What Did I Learn From The S.S.O. About “An American Salute” ?

On May 18th, I attended the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra’s last concert for the season “An American Salute,” presented by Sask. Power.  This concert featured the work of George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein, with a special opening piece by Montreal-based composer Nicole Lizée entitled Arcadiac. 

Maestro Sawa sharing with the audience.
Maestro Sawa sharing with the audience.

Maestro Victor Sawa was conducting, something he does with exuberance and infectious excitement!  I get the sense that if, as he alluded to before starting Arcadiac, he does try his hand at ‘scratching’ records, he’d be good at that too.  Now, I’ll have to back up to explain that point because you may not have been there to enjoy the humour.  Nicole Lizee’s Arcadiac is like nothing I’ve ever heard before – a spine-tingling composition that holds such a wide array of sounds that I’d deem it a must to hear!  In this piece were elements of Pac Man, the Twilight Zone and Star Wars, with twinkles, wind chimes, booming drumbeats and the intermittent feeling that aliens were nearby! Maestro Sawa was saying that, after working with this unique piece which required him to wear special headphones, he’d be good at ‘scratching’ records on the turntable…because the music contained elements that you’d hear from a rocking, scratching DJ!  It was rather funny! The performance also included the addition of two massive screens upon which animations were played that were synchronized to the music.  Very cool!

Nicole Lizee's "Arcadia" animation
Nicole Lizee’s “Arcadia” animation


Nicole Lizee's "Arcadia" animation
Nicole Lizee’s “Arcadia” animation


It crossed my mind several times – how does a composer hold such a huge, complex piece in their mind?  It is truly awe inspiring to consider how immensely creative the human mind is!  


Michael Kim performing Rhapsody In Blue
Michael Kim performing Rhapsody In Blue

The next delight was Rhapsody in Blue, performed by the very gifted pianist, Michael Kim. Kim, Dean of University of Brandon’s School of Music, clearly loves music.  As I watched and listened, he looked so completely immersed in the piece.  And, watching the faces of his fellow musicians, it was also clear that they were swimming in the same ocean, right there, tuned in and performing beside each other.  I am sure George Gershwin would have been very pleased! Beautiful, beautiful work!  Thank you to all who worked so hard to create such an amazing performance!

Leonard Bernstein, a man who had his share of challenges in life, went on to create and lead some astounding pieces of music.  Bernstein crafted the music for West Side Story and when the piece is performed live, it is an unforgettably rich, moving experience.

Spicing up The Cuban Overture!
Spicing up The Cuban Overture!


I had not been aware of the Cuban Overture until a special crew, imported straight from Cuba on Mr. Sawa’s dime  ; ), was brought on  stage to add a little spice to the Orchestra’s main dish!  Oh, that was spicy and fun!  (Of course, Maestro Sawa didn’t really ship them in from Cuba, but we all had a good chuckle at the comical suggestion!)


My favourite piece, “Somewhere,” was like sailing down a slow-swirling river heading right into the centre of my heart.  So so beautiful!  If you get a chance to hear this, please don’t miss it!  You may want to stash a travel-sized pack of Kleenex in your pocket though!

When George Gershwin went to study in Paris, he ended up writing an aptly-named piece “An American in Paris.”  If you’re not familiar with the title, the notes will leave you with a pleasant “aha!” of remembrance.  This is a stunning piece of work and a huge  pleasure for the senses to hear and watch it being performed.  A standing ovation for the the musicians and the Maestro – this was so beautifully done!  I keep saying that Saskatoon is very fortunate to have the S.S.O.! 

So, what did I learn from “An American Salute?”  Well, when I researched George Gershwin, I found out that he died at the awfully-young age of 38, from a brain tumour.  And, I learned that Leonard Bernstein lived a life that was somewhat atypical to what society would have deemed acceptable, so both these artists had great challenges to deal with in their careers and lives.  What got re-affirmed for me was that immovable wisdom – that, while we are here on this planet, we need to use our gifts and live the life within which we are true to our own leanings.  Newly born or a centenarian, we are not promised our next breath in life so follow your heart – and try not to let too much time skip away while figuring things out because there are many beautiful experiences to be had, and finite human minutes in which to live them.  Oh! And the other affirmation?  …That there is so much beauty in music, that it is a global thread that touches hearts and souls, and that people are amazing when they come together with a common purpose to create something magical.

I want to remind everyone that if you’re interested in subscribing to the upcoming concert season, please keep in mind that until June 7th, there are discounts in place that will keep that smile on your face!  Please Click here for more information.  The future offerings are nothing short of amazing!  Here’s a hint of what your ticket subscription will give you – http://saskatoonsymphony.org/ 

With a standing ovation…!!  

Fabulous Performance!
Fabulous Performance!


Members of the S.S.O. just after the performance.
Members of the S.S.O. just after the performance.







Until next time, keep a song in your heart!   <3


The Work You Can’t *not* Do…

I caught this TED talk recently and wanted to share it with you.  So much of life is our perspective and the choices we make… listening to Scott’s talk reminds us to consider the areas he touches on more deeply.  One small shift is often all it takes to let life blossom into what we imagine for our lives.

What difference does it make when we have a broader perspective on who we are, what our dreams are and what we uniquely bring to this life?  Should we give up on your dreams?  What does our environment have to do with success?  And, what is it that always seems to come forth no matter what?    Explore these thoughts with Scott Dinsmore and feel inspired!

Here’s to living from our hearts, fully.

Always with the best,

Simply Sinatra ~ The SSO and Steve Lippia: 100% Fun And Amazing!

Simply Sinatra!  Steve Lippia and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

Simply Sinatra! Steve Lippia and the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra.

Last Saturday evening, I had the distinct and immense pleasure of attending Simply Sinatra, Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra’s final Conexus series concert, featuring Steve Lippia.  For newcomers and seasoned Sinatra pros, this was an amazing concert at a fabulous venue, T.C.U. Place. While Sinatra and his big band days were before my time, I can wholeheartedly say that this is timeless music for those who appreciate great lyrics, amazing arrangements and a richness of vocal and instrumental delivery that is seldom seen today.

Steve was gifted with a inclination to sing from an early age, and has nurtured his talent into a strong, gorgeous, resonant voice that sounds so much like Frank’s that, if I closed my eyes, I’d swear Frank was standing before me, talking or singing. I couldn’t help but have tremendous respect and appreciation for the thousands of hours he obviously put in to becoming so good. Like a book, we are taking in the condensed experience of someone’s life ~ what they have focused on, honed and developed, and this invested time came blazingly through in his performance.

Another of Steve’s gifts was the warm way in which he connected with the audience through the interesting and funny stories that he shared. The lose-your-blues, ascending notes of Come Fly With Me will now conjure up a memorable chuckle over prom tuxes and ten thousand dollars worth of make-up whenever I hear it! There is a gift in being able to connect in such a way that hundreds or thousands of people feel a kinship with you and Steve has a genuine warmth that wraps around the audience, doing just that.

If you happened to be a hopeless romantic, as is the case for the author of this page, it would have been hard not to melt into a puddle, as the first few sweet notes of In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning waved into the audience. I could feel my heart softening and filling with the magic of the music, the longing in the velvety lyrics and the magic – that is Love. All The Way into this enchanted place, taken on a lovely journey. Beautiful!

There’s a recipe for an unforgettable show and that is: (1) the front man and (2) the music that backs him up. It was apparent – the many, many hours of practice that would have went into mastering the music for this show and my hat is off to the S.S.O. for the toe-tinglingly superb job they did. Frank covered different types of music but big band was a big part and wham!, the orchestra had that down. There were times when it felt like Buddy Rich was blazing on the drums and it gave me goosebumps! Saskatoon is incredibly fortunate to have this group of talented musicians coming together to knock our socks off! And, they did! Bravo, S.S.O.!!

It is these joyful moments that propel us forward; that re-fuel us for work, family, and all the commitments that fill up our days. Instilling joyful moments inoculates us from stress, mediocre health and that hamster wheel feeling that sometimes pops up in life. I say – take a break and nourish your Soul, with the universally joyful balm of music! 

If you’d like to know more, the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra does offer a very nice deal on early bird subscriptions (by June 7, 2013, that’s up to 34% off for regular subscribers. If you are a first-time subscriber, it’s a whopping 50% off!!).

If you’d like to treat yourself, or gift someone with joy, just click here! for S.S.O. subscription information.  (will open in a new window tab)  

You can connect with Steve Lippia at his website –Click here to be transported!
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The totally amazing Steve Lippia and yours truly.  So nice to meet him!.
The totally amazing Steve Lippia and yours truly. So nice to meet him!.







Here’s to balance, joy, Love and life!

Stay Amazing!!


Trail Blazing 42: What Jackie Robinson Continues To Teach Us

lessons through the game
I took myself out on a movie date yesterday to see “42,” partly because it was a baseball story, partly because it was a racism/human rights story and partly because I didn’t know much about Jackie Robinson and wanted to know more.   I must say that it was an amazing movie. I consider it a high recommend and think viewers will enjoy being inspired by the the raw courage, strength, resilience and honour that was Jackie, as well as the man who oversaw his placement:  Branch Rickey.

It’s not easy to withstand demeaning names and having insults hurled in one’s direction.  It can hurt  pretty deeply unless there is a solid connection with one’s inner core.

“You’ve got to have the *guts* to turn the other cheek.”  Branch Rickey

It takes fortitude and courage to remember one’s true nature ~ and that the insults and name calling really do reflect the internal turmoil of the person/people sending them out.  More often than not, turmoil is caused by emotional pain that is not expressed and it can eat away at a person over the years and it can eat away at a culture as well.  More often than not, the caustic words tumbling out of a person’s mouth are actually a reflection of the negativity that was hurled at them as a child. It’s such a universal paradigm and necessitates a healing journey for those who wish to be free’er.  We need to be careful what stereotypes and negativity we are handing down to our children.  There’s actually a scene in the movie that poignantly displays this “teaching” moment – a handed down lesson in hatred.  I’ll let you watch for it if you take in the movie.

“We need you.  Everybody needs you.  You’re medicine, Jack.”  Branch Rickey

I see the movie as a powerful lesson in just how far we can grow as an individual, and as a society, in part of one’s lifetime, but that growth is predicated upon the speaking out of injustices, however small or large they appear to be.  If we see something that is not right or not how we would want to be treated ourselves, then we must speak up to move the issue forward in the best possible way.  We all say that we want a green planet, for all people to have food and shelter.  We all say we want world peace, or a greater degree of it.  Well, it starts with the anger and hatred we are personally responsible for ~ and NOT jumping on some vile bandwagon of ignorance, hatred and unforgiveness.  Holding hatred inside does nothing to move the negativity out of the body of the person or society.  We must speak up – for our own health and that of the world.  No, it’s not always comfortable but, with practice, that muscle gets bigger and stronger.  It seems that, in my own experience of shifting from a kid who was not free to share feelings or opinions to a woman who can articulate far more of what I am thinking and feeling, well, it just feels a heck of a lot better and far more freeing.  From my heart, I wish that for everyone. “42” is a massive lesson if we are willing to see it.  Thank you to these men and women who had such courage to hold the Truth of who they were or to grow into better human beings.

“Maybe tomorrow, we’ll all wear 42 so they can’t tell us apart.”  … a (once-hostile) team mate to Jackie.
Beautiful empathy!  There but for the Grace…

Which Group Do You Want To Be Part Of?


Click here to watch a short but very powerful video.  http://www.values.com/inspirational-stories-tv-spots/72-Locker

There are those who fall into one of these scenarios depicted in the video.  Are you the new guy who is having a hard time adjusting, the bullies who enjoy shaming someone, or the nice guy who has a heart and is bold enough and genuinely wants to reach out?  Our language is powerful. 

In my opinion, the term “loser” belongs in the bullying realm.  Would you call your child a loser?  How about a sullen guy sitting on a bench who looks a little disheveled?  What a bum – what a loser!  Only you don’t realize that that guy just got news that he is terminal and has 3 months to live – and he is so messed up because he can’t figure out how to tell his kids. Or, maybe he is a veteran who fought for his country, was saturated in combat gore and can’t cope well now with the PTSD that arose.  Or maybe it’s a woman who was steeped in abuse most of her life and never found her way back home – to herself.  I could give you a thousand possibilities and there would still be more, so how is it that the idea/judgement a lot of people have IS the right one anyway?  And, in the end, who are we to judge?  We are here to learn about Love.

When harsh words are spoken, it is like punching someone right in the face.  If loser is not a harsh word, imagine telling your 8-year-old that every day for a year.  I know what would happen.

If success and privilege create black and white thinking – somebodies and nobodies – then, how can that be defined as success?  Check the copy for languaging and consider what is being promoted (or “liked”) in social media – are you supporting a world of demeaning, disempowering verbal punches that our kids will inherit, or one of compassion and understanding?  I want my kids to live in a world where they are treated well. Because, you know….

There but for the grace of God, the Universve, Buddha,

Allah, Krishna, your shoe, (whatever), go I.

And you.


Please, check out the link above.


Peace out,

Goooodbye 2012! Welcome to 2013 – A Year Of Change And Growth


Well, we are half way through the first month of a new year and I’m quite happy about that.  Why?  Because, for me, 2012 was one of the most challenging years of my life.  I dealt with a great deal of loss, which is always tough, but it is a teacher as well.  When we look to find the lesson in an experience, we are far farther ahead than not.  If we can separate the feelings and look at the situation objectively, take responsibility for what we did or did not bring into the dynamics, there’s usually an abundance of insights and/or wisdom that can be absorbed, directing future choices in a more favourable way.

The thing is, everyone is on their own journey, each of us following the “directives” of what we learned about ourselves while growing up.  Looking within and finding the directives, often these are massive lies about who we are, we are then operating from a more conscious space and able to actually choose what would result in the highest good for our lives.

When we look at others and say they should be this way or that way, we are actually tightening ourselves up – constricting our own freedom.  I say that because we are not in a place of acceptance with that observation.  There is a Buddhist saying that the only thing we can count on in life – the only thing – is change.  When we flow with the change, we are in greater peace.  And I can also bring up the Serenity Prayer to illuminate the point…

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”  

Can you change someone else?  No.  The only person you can change is yourself so dive in – and get swimming!  I’ll meet you there!.

I am looking forward to 2013 – it’s going to be a year of massive change for me.  Why?   Because I want it to be.  What changes do you want to make in your life?  Can you make a list of all your life lessons from 2012 and, silently within, or expressed aloud, thank the teachers you brought in to shine light on areas that need some TLC?  Choose to make it the best year of your life!

Thanks for visiting and reading along!




Renewing The Journey-This Wild Journey

Just about anyone who’s ever started a new journey, particularly starting their own business, can tell you that they’ve walked into it with some kind of picture of what a businessman or businesswoman looks like.  They are supposed to do this or that, if they want success…. but, never ‘x’ or ‘y.’  (OMG! not x or y!!)  LOL! 

So, they do the (ahem) ‘businessperson’ for a while until it it becomes clear that it’s just not working.  Not only does it not work but often leads to burn out, financial constriction, confusion and walking the paper thin edge of giving up the entire vision. That just doesn’t seem right – the dream, all the energy… vapourized. 

Ah, but when all the “supposed-to-be’s” and “do-it-like thats” are lifted, we are left with the simplicity of just serving from our hearts – just as we are…. making mistakes and learning from them… forging ahead and growing.  I *loved* this talk by Allen Lim!  It touched the place in my heart that he’s been to himself – of finding one’s identity in a big and bold venture.  I think it’s a great message for a new perspective and a new year.  It’s a great message for me right now and I hope it serves you too.

Special sidenote:  This post is warmly dedicated to the colleagues around me who “got this” a long time ago and have shared so much with me.  Sending you Love and appreciation.  Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.  I Love You!  ( Do people say I Love You in a business post?   Ha!  You bet they do! )

Now, to Allen’s wonderful story!  Enjoy!   : )

With much warmth, appreciation and encouragement!


What Our Zippers Have To Do With Goal Success

Great goals are the guard rails that guide the journey to our dreams.

I love TED talks.  Why?  Well, because it’s like brainstorming with brilliant minds.  Okay, I know, there’s only a one-way conversation going on but they still inform the ideas I have shaping up in my mind, in a really energetic and deep way.

So many of the talks spark something in my heart, imagination or gut.  This talk by Derek Sivers resonated in my gut – I knew that what he had discovered and shared was often true for me as well.  It seems that every time I share my goals, they start softening and deflating…. so, I’m going to do a little experiment.  I’m going to use the information I’ve gleaned here to approach my goals in a different way – with a more solid foundation.    Check out the short video to find out what zippers have to do with successful goals.

I know the holidays are here/almost here and there’s tons to do; just make sure you remember to have fun and relax.  Please don’t drink and drive.  What’s $20 for a cab when it means you (or someone else) gets to live or stay out of a wheel chair.

With Great Gratitude,


Chips of Ingenuity – And, You’ve Got It Too!

Everywhere around us lies the evidence of astounding feats of ingenuity.  Do you see it – I mean really see it – and appreciate what it took to get it in a useable state?  I am so often awed by the mechanics that we have created in the world.  Living near my city’s airport, I often stop to watch the huge planes fly overhead and usually end up with a dropped jaw and a flurry of goosebumps because they are close to landing and flying pretty low.

Everything is in evolution to a higher state; as we evolve, particularly our awareness that we need to lighten our leadened imprint on this world, our machinery follows too.

I saw this short video and wondered as I watched it – who thought of this?!!  … It’s one thing to have a concept/idea in one’s mind – it is a totally different matter to make the damn thing work!  : )   It’s pretty neat to see all the components involved in making something we take for granted.  People had to assmeble all the belts, bolts, screws and pipes together, hoping it would work and, after much time and effort, it did!  Then came the kinks and knots to work out.  And that was done.   It’s a good metaphor for seeing the end result of something – someone thought of a way to make something better, came up with a plan, built it, refined it and, if they’re really plugged in, always gives room for it to evolve.  We all have our own pool of ingenuity – just need to trust it and keep taking small steps in the direction of that vision.

When you grab a bag of chips at the store, think about the miracle (someone’s mind!) that brought it to you.  Enjoy!   (oh, and pass the dip, will ya?)


Pretty cool eh?   : )

Is Happiness Really Conditional?

I’ll be happy when…..  It seems that this entire mindset is really about the inability to accept things as they are.  If we could stop striving to get more (empty, unfulfilling) “stuff” – often at the expense of our own health, and the health of the planet – how would that change our personal and global world?  

Watch this great talk and I hope it lights up some aha’s for you too!

Have a great day,