Here is Part Two of Mary Lou’s interview. You can read Part One and refresh your memory. How similar is her interview to her mother’s, Lois Fallis?
How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
I wrote my personal life for the stage. I can’t separate my personal and professional life. I am old enough, confident and experienced enough that I can negotiate a fee. The way that I make a separation is that I have an office outside my home which is very important for me because our house is very small. My husband, Peter and I don’t do stuff that involves musicians together. He has his own friends in the Symphony, and I have my own friends and we don’t often socialize with people in the business together. We socialize together with family, but we are not a power couple.
What’s a major regret that you’ve had in life?
Sometimes I wish that I had traveled more earlier in my life because I don’t know if it’s going to happen much now. Not studying more languages is also a major regret. But I have also had some very wonderful life experiences. I feel like I have been given an awful lot in my life and I am very grateful, so if something were to happen I’d be sad, but it would be okay. I would be okay.
What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Be kind to yourself because things are unfolding as they should. I sound a little philosophical, but there is a process and you cannot rush it. The important processes in life take time, and that’s a big thing.
- Don’t hang around people who are not interested in you, and don’t bring people into your circle who are undermining you.
- Get help during major periods of feeling down and depressed. Don’t shut yourself off.
- Don’t ignore your body, although I do sometimes, but when I get back into swimming and working out, I realize how important the physical activity is for your body and I don’t do it as often as I should.
- I don’t believe in strictness and that there are rules, but there is the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. I think the letter is important because people have taken the time to study and write it down, and often the letter is a good guideline but it’s the spirit of the law that’s more important.
- It also important to find a community that you can find a place in. It could be a church, a professional organization, volunteer or library. It’s a place where you have someone to corroborate your beliefs, a place where you’ll find people who you respect.
When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
I read, watch TV, walk, have a bath and have lunch. I like to visit old bookstores. I do not consider physical exercise downtime, to me that’s work. So, if I go swimming or something like that, I consider that to be work. Downtime is when I do not have anything pressing to do.
What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Usually my ideas come to me when I take a shower, have a bath or go for a walk. They may also come while I’m reading some textbooks. Some ideas are deep inside your unconscious so you have to dig around and do other things to distract yourself.
What’s your favourite quotation and why?
“I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music,” by George Eliot because I think that it’s true.
How do you define success?
I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with balance I’m sure. It’s a feeling that you’re able to accomplish some of the goals that you’ve set for yourself. It makes it easier when you set one goal, achieve it and go on to another.
What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Education, education, education! My field requires a lot of training and education so you have to stay in school. If I had to do it again I probably would have gone to Europe rather than stay in one place to be educated. I also took in as much cultural events that I could.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Know your stuff, know as much as you can. You’ll never know everything but choose an area of study, and learn everything you can about it from people, books, YouTube, travel, whatever it is.
If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
- I would choose Jesus and I would ask him many things and find out if he really said and meant certain things. I would also want to talk to him about the modern era and the Christian ethic. Of course he didn’t know that he was a Christian, which I think is quite funny.
- I would have loved to have met Emma Albani a Canadian opera singer who died about 1909. She was the first Canadian singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. She was also an amazing singer.
- I would like to meet Madonna and talk to her about her work ethic and artistic trajectory and how she feels about aging.
- Pope John XXIII, the guy who started the Vatican is someone that I’d also like to meet
- I’d like to meet Christian Amanpour a French journalist for CNN who does a lot of reporting, and has written a lot of books. She’s a very interesting and thoughtful woman.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are five books that you would like to have with you and why? Summarize the book in two sentences.
- I would take the Art of Loving by Erich Fromm
- Collective Works of Freud
- Twelfth Night by Shakespeare
- Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
- Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro
What one music CD and movie would you like to have with you (on the deserted island) and why?
I would probably like to have a CD like Bach Magnificat, and Supreme Order. I would like to fit as much Bach as I could on a CD because when I listen to Bach I feel very grounded and like the world is right.
The Best Feast, which is a movie about a woman who was a major chef. It’s about 1850s and she had to leave Paris because her husband was in a military coup. She ended up in Denmark in this little village that was filled with a lot of dark Christian people, Lutheran reformed types. She had always lived a beautiful life and these people lived a spiritual life, but was so closed. She transformed the whole village eventually by cooking for them.
What excites you about life?
How do you nurture your soul?
Through music, my church and my community.
If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for? Or, if I gave you a magic wand, what would you use it for?
I have no idea. Superficially I would wish that everyone has sufficient monetary resources to live a satisfying life.
Complete the following, I am happy when…..
When the weather is nice and I can go walking with my dog in the mornings, when my family is not in crisis, when I have some very interesting engagements coming up and when I’m able to read a good book.
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