Elle's Bells

What would you do with a free day? Sit back before you read any further and think about it. What comes up? Do you fill it with to-do’s? do you pack it tight with social activities and try to fit as many people in as you can because you haven’t seen them in ages? What if you had a whole damn day with no obligations? I tend to smirk a little about the last question. Who truly has a free day? 

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As a sole business owner, I depend on myself for income, and I must hustle if I am going to keep it coming in steady. I am a Music Therapist who works with persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinon’s disease, and more. My job brings me absolute joy, and some days it sucks the life out of me. Balancing a career and self-care is my biggest challenge. 

When I started my company three years ago, I decided from the get go that I was going to take Fridays off. I did this because weekdays are really convenient for getting things done like bank appointments, car repairs, and visits to the doctor. I choose to work Saturdays for the clients who can’t commit to a weekday session. This arrangement flushes out quite nicely for me personally - in theory. The only problem with giving myself a free day is that I tend to pack it so full of activities, appointments and social engagements, that I end up feeling more exhausted at the end of the day than I do during the week. You may disagree, but isn’t being free the whole point of a free day?

When I wake up on a Friday morning, I fantasize about all the relaxing and pleasurable things I could do that day. Ironically, the fantasy often remains a fantasy, and the reality is more like bumper to bumper traffic on Glenmore Trail at 4pm on a Wednesday. Sometimes I pack in two workouts to catch up from the week, I’ll have anywhere between 3-4 social engagements (breakfasts, lunch, coffee) and I’ll typically throw in some chores. I have a suspicion that I am addicted to hustling 24/7 and I rarely know when to stop. You feel me? 

The struggle for balance in life is a humbling and often uncomfortable experience. Guilt can sneak in when I am ignoring the dirty floors or a crammed inbox of emails to read a book. How is it possible to stay in the momentum you’ve achieved and yet, hop out of it in order to achieve another sort of personal greatness. Every now and again I force myself to get off social media, decline attendance at a social event, forget about the chores and have some true downtime. The hustle makes us strong. The more we hustle, the more momentum we gain. Amazing things can happen when we are in the grind. However, making downtime a part of your routine is just as important. It feeds us body, mind and soul. I teach spin classes on the side and the most frequent phrase of wisdom I can impart is this: “the rest we take for our hearts and bodies is just as important as the work.” If your body and mind are working so damn hard for you, what are you doing to reward it? If we don’t ask questions like this, we will inevitably see some sort of burn-out in our lives. 

I have had to start scheduling in free day activities for myself in order to make the fantasy a reality. Ask yourself: When do you truly feel free and relaxed? I would encourage you to make a list of the things you would do on your free day and try hard to check at least two of them off on your next day off. Don’t have a day off? Sorry, you better find one! This is not a selfish act. Self-care is a necessity.

Here is how I reward myself: 

  • Drink an Earl Grey tea latte and have a healthy breakfast in the morning
  • Read a good book in bed
  • Have a bath with essential oils, a charcoal mask, and a candle, 
  • Rub a luxurious oil all over my body after - love that body!
  • Play music that is not related to work, write music, improvise on the piano 
  • Make a delicious cocktail - I love an aviation* or a glass of wine
  • Spend time outside 
  • Have a nap

 

To do all these things in one day is almost impossible, but even if I do two or three of them, I am better off as a partner, friend, daughter, sibling, therapist and overall person. 

 

Work hard. Rest Hard. Be Amazing. 

 

*Classic Aviation

2 oz Gin 

1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur 

1/4 oz Creme de Violette 

3/4 oz juice from an old, very ripe lemon 

1 boozy cherry to garnish

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Add all ingredients to a shaker, add ice, shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and slip the cherry into the bottom of the glass. 

Elle McAndrews was born and raised in Calgary, AB. She a musician, a music therapist, and is the owner of Core Music Therapy. You can find Elle on the bike at YYC Cycle motivating others to push their boundaries and become stronger in both body and mind.  

Chantal Crockatt