super bowl inspiration

It’s so nice when you find inspiration in unexpected places. For many of us this week, it was in a couple Super Bowl commercials.

I’ll be honest … I didn’t actually see these commercials during the big game because I’m pretty sure I was too consumed with the food. When you have friends who make homemade vegan Jambalaya, pizza dip with these wonderful mini bread slices and put out yummy, spicy salsa, there is a lot to be consumed with. That’s not to mention there were cheese potatoes and desserts and a keg full of locally brewed beer.

And there were girls to talk to who cared about the game about as much as me. And there was a baby to be gawked at and a crazy half-time show where everyone seemed to be stunned by how uncool the Red Hot Chili Peppers have become.

But the day after the game, after that horrible Broncos loss* where I couldn’t help but feel bad for Peyton Manning (because he’s the only player I knew), Super Bowl inspiration started showing up on Facebook in the form of Coke and Budweiser ads.

The ad above was the 60-second commercial shown during the game. It’s lovely, beautifully filmed and full of real people who make our country great. One of the girls singing is actually a 16-year-old American Indian from Albuquerque, who learned “American the Beautiful” in Keres, her family’s unwritten native language. She said to learn the song, she had to get help from elders to translate the words.

I know there’s been controversy over the ad because multiple languages were used, but what could be more beautiful than celebrating and including our country’s diversity instead of making everyone look, talk and act the same? Our melting pot is one of the best things about living here.

Below is the full five-minute Coke ad which tells some of the stories of those filmed. It’s so lovely and definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

Then there was the gem below by Budweiser that is stealing people’s hearts. I think we all love the stories of unexpected animal friendships. How about Owen and Mzee, the famous hippo and turtle who became friends after the 2004 tsunami? And Bella and Tarra, the dog and elephant who couldn’t stand to be apart when Bella had a spinal injury?

It’s an amazing world we live in, with wonderful people, animals, love and friendships that can develop anywhere if we let them.



*On the Broncos. I cheered for the team on a whim. The best reason I had was that it was the team closer to my home. But if I could go back, I would have cheered for the Seahawks who have two former Utah State Aggies playing for them. I had no idea, people! I swear! But once I made that Broncos decision, the stubborn person in me just couldn’t go back.

build a ladder to the stars

Bob Dylan

You know why I love stars? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Stars remind me of warm, summer nights, which I live for nearly all year long. They remind me to dream, make wishes and wonder. I love when they fall from the sky, leaving streaks of light behind them that disappear in a moment. We’ve all experienced that. And when we’re with others, it seems our jaws always drop, our hearts beat a little faster, and we ask our friends, “Did you see that?!” There’s just something magical about stars.

It’s at night, when the stars are out, that we light fireworks, go to drive-in movies, cook food over campfires and fall asleep in sleeping bags. When the moon is out, snow can sparkle, and hiking trails are lit enchantingly as we walk up hills, breathing in the fresh air.

One of my favorite memories beneath the stars in recent years took place on the island of Kauai. Four of us camped on the beach, the waves swaying back and forth, back and forth next to us. And when I looked into the sky, I’d never seen so many stars. I wanted to hold that picture for as long as I could before my eyes became too heavy and I drifted away. It was cold that night and my friend and I woke up a few times. We just kept looking at those stars. What a scene.

A couple years in a row, that same friend invited a few of us to go to a rodeo and camp at a pond by her house. I loved those nights. After we watched the horses and bulls and cowboys, we slept on the grass, laughing at each other until we got too tired and our conversations slowed down to silence and dreams.

I remember struggling through a hard time one winter a few years ago and going skiing with a bunch of college kids one night. It was so pretty that night, the snow falling as we went up the lift, the trees dressed in white blankets. I made a new friend that night. Sometimes the night provides those moments.

That same friend took me to the canyon one night to build a fire and cook fish. Well, the fish actually started on fire and were burned to a crisp, but for some reason, it was still some of the best fish I’ve ever eaten because of the company and the escape from the things I was going through.

Whenever I want to think, driving at night seems to do the trick. I love long highways, the stars, my music, my car and nothing else. Sometimes that’s just what I need to figure things out for a while.

One of my favorite races I’ve ever participated in took place partly overnight. It was a 24-hour team relay and my favorite moment was running around midnight in Morgan, Utah, the stars so shiny it was hard to be anything but grateful to be alive … and part of this really fun team moment.

People come together at night. They laugh and they cry. They talk of their dreams, maybe drink wine, maybe snack on something delicious. I can’t remember how many times my friends and I used to drive to McDonald’s or the grocery store late at night, just to come, eat and share quality time.

Last year in Albuquerque, there were a few amazing lightning storms at night. I’d never seen anything like it. My husband and I, engaged at the time, sat my the window and watched for an hour. Lightning struck in every direction. It was almost scary, but overwhelmingly amazing. Even after we finally decided to go to bed, I continued watching the show from our room. I’d close my eyes and could still see the flashes. The sky, the clouds, the stars, the storms … they do wondrous things together.

I’m the type of person who always makes wishes on stars, so in that way, stars are a thing of hope. But they are also perspective. Stars remind me that I’m small. I read on any given dark, moonless night, we are only able to see a couple thousand stars at best, but there could be up to 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone. Where are all the others?

Right now, I’m living in an apartment with a nice view of the mountains, sky and sunsets. And I’m like everyone else, a little star in a great, big universe.


a global valentine


A guy from Albuquerque decided to surprise his wife for Valentine’s Day by telling some friends he knows around the world to take pictures of signs saying “I love Anne.” Then word spread and he was suddenly getting photos from strangers, too.

He’s since created a Facebook page for his wife and has received photos from more than 40 countries. Signs have been placed in front of the Eiffel tower, the Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House and the pyramids in Egypt. The signs have been written in various languages, hung from trees and held by babies.

I love this story for a few reasons. I obviously love the creativity. I love how this gift makes the world seem small and connected. I love how the husband didn’t have to spend a dime to make his wife feel special. And because I love travel and photos, it just seems like an amazing way to see the world in pictures with love being the theme.

Sometimes social media can just be another distraction. Sometimes it can be negative. But sometimes it can bring people together in creative ways and just might inspire us to spread the love.


Paris France

Photos from the I Love Anne “World Valentine” Facebook page