“Give Me Love”, a French flavored song from the upcoming “Travelogue” CD

 

Give Me Love

As noted in my previous blog, I have embarked on a new CD titled, “Travelogue”. It will feature songs inspired (in one way or another) by my travels around the world. Work on it continues, and the second song completed is a French flavored song titled, “Give Me Love”.

“Give Me Love” began innocently while walking on a downtown Los Angeles street. The weather was perfect – something Los Angeles was known for and is experiencing less and less. On this perfect day I couldn’t help but notice how many people were oblivious to the exquisite temperature, the chirping birds, and the beautiful light. Instead, they were intently engaged with their cell phones. It made me think about how much of life we don’t experience. How watching screens takes us out of the world, and brings isolation. It’s an interesting new world obsessed with sending texts, posting photos, seeking likes and followers. A feeling of disconnection came about, and I thought it would make a great song.

A memory of Paris

That feeling of disconnect brought me back to my last trip to France in October of 2011. It was in Paris, and the weather was clear and crisp and the city was beautiful. What came to mind was a local boulangerie just down the street from where I was staying, which I patronized for breakfast each morning. The same stout woman wearing an apron (perhaps the owner?) would wait on me each morning from behind the counter. We recognized each other each day, but she never smiled or made me feel welcome in her bakery. She was much more at ease with what seemed were the local Parisians. She always seemed kind of perturbed and impatient with me, as opposed to her light and friendly demeanor when interacting with her fluent French speaking customers. It definitely added a bit of discomfort and alienation to an otherwise gorgeous city.

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New CD “Travelogue” in the works

Jay Jacobson begins recording a new CD, "Travelogue"

Jay Jacobson embarks on a new CD influenced by his travels around the world, titled, “Travelogue”

Please forgive me for not writing a blog entry for so long. I do post to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for those who want to keep up with some more daily type activities. Here, in this blog I’ll provide more in-depth information, so please stay tuned here, despite the less frequent posting.

A new CD is born!

I have begun work on a new CD! Soren (my music producer) and I met a while back and talked about working together on a new project. I wanted to do something different but wasn’t sure exactly what that would be. The need for me to express myself gets overwhelming at times, and it had been bubbling up inside me by the time we spoke. I had recently visited Bora Bora and Tahiti in French Polynesia, and was mentioning how travel is one of the most important and defining things in my life. Travel can open your world, your mind, your understanding, and your compassion. If it were possible, I think it should be required of every person around the world to visit a country other than their own.

I told Soren about a song I had written titled, “Travelogue” which is about how our lives are made up of a series of snapshots of sights, tastes, sounds, and smells. I’ve visited 32 counties to date, and thought perhaps we could use some of the influences from the places I’ve been as a starting point for each of the songs on the CD. Somehow use them as catalysts to express my story. I’d start with a local musical instrument, sound, lyric, or emotional connection I had to a place, and have that be the spark to ignite a song. Songs wouldn’t be about countries, but would be influenced by them (from the subtle to the obvious).

A new approach to work begins…

He loved that idea, and thus work on a new CD titled, “Travelogue” was born! I am approaching this one differently than any of my 5 other CDs. It is the first time I’ve started with a CD title and a concept for all the songs on a CD. Along side the music, I have ideas about incorporating some of the artifacts and souvenirs I’ve acquired from my travels into photographs and music videos for the songs. It is a project I’m very excited about, and one that definitely has my creative juices flowing!

It starts with the song “Travelogue”

The first song we delved into was the CD’s title song, “Travelogue”. It is a song that conceptually defines the CD and how travel can enhance one’s life. A visit to Machu Picchu in August of 2014, was a spiritually profound experience. There was something in the air there.
Jay Jacobson in Machu Picchu, Peru

In majestic Machu Picchu, Peru

You could actually feel the overwhelming energy of the ancient peoples and civilization that were alive there hundreds of years ago. It was magical. Thus, a Peruvian flute felt like the perfect element to give the song that “worldliness”. The flute, along with some African drums, bring that “travelogue” feeling home in spades. The lyrics of the chorus define the importance of travel to me:

Don’t have the need for money or greed
They only bring isolation
Just supply me the stuff to give me enough
Towards my very next destination
Travelogue – My life is a travelogue
Travelogue – My life is a travelogue
And the bridge sums up the message of the song:
My tiime here is made up of sights, tastes and sounds
They’re the things I’ll remember as the lights all go down
Jay Jacobson recording session for "Travelogue"

Recording vocals for the song, “Travelogue”

As I keep working on songs from the “Travelogue” CD, I’ll keep blogging about them here. I’ve worked on 4 more songs so far, and I’ll be posting info on them as well, to bring you up to date.

Thanks for reading, and as always, for your support! Funny enough, it really means the world to me.
Song lyrics © Jay Jacobson

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Love is Love

Today marks a historic day – It was just announced hours that gay marriage is now legal in the United States of America!

This is indeed great news for our entire nation and the world. If you single out one group as being different, the message that sends is that we are all different and some are better than others. By granting all people the same rights, this country has acknowledged that even with our differences, people are all the same. We have taken a giant stand towards one of the visions this country was built upon, “justice for all”.

In celebration, here is my song “Love is Love” from my CD “Revelations”. Let’s all celebrate!

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The Value of Getting Away

I just returned from a trip to French Polynesia. I’ve been to Polynesia before (Easter Island and Hawaii) but this is my first trip to French Polynesia. I stayed on three islands: Taha’a, Bora Bora and Tahiti. The water I saw there is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. There are so many shades of blue – some are so bright they look like they can’t be real.
The colorful waters around Taha'a

The colorful waters around Taha’a

As the airplane flew over the islands, I noticed from the window that just about all of the islands I could see had a “ring” around them protecting them from the open ocean. Some of these rings are quite far from the islands, but they surround each island almost completely. Inside the rings is where you find all those gorgeous blue colors. I later learned that these islands are the result of gradual sinking of volcanic islands that have cooled and left an open crater in the middle section of the island. As each island sank, the surrounding part of the island fell beneath the surface of the water, and coral grew around the fringes creating a barrier reef. So each of these islands (except 2, I was told) have barrier reefs protecting them from the rough ocean. Thus, the water, or lagoons, around the islands is clear, calm, and full of fish and coral. You could see the bottom clearly even 20 or 30 feet below. It was the most delicious water I’ve ever swam in – for sure!
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From the plane you can see the barrier reef. The faint white line is the breaking ocean. The island is on the right, just out of frame.

I got to do and experience things I can’t do in my day to day life. I snorkeled every day getting to see fish and coral I’ve never seen before. I swam with stingrays and a huge school of reef sharks (the guide I was with fed them before we got in the water – I don’t know if that was to make me feel safer or not, but it worked). I got a chance to see the Southern Cross, and to see stars at night like I’ve never seen them before. Being so remote and with so little electricity in the area, you could see thousands of stars all very bright. It was pretty amazing. And I would watch the moon rise at night, and it was so bright I literally felt like I needed sunglasses. The people I met there were very, very nice. One of them, who worked at my hotel on Bora Bora, paddles his canoe to and from work every day. Quite a different lifestyle than I’m used to!
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A glimpse of the amazing underwater world I dove in each day.

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I took this while snorkeling. There were so many sharks and they were so beautiful (and a bit scary).

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Me, with stingrays to my side and sharks circling behind me.

I’ve travelled a lot in my life, and I hope that continues. Whenever I visit another place (even places less remote and more like Los Angeles, where I live), I find it so valuable in many ways. We get so used to our environments that life becomes routine. For the most part we become blind to the world around us. Life becomes about appointments and to-do lists, and work, and things. The fact of being alive on a planet in the middle of a solar system gets lost, along with perspective and what is truly important. I know what may seem important to one person is different from what seems important to someone else, but I think one can boil things down to two universal things of importance: on a personal level – being able to experience life; on a grander level – protecting our planet so we can survive. Both of these points seem to have become difficult. “Modern life” is mostly geared towards results and not often, if ever, about experiencing living. There is certainly little attention paid to the larger world – nature, the earth, the planets, etc. – of which we are a part. Humans have a trait wanting to separate ourselves from everything else. Feeling that we are somehow more important or more intelligent than the rest of life. And I believe to go through life just “looking forward” and not “looking around” leads to an empty life. As for protecting the planet, the human quality of greed has distracted many people from being able to look at the bigger picture of the planet. A worry about jobs or profits blinds people to being able to see the long term damage they are doing to the planet, and thus to all living things – including themselves.

So for me a vacation is a way of forgetting my routine, my goals and my so called modern life. It is a chance to “look around” while being alive. It reinvigorates my connection to the planet and other living things (including people), and it helps me remember that I am part of a bigger thing. I’m connected to the sharks, the mountains, the oceans, the trees, the mosquitoes, the birds, the people who paddle to work, and the stars and planets that shine so brightly over the earth. It grounds me, and gives me a break from the mundane and stressful. I can’t think of anything I can recommend more than taking a break and putting yourself in a new environment – even just for a day or two. It doesn’t have to be across oceans, it can be an hours drive away. Just someplace where your eyes can find new things to gaze, your nose can find new smells, your mouth can taste new flavors. A place where your mind can clear and where you can become one with this glorious world we live in.

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Living in a Soulless World

Just returned from my workout at the gym. I’ve been going pretty regularly to the gym for a couple decades now, and have noticed that something has changed in the past few years. Suddenly, about half the people “working out” are texting. They sit on equipment “between sets” and text. It is rather bothersome to people like me, who are there just to work out. I’d much rather be focused on my workout – I get so much more out of it that way.

This is not something just happening at my gym. I don’t know if it’s worse in Los Angeles than other places, but people are texting everywhere. In their cars (which is illegal here), while walking on the street, while shopping in stores, eating in restaurants, and even when I’m at people’s homes – they are sometimes texting. I can never understand what is so important that people can’t be away from their phones for two hours. Have we turned into a culture of immediacy? Or is it just that we so desperate to connect anyway we can in this total electronic age we live in?

There is an outdoor shopping mall in Los Angeles called, “The Grove”.
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According to “Fortune”, it is the second most successful mall in the country. It is full of the same stores as many other higher end malls – The Gap, Nordstrom, Anthropology, The Apple Store, J. Crew, Barney’s New York, etc., along with a movie theater (the most successful theater in the country) and one of the last big bookstores around me – Barnes & Noble. It also has a trolley car that goes from one end of the mall to the other (not that far), and a fountain that shoots water to music occasionally. I don’t go there that often (and almost never go to the movies there) as it is way too crowded for me. But it occurs to me every time I’m there that people seem to be there to just hang out. People sit or stand by the fountain, or in the grassy area behind the fake pond with the fountain. Or they just walk the cobblestone street down the center of the mall where the trolly runs. Many of the people don’t have shopping bags with them, and don’t seem in a rush to shop. They are not even window shopping. Perhaps the popularity of this mall is because of a human need to be social – that need to be around other people? It is like a gathering place. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. In this cell phone world it is no wonder people venture out to the mall to hang out and physically be with people in the flesh. After all, humans are social creatures.

There is a moneymaking trend going on of having us be more and more isolated – with the illusion of being more connected. I’m sure there are those who will disagree, but Facebook, cell phones, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, FaceTime, Vine, (and dare I say) blogging, and so on are not real human ways of connecting. They are a means of passing on information and opinions, but they lack actual human interaction. They don’t contain the experience of seeing the nuance in someone’s eyes while speaking with them, feeling the energy of a person’s reaction, or walking arm in arm with someone and feeling actual human touch. There are no substitutes for any of those experiences. And those are vital ways we connect with others. We are missing a thousand subtle ways we communicate with one another. Remove them and there is no heart, no soul to our interactions, only the passing along of information, opinions and implied feelings. Add to that, being alone while “communicating” and reacting to whatever we are reading, seeing or hearing and you don’t get an actual social environment, and it is certainly devoid of what makes us human. But as long as money can be made from software and telephones and electronics, there will be campaigns to make us think that is the best and only way to go about life.

It is very different than the pre computer world I grew up in. I know the joys and importance of what it is to “hang out” with people. I’ve grown from the value of face to face conversations countless times in my life. I have perspective on how important it is to be there for someone – really “be there” by their side – in the flesh. I was raised playing with other kids. We made up games, we used our imaginations. The phone would ring and we wouldn’t always be there to answer it. This was before answering machines, and sometimes you would call someone and let the phone ring and ring and ring and ring – twenty times maybe – in the hopes that they were just coming in the door and would finally pick up. They often didn’t – and life went on. Being with people was the important thing. Our lives were shaped that way. Having dinner at a friend’s house, or having them over for dinner. Either way, we all sat around a dinner table and talked. Talking, exchanging information person to person was the main course. Our lives were built on social events. It was a totally different world.

I’m not against technology (and I don’t think it is because I’m getting older) but I do think we are losing something very important these days because of it. As the world has become vastly more connected (through the internet and cell phones and so on), I think we are actually becoming more isolated. These modes of connection are actually impersonal, and you can present yourself anyway you choose and never know the person with whom you are communicating as a whole and actual person. It isn’t an authentic representation of someone. From my perspective, all this technology isn’t making people happier than they were when I was young. In fact, it seems to me, people are getting more stressed, more crazy, more paranoid, and more self-centric – and way more isolated. There is a reason putting someone in solitary confinement can be one of the most damaging things you can do to someone. I think it is worthy of us revisiting the way we live, and trying to put back that vital, actual human connection. Being connected will also bring back compassion, understanding, empathy and awareness of others – states that are slowly disappearing from day to day life.

As I’ve been doing with my blogs these days, I’m exploring what drives me to create the art I create. These feelings of living in an isolating world were the source for my song, “Soulless World”, from my third CD, “Revelations”. You can hear it here, and I’ve included the lyrics below the song. Enjoy!

SOULLESS WORLD
© Jay Jacobson
Get out of bed and go to work, that’s how I start my day
Drive with my bluetooth on and GPS, they lead the way
Something’s off I can feel it
One small dent
Lost my soul
Don’t know where it went
 
Texted it straight from my phone
Love conversing while alone
Left it by my new TV
Need my dose of reality
Isolating human race
Disappearing face to face
 
Where’s my soul
It’s a soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
 
Turned on my radio and all the songs they sound the same
Watched someone on TV trade their dignity for fame
Gone is beauty and refinement
We want bling
Lost our souls
It’s the missing thing
 
Lost it shopping at the mall
Expensive goods make me feel tall
Cashed it in to get more fame
Don’t be different be the same
The driving force right now is greed
Sell yourself and you’ll succeed
 
Lost our souls
It’s a soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
 
Sold it to a developer
Cash makes my world greener
Gave it to a missionary
They know just what’s best for me
The driving force right now is greed
Sell yourself and you’ll succeed
Lost our souls….

 

 

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Declutter and Taking the Long Way Home

For some unknown reason I have been sorting through my things and getting rid of lots of stuff. Books, DVDs, clothes, papers, and so much more “stuff”! I’m not a big shopper, and I’m not a hoarder, but over the years I have amassed a lot of “things” (especially living in the same house for over a decade). I’m cleaning out drawers, closets, shelves, boxes, and so on. Some of the things I’m finding have emotional attachments, some are things I’ve kept because I think I’ll need them “someday”, and others I’m no longer sure why I have. I suddenly can see how having all this stuff hanging around weighs me down. With the things I have emotional attachments to, I’m realizing that the memories they bring back are already in my mind, and will stay there regardless of keeping the item. As for the things I think I might need one day, I’ve allowed myself to realize I can buy the items anytime I need them. Some of the things I’ve had for years and never needed. It is like creating a false sense of security, and the price is carrying about “baggage” that on some real level weighs me down. It frees my mind to think that I don’t have to keep it in storage, and can buy it new and fresh if I need it. Getting rid of all this stuff is making me realize just how “mental” having all these things is. It’s very strange to have so many things – none of them vital for living. Any importance these items have is totally made up in my mind. Suddenly, I’m not sure why, my mind is open to seeing this distinction right now, and thus I am letting go of things I’ve had for years. 

A change in my thinking that is happening. I am in the mood to declutter my life – big time. Simplify it. As I get rid of things, it is becoming so clear that it really all about letting go. Emotionally and physically. Letting go of the past, thoughts of the future, or a false sense of security. Getting rid of things is making my mind feel less cluttered. Funny how that is happening. By letting go, I’m actually feeling a real sense of relief. I feel lighter.

Life has become so complicated. There are so many things to take care of, things to get done and endless chores, not to mention the bureaucracy and paperwork that you have to deal with from time to time. It is clutter, all of it. It is such a distraction from living and experiencing life. I guess my letting go of “things” is a way to get closer to the essence of living – to be present to life, real life, like nature and living things. It is so easy to let that fall by the wayside and end up with so many “things” and so little experiencing of life.

In the vein of my latest blog entries, I can relate this feeling to one of my songs. This one is from my latest CD, “The Ride”, and it is the song “Taking the Long Way Home”. It is one of two songs (so far) I have a music video for from the CD. It is an animation, and I created it myself. Perhaps this “bug” for getting rid of things and being more in tune with life started when I was writing songs for “The Ride”? It is definitely possible. I remember getting the idea for the song while driving home from my recording sessions. I always took a longer route with less traffic on it. It would take me about 15 minutes longer to get home this way, but it was stress free and I could actually enjoy the ride home and the sights along the way. I started to realize how much I was missing by wanting to just get where I’m going as quickly as possible. A full life includes appreciating the “insignificant” moments as well as the moments that seem important. I learned from my ride home each day, there really are no insignificant moments in life. There are only moments. And we can embrace them, give them weight, or ignore them. They all pass by no matter how we relate to them. And embracing them is embracing life.
Here is another look at “Taking the Long Way Home”. Enjoy!

 

 

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Peace At Last and Inspiration from Ingrid Bergman

As I’ve stated many times, I’m a sucker for a great quote. If you look through my older blog entries, I often ended them with a quote. I just ran across another quote – from another of my favorite actresses of all-time, Ingrid Bergman. She is someone who knew incredible success and extreme controversy. I believe she is one of the actors from Hollywood’s classic period who’s work is still modern today. If you don’t know her you should definitely check her out. The film, “Gaslight” is one of my personal favorites (and her first of three Academy Award winning roles). Here’s the quote by her:

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“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”
– Ingrid Bergman.

I love how simply she put the distinction between success and happiness, and I find her words to be so true. The goals I wanted to accomplish when I was younger were the basis of many decisions I made – life altering decisions. They were fueled by the mistaken thought that having them come true would bring happiness. Through the years some goals have come true and some have not, and what I’ve realized in the process is that they really have very little (if anything) to do with truly being happy. Accomplishing a goal can make you temporally happy, and even make you think you are something that you’re not. Not accomplishing a goal can have the same effect – without the happy part. However, I’ve learned that accepting what is in front of you – regardless if it is what you want or not – is the key to happiness. It is the key to finding peace. It is a concept I investigated on my fourth CD, “Peace At Last”. The title song is exactly about finding peace through accepting “what is”. The second verse of the song is as follows:

Spent my time as a means to an end
Now I’ve shed all I used to defend
I am one with the moment at hand
It’s the soil of my life’s sacred land

It is one of my most successful songs, and the orchestration was the inspiration for my latest CD, “The Ride”. If you haven’t heard the song “Peace At Last”, you can hear it below:

 

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Lonely Motel

I just heard a great quote, which I haven’t heard in a while, by the brilliant Oscar Wilde:

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

Perfectly said! I don’t know how many of us are raised to understand how difficult life is. I certainly wasn’t. Not that life was so easy for me growing up – it wasn’t. I never had a lot of friends and was picked on in school constantly which was very difficult, especially being a very sensitive kid. The kids at school were very cruel and I had a very hard time. However, even while that was happening, I pictured my life turning out great, and me being happy when I got older. In my dreams, it was always visions only of happiness. As I’ve lived more and more, I understand that there are periods in life of happiness, periods of sadness, moments of fear, and times of grief – and so on. That has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life – to accept all of it. As expressed throughout my latest CD, “The Ride”, I see that life is a journey with all type of feelings and situations included in the mix – each one just as valid and appropriate as the next.

Perhaps being sensitive is one of the reasons I’ve always loved sad songs – especially as a kid. They said the things I didn’t give myself permission to feel. They sing of the loneliness or the pain or disappointment I felt, but didn’t express. Hearing someone else sing about it – the way I felt it – took a little burden off my shoulders and let me know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. As a kid I remember hearing “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, and even though she was singing about being a girl, I felt like the “ugly ducking” she sang about. I felt comfort from the song, and it let out some of the emotion I had bottled inside. I remember hearing Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” for the first time. It stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t breath. I bought it, and whenever I played it in private it would bring tears. I love sad songs. They are full of emotion and help dislodge feelings.

As a songwriter, I’ve only written a few completely sad songs. The one that immediately comes to mind is “Lonely Motel”, the only country song I’ve ever written or sang. It was released as a digital single only (since I didn’t think it fit on my CD at the time). I remember the concept of “checking in to a lonely motel” coming to me, and I knew at once – with those lyrics – it had to be a country song! A funny footnote about recording the song (which I still remember vividly) – I recorded the vocals while standing in a clothes closet! My producer at the time was in the process of moving his recording studio, and I recorded it in his house. The only place that was quiet enough with the right sound absorption was in a tiny closet full of clothes! So I stood there, with hanging clothes touching me in every direction, singing the song. I think somehow, it helped with interpreting the emotion of the lyrics. I’m very happy with how it came out. I love the orchestration and arrangement, and I’m often told it is one of the favorites of my songs by fans.

So for any of you who happen to be in a place where you feel you’ve given everything you have and nothing has worked out, here’s “Lonely Motel”:

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Dancing With the Stars – I Am Dancing!

I don’t watch much reality TV, but this season I heard Patti LaBelle was going to be on “Dancing With the Stars”. I’ve been a big fan of Patti’s for decades, seen her in concert a few times, and just love her, so I decided to watch the show. For those who have never seen it, the concept is simple: a famous star (who is not a dancer) is paired with a professional dancer, and each week they perform different dances (tango, rumba, waltz, modern, and so on) for four judges. Each week the couple with the lowest combined score (judge’s scores and viewer’s voting scores) goes home. They start with 12 stars at the beginning of the season, losing couples each week, until there is a winner 12 weeks later (I guess). Well we are now in week 10, about to start the semi-finals next week, and Miss Patti has already been eliminated (in week 5 or 6 I think) – but I’m still glued to the show!

I find “Dancing with the Stars” incredibly moving. The thing that surprises me about it, is that while everyone is dancing against everyone else, they are actually dancing against themselves. The real challenge for each of the stars is to personally grow each with, with each dance. They are given pointers and creative feedback on how to improve by the judges, and each star works hard to become the best dancer they can. It is very much about leaving behind all the doubts and thoughts we all have that hold us back. It is about expressing yourself and stepping into life. And dance, I’ve always thought, is the ultimate vehicle for expressing yourself.

It is pretty amazing to watch. Patti is 70, and still was moving and shaking on the floor with such infectious energy! And I’ve watched non dancers, like “The Bachelor”, Chris Soules, go from being clunky and stepping off the beat, to moving like a real dancer. Singer/actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) is one of the most graceful and stunning dancers I’ve seen. She is so gorgeous to watch dance. One of the most powerful couples on the show is Sergeant Noah Galloway (partnered with a dancer named Sharna). He lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in his second tour of duty. It is nothing short of inspiring to watch him dance. Each week, he uses more and more of his body. I can’t believe how he lifts his partner and moves around the dance floor. It is nothing short of astonishing. A huge example of overcoming obstacles, and that we are capable of much much more than we think is possible. Here is one of his dances:

This show is so inspiring, and it makes me want to dance!

That brings me to a song from my “Peace At Last” CD, titled “I Am Dancing“. I didn’t write it for the show, but the theme of the song is very similar to the feelings I am getting from watching it. “I Am Dancing” is a song about finding one’s inner strength in the face of doubts and fears, and having that strength lead one though their life. I love this song. It too makes me want to dance! You can hear it by clicking the play button below.

Oh, and one little known fact: if there was one thing I would have loved to be that I’m not, it was a dancer!

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