Sylvia van Swieten, 47, a singer from Holland who was born in Surabaya, shared her day with The Bali Times
Bali is a beautiful place because it welcomes so many different people. I’ve found many real friends here.
I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7am, early enough to wake up my son for school. Then I have breakfast and go to my Pilates or yoga class, which keeps me busy until 10. I like to do relaxing exercises because my life is quite intense and I have a busy social life. I am creating all the time, and every day I meet lovely, fascinating people, and I also have my son to take care of.
After my morning classes, I try to take some time alone to write. I’m writing a book about my life and my experiences. If I’m not writing, I like to do some sand painting, which is something I used to do a lot 20 years ago. I like the fact that these paintings are created and disappear the same way life does. Because there are so many beaches here, I started doing them again, but now I take pictures in the hope that they may inspire my two children when they grow up. If I feel inspired, I write lyrics for songs and record them.
One of my dreams is to share music from around the world, and that’s pretty much what I’m trying to do at the moment. I found the perfect place to share at the back of Earth Cafe, a restaurant on Jl. Oberoi. People who love to play music can meet there and express themselves, sharing their skills and passion, and the organic food feeds our bodies while the art feeds our souls. I think they are actually linked: scientific research has shown that after singing for one hour, the human body produces 100 times more immunoglobulin A than it usually does. I personally consider singing to be a kind of active meditation. It has helped me get through a lot of things. I’ve survived a broken back, cancer, tropical malaria and a scorpion bite. I’m really grateful to still be here, healthy and enjoying life as much as possible.
Most of the time, I have lunch in a restaurant, with friends or alone, and during the afternoon I do some work on my new album, Mother of Joy. Joy is the name of my son, but I also consider art and music as a way of spreading joy. On the internet, they call me an “intuitive singer” because I never learn songs; I just sing what comes. For me, expression has to come straight from the heart, and I get my inspiration from the musicians playing with me and the public; so every time I sing a song, it’s different.
I often have dinner with friends, who are from all over the world. Bali is a beautiful place because it welcomes so many different people. I’ve found many real friends here. With them, I can do what I like most: to free my soul by dancing, painting and singing. As my stay in Bali is not for professional reasons, I’m free to do whatever I want. Everything I do here is for my own pleasure.
Sometimes I spend part of my day teaching orphans how to sing or play African drums. I have always volunteered to help children, especially when they have had nothing else reliable in their lives. I even went to Bosnia after the war to work with kids, but as I was born in Indonesia, I feel like I’m coming back to my roots and helping here.
Lots of my evenings are spent playing music with friends. When I sing, I totally stop thinking, and I am full of universal love. Sometimes I even use languages I never studied. Once after a concert some people started to talk to me in Portuguese. I told them I couldn’t understand them, as I don’t speak the language, but they told me I was singing the Fado, Portuguese music with Portuguese lyrics, on the stage.
The strength and inspiration music gives me is what I like most. The first time I was on stage I was 13 years old, but I became a professional singer when I was 30. But since I starting to sing, I haven’t stopped.Filed under: One Day