50 Days to 50 Years: Day 11, A CAAN surprise and a Road Trip!

21 07 2016

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” — William Feather

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Day 11 of 50 Days to 50 Years started with dropping off my Nissan X-Terra to Pep Boys for some servicing in the early AM. You see, the first BIG adventure of my 50 Years is a Food Excursion to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we are heading out today; so I had to make sure the car was in good shape to go the over 800 miles through the deserts of California and Arizona, and mountains of Arizona and New Mexico.

The temperature index in Los Angeles is expected to reach 100 degrees, and at 7:30 a.m. it was already 71. So I trundled from Pep Boys down to the local McDonald’s, got a Caramel McCafe, and enjoyed the A/C until the service desk called me to say my car was ready.

And they completed the service in just the right amount of time to keep my 10:00 a.m. appointment with Miriam Smith, Columbia College Chicago’s Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving. I have the distinct pleasure of working with Miriam on the CAAN Alumni Board, where she does incredible work and inspires us as we seek to do more for the alumni. I was honored that on her visit to Los Angeles, she wanted to make sure she touched based with me. And even more happy that I had a window of time before we headed out of town.

We went to one of my favorite breakfast spots, The Village Bakery and Cafe on Los Feliz Boulevard. I was actually a few minutes early, and so was Miriam! So that worked out well.

Miriam had the Atwater Village Special, and I had the Village Scramble, both delicious and filling. We had a good talk about my time on the board, and how I’d like to contribute in this next year as the new Southwest Regional Representative! It was a very lovely start to what I was looking forward to being a lovely weekend. We finished breakfast, and Miriam had to jet off to her next meeting. We hugged and looked forward to seeing each other at the CAAN Board retreat in September.

Then it was off home to complete our packing, put it all in the car, and hit the 210 Freeway to the I-15! I do love road trips, and love them even more when someone else is driving. Lynn seems to prefer doing that, so I bow to his road warrior. It is just great to get out of your world, and right now our world is a mixed bag of delight and depression; so for me, getting away from it all has taken on pronounced importance of late.

We got underway around 12:30 p.m., fueled up, and away we went! Save for a rest area or two in between, we made it into Kingman, Arizona around 6:30 p.m., and had our last “official” California meal for the weekend at the quintessential California stop: In-N-Out Burger.

Four hours later, we arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona, where we were set to repair for the night. Motel 6 is our inexpensive go-to place on road trips, usually because we have the Bubbas and Bubbette with us, and Motel 6 is not only pet-friendly, but FREE for all pets; no deposit required. But Motel 6 has also been good to us on our little excursions that have spanned, with a few years’ interruption, over the past five years. In terms of brands, if you are good to me, I am often loyal to a fault; so Motel 6 continues to get our loyalty.

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They did indeed leave the light on for us! We are checked in, and look forward to a good night’s sleep before taking the additional 430 miles to New Mexico tomorrow.

 

 

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 12, SweetSalt with Susan Baker and Mihret

20 07 2016

“Treat every connection, communication and collaboration as part of a continuous relationship.” ― Kim Chandler McDonald, Flat World Navigation: Collaboration and Networking in the Global Digital Economy

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It was so great on Day 12 to reconnect with The Escape Hatcher Susan M. Baker, and her little girl Mihret at SweetSalt in Toluca Lake.

I met Susan through Douglas Welch, a friend and new media professional. Both Susan and Doug were pivotal parts of the career group I used to run called Tuesdays with Transitioners, and it was through New Media Mastermind, a group that Doug formed which included myself, Susan, Jennifer “Jungle Jenny” Michaels, Danielle Gruen, and Tracy Pattin, that the first CareerCamp in 2010 was born!

Doug, Susan, Danielle and I were the first co-chairs, and the Congregational Church of Northridge, which sponsored Tuesdays with Transitioners, was the location. That was an exciting time, where we spearheaded three other Careercamps (L.A., South L.A. and Santa Clarita). We had a great time in the Mastermind group learning how to use new media to better promote ourselves and our endeavors, bouncing ideas off each other, and seeing how we could be instrumental in helping each other’s visions come to fruition. Susan also ran a group called Nohopreneurs, which brought local entrepreneurs together for lunch and networking.

Both our lives have changed tremendously over the last six years. In 2010, Susan was in the process of adopting beautiful Mihret from an Ethiopian adoption agency, and had her in arms that next year. So for Susan, careers and reinvention took a back seat to new motherhood (of course). For me, the Yoga reinvention happened, and life has been a series of rollercoaster rides, a few of which I am still on.

Susan was beautiful and glowing, so motherhood definitely suits her. Mihret was energetic and curious, as any six year old is, and exceptionally gorgeous—modeling should definitely be in her future.

SweetSalt was a new find for me, and I will be back! Not only was the Duck Confit sandwich quite tasty, but they have natural sodas that rival any you would find in the grocery store.

We caught up on our lives, discussing Yoga, travel, what was happening with the reinvention industry, writing, relocation, and education. Susan was involved as a volunteer at Mihret’s school, and I discussed my role on the CAAN National Board. She wanted to be an example to Mihret and emphasize through action the importance of education and being involved in its potential to change lives and allow students to flourish.

I enjoyed the meeting of minds, particularly in the area of careers and reinvention. Susan is exceptionally smart and resourceful, and it hearkened back to our time in the Mastermind group—with the addition of interruptions from a bright and bouncy six year old.

Thank you, Susan, for being a part of my 50 years: enriching my life with connection, vision, and also being a shining example of reinvention and new beginnings in the second half of your life. I hope we get the opportunity to collaborate again one day soon.

 

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 41, CAAN Connect!

21 06 2016

“Respect for people is the cornerstone
of communication and networking.”
— Susan Roane

A fabulous time was had by all at the 2016 CAAN Connect! The West Coast chapter of Columbia College Chicago’s alumni association has held this networking event for years, and it has always been rewarding and enjoyable for the attendees.

West Coast Director Sarah Schroeder, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Chuck Lira, and Coordinator of Special Events Amanda Clayton did a lovely job setting the space with awesome catering (with a bar!), and a spacious setup where alumni and entertainment industry executives could conduct their 15-minute speed networking sessions.

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My role as an alumni board representative was to help out at the check-in desk and interact with the alumni to ensure they were having a pleasant and productive experience. Interacting with the other alumni gave me insight into what an impact this type of event can have on one’s confidence and career, and how much the work of an alumni association can impact both. Alumna Abby Sherman (BA ’79) said, “I have to say, Columbia really steps up for its alumni.”

He shoots, he scores! Rim shot. I felt quite proud in seeing part of the vision of the alumni board coming to life and being affirmed by the very alumni we seek to serve.

Speaking of pride, Hallie McPhee-Johnston, another alumni said, “”I’m proud to be a part of Columbia. I really care about our school, and what we do to help each other move forward. This event was great! I made a lot of contacts, and I have a lot of work to do to get things out to people; but I am very pleased.”

I encouraged Hallie to apply for the 2016-17 national board—I hope she does!

My other role as just another alumni coming to network was also satisfying. I met this great husband and wife writing team, Anastasia and Joshua Basche, who I suspect will be the next Robert and Michelle King (The Good Wife, Braindead).  We had a fascinating conversation about the Chewbaca mom and her viral video, and discussed actual artistic effort versus socially-driven content. We exchanged cards and I look forward to getting together with them soon.

My pitch materials were a big hit! One executive said they were very professional, and felt it represented who I am and what I had to offer. Another executive from a literary management agency was disgusted that my last literary agency told me that they had to drop me because I didn’t have a platform. She complimented me on the fact that I took the dishonest feedback and did something with it: I now have a platform that cannot be denied! All in all, I received solid information and direction from each one, and can incorporate or move forward because of it.

The evening ended with a delightful conversation and a failed attempt at using Facebook Live! with Lydia Rodriguez (’07) and Roberta De’Mesme (’90). These women met at work and found out they both attended Columbia. Not only is their friendship delightful, but they are encouraging each other in moving back towards creative endeavors. That’s what networking is all about: sharing knowledge, opportunity, and encouraging each other in our goals and strengths. I look forward to seeing Lydia and Roberta’s podcast come to life and go viral. I let them know I would be honored to be a guest one day.

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 44, Education and Reinvention

18 06 2016

CAAN Board 2015

“To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself.” ― Bell Hooks

In 2015, I was elected as a member-at-large for my college’s national alumni board. My masters degree is from another “name” university, but my heart and loyalty will always be with Columbia College Chicago, where I received my undergraduate degree.

The bond is strong for a number of reasons; primarily because the tools and experiences I received at Columbia are ones that I use over and over again to increase my personal currency and vocational knowledge across all the industries in which I interact.

From Columbia I gained huge lessons on finding my unique voice, sharpening and honing all my skills, and pursuing my craft with authenticity. As I move forward in years, I understand more and more what a really phenomenal education it was on many levels. As part of my board role, I have had the opportunity to share this with prospective students and with other alumni, and it has been a joy.

Which is why I am looking forward to CAAN Connect, a speed pitching event for the Columbia Los Angeles alumni. Entertainment industry executives volunteer their time to hear Columbia alumni present their projects, and many have gotten help, work, and representation through this forum.

I have attended two CAAN Connects, one as an alumni pitching a project, and the other as an alumni volunteer helping others. This time will be a hybrid of both: representing the alumni board and helping the attending alumni, and also getting the opportunity to pitch As the Girl Turns to two of the executives who specialize in representing influencers and brands. Over the last eight years I have skirted the edges of both arenas, and my desire is to cement myself and take my influence and brand to the next level.

So today has been preparing my biography, projects, and pitch materials to present in a few days, and it has been satisfying seeing the big picture representation of my body of work. I hope I can translate that satisfaction effectively into my speed pitch.

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In My Orbit…

28 06 2011

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So my worlds have collided in a good way. I taught my first C-1 class at CorePower Yoga Sherman Oaks. It was a good experience, and I hope the students felt the same. And I get to do it again next week! How cool is that?

Starting this Friday and through the month of July, I will be subbing a Yoga class for my friend Patty Rae at Santosha Space in Atwater Village. If you’re in the Los Feliz/Silverlake/Atwater Village area and want a good workout, come on by! Class starts at 10:30 am for those who like to sleep in.

I also completed my Yogis of Faith series on Examiner.com. If you have not read or commented lately, I invite you to join the conversation–and if you enjoyed the articles, please “Like” them! It does so much for my Google rating.

This evening, it’s off to CAAN Connect, an annual event hosted by Columbia College Chicago’s West Coast Alumni Association & Network. Now in it’s fourth year, this event connects entertainment alumni with industry insiders who can open doors and introduce us to key connections in the industry.

I found it an invaluable experience to polish and present my pitch, not to mention the great contacts I acquired. I plan to volunteer this time out, but there’s still the opportunity to schmooze, no matter what I’ll be doing!

One of the contacts I made at the previous CAAN is the lovely Jenny Januszewski, artist extraordinaire. Jenny will be pitching the short film she directed, The Shadower: a 3D Film about Love and Circumstance.

Above- and below-the-line talent from five film schools and nine countries were represented in the project, and everyone donated their time for this vision. Financial backing is needed to complete the film, so if you love film and love supporting independent vision, consider giving at the The Shadower‘s Kickstart website, or “Like” the The Shadower Facebook page.

For a “behind-the-scenes” look at the film project, go to the Kickstarter site or the Facebook page and click on the video.





Happy Independence Day, and the AVON Walk Update!

4 07 2009

I had a marvelous opportunity to “pitch” my memoir proposal and career vision to several entertainment industry executives.  The CAAN (Columbia Alumni Association Network) Los Angeles arm of Columbia College Chicago was gracious enough to host and coordinate this over at CBS Radford.  Sarah Schoeder, Director of West Coast Alumni at Columbia College Chicago and P.A. Cadichon, President of the L.A. chapter, did a bang up job of putting it all together!  It was a tremendous boost to my flagging creative ego, and a great chance to connect with transplanted Chicago-alumni.

Executives and alumni responded well to my pitch, and my book proposal was received into a few hands who could get it to the right places–so keep your fingers crossed!  However, the real highlight of the evening had nothing to do with having an arena in which to spotlight my talent, but two encounters with incredible people who reminded me what a blessing it is to born an American, and how I, and most native-born citizens, too often take this privilege for granted.

Jenny is a beautiful Vietnamese actress/writer, and a fellow Columbia alum.  If you saw her name on paper, you would automatically assume she was of Polish descent, as her last name has that consonant pronunciation thing going on.  While we waited to be called to our five-minute pitch sessions, she told me her story.  She was adopted from Vietnam when she was a young girl, and her parents brought her to America and a better life.  She lamented that she would be out of the country during the fourth of July holiday, and said it would feel strange.  “Every 4th of July I have celebrated here–it’s a privilege to be in this country, and I’m so blessed that I was adopted.”

I encountered another person in the form of one of the catering crew.  He was of Hispanic descent, and I regret that I did not find out his name.  In another of those “waiting to present” times, we started a conversation where he talked about his long hours and days of catering, and how he got started in it.  He loved it, and it was how he acquired his green card, and then his citizenship.  He beamed with pride as he talked about how his son had enlisted in the Marines and would be going on his first tour of duty.  “There is no place like this country.  My son wants to give back, and I encouraged him.  We owe our lives to this place.”

How I wish both of these people could be juxtaposed next to our nation’s President while he is apologizing for all that is wrong with America and how it needs to be fixed.  These naturalized citizens expressed nothing short of pride and joy to be a part of this country, and blessed by all the opportunities given them because of it.  I was humbled and encouraged, because people are ridiculously deluded that one leader or another in office, or certain policies in place are what make America great.  But it is the PEOPLE, like Jenny, and our caterer and his son, who make this country great–and having come from other lands to here, they understand and appreciate the privilege of being called American, where I constantly have to be reminded!

On this July 4th, let us remember that our freedoms are a gift paid for with the sacrifice and dedication of our Founding Fathers, and fighting men from the 1775 to modern day.  Happy Independence Day, God Bless our Troops, and God Bless America!

The AVON Walk training continues, unabated, and I’ve pretty much been in a groove of four days walking, and one day of cross-training with Yoga.   I have increased my distance to 12 miles, continuing my walk from Griffith Park, and heading south on Los Feliz Boulevard.  So far I am up to Vermont, which is approximately 12 miles.  So I’m getting there–twenty miles, here I come!

Another AVON walker recently contacted me, and we decided to do a training walk together.  Tana hails from the great state of Illinois, so she knows what it means to grow up Midwest!  She works around Burbank/Toluca Lake, so we explored a short trail by Johnny Carson Park in Burbank that slopes along the L.A. River.   It wasn’t much distance, but worked well for an initial meet.  She’s cool peeps, and we made plans to walk again, and maybe make it a weekly thing.  She has a full-time office job, so I flipped my Wednesday training to the evening in order to accommodate her schedule.

Tana is early in her fundraising, so she’s hosting an event at Howl at the Moon in Universal City on July 25.  Come on out for drinks and to support a fellow AVON walker with a donation!

Speaking of fundraising, I am now at 53%, having now raised $1,315.  A generous gift from Richard and Jolene of Northridge helped to really boost my numbers.  Richard and Jolene are new members of my church, and they lost their beloved wife and mother, Elaine to cancer earlier this year.  Richard wrote, “please accept this donation in memory of my wife who passed away on 4-18-09 after a 15 month battle with cancer.  ‘Elaine’ will always be in my heart.”

I was humbled and honored, and will hold Elaine in my heart, along with Rebecca and Liz, as I walk in Service to the Cause.

My Avon Walk Page