Music therapist and multi-instrumental composer-performer Lorinda shares about that unspoken burden creative professionals sometimes suffer - burnout. Lorinda describes how she moved past burnout, rediscovered her creative fire, and ditched all plans to retire. Instead, she has more #creative plans than ever! More about Lorinda Jones:
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Hmm, Lorinda. It's great to be with you here today. It's great to be here too. Yeah. Glad to have you here in Kentucky. Thank you. So you have an incredible background as a musician. You have been a music therapist for over 25 years, a pioneer actually in Kentucky in the field of music therapy, which is very intensive field,
requires a whole bunch of study. You've also run two ensembles. One is for dulcimer. One is for Harp. You have an Irish trio. I mean, you are a full on professional musician. And for many people, they dream, Oh, being a professional musician, everything would be just wonderful. I would be in a reverie all day long and things would feel great and they almost don't enjoy where they are at that moment because they're looking towards that dream.
But sometimes that dream itself, even though being a professional musician is wonderful. It's not like, Oh, suddenly everything gets solved and there are no creative issues that we have. So I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about your experience as time went on as a musician. Yeah. I, I think you summarized that very well that,
and I can remember at different times of my life went in, in different parts of my career to going through that same process of thinking, okay, now if I can just add this aspect to my career, then I will really feel like I'm doing all that I want to do. And, but you know that, I think that word career, you know,
it is a job. I mean, if you are a full time musician, it's a job. And with any job comes, what's what goes along with any job, no matter what it is, you have responsibilities and you have timelines and you have a lot of people to answer to. And yeah, someone told me when I, when I told them I was switching from a music education and I was teaching in public school to going freelance and starting my own music therapy business and doing more performing,
they were like, you know, you just swapped from having one boss to a lot of bosses. Right, right. Yeah. And I did, you know, I, I, I chose to do that because I was feeling, I was just feeling really PN in, in the public education system. I was so tired every night coming home. And I felt like I knit.
I just, I didn't even have time to be applying musician at all. I was so exhausted and I just, I don't know for me, it was real. I mean, I loved it. I loved what I did. I got, you know, I, I started early on, I found out about or show work and it guided my whole teaching principles.
And I really loved what I did and I loved the students. And, but you know, the OU teaching in the public school system, it, it, to me, it started feeling kind of like factory work. And I, and I just, I had to have a change. Cause I knew that, you know, I w I was starting to lose my passion for it because of that.
And when I, I accidentally stumbled on to the music therapy I did, which I didn't even know about when I was an undergraduate and, and it just, and it really seemed to fit what I wanted to do. I thought, okay, this will give me more time. I can be a little bit more flexible with scheduling. It'll give me more time to do some playing.
And, and of course, yeah, little did I know that if I was, you know, Oh my gosh, I would be driving hours to go to one appointment. Just when I started my music therapy business, there was nothing in Kentucky. So I literally had to start it from scratch. And it was, it was a lot of work,
but, but it was satisfying to me and that I did it, I did it myself and I persevered and, and found the work. And to me, that was part of the creative part that I was missing. Even though I was creating my own lesson plans, I felt, I CA I've just, I don't know. I loved the creative part of,
I know, developing my own work. I know it was, I put it, or it's probably can I did, You know, music therapy, which is different than therapeutic music. Music therapy is a very intensive training course that you go on. And could you describe a little bit about what the intention is with music therapy? What, what does music therapy actually do?
Yeah, so the, the, I guess the biggest difference, what I usually help people to think about is that when we are using music therapy, we are working with non-musical goals. And so I, and so I am continually assessing the person or groups that I'm with and coming up with the, the, the direction that I want that person or group to move into.
And how can I achieve through music even though the direction, although it might include at some point teaching them to play. Yeah. I mean, it's always going to involve them and making music too, but my, my end goal is, am I doing this to lower their blood pressure? Or am I doing this to build their self esteem or to improve their fine motor skills,
improve their speech. So there's always a non-musical goal that I'm attaching, you know, the music activity or the music portion of the session, too. Yeah. Thank you for that. That involves a great deal of compassion, very intense listening, constantly thinking on your feet, drawing on a huge body of knowledge over time, how did it feel to constantly be basically on call in that way?
How did, how did that feel for you energetically? Yeah, I, you know, in, in different, and of course it was different in different situations. There were, I personally really loved the group settings and maybe that's because I had been, you know, in, in front of classroom in a group setting already, but I really got,
I really get energized and still love the, the, the, the energy that you feel in a group. I love being that kind of, I love being the facilitator and seeing what the interaction between, you know, the, the participants that are in the group. And so, you know, it, it is, it that gives you energy.
Of course, that gives you energy to see what, what is coming out of the group, but at the same time, Oh yeah. I'm at the end of the sessions. I am usually physically exhausted. And our mentally, maybe it is emotionally and mentally because I am trying. Yeah. Yeah. Always being very aware and making and trying to do my best to see that everyone,
everyone is getting their needs met, which is of course, as you know, impossible to complete Working toward that getting yes. So in terms of your own creative path, your own artistic vision, how did that play out as the years went on and you were very deeply involved in the profession of being a musician, both a performing musician, a teacher,
and a music therapist, where did your creative voice, where did it go? Yeah. You know, as it, and of course, and as I said, when I started to, when I thought about the professional music therapy, I thought, okay, this is going to give me more of a chance to be creative and use my, you know,
and be more of a performing artist. And, and, and then w it, and it has been, it has been a great voice, you know, getting to use, I am, I am, you know, addicted to collecting instruments as you can probably Soviet hall. I love being a, and, and, you know, and I loved bringing so many different instruments in small percussion and,
and I loved, I loved that creative part of it, just creating music spontaneously with, with another person or groups. And then of course, that's when I started the Harp was really at the beginning of my music therapy. You know, I knew that I had just been introduced to the heart. And then as I started the program, I realized,
Oh my gosh, what an impact this instrument can have. And so that's, you know, so I was really pushing myself, trying to be, because that is the thing in music therapy, you need to be very comfortable as a musician because you don't want to be, you don't want to have any discomfort in what you're, you're bringing to the group.
You want your focus to be on the process of what's happening and you don't want to be at any time nervous. Oh my gosh, am I prepared enough to do this? You know, that, that has to be set aside. So I did, you know, continue to work and develop my skills all along. And, and that, but that was,
that was really, really good for me. It was really rewarding that I was still working. I was learning this beautiful instrument and at the same time, finding a place for it, you know, in the music therapy profession. And just always, you know, trying to be aware of not overstepping when I use it so that I, you know,
was always comfortable with, you know, within the settings. That's not to say that sometimes that didn't happen, but Okay. Yeah. And so as time went on and you're, and you're taking up so many activities, you have so many responsibilities when, when I came to meet you and was so, so pleased to make your acquaintance. You had mentioned feeling being pulled in many directions and also a touch of burnout had started to emerge.
So even though in many ways you are greatly fulfilled and of course, extremely successful at what you were doing. There was also this feeling of burnout and, and being pulled in multiple directions. Can you speak a little to that? Cause I think this is something that does happen to too professional musicians and they feel some shame around it. Sometimes, sometimes they,
they, they feel, I shouldn't feel that way. I should be grateful that I'm a musician. I'm lucky to be a musician or they feel like I'm doing something wrong. I shouldn't, I shouldn't feel this way. Therefore I want to speak about it. Yeah. And, and, you know, that was really hard for me to come to that or to even,
yeah, except that I might be having those feelings, because like I said, I had worked so hard to develop this company and, and to be successful with it and to show and really, you know, to kind of prove myself when people said, there's no way you're going to get any work in Kentucky. I was like, yes, I can.
And so I had worked so hard to, you know, to make this dream come true. And, but I had yes, at the same time though, as I wanted to do more with the Harp, but I wanted to get back into I, as, as, as you said, I'd started the ensembles and it was, it, it was starting to feel like,
okay, I can't do justice to everything all the time. And of course I was, you know, I had to, there's an energy level thing as I'm getting older. And I would, and I think the thing that, that made me decide that I had to make a change, actually it was a physical need because in music therapy, because I didn't have a one space to do my work,
I was traveling. Sometimes I would go to four or five schools a day or three or four assisted livings. And I was every day taking things in and out of the car. And so I started literally having wrist, carpal tunnel problems, shoulder problems. And when I went to the chiropractor about it, I found out, cause I was afraid it was playing.
And then we started doing some exercises and he said, do you know, it's not the playing, it's the lifting. Wow. That daily lifting. And so I, I actually physically had to, you know, and I, I, it was funny because I had, when I was teaching school, I remember saying, okay, when it gets to the point where I can't sit criss,
cross Apple sauce on the floor with kids, then I know it's time for me to, to, to do so to not work with that age children. Cause I feel like you have to be able to, you know, physically get down on the floor with them. And then, so I had to start thinking about that. I had to, I had to make a decision about,
okay, this a CLI this is really affecting me. And if I'm gonna, you know, what do, what do I, what do I, what are my priorities now? And yes, I was really starting to, I was feeling the burnout from constant, the constant need to market my services. And I, at that point I was paying conscious of contract employees.
It was, the bookwork was just starting to get, I mean, every month I would, when it was time to send out the invoices and the billing, I would almost literally get sick at my stomach. And it's like, okay, I really loved this in the beginning because it was like, Oh, this is really cool. I get to send out billing Right Then.
Yeah. It just physically I could tell, you know, I was feeling that change in my gut that, you know, things aren't, you know, I find dreading this so much that it's literally making me sick to think about having to do it and my hands are hurting and my shoulders are hurting, then I've got to rethink it. And so it,
so it has just been this past two. Yeah. The last year sometime. And then I kept it in the last couple of years. So I've started transitioning in my music therapy business. Now I just being transitioned over to one of my contract employees. And she is now doing all the bookwork and we're gradually making the transition from me as the owner to her.
And I'm really happy about that. I'm still doing some music therapy work, but it's with it's it's I, I'm not doing it as much. I'm not doing it every day. Well, right now I'm not doing any of it. A couple of things. Number one, the body wisdom that you listened to your body was really telling you it's time for a change of some sort.
And you really listen to that. The other part is that there are stages that we can go through in our careers. So first you were a school teacher teaching music in the school, and, and then you were completed with that period and you decided actually, I want to go into music therapy now and you transitioned into that. And then you got this feeling in your body.
And you're like, actually I think I might be completed with that. And sometimes we have a tendency to feel like, well, no, I just need to kind of stick with something forever. Otherwise it kind of invalidates the thing that I was doing, but I, I think as creatives, we want to feel free to move on to the next phase and say that was a total success.
It was great. And now it's time to move on. How, how did you get the confidence to move on? Oh, that's a good question. Well, like I said, for one thing, I knew that it physically, I, you know, I had to think about, you know, what my priorities were and yeah. I mean,
it was something I thought about for a long time. It was not something, I, it was not a decision. It was not an easy decision both times when I switched, you know, to what I was doing. I, I'm not, I'm a very low risk taker. Well, you know, I remember when I transitioned out of my piano teaching career where I was teaching very intensively,
I taught 50 piano students a week. Now most of them were 30 minutes. So it wasn't like 50 hours of it, but it was a lot. And when I, when I told my students that I was going to be radically cutting back, I cried my head off. I just cried so much. I mean, even remembering it now I want to cry again.
It was a very bittersweet decision. I was totally convinced I was doing the right thing, but yeah, it wasn't like, Oh, I'm out of here. It was actually quite heart-wrenching. Yes. It's very hard. And, and yeah, I mean, I, it wasn't, yeah, it wasn't something that was done overnight. It was done like over thinking period of two or three years.
I mean, a couple of years, at least on both in both situations, really planning and looking ahead and thinking about what it would be like. And yeah, but, you know, I, I, I guess each time too, though it has, it, it does give you new energy to start in a different direction. And now I'm really,
and it's funny because I, I had not really, I mean, I have, I have taught private lessons or groups and private lessons off and on all throughout my career ever since I was in high school, but now, but I don't know right now I am really focused on it and really enjoying it. And really, I think the word that you use a lot,
the Community, I am just really embracing the, the folks that are in my little communities here. And I guess this time right now with everything going on too, I just feel so fortunate to have that core group, that core community, you know, that we, that, and I am just really enjoy and planning for them and keeping them going and working,
working on that it, and so I think that the change, the change is hard. It's very hard, but it's also energizing and not everyone I'm sure would feel like that. And, and I don't know what really gives you the confidence to do it. I think it is. I mean, I think that's part of everyone's makeup is to whether or not they're going to,
I never want to say, you know, someone can and someone can, but I'm just saying that because I don't feel like I'm an overly confident person. You probably know that by now. Cause I'm always asking you questions, you know, how can I get more confident, but yeah, but I think I'm curious enough about the outcome to be confident enough to try it.
Yeah. I love this. So in terms of addressing burnout, you did the, the practical things of, of switching direction. Now you're feeling even more engaged in Community, which gives you an energy of its own. How much of this has been an internal job? Like how much of this has been really tapping into your own reasons for making music in the very first place?
Cause I know as a, as a professional musician as well, sometimes we can get so used to external feedback and external without even realizing it that we wake up one day and realize that a lot of how we're viewing our music career is almost through the eyes of someone else rather than from the inside out. So how much would you say that moving past burnout was a case of,
of reclaiming this internal experience that you have of music? Yeah. I, I think it's, I think there's a lot of that because I think each time that I felt like I needed a change, it was also because there was something missing and that there was, you know, that need to, to yeah. Fulfill something. Well, I'm sure it's,
as we've talked about with our Purpose, it was why I chose music to begin with, you know, there was something there that I felt like needed, needed to be addressed. And so I think it was, there was an internal poll for no, I, yeah. I guess knowing that perhaps a change would give me that energy back, man.
I don't know that I said it at the time or even really recognized it at the time, but I think, I think it is there. I think it's it's I think you have to, you have to really listen to what took, what is, what you're hearing or what's being said to you internally and yeah. And like, as I said,
because I am so low risk, I wait until I hear it very loud. So I dwell on it quite a while before and I in on and that that's part of why do I have always kept journals and, and right. You know, from time to time. And it's really funny the time that at the times when I'm going through this, I noticed that,
you know, I have my journals out more and I'm doing a lot more writing and trying to figure out what's going on here. And then I get into a new direction and I'm going, and then it's like, my journals are aside and I haven't written in Ohio because it's like, I don't know. Things just kind of worked out. So Yeah,
you're flowing at that point. Yeah. Yes, yes. Yeah. Something recently that we did when you're in the you're in the D you know Yes. It's like the Valley of despair, I think it's called. Yes, absolutely. Wow. So you've tapped into your body wisdom to give you cues about it's time to move on. You really listened to your internal voice about what was being called in terms of what direction to actually take that in.
I'm wondering if you might be willing to share with us what, what your purpose is, what it is that you have tapped into as your, your guiding principle in your creative life. You know, that keeps the, my Purpose keeps evolving and changing and Yeah. As a creative word. Okay. Thanks for saying it. Yeah, because in fact,
I just rewrote it today. I was writing something and, and let me, let me grab, Yeah. I would love that and I've written it. So I thought, okay, I'm I'm yeah, I'm going to make this simpler. And so, so my lab, my latest purpose is to express myself in a way that helps others find peace and contentment.
I love that. I mean, when you, when you have that as a Purpose, then it really invites you to be that yourself to be peace, to be contentment. And that's your barometer essentially. And so then when you are not peaceful and we do not have contentment, it's very clear that, Oh, I'm out of alignment and it gives you cues right away for how to pivot based on that.
Yes. I think I, for some reason the word contentment, I don't know, the lately has just been popping in my head a lot. And so that's, I thought that I wanted to put that in there because that's something I think, I mean, we probably all are always working toward that, but I, I thought about it again in thinking about Community too,
when I was thinking about how fortunate I feel right now to have this little community here, you know, it's just this, just my little community here in Kentucky, but, but to me it's been, I've just really valued it, you know, this since, since our shut down and, and, and I've thought about contentment and I've thought about,
you know, why are we always pushing to try to do something beyond our little place and our space, you know? And, and yeah, so I've just thought more and more about contentment and Community, and, and then thinking, you know, what, what a great thing to try to share that with others. And, and I, I purposely use the word express myself rather than while playing the Harp because I really want the expression to be,
of course I play other instruments, but I also want it to be in my voice so that when I'm speaking to them, or when I'm speaking to an audience or when I'm speaking to my students or, or to you, or to, you know, I want, yeah, I just, I want that expression to be my instrument, my instrument.
And I certainly feel that from you when I speak with you, I hear this, this contentment, which I, I interpret as I'm hearing it as, as deep gratitude gratitude for what you have. You know, when you are content, you are grateful for what you have. You're not necessarily thinking about, Oh, I'm striving towards this and that.
And in that gratitude, actually, I believe many things then grow. So actually you do win either way and yeah, there's always a great calming presence, a peacefulness that you do bring. So from my experience are absolutely living your purpose. And thank you for that. Oh, well, I hope it's coming. I hope it comes across. I mean,
certainly there's, you know, I joined this group so that I would have a place to yeah. Discuss when things are not feeling content and yes, because yeah, you can't live in that. I don't know. I don't know. I don't live in that state always. And I'm always working toward that state, but Absolutely. And I think part of your story of moving out of burnout was honoring those moments where things actually did not feel right.
And you wanted to have a solution. You just, you didn't just get stuck and stay there and suffer. You were like, I admit to myself, this is no longer working. And then you did something. Yes. I, I, my goodness too many times having be I've been in, especially in music education in the Polk school, I saw too many people staying when they probably should not have stayed.
I saw that firsthand and I just kind of made a vow to myself that, you know, that was not going to happen to me. That it's yeah. That even though it would be harder and, you know, I would have to financially make different arrangements that I could not live with myself if I got to that point where what I did was not good for someone else anymore.
And I really felt like that was happening. You know, again, after, you know, when music therapy, I could feel my energy level slowing and just not, I was starting to be, you know, little things starting to bother me. And it's like, wait a minute. That's right. I don't want to do it if it's, yeah.
If it's going to harm someone, then that's not what I need to be doing. And I think sometimes all of that is also an invitation from the universe, from whatever power to say, Hey, you know, we have something else lined up for you as well that we want you to experience in this lifetime. And now's the time. Yeah. I,
you know, I do, I do truly believe that if you could. And I, cause I am a very much an optimist about life in general, but, and, and I think that's part of that when you were talking about what gave you the confidence to do something else? I bet. I bet. I think that's what I meant when I said,
you know, who are you? You know, each person's personality and how they deal with that. And I think that I, I am optimistic or that in that I think the universe is out there to offer good things if we look for it. Thank you. Absolutely. Well, I think you're an incredible role model for showing what a real musical life looks like and what a real creative life looks like.
It goes through various phases, ebbs and flows. There are moments where we are going to not feel satisfied and those moments can last, you know, for several years as we go through the transition and always keeping in mind, you know, what internally is my purpose, what am I being called towards? And listening to that and trusting that all the time and in honoring that,
I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in how you do that. It's not like you're, I'm out of here. Goodbye. You know, that it doesn't have to be that when we feel the situation is no longer, right. For us that we, you know, do a scorched earth policy, it can be very deliberate and thoughtful, you know, peaceful as you,
as you mentioned, it does not have to look traumatic or dramatic. This is what it looks like in real life and how we work through burnout and reclaim our creativity. I am, I am all about keeping the drama low in my office Best to keep. So yeah. So that's why I do everything is, is, yeah. I'm pretty slow about everything.
I think the, the best thing about in, in the things that we're doing too in our Circle is that sometimes it gets, I do get that little glimpse of, even though I, you know, we're not even when I went to music school, I mean, I knew I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew I liked to music and I couldn't think of anything else to major in,
and I got a scholarship and then it's like, okay, I'm going to major in music, but I really had no clue as to what my life would look like. And I, I am, I am very grateful that somehow I have been able to, I do feel like I've, I've been able to serve myself and others through music and, you know,
somehow made a living at it and still, you know, and feel creative. And in each, and right now I'm working on totally different things to be creative in. And I, I sometimes when I think, okay, I don't really have to do anymore. You know, I've already done this and it don't have to, but then I, there is that internal drive that keeps saying,
I want to do it and I want to do more. And I want to still find ways to express myself and be creative. And sometimes it all feels like, I mean, occasionally I should say, occasionally it feels like, wow, maybe my life did have a traction. Usually it just feels like, how did I end up doing anything For me?
Not really having that. Plan, you know, my gosh, that's been 40 years ago, not having that plan 40 years ago. Somehow it has worked. Of course I've worked. I've also worked to make it work now. But I think, I think that you can be creative with your work if you're willing to keep the work fresh, maybe.
Yeah. I think you're a wonderful example of how to keep the creative spark alive. And sometimes that does involve times when it feels like the spark isn't necessarily that bright, but you do keep it going. You are attending it beautifully. And I also think you're an amazing example of bringing together skill and magic. And this is something we like to talk about a lot in our Circle that when we bring together the skill or the practical abilities,
the Learning, the Knowledge the intellectual stuff. And then we bring together the magic, the emotion Artistry intuition. When we bring those two together, we get incredible manifestation. So thank you. And I, I think that that's part of what, when you said Learning that triggered something for me, for me, I really love learning. And, and so I think that's part of what keeps new things and creative things go.
And because I am willing to learn because I, I still love it. And, and it's something that, you know, everyone can be a lifelong learner. You can be, you, you can learn your entire life. And, and I think about my, my dad who I admired greatly, he was also someone who is very creative in his life.
He made a life out of, he was an engineer without the degree. Really. He was just an intuitive engineer, but I'll never forget that, you know, he, he loved learning. And even when, you know, when he, he had, he died of cancer and his last few months, of course, he didn't, wasn't able to get up out of the chair and do much at all.
And I remember coming down to visit him one time and in, in, in one of his last months, and he was reading a manual on how to rebuild a motor in a forklift. And I was like, dad, that's interesting grading material. And, you know, and he was like, well, they've got a forklift at the shop, and I know they're not going to know how to do it.
And I'm going to read on this because I bet they'll come and ask me how to do this. And I want to, I know I want to know how to do this. And I thought, what a great example of lifelong learning Love it. I love it. Oh, well, I think that is the perfect note to end on. Thank you for that beautiful story.
And, and what is your dad's name window when thank you and offer for visiting us in this conversation. And yeah, I would love to wrap up if you wouldn't mind with sharing your Purpose one more time. Yes. I'll read it. So I'll say it the same way. Yes. To express myself in a way that helps others find peace and contentment.
Thank you, Lorinda. It's just been so beautiful speaking with you. And I found it really, really inspirational. My spirits are lifted. Oh, good. Thank you again. Thank you.
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