Heads-up: Be sure you have a few spare minutes for this post – it’s a little, I mean a lot, longer than the rest of ‘em! :)
I know, I know – it’s been a long time. The last blog post I wrote was six months ago! It was all about our life-changing experience at a Journey concert.
Shortly afterwards, I was excited to share that write-up with Journey’s new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, to show him how he had impacted my life. The very same day he replied with a tweet that said: “Thank you so much for this. Really enjoyed reading your write-up about your experience. Goosebumps!”
So cool. So, if you haven’t read the post yet – please do!
Funny how the post ended with a message to Journey, saying: “See you all again soon…”
And so it is. Here I am, six months later – and Bill and I just returned from a winter road trip to hang with Journey once again!
I’ve gotten so much reader feedback in the past, asking me to keep sharing the fun details about our big adventures…so here ya go!
Winter road trip
The stars aligned for us to do a winter concert road trip. Bill had extra vacation days, we had a bunch of hotel points to use, we received unexpected gift money, and…it was my birthday! We found two pairs of awesome tickets on eBay for two back-to-back Midwest Journey shows.
Concert destinations: Sioux City, Iowa; and Moline, Illinois.
Everything about our 1,000+ mile road trip was awesome. Roads were dry (doing this in the winter was risky), temps were warm (hey, 40 degrees in the winter – I’ll take it!), and we had all kinds of great Journey tunes on deck to keep us fired-up and ready for a good time.
Road trips are funny. Sometimes you get blocked by two semis and simply can’t go anywhere.
Sometimes you drive for miles off the interstate in search of food and still can’t find anything, even though you see this sign below (the bonus is that you at least get a good tour of Random Smalltown, U.S.A.):
Sometimes the drama gets amped up a notch when we hit a stretch of interstate where there are NO gas stations anywhere on the horizon. This time we got pretty close to empty and my mind was already scrambling to figure out the steps necessary to get us to the show in time…while stranded with no gas. We ended up finding a place at the 11th hour, and I asked my driver if we could please not create this kind of drama again.
No matter what, Bill always somehow makes me nervous on our concert road trips. We’re always listening to great songs (loud!) to get us fired-up – which is important, but it also serves as a catalyst for Bill to practice his hottest air guitar (or keyboard or drum) moves. He seems to do okay steering with his knees, but it always puts me on-edge!
When we’re on a concert road trip, we have a few rituals. One of those includes stopping at a Subway for lunch. I mean, have you ever been anywhere in the U.S. where you can’t find a Subway? It’s tradition.
Once we get to our destination city – and before we get to our hotel – we do a “drive-by.” We drive to the arena and see what kind of fun places are in the area to hang before the show. It’s a must to find ‘the’ place to be, ya know. We’re serious about this business.
Then we check into the hotel, and Bill heads straight for the hot tub and then takes a post-drive/pre-concert power nap.
During that time, I’m getting ready and getting excited!
Before we leave the room, one of our routines is to set our intention for the night together. We’re always smiling and feeling our appreciation for the experience we’re in the middle of, and about to have. And we always wonder what type of fun stories we’ll come back to the room with! We end our huddle by saying we “trust that everything will unfold perfectly and for the greater good of everyone involved.”
Oh, we also make sure my purse has the following necessities (in addition to lipstick): 1) Bottle caps, and 2) Earplugs. You never know when an arena has a hard and fast rule about not giving you a cap with your bottled water or beer. That’s just inviting trouble and makes your bottle a perfect target for some raucous fan to kick over. However, go to a show with us and you’re all set!
When it’s time to head out, we go to whatever nearby bar/restaurant we’ve deemed is “the one” and chat with the locals. It’s always fun to learn their stories – where they’re from, when they first became a fan, what they love most about the band, etc. Everyone’s got a story to tell.
This time, we met a mother with her teenage daughter. We met a father with his teenage son. There were plenty of giggly 40-something women all glammed up (I was wearing sequins, so I guess this includes me, too). And groups of long-haired guys with well-worn faded concert t-shirts, still stuck in the 1980’s.
LOVE the diversity!
That first night we set up shop at the nearest food/drink establishment and enjoyed people-watching before the show.
We love checking out various cities with different venues. Sometimes a beer is $3. Sometimes it’s $12 (?). Sometimes they have great crowd flow…and sometimes they don’t. Here’s a shot below I took of Bill across the concourse as we both stood in line for the bathroom. Twelve total minutes for me to go through the line and get my turn…GEEZ! That was probably the longest we were apart during our trip – we don’t like being apart!
We had front-row center seats for the first night and we were beyond excited!!!
Loverboy and Pat Benatar opened. Who knew I was such a big Loverboy fan? They were amazing and completely rocked the house! “Turn that dial, all the way, shoot me like a rocket into space…” AAAHHH!!! I went completely nuts.
A funny thing happened
A funny thing happened during Pat Benatar’s set. Her longtime husband and guitarist, Neil Giraldo, made eye contact with me and prepared to toss out his guitar pick. The lights were so bright and I held out my hands to hopefully catch it…and instead, the pick landed right in my cleavage and stuck there! Everyone around me laughed in amazement, and the security guy came over afterwards with a big smile and said, “Nice catch, Doll.” Haha, now that’s a first!
Sidebar: Pat told us that one of her music videos was actually the second one to be aired on MTV (after “Video Killed the Radio Star”) in 1981…making her husband, Neil, the very first guitarist ever featured on MTV! Pretty cool trivia, huh?
Connecting with Arnel
That morning, I sent Arnel a tweet to say that Bill and I would be at the show the next two nights.
And so my favorite moment came during the first Journey song. Arnel came right over and pointed at me several times with a huge, lingering smile as if to say: “There you are! There you are!” Awesome.
Why am I and so many others captivated by this guy? I can only tell you what’s true for me, and it has so much to do with what’s possible in life.
Without even mentioning that he is one of the most amazing performers I have ever seen (!), you may have read in my last post that Arnel had, at one point, been homeless in the Philippines and singing in exchange for food. Journey guitarist, Neal Schon, found Arnel on YouTube…and the rest is history.
We love his story on Oprah:
Part one – 8.5 min.
Part two – 6 min.
It’s easy to get caught up in the “details” of life and how, on earth, things we wish for will work out. Arnel is a living example of the importance of following your joy, embracing your passion, honoring your calling.
When you do this, things will always work out – often times in ways that are unimaginable to us. Simply live your life, in the best way you know how, and let God do the rest.
Anything. Is possible.
At home, Bill and I pull cards out of a basket each morning with inspirational quotes printed on them – to remind us of connecting with the big-picture of life, amidst the day-to-day busyness. Just this morning, the card he drew highlighted that the absolute best way you can inspire others is to fully be yourself and be in alignment with your calling.
Yeah, this is what I’m talking about. It totally ties-in to the important work I do with my clients in helping them understand that if they believe…nothing is outside of our reach.
I can’t help but watch Arnel in awe. He reminds me to continue to dream. He inspires me to be my best. He shows us all that anything is possible.
What a thrill, when at the end of the show, he shouted to the crowd, “Hope to see you all soon!”…and then pointed to Bill and me with another big smile and said to the two to us: “Tomorrow night!!!”
What a spectacular ending as we were covered in confetti from the finish of the song “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
After the show
After the show, it’s hard to wind down after such a high-energy night. One of our end-of-the-night rituals is to grab something to eat and bring it back to the room and talk about our great night. Bill made his traditional stop at the gas station next door for his post-concert burrito treat called “The Bomb” (see below).
Yuck! Sorry, Babes, but that looked disgusting.
Peanut M&M’s from the hotel vending machine for me, please.
Then while getting ready for bed and reminiscing about our night, a bunch of confetti fell out of my shirt onto the hotel floor. Ha! Definitely the sign of a good party.
Even though it was vacation, we had to set the alarm early to make it to the next show. Only a few hours of sleep was in store for us. No rest for these rockstars!
We had a full day’s drive ahead of us all the way across Iowa. We needed to be at the next city in time to do our drive-by, check-in to our hotel, get ready, and then head straight to happy hour and dinner!
Driving day #2
How fun that shortly after we got into the car, one of “our” songs came on the radio – “Whenever I Call You Friend” by Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks. We stopped talking and let the beautiful song fill the space.
But it was the very next song that made us stop in our tracks: “Miracles” by Jefferson Starship. This one ALWAYS comes on before, during, or after something, well – miraculous. Seriously. I even wrote a post about its significance in our life. In fact, most recently on our Neil Diamond Summer Road Trip, we had an amazing experience just after hearing this song - go here to check it out and see what happened!
We were both overcome with feelings of gratefulness as well as anticipation. Most importantly, we were reminded that we are not alone – we are always loved, supported, and being watched out for. Our angels always have our backs.
After listening to more Journey songs and visiting a few rest stops off the interstate, Bill pulled out a birthday card for me from the backseat. I don’t know how he hides things from me – I’m not an easy one to hide stuff from! The first thing I thought when I saw the envelope was, “Hmm, looks like somebody got into my markers…”
It was the inside of the card that brought tears to my eyes (after the printed part that said “Happy freakin’ birthday!”). An excerpt of it said:
“OMG! Can you believe the night we had last night???!!! I knew it would be amazing! And…we get to do it all again tonight. Woohoo!!! I LOVE adventuring with you…our life together simply ROCKS!!!”
And it was signed from “Rock Star Prince” with a smiley face.
Here’s the kicker: He wrote out this card before we left for our road trip.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
We found a Chipotle, where two young Iowa state troopers were taking their lunch break inside, too. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and felt moved to go up to the guys. I told them we were on a road trip and driving all the way across “their” state and thanked them for keeping the roads safe. They both responded with huge smiles and welcomed me to Iowa and told us to have a great trip. What a fun exchange!
I always like to acknowledge people for the jobs they do. It’s is an important part of these road trips for us, where we make sure to express our gratitude by giving big tips and dishing out extra positive feedback. It feels good! And it’s cool how joy is like a boomerang – it always, always comes back to you.
That night, we had awesome third row seats for the show. And if you know us, we thought – that if it was meant to be – we would try for front row seats…and then sell or give away our third row tickets. Just like we’ve done before.
So, I kept checking for seats on Ticketmaster throughout the day. I had the seating chart memorized (it was a little tricky for this show), and Bill and I knew exactly where we would love to sit: front and center!
We got to our hotel without much time to spare. We checked in and got onto the elevator, and what a pleasant surprise to take the elevator up with Loverboy’s keyboardist, Doug Johnson! It was a treat to thank him personally for the previous night’s show and tell him how excited we were for the show that night. I told him we’d be up front and wave.
Look at the cool room we got – our hotel was right next to the arena, and we laughed out loud when we pulled the curtains back. Ha! It doesn’t get any better than that.
In sticking to our ritual, Bill took a power nap while I got ready.
Just as Bill was waking up, one more time, I checked for tickets on my phone.
AAAAHHHH!!! Are you kidding me?
Front row, dead center, had just opened up. The exact two seats we had imagined!
I grabbed them and we were elated. We decided right then and there that we would stay true to our mission and for sure make someone else’s day and give them our third row seats.
So many people keep asking us how we do it – how we manage to get front row seats over and over. And over. When someone recently asked me on Facebook about it, I replied that I’ll chalk it up to the 4P’s: Passion, Positive attitude, Persistence, & Pure intentions. I actually made that up on-the-spot (pretty good, huh?), but it’s all true. And I’d like to add that we do have some really cool Ticket Angels who always help us out. :)
Because so many people have asked about it through the years, it will definitely be a topic for an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!
We set our intention for the night and trusted that we would find the perfect twosome to give our seats to. We headed down to the TGI Friday’s connected to our hotel, which was filled with a myriad of concertgoers (since it was next door to the arena), and grabbed the last two open seats at the bar.
A super sweet couple was sitting on the barstools next to us – they were celebrating their anniversary and were so excited for the show, too.
Little did they know that we had found our targets. Sweet! It was meant to be.
Our new friends
It’s funny how, if you look on paper, we should have totally sold our first set of tickets. We had paid a pretty good marked-up price for them and thought it would be nice to get a little of that covered.
But what for?
Bill and I know that we have a mission in life. It’s about embracing the things that bring us joy; it’s about having fun in life. And…it’s about sharing all of that joy with others. So, it made sense, naturally, to make someone else’s day and just give the tickets away.
One of the many, many things I love about Bill is his tender heart. When we asked the nice couple, Dan and Julie, if they’d like to have our tickets that were right up by the stage, it was Bill whose eyes filled with tears. I wanted to hug him tight right then…but I had to stay focused on our joyful transaction with this sweet couple.
Later, when they got to their new seats, Julie said she thought she “died and went to heaven.” Awesome! Dan walked up as high as he could in the arena, to pay it forward and give their original seats to someone else. He found a couple sitting alone, and after convincing them that he was serious, the couple followed him down two balconies to their brand new seats for the night.
As he walked away, he saw the couple kiss.
Later, Julie excitedly told me, “We brought them unexpected joy as you did for us!” Love it. It was so fun to be a part of a special exchange together.
Another ritual Bill and I have is when it’s time to go to our seats before the show, we do what we call a “Gratitude Walk”…all the way across the back of the arena to our seats. Slowly and purposefully, taking it all in and embracing the appreciation we feel for being a part of such a magical experience.
I wish I could bottle that energy and hold onto it forever.
When we got to our seats, we were happy to be sitting next to a young couple in their early 20’s who had just gotten married less than six months ago. Journey’s “Open Arms” was their ‘walk-down-the-aisle’ wedding song and “Faithfully” was their first dance song! I was impressed with their music taste, even though, most of this music was popular before they were born. Good going, guys!
Then the guy behind us got to his seats and looked at us in disbelief at how close we all were to the stage, threw his arms up, and shouted: “ARE YOU #@*%ing KIDDING ME???!!!” in his best Joe Pesci imitation. Haha, so much fun to see everyone all excited for the show.
Once again, the show was a BLAST. High-energy, feel-good music that connected hearts and souls with big-time joy. To see the aliveness in peoples’ faces filled me up. This band knows how to spread joy, and their cute, energetic, happy front man from the Philippines knows just how to engage people and rally them – that’s his specialty.
Arnel gave us all high-fives and fist bumps. He sang lyrics of songs to each of us, personally. He held our hands. He led us all in singing the Journey anthems that have been part of the soundtrack to so many of our lives. He leaped around the stage with his shiny new Dr. Martens boots catapulting him high in the air.
He belted out “Open Arms” and “Faithfully” and seemed to know the importance to the young newlyweds next to us and sang a few lines right to them. As I was singing along on those songs, I was all choked up seeing them slow dance out of the corner of my eye, knowing how special that moment was for them. Holli told me later they both almost lost it.
What a fulfilling night of JOY and positivity – led by guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bass player Ross Valory, drummer Deen Castronovo…and Arnel.
Wow. I’m STILL smiling…
When Bill and I look back on the experience, we are so in awe of getting those front row seats AGAIN. We were already so grateful for the great seats we had and were perfectly happy with them. The universe works in magical ways…
Now that I think about it, before we originally bought our third row seats, I told my contact on eBay we were “going for front and center, so I’d have to think about it.”
I tweeted to the band and said that we’d be up front.
I told the Loverboy keyboardist we’d be in the front.
Remember when I said in the hotel room we set our intention for the evening and trust that all will unfold perfectly and for the greater good? Maybe it was Bill and me who were really supposed to be up front, sharing our smiles with the band. Or maybe we got those tickets so that Dan and Julie could have that up-close experience. Or maybe it was so that the people that they passed their tickets along to…could have a certain type of experience. Or maybe it was for each and every one of us involved in the ripple effect.
Who knows. I don’t like to question things – I just prefer to trust. So, regardless – it all happened how it was supposed to.
It’s so cool the way all that works. Bill and I are really good about talking through everything and honoring every little thing that happens. I’ll never forget when we sat down at the bar before the show, just after getting our front row seats, and Bill said his heart was swelling with gratitude.
The next morning, we had the luxury of sleeping in (rockstars need a break, ya know!). We laid in bed and I read the concert reviews from my phone out loud to Bill in the next bed over (I love when we get separate beds in hotels where I can have the whole bed to myself!).
It was nice to chill – no show to get to and no need to hurry home. As we leisurely reminisced about the last two nights, this view from my bed made me smile!
We packed up and got into the car, and guess what was playing on the radio as soon as the car started? Journey’s “Be Good to Yourself”! So cool. Shortly afterwards, we were talking about the various songs that were played during the shows and then mentioned one that wasn’t played…and within minutes that one, “Who’s Cryin’ Now,” came on the radio, too. What? Crazy.
We drove toward our final destination: Des Moines, Iowa. There, we built in one extra night to break up the long drive home, chill, and bask in the afterglow. The night included pizza delivery and a movie (and Bill’s hot tub, of course). Aaahhh…down-time.
The next morning on our drive home, we listened to part of the audio version of Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities book. The premise is that you experience in life what you believe you will experience. It was a beautiful finale to the trip as it tied in with Arnel Pineda’s life story and the experience we had just encountered. If you stay true to your passion, maintain a positive attitude, are persistent, and have pure intentions (and don’t stop believin’!)…you will live the life you dream of.
During one of the shows, we sat next to a cool guy from South Dakota, Tom, and his 16 year-old son. Tom and I emailed each other after the show, and I thought his heartfelt words captured the experience perfectly:
“Life dishes out joy in many facets and music is a big one. From the moment the lights dimmed ‘til the final bow by the band, you couldn’t ask for a more fun-filled, joyous, and uplifting performance. My son and I enjoyed every second of it, and Arnel establishes a connection with his audience that few performers can.
It was a full night of positive and fun music that swept away any cares in the world. You never know what this life will bring – I could be gone tomorrow, but I will take comfort in the fact that my son and I had a great time together and bridged the generations to get there through Journey and their music. That is a piece of joy and a treasured memory that can never be taken away from us.”
Living our mission
About a month ago at the beginning of the New Year, Bill and I set aside several hours to do our “2012 Reflection/Appreciation” and our “2013 Visioning/Planning.” During this time, we began working on a mission statement for us as a couple. While it’s still a work in progress, part of it (at least today) states: “As soulmates, adventure partners, and lovers of life – we embrace, appreciate, and celebrate all aspects of life…inspiring others to fully LIVE.”
Thank you, Journey, for providing a backdrop for us to experience and honor our mission in action. We love you guys! And we won’t stop believin’…
Once again I’ll say it: SEE YOU AGAIN SOON! :)
Wanna experience a bit of what we did? Here’s a fun video I found on YouTube – a great wrap-up of the show (after about 9 ½ minutes, you can see Bill and me rockin’ out for the rest of the video – hee hee!):
P.S. Did you like this write-up of our winter concert road trip? Then, here are two other road trip write-ups you will LOVE…with all kinds of other magical happenings: Steve Miller Band Road-Trip, Neil Diamond Road-Trip.
Lastly, a bit of trivia here: The very first Following Your Joy blog post stemmed from a concert road trip, too! With Fleetwood Mac.