Sunday, March 28, 2010
Live music is one of my favourite things in the world. Nothing makes me feel more alive, free, and joyful than a concert. Feeling that connection with the artists on stage, screaming, dancing, and cheering is something I don't get to experience often enough, but when I do, I always look forward to it.
Last weekend, my sweetie and I went to Montreal for three days to see Bon Jovi perform at the Bell Centre. Bon Jovi is one of my favourite bands, and I have been a fan since the 80s. Twenty-seven years later, Bon Jovi is still together, and have hit the road to promote their new CD, The Circle. From the moment the lights dimmed, the crowd was putty in Bon Jovi's hands.
They opened the concert with Happpy Now followed by We Weren't Born to Follow from The Circle. Then Jon Bon Jovi ordered everyone to get on their feet and make some noise as the band played mega-hit You Give Love a Bad Name. Bon Jovi rocked the house for three solid hours, and did two encores! "I'm too old for this!" Jon joked as Bon Jovi came out for the second encore.
The show was incredible from start to finish. They played several songs from The Circle, and the previous CD Lost Highway, in addition to all of their big hits. Montreal was given a special gift when Bon Jovi ended the second encore by playing Always for the first time on The Circle tour, followed by Treat Her Right.
Hearing the songs from The Circle live reinforced what a wonderful collection of music it is. Love's the Only Rule and When We Were Beautiful are two of my new favourite songs. However, at times, the show dragged slightly, and perhaps the old and new songs could have been ordered a bit differently. But this fan is not complaining. I enjoyed every moment. "I've seen a million faces, and I've rocked them all!" go the lyrics from Wanted Dead or Alive. Bon Jovi rocked everyone at the Bell Centre, and gave Montreal an experience it wouldn't soon forget. Merci Bon Jovi for a fantastic time!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Last night, the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Paralympic Games took place. Throughout my career, I have had the privilege of writing often about disabled sports, and have interviewed several Paralympic athletes. This has by far been the highlight of my career. I am so lucky to write about a topic that I am passionate about, and am continually amazed and inspired by the skill and determination of the athletes I speak with.
This past December, I had the honour of interviewing the Canadian Paralympic wheelchair curling team for the winter sport edition of the children's book Glowing Hearts: From Play 2 Podium, for which I am a contributing author (www.glowinghearts.ca). Each member of the team told stories of hope, determination, and courage.
One team member recalled a tumor he had on his spinal cord that had shifted, and had ultimately caused him to become paralyzed. "I was OK," he said of his reaction to the news that he would now be in a wheelchair. "I looked around and I saw that there were a lot of people who were worse off than me." Wow! What courage, strength, and grace this man showed. I felt small in comparision. I thought back to the obstacles I've faced in my own life, and how many minor challenges have felt like the end of the world. How many times had I neglected to look around and see how fortunate I am, that no matter what difficulties were upon me, I could push through the hard times and become a stronger, better person?
I had just been through a very difficult year, and speaking with this gentleman reminded me that no matter what life throws our way, we can overcome. When faced with life's curveballs, I believe that we have two choices - we can succumb to the hardship, or we can rise up, learn from the experience, and become better than before.
I am constantly inspired and awed by the wonderful athletes I have had the pleasure of speaking with over the years. I wish all the athletes a wonderful 2010 Paralympics, and wish I could be in Vancouver to cheer them on! To the Canadian wheelchair curling team, it was an honour to interview you, and I hope to make my way to Vancouver one day and meet you in person. Go get 'em!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Things have been a little crazy these days. Work has been all-consuming, with a big project, and putting in long hours. Throw in a stomach flu on top of that, and the result is yuck. Tired, busy, exhausted. Three words that equal me right now.
Last weekend, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I looked at the calendar. When I'm tired like this, it's hard to get me out of the house. My tendency is to hibernate. Last weekend was no exception. I wanted nothing more than to spend the weekend in bed, but I had a busy weekend ahead of me. I spent time with some work friends, and had a fun evening of "girl-talk." The next evening, it was off to a jazz club for another wonderful night with my sweetie to celebrate a special anniversary. On Sunday, Canada won the Olympic gold in hockey (Go Canada!), and then it was off to see Rain, the Beatles tribute for a family birthday.
I must say that before arriving at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, my expectations of Rain were about medium. From the moment the lights went down, however, I was hooked. A montage of Beatles clips from the 1960s flashed across two big screens, culminating in the Beatles' famous appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. Sullivan introduces the Beatles, and the curtains open. The "Fab Four," on the stage, breaks into song. Punctuated by periodic video clips from the different stages in the Beatles' history, the Rain band puts on a riveting live show of Beatles hits from every era. From the early days, to Abbey Road and beyond, Rain delivered. The crowd danced, screamed, clapped, it was a true concert experience. The song choices were amazing, and the Rain band did a great job of engaging the crowd, even congratulating Canada on its gold medal win. I left feeling renewed, energized, invigorated. I wanted to go home, and pull out my Lennon-McCartney sheet music and play Beatles songs on my flute. Rain returns to Toronto in July, and I definitely want to go again.
On my way home from Rain, I realized that during these busy times, it's so important to schedule in fun time, and time to feed the soul. I am so happy that I reconnected with the world last weekend, and it gave me the fuel to face another busy week.