I’ll admit, I’ve been a Chicago stalker since 1993. Ok, maybe stalker is a little harsh. Follower? Fan? By no means a groupie. I have never been backstage, although I would have given my left arm to ogle Bill Champlin in the flesh and get a pic with him.

Something about those horn-blaring, keyboard-playing, sexy older dudes rocking classic tunes just made my heart pump and pulse quicken. Now, 22 years later, I still get a rush when I watch them on stage.

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Have I gone mad? my mother used to ask me, when I was a kid of 16. As a hazel-eyed, precocious, dreamer of a girl who spent her Sunday nights glued to the radio for Casey Kasem’s Countdown of the Top 20 Hits in the land, I was a certified odd duck. While other girls were out cruising in cars in boys, going to raves or bush parties, and lighting blunts, I was in my room like the perfect little Bible thumping, goody two-shoes, penning her romance novels, aka Danielle Steel style and shrieking when Cetera came on the radio with a ’70s or ’80s classic like Old Days or You’re The Inspiration.

No, Mommie Dearest, I did not lose my marbles. I simply found a band that spiked my heart rate better than any Stones or washed up rock band could do. All the other girls worshiped Kurt Cobain or Brad Pitt, but I had the image of Peter Cetera plastered all over the walls of my tiny room. She panicked, thinking I was going to run off to Idaho and find him.

When I discovered Cetera had left in 1985, I was bummed out, to say the least. But then, in June 1993, I decided to take a shot at seeing the boys in concert at a tiny pavilion called the Ontario Place Forum in Toronto. I spent six weeks cutting grass on the one acre spread at home, and my dad paid me a meager $15 a week. It was the Chicago concert, though, come hell or high water!!

There is a point to this rambling. And I will get to it. The band’s review is here, beneath the plethora of gushing. I promise.

From that pleasant first night of summer, June 21, 1993, I was hooked on Jason and the boys. That was when Mister Scheff wore those black sleeveless shirts, flaunting his huge biceps and adorable mop top of curls. Bill had that sexy growl, black leather vest and long silver hair in a poni-tail. Robert wore black spandex pants and a big purple shirt, hair in a blunt cut just grazing the shoulder.

Over the years, the guys from the Windy City have never let me down. Each show, mainly in the Toronto area, was fantastic. Back in the ’90s, they played Kingswood Music Theatre at Canada’s Wonderland or Casina Rama. Each time, my mother groaned, fussed, argued, and tried to come against my passion for “those old men again. When are you gonna grow out of this phase and give it up?” All the while, her condescending words fell on deaf ears. My sister and I got on that GO bus and headed for the show. I’m a stubborn Taurus, so I usually get my way. Miss a once-a-year show to see my boys? I’d rather die.

Fast forward to 2015. Now, with a new vocalist and keyboard player replacing Champlin, I wasn’t keen on hearing him sing. After all, I’d been spoiled by Jason and Bill singing “Hard Habit To Break” with that perfect blend of harmonies. The smokey, blues tone of Bill and the Cetera-esque vocals of Jason. How could a fill-in possibly emulate that?

Soon enough, I would find out I was wrong. I needed to give the “new guy” a chance. Who was I to judge this Lou Pardini character, anyways? I hadn’t heard a single note he ever sung. Come off it, girl. Just swallow your pride.

Earth, Wind and Fire were on double-billing with the boys. This was going to be a big deal!! Earlier in the week, I was stoked to be caller #7 on the local radio station CKDO when Chris Coppin answered the phone and asked: “CKDO…who is this?” I remember jumping up and down, shrieking, because for the life of me, I’d never won tickets to see my favorite band. For years, I’d spent piles of money on the tickets, never having the thrill of winning them for free. Here now was the moment, and I couldn’t be happier.

My sister and I arrived at the gig early.

11911513_10153259193208732_1257000067_n The lineup was huge. No one was let through the main gates til 6:40 p.m., and when finally, we all started milling through, I could feel my anxiety rising. Dammit, get me to the Keg pavilion pronto! You see, just that afternoon at 2:00 p.m., I was stoked to hear from The Keg restaurant on twitter.

They’d seen my Chicago-tagged tweet from the night before, stating how excited I was to see Jason and the boys. The Keg sent me a private message: “We’ll be there, too, Rochelle. Tell us the number of people in your group, and we’ll have complimentary drinks and food for everyone on the house.”

All I remember was running out of the house with fire in my heels and amped to the max to get to that concert. Free tickets to my favorite band AND free drinks and food? The gods must be smiling on me!!What the hell was happening with my karma lately?It seemed to be on steroids.

Finally, arriving at the venue, having some drinks and SUPERB appetizers, we all mingled with a small crowd. We were given laminated passes to wear around our necks. Sauntering around with food in one hand and a drink in the other, I was right in my glory.

Chicago came onto the stage around 7:45 p.m. The crowd went wild. They started the show with “Beginnings,” their classic hit from the early part of their career. Robert sounded smooth as ever. I watched him on the jumbo screen and turned to my sister. “Does that man never age? Look at that full head of hair. He’s 70 but looks 55.”

All the guys dress so well. Stylish jeans and a dark blazer, mostly. All sexy, all perfect eye candy for the ladies in the crowd. Something happens to a Chicago fan when we witness the guys come to the stage. There’s a collective moment of awe, then the cheering erupts. The chill through the body. The heart rate elevated. Our mood spikes, we become one with each other, all 16,000 of us.

This concert rocked my socks. Every song was pure magic, people grooving, dancing, laughing. Happy faces flooded the crowd and the joy that spread through that place was phenomenal.

The show ran about 3 hours and was well worth every penny. No bad review here. What else can I say? The weather was perfect, 18c/64f, not a cloud in site. The Full Moon shone in a cloudless sky, and the boats dotted the harbour over pristine Lake Ontario.

Jason and the guys covered all their big hits like “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4,” and sang their hearts out. When Mr. Scheff belted out the classic “Street Player,” I shrieked with delight. It’s thrilling to hear the band revisit some old hits that were not previously covered in the set. I’ve heard over the years that they really love their fans. There’s no such thing as a bad Chicago performance, and I’ll vouch for that.

So when the new guy on keyboards came out and rocked the keys with his blond-streaked hair, black vest, white shirt and black pants, I was a believer. Gone was Champlin and his signature growl, but in his place was a soulful crooner named Lou Pardini.

At the risk of sounding weird, I’ll confess I have a thing for Mr. Lou. Besides, what’s not to love? Slick vocals, killer style and sex appeal that makes any hot-blooded woman from age 35-55 swoon with lust. Okay, okay. I’m being a little extra, but you get the picture.

Moral of the story, my boys did the show justice. They gave us a stellar performance, and made us proud of their 48 years of fantastic music. We came, we saw, we drank, we ate, we swooned. The band conquered.

By the end of the night, this tired little Chicago fan crawled into bed exhausted, yet fulfilled. Happy and sated, because my head was ringing with Robert crooning the words to Dialogue Part 1 & 2.

The last thing I remember was putting a clip of Lou on my smartphone, belting out “Call On Me” from the Montreal concert in 2012. Then I fell into a deep, satisfying slumber, with visions of hot older guys dancing in my head.

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Rochelle Renee: BIO

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http://www.amazon.com/Rochelle-Renee/e/B00TKVRAXK/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_3?qid=1441108644&sr=8-3

Born in a small town in Southern Ontario, Rochelle was writing by the age of 7. Her love of short stories graduated to novels at age 14. First, young adult equestrian stories, and later, adult romance. Her biggest writing influences are Lucy Maud Montgomery, Nora Roberts, and Danielle Steel. She is passionate about music and slates the band Chicago as her all time favorite. With five novels under her belt, Rochelle can be found burning the candle at both ends well into the night. She shares her century home with a teenage daughter, guinea pig and loveable Schnoodle named Shiloh. Rochelle writes about the healing power of love and hasn’t given up hope that her prince is out there waiting. She is a journalism graduate and holds a history/sociology degree.

The Gift of Instant Karma.

Via Emilie Buttonon Jul 4, 2015

Greta Garbo

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~ Anne Frank

It was about 9:00 a.m. and already 35 degrees.

I was sitting on my backpack by the side of the Captain Cook highway in Australia wearing my red and blue superman pajama pants and dreaming of an iced latte. (I’m more of a mocha kind of girl, but I was in a life phase where I believed that sugar was the devil.)

I was sitting there because bus tickets cost $120 and I owned an impressive fortune of $60. I was hitchhiking about 2,000 kilometers north in the hope of finding some seasonal work picking fruit. To make it until then, I was planning to earn a living from the sound of my magnificent handmade ukulele. So far, it had only gotten me enough money to treat myself to one meal a day and a fancy apple juice from time to time. Considering the quality of my playing, you can call this a blessing.

On that special day, it seemed like the sun had given himself the mission to fry the earth as little, strange, frog-skin bubbles started appearing on my shoulders. I was literally being cooked alive. I grabbed my bag and started to walk by the side of the road, hoping to find some shade, but there was nothing ahead, no tree to be seen. Half an hour later, my skin singing hallelujah, I stumbled into a friendly truck stop, with spirit-lifting air conditioning and soul-warming coffee. What a lucky duck!

Once inside, I went crazy and impulsively spent 10 percent of all my fortune on a cup of pure happiness. To enjoy this special moment, I found myself a quiet and comfortable spot by the window, sat on the floor and took out Jacques, my ukulele. Three sips of coffee and one song later, a little boy, of about nine years of age, who clearly shared my super-hero fashion sense in his black and yellow batman t-shirt, came up to me and asked, ‘’Can you play The Lion King?’’ With the bright stars sparkling in his eyes, there was no way I could refuse.

“What do you think of Hakuna Matata?’’ I asked hoping he’d say yes because it’s the only one I knew. ‘’I love this song,’’ he answered. He sat next to me waiting for his private concert to start. His parents were looking at us from the McDonald’s line up and I gave them a warm comforting smile and went on with my show.

Never did I have such an enthusiastic fan by my side, and as the song went on, I could see how much he was falling for the magic of music.

“Would you like to learn to play?” I asked him. He enthusiastically replied with a loud yes. I put the tiny instrument in his hands and taught him my very first lesson. He was a quick learner and within a few minutes, he had learned a few chords and had a natural feeling for the sound and rhythm. His little tiny fingers were moving precisely from string to string. He was so focused and determined to get it right, that his tongue was sticking a bit out of is mouth without him noticing. I couldn’t help but smile, as I have the same habit when I get very much in the zone.

As he tried to find his own sound, his creative light was radiating brightly through every cell in his body. It made me feel privileged to assist such a special moment. Someone had just discovered a true passion, and I was there to witness the birth of it. Passionate people have this unique energy emerging through them that touches me deeply.

A few minutes later, when his mom and dad came to get my new favourite rock-star, I addressed the young boy and said: “If I give you Jacques, will you keep playing with him, every day?” Speechless, he happily nodded in agreement. ”This is a very special ukulele,” I continued, “and he has many stories to tell. He’s been my friend for a while but I can tell he likes you more. He’s yours now.”

His parents asked if I was serious. As I assured them I was, a few tears started rolling down his mom’s cheeks as the dad told me his son was dreaming for a while of playing guitar but they couldn’t afford the instrument. After many thanks, hugs and good words, we all went back on our own personal journey, with my turn now, to wipe tears from my face

 

It was time for me to keep moving and hit the road again.

On my way out, a truck driver came to me, touched by what he had just witnessed, and the kind stranger offered me a ride half-way to my final destination. We shared many life stories and great laughs during the ride. He took me out for lunch and we even made a stop to hike a lovely secret mountain that only the locals knew.

Once on top of this hidden paradise, in the peaceful presence of the absolute wildness, I thought to myself that was some powerful instant karma.

As for the kid, I will always remember how he butterflied his way softly and quickly in and out of my life, leaving me richer and wiser than I ever thought possible.

Relephant: 

Karma: It’s Not About what we Do.

~

Author: Emilie Button

Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photos: Mauricio Navarrete Contreras/Flickr

How to Stay Young & Hot Forever: Advice from a 96-Year-Old Grandma.

Via on Feb 26, 2013

Anna Lee at 90 years-old at a Party

My grandma was always the hottest commodity in her town, and in any town for that matter.

Bonus! Life Instructions from a 95-year old.

Perhaps it is the way she flirted and posed for the camera, even winking as she adorably crossed her legs slowly and deliberately for each photo from age six to 96, as if she were the most beautiful and important person in the world.
And ever since I can remember, that’s just who she was: the most important and beautiful woman around, and always the youngest-at-heart person I had the gracious opportunity to know.

Maybe it was the way she knew how to get the best seat at any fine restaurant on a Saturday evening, and without a reservation.

Sounding a bit like Bette Davis on a humorous day but looking more like Betty Grable, she would say, “Now don’t tell me you don’t have room for a pretty girl like me with personality to boot?” as she coyly smiled.

It worked like a charm every time.

“Come right this way,” the Maitre D would reply, as she gave me a knowing grin as if to say, “I hope you’re taking notes.”

Or perhaps it was the way that she laughed, that joyous laughter that captivated anyone who heard it, as it wasgenuine, hearty and sexy to the core because of its sincere sing-song, unpretentious and absolutely infectious sound.

Anyone who can manage to stay beautiful and youthful well into their ninth decade on this planet is someone well worth listening to. That is just what my grandma, Anna Lee did until her very last day at the ripe young age of 96.

Think of Betty White with a dash of Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball, and a princess or two thrown in for levity, and that’s just a hint of how much the hotness factor played in my grandma’s entire being.

But I believe that what truly made my grandma a gorgeous woman and appear younger than her years was her attitude about life and the way that she carried herself in it.

“If you can’t laugh at yourself, no one will ever take you seriously,” she once casually exclaimed while cutting roses from her lush and overgrown garden.

When I was a little girl, she used to take me along on endless, joyous days when we would visit museums, fashion shows; enjoy Tea Time with her friends and spend long lunches with interesting and fabulously exotic people.

Because I was with her meant that I was somehow beautiful too because she included me in her endlessly passionate and exuberant life.

One day when we whizzed about town in her Canary yellow vintage convertible Jaguar as she donned a Grace Kelly style scarf and sunglasses, she said to me, “I think we need girl’s afternoon to spoil ourselves, what do you think?”

I just smiled back at her, all of the age of 10 with my shiny, patent leather Mary Jane shoes as I held on to my door for safety as she was a fast driver, although she always managed to talk herself out of a speeding ticket with charmed-I’m-sure police officers.

One of my last memories was when she phoned to tell me she was going to purchase a new bathing suit, and“Would I like to go along?” She loved wearing festive, new suits each season as the men at The Senior Centerexpected as much, and she didn’t have the heart to let them down.

Mind you, she had been been married twice and lost her second husband some 25 years before, and was now a confirmed and happy bachelorette, living each day to the fullest of scales by anyone’s measure.

I regret that I did not shop for a bathing suit with her on that day, but I will never forget one of the last things that she said to me.

“Well honey, I just hope that you take the time to buy yourself something pretty too. It sure does a girl a lot of good.”

Grandma, you’re still doing me a lot of good, and for all of your wisdom and advice that I cherish and now pass on to my own daughters, I can tell you that we are grateful.

20 Ways to Stay Young and Hot From Someone who Really Knew How:

1. Watch your figure closely, because if you don’t take the time to do so, nobody else will. She watched what she ate and exercised, but she also knew how to wear a dress like nobody’s business.

2. Avoid spending time with people who complain about how old they feel. They will just pull you right down with them and make you feel old too. Instead, surround yourself with people who feel and act young, both inside and out. Seriously, she lived by this rule and only kept the company of positive and enlightening folks.

3. Exercise every day, no matter how tired or lazy you feel. Just moving around will make you forget about how tired you are, and pretty soon, you’ll have more energy to do all of the fun things you truly want to do. She either played golf, swam, danced or walked nearly every day of her life.

4. Travel whenever you are able. Seeing the world and discovering how other people live adds life, love and lucidity to your years. Well into her 90s, Anna Lee was traveling abroad to fabulous and exotic places on a moment’s notice.

5. Take the time to plan wonderful things for the future, this will give you something to look forward to and make you feel hopeful. Whenever I spoke to her, she had something new to tell me about what she was going to be doing—both sooner and later.

6. Be extravagant once in awhile. Whether its eating a decadent piece of chocolate cake, wearing something much too sexy for your own good, or dining at a very expensive restaurant once a year—this can make you feel both happy and young. She could be seen eating a small piece of dark chocolate every afternoon while sometimes wearing a low-cut sweater.

7. On a daily basis, eat whatever you want, drink what you want, and say what you want, but all with a degree of moderation. While she enjoyed a martini, she didn’t get drunk, although she may have danced a bit more because of it.

8. Flirt with life—not just with men and women, but with all of what life has to offer. This will make you feel young, hopeful and excited to get out of bed every day. My grandma enjoyed flirting with any man in uniform, and I am certain that if she were around today, she would flirt with my boyfriend while also flirting with the idea of buying new shoes.

9. Surround yourself with lively, smart, fun and interesting people who adore being around you, don’t settle for anything or anyone else. I once witnessed my grandmother speaking to a man with a mustache who spoke to her in Italian about a book he had just written, while he smiled at her the whole time.

10. Be spontaneous. When you do something out of the ordinary and on barely a moment’s notice, this can make you feel alive and young. She was known to announce unexpected trips and excursions to the beach.

11. Don’t ever feel sorry about yourself. It is a waste of time and a waste of your life. And it also bores people to tears. Never once in all of my years did I ever hear my grandmother complain about her life.

12. Take the time to be beautiful. You can’t feel both depressed and fabulous at the same time. She got her hair done every week; it was dyed a beautiful shade of blonde with perfect flips and fragrant hairspray.

13. Treat yourself regularly to wonderful little things, especially if they seem unnecessary and frivolous. This will remind you that you are wonderful and when you feel wonderful, you just feel better. She often frequented special bookstores and could also be found buying herself shoes and hats on cold winter days.

14. Never say or think that you are “too old” to do anything. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, you are only as old as you make up your mind to be. My grandma was the first person to volunteer to do anything that seemed youthful.

15. Live the way that you feel your real age to be, not what others tell you. If you feel 16, keep that energy up and you will feel like a teenager for as long as you are willing. Even though she was way past sixteen, she could make anyone around her feel as forever young as she was.

16. Every morning when you wake up, tell yourself you are a beautiful and wonderful person while you look straight into the mirror. Anna Lee really did this, I saw her, and she would also sing to herself on occasion.

17. Read a lot of history, it will teach you a lot about what other people have gone through and their stories will inspire you. It will give you perspective about how good you really have it right now. My grandma was absolutely obsessed about history, especially about the soap opera dalliances of English Royalty and the sufferings of commoners and romantics.

18. As soon as a negative thought comes into your mind, make a habit of replacing it with a joke, a humorous anecdote, watch a funny film, or call a positive friend. Grateful to say, she often called moi for a humor boost.

19. Whether you’re a man or a woman, never sit around all day in your bedclothes. Get dressed, brush your hair, spiff yourself up and be ready for the Queen of England if she happens to stop by. Within a half hour of waking, she had her “face on,” her heels and her hair brushed and smelling like candy.

20. Pay attention to children because they know how to be happy, young and carefree. I should know about this one, I was lucky enough to be her granddaughter, and she paid a lot of attention to me and my three daughters.

Anna Lee in Bathing Suit 1922, Top rightNote and Background about my Grandmother:

All of the above was actually said by my grandmother, some of it paraphrased.

Anna Lee Shetler, born Anna Lee Williams was born in Oklahoma to my great grandparents in 1913, her father was a newspaper publisher and local politician, and he later opened up a chain of hip and swanky nightclubs when they moved west to California.

She attended Beverly Hills High School where she met my grandfather, Robert Biller and then attended Chouinard Art Institute and became a well known and respected restorer and collector of antique clothing and dolls from the 17oos through the early 1920s which, along with vintage cars with her second husband.

After he passed away, she spent the last 20 years of her life traveling around the world with girlfriends, tour groups and even ventured to Russia and China by herself.

She also added a small museum to her home where she held private showings of her collections, along with luncheons and charity events.

She loved to tell tales about her travels, share her advice and most of all, be wined and dined by people she loved while she wore beautiful clothes.