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In this episode of The Optimized Mom Podcast, I suggest some ways we can treat our bodies like the priceless instruments they are so that we can keep them in tip-top shape, ready to help us do our important work in the world.
Note: This transcript was produced using speech-recognition software and has received minimal edits. If possible, I encourage you to listen to the audio version.
Welcome to the Optimized Mom podcast where we explore strategies for trading burnout overwhelm and exhaustion for simplicity, efficiency and joy. Why? Because I want you to have the time and energy to care for yourself, have fun with your family and share your sparkle with the world.
Well, hey there, Anissa here. Excited to chat with you today. I wear a lot of hats, and one of the many hats I wear is a singing teacher. I have a master’s degree in vocal performance and a history of performing in opera and musical theater. And I love working with singers and helping them discover what’s possible for their voices.
One of the things I will regularly say to a singer when they’re stressed out about something that happened at work and their neck and shoulders are all tense, or maybe when they’re suffering from a cold, or when they didn’t sleep well the night before, you know, all of these things can have a pretty negative effect on the voice.
And I will say to the singer, “your body is your instrument.” And we’ll go on to talk about how the things that we do and don’t do for our bodies not only affect what’s happening inside the larynx, but also how they impact the amount of energy we have or don’t have to do the job that we need to do as singers. It’s a physically challenging task for sure. But it’s also one that requires us to be mentally sharp, to remember the notes and the rhythms and the lyrics (sometimes lyrics that are in another language), and also to be emotionally connected to share a story and to move an audience. I will remind them that we need to do everything we can to keep our instruments in tip-top shape.
And I was saying this to someone this week and it occurred to me that this isn’t just true for singers. It’s true for all of us. Our bodies are the instruments that we use to do all of our important work in the world. And as a society, we pay far too little attention to our body’s health and vitality. We walk through life, sleep deprived and we accept it as just the way things are. We eat ‘edible food-like substances’ to quote Michael Pollan instead of real food. And even if we’re committed to being active, we might exercise for 30 minutes or an hour a day and then still sit or lie down for the rest of it.
So our society is sick anyway. And then as moms, we have this added component, this added layer of self-sacrifice that we add in. Now, certainly this is necessary when our kids are babies and toddlers, you know, we need to sleep poorly at night. We’re getting up to feed babies and change them. We might need to sneak a quick bite of the crust of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead of sitting down to make and eat our own lunch. But these things that we take on in these really busy and challenging seasons then become a habit and then just become part of the way that we are.
And our wonderful instruments that are Steinway pianos or Stradivarius violins in their optimal state over time become pieces of junk. I always tell my students that they wouldn’t leave a Stradivarius violin out in the rain. They would lovingly return it to its case when they were done using it. They would protect it from direct sunlight and sudden changes in temperature or humidity. They’d protect it from toddlers or pets or anybody who wasn’t going to be incredibly careful with it. And I urge them to treat their priceless precious instruments the same way.
So today I am urging you to do a little check-in. Are you caring for your body, your precious instrument, in a way that fills you with energy and zest? In a way that makes it feel easy to get up in the morning and do what you need to do? If not, I’d love to give you a little poke in the butt to make one small positive change today to start doing something that would help you feel better or to stop doing something that you know is dragging you down.
We often underestimate the power of tiny actions done consistently (or not done consistently) to completely change our lives over time. So what tiny action could you take? Maybe you could go to bed just 15 minutes earlier, you could take a family walk after dinner instead of going to plop on the couch. Like so many of us (myself included) do on a lot of nights.
You could turn off your phone an hour before bed. We know that when you are looking at your phone before bed, you are getting blue light in your eyeballs, it’s interrupting your melatonin production and making it harder to sleep. You know, and I know, that we start scrolling and then we get wrapped up in it and before we know it, an hour has passed. So maybe you could just put your phone away an hour before bed and just enjoy the positive effects that that will have on your sleep.
Maybe you could listen to a guided meditation. We all suck at meditation at first, but taking just 10 minutes to focus your brain to calm down a little bit might be beneficial. Maybe it’s something as simple as just ensuring that you actually drink enough water today.
And this is important. Don’t wait until you can do it perfectly. In fact, don’t wait to do it at all. I think we assume sometimes that procrastination is simply a result of laziness and of course, it can be. We don’t feel like doing something and so we don’t–that whiny voice wins out and we fail to do the thing that we want to do.
But procrastination can also be a result of perfectionism. You know, we fear that we can’t do the thing that we want to do. And certainly not do it at an expert level. And so we put it off until some point in the future when we’ll be ready to do it. Well, often that day doesn’t come. And so we don’t end up doing the thing that we wanted to do at all.
So if you’ve got an inkling that you want to make a tiny change, Start now. Repeat tomorrow. If you find it’s not working for you after trying it a couple of days, then make some little tweaks to that thing that you’re doing. Keep reevaluating and seeing what works for you.
But remember, you have important work to do in the world. If you’re a fellow mom, I would argue that you’re doing the most important job in the world. You are raising the next generation. You are showing them how life is done by your sparkling, vibrant example, and we need you shining your brightest.
So this is your reminder (and mine) to get busy or to keep up the good work, astonishing yourself with what you can do with that priceless instrument today. Thank you for listening. And if you’d like a list of things that you might consider starting or stopping as part of protecting your precious instrument, check out the link I’ll share in the show notes.
And if you like this podcast, share it with someone you love who needs to hear it. Talk to you soon.