Dream the dream...then wake up and do it

Everywhere I went last week, people were talking about Susan Boyle's show-stopping performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" on Britain's Got Talent. It's impossible to watch without feeling choked up because the lyrics are so painfully apt in combination with the power of her voice. Watching the video that rapidly went viral was exactly like an experience I described a while back in a post about "Fat Nude Writing."

As glad as I am for Susan's moment in the sun, I feel angry and sad for every job interview that blew her off, every date she never went on, and all the other Susans all around the world who are passed over on face value. Why should it surprise anyone that this woman has an amazing gift? Because she's 47 and looks it? So am I, and I must have missed the memo that said I was supposed to go out on an ice-flow and submit my spirit to the wind, having outlived my usefulness as home decor and/or potential octo-mom.

My heart aches when I hear the message of that song from "Les Mis": "Life has killed the dream I dreamed." It's a terribly sad refrain from women of any age, but particularly women of "a certain age." Middle-aged women are intellectually on fire, spiritually seasoned, and sexually ripe, but there's not a demographic on the planet that gets less respect, especially those of us who aren't aging like Rene Russo. And perhaps the worst travesty of all is how women my age dismiss themselves. It takes more than talent to sashay out in front of the world; that's an act of courage, a decision of will, and a prayer of gratitude for one's own gifts.

Susan Boyle clearly appreciates the gift she has, even though others never embraced her in a big way until now. I love that she delivered the song like a wrecking ball, then went striding off the stage instead of waiting for the panel to judge her. She's been judged plenty, no doubt. Maybe she's grown so used to being overlooked by a world that rewards youth and beauty, she's learned to fully live in her skin and find her rewards in the work.

When a woman in her Power Decades tells me she's always dreamed of being a writer, I want to shake her and say, "Wake up!" Dreams are lovely, but waking life is where it's at. Today's the day, sisters. Embrace your power, steel your spirit, sail it out there, and stride on off to the next challenge without regard for the judgement of others.

By the way, if you were thinking Susan is a one-hit-wonder, listen to this...


Like you, I've been seeing this everywhere, but I hadn't heard "Cry Me a River." What an absolutely amazing voice - and even more amazing story.

It makes me sad for all the middle aged folks, male and female, who haven't found Susan Boyle's courage to step up to the plate and take the big swing - miss or not.

Power on, Ms. Boyle. We're all rooting for you.
Nancy J. Parra said…
Great post- I've been following this story as well as working on my dream-all I can say for all of us women of a "certain age" is-you go!
Jen Singer said…
Joni, You may be 47, but you don't look it.

Anyhow, great, great post on an amazing woman.

I'd be more eloquent, but I'm still teary eyed from watching Susan's video.
Anonymous said…
I think it's awesome!

Linn said…
First of all, don't sell yourself short, you look fabulous what I've seen.

Second, 'Cry Me A River' is even more beautiful than 'I Dreamed A Dream' (which is one of my all-time favorite songs).

Third, following your dream is always important, whether you're 22, 47 or 89. Big dreams, small dreams, just do it. I'm a big beliver that that gut feeling we always get, that's your subconcious telling you to get over yourself and just do it.
Joni Rodgers said…
I also love her little happy dance when she gets the yes from Simon. Some clever little mixmaster needs to make the Susan B Dance of Victory Stomp.
She's a heroine for real women, the underdog who's never had a good break handed to her.

Unlike Valerie Bertinelli. Not to knock the woman's weight loss/super-toning at 48 accomplishment, but frankly, I'd like to think smart, professional, creative middle-aged women ought to be past having to worry about gaining public approval by looking good in a bikini. You don't see accomplished 48-year-old men feeling pressured to put themselves on display and compete with twenty-something guys in man thong Speedos.

Nothing personal, Valerie.
jennymilch said…
Color me out of it, this was the first mention I'd seen. It brought tears to my eyes. Her voice is unreal--that range, her power--but I was also moved by the transformation of the judges and audience members. From smug eye rolling pity to stunned seeming recognition of how presumptuous and unknowing they were in the face of such talent.

Thanks for clueing me in, Joni, and PS: from your pic, you look like you might be aging like Rene Russo, if that's a good thing!
A wonderful post, Joni. And thanks for link to Cry Me a River.

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