Category Archives: COOL STUFF

Reach Out and Touch Her: U2’s 2017 Concert Tour Honors HERoic Women

Phoenix—September 19, 2017

There, under the veil of a white cotton sheet, my eager fingers reach up and touch her dark face. She is beautiful. Her soulful eyes speak of sadness and strife, but she seems hopeful as we all touch her, as we all feel her sadness, her pain, her hope. She is no longer a refugee of a war-torn country. She has by now travelled the world, been touched by over a million hands and has touched them in return.

In an already powerful recording by U2 of their 1987 “Joshua Tree” album, this year’s live performance goes even deeper. The simple act of thousands of concert goers in the stands passing along a colossal 40-foot by 40-foot white sheet over their heads printed with the lone image of a dark-haired, dark-skinned 15-year-old woman-child with deep brown eyes did something to me no other concert experience ever did.

After we are introduced through video to a 15-year-old Syrian woman-child by the name of Omaima who speaks of staying hopeful and of the dream of someday coming to the wonderful United States to experience true freedom, Bono begins singing the words to “Miss Sarajevo”—“ Is there a time for keeping your distance . . . a time to turn your eyes away? Is there a time for keeping your head down . . . for getting on with your day? . . . “—while video clips of women and children living among the rubble of a war-torn city depict the daily reality of countries around the world.

Halfway through the song, the white sheet with the printed image of this lone young woman upon it emerges on the opposite side of the stadium from me. Bono points off to the right of the stage, to the middle-tier seating where the sheet overtakes an entire section of seats. “Here she comes!” he said, “Look! Over there!” Just then, a spotlight shines upon her face, which begins what will be her guided passage around the University of Phoenix’s open-aired stadium this beautiful, hot September night.

While the entire audience studies this floating image in the stands and on the screens on stage, we in the mid-rows anticipate our chance at being a part of her journey. At the exact opposite side of the stadium, those in my section have at least three minutes to consider the meaning of the words of the song relative to the young woman we might soon touch with our own hands.

U2 2017 Joshua Tree Concert Tour, Herstory, HERoes, honoring women, tribute to women, syrian refugees, impoverished countries, concert review

Because we are in the cheap seats on the sharp side of the stage, we can’t read all the words on the screen, can’t entirely make out all she has said. So, in the moment I know I am not alone in wondering: Who is she? Is it someone I should know? Have I not been paying attention to the world beyond me? Is she a refugee? From what country? Is she a burgeoning freedom fighter—a future leader of women and men?

By the time I have a chance to touch her, Bono has moved on to the next song, “Beautiful Day.” By now, the tone and message lifts to the level of positive affirmation. While the beautiful, soulful, sad, and, yes, hopeful mystery girl floats above me, I am joyful, smiling brightly as I reach up to touch her and help her along her way. All around me, fully engaged people of every age, gender, race, and religion are doing the same. When she leaves my fingertips and disappears from view, I turn to see Bono on the center island of the stage belting out the words, “It’s a beautiful day . . . the sky falls and you feel like it’s a beautiful day . . . “ The juxtaposition of the value-questioning“ Miss Sarajevo” lyrics (comparing what we THINK is important in life with WHAT TRULY IS important) followed by the affirmation-driven “Beautiful Day” lyrics (reminding us to embrace each day and “don’t let it get away”) left my entire being full of hope and positivity. When I looked around at everyone around me in the stadium, their smiling faces, raised hands and dancing bodies told me they felt the same.

Bono and his band filled the entire night with thought-providing imagery, much of it relating to the United States and quite a lot relating to the world at large. For those of us who bought U2’s ”Joshua Tree” album the first time around in ’87 and successive albums in the years to follow, the lyrics and emotion carried in the original releases resonated even deeper this time around. This, in theory, because by now, many of us have seen first-hand history repeating itself. Deeper along in our own personal journeys, many of us now have a keener understanding of what a global (and arguably a universal) disservice it is to ourselves and those we love when we see injustices play out locally, nationally, or globally and meet them with silence and inaction, when we respond by simply turning our backs and looking away.

U2 2017 Joshua Tree Concert Tour, Herstory, HERoes, honoring women, tribute to women, syrian refugees, impoverished countries, concert review

In the final third of the show, narrated interludes between songs by front man, Bono, make clear the message U2 intends to convey. Bono seems to express that it’s time to embrace the FEMALE ENERGY of this world and allow it to guide us to more peaceful resolutions of the grave situations brought on mostly by the aggressive inclinations of MANkind. Through extensive imagery, provided through a participatory project by Alice Wroe called “Herstory,” a parade of both familiar and not-so familiar female faces appear on the stage’s screens, each one a trail blazing woman who has changed the world in positive ways, who have been an inspiration for all women to be all they wish to be and to not be defined by the bitter, resentful, hateful, oppressive actions and words of the frightened, selfish, small-minded, small-hearted men of the world—especially such men who claim to be “leaders” of others. Many of these women are no longer with us, but I recognized many that still are alive and well.

While watching the images of these amazing women on the screen and hearing the frequent cheers from the audience, I can’t help but notice that many of the women shown have been marginalized and vilified by men in positions of power and influence, both in the United States and in countries all over the world. Yet these women persisted, resisted, and insisted on being heard, often at any cost, including physical harm and even death. To them, the cause was and is greater than themselves. The message within the images seems to be, and in fact the words were uttered by Bono, that we should recognize these women as a significant part of not just our HIStory, but of our HERstory, a phraseology that has been making headway in the U.S. and in the world in recent years. Though the books in our schools may never include the rightful acknowledgement of ALL the women, past and present, whom have played a critical role in the positive progression of the human species as a whole, the take-away message to me is:  Let us not give up on making the role of women a critical part of our FUTURE.

It seems clear to me now that I’ve reached the ripe “old” age of 57 that I’m blessed to be alive at all at this stage of life. It’s also become quite clear that I should never take this simple fact for granted, that there is no certainty that the youngest among us today will be as lucky as me to live this long. Quite literally, the future existence of this planet or at least the humans who are blessed to live upon it will depend greatly on the emergence of a new world order where women hold the keys to the shiny red buttons that tempt men and threaten our very existence.

The time for writing the books of HERstory is now. Bono, all the members of U2, and Alice Wroe along with U2’s creative director, Willie Williams, have done a profoundly beautiful job in helping us all imagine such a future for the United States, for the world at large, and for our continued peaceful co-existence in the wondrous, unique, ever expanding universe we call our home. This is the thoughtful, positive message U2 and its co-conspirators have shared to over a million people in the world this year. I’m grateful to have been one of the lucky ones who experienced it for myself first-hand. I will never forget this impactful concert and the message of hope wrapped within it.

U2’s Homepage:  http://www.u2.com

U2’s Herstory info page:  http://www.u2.com/news/title/herstory/handm_news/

U2’s Humanitarian Causes:  http://www.u2.com/heartsandminds

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Pregnant Again

She’s done it again. Overplayed her hand. Underestimated the magical powers of her own fertility.

“What?” she says. “It’s not my fault. I’m just doin’ what comes naturally!”

“Fine,” we say, scratching our heads. “Now, what are we to do with all the offspring? There are hundreds of them. How will we ever find homes for them all?”

Ah, but look at them. They’re so beautiful, each and every one of them. And delicious, too. Pink. And sweet. And perfectly edible.

No way will we be able to consume all this fruit ourselves, and we absolutely WON’T let it sit and rot on the tree. Today, we began the process of harvesting these babies, bagging ’em, and sharing them with our entire neighborhood.

Abundance of this magnitude reminds me of the Law of Abundance in general. There is more than enough on this planet to sustain us all. Nature is willing to provide as long as we are willing to take care of nature. When we are so fortunate to receive nature’s gifts and God’s blessings, we must do all we can to share what we have and try not to let anything go to waste.

Wishing you ABUNDANCE,

Fantastic AND FREE National Park Map Resource!

national park map, map resource

One guy. One website. TONS of FREE maps of every sort, related to our National Parks.

Click here for the website –>   NATIONAL PARK MAPS

This extremely thorough website and project is clearly a labor of love. If you camp, backpack, hike, or just plain old visit the incredible National Park system we as citizens of the United States so far been blessed to have in the first place. (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt! Thank you, every environmentalist! Thank you every selfless, kind-hearted politician that protects our parks–ok, I know you are few, but thanks to those of you who do! Thank you every activist who fights the good fight to keep these amazing National Parks clean, secure and abundant in healthy flora and fauna!)

I don’t know about you folks who read my blog, but I view the National Parks as an emblem of what is meant by “America, the beautiful.” Without them, American wouldn’t be so beautiful. So, please do what you can to preserve what we have right now, to keep anyone from destroying it, degrading it, AND ESPECIALLY FROM CAPITALIZING on it for monetary gain.

I love you guys and gals who respect our parks enough to always leave ’em looking better than they did when you first got there. So many folks continue polluting and defacing our National Parks. Common sense and respect are fading fast in our society. It’s hard to keep up with it’s negative impact. So, everything you do to mitigate that reality, to balance out the bozo heads around you, really makes a tremendous difference. Never forget that!

Thanks and ENJOY!

You’re Invited to a Party! My Short Story Published in Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup for the Soul, Angels and Miracles

Hello, My Faithful Followers!

My short story called “The Desk” is being debuted in the new Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles book, AVAILABLE TOMORROW, November 1, 2016, at a book store near you! (Or online, of course! Here–> at AMAZON)

cover_art_192119_0

I’m beyond excited about being part of the Chicken Soup for the Soul family now. It’s truly an honor.

This particular collection of 101 stories (cherry picked out of somewhere between 5000 and 6000 submissions!) is a widely varied collection of stories relating to . . . well, it’s much easier to allow the Chicken Soup folks explain it . . .

Miracles, answered prayers, cases of divine intervention—they happen every day—strengthening our faith, giving us hope, and proving that good things do happen to good people!

Miracles are all around us—we just have to look to see them. These powerful stories will deepen your faith and give you hope that good things do happen to good people. From guardian angels to divine messengers, from miraculous healing to messages from heaven, from mysterious dreams that come true to divine coincidence, you’ll be in awe as you read these 101 stories of true wonder and inspiration. These stories are written by real people—ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences—who are just as surprised that these things happened to them as we are to read about them.

TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 1, 2016, the Chicken Soup folks are hosting a TWITTER PARTY for us contributors, with an open invitation for family and friends to join us. I’d love to have you in attendance if you can make it!

If you attend, make sure to give a shout out to me! My twitter tag is:  @SusanMaddyJ

Thanks to my family and friends who support me in my baby steps in the big, big world of writing and my big, big endeavors to find my place in it! I love you so much for encouraging me to dream that big!

Warmest love and regards,

Sue J signature

Find Your Adventure With Rose Parade Float Decorating

We’re watching the Rose Parade on TV today from our Phoenix home and reminiscing about several years of volunteering to decorate parade floats in Pasadena, California. These particular pictures are from working on an HGTV float.

Definitely have to do it again some time. What a spectacular item to add to your bucket list!IMG_5683 IMG_5653 IMG_5668And we love the Rose Parade theme this year . . .

Find Your Adventure!

We here at Teardrop Adventures HIGHLY recommend getting out and exploring the jaw-dropping, ever-inspiring scenery and adventures that await you in the great outdoors.

Mother Nature rocks it and so should you!


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All our best to you this coming year,

Susan & Mark

Lost in Daydreaming at Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

This is the view from inside my teardrop trailer. How am I supposed to get any work done with a view like this enticing me to daydream instead of write?

I should’ve known the moment we stopped at the entrance gate to the Lost Dutchman State Park campground in Apache Junction, Arizona, that nature would be ready to play hard ball to win my full attention for the next two days . . .

We chose a spectacular campsite that typically is claimed by the camp host but was available during this trip. This week’s camp host was instead set up next door to the one we were interested in. Good thing, ’cause we fell in love with ours right away . . .

Cactus plants all around. Some very much alive . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

others providing valuable service as they delicately decayed . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

I enjoyed the outdoor space, while Mark took his time with setting up the trailer . . .

and a few “features”–like the outdoor shower . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

and the chili-pepper lights and hummingbird feeder . . .

We have new additions to our teardrop trailer this time around; did you notice? . . .Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

I tried to settle in and stay focused on my writing for the day, but how could I? With Gambel’s quails strutting about the perimeter . . .

and cottontail rabbits bouncing about, too, it was all I could do to keep my head down and follow my own words. When I wasn’t distracted by the wildlife, I had this view to contend with . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

The second day, we headed out for an early morning hike. There are many possible trails at Lost Dutchman, from easy to difficult. We chose a moderate one which afforded views like this . . .

after which we gladly ended the day like this . . .

Lost Dutchman State Park Campground, AZ, Arizona, hiking, teardrop trailers, tiny campers, nature, camping, photography

Sadly, on day three, we had to leave. While packing up, we chatted it up with a man walking the road past our campsite. He was telling us about the campground’s wildlife, things to look for and look out for when, mid-sentence, a sizable bristle-haired javelina (a medium-sized, wild boar-like mammal) charged out of the brush and across the road behind us. Our dog barked her objection at the intrusion, inspiring the javelina to race by in a flash. I had no time to take a picture, but here is what one looks like . . .

javelina

Anyway, turns out the man we were speaking with was our camp host, and the camp host is a writer, and the writer had written a book.

“Fabulous,” I said. “What about?”

“It has to do with 9/11 and a cross-country bicycle trip I took. It’s about having hope.”

“Funny,” I said. “I’m writing a book right now that relates in part to 9/11. I used to live in New York.”

“So did I,” he said. Conversation followed of towns we both knew and a dozen other things we seemed to have in common, including something to say about 9/11 and the power to heal.

“I’d love to read your book,” I said. “And, hey, maybe some day when I’m done writing it, you could read mine.” We shared that excitement and encouragement commonly found among fellow writers and agreed to exchange business cards before Mark and I headed home.

Within minutes, Ray came back with a copy of his book as a present to us. I was blown away by his generosity.

Ray of Hope, Inspiring Peace, Ray MadaghieleInside the front cover read the words, “Mark & Susan, Thank you for your adventuresome spirits & for being rays of hope in this world. Many Blessings”

I can’t wait to read Ray’s book, “Ray of Hope: Inspiring Peace”; something tells me I’m gonna feel good after reading it. As for you, Ray, if you’re reading this blog page, thanks for the thoughtful gift. I plan to pay it forward some day soon.


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Happy trails, y’all!

 

Sue J signature

Rose Parade Floats SNEAK PEEK

New Year’s Day is approaching and so is the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. This week, we took a tour at several of the float-building facilities to watch the progress of this year’s floats. By the end of the night, we had signed up to volunteer for decorating. When you see sights like these, it’s not hard to understand why . . .

Paradiso Parade Floats had many open spots for volunteers this week. They and other float builders were still trying their best to avoid the mad crunch at the end of the week, but they’ve yet to crack the code on how to do that successfully. Paradiso shared a common work area with Cal Poly University in a tent where some rather grand automobiles were also being adorned with flowers and, it appears, even artichokes:

A fitting prelude to the floats themselves including a fanciful phoenix . . .

a beach-bound hippo (representing Zappos dot com) . . .

and a determined gremlin sprouting forth from a magical castle–designed and built by the students of Cal Poly Tech . . .

We toured during the day on Saturday and by Sunday night, we were bundled up in winter clothing, ready for a 4-1/2 hour shift. We easily scored an opportunity to prepare materials for Paradiso’s over-sized phoenix. All of these flowers from the day before . . .

Paradiso CAPolyTech tent 20

were broken down into petals only, and our job was to chop a zillion petals into small pieces until they blended into a lovely shade of butterscotch. We did this cupful by cupful with the aid of a standard pair of scissors.

After roughly two hours straight of maniacal chopping, we were happy to move on to our next chore: covering the wire frames of large dragonfly wings with glue and white rice, part of the colossal hippo float. We had our chance to scale the scaffolding and find a spot with some stability where we could reach to sometimes unreachable spots and cover them in rice.

When it came time to climb to the third tier, I had a sudden bout of acrophobia. I happily swapped places with Mark who took the high road to apply rice to the hippo’s inner tube while I finished off someone else’s dragonfly wings while balancing atop a tall ladder.

We’ve decided that we must make time for decorating Rose Parade floats at least every other year. We always have met wonderful people and love being part of something so cheerful. If you ever get the chance to help decorate, jump on it! It’s an experience unlike any other.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thanks for following along on our Teardrop Adventures.