The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.
In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.
As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.
And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.
In a TikTok that's been viewed over 17 million times, the Gardiner Brothers don cowboy hats while they step in time to "Texas Hold 'Em," much to the delight of viewers everywhere.
Beyoncé 🤝 Irish dancing #beyonce #countrymusic
Michael and Matthew Gardiner are professional Irish-American stepdancers and choreographers who have gained international fame with their award-winning performances. They've also built a following of millions on social media with videos like this one, where they dance to popular songs, usually in an outdoor environment.
The melding of Irish dance with country music sung by a Black American female artist may seem unlikely, but it could be viewed merely as country music coming back to its roots. After all, country music has its roots in the ballad tradition of the Irish, English and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian region of the U.S. And despite modern country music's struggle to break free from "music for white people" stereotypes, it has roots in African-American traditions as well. For instance, the banjo, which has long been used in bluegrass and country music, was created by enslaved Africans and their descendents during the colonial era, according to The Smithsonian.
People are loving the blending of genres and culture that the TikTok exemplifies.
"Never thought I’d see Irish step dancing while Beyoncé sings country," wrote on commenter. "My life is complete. ♥️"
"So happy Beyoncé dropped this song and exposed my timeline to diversified talent 👏🏽👏🏽," wrote another.
"Beyoncé brought the world together with this song 😭," offered another person.
"Ayeeee Irish Dancing has entered the BeyHive chatroom… WELCOME!! 🔥🔥🔥" exclaimed another.
"I don’t think I can explain how many of my interests are intersecting here," wrote one commenter, reflecting what several others shared as well.
The Beyoncé/Gardiner Brothers combo and the reactions to it are a good reminder that none of us fit into one box of interest or identity. We're all an eclectic mix of tastes and styles, so we can almost always find a way to connect with others over something we enjoy. What better way to be reminded of that fact than through an unexpected mashup that blends the magic of music with the delight of dance? Truly, the arts are a powerful uniting force we should utilize more often.
And for an extra bit of fun, the Gardiner Brothers also shared their bloopers from filming the video. Turns out stepping in the rain isn't as easy as they make it look.
Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers
Beyoncé Bloopers #texasholdem #gardinerbrothers
And it's not the buffet.
Bryan James has become popular on social media for documenting his time working on Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas. He boarded the ship on December 8, 2023, and will continue his voyage through April 9, 2024.
The Odyssey of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in operation. It is 1,138 feet long and has a gross tonnage of 167,704 with 16 decks.
In a recent video, he revealed the biggest threat to passengers on a cruise ship. While most people, citing the Titanic disaster of 1912, would say it’s icebergs, according to James, it’s fires. He recently shared a video that shows just how seriously the Odyssey of the Seas takes the fire threat. The ship has massive doors installed in the ship that can prevent fire from moving through the ship.
“All cruise ships have these things called fire doors and they do exactly what you think. They just help prevent the spreading of fire on a cruise ship. But if you are the biggest ship in the world, you need the biggest fire doors in the world. I've never seen these until this morning,” James explained in a YouTube short.
Look at these things; they are massive!" he continued, "They probably do a really good job at stopping fires."
While fires are rare on cruise ships, in 2013, a blaze aboard one grabbed the public’s attention. A power generator on Carnival Cruise’s Triumph caught fire, which knocked out most of the ship’s power and left passengers with no lights, air conditioning, or working toilets. The ship drifted for 4 days at sea before it could be towed to Mobile, Alabama.
Fire is the BIGGEST threat to a cruise ship, not icebergs or sinking like with the Titanic
She didn’t want the girl to “ruin” her photos of the trip.
A 42-year-old mother wondered whether she did the right thing by disciplining her 18-year-old daughter, Abby, who disinvited a friend from vacation because of her weight. The mother asked people on Reddit for their opinion.
For some background, Abby had struggled with her weight for many years, so she went to her mother for help. The two set up a program where Abby was given a reward for every milestone she achieved.
“Four months ago, she asked that I don't get her any more rewards and add it up to her birthday gift, and for her gift she wants a vacation I will pay for, for her and her friends instead of the huge party I had promised for her 18th. I said OK,” the mother wrote.
So, instead of a series of small gifts, Abbey wanted one large one, a vacation with two of her friends. The vacation would also celebrate Abby’s 18th birthday. The mother agreed and booked the trip for the 3 girls.
“Fast forward to last weekend, we started preparing for her vacation,” the mother wrote. “I called the other two girls' parents to confirm the girls would be and learned Abby's best friend Betty isn't going. Betty loves traveling and was looking forward to the vacation, so I asked why. Apparently, Abby uninvited her because ‘she is too chubby to look good in pictures.’”
When the mother approached Abby about the situation, she doubled down on her comments to Betty. “I calmly talked to Abby and reminded her how Betty would feel being left out for such a reason, and she went off with, 'I didn't work so hard for this vacation so my pictures will be ruined,'" the mother wrote.
Abby then asked Betty to contact her mom and say that she decided not to go on the trip because she wasn’t feeling well. Betty refused to lie, and Abby sent her a “ton of hateful texts and body-shaming insults.” Betty shared screenshots of the texts to the mother, and she promptly canceled the entire vacation.
Now, Abby’s father, who shares 50-50 custody with the mother, is livid, and Abby won’t speak to the mother. The mom asked the Reddit AITA forum to see if she was in the wrong, and the commenters overwhelmingly said she did the right thing. "Some of my friends agree on my approach, while others think I should have put my daughter first,” the mother said.
The most popular commenter was short and to the point.
"Teaching your daughter to not be a horrible human being IS putting her first," Due_Laugh_3851 wrote. "I commend your strength and parenting skills. This was the right thing to do and would've been hard to do. Well done, you deserve to go on the holiday yourself," Loud_Wallaby737 added.
"... uninviting someone because you only want skinny people in your pictures is a disgusting attitude frankly. Sorry, I just don't find a nicer word for it. I am totally with you that this needs to have consequences, and while I'm very much against breaking promises, I do believe this is an exception. Like you said, your daughter knows what it feels like. She (but anyone really) should be supportive of friends wanting to lose weight if that is the case and if it isn't they she should just mind her own
business body," SensitiveSires wrote.
One of the few people who thought she was in the wrong believed that the mother set her daughter up for failure.
"[You're wrong] for giving your daughter who is a child rewards for weight loss. Her behavior of value based on weight shows she likely has developed disordered eating patterns and attitudes and this will cause her a lifetime of pain," tamtheprogram wrote.
The silver lining to the story is that many people who commented said that even though her daughter did something very hurtful, she’s still a teenager and there’s a chance she’ll realize the error of her ways.
"The daughter is just a teenager, she still has a lot of time to learn and grow up. Writing off her entire future as a mean girl when it’s very rare to be the same exact person you were at 18 as you grow up is a lot," Stephapeaz wrote.
This article originally appeared on 9.18.23
He calls it "scatterfocus."
If you have a hard time staying focused on a task, you're not alone. In a Crucial Learning poll of 1,600 people, two out of three responded that they have a hard time staying focused on one task or one person. And this difficulty focusing happens in both of the major areas of life, with 68% responding that they have a hard time focusing at work and 62% said they struggle to focus at home.
It's not surprising that most people have attention deficit issues, considering what the vast majority of us are carrying around with us all day long. It's no longer just other people who occasionally interrupt what we're doing, but rather our daily barrage of message, emails, app notifications, news headlines, social media check-ins, advertisements and other distractions our phones or other handheld devices offer us.
However, according to productivity expert Chris Bailey, it's not so much the distractions that are keeping us from focusing, but rather the overstimulation of our brains that cause us to seek out distractions in the first place.
In a 2019 TEDx Talk, Bailey, author of "Hyperfocus" and "The Productivity Project," shared that the key to focusing better isn't to try to try harder to focus, but rather almost the opposite: Rediscover boredom and let your brain wander where it will, or what he refers to as "scatterfocus."
The first step in combating the overstimulation of our brains is to consciously lower the level of stimulus. Bailey himself began trying this out with an experiment. He noticed that most of his day was spent going from screen to screen, from the moment he woke up in the morning to when he went to sleep at night. The biggest culprit was his phone, so he spent an entire month only using his phone for 30 minutes a day.
"It took about a week to adjust downward into a new, lower level of stimulation," he shared, "but once I did, I noticed that three curious things began to happen. First, my attention span grew. It was like I could focus on things, not effortlessly, but with much more ease than I could before this experiment started. In addition to this, though, as I was going about the world and especially when my mind wandered a bit, I had more ideas that my mind arrived at, and on top of this, I had more plans and thoughts about the future. Getting rid of one simple device led to these three effects."
The experiment was so successful that he decided to try to lower his level of stimulation even further. He asked his followers to share the most boring things they could think of for him to do, and he would choose one a day to do for an hour. After a month of doing things like reading the iTunes terms and conditions and watching a clock tick for an hour, he noticed the same kinds of effects as he did with his phone experiment. He was able to focus even more effortlessly, not because he had fewer distractions, but because he was less stimulated and therefore didn't seek the distractions in the first place.
Bailey makes a strong case for creating more empty space and less stimulation in our lives so that our brains are better able to focus.
Watch him explain:
You don't need to take responsibility for everything and everyone.
Towards the end of The Beatles’ illustrious but brief career, Paul McCartney wrote “Let it Be,” a song about finding peace by letting events take their natural course. It was a sentiment that seemed to mirror the feeling of resignation the band had with its imminent demise.
The bittersweet song has had an appeal that has lasted generations and that may be because it reflects an essential psychological concept: the locus of control.
“It’s about understanding where our influence ends and accepting that some things are beyond our control,” Jennifer Chappell Marsh, a marriage and family therapist, told The Huffington Post. “We can’t control others, so instead, we should focus on our own actions and responses.”
This idea of giving up control, or the illusion of it, when it does us no good, was perfectly distilled into 2 words that everyone can understand as the “Let Them” theory. Podcast host, author, motivational speaker and former lawyer Mel Robbins explained this theory perfectly in a vial Instagram video.
“I just heard about this thing called the ‘Let Them Theory,’ I freaking love this,” Robbins starts the video.
“If your friends are not inviting you out to brunch this weekend, let them. If the person that you're really attracted to is not interested in a commitment, let them. If your kids do not want to get up and go to that thing with you this week, let them.” Robbins says in the clip. “So much time and energy is wasted on forcing other people to match our expectations.”
“If they’re not showing up how you want them to show up, do not try to force them to change; let them be themselves because they are revealing who they are to you. Just let them – and then you get to choose what you do next,” she continued.
The phrase is a great one to keep in your mental health tool kit because it’s a reminder that, for the most part, we can’t control other people. And if we can, is it worth wasting the emotional energy? Especially when we can allow people to behave as they wish and then we can react to them however we choose.
Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.”
Stop wasting energy on trying to get other people to meet YOUR expectations. Instead, try using the “Let Them Theory.” 💥 Listen now on the #melrobbinspodcast!! “The “Let Them Theory”: A Life Changing Mindset Hack That 15 Million People Can’t Stop Talking About” 🔗 in bio #melrobbins #letthemtheory #letgo #lettinggo #podcast #podcastepisode
How you respond to their behavior can significantly impact how they treat you in the future.
It’s also incredibly freeing to relieve yourself of the responsibility of changing people or feeling responsible for their actions. As the old Polish proverb goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”
“Yes! It’s much like a concept propelled by the book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k.’ Save your energy and set your boundaries accordingly. It’s realizing that we only have “control” over ourselves and it’s so freeing,” 60DaysToLive2012 wrote.
“Let It Be” brought Paul McCartney solace as he dealt with losing his band in a very public breakup. The same state of mind can help all of us, whether it’s dealing with parents living in the past, friends who change and you don’t feel like you know them anymore, or someone who cuts you off in traffic because they’re in a huge rush to go who knows where.
The moment someone gets on your nerves and you feel a jolt of anxiety run up your back, take a big breath and say, “Let them.”
Malyk Bonnet did a very brave thing: He listened to his gut.
You've probably been there. You're out and about and you see something that just feels ... off.
"Should I step in? ... But it's not really any of my business. ... And I'm not even sure they need my help..."
Our gut tells us to speak up, to ask questions, to tell someone. But often, we don't.
This happened to Malyk Bonnet, a 17-year-old from Montreal. But instead of ignoring his instincts, he acted brilliantly. It may have saved a woman's life.
Photo via CBC News.
Bonnet had been having a relatively normal day until he spotted something suspicious on his way home.
He'd been waiting for the bus after a shift at the restaurant where he works when he saw a man and woman arguing. He sensed a red flag.
"The guy was screaming at her, the girl," Bonnet told CBC News. "He wasn't really gentle with her, and I started watching, because I thought he would hit her, so I approached them a little bit."
The pair asked Bonnet if he could lend them bus fares to nearby Laval, a city about 25 miles away from downtown Montreal.
Bonnet felt uneasy about what was happening. But instead of declining, he decided to get more involved. He helped the man and woman with their fares and told them he was also traveling to Laval (which was not the case).
"My plan was to keep them in a public place where he wouldn't hurt her," Bonnet told Dateline NBC. "I decided to be friendly with the man and have him think I was his friend. I played my game and he seemed to trust me."
After arriving in Laval, Bonnet suggested they grab a bite to eat. At the restaurant, he gave the pair $50 for food and excused himself to use the restroom. Finally having the opportunity, he called the police and told them "someone had been kidnapped." Officers arrived minutes later.
What Bonnet hadn't known at the time was that police were already looking for the perpetrator and his victim.
The abusive man Bonnet reported had abducted his ex-girlfriend just hours beforehand.
"We were looking for a 29-year-old woman who was kidnapped by her former boyfriend earlier that day," Laval police Lt. Daniel Guérin told CBC News. "We believed that man was very dangerous."
Previously, the abuser spent time behind bars for assaulting his ex and sending her death threats.
Bonnet told Dateline NBC that while he didn't speak with the woman after police arrived, he could see how relieved she was. "We made eye contact and she had tears in her eyes. She was really happy."
Unfortunately, this type of tragic experience isn't all that rare.
While this particular story unfolded in Canada — where roughly half of women have experienced at least one incident of sexual or physical violence since the age of 16 — you'll find similarly alarming statistics in the U.S.
Photo via Thinkstock.
Although it may seem easy to simply leave an abusive relationship in the dust, take it from some women who've been there — it's much more difficult than it seems from the outside looking in.
Instead of passing judgment, you can learn more about how you can help friends and family members who may be experiencing domestic abuse.
Bonnet has become a local hero for his selflessness.
"His quick actions may have saved this young woman's life," Guérin said. The officers made sure to collect money so Bonnet could be reimbursed for the bus fares and food he purchased while trying to save the victim. "He now has 500 new friends in our department."
Thank you, Malyk, for reminding me that sometimes the bravest thing I can do is simply listen to that voice when it's trying to get my attention.
This article originally appeared on 08.20.15
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