I have been partners with a musician for over a decade now. We started our relationship as long distance, and eventually my husband’s music career allowed for more location flexibility, which then meant togetherness for us. “I don’t know how you do it, LeAnne” is something I hear as often about my life as, “You’re really living the dream.” Of course it is a differing perspective from person to person. And yet I don’t disagree; in fact, most of the time these days (let’s face it, long distance with a touring musician while also focused on your own career doesn’t create a whole lot of face time), I am filled with gratitude for our big, full life. On other days, I am not immune to the challenges that time and distance can have on a relationship or family. How do we thrive? Our recipe, like any relationship, requires a lot of ingredients: a whole lot of humor, sparky love, commitment, striving for balance, passion for positive communication, compromise, mental flexibility, and self care. What feels unique to make our arrangement sustainable and fulfilling is having gratitude, strong community, and a consistent yoga and mindfulness practice.
Gratitude is also one of our family’s most important practices, especially in the face of challenges. We take a few moments almost every day to give thanks for this precious life and the continued opportunity to work doing the things we are passionate about. Our gratitude practice is especially potent on those days when tour is coming up and we feel overwhelmed by the chunks of time our family will be spending apart. Like other jobs and lifestyles, there are extreme scenarios which reveal where one’s limits lie and where there might be a call to find balance. So, to keep us positively focused, our family mantra of the last few years has been, “We GET to do this.”
The community we get to do this with also plays a strong support role in not only helping us survive, but thrive. We are grateful to all of our people we share space with and especially those who integrate into our life on and off the road. Having to switch between two worlds can be a bit tricky emotionally- like you are only being seen for part of you. We are grateful for the beautiful extended family we have created through years of shared music experiences, and when we have the opportunity to share our world that exists around my husband’s band with our family and friends at home, we feel unified or even more understood for the “whole” of who we are.
Some of my dearest friends and support systems that understand this weaving in and out of two worlds at times, have been what I call my “sisters of the road,” those with whom I have shared the seat of industry partner. We share community, experiences, space, meals, a passion for music, giggles, collective successes as well as loss, and what is built is a family. I know I have found more depth, love and support through my connection with these women and our unspoken understanding of what it takes to be the anchor when the other partner is managing the gifts (and challenges) of life on and off the road. For me, just knowing there are other humans out there that “get it” is in itself comforting.
Yoga is designed to not only bring awareness to your body but also to your thoughts. Integrating yoga and mindfulness meditation into my life have greatly supported me in rebalancing my mental and physical well being, and these practices have become essential to the fun, socializing, and travel that our music life brings. Meditating, even if only for three minutes with my toddler running wild and observing me, or on an airplane or backstage before entering into a music scene, has helped me feel more grounded. It’s these tiny moments that allow me to stop and observe my thoughts, helping me see when I need to be more gentle with myself and others, to remember we are all human.
This life is an incredible blessing. And it’s not without its trials. The support of one another, accompanied by practices that cultivate awareness of our mental health, can propel us through even the most turbulent of times. I know those challenges have been our greatest teachers, leading us to longevity and sustainability. It truly does take a village.