Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Burning the Candle at Both Ends?

Photo by Modern Noir, MUAH by Vivienne Vermuth
It's pretty common for artists to have two jobs: the one that they love and work hardest on, and the other one that pays the bills. I did my turn as just a burlesque dancer (also teacher & costumer) and I felt like I wasn't financially contributing enough to the Snapper household and future. I got another job as soon as I could so someone else could pay me to push paper, a job I could do in my sleep.

Having a day job, doing late night shows and spending all the remaining time on projects so I could do more late night shows takes its toll. Sloppy work at the job that pays the bills, pain and frustration as an artist, mistakes that only happen from being exhausted become too frequent.

I've been an entertainer for my entire life. I started burning the candle any way I could when I was sixteen but I had plenty of young cells to help me recover. Sort of. I wasn't creating the healthiest adult engine by fueling myself with Tom's Hot Fries one summer.

How can you become resilient when you need that day job and the entertainer pursuits? Kick back and old lady Snapper will share some tips.

  • Deal with your funk. We all get the funk.
  • Get more sleep. Your body needs sleep for cellular growth, detoxification, hormonal function, digestion, weight loss, heart health and thought processing. Most people need eight hours or more per night. If you know you have a late gig coming up, sleep in the day of or the day after. Catch naps any time you can. You won't get into the deep sleep that really restores your body in those naps but you will have a little refresher for better mental function.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Juicing is all the rage but juicing eliminates the fiber your body needs to eliminate toxins and waste. Your body needs the nutrients in fresh fruits and veggies. Food is medicine. Take supplements for the things your body doesn't get from food.
  • Reduce your consumption of processed and comfort foods. I know I sound like a grandma. Comfort foods are usually rich in sugars and fats. They pick you up for a hot minute and then let you down hard. Retrain yourself to reach for an apple when you would gobble up a cinnamon roll to give you the energy to make it through the day. You eat more food than you actually need when you're tired from trying to do so much.
  • Sort out some Me Time that quietens your mind. Some people meditate so they can quiet their minds. Others do yoga. I love ballet because I can't think about anything but the moves while I'm in class. It may seem like a luxury to take that Me Time but it's not. It's imperative for your mental and physical health.
  • Prioritize your life and keep a reliable calendar. I won't go out on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday if I have a Thursday night gig and an important day job Friday. I'll spend the first three nights of the week getting my ducks in a row so Thursday and Friday are a success. If next week is really busy then I have to prepare anything I can this week. I miss a lot of social engagements. I recognize that I have to perform well at my day job so I can afford to be a performer.
  • Get strong. Find a workout regimen that challenges you and makes you stronger. Sure, losing weight is cool and all. When I was 95 lbs. I was a weakling. I'd rather weigh a bit more and have a strong body that's going to last me a lot longer. I've been doing HIIT for a few months and it's great for strength. You should work that body three to five times a week. If nothing else, take a 20 minute walk every day.
  • Get a damn flu shot. The flu shot contains the most likely strains to hit North America over the next year. Save yourself the hassle of weeks of interrupted work later by getting it now.
  • Keep a health journal. It doesn't have to be fancy. Jot down what you're eating, how much sleep you're getting, any physical changes or injuries, noticeable mood changes. Maybe make a note if you're dealing with work stress or late nights for gigs. Keeping this journal will help you know when something is actually wrong with you (like shortness of breath from medication) or if you just need to change something because you know the triggers (like reducing your stress and going to bed on time because your heart skips a beat when you don't).
  • Reduce contact with toxic people and unnecessary stressors. Cut those bitches loose from your life. You don't need it. You're already trying to be successful at two jobs. You don't need the distraction of jerks.
  • Learn your limits and stick to them. I could do seven nights of gigs per week when I was 35. I can't do that with a day job and my plan for resilience. I can do a week of seven nights of gigs in one month but I can't do that every week. I can do a late night show, teach the next day and hit the sack early before I travel again. I can nap on a plane but I can't get that deep sleep while sitting.
  • Keep finding the new normal. You may wind up with more responsibilities and promotions in your day job as you get older. Theoretically, you also become a more skilled performer with age. Find the right balance for you without sacrificing your money, your passion and your health.
I wish you well.


  1. Thanks for this and the Deal with your Funk post. Both are definitely good to hear.

    1. Thank you! We all go through stuff. I know a lot of people who are trying to pursue day jobs and a second career. It can be exhausting.

  2. Thank you for this. I'm at a place where my day job, burlesque, and life is throwing a bunch of things at me, and it's good to be reminded of things I can do to help with the stress (the health journal is a fantastic idea that never occurred to me).

    1. You're welcome. The health journal will help you find triggers and avoid them, and it will help you reinforce the behaviors that work. You'll find common threads. :)

      Also, stress is hell on your cells. Reduce the stresses you can and get strong to deal with the stresses you can't prevent.