Monday, October 14, 2013

In it for the long run

The anticipation was high as I roamed through my dresser, looking for the perfect outfit, an outfit that would hug me in all the right places while exposing a bit of skin. An outfit that would let my inner confidence shine. Nothing was to be left at chance. I carefully laid out the perfect top, matching bottoms, my favorite underwear and socks on the bed. I finished by pairing it all with the perfect pair of shoes.

I gave myself a manicure and pedicure, carefully choosing the perfect nail polish to go with my outfit and spirit. An extra bit of pampering was the perfect way to relax while marking the occasion that something special was about to happen.

After making sure my hair was exactly the way I wanted it, my skin was soft and supple, and my face had a healthy glow, I slipped into my outfit, stepped into my shoes and took a final look at myself in the mirror. I was happy about what I saw and I felt like a million bucks. Just as I was heading out the door, I grabbed my bag and made sure I had everything: keys, wallet, cell phone, race bib, timing chip, hydration belt, gels and my heart-rate monitor.

One can hardly say that I had not done this before, even though I've become picker in later days. Every time I've felt pumped, excited and ready to go. But also nervous, slightly worried and with varied degree of doubt and hesitation. Would it be a positive surprise or would I leave feeling disappointed?

The more I kept putting myself out there, the more different emotions I had to process. The best days left me feeling elated and full dreams about a future with endless possibilities. After the worst days, I would feel broken, in tears and wondering why I keep doing it, why I was willing to risk having my hopes crushed. And these are just the emotions I've gone through, not even thinking about the physical highs and lows.

But last time was very different. When I decided to give it another go, I thought it would be like all other times, but in the weeks leading up to October 6, I noticed a shift, something had changed. This was not going to be record breaking or limit stretching, I had to settled for it being nice and easy. I just didn't have it in me, the energy to push, to achieve and to challenge myself.

True to my prediction, as I stood on the starting line, there was no energetic excitement nor nervous doubt, instead I felt prepared, calm and a quiet confidence I had never felt before. And as it turned out, the race was neither record breaking nor limit stretching, but it was the most pleasant and enjoyable race I've ever done.

It took 16 different encounters to find the feelings I so desperately have been searching for. Maybe I never found them because I was looking for the wrong things. Maybe the allure of passion and drama clouded my judgement, I should've known from the start that they would never trump confidence, encouragement and joy. In the end, maybe I had to wait for the feelings to find me.

I think this is it, or at least I hope it is. The timing is perfect and the stage is set, all I need to do is to grab this opportunity and run, literally. I'm still weary and deadly afraid that these feelings will fade, so I will take is slow, give it time and hopefully nurture this into something that will last a lifetime.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jennifer's Wings

Today is September 1st. Summer is officially over and autumn is upon us. Time to retire the tank tops, shorts and flip flops and time to bring forth the sweaters, scarves and socks. But more importantly, finally time for boots!

A couple of months ago, during high-summer, my husband and I bought our first pairs of Red Wing boots. He, The Gentleman Traveler and I, The Iron Ranger. Ever since, I've been waiting for boot season. And now it's finally here! Given that the climate in Northern California never require boots, I decided to wait for an appropriate date rather than wait for appropriate weather.

These shoes are made from thick and sturdy leather, meant to last a lifetime and therefore can be quite stiff before they mold to your feet. To remedy this initial "softening period" and to set me up for future boot heaven, I've decided that these Red Wings boots will be my only pair of shoes I will wear for the month of September. I see this as a perfect opportunity to break them in and to experiment with the versatility of these boots. However, there is an exception to the "only pair I will wear"-rule. I will be wearing much more appropriate shoes while exercising. There will be no half-marathon training in leather boots!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


It might not be the hottest topic anymore, and I'm sure everything that could have been said has already been said, but that's not going to stop me from making a totally redundant statement: "Social networking is the new way for people to connect and communicate with the world around them."

I'm a user of Blogger, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and my latest addition, Instagram. While these are all entertaining to me, in one way or another, I would like to share with you, one of my favorite social networks, Fitocracy.

It's a network for anybody who is interested in fitness, exercise, diet, nutrition and healthy living. I will let wikipedia explain the details:

I've been a member since March 16, 2012. Since then I've logged all my activities, completed quests and achievements, joined different interest groups and followed some spectacular people on their journey towards a stronger, fitter and healthier life.

Why is this network so appealing? First of all, it's mostly anonymous. You're free to choose any profile picture and user name. Most people use nicknames and many profile pics are of a cartoon, a quote or a flexed muscle.

Some people use it solely as a tool for tracking workouts while others are connected to thousands of people and active in several interest groups. It doesn't matter, there is room for everyone. And there is really room for everyone. Fitocracy hosts bodybuilders, Cross-fitters, ultra marathoners as well as people who just made the decision to eat better, who've lost their first pound, people who are recovering from injuries or other health issues and average Joes.

Unlike my other social networks, the overwhelming majority of the people I'm connected to are total strangers to me. I know them solely by how much they lift, how fast they run or how much weight they have lost. Because of the anonymity, people have the freedom to boast about their successes as well as show weakness when things are tough and look for comfort and support.

If I use my own journey as an example, I had a whole group of people who cheered me on when I finished my marathon, people who understood, on a fundamental level, what an accomplishment it was, both running it and training for it. Recently, when my motivation dwindled, they were there to lend support and encouragement. Sometimes it's enough to read about someone else's progress or struggle to motivate you and lift your spirit. Hopefully I've been able to give back what I have received. It truly is heart-warming when someone tells you that you're an inspiration.

On fitocracy you will find countless photos of half-naked people flexing their muscles, of weight-loss progress, of food, of inspirational quotes and of race finishers. It's all in good spirit but if you can't stand it, Fitocracy is not for you. But if you want to learn, share and be inspired to live a healthy and strong life, I think you should give it a try. And if you do, look me up. Username: JenniferLT

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Running frustrated

In 10 weeks (plus a few days) I will run my third half-marathon. It always seems like such a good idea when I register, but somewhere down the line, I always question my decision. Usually it's when I've been churning out one mile after the other and all the miles are starting to grow into one big, gooey (and sweaty) pile of mush.

I wonder how it will be this time around. One thing is different. This will be my very first time using a set training program. In training for all my previous races (including the marathon and the triathlon) I ran when I felt like it and cross-trained when I felt like doing that, without any more guidance than listening to my body and knowing I needed to put miles in my legs. I'm hoping that following a set training program will keep me on track, help me use my time efficiently and take all the guesswork out of the equation. 

To be honest, the reason why I feel it's not enough to listen to my body this time around, is because I haven't liked what's it's been telling me lately. Ever since I started my exercise journey 2,5 years ago, I've steadily been progressing. First came gym-membership, followed by weight-loss and it all culminated in a marathon last December. But since December other things have been occupying my life and priorities. I haven't even thought much about exercise. The half-marathon I ran in May was more symbolic and held other meanings than a good finishing time. Now when things are starting to settle back into a new normal, I'm just relieved to know I haven't gained too much weight. 

So, after 6 months, I'm returning to regular exercise. And it's amazing how much speed and strength I've lost. Actually, amazing is the wrong word, depressing is more like it. I know it was expected and I know I will eventually get it back, but it's still very frustrating. Especially when I think about how hard I worked to get there in the first place! I hope everything I've heard about muscle memory is true...

But, I'm equally as frustrated with my attitude as I am with my weaker and slower physical being. I spent 28 years ignoring my body and about 15 of those actively abusing it before I finally started taking care of things. And when I did, my body responded to everything I asked of it, it even surprised me at times and ultimately showed me things beyond my wildest dreams. 

And now, all of a sudden, I'm frustrated with it for not having retained all my abilities while I sat around and did nothing? This hardly seems fair. I'm upset because I now run 11 min/miles instead of 10 min/miles. I beat myself up for using 12 lbs dumbbells when doing bicep curls instead of 15 lbs ones. Do I really have reasons to be upset, or am I just a cranky baby?

I can think of very few things that symbolize "if I scratch your back, you scratch mine" better than the relationship between body and mind. So, maybe, instead of mentally beating my body into submission, I should try to nurture and encourage it back to the strong and capable being I know, for a fact, it can be. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thinker's Block

It's been several weeks since my last blog post. One could suspect I've been having writer's block. But that would be far from the truth. I've really wanted to write, felt an urge to write, but I haven't had much to write about. Now, while writing this, I realize how unfair I am to all the people, events and happenings I've experienced over the past weeks, such as running a half-marathon, being in Sweden (with great friends from the US), having surgery, being in awe of my best friends physical achievements, running a crazy night race, baby-shower, house-warming and birthday celebrations. All (and more) of the above deserved attention and could have been written in lengths about. So what has stopped me? I think I've been having thinker's block.

If writing is putting thoughts on paper, an essential part of writing is thinking. If almost every thought is fleeting, nonsensical and lack any kind of depth it is difficult to motivate spending time on writing about it. At least writing anything that would result in a blog-post. Perhaps if I only wanted to write a SMS/IM...

I realize what I've written this far is the direct opposite of profound. And I hope you're not waiting for it to grow into something meaningful. It won't. I think this is just a very long way to say: "Under construction. Please check back soon"

And please do check back soon. My thoughts might have taken a leave of absence after a very intense and stressful spring, but eventually they will return, batteries charged and ready to go.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Eurovision Song Contest 2013, part one

Eurovision week is upon us. For all the fans throughout Europe, this is it, the much anticipated crescendo. Within a week, we will have crowned a new winner and a new country will carry the privilege and honor of being this year's champion. But for now, it's all about Sweden, and the competition and the competitors.

It all starts on Tuesday, with the first semi-final. 16 countries are competing for 10 coveted spots in the Eurovision Song Contest finale on Saturday.

Before sharing my opinion about the songs and artists, I feel the need to clarify a few things. I have listened to, and seen, every song exactly once. The versions I have heard/seen has been from the official website. However, some of them are recordings from the national competitions and some are produced music videos. So, some of the songs may sound and feel very different when performed on stage.

Now, let's get down to business. I will list the 10 countries I would like to see in the finale. Some of them I feel stronger about, some of them made the list because I didn't dislike them as much as others. And just because I'm opinionated I will also let you know which song made the absolut bottom of my list. Since I haven't seen all the performances live, I don't feel comfortable ranking them at this stage, so the list is made according to order they will perform.

  1. Austria
  2. Slovenia
  3. Croatia
  4. Denmark
  5. Russia
  6. Ukraine
  7. Netherlands
  8. Ireland
  9. Cyprus
  10. Belgium
Worst of the night, was Lithuania. But there is some room for improvement. I might give the artist an extra point if he gets his eyebrows under control. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thoughts on Life and Death

If you have read my last blog-post, you will understand why I have been thinking a lot about life and death over the past few months. I've never really contemplated these topics before. I would like to share some of my thoughts.

I think we all want to live a full life, but I wonder how often we take the time to define what a full life is. My guess is that most people would agree, they don't mean a life full of material things, but rather a life full of family, friends, experiences, memories, achievements etc. Each individual has their own specific definition, but if living a full life is the end goal, what steps and choices do we have to take/make to get ourselves there? In thinking about life and death, we should be thinking about the life we live and the life we want to live until our time is up.

While we are busy living, my understanding of things, is that the emphasis lies on "busy" rather than "living". It seems like the ability to juggle many things at once is more admirable than the ability to relax. You are a more successful individual if you are on the hunt, rather than just being content. I wonder, when people say "live your life to the fullest", do they ever mean "be happy"? Or does the amount of entries in the calendar define our success in living?

If I was given only one month to live, would I travel the world, go sky-diving and party every night? Or would I spend time with my closest and dearest, hug them, kiss them and tell them I love them? What I'm trying to say is, if there are things you would cram into your last month alive, you should probably be doing them or have done them already.

Because the truth is, we don't know when our last month is around the corner. We should do more of the stuff that makes us feel good, that directly affect our well-being on a emotional level. If going to Tibet makes you happy, you should most definitely go to Tibet. But if going to Tibet looks cool to your Facebook friends, and it's their reactions that fuels your emotions, maybe going to Tibet actually don't mean much. If you enjoy managing others, strive to be a manager. But let your passions and personal interests guide your choices, not you perception of other people's perceptions of status.

I don't mean to sound like a know-it-all, because I'm not. And I certainly have things I need to work at, to reach my goal and definition of living a full life. I'm crazy competitive, I hate asking for help and I'm infamously impatient. But it's these flaws that got me thinking. Is it the end of the world if I loose a game of cards? Does is say anything about me as a person? If I don't know the answer to a question and ask for help, does it mean I'm stupid because I'm not all-knowing? Would it kill me to wait 30 min for the next bus? Can I make the bus come sooner by being frustrated and annoyed? At the conclusion of my life, will I even care about winning, pride and efficiency?

At the end of a life, would anyone ever wish they were less content or less happy?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A letter to a soul


It's been about a month since I talked to you. I've been thinking about you a lot. Actually, not a day goes by without you entering my mind. Not that I wanted to talk behind your back, but I have, I've talked about you everyday the past month. I guess I've been trying to find an outlet for everything I think and feel. But I think you might be the one I should be talking to. So, here is goes, here is what I want you to know.

About a month ago, I held your hand and stroked your hair, as we were only hours away from the inevitable. I'm not sure if you knew who was holding your hand or stroking your hair, but if you did, I feel I should apologies. It must have been very awkward for you. I never held your hand and I never stroked your hair, not even once, during the nine years we were in each others lives. Not until your last day, when I almost seemed unable to let go.

An hour before you passed, I walked by your bed and stroked your arm, as I was heading to the restroom. Out of all the people who loved you and cherished you, I wouldn't blame you if you were disappointed, that I was one of the last people to see you. I do feel guilty about it. But I don't feel guilty because I didn't care enough, I feel guilty because I know you never knew how much I cared.

It breaks my heart to see the family so distraught, but I know it's an expression of how much they love and how much they miss you. I'm doing my very best to help and to comfort them, but I wish I could do more.

One last thing, thank you for everything that you gave and thank you for the memories you created.

I'll talk to you soon.
your sister-in-law.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Melody Festival 2013, part two

Another week, another show. Just as expected, this week evoked several emotions and encouraged several opinions. The results were mixed and I'm slowly realizing that my musical preference might not be aligned with the public opinion at all. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, let's start from the beginning.

Anton Ewald
Despite his short 19 years on this earth, this is the third year he participates in the Melody Festival. This singer/dancer/choreographer competed in 2009 and with two different performances last year. But back in the days, he did not take center stage, but participated as a dancer behind Velvet (2009), Danny Saucedo and Andreas Lundstedt (both 2012). This year he's competing with an upbeat, dance-hit, I'm sure will play all around Sweden this summer. Something about him reminded me of Jedwards. Since I don't mind Jedwards, I didn't mind Anton Ewald either. I can't say it's the best things that's ever graced the stage, but it wasn't too bad either. The public agreed and he will get a second chance to prove his worth. The only thing that annoyed me was the voice-box he used. I would have preferred to hear his natural voice.

Felicia Ohlsson
I'll just come out and say it. This was my favorite, by far. I thought she was gorgeous, she had the right look and she had a really soulful voice. What more could I have asked for? This 18 year old performed a powerful and straight forward love ballad. It wasn't butchered by too much wailing or deconstructed to be edgy. It was just solid. It reminded me of ballads from yesteryear (80s and 90s), specifically it reminded me of Sam Brown's Stop. I loved that song, so how could I not love this? Unfortunately, the Swedish public were not as convinced. She ended up finishing in 5th place. At least it's better than last week, when my favorite finished last.

Joacim Cans
If you've read my posts about the Melody Festival from previous years, you know I have no problems deducting several points just because I don't like the artist, regardless of if they do a good job or not, I deduct point just for them being them. So, why not give an artist extra points for the exact same reason? This was Joakim Cans debute as a solo artist. But his heavy metal band, Hammerfall, has been a international success since the 90s. I really, really like Hammerfall. I really, really wanted to like this. But I really, really dislike country rock. If it was any other artist, I would have had endless opinions about everything that was wrong, but this time, I'll just say that I might not have agreed with the public that this was the worst of the night, but I'm not about to contest the decision to eliminate him from the competition.

Swedish House Wives
To be honest, I was dreading this from the get go. Individually, I respect each of the three artists, Pernilla Wahlgren, Hanna Hedlund and Jenny Silver. Between them, they have participated in the Melody Festival eight times but this was their first collaboration. Even if all three of them are well established artist with successful careers, something about the combination screamed of desperation. And the artist name they chose did nothing to help their cause. I was expecting something hopelessly dated. It turned out to be somewhat better than anticipated. Instead of hopelessly dated, it was just dated. Catchy, yes. Forgettable, yes. Tiresome, most definitely. And an extra minus for the wardrobe. Despite the popularity of the artists, the Swedish public wasn't impressed either. They left the competition finishing 6th in this round.

Erik Segerstedt & Tone Damli
My next favorite song this round. And this time, the general public and I agreed more, even if not completely. Erik Segerstedt has participated in the Swedish Melody Festival before, with the band E.M.D. In 2009, they finished in 3rd place. But he had his breakthrough when he competed in Swedish Idol 2006. His partner in crime, Tone Damli made herself a name through Norwegian Idol 2005. She was the runner up in the Norwegian Melody Festival 2009, where she lost to Alexander Rybak, who went on to win the entire Eurovision Song Contest the same year. Together, in this year's Melody Festival, Erik Segerstadt & Tone Damli performed a nice little number. It was friendly and inviting and it is actually one of the few songs from this weeks competition I can recall from memory. As I said, the public and I almost agreed. I would have wanted to send them directly to the finale, but I will have to settle for seeing them again in the Second Chance.

Louise Hoffsten
Amongst many things, Louise Hoffsten is a fighter. Since her first album released, in 1987, until now, she has fought her way to a very successful career, with several albums, awards, international successes and published books. And she continues to fight, in her battle against multiple sclerosis. An admirable artist indeed, and her performance in the Melody Festival was solid, grounded and professional, a performance only a seasoned artist can give. The Swedish public embraced her and will continue to walk along her side, all the way into the finale. On a personal note, this was not one of my favorites. But is has very little to do with Louise Hoffsten, it was everything to do with the genre of her music. It simply is not my cup of tea. I can honestly say, "it's not you, it's me".

Rikard Wolff
Mostly recognized for his acting, Rikard Wolff has been a staple in the Swedish culture since the beginning of the 90s. With a very distinct voice and en equally distinct image, he delivered just about what was expected of him. He's performance would have been quite ok, if he was a part of an ensemble, performing a musical. But he was not. This is the Melody Festival and you only get 3 minutes to tell your entire story. This number felt out of context. In my mind, he was on a stage as a sad clown sitting infront of his mirror, after a show, solemnly removing his make-up. Or a bum waking up behind a dumpster, in the middle of the night, gazing up at the stars while singing a melancholy song about something slightly positive. Again, could have worked in another setting, but not in the Melody Festival. The Swedish public agreed. He finished second to last.

Sean Banan
Just like Jack in the Box (not the Burger chain, but the actual toy), he pops up out of nowhere. Well, maybe not exactly out of nowhere, he did participate in last year's Melody Festival. And he did this year what he did last year, but with different lyrics. But still. When Sean Banan takes the stage, the energy in the room raises and the whole show feels invigorated. Is his music childish, juvenile and over the top. For sure. But was I entertained. Yes, I was. However, I was not as entertained as I was last year, so it was disappointing when he was voted directly through to the finale, something he didn't even accomplish last year. But what's done is done, and at least the finale will be more colorful now.

Tomorrow, Melody Festival 2013, part three, commences. An interesting line up awaits. I can hardly wait. Just looking at the names of this year's participating artists, I have high hopes for some of competitors tomorrow (especially one). So tune in again soon, and I'll let you know how it all went.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Melody Festival 2013, part one

Just like Groundhog day, some events brings the promise of spring and brighter times. Personally, I know spring is just around the corner when I get to dust off my pink feather boa, put on my tiara and sip champagne at 11 am. Hello, The Melody Festival 2013, how happy I am to see you!

The Melody Festival is the Swedish music competition in which Sweden decides which song to send to The Eurovision Song Contest. This year there's even more at stake. The winner of the Melody Festival will not only represent Sweden, it will represent the host country, as Sweden's Loreen won last year and brought The Eurovision Song Contest back to Sweden.

The Melody Festival is divided into four elimination rounds. From each round two songs will qualify directly to the finale, and two songs will get a second chance to advance. This set up will result in a total of six rounds; four elimination rounds followed by The Second chance and finally a grand finale, with 10 songs and amongst the 10 songs, the winner will be crowned.

Last Saturday, February 2, the whole process started, with elimination round one. I'll give you my opinion on each artist and share with you the results.

David Lindgren
He participated in last year's Melody Festival, where he finished in 4th place. He's a classically schooled musical artist and with he's ability to sing, dance and charm, he soon became a fan favorite. This year, he's back, and just as last year, he's song is an upbeat clubhit. Despite fresh camera angles, a well choreographer number and pitch perfect singing, the number lack luster and will soon fade into the generic and predictable abyss. As an artist, he is very likable and the performance was solid. The fact that he made it through straight to the finale has more to do with him as an artist than the song itself.

Cookies and Beans
The country influenced band of three blonde women made their Melody Festival debut in 2009 with their song "What If". Back then, they were eliminated in their first elimination round. I don't really remember what I though of them when I saw their performance in 2009, but I do know it is one of my sing-along songs after the fact. I have the same feeling towards this year's contribution. It was fine, even though something about the chorus didn't sit quite as comfortably with me. Maybe I will like them better the second time around, cause they did get enough votes to get another chance. Either way, I'm pretty sure I will be singing along to it in the near future.

Jay Jay Johanson
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" would be an appropriate description of Jay Jay Johanson. If you ask me, he was the best of the night. If you ask the Swedish public, he was the worst. Even though our opinions were vastly different, I can't say I'm surprised Jay Jay Johanson received the least amount of votes. Wrong artist, with the wrong song at the wrong venue. At least if you're looking for votes. But if you're looking for music that have the potential to grow and live a full life outside the competition, this was lightyears more intriguing than anything else this elimination round had to offer.

Mary N'diaye
I love being multilingual, so when a song makes me wish I never knew Swedish, you know it's bad. The artist had the right look, the beat was really catchy but the text was awful! It was so bad that I didn't even care that she couldn't sing. If she had hoped that her childish lyrics would make her adorable, she failed miserable. What a waste of talent. Cause talent she has. If you search her name on YouTube, you'll find that she actually isn't that juvenile but a pretty edgy and respectable artist. What happened? And it's not just me, the Swedish general public had enough as well. She did not advance beyond this round.

Eric Gadd
It's always worrisome when a former popular artist decides to make a comeback on the Melody Festival. Every year there's a few of them and almost always it ends up being a disappointment. Eric Gadd was hugely popular in the 90s. Since then he has released several albums but he's not reached the same levels of success. So maybe it's unfair of me to call this a comeback, I guess in some ways he never left. But did he disappoint? Yes, but not by much. His contribution was not offensive but it was luke warm and sleepy. I'm not sure I agree he was good enough to get another chance, but he did.

Leading up to this elimination round, a lot of wonder and curiosity surrounded the artis YOHIO. An androgynous guy from the north that has made himself a name on the Japanese music scene by performing in a lolita dress while singing with a distinct male voice, needless to say, there were a lot of expectations on this performer/performance. He surely looked the part och gave the audience a real show. However, the actual song was, at best, generic. There was nothing distinctly original with the song. The whole performance left me feeling disappointment. It was like being presented with the biggest box, with the most elaborate gift wrap, just to find the box empty inside. He's returning in the finale and hopefully I won't be as disappointed, now when I know what to expect.

Anna Järvinen
Being a well respected singer with multiple awards in her backpack, this singer/songwriter had potential to engage and touch people in a profound way. But instead of deep and vulnerable, it was confused and frail. At one point, I was scared for her safety. To me, she looked and sounded like a confused older lady, in her dressing gown, who'd wondered away from home and couldn't find her way back. She was in need of assistance. The general public wasn't too impressed either. She ended up in 7th place.

Michael Feiner & Caisa
Michael Feiner has produced several club-hits since 2006 and this was his second time around in the Melody Festival. He participated in the Melody Festival 2007 as a part of The Attic. Back then they didn't move beyond the first elimination round. This year he's back, with a new partner in crime, Caisa. It's been a week since the first elimination round, so it's been a week since I heard their song. But it's like I've never heard it. I vaguely remember that I appreciated the saxophone, but also that I thought they looked too old to be performing such a young number. But I can't recall anything about the song, what so ever. I guess that is enough said. They didn't manage to impress the audience either. Their journey ended just as it started.

As you have seen, I wasn't too impressed by the first elimination round. David Lindgren and Yohio made their way to the finale, which was expected and something I can live with. Cookies & Beans and Eric Gadd will get another chance. I'm happy this was only the first week, so there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Just a few words about this year's host and hostess of the show. Danny Saucedo returned this year as the host together with Gina Dirawi. After competing in the Melody Festival three times (finishing 3rd and 2nd twice) maybe Danny's time to be crowned the winner is still to come, but until then I think he is doing a good job at being the host. He's a natural performer and looks at ease leading the show. At his side he has Gina Dirawi, the blogger, the tv persona and the comedian. She co-hosted last year's Melody Festival and did a great job. She's quirky, funny and whimsical. All this while being really beautiful and professional. I'm happy she was invited back to host the show this year as well.

Tonight the competition continues. I'm ready to be blown away. And horrified. And delighted. And confused. Either way, it will evoke emotions and I will, for sure, have endless amount fo opinions about it.