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This idea came to me in a meditation. I am constantly trying to find the magical work/life balance formula particularly when it comes to musicians. I find us to be the most interesting case study because We are all juggling a tremendous amount of tasks, are intensely emotional AND most of us hustling a full time job or multiple streams of income in order to feed ourselves invest in our art. Basically we’re (very tired) superhero- hustlers.

It’s nearly impossible to do everything well at the same time while also maintaining a personal life and a self care practice. That being said, from the outside looking in, I have a few friends who “do life” pretty well and I want to know how they do it so I can share it with YOU!

Case Study: Jen Urban

I chose my friend Jen Urban of Jen Urban and the Box as my second interview subject because I’ve been slightly obsessed with her since we met a few years ago. She’s been a staple in the queer nightlife scene in NYC for over a decade and has managed to start a beautiful family, get sober and reinvent her entire lifestyle without missing a beat. She’s an incredible performer, a consistently booked DJ and event curator and always looks so damn cool doing it! 

Fuckin superhero!

This brief chat I had with Jen is full of wisdom and gratitude. I definitely was onto something when I asked her to do this with me!

CC: Hey Jen! What are your slashes?

JU: Singer/songwriter/DJ/producer/artist/mom, I could go on and on! Lol

CC: How many hours of sleep do you get on average?

JU: 4

CC: Where have you had to financially cut corners in order to invest in your career?

JU: Everywhere.  It’s harder now that I’m a mom.  It is really making me focus on what is lucrative and re evaluate how to sell my work.

CC: What do you think you’ve sacrificed the most in order to make time for your priorities?

JU: I have had to sacrifice my career for Relationships, self care, pretty much anything in the way and vice versa.  It’s a back and forth.  It’s hard to balance everything I am passionate about, but I am so lucky to have a very supportive partner.  Although it doesn’t look like it did in my childlike dreams, I kinda have it all.  

CC: What takes top spot on your priorities list?

JU:  I honestly can’t even look at it as a list. They are all a circular part of who I am and my experience of this life plane.

CC: How do you make decisions based on those priorities? I assume you say no to a lot more now that you’re a parent?

JU:  I actually say yes to anything that pays or could advance my career. I mean I wouldn’t miss Aria’s bday, but in a way being a mom and being sober makes me really see that I need to put as much work into this as I can to be the mom and Women I want to be.

CC: What’s your definition of self care and what does it look like in your life?

JU:  I truly believe in body soul and mind connection.  Self care means reflecting on each action and just trying to take the next right step.  My sobriety has to come first, so there are things I need to do to protect that which natural lead to other forms of self care.  My favorite right now is hot yoga because I feel like it kills three birds with one stone!

CC: What keeps you up at night?

JU: Too many things!  They are all based in fear or a feeling of wanting to control what I cannot control.  Luckily I’m so tired that I usually pass out before I can go too far down the rabbit hole.

CC: What keeps you from throwing in the towel on this (very challenging!) music career thing?

JU:  Sometimes I do not know!  It seems like I win a small victory every time I really want to give up and that keeps me going.  Even if it’s just feeling inspired by a new song that I start writing, or playing a show that feels connected to the audience.

CC: What do you think were some of your biggest time/money/energy wasters from when you were starting out in your career? How do you do things differently now?

JU: Well in my case I wasted a lot of time and money on drugs and alcohol.  I also spent too much time trying to sound like something or someone, trying to fit into a Genre.  It’s what we are told to do, but it really gets in the way of creating really good music.

CC: What are some of your get-shit-done and stay sane life hacks?

JU: I have to give myself deadlines even if there aren’t any.  I also do well under a rewards system.  The incentive helps me get shit done and the rewards are things that keep me sane! Like if I finish this production project by a certain time I can go get a Matcha Latte, etc.  I also think its important to have a workspace outside of my home, I get too easily distracted at home.  Even if I can only get there once a week, I share a studio space with Alan (my bandmate) and three other bands.  Someday having my own place to work would be amazing!  I make a lot of lists!  To stay sane I try to look at the big picture.  I may not be selling records like Taylor Swift, but I have done a lot of cool things with music in my life.  

CC: Is there a question I haven’t asked you that you’d like to answer that pertains to how you do life?

JU: I try to be gentle on myself and remember everything is temporary, especially feelings. I need to live life enough to have something to create about, and create enough to keep living. I also really appreciate the support and community I find in connecting with other local indy artists!  There is nothing like being able to relate, so thank you for writing this Blog!

For more Jen Urban, check her out on the interwebs: