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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

At the Movies

I haven't posted in a such a long time, but one of my New Year's resolutions was to try to post more often, so hopefully those of you who enjoy reading my silly little blog will be happy to know this!

One of the reasons I haven't posted, in addition to the usual struggle of life and work and never enough time for all the things I want to do, is I've been working on one of my true passions-writing a screenplay.

Movies have always held a huge fascination for me. As a little girl (long before the invention of VHS movies, yes I'm really that old....) my dad would often take me to the movies. I think as a young, single parent, he didn't really know what to do with a small child much of the time, so we saw a LOT of movies. I saw everything, from Disney to James Bond, some movies more appropriate than others, but he took me to all of them. After we went to a movie, it would re-play in my head for at least a week, while all my games and playing with dolls were a repeat of movie scenes.

As an adult, that love hasn't faded one bit. One of my favorite escapes is to go to a midday movie alone. It's seldom crowded (there have been times where I was literally the only person there. My own personal screening!) and when I go alone I can fully concentrate on all the nuances of the story. Oh and I don't have to share my popcorn with anyone! When I sit down to watch in that darkened theater, I can actually feel the tension leaving my body. For just a couple hours, nothing matters but that big screen in front of me.

It's no wonder that my writing has begun to transfer itself to this art. And art it is. It's an art, a craft, and it's like nothing else I've ever done. Screenwriting requires a specific template and formula, especially for those who aren't already a part of the industry and are trying to get noticed by an agent or producer. It's incredibly difficult, challenging and frustrating. As a freelancer, I'm sure I could find more lucrative ways to spend my time.

And yet I keep trying. I've written three screenplays so far. One of them has managed to make it to the semi-finals in a couple of contests, which is endlessly exciting to me yet doesn't mean much in the world of filmmaking. I just started working on my fourth. My dream is to someday sell a script, even if it is only sold to end up sitting on a shelf somewhere. Of course to see it made would be the pinnacle for me.  Yet on the days when I struggle to get those words on the page, I wonder why I am wasting my time.

But when I sit down in that movie theater and watch the magic of seeing a story brought to life. I know why. I want to be a part of that magic. I want to be the one who makes people think, laugh, cry or even get angry. I want to tell a story that will give other people that same feeling I get when I watch a good movie (or even sometimes a bad one) - that feeling of anything being possible, of the wonder or tragedies of the world. Of this human condition, so interesting, so fragile, so amazing.

At the heart of all of us is the desire to dream. To see, do and be more. I hope someday to take you to the movies, with my own dreams made into reality. And I promise not to make you share your popcorn!

Keep dreaming~

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Find your Aloha!

I have the horrible conflict of wanting to be fit and healthy, while also being a foodie who loves to eat. I can eat far more than you might think possible, and while I try to "eat clean" most of the time, I don't always make that mark.

When I don't feel like I'm getting the proper nutrition from the foods I eat, I like to supplement with vitamins, herbs and other good-for-you stuff. I've recently found an awesome product that has become part of my regular supplement arsenal:

Aloha "The Daily Good"  packs a powerful amount of nutrition in one small packet. With organic spirulina, spinach, wheatgrass, moringa, blueberries, coconut water and Hawaiian ginger included in it's superfood ingredients list, this little packet does everything it promises and more. It can be mixed into smoothies, or with any juice. I like to mix it with my orange juice in the morning:

It blends easily without a bunch of lumps or sludge (that's my super-cute mini whisk that is great for whipping up smaller items!) and it really tastes good. I don't get the spirulina aftertaste that so many green drinks seem to have.

Best of all, each packet is only 40 calories, so you aren't taking in a lot of unnecessary added calories (I'll save those for important things, like ice cream!)

Aloha also offers a 5-pill supplement pack called "The Foundation", again offering a nutrient rich, whole food, organic supplement that helps optimize energy, memory and beauty. Prices vary depending on the package size you choose. Best of all, they will deliver right to your door!

Not everyone likes supplements or feels like they need them. And maybe some people don't. But for me, living in a world where we fight so many toxins, pesticides, pollution and stress, I find that adding extra good things to my diet is helpful. And we can all use a little more Aloha in our lives!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Oh the Places You'll Go....

It's been just about forever since I last posted. Daily life has a way of sucking the free time right out of you, doesn't it? Not to mention things like work-as much as I enjoy blogging, sometimes I have to put it aside in order to complete the writing jobs that are "jobs", as in they help pay the bills!

I also was gone adventuring for a bit. My son and I traveled to China last month, and I can't stop thinking about it. We went through a tour company, Gate1 Travel, because I figured navigating a place like China might be more difficult than other vacation spots, and because the price was so darn affordable, I couldn't NOT book through them.

Honestly, I don't know how this tour company makes any money. Almost everything was included, from round-trip airfare (and airfare between cities), bus travel, meals and hotels. The cost was about the same as what I would have paid for ONLY the round-trip ticket between Los Angeles and Beijing. An eight day tour, (10 total with travel time), we got to see all the top sites, stay at nice hotels, and enjoy great food. We had a tour guide who was with us the whole time, and she was informative, organized and gave us a lot of insight into life in China.

China is an interesting place. It's changed a lot in the last 30 years, becoming more modern and updated. A contradiction in terms, it is horribly polluted (especially Beijing) and breathtakingly beautiful. The people have no sense of personal space and push and shove everywhere they go, but are friendly and engaging. The traffic is one of the most frightening things I've ever seen, yet somehow people manage to drive in it daily without dying (this one I do not get!) There is complete freedom of religion, with temples,mosques and churches in abundance, while the government owns all the land and if you buy a home, it's only yours for 70 years-period.

My son, now 15 years old, got to experience things many people never see. We climbed the Great Wall. We viewed the Terra Cotta Soldiers. We saw Shanghai at night (and almost got trampled in a crowd rushing to get on the tour boat in Shanghai), we met new people and tried new foods (jellyfish?!), fought through polluted air and melted in the 100 degree heat. We stood in the Forbidden City, walked Tiananmen Square, rode the Metro, bargained with shopkeepers and lit incense in a temple.

I've posted before about the importance I place on travel and how I've always made it a priority in my life. When I was a teen, I would save my babysitting money all year just to buy a plane ticket to go visit friends and family in the summer. As an adult, I worked for an airline in order to get flight benefits, and I make sure that any job I have can accommodate my need to travel 3-4 times a year. I think travel can expand one's horizons in ways nothing else can, it gives us new perspective and helps bridge the gap between understanding different cultures and people. We learn acceptance and tolerance by seeing both the differences and similarities in all of us.

My son summed it up perfectly while we were there. At one point he said. "It's so different here." I agreed with him. Then he said "But things are also kind of the same. People are the same." Again, I agreed. Wherever you travel, you will find people living their lives, loving their families, working, trying, existing, doing all the same things we do at home.

At the end of the trip, he said something that made me feel like all the trips I've taken him on have paid off in very important ways. He said "You know, this has given me a new appreciation for where we live. Our country has its share of problems, but I'm very grateful to live in a place where I have the freedom to do and be who I want."

Maybe that's something we should all take a moment to think about, and be grateful.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Put Some Spring in your Hair!

I recently picked up a new beauty tool (new to me anyway) that says it will give those loose, glorious ringlets we see all the Hollywood girls wearing these days:

This curling iron, by Plugged In is supposed to make creating those curls an easy task. I thought I would try it out.

My hair is super-stick straight and fine, so getting it to curl for any length of time is a challenge....

But I gave it a try!

I found it a bit awkward to use. It comes with a little glove you can wear to keep from burning your hands, but I didn't bother with that. The premise is simple, you just wrap your hair around the wand and hold it there for about ten seconds. The key is getting it to hold! My fine hair wants to slip out of even the fanciest of curling irons and flat irons, so this wasn't the easiest method of curling hair in my opinion.

The results weren't bad, I like the soft waves and it does give my hair some much needed volume:

But I'm not sure it's something I'd use every day. In fact, I know it's not! I don't have an inordinate amount of time to mess with my hair (which is why I am contemplating cutting it all off again! Stay tuned...) and I just don't know that I'll use this very often. In short, I think it is a nice little addition to one's beauty arsenal, but not something you should buy if you want it to replace your regular curling iron!

But in the meantime, it's always fun to try something new. Don't be afraid to try different products and tools, you never know- you just might find your next "must have".

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Valentine's Day~Get Naked!!

There's nothing like some nudes for Valentine's Day, or any day for that matter. No I don't mean that kind of nude!! I mean these beauties:

These are three of my favorite nude polishes, from RGB, Color Club and Zoya.

Nude colors are great because they not only go with everything, they tend to last a little longer as chips are less noticeable. The three colors I like may seem similar, but they are all different. The RGB polish in "Buff", is very sheer. I like it in lieu of a clear coat (I tend to just slap a clear coat of polish on my nails during the workweek, as I have no patience for chipping, polish removal, etc.) It goes on smooth and dries quickly, but you'll definitely want at least 2-3 coats to make it show much at all. 

The Color Club polish, which is in the fabulous "Mod in Manhattan" shade, is a pure cream color. Not quite white, which means you can use it as a regular polish, or use it for a french manicure if you like. Color Club always has top-notch polishes with minimal chipping.

Zoya is my personal favorite of the three, and often a go-to color. The shade is "Farah" and it is a perfect neutral khaki. It looks very finished, but can easily transcend from dressy to casual:

So get in the mood for nude this Valentine's Day. Wishing you a day full of hearts, love and chocolate-oh yes, always chocolate!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Blank Slate...

We are officially two weeks into the New Year, and what have you done so far? Me? Seems like a whole lot of nothing. Normally, New Year's is my favorite holiday. A fresh clean slate, like a blanket of winter snow across my life, making everything new again and bringing clarity, hope and determination. This year, well this year just seemed to get off to a rough start.

Christmas seemed especially hectic, with a full-time job and two part-time gigs, a teenager to shuttle around (no he's not old enough to drive yet!) and a household to run. In retrospect, I don't think it was any more hectic than usual, but for some reason this year it bothered me a LOT more. I've been dealing with random bouts of free-floating anxiety, magnified by lack of sleep and stress. Christmas, work, family, etc. all felt overwhelming this year as opposed to joyful holiday happy fun time. And that stress spilled over into my favorite time of year, making my usually lovely New Year feel old and tired. Rather than a fresh blanket of snow, it was like a bad April melt with dirt and slowly defrosting dog crap. I made my usual resolutions list, did my normal reflection and re-evaluation of my life. But it didn't feel good. It didn't feel real.

The other night I was driving home from work, and I noticed a bumper sticker on the car in front of me. Bumper stickers here usually scream out some kind of crazed political message that I don't care about, or a pun that is only half-funny the first time (Visualize Whirled Peas...). This bumper sticker, however, said something that immediately hit home for me:

Remember who you wanted to be.

When you were five, who did you want to be? I know I wanted to be a singer, dancer, artist, writer, saver of lost dogs, lost children and pretty much world famous. I wanted to make a difference, leave my mark, change things. Maybe not in a way my five year old brain could imagine, but I knew I wanted something. Even at five, I felt a strong desire to do something, be something, find something.

As I was driving, all these thoughts filled my head. Who I wanted to be, who I have become. Understanding that I am still growing, changing, never stagnant. Trying to figure out my place in this world, even though I've been occupying space here for nearly half a decade. Realizing that my biggest problem was an inability to get out of my own way, stilling the fearful voices in my head and letting my drive and determination take me to the pinnacle of who I wanted to be.

There's a book I read, and sometimes still read again, called "The War of Art". It talks about Resistance. Resistance is that voice in your head that says "you can't" or "I don't have time" or "If only..." Most artists will tell you that the voice of Resistance is one of the most difficult to shout down. But shout it down you must. If you want to see your dreams realized, see the person you wanted to be become the person you are, you have to fight past all the procrastination, all the daily nonsense and drama, all the things that tell you NO. You have to fight past it, and tell yourself YES.

So now, as we hit the 15 day mark of 2014, my New Year vibe is finally starting to pick up. I'm finding my stride and my flow, reassessing my goals and ideas for this year. I reviewed the half-hearted resolutions I wrote down during my dark December, and saw that most of them come down to the concept that hit me when I saw that bumper sticker.

Get out of your own way, and remember who you wanted to be.

Make 2014 the year for YOU. Whatever it is you want, find it, grab it, get it. Don't just remember who you wanted to be. BE that person. It's all on you. And you can do it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Staring down that barrel...

Like any responsible woman over 40, I go in every year for a mammogram. Usually its a quick "boob squish" and I'm outta there. A couple years ago, they said they couldn't get a good read and needed to conduct an ultrasound. A little scary, but again was just a blip and all was well. I have dense breasts (which I don't understand, I'm barely a B cup!) and I am prone to cysts, so I go in for my mammogram prepared for the possibility of a "do-over".

This year, I was being flaky about going in. I simply did not feel like taking the time. I wondered about skipping a year. There is no history of breast cancer in my immediate family and I am considered fairly low-risk (although as we all know, there's really no such thing as low-risk when it comes to cancer.) I finally made the appointment, and was in and out in less than an hour. Voila! Easy, I thought.

A day later, I got a call from the imaging center. There was a questionable mass in my right breast and they wanted to do another mammogram. Other than being mildly irritated at having to go back, I wasn't overly concerned. I'd been down that road before, me and my dense breasts.

I went back in and got another, more intensive mammogram. Went home, thinking "okay NOW I'm done for the year with that nonsense." Got a call a day later. They were very concerned about the mass. They wanted me to come in and have an ultrasound, aspiration of the mass, and possible biopsy. They wanted me to come in as soon as possible, no procrastinating.

Things in my very overactive imagination suddenly got very real. Strangely enough, my first thought was "Why did I drink all those diet cokes over the years?! Goddamned artificial sweetener!"

Then I thought about my family. My children- a son who is still very young in many ways. A daughter, who for a myriad of reasons, has chosen not to allow me to be involved in her life right now. My brother whom I haven't spoken to in a long time and I miss every day, my other brother whose wife is due to have a baby practically any minute, my mom, my dad, and of course, B, the love of my life. I thought about all the people I care about that I've lost touch with. I thought about silly grudges, resentments and hurt feelings. I thought about the things I haven't done, the places I haven't seen, the people I haven't hugged, the unfinished work I still have on this planet. I couldn't imagine my son growing up without me there to see it. I couldn't fathom the idea of ME, a unique individual, not being in existence anymore. Suddenly, my own mortality was right there in my face. 

I met B at the hospital a couple days later for the ultrasound and aspiration (the doctor takes a thin needle and tries to drain the mass. If it drains, its all good. If it doesn't we move on to the next step). Thank God for this man, who would never let me go through this alone.

I sat in my car for a few minutes before I went in. And I whispered to myself something I often say when I am getting ready to do something new or risky. I whispered, "Do you feel lucky?" and then I gave my own response, my pat response whenever B asks if I'm feeling lucky. "I always feel lucky." I wasn't going to allow myself to consider that my endless luck might have started to run out.

The procedure was simple and painless. We chatted with the ultrasound technician and radiologist. They numbed my right breast and I closed my eyes. I focused on my breathing (thank you, yoga) and managed to put myself in a surreal, meditative state. It only took a few minutes, but felt like hours. Everyone else in the room was looking at the ultrasound screen. I heard a collective sigh and the doctor said "Oh there we go" as she inserted the needle and watched the mass drain away and disappear. A cyst, nothing more.

I had to lay on the table for about 15 minutes afterwards, making the phrase "sick with relief" a reality. I felt incredibly nauseous and incredibly, incredibly lucky. My head and heart filled up with gratitude, spilling out my eyes in a rush of tears. I thought of all the people in the world who had to deal with a different diagnosis, and I wondered at their strength and fortitude in the face of such a frightening moment.

It was just a cyst. And yet it changed my perspective and gave me a new lease on life. This beautiful, crazy life that we all are given. A gift. I always say to live it to the fullest, make the most of it. And I believe it. Now I believe it even more. Reach out to those you love. Do the things you want to do. Be your own, authentic self. Because you never know when you might be looking down that barrel, finally understanding that this too will end someday.

Always a big fan of inspirational quotes, I'll leave you with another movie favorite, from "P.S., I Love You" a corny and sweet little flick about love and loving again....

"This is my one and only life, and it is a great and terrible and short and endless thing. And none of us come out of it alive."

Live every minute like it's your last. Because someday, it will be.