Coincidences versus Divine Appointments 

8 01 2018

“There is no such thing as chance; and what seems to us mere
accident springs form the deepest source of destiny.” 

Friedrich Schiller

It was a gorgeous, steely morning in the Crescenta Valley. Los Angeles is experiencing its first rain of the season, so it added to the mellowness of this Monday morning.

Our Montrose Church Women’s Coffee group was meeting at Panera Bread. I don’t really like Panera, and don’t quite understand what makes it so popular. Because we are again flat broke after having to travel to Chicago, the last thing I wanted was to go someplace where I had to spend money; so between that and the rain, I could have had a convenient excuse just to stay home. But the goal, particularly during this new year and time of grieving, is to connect as much as I can—especially on mornings when I really just want to curl into a ball—and this was one of these mornings.

For a change, I left right after my voice lesson. Normally I dither around a bit, but I wasn’t sure what the 2 Freeway would look like with this first rain, and since I haven’t been firing on all cylinders lately, I wanted to take my sweet time and not feel rushed. So I arrived at Panera exactly at 9 a.m., and Jana, Sandy, Carolyn, and several other women were already in line, ordering their food. I gave them hugs, and then looked at the menu to see if there was anything I wanted to get. I decided to try a pastry (cheap), and had my eye on a pecan roll, when I heard a male voice say, “Hello!” behind me.

I turned around to see my friend Robert, with his gorgeous smile, opening his arms for a hug, which I gladly took. Robert and his wife Gina have been one of the great friendships we’ve developed since coming to Montrose Church, and they knew about Joan’s passing. He asked how I was doing, and I said I was hanging in. He said something distinctive: “You have a certain grace about you that makes you appear that you are handling the situation.” I took that as a positive. We chatted a bit more, then I got back in line to order my pecan roll.

I was happy that the pecan roll did not disappoint, and I was happy with my decision to get out the house. We had great conversation around the table about a variety of things, including movies, and the Faith & Film class a lot of us were attending. Our time together was winding to a close, and most of the women had left. My emotional bank was depleting, so I went to restroom, and then prepared to make my exit.

I came back from the restroom, and was saying my goodbyes to the remaining ladies, when I sensed a pair of eyes upon me. I looked in the direction of the gaze, and saw the beautiful face of Darlene Perry smiling at me! I knew Darlene from The Church on the Way, where we sang together in the New Song Gospel Choir. Darlene and her sisters are also recording artists, as part of the talented Peri Sisters. On top of that, Darlene is an incredible baker and chef, and her cupcakes are simply divine.

I walked over and gave her a big hug, and we caught up a bit on each other’s lives. She was in La Crescenta (all the way from Lancaster) to frequent a local bakery supply shop! She popped into Panera for a quick bite before heading back to the Antelope Valley. I introduced her to the remaining ladies, and then she collected her food and jetted off. We made a commitment to reconnect on Facebook.

Some people would think that both of those unexpected meetings of a new friend and an old friend were coincidence; I choose to believe otherwise. For whatever reason, God knew I needed those bookends to my morning in order to shore up my soul for the rest of my day. Pastor Dave talked yesterday about God hovering over the void that is the chaos in our life, and those divine appointments were most definitely from his hand.

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50 Days to 50 Years, Day 01: Napa Girl’s Weekend, Part 3: Jason Bourne and Sweetie Pies

31 07 2016

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”  — Ovid

That we did. Sunday was another leisurely morning where we did not much. Nibbled on the still leftover snacks, had coffee, and just chilled. I patched in briefly to the live feed of the 10 am service at Montrose Church back in Los Angeles, then we made the effort to get dressed for the grand event that day: Jason Bourne.

Yes, I love Matt Damon’s acting, and the Bourne series is one of my favorites of his work; so what better way to spend the day than watching the latest installment?

We even got to drag Shawna’s mom Nasha out the house, which is something Shawna says she rarely does. I felt honored that she would join us for the excursion—Nasha’s like another mom.

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While not any match for the previous three, Jason Bourne was serviceable. A perfect fluff film for a leisurely afternoon.

We decided to show Nicole the Riverfront in Downtown Napa, and Shawna had a certificate for a confectionery called Sweetie Pies. Not to be mistaken for the restaurant made famous by Oprah, this was just a simple shop that sold specialty and gourmet pastries, cakes, and cookies, and the usual coffee and tea offerings that go along with them.

Wow! While not a sugar addict, this place was worth all the calories. Much of it was so rich, that we had leftovers to knosh on later.

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Nasha was past her threshold of being around the public, so we dropped her off, and me, Shawna, and Nicole did Chinese food for dinner. Nicole was heading back to Alameda (near San Francisco), and ordered a to-go meal for her fianceé Georgios, who was very sweet to let his love spend a few days with me.

The best part of girlfriends, and especially Christian girlfriends, is that along with the laughter, fun, sharing, and eating, we also pray together. Nicole shared some difficult things that were going on with the wedding and Georgios’ family, and she knew of my struggles as well. So before she drove off, we spent some time in prayer. No matter what the issues, inviting the Lord into it is a guarantee of our peace and helps me to look for his action and answer in the midst of the situation.

The Girlfriend’s Weekend was inspired, special, and now complete. Shawna stayed for a little bit before she had to head to work. The last night in the Air BnB was uneventful, which was also an appropriate end.

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 30, Evo and Captain Fantastic with Christy Bell

2 07 2016

“Since there is nothing so well worth having as friends,
never lose a chance to make them.”
— Francesco Guicciardini

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I cannot believe I am already 30 days away from the official Big 5-0. What a delightful time it has been to pursue, as Steely Dan so eloquently put it, “Reelin’ in the Years”.

And what is it with Captains? It seems to be a trend in this 50-year challenge, at least when it comes to movies. From “Captain America” with longtime friend Sarah Beach, to “Captain Fantastic” with new friend Christy Bell. While I didn’t enjoy “Captain Fantastic” as much as “Captain America: Civil War”, the company and the food was just as rich.

I met Christy through a mutual friend Cheryl Leutjen. Cheryl ran a networking Meetup for Work at Homers, and also participated in my Tuesdays with Transitioners Meetup. She knew Christy was in transition, and recommended Christy check out my group. Christy did, and she was a wonderful addition. When she was able to attend, she brought great insight and her wicked smarts to every discussion. Between Cheryl’s Meetups and mine, Christy and I struck up a friendship, and even though both Meetups are now dissolved, we still stay in touch. A couple of years ago Lynn and I spent Christmas Day with her, catching two movies in the theater, and having Dim Sum and Chinese after. It was among one of the best Christmases we have spent.

Christy is erudite and a great conversationalist, but she is also a keen listener. I also love her smile and her laugh, and the glint of mischief in her eyes. I suspect had we met in our 20s or 30s, when we were both less “tempered”, we would have gotten into a good deal of trouble. Heck, we may have a chance to do that in our 50s, given the right timing and circumstance!

So when I invited her to be a part of the 50 Days to 50 Years challenge, she was delighted to carve out the time. Among Christy’s many talents as a writer, chef, and organizational whiz, she is an actress and a member of SAG-Aftra. So free screenings at the DGA are a part of her membership. She also treated me to pizza, either before or after, at a little WeHo bistro called Evo.

Christy is a vegetarian, so we ordered a Artichoke-Spinach-Parmesan pizza on a Whole Grain Crust to share. It was extremely tasty, and the sauce was sublime! Christy had an Amber Ale, which looked great and refreshing, but not really my cup of tea, or, er, alcohol.

Christy paid me a very high compliment: she said that I was really gifted at the career-reinvention stuff and I should find a way to start it up again at my new church. We talked a bit about that, the workshop I recently conducted at Elizabeth House, and what was going on in our current jobs, career searches, and housing situations. Then we stepped across the street to the DGA to bask in the cinematic wonder of Viggo Mortensen. He really is an incredible actor, and made this film about extremes, consequences, and choices watchable.

After the screening, we repaired to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to discuss what we liked and didn’t like about the film, and I capped off our glorious meal with a Salted Pistachio Ice Blended, something I hadn’t partook of in a long time. It was quite refreshing, but not as refreshing as the kindness, generosity, and support of Ms. Christy Bell.

 





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….

 

 

 





Black History Month 2015: Harriet Tubman

2 02 2015

harriet-tubman

“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand
more if only they knew they were slaves
.
-Harriet Tubman

This famous quote by the “Black Moses” could well be applied today. The chains of slavery are evident in the mind, attitudes and allegiances of our race, and are being reflected in the lack of leadership and focus in the modern civil rights movement:

“Seeing the power, presence, and passion of Dr. King artfully portrayed by actor David Oyelowo, as well as the re-enactment of the give and take between Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and John Lewis of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, merely spotlights the total lack of conviction or moral authority in the civil rights movement of today. In place of an intelligent, articulate, and anointed Dr. King, we have the mush-mouthed Al Sharpton, and the empty bumper sticker slogans of “No Justice, No Peace,” and “Black Lives Matter.”

Dr. King is flipping in his grave.”

Read the rest at my Communities Digital News column: Martin Luther King Day, Selma, and the moral scarcity in modern-day civil rights.





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.

 

 

 





In My Orbit: Working for the weekend

8 11 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl’s week has been occupied with interviews of fascinating individuals.

Dr. A. David Matian used to be my primary care physician, and he was honored to be interviewed about his philosophy as a medical professional, and how the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare will affect his practice.

Omar Akram is a talented and accomplished New Age musician, who just released a new album called Daytime Dreamer. At his album release party, I got to cover the red carpet and met some accomplished musicians, authors, and fashionistas.

Shyra Sanchez, actress, singer, fitness coach, activist, and humanitarian sat down with me and her publicist at the Mandarette Cafe, and talked about her music, life vision, and why she will always stay connected to a metropolis.

Lance Lindahl and Credere Joseph met me at the Village Bakery and Cafe, and I got to see firsthand how this connected collaboration of old souls, music, and film helped create the delightful comedy, Hay Days.

Omar, Shyra, Lance and Credere will be featured at Examiner.com on my Faith & Community page. Dr. Matian will be profiled on Examiner.com, and some of his quotes may make it into an article on my Washington Times Communities “In My Orbit” column.

Speaking of of the WT Communities column, this week I discuss President Obama’s non-apology Apology.

“In an effort to get ahead of the narrative (too late), Obama did the one thing at which he is proven effective: he decided to talk. Yet this talk which supposedly included an apology did not express any accountability for lying over 29 times, the current mess those lies are producing, nor did he offer any real solutions to fix it.

If you actually listened to the President’s words, he kept emphasizing the “only 5 percent”, or “a small percentage” of the population that are receiving cancellation notices. By his consistent usage of “only” and “small”, Obama delegitimizes the anger and concern of the people whose policies have been cancelled.”

According to Henry Louis Gates, 388,000 Africans actually survived the Middle Passage and arrived in America to be used as slave labor. That’s less than half a million people. Did that make slavery any less heinous because it was such a small number?

Obamacare is fast becoming an albatross around the President’s neck. Give the rest a read over at the WT Communities site.

Hope you have a fun weekend!








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