50 Days to 50 Years: Day 15, The Resilient Life

17 07 2016

“The next time you feel slightly uncomfortable with the pressure in your life, remember no pressure, no diamonds. Pressure is a part of success.” — Eric Thomas

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The instructors at the CorePower Hollywood studio were offered a chance to participate in a Myintent.org promotion a few months back. We picked a word and the company engraved it on a bracelet for us. I had totally forgotten about it until this morning, when I went to sub a C-2 class in Hollywood. The lovely Estevan let me know that the bracelets had arrived!

As you can see, the word I chose was “Resilient”, not necessarily as an intention, but as a continual marker for my life. I found this on a site called Wisdom Commons:

“Resilience is the ability to work with adversity in such a way that one comes through it unharmed or even better for the experience. Resilience means facing life’s difficulties with courage and patience – refusing to give up. It is the quality of character that allows a person or group of people rebound from misfortune, hardships and traumas.

“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.

“Much of our resilience comes from community—from the relationships that allow us to lean on each other for support when we need it.”

There is no way I could have reached 50 years with joy, focus, and success without being resilient. I never really thought about it much of the time, but it is in the looking back that you see the thread that holds things together.

There is also no way that I will continue past 50 without it. As I head to church to worship with my spiritual community, I am grateful for resilience, and the communities of which I am a part who support and encourage it.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 23, Griffith Observatory with the Velas!

9 07 2016

“Beautiful memories are like old friends. They may not always be on your mind, but they are forever in your heart.” — Susan Gale

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Hermione and Samuel Vela are longtime and lifetime friends. Hermione and I met at The Church on the Way back in the mid-90s. While we knew each other, our relationship was mostly seeing each other on Sundays and at college and single’s group activities. I started attending a particular single’s group at the megachurch, and met a unique and stellar young man named Kelly Rivers. He invited me to his “Breakfast Club” early on Thursday mornings, and I discovered that Hermione and several other friends I knew were a part of it. That helped to change the nature of our relationship, and we started building a friendship outside of the group. However, when she asked if I wanted to meet one-on-one for accountability and prayer, well that pretty transformed us individually and corporately.

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Charles Finney said, “Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other’s hearts in prayer.”

He is right. Hermione is a sister of my heart, as well as my family, and much of that is a result of the time we have spent together in prayer. The older I get, the more I understand how rare and how precious this bond is, and I am grateful to have it.

Hermione has seen and prayed me through depression, family reconciliation, loneliness, financial stress, faith struggles—the highs and the lows over two decades. I saw her come together with Samuel, and she and Samuel saw my coming together with Lynn.

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She was there to welcome my sister June and niece Gabi to California, and she was there to support me as June battled illness after illness, left to go back to Chicago, then returned to ultimately pass away. Hermione and Samuel grieved with us when June went to glory, and was there to support us as we navigated that grief.

Through upheavals, moves, and times of inertia we have maintained a quality friendship and a prayer partnership, and I am thankful and blessed that the quality of the friendship gets richer as we advance in years.

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One of the great privileges of lifelong friendship is to see the growth of family and relationships. Over the last several years, Samuel and Hermione have chosen to foster and then adopt two children: Jaxin and Yolanda. They are brother and sister, and as is the plight of many foster children, their lives have not been easy and their hurdles are often high. It takes a special heart to not only welcome these children into your family, but to work and fight to help them leap those hurdles and become who God created them to be; not what hard circumstances deformed them to be. Samuel and Hermione have those beautiful hearts, and I admire and revere them for this.

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Juggling schedules with children takes a certain type of art, but we were able to get together to celebrate their contribution to my 50 Days to 50 Years. We spent the evening at Griffith Observatory for their “Star Party”. Once a month, the observatory encourages amateur astronomers to bring their telescopes, and the staff have their own set up to assist interested parties in seeing constellations, the moon, and even some of the planets.

I brought a picnic of hot dogs, potato salad, vegetarian casserole, tacos, and brownies, and we knoshed, talked and watched all the buzz around the telescopes. We got a few views through telescopes of the moon, but for the most part we just spent time enjoying each other’s company and getting to know Jaxin and Yolanda a bit better.

Griffith Observatory is awesome for 360 degree views of Los Angeles, from Pasadena to the beach. We were able to take in the entire city from sun up to sunset, and enjoy the lights of the city that make Los Angeles look stunning.





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 42, Captain America and Japanese Buffet with Sarah Lucy Beach

20 06 2016

“Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden).” — C.S. Lewis

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Sarah Lucy Beach is another longtime friend since the early 1990s. We met in an entertainment industry fellowship called Premise, and immediately struck up a bond over our love of writing, movies, and conversation. That bond was assisted by the fact that I did not own a car my first 10 years in Los Angeles, so Sarah was often my constant chauffeur to and from Premise meetings and other places and events. Like many of my Los Angeles’ friends, she has spent more than a few Thanksgivings and Christmases with me—we even spent one Christmas Eve at Disneyland, which was quite a treat! No lines or crowds, and a fireworks display that was the perfect entree into Christmas Day.

We also took a road trip together from Los Angeles to Colorado, with some stops in between. Unfortunately, Sarah’s car had troubles along the way, and it started out stressful, but ended up being a beautiful trip. We look back on that time now and laugh, but it wasn’t quite a laughing matter then; our friendship weathered it and we have some fond memories and pictures to look back on.

My early years in Los Angeles were chaotic, and I was often in financial and logistical straits. Sarah was always there for me, whether with assistance for a meal, an escape from a toxic living situation, or a movie. After hearing about one precarious situation with yet another bad roommate, she said, “If you are facing the street, then you are welcome to my couch.” I took her up on it, and stayed on her couch for six months.

Sarah has recently gone through some hard trials of her own the last few years. Because Lynn and I were fresh off some hardships of our own, we were not able to offer a couch, but we could give our prayers and whatever practical help was available.

I am thankful that Sarah’s life is on the upswing from those dark years, and that she was available to help me ring in my “50 Days to 50 Years”. We had a great time catching up, and as is indicative of our times together, we took in a movie: Captain America: Civil War, then had lunch at Hopkaido Japanese buffet. Thanks to the record-breaking Los Angeles heat (111 degrees where we were), we were quite content to marinate in conversation and enjoy Hopkaido’s air conditioning long after we had finished eating.

But then, as lifelong friends, we never need an excuse to do that….

 

 

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 43, Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn with Theresa and AJ Danna

19 06 2016

“Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.” — Barbara Bush

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Theresa and I have been friends since the early 1990s, when we both were part of the now-defunct Masters of Professional Writing program at USC. She was one of the best parts to come out of those years in graduate school. She is a keeper (she says the same about me—verklempt), and we have watched each other’s lives through boyfriends and breakups, forced moves, intentional moves, job milestones, job losses and job stresses. But I am most thankful for being a part of her life because I got to see her son AJ enter the world and grow up. AJ turned 18 yesterday, marking a milestone in all our lives.

Theresa had AJ at 40, and I was there during the pregnancy, babysat him when he was little, and got to hang out with him at all sorts of things: from the kids show at the UCLA Los Angeles Book Fair, to the Chinese New Year celebrations, and various times and birthdays in between. They were a part of many Thanksgivings and Christmases in Los Angeles, and they had a front row seat as I met and married Lynn. My sister June was a pivotal part of their lives too, and they grieved right alongside me when she died.

I am honored and blessed by our family connection, and am so proud of the young man AJ has become. AJ is not your typical millennial: he knows what he wants, and he is pursuing it with passion and smarts. He has already gotten some major screen time doing background coverage in film and television, and he has a really spectacular voiceover reel over at his YouTube channel. He has met, and is being mentored by some of the best names in the voiceover and entertainment business. That is all AJ’s doing—no one handed it to him—he pursued them, was offered the opportunity, and made the necessary space for it.

AJ knows the players in his industry, and knows more about networking than any career coach I have encountered. In fact, as we were leaving the Barn, he ran into Mark Silverman, the voice of Rod Serling from the Disney Theme Park ride “Tower of Terror”, and just struck up a conversation with him. AJ’s confidence and his comfort in his own skin and his purpose are well beyond his years. He is focused and dedicated to his craft; but more importantly, he is one of the most personable and kind people I know.

Both AJ and Theresa are practically Disney historians, so I got to spend a bit of time with them at Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn in Griffith Park. This is a FREE thing in Los Angeles, and right in my backyard, so even on this 107 degree Los Angeles day, it was a win-win, not just for the fun exploration, but to have some time with them both.

Fifty years on this earth teaches you that time is precious, and people’s presence in your life through the sorrows and the celebrations, growing up, and growing older makes it even more so. Thank you, Theresa and AJ for loving me and being part of my life . I love you both very much.





In My Orbit: No heavy lifting today–others do it so much better!

15 05 2014

 

Who Cares Meme

So what is capturing the public’s attention this week? Solange Knowles trying to kick the stuffing out of Jay-Z in an elevator, and Michael Sam’s Gay Kiss. I care about both these subjects as much as I care about dyeing my hair blonde (Nil, Nada, Zip). But the media and the publicity whores are going to try to make me care… or else

What I do care about are people constantly trying to shove something down my throat, and media bias; but I’m repeating myself. Thank you, Matt Walsh, for caring enough to articulate this. Read on…

This is my homophobic rant against Michael Sam | The Matt Walsh Blog.





In My Orbit: Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, and Happy New Year!

26 12 2013

Electronic Christmas Card 2013

Greetings, fellow turners. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas full of love and good food. I feel a day late and a dollar short over not posting an Advent or a Christmas post, but my sentiments are the same no matter what the time of year–may you be blessed, well, and fulfilling your life’s purpose!

My Washington Times Communities column is humming along swimmingly! I continue to beat the drum on Obamacare, its deficiencies, and its abject failure on delivering little of what it has promised. As a Christmas present(?) to Americans, the Obama administration hacked away at the individual mandate to help out those whose individual policies had been cancelled due to the new Obamacare regulations. Make sense? Didn’t think so, but not much does with this convoluted law. Give it a read: The Obamacare individual mandate death watch.

Over at Examiner.com, the ever-changing world of the film industry continues to stay in focus. I was recently asked by KCET to review a series called Bridge to Iran, and to interview its host Parisa Soultani. I gained insight and an education into a minority group that makes up a huge chunk of the Los Angeles population, yet remains shrouded in mystery. I hope that the review and conversation with Parisa removes a bit of that shroud. Give those a read, if you get a chance: Artist Profile: Parisa Soultani uses media to connect to a higher essence; and, TV Series review: Bridge to Iran spotlights Iranian filmmakers.

My holiday was filled with family concerns and family joys, but I count this as one of the best Christmases we have had in a long time. I pray 2014 brings you renewal and joy to your world.