One thing I am learning is how important it is to make time for myself, in spite of the hectic pace of my life. There is a way to balance work and play, and since taking one FULL day for work and one FULL day for play isn’t always feasible when you’re self-employed and working around the schedules of others, I am finding ways to tuck fun little surprises throughout the week to make life more enjoyable.
Here’s an example – coffee breaks. Remember those? I used to try and cram 15 minutes of “personal work” (like returning phone calls, paying a bill online, scheduling, etc.) into a break from work and I never took the time to actually drink a coffee. Come on…that’s crazy! A person deserves a little break, right? So, I’m going to take one! And rather than the same old, same old, I enjoy trying something out of the ordinary. Like a macchiato-style latte. While I’m at it, I might as well make it a triple. Throw in a little splash vanilla syrup, too! And with this warm weather, it’s really refreshing over ice. I like drinking it in a clear glass so I can see the espresso settle into the milk. It’s like a work of art. Now that’s a coffee break!
Another example is reading. I have been going to the library a lot lately and getting a book to read just for pleasure. I used to only read books that taught me something. Imagine that. Actually feeling guilty for reading a book just for entertainment. I think that may have been a sicknesss. But, not anymore! Now I carry my latest book around for the extra minutes of the day that aren’t filled with anything else. So, for all the times I am waiting for people to arrive at appointments, waiting in line, in between visitors at open houses, etc., I can jump right back into the story, right where I left off. Nothing like a good read, and there’s something about turning a page that’s more fulfilling than scrolling down with a mouse.
So, in keeping with my theme of taking some time out for something other than work, my husband and I filled this past weekend with things brought a lot of relief to our weary souls. As much as I like to drink good coffee with a good book in my hand, nothing is more enjoyable and fulfilling than listening to good music!
On Friday night, we attended a Blues night fundraiser. We enjoyed some yummy tastings of the south – freshly brewed “sweet” iced tea, jambalaya, cornbread, peach pie with ice cream while listening to some soulful tunes. Afterwards, we came home and it was such a beautiful night that we decided to dig into our camping gear and pull out the air mattress, and would you believe we carried it out on our deck and slept under the stars? Got to love this summer weather!
We switched gears from Blues to Classical on Saturday evening, and enjoyed yet another sensational experience at the Symphony. A couple of weeks ago, we attended The Music of James Bond and other Spies and Rogues, the final of the 2009/10 Pops series, and this concert Carmina Burana was the final of the 2009/10 Signature series. Wow – the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony is incredibly diverse because these two concerts while both top-notch productions, couldn’t have been more different from one another. That’s what I love about music – the variety!
The first segment of the evening included Tabuh-Tabuhan music written by Canadian conductor Colin McPhee. It was a 19-minute East meets West extravaganza with a real Balinese feel, including a lot of flutes and heavy percussion. A real mix of peaceful relaxation followed by a continuous build that I’m pretty sure ended in Fortissimissimo.
The second segment, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, was purely sensational. Everything we saw and heard was perfect. From the Kitchener-Waterloo symphony’s performance, directed so well by conductor Edwin Outwater (which is an appropriate name because his ability to conduct blew us out of the water), to the dynamic harmonious sounds of the Grand Philharmonic Choir and Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir, to the incredible vocalists Baritone Hugh Russell, Countertenor Brian Asawa and Soprano Carla Huhtanen. Truly, this evening couldn’t have been better.
My favourite piece which began and ended the Carmina Burana performance was the haunting O Fortuna. This piece is one that has been heard by thousands who may not necessarily lovers of classical music, but lovers of movies, as it has been used in a number of popular modern films.
And the most memorable part of our evening would have had to have been hearing Brian Asawa hit some of those high notes. I have to admit – I’ve taken many years of vocal training myself and spent a few years as a vocal coach. I don’t think I ever even realized until this night that the term countertenor exists, let alone was it possible for a man to hit such notes. I am a soprano and my husband Roger is a tenor, and we both think Brian’s range is certainly closer to mine than it is Roger’s. Incredible! And the expressions were unmistakeable as Brian sang about once being a beautiful swan living on the lakes, and then being roasted on a spit and being served up on a plate. All of this was sung in another language, but even without my translation guide, I would have gotten the right idea simply by watching Brian’s expressions. Music evokes such emotion.
My husband and I will never forget this evening. What a lovely way to end one week and charge up for the next. I believe that spending a little time doing something you enjoy, like sipping on your favourite drink, relaxing by the pool, talking a stroll through the park or attending the symphony, all of these things add the quality and the beauty to your life. And when we surround ourselves with beauty, we not only give ourselves a gift, but allow our minds more room to grow and be creative.
Why not make some plans to attend the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony? We plan to attend again as soon as we can! Their new schedule is available online at: