A whole year has flown by since I last blogged! For quite a few days, I felt bad that I'd dropped an artistic commitment I'd made to myself to write regularly... until I really let myself acknowledge how much I've been in the trenches of creating art, growing, and taking care of life in the past twelve months. I decided to give myself a shout out and douse myself in some well-earned recognition, love, and warm validation!
At the beginning of 2019, I embraced a three & a half month intensive series journey of online acting classes with Jo Kelly. In July, I completed an industry-standard audition intensive class with Crystal Carson in Atlanta. I've managed to take five Masterclass Online Classes (acting, directing, filmmaking, & screenwriting), pole dancing class, and read several books fortifying my acting skills and talents. Late in 2019, I took a six week acting class at Grand Street, our community theatre, further knitting together inside myself acting skills I'd learned. Made time to see fellow artist's shows and music performances to cheer them on and read a play nearly every month with a study group. I've been so proud of my deeper dive in understanding why I'm an artist and shedding things, people, and processes that weren't inspiring me to stay focused & optimistic. I've gained so much insight, confidence, competence, and developed new processes that align with my soul, the way I learn, and keep my creative fires burning bright.
Photo credits: Jason O'Neil, Justin Baker, Charles Perry
I've auditioned a few times this past year and was successfully cast in a short film "Homestead." We filmed in October 2019. A stellar crew from LA and Montana rolled a heart moving script into the camera and it's in post production. Rough cut is done and another round of fund raising was completed by our project creator Jenna aiming for film festivals later this year. I worked on the documentary "Black Cowboy." I put nearly two year's worth of work into preparation for filming. With direction from the director, I completed an interview, made connections, provided feedback & advice, provided lodging & food for the team one day, and did a ton of historical research to share my time and talents. Completing an online course, "Copy Cure" has doubled my confidence in communicating myself as an artistic entrepreneur. Was so tickled to be cast in a local commercial as a snowboarder. PSA coming soon! Worked with a rad group of Missoula filmmakers as I was cast in the movie, "We Burn Like This." In April 2019, as an actress & executive producer, I had the privilege of joining my friend Jenna (creator, lead actor, writer, producer) in Hollywood for the showing of our film "Willow Creek Road" at the TCL Chinese Theatre. What a dreamy highlight of my year! Another film short I acted in, "Sudden Developments," premiered at the Bigfork Film Festival in the spring of 2019. I became a professional this year and am more determined and clearer in how I desire to share my talents on this wild, great adventure.
Photo credits: Jenna Ciralli, Tashia Gates
Giving myself pats on the back for the epic undertaking to grow myself more fierce in my passion for life and desire to master my art. I'm coming to real terms of my inherent self-worth and the raw, unashamed healing I've done with a study group of badass women learning and living the way to more self-love. We've read and applied skills from three books this year that have steeped me in the warmth, support, and nurturing I was craving to be seen and heard. (Books: "You are a Badass at Making Money" - "Rise Sister Rise" - and "Everything is Figureoutable.") I now have rituals, like meditation and reflection journaling, more dialed into practice so I can contain the joy I create, stay in the center of my personal power, and process sorrows & get myself back on my feet so much better! Fierce. Inherent worth. Genius. Talented. Gorgeous. Sexy. Articulate. Intelligent. These words are becoming more dominant in my talks with myself thanks to this coven of women and several other tight-knit friends.
Late winter and early spring 2019 found me snowboarding at Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, Mount Norquay, Sun Valley, Snowbird, Brighton, Big Sky, and Great Divide. There is nothing like the freedom of taking that board to the snow, letting the great big forest cleanse my energy, and share my love & attention with Mother Nature.
Summer 2019 was filled with adventures in nature (understatement! - - including going the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah!), meeting new friends, playing underneath the warm summer night sky, and learning more to allow and ask for support when I’ve needed help with my emotions and mindset (big gulp -- which was very courageous of me to do!).
In between the art, growing, and adventuring, I've handled my day job with much more communication and better focus. I traveled to Austin, Texas for a national conference and experienced the lively, creative culture there too... along with watching a million bats fly out from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge! I've had more truck issues than I can count - - super annoying! - - from the ignition to starter, to an axle joint breaking. Endured the main water pipe of my house freezing, yikes! Digging in with all my determination, got a plumber hired, and came to a whole new appreciation of having running water! Shared time trail building with the Prickly Pear Land Trust, work that’s so satisfying to my soul! Priceless family time sharing adventures at an immersive art studio, aquarium, epic Halloween maze, and cooking, laughter, and wine. Helping a close family member through a head injury, another one through some serious mental & emotional trauma, and keeping up my chores often left me to fall face first into bed exhausted every night. In between the ugly crying, healing up a shoulder injury, and doing my best in friendships, Made time to visit my best friend forever while her son was recouping from surgery in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and joined friends at Chico Hot Springs to celebrate birthdays. Met one of my soul sister friends in Sun Valley and shared time, amazing food, and planned & celebrated our artistic endeavors. I relearned my commitment to time management like a boss. Holy crap...it's sure tough as hell to pace myself and balance all the things!
I learned how to focus my energy way better with the generous help of a dear veteran friend. He shared time, talent, and energy to teach me some basics of Tai Chi. We met regularly on the best of Montana summer days in the park and let our feet be on the earth and the sun on our faces. He gave me the gift of flight - the ability up-level my self-belief and to be flawed, perfect, and accepted for being the amazing piece of human art I am. He shared many hours of confidence building chats over the best microbrew beers in town sharing the divinity, protective spirit, and laughter of masculine energy. Working with craniosacral therapist-reflexologist and essential oils artist Kelly, she put my magic back together and a spring in my step from injuries, accidents, abuse, and some deep childhood traumas.
The largest accomplishment of this past year, was being part of a tenacious filmmaking team completing the film "Wuthering Heights. Throughout 2019 and much of 2018, I spent nearly every Thursday night in a conference call connecting with five passionate artistic warriors completing Interwoven Studios Production of "Wuthering Heights." I spent countless lunch hours and evenings following up on phone calls, texts, and emails, scheduling, helping with team morale, reviewing film edits, performing ADR (audio digital recording) and carrying out a ton of tasks connected to marketing and communications.
Photo credit: Rachel Riitano
We had our premiere late in December 2019 in Montana. I couldn't be more proud of the grit, determination, and perseverance our main team of five people has, along with some incredible technical artists, pulling this independent film baby out into the light! Conquering distance, heated discussions, making compromises, creating resourceful solutions, and completing what seemed like seven thousand details... I feel like we've come through a creative war and resulted in us making the very best piece of visual art possible. Our version of "Wuthering Heights" has taken nearly five & a half years to complete. It's imperfect, just like every human being is... the heartbeats of love, talent, and crafted details captured the attention of every person who came to share in our screening. Our journey with film festivals begins January 2020 in Polson, Montana at the Flathead Lake International Cinemafest.
You can follow us on Facebook or check our website to keep up with our journey with this film! Click on the picture icons directly below.
This past year has been one of individuating myself and moving into .owning. myself - - the real me underneath the masks. Handling my anxiety better, I learned more to express myself and communicate while in the processes of life rather than venting about it afterwards, spoke up for my value and time, removed toxic people from my close up personal space so I could really, really feel who I am, and then returned outwards in life-friendships-love-art with authenticity, warmth, forgiveness of myself, and more shamelessly shining my light, personality, and talents, regardless of the feedback given.
Humble gratitude for my close friends & family who've encouraged me, supported me, listened to me & shared their knowledge, gave me air time to vent my extreme frustrations & hurts, housed me in my travels, fed me when I was knee deep in intense schedule demands, hugged & held me, bought me beer, gave me rides when my truck was broken, high fived me, shared Reiki energy & prayers, and wiped up my tears. Truly could not've done the year without you!
I intend to put the things I've learned this past year into my play, art, work, love, and life in even larger ways. I'm scared to death, excited, and ready. Cheers to 2020!! xoxo
PS - Thank you for reading about "Wuthering Heights" and my activity filled year! If you've never made a list of things you've accomplished in a year, do it! Look through your phone and I’ll bet there are a ton of pictures you took of things you've done or experienced that made you feel great, loving, or accomplished. Marinate in the awesomeness of YOU getting out there every day and making your way in life. You are capable, worth it, and stronger than you know. ~Big loves~
Blog by Mary Riitano...
I'm a Montana actress on a journey sharing my heart and growth through blogging, stories, and poetry, I have faith you'll find empowerment and inspiration to create like a champion in your own life!
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