Nemone knows a thing or two about managing a DJ career with a full-time job. As a psychotherapist, she sees clients on a weekly basis. She also produces and hosts the Journeys In Sound series for BBC Radio 6 Music where she combines her love and experience of working with music over the past two decades with the skills and knowledge she’s gained through practicing psychotherapy.
Journeys in Sound seeks to explore how the music we’ve listened to has shaped our lives, how our experiences have affected the music we’ve chosen to listen to, and everything in between. Juggling these two very energy-demanding careers and a family, Nemone was pushed to develop a strong self-care routine. As a part of the Mixcloud GROW campaign — a project that nurtures the creator at every step in the journey from personal to professional — we invited Nemone to share her six tips for staying anchored and focused in an industry filled with distractions and temptations.
Slow Down, it Takes the Time it Takes
I remember a treasured member of the broadcast team Tony Fisher on Galaxy 105 in Leeds (now on BBC Essex) once telling me that it could take years to find your ‘voice on the radio’. I didn’t really understand what he meant at the time. Surely I was using ‘my own voice’ no? But I’ve actually come to value that lesson, and I now understand it as it would take time to feel at home in my own skin as a radio host.
That brings me to my first self-care tip: allowing yourself time. Often our goals might take longer to achieve than we think. We’re often driven by the idea we’re running out of time, somehow, before we’ve even started. If someone else is doing something, why aren't we? There must be something wrong with us.
We’re all running out of time though – such is life. But that’s not to say that everything needs rushing or that there is a deadline for quality work. There might actually be a deadline in reality of course, but if you miss that deadline that doesn’t mean you didn’t grow. It may have pushed you to develop your own skills in the way they need developing. What would it be like to allow ourselves a bit more time (where possible) and go at a speed that feels comfortable, noticing all the discomfort that might bring along the way?
So with that said, protecting your time – especially if you’re freelance — and the power of learning to say no is crucial. Time is the most important currency. I know more than anyone that that is easier said than done. Even in agreeing to write this piece about self-care - which I was thrilled to be asked to do - I knew I was taking on another piece of work after promising myself not to. When we enjoy what we do it’s hard to gauge. But, we’re not endless wells of energy and productivity – taking a break might be of enormous value to our health and wellbeing. And prioritizing work that facilitates and pays us enough so that we can actually live. Work to live, don’t live to work. Right?”
Comparisons Don't Serve Us
“I should be DJing more or making more music, I should be working more, I should be more visible.”
Whatever your ‘Shoulda Woulda Couldas’ are, they can also represent the superego, a critical voice — which can be helpful at points in our life — but is likely on overdrive. The ego has a purpose, but the older we get the less useful it is. It was imperative when we were younger to push us to achieve as we can, succeed, and keep us safe. But now, it's less relevant or perhaps not relevant in the same way.
In this day and age, it is hard to stay grounded in our inner world. Social media makes it hard to avoid comparisons and keep ourselves anchored in our path. I understand that, but it’s important to remind yourself that your path is very different from someone else’s for all kinds of reasons. Even if it doesn’t look like it on the outside, we’re often comparing our own assessment of their reality, complete with our own assumptions - which may or may not be accurate.
We know very little about what goes on in another’s reality. It’s very easy to overthink, maybe someone ignored your email and our mind takes us to the worst possible scenario as to why. If we can remind ourselves to pause and reflect, that's the ambiguity – the not-knowing-for-now part – that often triggers our critical inner voice. That way we can give ourselves space for the real experience and not fixate on the fear-fueled fantasy (i.e “they probably didn’t like my demo, I’m not going to get the gig!”), which hasn’t happened yet. The fear and angst we feel are a part of the ride — the scary part of the rollercoaster if you will — it means we care, and that’s just part of the package.
Good Enough is Also Enough
I haven’t always felt like I belonged on the radio. Not a surprise when one of the first things I was told was that I was not welcome as a woman. I have had times when I’ve struggled to believe I am qualified enough or have good enough skills for what I want to do. I'm convinced that there are many people who do this job better than me, so why should it be me? And there are usually lots of people who could and can do our work. I’ve felt like an imposter. That I shouldn’t be here. That I don’t belong. It has taken time to be comfortable with being good enough.
I remember the first time I heard that phrase. I was in a lecture whilst studying for my Psychotherapy & Counseling MA — this was in my forties, so I’d already been on the radio for a while. The tutor introduced us to Donald Winnicott’s theory of good enough “mothering.”
The idea that all parents fail their children in lots of manageable ways, but that only strengthens the child’s development; not curtails it. I was mind blown! But thankfully after hearing that phrase, I repeat it to myself regularly. I began to give myself more of a break than I ever had. Suddenly I didn’t have to get it all right, know it all immediately, or make it perfect (although I still try). But I’m here, aren’t I? It doesn’t matter why “the universe” picked me for the job, I’m going to make the most of it either way.
Listen to Your Compassionate Voice
How are you with mistakes? Are they happy accidents, or creative wrinkles to be capitalized on? Or are you still beating yourself up years later? I’ve definitely experienced both but have found myself more often in the latter camp. I would feel awful when I made a mistake. That feeling could last for days. A “mistake” could subsequently affect my confidence for a good while, it was hard to find a compassionate voice that helped me recognize that we all make mistakes.
Thankfully it’s only radio or music; not brain surgery. Not to downplay the importance of both radio and music in people’s lives, they can both be life-changing. But brain surgeons make mistakes too. Imagine how they feel. We’re human and this is how we learn, and the best response is to try it differently next time. Children often shrug this off as a natural part of their development, but as adults, we’re much less compassionate — to others and to ourselves — What would it be like to turn down the loud voice proclaiming you’ve “made a mistake” and turn up a more compassionate voice … “it’s okay, you’re learning, you can try to do it differently next time.” Try it out!
Celebrate Your Successes
I find it hard to pat myself on the back, feel proud, and allow a full recognition and celebration of my achievements over the years. Presenting my first daytime show on Radio 1 to millions of listeners, designing Nemone’s Electric Ladyland (which ran for the best part of a decade), and or receiving a New York Radio Festival award for Journeys In Sound featuring John Grant … these are all achievements I am hugely proud of yet I still slightly cringe writing them down like this. And I have struggled to give myself time to celebrate them.
Recognizing an achievement — allowing ourselves time to enjoy it and feel pride — is hugely undervalued. I have begun to make celebrating successes an essential part of my self-care arsenal. Taking time to be in the moment, face the fact that I succeeded at something I set out to do (no matter how small!), and value what it is to spend my time basking in that. Being able to do this comfortably is as important as some of the achievements themselves.
Trust Your Gut
Most of us are probably familiar with that feeling, that rush, of experiencing a record that we love. I can recall the feeling in my core; a flutter, a quickening of my heart rate, and an almost irresistible craving to dance. Music has an overwhelming impact on our bodies, but oftentimes there’s too much noise to pay attention to what’s happening internally, especially as a DJ with the myriad of interactions we contend with. But that feeling of community and love for sharing music, that’s the reason we’re here, isn’t it?
I came to radio relatively late for the time. At 24 years old, with many hurdles in my path. I had no previous experience, and I’m a woman which at the time was unheard of in radio. I remember one of my male bosses recounting a now-defunct piece of research from the 1960s stating that “women didn’t like listening to other women (female voices) on the radio so I was unlikely to be able to make a career out of it.” Thankfully I didn’t listen and instead focused on that feeling in my gut.
On my first day at Kiss 102 in Manchester, I felt at home. And continued paying attention to this feeling in my gut, and it’s been a driving force behind most of the decisions I’ve made - how I’ve made sense of where I feel at home or not, jobs I’ve taken, those I haven’t, gigs I’ve done or not, and dreams I’ve aimed to make a reality - it’s this flutter in my heart, the butterflies in my belly, that have all guided me in some way. Perhaps my body has known before I’ve been consciously aware when it’s time to start a new project, cherish and nurture a relationship, move on, or evolve
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