Hungry, homeless, anxious eyes greet me as I step through the door of Food Share. Earlier this year I felt like I needed to do something to keep my life appreciation fresh and real. I have been donating money to Food Share for years. I thought I would make my commitment to contributing back to life deeper by volunteering my time. Every time I share my time there, waves of warm appreciation roll over me about my own life as its finally solid and stable with a good support structure.
Looking everyone in the face as I greet them, I know their struggle. I understand the shame a person feels being on welfare or having to ask for hand up in life. From childhood years to my early adult years, social assistance was a helpful ribbon threading through my life providing some of my basic daily survival needs.
Despite their desperate situation, the people that come through my grocery line are polite. They are conscientious about following the rules for the quantity and types of food that are on their approved list. They demonstrate a willingness to help haul groceries to their cars. For the most part, they look you in the face when they speak. When they don't, I'll try to get them to crack a smile and some will joke around in return. They are who they are and to me, they are salt-of-the-earth type people. You can feel their tired spirit, good heart, and life struggles on their sleeves.
When I’m there, it can take only a single heartbeat to throw me back through memories. Memories of standing in food assistance lines, rifling through boxes of old clothes given to my family, and my mom filling out reduced and free lunch program forms stand out from my past. I remember the way people looked at my family as we made our way through life. Although, remembering those stares hits my self-worth from time-to-time, it also makes me compassionate towards people struggling to understand what creates life and make ends meet.
Going back to work after bagging groceries leaves me feeling like I’m in a bit of split reality. After work, I often go to the grocery market for my own household groceries for the week. People seem relaxed pushing their carts, music is playing over speakers, and smells of fresh deli food saturate the air. The two worlds create serious friction in my mind. Does that ever happen to you? It makes me feel like one of those Looney Tunes characters who shakes its head back-and-forth rapidly and makes silly sounds because it can’t believe what its feeling and seeing!
Donating money to charities that touch my heart has kept me open hearted and humble. Donating also brings me great joy as I know when I contribute to places other than Food Share, it helps the artists I support build their dreams! However, choosing to donate my time at Food Share has invigorated my reasons for living in the present and being thankful. It reminds me not to complain and to keep my heart helpful to people who have different paths in life or who are stuck. It’s keeping my appreciation for my life fresh and definitely very real. I have struggled with life basics many times in life and could easily again. No amount of money donation can replace being there in person and allows me to share my heart energy and to encourage people. Sharing in person keeps me connected to the diverse hearts that make up our humanity. I love this because its challenging, humbling, and giving.
I LOVE hearing how my friends are volunteering time and money to people and causes that touch their heart. I also LOVE seeing people on social media who I don’t know doing wonderful things like building water wells in other countries, helping with education, and teaching people to create a business for themselves in a third world country.
If you are choosing to share your heart, time, or money, that’s so wonderful, awesome and rad!
This blog honors my dad and mom this month. He was an amazing volunteer in his life.
My mom did everything she could to keep things rolling smooth at home.
If you'd like to know more about Helena Food Share or donate, you can click on the picture in this blog.
Dare to be smart. Sounds almost dangerous, doesn’t it? I think of times as a kid when I was dared, double dared and then there was the ultimate, DOUBLE dog dared. It was SO hard to turn that challenge down sometimes. Thank god at times my intelligence and wit took over as I’m sure I should be missing body parts or at least maimed myself at some point in my childhood. I got the consequences of my actions when I chose to tune into those taunts. When I was in kindergarten, one time I took a classmate’s challenge at recess and defied the playground monitor’s rule of the day to stay off certain equipment due to rain. In my dress and Mary Jane shoes I spunkily crawled to nearly the top of the playground’s vintage styled jungle gym to prove a point. I slipped and hit my head on nearly every rung on the way down knocking myself out. Next thing I remember was waking up in a dimly lit room with my mom and teacher leaning over me with an ice pack on the back of my head. Learning things the hard way is painful (understatement).
While sitting at my table this week writing, my heart felt like it stopped and skipped a few beats as I watched the backhoe start digging scary close to my house. Watching my house sewer line plumbing replacement, I considered writing about the things I learned working with Interwoven Studios filming pick-up shots for Wuthering Heights or how I’ve been on the go bouncing to set locations acting and assisting with filming, balancing my day job, and enjoying family being in town.
This month, it’s been cool watching the construction project unfold. I’ve spent months researching contractors, getting estimates, learning the lingo, process and steps for replacing it, asking friends for advice, and talking to the bank (this is super expensive). I also talked to my homeowner’s insurance; I didn’t know if it would qualify for assistance from insurance. It didn’t.
It’s REALLY surprising how many different strong opinions and questions people will weigh in with, sometimes with NO knowledge and often with little experience. The biggest question being how do you EVEN know it needs replacing? I felt like I was being dared to climb in the rain up the jungle gym again as certain statements and questions smacked at me, only this dare made me feel like questioning the evidence I’d seen and research I’d done.
I explained that I had my main house pipe roto rooter’d to clear out roots and debris once a year for the past ten or more years. As of the past three years, I’ve had to do it twice a year. Back in November I sucked up the extra cost to have a plumber drop a video camera down the pipeline. The camera moving though murky water looked liked like an ultrasound I had when I was pregnant. There were ghostly chunks of stuff floating around, long filament fingers of tree roots waving at me, standing water in the pipe, and darkly colored spots along the topside of the pipe. The plumber gave it a three to eighteen month life span before it would back up or worse, possibly collapse. As I garnered and researched information from many different resources, I received a range of responses from indifference, fear inducing, do it myself cheaper, and helpful/supportive.
As you know, it’s hard not to punch back verbally when challenged so you can defend what you know, your space, or what you feel you can do. Because of excess information, I was left with a nagging worries that perhaps the plumber was wrong, perhaps I only needed to replace part of it, or perhaps I could get it done cheaper.
Letting all the chat go, Lamaze breathing still comes in handy sometimes, I took deep breaths as I proceeded. As I trusted my gut instinct and gathered facts, I allowed the feeling of being cool to be proactive to take over. I did not want to wait for that unknown ominous day when sewer water and debris would be backing up into the crawl space of my house. I could visualize the mess oozing up from below the house, the stink, and oh, the HUGE spiders that would come into the house as they are fleeing from the sewer gunk (yup, my overactive imagination had a party with that visual)! The plumber described the facts, just like the playground monitor, and the consequences. This wasn’t the I dare you from my childhood, this was an I dare you to be smart in present day time based on what you know to be true. I liked this second dare.
As you can see, the plumber was right. I put on my flannel shirt, hat, smile, and even though I won Roshambo, they still didn’t let me help drive the tractor ;) Months of follow through resulted in pipes that are up to code. Barring no disturbances from Mother Nature, they will be good for a very long time.
I strive to keep finding ways to dare myself to grow, trust my gut instincts, listen to good advice, dismiss the fear, and execute good plans of action. Accepting this second dare inside myself allowed me to stay out of fear based action and choose better. Daring to be smart is cool. It helps build my confidence in my abilities and skills at life and as an artist. Cheers to another month figuring life out and moving forward!
LOVE oatmeal! I have a favorite brand of steel cut oats that you put in a bowl, add water, two minutes in the microwave, and voila, ding! Done. Top it off with flax seed, a spoon of brown sugar, a tiny bit of butter, berries if I have them and a bit of milk and perfecto! It’s food that is… mostly healthy ;) and definitely sustains my energy for quite a while. It’s actually amazing how long I can stay fueled on such practical, simple food.
I went to the doctor recently for a physical, the receptionist ran through a checklist in my file for address, phone, insurance, and other information they update every year. Each question she asked, I said, “No change, no change, same, no change…I’m boring.” She looked at me over her bifocals and said “No, you are stable, that’s a cool thing, we like people like you.” I left feeling better and even bit cool about my sometimes my basic oatmeal, practical feeling life. I appreciate that part of my life that keeps a roof over my head, food on the table, clean underwear in my dresser, and keeps me connected to family and friends. This part of my life being same old thing most days keeps me free to celebrate and create art in film and photography.
Stable, all by itself I’ve discovered, is not always the best fuel for creativity. Also, earlier this month was the anniversary of my dad’s passing away and the April pink moon. Between the practical life and missing my dad, I felt like stability was making me feet itchy. Itchy to move, go, create, and experience something other than my day to day life since the winter has been mostly quiet for film and art projects and also because Easter was always such a family led holiday by my dad.
On the Wednesday night before Easter, I packed, arranged my first Airbnb stay, and was out the door Thursday at noon to the Portland area. Experiencing my usual inside freaking out about dying, the world blowing up, sharks eating me, and a whole host of other weird anxieties, I tuned into my book on CD and just drove. I was questing for something and was determined to come home with whatever it was that I felt I needed for my soul other than my day-to-day oatmeal stability.
Only a couple things were planned. I left the rest of the time wide open to choose in the moment, no schedule. I was on a treasure hunt for golden moments I told myself, not knowing exactly what those were. Friday morning, I got myself grounded from panicky feelings I often get when I am traveling. I grocery shopped, decided I wanted to see the ocean, and drove there. I had fish for breakfast, went for a long walk on the beach, and had a life changing hot chocolate with chocolate whip cream! I serenaded myself to 80’s tunes on the radio, made random stops to take pictures, took a nature walk, and visited a sheep farm. Two very hearty ladies Lorella and Theresa enthusiastically gave me story after story about how they were keeping up the farm.
I got help with some acting stuff, studied, read, and ate really great food. On Easter, I crawled into a snowcat with 12 other people and snowcatted up Mt. Hood at Timberline Lodge. After taking in a stunning view of my playground, I rode down. I got in the next snowcat and another one and lapped that upper run until it closed. Afterwards, I met the nicest Airbnb hosts Hollie and PJ and another couple staying at there. I was worn out. The altitude change from the mountain top where I snowboared to where I was staying was about a 7,000 feet drop. Feeling a bit woozy, I drove a short bit from the Airbnb for another nature walk. I was absolutely awestruck by 150+ old trees in the Mt. Hood National Forest. I truly expected to see elves, unicorns, and fairies pop out of the trees, ferns, and moss. It was magical feeling.
Day two snowboarding on the mountain left me seriously tuckered out and proud. I had figured all this stuff out on my own, in a short period of time, and made it happen! The little kid in me was hollering, whoop, whoop …and more and MORE!
On the drive home, I saw so many places I wanted to go back to and visit! I made a stop for coffee and walked along Hood River with a stunning view of the harbor. I want to explore this town! I saw rock formations, amazing bridges, and dams. Throughout my travels home, it rained. I saw three rainbows and ate a great burger in St. Regis.
I unpacked my gear and cleaned out the truck. I was tired but felt SO good! My life was there, great relief, and it didn’t just feel like stable oatmeal. It also felt robust and welcoming. The golden nuggets of new experiences were sparkling in my heart. I had been able to go out and collect some new energy, fresh feelings, and different experiences. Out of this spontaneous, soul filled adventure I can feel new levels of confidence blossoming from all the golden moments I chose to create, relish in, and enjoy. This was the best Easter I’ve had in quite a while.
Seems simple, the most profound things often are. I need my basic oatmeal, practical life to feel stable and courageous. I also need regular infusions of spontaneous fun, travel with no schedules, and nature time to keep my creative sparkle and also to keep my daily life alive with joy and expressiveness. Appreciate your oatmeal parts of life! Recharge your practical oatmeal life occasionally... better yet, frequently! …with experiences that help you feel magical, empowered, and that take your breath away in optimistic awe.
As I look at love in my life, sometimes I don’t want to touch it, feel it, clean it up, start over, or even acknowledge that I need love or feel lonely. Hiding or running away feels easier than being real. Today has just been a weird feeling day.
Recently, I was challenged to look at a pattern showing up in my writing. It was a pattern of freaking out inside, being calm on the outside, and handling it. Without letting the comment throw me into a tailspin, I’ve been thinking... How do I express myself? How do I handle what life, love, or people throw at me. How can I use my words to better inspire others and keep myself feeling upbeat and optimistic? If words I choose to say to myself create my inner beliefs and eventually the life I live, what kind of words am I choosing to make my beliefs? What are the words I am using to create my beliefs about love?
Allowing someone to know your heart takes guts. Allowing them to feel and love your heart takes vulnerability. How do I allow vulnerability without getting my heart hurt?
About seven weeks ago, I got an artistic urge to do an impromptu photo shoot with my sweet friend Jaime, a blossoming photographer and writer. I loosely explained the photo concept idea I wanted to shoot for inspiration to write my monthly blog. She listened and said yes right on the spot. While I was at work, she picked me up a second-hand dress. Later that day, she called me to schedule a date and started running questions by me of the what, where, and how to get it done.
That night she mentioned it to her three daughters and our good friend Shelly, who also has a daughter. Suddenly there was a whole lot of buzz, love, and excitement going into my simple monthly blog project. I felt somewhat embarrassed and yet warmly loved being the center of their attention considering I hadn’t firmed up the writing or idea for my blog. I marveled at how these two ladies were getting totally jazzed to get up early, fix their children’s hair, and put on their glitter makeup to make this photo art project. The girls chattered away about how they wanted to be fairy princesses on the frozen lake we had selected as the location for the photos. Before I could think too much or say no, they helped plan a whole adventure of creating some photographic art.
At the wee hours before sunrise on the next Monday we had off work, five children, two adults, and myself dressed in ball dancing gowns and were running, jumping, and holding hands on frozen lake. Houses puffed smoke out their chimneys greeting our day and photographic adventure. A colorful band of dresses followed Jaime’s shout outs instructing us to move for the photos. The remnant of a full moon and sherbet colored skies made a dreamy backdrop. Bare tree branches tickled the sky. Shelly corralled children for the photos and fluffed up dresses. And of course, no morning that early is complete without some righteous crankiness as the air had a frozen bite from cold temperatures and tummies rumbled for breakfast.
As we tumbled into warm cars back to Shelly’s place, my heart was beaming with good feelings. Kids were hangry, but goofy poking at each other. With rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes each one was retelling their story of what they created in their photos. I couldn’t stop smiling. Even my stomach felt like it was smiling :) I felt giddy, light, and goofy. My heart welled up with warm, happy tears. I felt like I could build a rocket ship to the moon if that was my dream. I disregarded feelings of guilt for getting so much enthusiastic help. I chose to ignore inadequacy feelings that I didn’t have my blog written yet and chose to bask in the wonderful weirdness of the morning we created.
Right underneath my nose, these two ladies felt my heart. I allowed them to feel my confusion, need for help, and my incomplete fresh born creative idea. I took a risk to trust. It was uncomfortable and scary but not hurtful. They helped me connect some dots I have been struggling to do in many of the wrong places and with the wrong types of people. They shared their time, robustly nurtured my vulnerable idea, and added to it their imagination and optimistic life energy. In my heart, I keep saying more YES to adding more of this feeling to my definition of love!
It’s been said, speak of things you love rather than bash things you hate. I agree wholeheartedly and keep pointing my words and feelings toward believing love is more about being supportive, choosing kindness over meanness, finding peace, sharing encouragement, optimism, helping someone be their best self, showing up, and keeping your word. I dared myself to meet the challenge this month in up-leveling my writing pattern. Way to grow… in love! <3
I love these pictures. I thought taking the pictures would just spark an idea for my blog. Instead, allowing myself to be immersed in the experience of feeling and creating the pictures melted more of my heart walls, allowed me to be vulnerable, and to be loved in a way that felt good to me.
Be empowered to keep growing. Be inspired and dare yourself to let go of old definitions about life and love that don’t serve you being your best you! Cheers!
Feeling my heart, connecting me to others, finding beauty,
cheekiness, expression, and optimism are only a few things the arts
help me do in my life. Keep in mind, defunding of the National Endowments for the Arts,
pending cuts in funding of PBS, and other publicly funded programs
affect the richness of how we all experience, feel, and create life.
It affects how we transmit ideas and love to one another.
(I can’t help but put a shameless plug for the arts here!)
Support the arts.
Support political candidates that support the arts.
We have our work cut out for us keeping art alive in our life, schools. love, and communities.
To play or not to play? Always make time to play!! :) I've been playing with family this past week and taking a great break rejuvenating and having fun. Remember to fill your soul's creative tank and your heart.
Sharing this post from January 2016 with a few updates. It is still relevant, maybe even more so where our voices of diversity have been threatened. Not only do we need to boldly challenge what is being said in regards to how we age, we also need to challenge & evaluate our actions in our relationships and choose to love and be attentive to others' needs, thereby giving them a priority similar to what we give ourselves.
What age is the perfect age? How do you go about aging? …and who the heck defines that anyways? Like everyone else, I think a lot. My latest thinking is about the off-the-cuff remarks and quotes about aging I hear people say about themselves and the world around them. Many comments diverting their own importance, power, and relevance to the up and coming “younger” generation. Holy cats…yikes!!!
In thinking about aging, I panic. Don’t you love it when your brain does this frrrrr-eak out thing and a whole imaginary movie speeds through your head? Your body feels strange and your body chemistry reacts to something that's not even real. I freeze up and stand still with big wide open eyes. I'm sure I look real funny to anyone who notices me. My head movie speeds through my whole life from now until my funeral. Should I be realistic about aging? Is there a correct universal view of what aging should look and feel like? Should I follow that?!? What is it that I am supposed to get done here? Am I sharing my talents and loving people enough? I take a deep, deep breath. Whew… I’m not 99 or approaching death yet, so nobody can throw me into a social trash heap of unimportance.
Back in the day, I went to work with my dad when he was a custodian at a nursing home. I proudly hung up my dark green crocheted poncho in the nurses’ station and helped him clean. When he did things I couldn’t help him with, I went to the craft room and helped people with puzzles, painted pictures, and chatted with them.
With the wide open curiosity of a seven-year-old, I always explored the whole place. I pushed wheelchairs to help people get new scenery. I ate with them. I visited folks that were bed ridden. I helped them smile. I vividly remember smells of medicine, lysol, bad cafeteria food, illness, and sometimes death. There were sounds of beeping, low conversations, and a strange silence that made me feel queasy. I noticed alert people making their way. Others shuffled by in wheelchairs slobbering with a faint aroma of urine and old food. I thought how do people get here? What happened in their life? Why? Would this happen to me too? How can I help them? How can I cheer them up? ...Is this where I will end up? I often felt a head to toe shaking of sadness and panic as I saw no life spark in some people eyes. They looked dead even though their eyes were open and they were breathing. I asked my dad and other workers questions which they either couldn't answer or they gave me answers that felt like a pat on the head and a line of bullsh*t.
My mind still races with questions, worry, and terror. I blink rapidly hoping they’ll just go away. I try to chill out. If we are all lucky, we’ll live a long, full, healthy life...is it luck though? And how much of that is MY choice and mind set? I don’t know about you, I LOVE seeing people ahead of me being the most badass, progressive, fit, tenacious person they can be! It gives me courage, faith, and motivation. I admire the heck outa people that are hanging onto their maturing, artistic, thriving spirit in the middle of the noise of the world.
As you read this, is YOUR mind arguing for your limits and what others say about how you should age and what you should experience? Connect with your soul…what does it say?
I LOVED something I saw recently referring to aging as growing bolder. The addition of one letter makes this totally rad!! Growing BOLDER…rather than older. A-mazing! My inner champion (that part of me that doesn’t let me lie down & quit) is always rephrasing sh*t that I don’t like. My inner champion's voice says, "keep your relevance and importance! Do not give it away to someone who is younger OR older, has smoother skin, more money, education, power, status, and nope, don’t even give it away to someone with a better set of buns than you." ;) Do this by remembering you have equal value to others around you and SPEAK UP up for your value.
Be a heart & soul led human, regardless of what generation you were born in. Do not leave YOUR future in the hands of anyone. You, yes YOU, have a special gift, talent, way you see the world to add joy, invention, imagination to everyone in your world. Your life experience through the rough knocks of life, adventures, and celebrations make up your inside value. It breaks my heart when I hear people giving this value and power away in the words they speak about themselves.
I feel it's one of my soul’s mission to challenge pre-established, outdated ways of thinking and introduce the idea of possibility thinking and, of course, DOING. Nothing in life progresses without that part! Be willing to learn things that level up your kickass self! Be a person who will not release their relevance and importance to other people. In response to recent quotes and comments from “well meaning” folks… NO! I will not hand over the baton of my life energy, relevance or importance to anyone until I decide I am done on this planet.
Leading by example, young people need to know they can grow bolder, remain malleable, stay alert & healthy, and remain adventurous. Combining the vigor of youth and the wisdom of age/experience, we can work together creating value, opportunities, understanding, and awareness. To people that are older than me, picture me slapping the ground like coach Mickey from one of my favorite movies "Rocky" telling you to get up, get inspired, and get the heck back on that life horse! You are not done here! Grab hold of the self-value you have been built through sweat, tears, and love. Start expressing it and sharing it. Become a beacon of inspirational energy, mentor or activist.
Because I have been afraid of aging too (what others might say, what I will do, how I will be, unexpected life junk that shows up) I sat myself down yet again and listened to my own preachin’. Plain and simple, it is a choice to fear aging… and it is a choice to make the most of the precious life we get to live here. What a gift we can choose to be in this life by reducing the focus on age and focusing on the energy & light we bring! Cheers to kicking off 2017 in your life story <3 Please share with peeps you think could use a boost...or a kick in da pants to get going in life today.
P.S. Below are a couple people that have inspired my soul and mind :) Click on the quote box below to read more about Tao and to watch David Bowie's last music video before he passed away.
Eight years ago, my dad arrived for Christmas earlier than expected and my kids were at their dad’s house. I decided I was not going to cancel plans that were important to me. I got him settled, gave him the spare house key and asked him to relax, there was nothing to fix or clean. He seemed tired from his drive to Montana from Seattle but seemed to be tracking me alright. I reluctantly heaved out a heavy sigh and thought… oh, good, maybe I can go relax. A couple hours into my dancing event, my home number appeared on my cell. I felt my stomach pit up and the immediate urge to pee.
Resolutely I thought… this was nothing, everything was fine. I picked up and said hello. My dad said hello in the midst of laughing and asked if my front door lock had ever fallen apart after putting the key in it. I squeaked out, nnnooooo… and heard my voice go up several octaves. I thought, geez friggin’ la-wheez, I can’t do anything without having to focus on what’s happening at home. Ok, well, I need to have him use the special master key to pop the lock back in… good, good, on me. I am choosing to problem solve.
The lock on my door at the time was one that allowed me to insert a special master key, turn it, and pull out the guts of the lock for easy replacement. My house used to be a rental. That way, each time a new renter came, the owner didn’t have to replace entire door knobs, only the part where the key goes in.
I asked him to get the special master key from my dresser and instructed him what to do. He said he’d call if he had a problem. I got home after midnight and put my house key in the door – it didn’t fit. I thought, what the heck? After several attempts, I figured out that he had put the lock back in… upside down. I thought, oh well, we can put it right side up in the morning.
In the morning, I got the master key, put it in into the lock but it didn’t fit. Dad was nattering away about the details of him putting the lock back together the evening before. My irritated shoulders went up around my ears; I asked for the spare key that he used to get in the house. I put it in the lock and the guts of lock came out. I thought, what friggin’ the heck – how does his spare key pull the lock apart and the master key doesn’t?
Perplexed, I stared hard at the spare key I had given my dad. I noticed that there was a square notch missing from the side of the key that is normally smooth. I thought, holy crap, I gave dad the special master key rather than a spare house key, which is why the lock “fell apart.”
Smiling slightly, shaking my head, I put the lock back together with the special master key and then gave my dad a real spare house key. I apologized for my irritation from the prior evening. In in his usual good- natured way, he slapped me on the back saying it was ok and asked what was on the agenda for the day.
I worked off my remaining frustration doing chores and awhile later noticed my dad napping on the couch. I stopped and slowly took in his calloused, knotted knuckles and hands, deep lines in his face, white hair, and work clothes which showed years of outdoor labor.
He told me to ask mom to wait near the wood stove should he need help as he proceeded. He got his 22 rifle and a few minutes later from inside the house, I heard a loud KAA-BLANG as he shot the rifle down the chimney. The soot covers flew off the chimney raining soot all over us and inside the house. The neighbor sat in his rocking chair across the alley howling like a dog, slapping his knee laughing. We had to replace the living room carpet.
Another time when I was about 12, my dad had a horrible sinus infection, we went to the health food market to see if there was a natural way to cure it. Eureka! We found a brochure on how cayenne pepper was supposed to help sinus problems. Back home in the kitchen, I thought, what’s he going to cook? …this stuff is spicy hot and he won’t need much. Rather than making something to eat, he put a bit on his index finger, stuck it under his nose and snorted it in. Before my mouth could drop open, he leapt to the sink and turned on the facet. Choking, gasping for air with fingers up his nostrils, he tried to get it out. I snatched a towel and yelled for my mom to come help. No emergency room visit…his spiced nasal burns took about a week and a half to heal and by then, his sinus infection was gone too.
When he retold these and many, many other stories, he’d laugh heartily about why the good Lord let things happen. As a young adult, my eyes pitched toward the ceiling. I listened to him grim faced, arms folded, and sometimes blistering mad. Being the oldest child, I was almost always asked to clean up messes and I remember feeling like I was never big enough to clean things up or acquire the know-how to prevent bad things from happening in the first place. It took me awhile to view his antics humorously.
Then there were the things he tried to help me with or repair. In helping paint the garage, he spent three hours rigging up a pulley system for the extension ladder with duct tape and old buckets while I managed to paint two sides of the garage. When he went to clean and repair the venting fan in the kitchen, I watched him go through several phases of cleaning and reinstalling it. He finally called me back into the kitchen. With the fan lying on the counter in many pieces, he said, “Well, it’s clean! Good news you won’t have a grease fire. Bad news is that it won’t work now.” Rolling my eyes, we put it back together best we could and I called an electrician.
Holidays often help me remember to reflect on what I have, things that are important to me, and also my dad. He had enthusiasm that kept our family together and life interesting. He touched everyone’s heart with his generosity and infectious joy.
Eight years ago, I also remember feeling glad that old thought patterns had been changing and I had really come to appreciate the intent behind all my dad’s out-of-the-box ways of doing things. I realized that his influence in my life is part of what makes me unique, cool, weird, and gives me a deep sense of faith & value of life.
Folding up the year of 2016, I have accomplishments to be proud of, people that love me, solid work, good family, friends, and all of the other essentials. I am richly blessed. Happy. Able to love. Create. Live with much gusto and joy. I encourage you to reflect on what you are proud of, your strengths, your cool weirdness, the love you share in life, and make more of that in 2017! Cheers and happy holidays!
As I stepped into the premiere last month for “What Separates Us,” I felt sucker punched in my gut with a ton of pain and emotion; it was hard to breathe. I panicked to sift and sort it out fast as I was celebrating a fantastic day with friends and family. I didn’t want to wreck it. For a few minutes off and on, I stopped moving and stood frozen, almost paralyzed. My thoughts raced… my heart pounded in my cheeks. I felt hot and held in an insane urge to pee. Why was I feeling this on a day of celebration,?? I thought. Well...
48 months ago… my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer, my daughter broke her kneecap and a loved ex-family member was in the hospital fighting for her life and buried a dear family pet cat. Vivid memories of sleeping in the hospital and doctor's offices, death, chemotherapy, and surgeries pelted my brain.
15 years ago… I got divorced. I started single parenting life with my daughters. I felt like I a scarlet letter D had been painted on my chest. More hot redness filled my cheeks.
2 years ago… I went through round one of two very painful breakups with a guy that cost me nearly the same heart pain as my divorce. My heart felt like it slid down my body and smacked onto the floor with a soft, very painful thud.
My body conjured up those sobbing emotional pains as if they happened yesterday. And that’s only a very short list of the sh** that’s hit the fan in my life. I went from feeling an on top of the world winning feeling to feeling confused, panicky and pained in a matter of minutes.
Perception is everything. I fought to steady my breathing and refocused…
48 months ago… I got to be with my dad, one of my life heroes as his body fell apart piece by piece through cancer, chemotherapy, and diagnostic surgeries. He taught me so much more about the spirit of bravery through his dying. My daughter taught me so much about the fight for recovery and stayed after her athletic goals after she had surgery and rehabbed a cracked-in-half knee cap. I opened my heart for more forgiveness paths than I thought possible with my ex-family as supported my daughters as their grandma was dying. My other daughter taught me more about the power of presence as she spent time with my dad and her grandma as they both were dying as she simultaneously finished her senior year in college.
15 years ago… I braved into a new world of being on my own while sharing custody of my daughters with their dad. With the help of a federal Displaced Homemakers Loan, I purchased a home for us. We learned to communicate more clearly through a ton of emotional heartache which happens every time a family breaks up because of divorce.
2 years ago… I learned I loved so fully and was so committed to a man in relationship that I lost myself. With my soul broken open, I took every tear I cried and turned it into valuing my life, my love, and the world I created. Through the second break up which happened a year and a half ago, I learned to repeat to myself, “I am lucky to have me” on a frequent basis. Every day I made the courage to look love in the eye again.
Two views played a mad game of ping pong in my head. On one side was the devastation, hurt, panic that I felt when things go wrong and on the other was the thoughtful life reflection of what I made out of it. Re-framing perceptions of how I feel about those hard-to-handle life events fueled my resilience and decisions to keep moving.
Tonight…My best friend was here from North Dakota. One of my daughters, my mom, bestest ski buddy, soul sister friend, hiking buddy, dear work friends and SO many other close friends made time to come. Plus there were so many people there in spirit and offering distance support. People around me were happy. Our film group overcame so many odds and obstacles to get to this point. The film had won best picture in Alaska. Personally, I have more artistic projects in the works. AND I have on a hot dress, cool shoes, amazing hair and nails, and I am healthy… so WTF is wrong with me? I fought back buckets of tears. Tonight things were going great but I felt the same out-of-control emotional bursts inside that I felt when my dad was diagnosed with cancer and I went through divorce and breakups.
I managed my panicky pain by gliding around talking and greeting people, signing posters, seating family and friends, and reminding myself what time and space I was in. It helped, but I couldn’t figure out what the hell was wrong and it was getting worse. THIS WAS A GREAT DAY!!! …echoed over and over in my head. I finally made a beeline to the bathroom.
As I paced in there, I mentally grabbed every calming thought I could get. Then a question popped into my mind. So where does winning start? F*** it, I thought, hot tears rolling down my face. I don’t know!! Then that part of me, my inner champion, speaks from my heart to my head, it started when I made the leap of faith to make something good out of the crazy fireworks that start off in my mind, heart, and body because I care deeply. And it started when I made the choices that I deserved to be happy and to be proud because I earned this!
Heaving out a heavy breath, I made that faith leap and chose to win out over the panicky emotions. I took those out-of-control feelings and decided I was going to celebrate full out and started to clean up my face. I realized too that I was winning even when the negativity hit. I was a winner engaging the mad ping pong head game. I was a winner because I got back to celebrating a huge accomplishment!
These past four years making this film included some extremely difficult times and woven through those things was a film I acted in and helped create! It makes my heart glow big and warmly with pride. And in the past 15 years, I have stayed the course growing myself as an artist. All of those emotional fireworks from all sorts of events in the past years fuel my passion for bringing my art to life. Cheers to celebrating it!
Photo credit: Claire Reitz Shout out to my editors & inspiration: Rachel Riitano & Jaime Lue Inflore
This post would not be complete without the preacher in my head jumping on the pulpit.
Every person you meet is fighting for value, balance, and life
Some are fighting diseases like cancer;
Others fight for daily balance with chronic illness or physical debilitation
like diabetes, blindness, missing feet, or recovery from accidents.
Some are fighting to find and hold their value in this world
because of their gender, race, age, or religion.
Some are battling mental & emotional hardships.
Some are holding three jobs
to make their world just barely stay upright.
…and this only touches on a few.
Be a badass and choose to love yourself kindly and gently
Make a second choice: let that love spread into kind action to others
I am happy to have such a solid featured part in the independent film What Separates Us. Every film I work on adds to my creative experience, understanding how film is made, and most importantly boosting up my acting skills and confidence!
I am even more happy though to work with Interwoven Films who deserve credit and praise for tenacious efforts that span over four years. Bryan Ferriter, Bill Piotrowski, Isaac Marble, Quincey Kuiava, and Ryan Pfeiffer have been working on editing, sound, music, color correction, promotion, and keeping the life blood flowing through this project to it’s sweet end. A sweet end that marks really an even sweeter beginning and that is the theatrical debut of What Separates Us at the Myrna Loy Theatre in Helena, Montana. Another huge shout out to our financial backers, parents, family, friends, and businesses. Truly, without their belief in us and spending those valuable greenbacks on our dreams, this project would not be where it is today.
Over the past year, I have been letting my wins and celebrations sink deeper into my being. No words to explain how this helps my confidence grow and expand that feeling of “I can do” regarding making things happen in life.
As you read this, what can you celebrate? Where can you give yourself credit and encouragement in getting up when you fall and staying in the game? Whether you are trying to catch the biggest fish, be a better parent, learn to sing, open a business, heal from trauma & abuse, or pretty much just figure out how to be better human, praise your efforts and strength. It takes courage to share your soul’s talent and voice.
I’m sitting in appreciation this month for how far I’ve come… I’m facing fears, leveling up skills, conquering my social anxieties, and mining through my talents to come into more and more value of myself and what I offer. Sometimes it feels like it takes forrrevvvveeer to really integrate into body, mind and soul the growth and sense of accomplishment. It’s happening :)
This month I attended the inaugural Covellite International Film Festival in Butte, Montana. It was great to experience a sweet sense of connection and feeling my badass superpowers kick in making my way around the festival meeting other people and celebrating their hard work.
Nurturing and supporting experiences that help us grow can be tricky to recognize sometimes. What I’ve known for a long time and has become so much more clear this month: holding space in positive validation of current efforts, staying curious by asking questions, and speaking uplifting statements in regard to gaps in knowledge or skills means we all get to elevate our learning and value each other. Building on a person’s strengths is SO effective! Often when I’ve started out with this positive engagement, I’ve allowed other people to trump me with their negativity, complaining, telling it like it is, and worst of all just killin’ my mojo altogether with their small minded speaking. Going to this film festival a couple weeks ago helped me and so many others practice polishing our strengths.
It’s a short post this month as I am diligently working on a new and improved website to launch soon. I appreciate you stopping by my page and staying tuned! Keep putting one foot in front of the other every day though skill building, connecting to people who value positive engagement over criticism and complaining. I know you can create that awesome project that’s in your heart to share your talents blessing those around you.
One encouraging voice can mean so much.
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