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I quit corporate life in November 2020 because I wanted more balance. I still work hard and I love what I do, but I also want to spend time with family and friends, focus on my health and wellbeing, and do the things that bring me joy. I might have started later than most, but I’m finally starting to feel like I’m living my best life. Be brave, take chances, and believe in yourself. Sing at the top of your lungs, dance with abandonment and laugh like a loon – it feels wonderful and feeds the soul.
I have always loved music, but my family was never particularly musical, and music wasn’t a part of our day to day lives.
Growing up, Dad used to shut himself away in the lounge room and play his records up loud, if he’d had a bad day or wanted some alone time. He had pretty eclectic tastes and his vinyl collection had everything from The Beatles and The Animals to Barbara Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Chrystal Gayle, Jim Nabors, and the soundtrack to Oklahoma. It used to annoy us kids because it interfered with our TV watching, and we were glad it didn’t happen very often.
Mum was never really a music person, but she had a radio on the top of the fridge that she used to turn on when we kids made too much noise. I loved that radio and used to beg her to turn it on and turn it up, so I could dance around and sing along. It was the 70s, the music was awesome and there was something so magical about not knowing what was going to be played next. Then Dad got transferred to a small country town for a couple of years, and we didn’t get commercial TV, but every Sunday night we got Countdown, and it was the highlight of our week. We would park ourselves in front of the TV and have our minds blown by the music that Molly introduced us to.
I played the recorder in primary school like most kids and ended up getting a music scholarship to learn the trumpet in high school. I learned to like classical music, opera and jazz, but it took a lot of my time and between studying and music, I didn’t have much time for anything else. I had my own ghetto-blaster by then and the radio was my best friend during those years, providing companionship while I studied and an escape from the classical music I was learning. I was constantly being yelled at to ‘turn that racket down’.
My musical taste is quite eclectic although I am a rock chick at heart. I have an extensive CD collection and while most of it is rock from the 70s, 80s and 90s (Rolling Stones, Queen, Bowie, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty), there’s also reggae, folk, classical, opera, and jazz.
These days I mostly listen to the radio – it goes on as soon as I get out of bed in the morning and since I work from home, it provides the backdrop to my days. I found a station that has a no repeat workday, and they play the type of music I naturally gravitate towards. Weekdays the volume stays low, but on the weekends I like it loud while I do the housework and gardening. Then for Christmas this year, I got a blue tooth speaker. It’s a black box about 15 cm square and wasn’t awfully expensive, but it’s got good volume and I figured it would come in handy for parties or travelling. Then I started paying attention to the emails I was getting – as part of my Prime membership I get access to their music streaming service, and they send me suggested playlists each week. I had always just deleted these emails, but I thought it might be a good chance to test out the new speaker.
Saturday is usually the day I do the housework and washing, so I hooked up my little black box and started with the 70s hits they had suggested. I had so much fun reconnecting with the music I grew up watching on Countdown, dancing around the house, and singing at the top of my lungs. I had the volume up so loud that the dog hid in the backyard, and I had to keep pushing the black box to the back of the counter because it moved around so much with all the vibrations. The next week I went with 80s hits and started my deep cleaning in preparation for my winter hibernation. The day flew past again with the music cranking, me dancing and singing and the dog hiding out the back. Who would ever have thought housework could be so much fun!
That Saturday night I saw an interview with Shania Twain – she talked about her older music and they played some of her newer stuff. I quite liked what I heard, so Sunday I plugged her name into my music app and spent the day with Shania and her country friends. Now country music is not really my thing, but because the music is all matched to what I put in the search field, I actually enjoyed it all and even did some boot scooting in the vegie patch. And so it began.
I’m constantly looking for inspiration about what to type into that search bar. It might be something I heard in someone else’s car at the traffic lights, a song playing in a shop I visited, something that appeared in my Facebook feed, or even just an old favourite I haven’t heard for years. I’ve discovered new artists I would never have imagined I would like and reconnected with the music I grew up loving. I was a bit surprised that I really like Rhianna and Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift aren’t as bad as I thought they would be. Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars produce great playlists for organising and sorting things out, any playlist with dance included in the title makes housework fun, and if you type in Leonard Cohen you get great music for sitting with the lights down low and a good bottle of red. 70s music is totally amazing, with disco, punk, and an almost anything goes attitude – it was the music I danced around Mum’s kitchen to. 80s music is fun and reminds me of high school. I was back in a small country town in the 90s and mostly relied on CDs for entertainment, so I have had some fun exploring what I missed.
This little black box has made a big impact over the last couple of months. I don’t like wearing headphones and don’t get the volume from my iPad that I want when I’m doing things around the house, so without that little black box, I would have stuck to the same music on the radio that I always listen to. I still listen to the radio when I’m working – it makes great background noise and keeps me company without distracting me too much. But weekends are for singing and dancing and discovering new music and artists. Saturdays are high energy so the housework and chores are fun, then Sunday is for experimenting, depending on my mood. Last Sunday afternoon was Harry Connick Jnr and this afternoon I typed in Florence and the Machine – I’m waiting for a stormy afternoon so I can play with classical, and opera. There is something so thrilling for me not knowing what will be played next, whether it is on the radio or from a play list. It reminds me how I felt when I was a kid dancing around Mum’s kitchen and discovering the magic of music for the first time.