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Bigfork Resident Flies High With Cirque du Soleil

By Beacon Staff

When Gail Lynne Goodwin puts her mind and will toward a goal, she sets out to achieve it, even if that goal is the age-old human dream of flying.

On April 17, Goodwin got her chance. The Bigfork resident strapped on the bungee cords and flew around for an afternoon with the cast of the Cirque du Soleil show “Mystère” at their practice gym in Las Vegas. She also got the opportunity to dress as a palm tree, which resembles a psychedelic pumpkin, and learn a dance.

“It was a blast,” Goodwin said. “It gave me an incredible respect for the artistry and the magic of Cirque du Soleil.”

Her husband, Darryl Slattengren, saw a similarity between his wife and the talented circus performers.

“It was a lot of fun,” Slattengren said. “They have the same kind of energy Gail has.”

Goodwin’s connection to the circus productions, famous for their seemingly impossible acrobatics and colorful artistry, runs deeper than an urge to suspend gravity. She was invited to the company’s shows “O” and “LOVE,” after interviewing Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté for her website, InspireMeToday.com.

Laliberté is one of many people – called Luminaries – providing their point of view on Goodwin’s site. It is dedicated to bringing inspiration to people from all walks of life.

“We interview just amazingly cool people,” Goodwin said.

The site is the culmination of a long and interesting ride for Goodwin and her family, an idea that came to her in 2004 but didn’t come to fruition until 2007. The time in between was spent helping her daughter, Carly, with a budding recording career as a country music artist.

Goodwin sold the ranch she had owned in the Swan since 1995 to launch Dreaming Bear Music in Nashville in 2004. It wasn’t long after that Goodwin, Carly and Nashville songwriter Gerald Smith penned the tune “Baby Come Back Home,” a song about the life of a soldier’s wife.

Soon, the song caught fire on the Internet and Goodwin and her daughter began a whirlwind tour of military bases to entertain soldiers and their families. A visit to Guantanamo Bay provided Goodwin with more inspiration for a new project.

A Marine at the base said he felt that America had forgotten its troops, she said. This gave her the motivation to start collecting personal messages for soldiers from people back home. The scrolls of newspaper paper quickly grew with each concert, which they played sometimes three times a day, Goodwin said. By the end of four days, the scroll was seven miles long.

Goodwin brought the messages to soldiers stationed in the Middle East during a 29-day tour through the region. During one of these concerts in Al Q’aim in Iraq, a young Marine named Jesse approached Goodwin for what he called a “mom hug” she said.

“He said he hadn’t been touched for nine months and four days,” Goodwin recounted.

The Marine operated in a remote area alone for weeks at a time, and Goodwin learned he kept spirits up by listening to his iPod. It was then she decided to start her inspirational website and give military personnel full access and free downloading capabilities.

“Because I don’t want Jesse’s iPod to be empty,” Goodwin said.

Now, Goodwin is known as the Ambassador of Inspiration and contributes to national blogs, such as the Huffington Post. Interviews on her site range from Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, to a 7-year-old who teaches gratitude. She moved back to Bigfork with her husband last July.

After interviewing Laliberté, Goodwin went backstage at the Cirque productions in January. Afterward, she went to dinner with another Cirque official and expressed her interest to fly after watching the troupe’s presentation of the Beatles hit, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” in which Lucy flies around the theater, during “LOVE.”

The reaction to her request was “When do you want to do it?” Goodwin said. Three months later, she was back in Las Vegas with her son, Max, her daughter Carly’s family, and her husband ready to practice with the performers for “Mystère.” It’s a rare honor, Goodwin said.

The experience was exciting and welcoming, Goodwin said. For her, it was another dream realized.

“I look forward to going down there and playing with them again and again and again,” Goodwin said.

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