Spring Into Action!

Spring Into Action!

Hello Friends,

March into action? Spring into action? Ugh. I don't know if I'm waking up to sunshine or to snow these days!!! And that small loss of an hour with Daylight Savings Time kicking in seems to have affected me more this year than ever... TIME is a funny thing...

I've always been attuned to seasons - that symbiotic state of environment and body in transition, something experienced rather than prepared.

What the French Taught Me About Time

Years ago, I wrote an article about the "French calendar" for a website that helped American expatriates prepare for a life in France. Many American managers were complaining about how the French seemed inconsistent, unavailable or disorganized. So I illustrated how the French were in fact MORE productive than many of their colleagues, but that they worked with time in a different way.

For example, after a virtually lifeless August in the office, the French "year" really took off at "La Rentrée" in September, the reentry from summer break. Then Sept and especially October were intensely active months! November's activity depended on where public holidays Nov 1 and 11th fell (creating two long weekends in the month) while December shut down with year-end festivities. January and Feb offered slow starts (again because of school holidays) but March had always seemed to be as busy as three, jam-packed with work. And then April wound down to an almost silent May (three long weekends most years) with a spurt of energy in overloaded June, before tapering off in July to go dead in August... Understanding that the French worked in "waves", in line with 2-week school holidays scheduled every 6-weeks and then summer break, was essential for doing business successfully in France. And for Americans whose 24/7, 365 day a year mindset was a sole reference, it was sometimes agonizing to consider that other approaches to time might exist - and even be more productive! I certainly never believed that the American "always on" approach made sense and preferred the waves of raised efforts then respite that the "French way" offered...


(March last year, Spain, a few days of beautiful respite before a flight & quarantine)

Discovering Time As Experienced in the Music Trade

Working with artists, I discovered new seasons, new cycles, new cycles within seasons. It felt like an entirely new dance where again environment and body moved together. Album cycles with their seasons of preparation, release, promo, touring. Presenter cycles with autumn and spring concert cycles. Showcase seasons with a cluster in the autumn and then another in the spring. And of course, most notably for Canada (though present everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere),festival season from June through September. There was the comfort of knowing that cash while might be low in June as flights were booked, we would be flush in September when the festival season closed and we'd been paid up...

At first it was a bit overwhelming to navigate the multiple spinning cycles (like these spinning plates below!)- not really sure where to focus my attention. And then after awhile it came together, where album releases, showcasing new music, booking new tours seemed to align. There were periods where the open suitcase in my bedroom was a constant reminder that I was in an active season - I was energized by it. I felt I could push it because I knew that at some point in the summer, while the artists I worked with were touring, I'd take a break from the "sales" hustle and enjoy the calm of the summer cabin, recoup and prepare for the showcases to come... I think part of the reason I felt so at home in the world of music was due to its seasons, as I had experienced in my former life. I work best when I can work intensively for a period and then unwind, and then push forward and then pull back...

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Unstructured Time in Unprecedented Times...

So here we are, celebrating the a new spin around the sun, the end of a year that has brought all of those spinning plates crashing down! And one of the challenges right now is what to do with the broken china. Leave it on the floor a few more months? Bring in new plates? How do we lean into a new cycle when we don't know how long it'll last, how intense it'll be? What new deadlines do we need to meet? When will we meet again?....

Almost every artist has talked about feeling "unanchored" with no sense of time. And I can empathize because I've experienced the very time warp that has me feeding Harley at night and feeling I'd just fed him a few minutes earlier that morning... I've blasted through a to-do list while a pile of folded laundry has sat on a chair for two months. I've spent 90% of my time two feet across a computer screen while there are rooms in my house that I've stepped into only once or twice this year... Instead of waves of rush and respite, I feel pulled down underwater, struggling to breathe... And that's not who I am or how I want to be!

Fortunately, I've picked up a few tips from you - artists who've shared the ways you've found structure... One artist explained how a very detailed scheduled allows her and her artist husband to structure their day with work periods, together time and alone time... a necessary thing when you're in a small space that serves as home, creative workspace and performance area! Another sets challenges - with timed goals. In a sense, the "working to a deadline" generates the adrenaline rush they associate with touring life. I've tested a few weeks with a combination of these approaches (less detailed than the schedule, but mapping out time periods in my week along with some decluttering targets for March). I've also gone off schedule - to see if it's truly something that helps. And yes, it does! I now know that having this visual on the wall next to me helps me map out my time, and my days. It reminds me too to take creative breaks. And to engage with humans. (And yes, the "f@ck all" time is marvellous, and you'll notice that Sunday is a free day altogether... heaven!)

(My schedule - I encourage you to create your own visual map of a week or day, as you wish)

How Long Is This Going To Last?!

Well, one page of the paper tells me that vaccines are on their way and this will be over in a matter of weeks... we're booking shows - of the in-person, live type... and then the next page of the local paper warns me that a third wave is on the horizon... so my guess is as good as yours!

What I do know is that we need to keep living, keep building, keep sharing the music.

There will certainly be new cycles to build. Today, the distance between Artists and their Audiences is shorter than ever in a sense. They may not feel real to you as you sing through a screen but I can assure you that YOU are real to those who take comfort and joy from the stories and songs you share!

As we wait for longer cycles to return to structure us, let's map out routines and rituals that can mark out time and offer milestones. The next few weeks may be challenging as we move from one season to another, as start imagining what might come next. Let's stay strong and present for each other through the blur ahead! They've announced snow flurries for tonight and tomorrow morning, but I've heard a couple of returning Canadian geese honking and spring is definitely around the corner!

(It's St Patrick's day tomorrow... I may try to find something green to wear in honour of some of my favourite loves who hailed from the Emerald Isle and whose blarney still catches my heart!)


(Photo by Yan Ming on Unsplash - There's a four-leaf clover in there for you!)

- x - x- x -

xo Nat

Nathalie Kleinschmit

Article by Nathalie Kleinschmit

Published 16 Mar 2021