for you and that’s exactly what I want for everyone – but HOW are these kinds of gigs even considered OK? This kind of time/money calculus is absurd and inappropriate for trained professionals. THANK YOU for sharing!

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