Face the Music

During SXSW, I’m always amazed how far $0 can take you. Through front gates and dark doorways; past overflowing swag tables with lighters, bandanas, and sunscreens; in front of tons of bands I love and bands that I will soon love; and sometimes, oh sometimes, $0 leads you to that enigmatic free signature cocktail.

But this year, I became acutely aware of the insidious costs of SXSW. I saw over two dozen bands, spent time with new friends and old, and enjoyed the beautiful weather – but I gave up all of the good stuff that this blog was based upon. I didn’t watch what I ate or drank. I didn’t get enough sleep. I didn’t exercise, unless you count lightly dancing to that Lizzo set or biking back and forth from Hotel Vegas when I forgot my phone. I certainly didn’t take responsibility for the big things in my life or take care of my skin. I was not a glowing, dewy Emma, but I was a windswept, carefree Emma.

Now comes the hard part: saying goodbye. By Saturday of the nearly two-week blitz of bands and beer, I was exhausted. Instead of walking back to a party after a few hours rest, I stayed in, waving a weak farewell to an intense festival. I was ready to get some sleep and face the music. Here’s my SXSW detox regimen:

1. Say no.

Do I want to go to that SXSW hangover party? Yes, I sure do. I am having withdrawal from constant social contact, but I know what I really need is to recharge. This means a few nights in with Florence the cat.

2. Keep a 9 pm bedtime.

I’m a big believer in this one, which sounds insane to most people. There’s something really satisfying about jolting awake at what feels like 5 am and realizing it’s midnight – I have hours and hours of glorious sleep left.

3. Take long walks.

Back on that Fitbit grind, I took 12,000 steps yesterday, around the Capitol, my neighborhood, that coffee house, even just my job. It’s not exactly intense cardio, but it’s keeping me moving until I feel ready to run again.

4. Lower alcohol intake.

This one is fairly easy since the intake was so great last week. It’s time to forego the signature cocktails and the $2 Lone Stars for a single glass of wine with dinner – or better yet, a big bottle of Topo Chico.

5. Organize my life.

The first big thing I did on Sunday, after the dust settled, was go through my accordion file of important documents. It turns out about half of that stuff isn’t important at all. Organizing my stuff helped me organize my head and have a better sense of the things to come.

Two things I struggle with on the journey to better self-care are finding balance and fighting guilt when I neglect some of my good habits. A week of feeding this other side of myself, the social and musical desires that drive big parts of my personality, is helping me battle these beasts of burden. As I guzzle that free Bumble™ bottle full of water, remove that glow stick bracelet, and get ready for a sleep bonanza, I remind myself that loosening up and having fun is also part of the plan to take care of myself. So long for another year, South By. Thanks for the Memories.

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