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
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.
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.
My invisible friend’s name was Maynard. He was shaped like a star, wore a cowboy hat, smiled a lot, walked funny -how would you walk if you were shaped like a star? ;) He had a cool way of noticing details in life. He made me laugh and was there when I was sad. I don’t know what happened to him, but as I grew up I guess I forgot about him. Life filled in with to do lists, people, schedules, accomplishments, and messes to clean up.
I updated my website last week for a project I was cast in, “Willow Creek Road” and noticed there had been 143 Unique Visitors and 663 Page Views on my website. Holy cats! Awesome! At first, I had a sort of positive-negative freak out, thinking way cool, thank you for visiting, and work is paying off and then wondered...hmmmmm, who are the people checking out my page? My imagination (and my fears) went wild. What if it's a cool gal in Greece who is making her way opening her own business? What if it’s a cat terrorist, looking to steal my pets or worse, hurt me? What if it’s a dude looking to understand how to communicate better? What if they are just mean and looking to get power by posting rude things? What if they are looking for a friendly smile because their day was so rotten bad?
The idea of social media, websites, and global marketing spins my head until I get nauseous and overwhelmed by it because I am not a techie and am a relatively private person. I thought about my invisible friend as I stared at the stats on my website and thought …they are like my invisible friend Maynard, only I don’t know anything about them…they could be friends, supporters, people up to no good, potential business partners...I just don’t know.
I’ve listened to friends love or hate on social media saying it’s a “look at me generation and Facebook supports all that self-promotion, I’ll never post a selfie…how lame.” Other people say "I love sharing whatever comes to mind or what’s up in their world.” I understand both sides.
Social media conversations, website creation, and global communication happen with such ease. We can experience life pretty almost anywhere on the planet in the snap of a finger. HOW FRIGGIN’ COOL IS THAT!!! I can see posts & chat with a friend in Australia to get the latest news on her art projects & family. I am informed of tragedies and can share an encouraging shout out, prayer, or donate to a cause. I can see pictures from my friend in South Korea snowboarding with friends. I can read a political opinion or can give a Facebook high five for something cool. On Sunday, I watched a friend’s student dancer via a live stream web link from Oregon. I see posts from a dude I have never met about his work helping people in Africa. We can be seen not just by people we know but by anyone connected to similar social mediums.
For my number of years on the planet I have learned a few things… one of which is that our mind has polarities. Simply put, there is a positive and a negative charge to everything. We fear or love. In thinking about Maynard, he never made me feel bad. He would call me out in truth in reflection when I needed it. He had positive things to say about the good things I was doing, especially when nobody else noticed and I felt invisible.
We can choose to come out of hiding behind masks of distance or fear. Please know, I am not denying the crazies out there that unmercifully pillage this privilege through meanness & violence (always be smart & safe with whom you share information, trust that gut compass you have!) How do we begin to stop fear of being seen and violence? By knowing each other and that happens one word or picture at a time.
With so much information we have about each other, how do you choose to use it? …to understand, hurt, introduce yourself, hide, encourage? It’s not about perfection, it’s about awareness and progress of communication, plugging into love and respect. When viewing someone else life, use soft eyes and understanding, ask permission, allow your soul to guide you. Consciously, I chose appreciation for the people viewing my website.
I’m thankful that you are visiting!
My faith in you visiting is that you are inspired to smile, start a forgotten creative project, remember a positive piece of yourself and with courage, share that. Create a positive wheel of awesomeness by creating moments of love, light, faith and hope. All of us, me included, want to belong, be seen and be respected, feel safe.
So…who are you? If you are so inclined, leave a comment below. Share how you are creating a beautiful moment in life, how you are conquering a fear, or how you are celebrating. Or perhaps, reach out to someone in your world that needs encouragement & kindness. With your help, together we can make being seen in the world a GOOD thing, by being respectful in sharing.
As the world is closing up the year 2015 in about a week, I leave you with a prayer of good health, improved life in relationships, and financial condition. Most of all, I leave you with the notion that loving and respecting yourself is one of the most important loves of all to create value, worth, and peace in your life. Big hugs and cheers for a kickass 2016.
P.S. Pictures on my website for “Willow Creek Road” are located by hovering over the Pics tab & then hovering over Film selection. Hover & click on Willow Creek Road. Please give a thumbs up on Facebook and click on the Indiegogo campaign to commit to a donation. (See icons below). We’d gladly welcome the financial support. Sharing the links would also be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind, it’s a tax deductible donation, which is pretty rad!
Holidays stink! Or…they can make you think! They are LOADED with feelings. When typing “holidays” I felt like throwing cast iron skillets to a painful sad squeeze in my heart to a feeling of wow, what a friggin’ year!
After thinking how I wanted to start this holiday, I decided to hell with it, I’m starting with the feeling of WOW! I am thriving in life! I chose to appreciate when things were a real drag, I was adventuring, I was alone, life was mundane and I was lucky to be filming & photographing on projects which boosted my creative passions. :)
I look around for good feelings to match my enthusiasm, I know they are there… but the world makes the volume of sarcasm & pain rock concert loud! Sometimes I feel split between acknowledging legit pain, heartbreak, and regret and… that warm feeling down to my toes that I am in a good space in my life. I’ve had sweet adventures this year. I’ve grown so much!
If I mope and complain, I feel for a few minutes I am “in” the crowd. If I pull my face away and say life is great, few people chime in. It leaves me feeling confused and alone. I do get it though. As I write, I think about emotional pain, strife (understatement), survival needs, and health crises you might be in. Feel a great big hug coming atcha as you read this. Life can be real rough, sad, frustrating, unfair, full of huge problems with few good options. My heart breaks for things going on in the world that I won’t pretend to have answers to.
I have handled family cancer, hospice and death, existed barely from paycheck to paycheck, been on food stamps, been abused, lived in the crappiest of freezing ass trailer homes, had multiple jobs, and have been at the dirt bottom of the barrel many times emotionally where pushing up daisies sounded better than putting on my boots and figuring out that next step. When life sucks, I get negative too… AND I decided to own that so I can be the healing my soul needs to thrive. I have walked so many steps in pain, struggle, and heartbreak and had to clean up consequences of bad choices. You can see where my stitches were, scars are, and where I need more fabric to cover gaps in my life.
When the world drains the spark outa me, nature recharges me. Mmmhmmm...natural healing soul energy! I don’t have to pick through or make sense of the vibe. I sit and feel, allowing my heart to be free, open, and appreciate. My daughter took this picture of me at Blue Lake in Colorado. Everything was as vibrantly colored as you could imagine. Behind us was a small herd of frolicking mountain goats. Moments like these feel magical. In feeling peace my soul has a place to speak, motivate, and comfort me. I allow appreciation to open and soften my heart.
Appreciation feels like a warm swell of happiness that takes over my heart, makes it feel bigger and that I am alright & capable of doing what I set my mind to. It keeps me open to possibilities in life, valuing myself, sharing the positive, and giving & receiving love.
If you’ve been sinking in negative junk and cynical chit-chat, maybe you have forgotten the way to feeling good. I suggest answering the call of the beautiful child in you that is yearning to feel better. Holidays can bring up the old, dark stuff in our heart and emotional closets. That stuff is asking to move out to make room for better feelings, more possibilities and love.
Maybe…just maybe, with a big ol' smile on your face (yup, I just felt it creep across your face), try defining holiday seasons differently. It sounds trite and I feel very small suggesting turning yourself toward nature and appreciation because… no, it won’t solve hunger, violence, cure cancer, or the big problems in the world. However, starting with the one person that can make a difference wherever your feet will take you today IS huge. Appreciation of YOU is the start of an incredible miracle of the heart. And boy oh boy, our world needs YOUR good heart right now.
From my soul to yours, find time in nature (be smart & safe) to sit in appreciation of what you can see, feel or experience around you. Before all the preparation, crazy relative drama ;), good food, football games, and great sales, make time to appreciate the treasures that are only in your heart and soul. Treasures that were in you when you were born and ones that you have grown in yourself living your life. Bring this appreciation feeling to your life and the people with whom you create life.
Happy Thanksgiving with blessings. Good thoughts to people that are reading this outside of the U.S., this holiday means a lot to us here :) thanks for obliging me!
P.S. Social media has really linked so many of us around the world. Thanks a million for reading my posts, sharing, liking, re-posting it on Facebook, leaving encouraging comments on my website or sending private thoughtful notes. Please continue to share, comment and be inspired. It helps grow my artistic voice. ~Mary
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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