Monday, March 23, 2009

Music: The shorthand of emotion

When was the last time music gave you goosebumps? Me? Sunday afternoon. I went to see my friend Heather in her debut performance with a jazz and blues band called the Royal Jelly Orchestra. Heather was absolutley incredible. Her voice is so soulful and effortless and her stage presence is fabulous. Absolute joy to listen to.

Couple that with some of the most talented, mind blowingly awesome musicians I have ever seen and my afternoon was complete. Absolutley tremendous sax players, a trumpet player who's amazing performance couldn't help but put a smile on your face and a pianist that rivalled any piano playing I have ever seen. One woman sang Bridge Over Troubled Water with a bass player as her only accompaniment. It was deeply moving. Her voice filled the playhouse and literally gave me goosebumps. She didn't even need a microphone.

I left smiling with this feeling of pride for my friend and for all the other people I know who are so musically talented. I love being a part of their shows, even if it is just as an adoring fan. I am just so entertained by musical talent and live performance.

Heather is particularly amazing. Having only been actively singing for three years, she fit right in with a band that contains several people who have been singing and playing jazz and blues for their entire professional careers. She truly is a natural and I'm so happy to see that she's found her "calling" in life. I think I felt the same level of happiness as her beaming mom who made the 5 hour trek to Cobourg to surprise her daughter and watch the show.

All this talent around me makes me sad I can't sing. I should be able to. I've lamented this fact a million times. My mom sings. My Dad is a great guitar player. People actually pay to hear them play together! But it's okay. I will not be sad. No, I'll live vicariously through the musical escapades of my friends and, until the next show, I'll simply continue singing badly to myself in my car.

Check out some of Heather's tunes here.

Or check out the Royal Jelly Orchestra here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The more money I raise, the faster I'll run!

In January, I made some resolutions; or rather some 2009 goals. Some ambitious. Some very realistic. One of those goals was to sign up for and complete a 10km race.

Well, I've done it. I will participating in the 2009 David Bloom Memorial Brampton Spring Sprint and will be running a 10km race on May 3. The event is in memory of David Bloom who is the brother of my friend and former coworker, Richard Bloom. I feel happy that I can accomplish my goal and do something for a good cause that has meaning for me.

I have a modest fundraising goal of $500 so hopefully I can meet it. Evidently, there is no punishment for not meeting your goal, which takes the pressure off...unlike the Walk to End Breast Cancer that apparently holds you personally accountable for the $2,000 fundraising minimum. Likewise, no one will physically abuse or verbally harass me if I can't run all the way to the finish line (however, I'm determined to run 10km in under an hour) and I get a free tshirt!

For all my loyal blog readers (ie: Tina and April), maybe you could toss a couple bucks my way. If I meet my goal, I'll sprint the full 10km. Okay, that's a lie. I will however, jog enthusiastically. :)

You can find my donation page here

I looked for a picture that illustrated my fierce athleticism and am hoping my selection helps encourage more donations.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Luck o' the Irish

St. Patrick's Day is always fun. Even if it's on a Tuesday. I spent the day yesterday, working from home with the windows open enjoying the smell of Spring air come through my windows.

I played my "Irish Songs" playlist which consists of several classics including The Irish Drinking Song and basically anything by The Pogues. I am sure I've never understood a full sentence the Pogues have ever sang, but man, there is nothing quite like a fun Irish tune to make you want to get up, dance and grab a green pint. Even if it is Tuesday...and you're not Irish...

Highlight of the day included meeting a real, live leprechaun. Picture coming soon...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I finally finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Tremendous book. I highly reccommend it. It really shed some light on the nature of success and how it's really not all grit, personal effort, talent and ambition. Sure, that's part of it, but success is really more about a series of random events and opportunities; about being in the right place at the right time. Despite the fact that I'm more of a fluffy fiction reader, I found this book fascinating.

Anyways, I was on the hunt last night for something new to read and I have had this random Ian Rankin novel called Knots and Crosses beside my bed since Christmas. Graham got it in a case of specialty beer he received as a Christmas present (Whatever happened to tshirt freebies?) I read the back of the book and thought skeptically: "This looks kind of lame. I really don't know if I want to read it." I flipped the book open to a random page and it happened to be the author's dedication. It said:

"To Miranda. Without whom, nothing is worth finishing."

I don't really think I have a choice about reading this book now. Hope its a good read!

Speaking of signs, you know how sometimes it seems like songs on the radio seem to align perfectly with your feelings? That old song "Switchin' to Glide" by The Kings came on and the lyric: "Nothing matters but the weekend... from a Tuesday point of view," really hit home with me today. It's not even noon and I've drifted off into weekend day dreaming several times today already. Come on Friday!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Toastmasters: An Obituary

I have been the President of my company's Toastmasters Club for more than a year. I’ve loved the club, the people and being the leader and mentor for this group of inspiring, determined people.

That’s why it pains me to say that it looks as if our Club is going to have to close its doors. Annual fees have come due and a large majority of our members will not renew.

Due to the state of the company, they will not longer be paying for training and development costs for their employees and people are unwilling to pay for their club fees out of their own pockets. And sadly, the club has been deteriorating for some time. Membership is decreasing as layoffs increase. Attendance is down as people are overloaded with work and participation is limited because people simply can’t focus on personal development in a company that doesn’t make it a priority.

Toastmasters is far from synonymous with cool. It’s generally a club of somewhat socially awkward, introverted folks petrified of public speaking. I read that public speaking is the world’s greatest fear, ranking higher even than things like death by fire or plane crashes.

Coolness aside, it truly is one of the most effective forums I’ve seen to help people come out of their shells and become more confident speakers and communicators. I could go on for pages about the benefits of this club. The things I have learned as both a member and the President have been absolutely invaluable.

That is why I’m sad to see it fall apart in front of me despite my best efforts.

All is not lost of course. Toastmasters is well-known around the world and the GTA alone has more than 50 different clubs. I’ll transfer my membership to somewhere new but I’ll always feel a little sad about this Club that failed… with me at the helm.