Pinch punch first of the month.

It's the first of September and I am feeling WEIRD. For as long as I can remember I've lived my years by school year rather than January – December. School took over my entire life, a five year stint at music college left me living by the academic diary, and before I knew it I went back into school as a peri. September has felt like a beginning for, well forever really. I know I'm not the only one who thinks of it as a restart – new pencil cases, new school shoes, a new diary or a new thermos to keep you caffeinated through the encroaching dark afternoons, yet this year it doesn't feel new, it feels weird.

I'm not even gonna mention the C word because to be honest, I'm SICK of it, but this September feels weird because the last six months have been weird and now it seems the whole world is back to normal except the Arts. *breathe* Of course I know this isn't really true, and there are thousands of people who are just about surviving right now by living each day at a time. But when you're primed to go back into 'new term mode' and you have no idea what that really means, and your pals with 'normal' jobs are long back to business, it's daunting and a bit isolating. I guess that's why I'm writing this – in the hope that someone will say 'oh my god, yes me too, I feel like i'm existing and doing fine but also I feel like everything is out of control and burning around me'. Or maybe thats just me !!!

'It's just another hold-your-nerve-time'. Your mum ever said that to you? Mine's been saying it for as long as I can remember- hold your nerve and let better things come to you. She's right (of course) that 9 times out of 10 something crap has happened, only to create space and allow for something better, but sorry mum, it doesn't make the nerve holding period any more chill. Now is 100% one of those. It's all up in the air; one week you're getting emails with work coming back in, and in the same breath an email telling you that your peripatetic hours in school have been axed because uptake numbers are lower. I get it, it's bound to happen right now, but it's yet another part of the hustle that feels a bit overwhelming. Then that survey came out saying that 64% of musicians were thinking of leaving the industry, and you wonder whether you're fighting the good fight by holding tight, or grasping into the thin air and expecting to defy gravity. Resilience is our middle name and it's been drummed into us to take risks and be bold, to achieve in the face of adversity. But it's bloody exhausting some days isn't it?

Each time I write, I find myself figuring out some sort of answer to my endless questions; the way out of a struggle or the light at the end of a tunnel. I suppose it's something I pride myself on. I am ever resilient and problem solving, and it's come in pretty useful this year. But I also think it's super important for me to acknowledge that sometimes I don't

have the answer or the energy to clamber my way out. I guess today is one of those days – tomorrow will likely see me announcing I've had the best idea ever and i'm going to do XYZ (those who have to listen to these ideas on a weekly basis will laugh) but today I'm just feeling all kinds of September weird. Pinch punch and all that.

Lotsa love,

Abs X

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