Curiosity rather than running. Patience rather than pressing forward. Stillness rather than busyness. Peace over struggle. People tell you to get out of your own way, “just be yourself.” What a gift when someone stays with you, allows you to find your way to yourself, and holds space to just… be. Being seen and leading fully and completely as yourself is a vulnerable choice. Being in front of your camera has taught me so much. Thank you Dennis! Digitalmontana Portraiture
Art feeds my soul. I received a creative writing assignment to write about a teapot at the retreat I went to a couple weeks ago. (Thanks Allyson) Was inspired to finished it this week!
Everybody goes through a funk now and then, where the inside of you doesn’t feel like it matches the outside. This quirky poetic story revealed itself to me as I allowed my imagination to re-plug into my creative juice. Onward towards those things that make you shine bright, feel alive, and bless others. *PG 13 for language
It’s really hard to move when you don’t have actual feet. Hopping up the sand dune hill on my single footed porcelain base with decoupage flowered body, I hate flowers by the way, I abruptly halt. My lid clatters along the rim of my brain. I see a three hundred sixty degree view of perfect blue sky meeting a thin, crispy, dark-lined horizon. Vanilla colored sand stretches out as far as I can see. With no breeze, an abyss of church silence, and the smell of the sun baking my white flowery shell, my desire to go one more hop is almost gone. When will this god-forsaken desert end?! I’m lost, thirsty as hell, and insanely lonely.
I’m on week five hopping out of this dessert. Fuck. I can‘t remember how I got here and I’ll die if I stop now. I’m acutely aware I’ve got one last drop of water in me. The paint has peeled off what I used to call eyes; the two dots I have left keep scanning the horizon for something, anything that’s different. The horizon dances in the heat taunting me to flop over and fly the white flag. Hearing a mirage of trumpets playing taps, I start spinning around and around to locate them. “Ouch, ouch, OUCH!” My spout and handle hurt and feel like peanut brittle that could snap with one more wrong move. My belly aches for the water dancing from that silver long necked source. I’m supposed to be steeping tea to provide relaxation. I’m supposed to be giving water to little girls in fancy imitation tea parties. I am supposed to be able to give… give anything. Give everything. Offer life giving water! A resolute shield forms around my last morsel of hope. Must. Keep. Going.
I hop one at a time when my energy recharges. It’s taking longer and longer. The sun snickers at my dying attempts as it plays I spy and passes 10, 11, 2, and 5. Night is coming. A reprieve.
Pointing my spout upwards, I sip in water I imagine that’s in the air. With a dry scratchy giggle, I change direction and do it again. Ha ha ha… I’m losing my lid! Laughing out loud now, I try it again. Hopping around in circles, I inhale and blow out green, pink, and blue, bubbles, sparkles, polka dots, and confetti. Twirling faster and faster with a strange feeling of doom, I let out a huge devilish snort. I see a funny shaped black thing. Double blinking and twice more, it doesn’t disappear.
This one has a life of it’s own.
The dark shape is gliding above me now at about 15 feet and playfully dive bombs me rolling me to my side. Springing up onto my base and preparing to fight, a shiny black feather drops at my feet. My bleary eyes finally focus. A spectacular fat raven circles above me in the sky cawing the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard in my life. The continual cawing excites me over the moon. I start having seizures of hopping and hoarsely screaming, “SOS. Pick me up. Stop! I need help. Pleeeeeasssse land!”
It flies off at high speed and my hopping just can’t keep up with it. Over and over I yell in a whispery raspy voice, “Wait! Come back! Don’t leave me! Take me with you!” Running out of steam, I fall spout down in the sand sobbing, weeping, and wailing from that place where deep grief lives. Water poured out of my eyes.
Wait! Water!! There is water is IN me. How can I capture it?! Heaving heavy sighs until I am laughing hysterically, I start tossing my tears into the sky and capturing them in my spout. I dance and twirl on my one footed base until my stomach hurts from my strange laughter and crying. My eyes relax; I have collected enough water in my belly to continue my desert escape.
With new intent, I squint in the direction the raven flew; night is starting to settle. In a dazed stare, three yellow squares vaporize out of the darkness. Rapidly shaking my head back and forth, I smell a wisp of wood smoke. My heart leaps out of my teapot!
The energy of a dozen horses powers me. I start hopping gingerly toward the hope of those lighted windows. Anxiety filled me knowing this discovery would bring change. In my teapot gut though, I know I can impact the scale of that change if I move toward that light.
On this day, I felt strong, capable, and smart. I felt like a hero.
(*PG13 for strong language*)
In my definition, a hero is a person who, from the damnable chaos inside themselves, will keep reaching and fighting for their soul’s light & purpose, and putting their best foot forward in real-life action benefiting others and themselves.
My acting friend, Ryan, asked for help creating a visual storyboard for writing a screenplay. He asked Kelly, another actress friend, and me to create our costumes for this steampunk world he was crafting and hired our friend Mary at Queen Elizabeth Photography. On the photo shoot day, we headed to an old ghost town on a cold, windy, almost snowy day in late October.
Mine and Kelly’s characters were part of a hero crew dismantling the power of a community leader who was smitten with his thirst for supremacy. Ryan’s character was a wild card capable of swinging in a direction that would serve him most until he found love that helped ground him and he also found two female warriors willing to fight with him.
Often my creative projects provoke self-reflection. Recently, this project triggered another wave of reflection, only this time in regard to national news headlines and resulting discussions going on around me. One of those discussions being definitions of male and female qualities each of us has inside ourselves and how we receive or reject those qualities of others based on the gender of the person expressing them. I appreciated how my friend Ryan was creating female characters that would be victors in this story rather than victims and creating lead character men that were vulnerable and making their own paths.
Ryan imagined a story where the power of goodness was being wielded by two capable, steampunk, Robin Hood style, female mercenaries. Kelly and I crept, ran, carried our weapons, planned and executed our strategies, and looked for clues until we came upon Ryan’s character. Ryan’s character was sneaky, charismatic, and deeply troubled. Our triumph was defeating the darkness leader who was causing much deception and confusion and also helping Ryan’s character convert his efforts toward goodness.
Battling weather elements, our photographer valiantly directed and allowed us time, space, and creativity to set up scenes to capture the best images. We successfully shot a series of photos that became a platform of ideas for Ryan to write his screenplay.
Experiencing this photo shoot renewed my fuck yes appreciation of my own heroship and also my enjoyment of the fun of creating mutually respected heroship with open minded people! Ryan was developing his screenplay with characters that were real, flawed, strong, and individually intelligent. This led characters to be confident and dare I say sexy; not because his focus was on portraying that, but because that visual evolved out of the expression of who they were being!
When a guy will be hospitable about a woman's independence and support her strength, I feel impressed with his ability to manage his pride (brave choice!) and his ability to be inclusive when creating heroship. This shared heroship creation is the beginning of a stronger recognition of how we can more fully own all parts of ourselves regardless of gender, and with that, create some pretty epic life, art, or love together! Regardless of gender every human being needs to feel and own the male and female aspects of their own heroship. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could be open to receiving that multifaceted male and female awesomeness from each other not based on the gender expressing it… but because that is who we are?!
Celebrating and building female strength is not a new concept and it’s at the forefront of thought lately. It's progressive. It's courageous. It's now. A woman does not want to take away from what a man needs at a very instinctual level! She wants to have her part in it, be recognized & credited for it, and have her sexuality be respected in a way that feels good to her! Women as a whole do not fear or want to disown their sexuality but that is not all of who we are! Our heroship qualities are deep, powerful, intelligent, sensual, and nurturing to name just a few!
I feel some men who reject and diminish a woman’s strength, intelligence, or power may be unwittingly insulting themselves because some of our strength, intelligence, and can-do attitude is the result of learning from strong, capable men! Go men! Men who share in celebrating and promoting female strength in their own and shared heroship are helping create new ways for women AND men to be admired and appreciated!
Believing and expressing your own unique heroship is confident, sexy, impactful. When it is used with good intent, it can SO help boost self-esteem, worth, and faith to create for yourself and others in life!
There is hope and grace in opening conversations about current headlines and the growth that we need to be brave enough to do. Both public and private stories being told are SO important and part of a larger wave of change coming from many, many brave generations before us!
Hells yes and cheers to a renewed love and acceptance of your own inner hero and to being inclusive in creating shared heroship in life together! We need male AND female heroes that are open-hearted, capable, strong, intelligent, and inclusive who are putting their best feet forward to spearhead change and make 2018 a KICKASS, amazing year!
Thanks to my gracious writing editors: Rachel Riitano & Jaime Lue Inflore
On this mountain skyline is a rock formation we affectionately call, “The Sleeping Giant" because it looks like the profile of a giant man sleeping on the horizon. As you settle your eyes on the center of the picture you’ll see his chest and continuing your eyes to the right, you’ll see the profile of a face with a very pointed nose.
I took this hike several weeks ago after our first heavy snow. The crisp air bit at my skin, snow crunched under the footfall of my boots, and I could almost hear the forest breathing. Experiencing the quiet of the woods sets my heart at ease and fills my soul with peace. This late day view was especially pretty with pale blue and plum colored skies. This simple moment felt perfect. I appreciate my mountain time.
Tonight, sitting in a very messy house after a week of Thanksgiving activities and flicking through pictures on my phone, I hear the hum of my furnace. I smell leftover pumpkin pie spice in the air and the aroma of an evergreen candle burning. There are piles of laundry and a mountain of dishes to match. I feel my heart melt into a warm happiness. Snowboarding, shopping, conversation, laughter, working a ton of schedule logistics with all the people I call family, cooking (my pumpkin pies ended up being a big challenge to cook right!), and of course, eating… are only some of the activities of my family’s holiday this week. I appreciate my family time.
Deep in thought as I flick through pictures, I feel how much I value my family. I allow myself to feel light with the laughter we shared. I greatly appreciate my family’s good health and their ability to make life happen in positive ways. I allow the feeling of belonging to grow and expand in my heart. I appreciate how generous each and every person was bringing food to the many meals we shared. Even though this little snowboarder would have LOVED more snow, I appreciate our mild weather making it easy for people to travel. I treasure the place that I live and the communities of people I create with and care for.
I keep coming back to the Sleeping Giant picture and the moment I captured when I was alone on the mountain. Simple, clean, crisp, and neat describe that moment. The moments I experienced this week were messy, funny, complicated, honest, and loving. No one picture I snapped could encapsulate all that took place and the feelings we experienced.
The moments of this week have left me with a giant amount of appreciation for my life that feels alive and bubbly. Appreciation can be experienced SO many different ways. I found appreciation for strength of character, critical thinking, and problem solving at times when my life has had epic sized family and personal crises in health, emotions, and finances. When my life feels picture perfect navigating with ease, support, and independently, I’ve found appreciation in celebrating accomplishments and light feeling moments. I’ve come to appreciate my solitude when I climb mountains, create amazing feelings of confidence and value in myself, and share those feelings through encouragement to others.
This Thanksgiving, I am appreciating the great imperfect but yet beautiful mixture of people, experiences, feelings, challenges, solitude, and things that make up my life experience.
In my little kid imagination, I would be one of those people you read about. While shopping at the grocery market for my weekly fruits and veggies, a casting guy or gal would happen to be shopping there too. They'd see my potential, talent, and movie star eyes. They would introduce themselves with a handshake and be totally encapsulated with my vibe and cast me in their epic film. Music would cue on the grocery market speakers and confetti would fall from the ceiling.
A great imagination helps conjure ideas and dreams; however, in my adult mind I know they DO need plans of action!
My first trip to LA was almost 11 years ago. After a work conference, I took a week of vacation to continue my stay in LA to learn to navigate the city and get information on film acting. I promised myself I would start doing the steps to make my dreams come into reality. Prior to leaving for that trip, I read Ivana Chubbick’s book, “The Power of the Actor.” I have long admired certain actors and actresses and researched to discover where they were coached or educated. Ivana’s studio was home to coaching Brad Pitt, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Sylvester Stallone, and of course, many others!
I got settled at the hostel, went down into the lobby to study the city map, and make a game plan of what I wanted to accomplish. Since there was no Google app at the time and all I had was a flip phone, I mapped out and wrote down all the streets I needed to take to get to her studio. I made an appointment to get my hair cut and colored since I wanted to look my best.
On the following day, with Ivana's book, the city map & my notes with the directions, a notebook, snacks, and water in my backpack, I headed to her studio. Timidly, I went in and talked with the receptionist about classes. She handed me the brochure and I sat down to read it. Classes were ongoing every week at the studio and of course, you had to be in LA. My heart dropped into my feet. I took a picture of the placard on the door of her studio and then went and sat in my car.
For the next two days, I took pictures on my old school camera and I wandered. As Ivana’s studio was on Melrose Street, I went back to the area to shop to ease my hurting heart. As I stared at price tags that had triple digits for a flimsy shirt or dress, I decided to pass on shopping. I went to Venice Beach. The bohemian vibe was an interesting culture shock as were the strange plumes of potpourri smelling smoke in places. I sat by the ocean in Santa Monica and watched the ocean waves and went to the carnival on the pier. I took pictures of palm trees. I drove to Hollywood. When I could muster up the courage, I asked random people at places I stopped regarding how someone got started being a film actress. The looks and answers I got were priceless ;) Slowly, it dawned on me how unprepared and ignorant I was for big city atmosphere along with the magnitude of what I needed to do. I felt so small.
By day four, I felt lost, SO alone, and began to realize that maybe I had been taking for granted people who cared about me back home. At a local coffee shop, I sat and reflected. I wrote in my journal, and combed through trade magazines looking for some sort of doable plan or clues as to what I could do to invent the plan I needed. From what I read, questions flooded my brain…How were other people doing things? Why were there so many "out of work" actors." Who did you have to know to get help making a plan? Did people like living in LA? What was it like to get along there? In the late afternoon I drove back to the hostel and got lost. I pulled over and parked on some random street. Staring out the windshield and sweating profusely from driving in LA traffic, I burst into tears. I found the number to Delta in my notebook and was going to change my ticket to go home early. Feeling pathetic, I stared morosely at the rain drops dancing on the hood of my rental car and felt defeated. There was just nothing I could do to even get my head wrapped around a plan of action. Somehow, I expected to devise a plan with ease.
Then I heard my grandma’s voice whisper in my head, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Fighting back more tears, I resolved myself to stay, even if I didn‘t exactly know why. I felt like a silly, simple, jackass for thinking I could do anything in a city who‘s electric vibe swallows people like me whole for breakfast and uses it to power itself. I made a promise to myself and I was going to keep it.
I made a phone call to a friend who was living in LA. He had time to meet me for coffee on day six of my trip. So, on day five, I packed food for the day and went to ocean to think and write. When I saw him the next day, I tackled him with hugs and could hardly let go. I felt overwhelming joy to see one person that knew me, cared that I was even alive, and would have a conversation beyond a few passing sentences. He shared with me his experience and how he was making his way.
For a few weeks after getting back to Montana, I struggled to make sense of the few details I gathered and value my trip to LA when my former modeling coach, Lynette, popped into my mind. I was inspired by my trip to LA to make a starter plan. In calling Lynette and explaining what I wanted to do, she connected me with Tina Buckingham at the Montana Actor’s Studio in Bozeman. EUREKA! She was in Montana and connected to the film industry. After a phone conversation and a meeting, Tina gave me a list of things I needed to get started including getting headshots, composing a resume, and getting involved in local film production. Because the MT Actor's Studio was only an hour & a half away, ongoing monthly acting classes were doable! I began learning film acting and most importantly, the professionalism and business aspects I needed to market myself.
Looking back now, my first trip to LA was warmly laughable! I did not give up though!
When you are looking at creating something that feels so large you can’t get your head wrapped around it and your actions towards it feel frozen in being overwhelmed, consider making a starter plan. Of course, that plan will evolve and probably pretty quickly as you gain more clarity of what you want to accomplish and completing the first things on the starter plan! Focus on the starter plan can give you just enough tasks to get started to get traction moving in the direction you want to and settle down that damnable feeling of being overwhelmed :)
My stomach was full of butterflies at the film premiere of "Take Two." Not only was it a chance to dress fancy, it was a chance to catch up with people I hadn't seen since filming concluded in June 2016! "Take Two" is an inspirational homegrown independent film based on a true story of a dad fighting his inner demons. As he straightens out his life, he discovers he has a daughter. Because he found his daughter living in unhealthy circumstances, he is further motivated to clean up his life and secure full custody. I was cast as a gal at the local bar trying to pick up the lead character while he was in the process of cleaning up his life. On location in Big Sky, Montana, the usual set chaos was handled in good humor as the camera rolled. I felt triumphant putting to use my prior film experience, bettering my skills focusing attention, trusting my gut instincts expressing my character, and made new friends.
Prior to the film premiere, there was a party with the signing of several posters and taking of pictures. I felt ribbons of joy and pride in every corner of the house while I was hanging out with the stars of the film and the epic crew that filmed and helped complete every aspect of post production.
In the back of my mind, however, there was a persistent, nattering thought as I glided around meeting people and chatting. What if my part got cut? Two weeks prior to the premiere, I received an email informing cast and crew of details for the premiere and warmly congratulating all of us. Also, in efforts to be most supportive of the story, some parts may not have made the final edit. Inside myself I felt a small pool of disappointment which I quickly pushed aside.
For the evening of the premiere, the director and producers scheduled a car to drop us off on a red carpet at the theatre and arranged for a photographer to be there. Arriving at the Ellen Theatre in Bozeman felt amazing! After stepping out of the car and onto the red carpet, I was greeted by one of our producers, Aaron Flood, and a crowd of people standing at the velvet rope giving congratulatory shout-outs to cast and crew. Flashes of my childhood imaginations shot through my mind as I remembered dreaming of walking down the red carpet as a movie star! I stopped for a couple of pictures and walked into the theatre to wait for more of my cast mates and crew to arrive.
In sitting down for the premiere, I was stoked to see a full house. I crossed and uncrossed my legs in growing excitement before the film started in anticipation of seeing my work on screen along with how the film came together. I learn a lot watching myself on screen and make mental notes of where I can improve for future film projects.
As we passed through the first half hour of the film, my heart sank as I realized that my part had been cut. For a moment I let myself feel that disappointment and acknowledged my hard work, dedication, and investment that I and others have made in me. Then I pulled my heart out of my stomach and consciously chose to focus; I chose to focus on the positive journey and the glowing faces of so many artists around me. I kept remembering that whether or not my part was seen on screen, my work was still there along with the experience which culminated in a night of celebration for everyone involved.
Walking the red carpet for a film that I invested time, energy, and talent in was one of my coolest things I experienced this summer! I appreciated being treated so special for hard work and celebrating a well done film with friends and the community. It was a great reminder to allow myself to receive the joy of finishing a project. To me, that joy recognizes and encompasses the character traits of tenacity, discipline, belief in myself, and focus needed to see projects to completion.
I'd highly recommend taking time to celebrate your own finished projects by making up your own version of a red carpet to walk on. Have a special dinner, coffee with a friend, blog about it ;) or choose something that makes you feels special and celebrates your accomplishment. By the smile on my face, you can see I shamelessly allowed myself feel that joy and satisfaction. Those feelings will keep propelling me forward in my next film projects, goals and other dreams I hold dear.
Last month, I had dinner with a artist friend who was looking for encouragement to proceed with a project. I put on my best listening cap to spitball ideas and be supportive. When I heard him say several times "Well, THEY said I shouldn't or can't..." it made me think to re-post a fresh edit of one of my blog posts.
Since this post was originally written, I've discovered a way to respond. When people bark out unsolicited advice or attempt to shame my dreams, I pause in myself. Just like Maverick in "Top Gun" when he told Goose he was going to pull the brakes so the enemy could fly by, I do the same thing in unproductive conversations. I take a breath, pull back the urge to defend myself, and redirect the conversation to other topics or I'll leave the conversation altogether. Pretty badass. Their words fly by me now so much easier because I'm in better management of myself, able to assertively verbalize boundaries, which allows less influence from junky verbal stuff from They-sayers (definition at the end of this post)
Sensible, practical, in-the-box life stories. Are you tired of ‘em? I sure am… and I have been pretty much all my life. I chase light. I chase strength. I chase rainbows, good feelings, and acting. In order to live life or create anything, I need my head game filled with imagination, focus, resilience, a can-do attitude, and a truckload of faith.
I’ve been listening more intently lately to responses people give when a hopeful dream, imagination, or new idea is shared and how often it’s shunned, shamed, lynched, and then the person is told to redirect themselves for the sake of all “real practicality.”
Recently, I reconnected with a fellow actress. While waiting for lunch, we caught up on personal news. Her eyes lit up, as mine did, feeling the creative buzz when we spoke about current projects. As our chatter turned more toward the future, I noticed a slight change in her face. Her eyes darkened with sadness as she spoke about bringing more film & theatre to Montana. The crestfallen vibe grew so big I finally asked about it. She rattled off a few self-doubting statements, “I don’t know if it’s possible. I can’t talk to this person or that person because…” She then regurgitated A LOT of things people had said to her. I felt sucker punched deep in my gut as she repeated more and more comments and advice from what I call… They-sayers. (See definition below). I felt nudged in my soul, actually pushed like fu***** hell, to interrupt and attempt to shift the course of that sinking boat feeling conversation!!
My big haired 80’s preacher was on the pulpit in my mind in a flash! I asked questions and made statements to stop and re-direct poorly made comments and advice from they-sayers. I threw off my dignity. With my mouth slightly full and talking with my hands like some of my favorite Italians, I was desperate to help save her imagination, ideas, and energy for the things she wanted to create!
I loudly sputtered that creative, and even life endeavors, often feel like Noah must have felt building his ark! (I thought of a story she might relate to). His soul called him to build an ark. In the midst of they-sayer chatter and probably a whole lot of self-doubt, he followed his soul’s guidance. Noah faced challenges, focused, built it, loaded it, and then boarded it with his family and animals so his world could survive and thrive. He faced they-sayers and persevered. With tears slightly welling up in both of our eyes, I saw her eyes gain back a small spark. I felt a shift from the torn up energy in her mind to her heart.
It breaks my heart that despite so many well told stories about forward thinkers, scientists, artists, philosophers who have had successful innovative ideas and inventions that so many people are still ignorant about truly listening. To be able to hold space and even just allow imagination, possibility thinking, dreams, and new ideas to start fresh conversations is where amazing things start.
As I left our lunch that day, I felt I had done a good thing helping a friend re-direct her thinking and feelings toward what can be and is possible. I reminded her she is not alone; I am building my creative "ark" and life too. Later in the day though, I felt small again remembering how many times I have faced similar onslaughts of crappy advice, snarky comments, flat out ridiculous responses, and people laughing at me while I was creating something. I felt my spirit shrink back as those thoughts swirled around in my head. Determined though, I let those head conversations go and redirected my thoughts and heart toward what I was doing.
It won't be the last time either her, me or maybe even you will come face-to-face with they-sayers. Everywhere a new idea is expressed, they-sayers are there. I am still figuring out the best diplomatic responses to deflect that kind of input. It hasn't been easy, simple, or straightforward. I will stay on it because I do not want to live from a shriveled up fearful place. I love living from a sense of possibility, curiosity, and imagination! It puts a spring in my step, trust in my soul, and keeps my heart adventuring! Cheers! Keep finding your soul's light - dance your dance, invent your way, share your music, heal yourself, play, and love.
They-sayers: People (aka dream crushers) who run off at the mouth giving you practical, doable, seemingly sensible comment and/or advice when you are sharing ideas, imagination, and out-of-the-box thoughts about creating something in your life. This results in a pushed down sinking feeling in your heart, self-doubt, and reduces you to little or no inspired action toward dreams and goals. (It's a definition I made up to communicate this idea).
LOVE exploring old places! Imagining life that was there before me…or making up my own stories is fun and often cathartic. They are sometimes happy, sad, or quirky but always interesting. Being brave means letting other people see your soul in its dark & light shades, in its wounds and its stars.
In sharing my heart and growth through blogging, stories, and poetry, I have faith you'll find possibility, empowerment, and inspiration to create like a champion in your own life.
Sharing is awesome...Love to hear respectful thoughts or comments. Please share with your friends and family if you find something helpful or entertaining!