Where oh where do I begin? I’ve sat down to write this post at least 4 times throughout the past week, and the words just haven’t come. 2021 has been…something, and it isn’t going out without a fight. Here we are, just 3 days away from 2022, and COVID-19 is raging yet again, leaving us to hibernate at home like we’ve done so often over the last almost 2 years.
Myword for 2021 was EMPOWERED. I was ready to have more control over my life after spending most of 2020 having barely any whatsoever, and overall, I think I lived this word well. Most notably, I took control of my future by diving head-first into a full-time graduate program, working towards a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.
Back in August, my friend told me that she was going back to school for her PhD in speech-language pathology. I have a lot in common with this friend: we both have two kids (our boys play competitive travel soccer together), busy careers, and full social lives.
So when she shared this news with me, the first words out of my mouth were, “Oh wow, I could never do that.”
I’ve been saying that for years. I went straight to graduate school after finishing undergrad, so the only life I knew was student life. That served me well, and helped me stay focused as I earned my master’s degree in music therapy. My mom went back to school for her doctorate shortly after turning 50, and I was just in awe of her ability to do so. I couldn’t imagine the rigorous schedule and responsibilities of being a student ON TOP OF regular life.
After that conversation with my friend, though, I rethought my words. Why couldn’t I do it? School was my thing; the only B I ever got — like, literally ever — was in a dance class my freshman year of college, and I’m still not over it. (Kidding, kind of.) I love to learn, and I had been feeling the itch for professional growth over the last year or so.
A few days later, I found myself googling “counseling programs” and taking copious notes. Wait, what? Did I want to become a counselor? Apparently, yes I did.
Okay, so I have a confession to make: the pandemic has turned me into a bit of an online shopaholic. Luckily for my bank account, my purchases are usually under $35 (save for the occasional splurges), and all directly benefit my well-being in one way or another.
For example, I’m spending pretty much ALL of my time at home right now, and that has empowered me to make my home as comfortable, beautiful, and optimized as possible. A good majority of my shopping has been focused on that goal.
Another significant portion of my purchases have been dedicated to my physical health. In the new year, I’ve recommitted myself to working out regularly at home, so I’ve been slowly building up my collection of fitness equipment.
The last area in which I’ve been investing is self-care, though you could argue that all of these fall under that category. My current favorite things — the ones I’m sharing with you here today, all relate directly to self-care. I’ll explain below just how each item has affected my physical, emotional, and/or mental health.
Last year on this very day, I wrote that I had “mixed emotions about leaving 2019 behind”. Well, I can tell you for certain that my emotions are NOT mixed in the slightest about 2020 ending. It’s been a hard year for everyone, and I know we are all more than ready for 2021.
My word for 2020 was OPTIMIZE. I had high hopes for streamlining all areas of my life, but little did I know when I chose this word that life would be anything but optimal in the months to come.
Self-care is a common topic among the music therapy community. We talk about it a lot, but do we actually implement it in our daily lives? It’s something I personally struggle with. I know what I want to do for self-care, but finding the time to actually take care of myself is difficult. Who else is in this same boat?
We’re all busy. Maybe you’re working a full-time job, you have kids stuck at home doing remote learning, you’re trying to navigate a pandemic, you’re enduring the stresses of everyday life, the list could go on and on. For me, it’s trying to plan a wedding during COVID-19. I find myself using this and so many other excuses as reasons to put off self-care.
Instead of using our busy lives as an excuse why we can’t give ourselves some self-love, let’s start using them as reasons why we need to care for ourselves.
This summer has looked very different than I had initially planned, as I’m sure is also true for you. In a normal, non-pandemic world, my kids would be busy with various summer camps and spend one full day each week with their babysitter so that I would have dedicated work time…but this is not a normal, non-pandemic world at the moment.
Instead, the 3 of us have spent each and every day together, mostly at home with some pool days thrown in to keep us all sane. That of course translates into me not getting as much work done (like, barely even a fraction of it) as I had originally hoped, but I’m giving myself grace — as we all should during the year 2020.
That said, I have managed to write and record a few new tunes, as well as breathed new life into a good handful of songs I wrote in my earlier professional years. You can check out all of the latest songs over in the store, but I wanted to feature 3 of them here for you. Hopefully you can get some use out of them as we enter the last full month of summer!
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.
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Next month’s music therapy sessions, early childhood groups, or classroom music…planned for you in advance.
Click the image below for this free resource and song collection!