An inspiring writer by the name of Kris Carr recently posted on her blog, “Not sure when enough is enough? Listen to your body.” Kris has quite the story, and my wife is a follower and fan. She forwarded the article to me, while I was in the throws of walking-pneumonia. For those of you unfamiliar with it, walking-pneumonia is a lesser version of the the pneumonia that typically sends one to the hospital. It involves an unpleasant infection in the lungs, along with fun side affects like lack of energy, loss of appetite, coughing, etc.

My caring wife figured I needed some outside guidance, because I had about six gigs upcoming. That ended up going something like this. I got sick, played a gig. I got sicker and had to cancel a gig. I was still sick–really sick–and played a gig. I got really, really sick, and canceled a gig. Then I canceled one more gig (still sick). Adding to the fun was were upcoming travel plans to Mexico, during which time, we would be celebrating our wedding anniversary.

What does this have to do with drumming? Well, there were all the gigs of course. Something about losing 10-plus days to illness makes one a little reflective, and certainly appreciative of life with good health. With regard to drumming, I have a full gig calendar with gigs booked most weekends through the end of the year, with a little open space in October and November. I play with three bands, and have done a number of sub and one-off gigs throughout the year. Subbing, I realize, is a great deal of responsibility. There’s cramming to learn  material. I want to impress, so I work extra hard to be prepared, and I strive to be easy-to-work-with. Over the past several years, this approach has paid dividends, as I’m constantly asked to sub or join projects.

My recent illness begged the question; am I over extending myself? The answer was (is) yes. Turning down or canceling gigs with my regular bands and venues is one thing; but canceling gigs for which I’m a special hire (i.e. sub) is quite another. My regular bands can find a sub for me, or cancel the gig with the understanding that stuff happens. When I sign up to sub for a band or artist, they’ll forgive me if I have to cancel, but they’re typically screwed if I cancel. I don’t want to do that to anyone! I prefer not to do cancel on my regular gigs, or any other gig.

Kris Carr also wrote in her blog, “How often do you check with your body before making a decision?” My answer–seldom. Three weeks into an episode of walking-pneumonia has me rethinking my typical behavior. I’ve written in the past about balance and drumming. Without our good health, we have no balance. No balance puts the hurt on my drumming, as well as the rest of my life. So what’s the lesson here? It’s time to embrace my regular gigs, be thankful for the other offers, but consider them carefully; and give myself time to grow as a drummer. Growing as a drummer means focusing more on my lessons. I belong to one of the best learning communities on the planet with Mike Johnston’s MikesLessons family. It sounds a little cheesy, but I owe it to myself, my bandmates, my family at MikesLessons, my bio-family, my loving wife, and all of my musician friends to stay healthy and to keep growing.

I’m humbled by this experience. Life is grand, especially when in good health! Being a drummer is a gift. My lesson is to nurture my gift, my good health and my life. Hope you’ll do the same, whether you’re a drummer, artist or whatever you are. Whatever you are, be healthy. Listen to your body. Stay in balance. Be your best. Be happy. Be healthy.