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I’m so freaking tired.

I’ve been working at the school, almost full time (but still as a casual while they undergo a general staff review, which they were in the middle of when I arrived) for about a month. I think I’m doing okay; my boss seems very appreciative of my work. It’s not creative for the most part (well not in the way I’m used to), but then I knew that going into it. I occasionally get to take photos on the excellent Canon 6D, which is lovely to use. But apart from that it’s mostly keeping the social media humming, sending out copious amounts of correspondence, helping out with branding strategy, and working out where I fit. Schools are exhausting places! So many people. So much goes into the running of them. Mum worked at my school and at UNSW and at Moore College, so over the years I’ve had an insight into the admin side of educational institutions, and there haven’t been many surprises on what a school culture is like to work in.

But what I feared has proven true, that working an (almost) full time load still takes its toll on me. It’s not the work, it’s not the hours, it’s not the job. It’s me. I had held out a sliver of hope that perhaps having had a few years off from an office environment, that I would be able to get the stamina back. Maybe it would be okay if work was the only thing I was doing. But my non-work plate was already pretty full before this job came along and it’s overflowing now. To the point where I’m starting to drop/forget things (if you have emailed me and I haven’t replied, I’m sorry!).

So here’s the current load:

  • teaching piano/voice to three excellent young people
  • leading music at morning church once a month (includes a mid-week rehearsal)
  • leading music at evening church once a month
  • leading the service at evening church once a month
  • speaking at women’s breakfast at church in October
  • performing at the Word Songwriting showcase in two weeks
  • Sound of Music rehearsals (some weeks I won’t have any, some weeks I have a few and they always seem to clash or run into other rehearsals/commitments, so it feels like I’m running from one thing to another all the time)
  • Symphonic band rehearsals and flute practise (well guess what, that hasn’t been happening lately)
  • occasional client work (but not open for new clients or projects, just ongoing ones I’ve committed to)

That’s a lot for me!

Obviously no writing is happening. I was thinking about how most of the time the complaint with creative stuff is “there’s not enough time”. But for me, it’s not time that’s a factor. There are pockets of time that I could use much more productively than, say, watching TV or scrolling through Facebook. My problem is mental space. There is just no space left for creative work.

So pros of the job: meeting lots of new people, using different skills, feeling like I know what I’m doing for the most part, REGULAR PAY.

Cons of the job: I have zero energy and don’t know how long I can keep this up for.

Damnit! My previous life was unsustainable in terms of money. This life is unsustainable in terms of energy. There has to be some sort of middle ground.

The band and theatre stuff is not too taxing, surprisingly. I think it’s because I don’t have to lead or organise them. I can just show up and participate and be part of something. There is real value in that.

I talked to my minister tonight, who was very understanding, and agreed to let me have a couple of months off of the regular church commitments. So that frees me up mentally to not have to think about song choices and rehearsals and how to do all that well. I don’t like doing a half-arsed job when I do church music. I want to do it properly because I take it seriously, so when I just kind of phone it in, I don’t feel like I’m honouring God or my brothers and sisters at church. Anyway, having a couple of months off means I get through Sound of Music and will hopefully have a bit more energy.

I actually got to be outside in the garden for a bit today, planting the raspberry canes that the Mumfords gave me a few weeks ago (eep). It was so good to have the sun on my face and be outside in the fresh air, communing with the chickens and cats, who are always good gardening companions (the chickens for the free worms, the cats for rolling around in the dirt). And leading music ended up being okay even though I felt like I was going to faceplant the keyboard.

Actually, before singing it as our last song tonight, I read out verse two of Let your kingdom come by Bob Kauflin as a prayer, because it tied in so well with what James’s sermon was on. So I’ll put it here too, because I definitely feel I am at my weakest right now, but I know God can do wondrous things even through me.

Give us your strength, O God
And courage to speak
Perform your wondrous deeds
Through those who are weak
Lord, use us as you want
Whatever the test
By grace we’ll preach your gospel til our dying breath