Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rave of the Day: Susan Boyle on "Britain's Got Talent"

Susan Boyle.  Wow.  She's inspiring the world with one performance.  You've seen her audition to Britain's Got Talent right?  Again, WOW.  Just incredibly uplifting. Truly, a celebration of the human spirit, and a pure triumph. Gives me goose-bumps every time I watch it.

I think Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Scwarzbaum nailed it on the head in this article:
I'm still stuck on Susan Boyle, and still weeping...I play the YouTube clip over and over of Boyle, the frumpy, middle-aged British lady who marched out on the stage of the national TV show Britain’s Got Talent this past weekend. She bided her time through the judgmental hoots and snickers of the studio audience and judges (headed by international snickerer-in-chief Simon Cowell). She sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. And she brought a worldwide audience to their feet -- to her feet -- with the grandeur of her voice.

...Right now I'm pondering why the experience of watching and listening to Ms. Boyle makes so many viewers cry, me among them. And I think I've got a simple answer, at least for me: In our pop-minded culture so slavishly obsessed with packaging -- the right face, the right clothes, the right attitudes, the right Facebook posts -- the unpackaged artistic power of the unstyled, un-hip, un-kissed Ms. Boyle let me feel, for the duration of one blazing showstopping ballad, the meaning of human grace. She pierced my defenses. She reordered the measure of beauty. And I had no idea until tears sprang how desperately I need that corrective from time to time.
Pretty well said, no? I'm drawn to tears because of her grace, her humility, and her quiet display of confidence in spite of being cast aside. It's the way she blossoms before our very eyes as the song goes on.  It's the fact that she has proven the audience wrong after the first note, and has them on their feet within the first three lines of the song. Watching this, you FEEL that her life-long dream is becoming reality. What an extremely powerful thing to witness, and what a gift she shares with her music.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rave of the Day: My Favorite Vacation Spots to Get Away From It All

I know, I know, I've been neglecting this blog, and I'm sorry.  My mind has been on other things the past few weeks because we had to put our dog down. (Bone cancer.)  But as hard as that was, I have to say I was completely uplifted by the support we've had from friends, family, even complete strangers.  The love and compassion we've experienced has been pretty amazing.   

We still miss our Sami, and will forever remember the silly "clown face" he made when he was really happy.  (This picture is just a hint of that face.)  I thought I would honor him by showing you some places that have given me the same type of face and feelings of pure joy and happiness.  

These specific getaways allowed me to connect with nature, and slow down enough and pay attention to stuff that often goes overlooked and is taken for granted in everyday life.  Places Sami would have really enjoyed.  Here they are, in no particular order:

Remember the old Loony Toon cartoons, when they would go away for camp somewhere?  You know the ones, where there's a huge lake with crystal blue water surrounded by mountains and trees?  Well, I'm pretty sure the animators used Lake Tahoe as their inspiration.  In one word: picturesque.  

I was fully in-tune with my senses here - the warmth of the sun on my skin, the sound of the water hitting the rocks on the shore, the fragrant flowers (smelled soooooo good), the uber fresh air.  It was amazing.  Time moves at a much slower pace in Tahoe country.  (Hint - go early.  We went to a NV state park at 7 a.m. and basically had the whole place to ourselves.  As we were leaving, busses full of kids showed up and we were so happy we decided to get up early that morning.)  Lots of very cool shops in the resort towns surrounding the lake too.

I had a very similar experience here too.  Everything is just stunningly beautiful, particularly at Yosemite Valley, which allows you to really see the grandness of it all from a distance. (There's a reason Ansel Adams was drawn to this place.)  

I can't wait to go again, and next time, I'm doing it right, hiking, backpacking, and camping for a few days and really getting to the core of Yosemite.  A perfect 10 in my book.

Amazing red rocks in cool pipe-like formations, deep blue skies, (moderately easy) hiking trails zig-zagging through it all - who ever knew Utah was so frickin COOL? These natural ampitheatres reminded me of castles, and are breathtaking. Some of Mother Nature's finest work, in my opinion.

Sticking with Utah (such a great state - so much more than Salt Lake City and skiing), Zion National Park was AWESOME.  It's biggest claim to fame is that it's one of the best places in the continental United States to star gaze because a) the high elevation and b) lack of light pollution.  

Of course, there's lots of great stuff to do during the day too.  We did a ton of hiking through the canyons, and cooled ourselves off by wading through a shallow riverbed and getting into a water fight.  Sami would have been ALL over that, trust me!

I have to show the East Coast some love too.  If you're looking for a road trip, it doesn't get much better than this beautiful drive. 450+ miles, spanning from Shenandoah National Park in VA to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in NC. And no commercial traffic is allowed, so that means no big rigs riding your butt down the mountain passes. Booyah!

There, I've showed you mine, now it's your turn to show me yours!