August was a whirlwind!

After my first two weeks as a free woman, I posted a tally of sorts to take stock of what I’d accomplished. I thought I’d follow up with a new post covering how August went. There’s nothing like publishing what you’ve gotten done to keep yourself honest and focused.

I didn’t quite hit my goal — one new piece of music per working day — due to some unavoidable disruptions and obligations, but I came respectably close. I’ve also suffered a bit of insomnia. Sometimes that makes creative work easier, but sometimes harder. Generally, I’m hanging in there.

In terms of my spirits, I experienced a remarkable upswing the week I started teaching fall classes at the University of New Mexico. I’ve taught one class per semester since ’08 and just started a second, brand-new class (this was additional motivation for leaving the day job). In short, I enjoy my students and what I’m teaching, and — at the risk of sounding über-practical — I also got a very real bump from the simple knowledge that the second class would happen despite meager enrollment, because it takes a little pressure off the financial side of this whole adventure. And besides, it’s a cool class (Introduction to Max for Musicians)!

So, in a tidy list, here’s what my calendar and email Outbox indicate that I got done — geez, I might have to start keeping a journal:

  • composed/produced nine 15-second “intro themes” for a TV show (no guarantees, just opportunities)
  • signed a contract with a new music library — yay! — and provided two existing pieces from my catalog, wrote another and will be writing more
  • devoted a few days to some needed software installs in the computer-music lab I manage for UNM
  • lost a half-day to getting the house partially re-roofed. Schedule? What schedule?
  • replaced our washer and dryer. Um, yeah; so much for austerity measures. The dryer bit it on our anniversary.
  • wrote new pieces for a handful of TAXI listings. If you’re an active musician or even if you have an older catalog that’s well-recorded, you owe it to yourself to at least look over TAXI’s business and offerings. Check out their excellent forum, which is open to non-members, at
  • met again with a small-business owner about some editing work
  • moved a little further toward being able to work as a contractor for my former employer; the temp agency is still working on my background check. I’m apparently Crazypants McMystery Girl or something, they’re taking so long to vet me.
  • did some enjoyable editing work for an exceptional, local green business — the one I met with in July. Lined up more of the same just this morning. Feel fantastic about this opportunity.
  • did a bunch more editing assignments with that online editing service I mentioned in the first tally; I’m getting the hang of it in terms of choosing assignments that suit my skills and schedule. Good stuff.
  • started the new semester at UNM. I’m blown away, to be honest, by how much I enjoy teaching. Great students + cool topics = tough to beat.

Did I Learn Anything?

Hmm. Well, frugality is fine, but you have to take care of your home and your family so that they can keep taking care of you. I came to the conclusion that after working hard for 25 years at jobs that weren’t always satisfying for the sake of (some) financial security, it is OK for us to buy — for example — a good-quality new washer and dryer rather than used. Maybe not the models we would have bought if I hadn’t just quit my job, but good ones. I mean, really: what was the point of all those years of work if I’m going to lapse right back into my old poverty mentality? Sure, if the money weren’t there, we wouldn’t; but it is, so we did. And we will be fine.

So there you have it — a full six weeks in. The anxiety about this life change comes and goes, but for the most part, I feel like I’m getting into a groove with my new life.

I like it.

About CK Barlow

I'm a composer and music-technology instructor. In the summer of 2011, I decided it was time to give full-time music-making a shot, so I left my corporate job (I've always had one). That's part of what inspired Composing Kitchen, the blog I publish with my incredible spouse, Karen Milling. View all posts by CK Barlow

2 responses to “August was a whirlwind!

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