50 Days to 50 Years: Day 20, Prayer for the World

12 07 2016

“Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

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Found this in a friend’s feed, and it is so powerful. From America to Israel to France, the world has not been a stable, safe or happy place. I do not have words, but I do have prayers; and prayer is what will fuel sound action and proper change. Gandhi knew, many others need to learn; perhaps these times are part of the object lesson.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 26, International Kissing Day

6 07 2016

“You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply as time goes by.” — Herman Hupfeld

Day 26 is International Kissing Day! What is there to say? Here’s a brief history from the Lillith e-zine:

“Anthropologists really don’t know much about the early history of kissing. It is presumed that it happened as part of courtship and sexual foreplay, and therefore is rather instinctive (many animals also kiss, lick and nuzzle each other), but it was (for whatever reason) rarely depicted in art or writing. Artists/writers may have considered kissing too sexual or private to share publicly.

“Kissing allows prospective mates to taste each other’s pheromones for biological compatibility. It is a much stronger chemical reaction than merely sniffing each other. Humans also judge potential mates on the quality of the kiss as a sign of a potential lover’s personality and ability to commit.”

I found love late in life, and the song, “It’s in His Kiss”, became reality when I first kissed Lynn. I just knew, and have been enjoying those sweet lips for 11 years now.

But we are both affection bugs, so our fur babies and loved ones get bussed quite a bit too.

I say, why stop at a day? Take the week to give additional smooches to those you love. We need some positive, loving energy to permeate our world.





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 29, Sunday Worship, Sunday Fun!

4 07 2016

“An authentic life is the most personal form of worship.
Everyday life has become my prayer.”
— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Day 29 began with corporate worship at the Montrose Church. The authenticity of Pastor Dave Roberts, and his exhortation to us to live authentic and relevant lives is part of the reason we are excited to be in service every Sunday. We mostly attend the Pasadena-Bresee campus in the evening, but we change it up when we have an evening engagement or I have to work. So yesterday we attended the 10 am at the Montrose campus and got to see people we normally don’t on Sunday. Lynn ran into Bruce, a fellow he carpooled with to the Men’s Retreat in February, and I ran into Sandy Cortes, from my Women’s Bible Study small group. Sandy was kind enough to help me out with a medical appointment a few weeks back, and she is like my spirit sister; she is a delight to be around and her cooking is awesome.

At Jana’s birthday tea, she was wearing a pair of lady bug earrings—I told her I collect ladybugs! Then today, she was wearing an ebony elephant necklace, and I collect elephants too. Suffice to say we find commonalities we share every time we get to meet.

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Montrose is a lovely community, and they have a Sunday Farmer’s Market and car show; so after service we walked down to Honolulu Avenue and took in the produce, wares, and the classic cars. We returned home after a few hours, and I made cornbread to go with a delicious late lunch of Crockpot Chili. I’m doing as much as possible to not spend too much time in a hot kitchen, and Crockpots help this tremendously. Then we headed over to Memorial Park in La Canada-Flintridge to take in an Eagles cover band called “The Long Run“.

My new friend and social butterfly Jana had expressed interest in this event posted on Facebook, and Lynn and I love the Eagles. There are very few bands I want to see live. While live concerts are awesome, the money and mess that goes along with them is not something we like to subject ourselves to; but it would have been so great to see the Eagles live. Alas, Glenn Frey is no longer with us, so that one will never happen. But a good cover band will do in a pinch!

Lynn and I arrived at the park first, and scoped out some spots for all of us. Jana said her husband Mark would come at least for a little bit, and her daughter Becca was also planning to come. We found great seats just a few paces from the bandstand and straight on where we could see the band. Jana, Mark, and Becca found us, and we settled in and waited for the music to start.

It was a rocky start, though. The sound was not on point, and Gary Grantham, the lead singer who does the Glenn Frey vocals left much to be desired. Jana and I looked at each other, hoping that this wasn’t going to be a total dud. It turned a corner with the other vocalists: Bill Worrell doing the Timothy B. Schmit highs, Chris Sobkowich working a great impression of Joe Walsh, and Chris Varosy doing the Don Henley vocals, keyboards and percussion. That’s when it popped—the band seemed to hit a groove, and so did the audience. When Chris Varosy ended the first half with “Desperado”, the crowd went wild, and rightfully so. He did the song justice.

Mark and Becca left, so during the intermission Jana and I strolled through the park to see if she knew anyone. This area of town was virgin territory for me, so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone I knew. Boy, was I wrong! We spotted Betty Smith, the co-leader of our small group, and her husband, along with two people that I personally knew and Jana didn’t: Denae and Patrick, clients at CorePower, who used to regularly attend my early AM classes in Sherman Oaks! They were delighted to see me, and I them. They lived in the area, and were friends with Betty. We caught up, and I let them know my new teaching schedule and studios. Hopefully I’ll get to see one or both of them again in class soon.

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The rest of the night kicked into high gear when “The Long Run” came back with “Tequila Sunrise”, “Peaceful, Easy Feelin'” and “Hotel California”!

I decided to go “Live” on Facebook as Lynn and I sang along with the band:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fjenniferoliveroconnell%2Fvideos%2F10154230516976668%2F&show_text=0&width=400

Betty tracked us down and encouraged us to get up to the stage and dance. I told her when my favorite Eagles tune came on, I would dance with her. Wouldn’t you know it, when the electric base line of “Life in the Fast Lane” started, I popped up and joined Betty at the stage. Lynn and Jana followed, and we joined folks up front line dancing, rocking out, and generally having a fantastic time. The band’s encore of “Heartache Tonight” was even better, and had most everyone out of their seats. Normally, we would have gone to Eagle Rock Park and seen their fireworks show by ourselves. While its nice, the communities of La Canada, La Crescenta and Montrose put Eagle Rock to shame—particularly in its friendliness. We have gone to Eagle Rock Park consistently for three or four years, and never met anyone new or felt welcomed by those around us. Thanks to our new friends at Montrose Church, we have been introduced to this warm, friendly enclave where people actually say “Hello” to you in the grocery store. It’s quite a change. We’re so glad we chose this instead, not only for the fun musical experience, but for the community, camaraderie and the unexpected meeting with old friends and new. I could not have planned a more cool evening had I tried.

 

 





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

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 a page on the calendar too, so we were all marking milestones.

I was there during Theresa’s pregnancy, I babysat AJ, and got to hang out with him at all sorts of things: from 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.

Theresa Danna's Baby Shower - 1997

I am honored and blessed by our family connection, and am so proud of the 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.





Illustrating Absurdity: Rachel Dolezal wins the “WTF” award

12 06 2015

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This is a comedy sketch that’s writing itself. Rachel Dolezal, head of the Spokane chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. has been “passing” as black. She was born Caucasian and raised by two white parents who apparently grew tired of her deception—so they’ve outed her.

I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Armed with pictures and a birth certificate, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal are taking to newspapers, cable and network news shows to let the world know this Black activist who has filed police reports about nine different hate crimes perpetrated against her, who is touted as an academic expert on African-American culture, and teaches African-American studies classes at Eastern Washington University is their estranged daughter who is… white.

After the obvious jokes and the laughter subsides, you then start to think about how many people this fraudulence hurts, not in the least her Caucasian parents.

I explore the role of the feckless N.A.A.C.P. in this mess, and social media reaction over at Communities Digital News: The self-loathing Rachel Dolezal marks the irrelevant N.A.A.C.P.’s demise.

In the meantime, listen to her seemingly shell shocked parents talk about the daughter who has rejected them and her race, because #whitelivesdontmatter.





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: Bryan Cranston’s Advice to Aspiring Actors

7 10 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This sage advice from one of my favorite actors can be applied to any profession. Shine. Be who you are. Honor the space. The outcome is not up to you…

Bryan Cranston\’s advice to aspiring actors

via Bryan Cranston’s Advice to Aspiring Actors.





In My Orbit: the legacy of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

16 08 2013
Over 200,00 marchers met on the Mall that day in 1963--are we honoring and living up to the legacy? Some are, others not so much (Wikimedia/USIA)

Over 200,00 marchers met on the Mall that day in 1963–are we honoring and living up to the legacy? Some are, others not so much (Wikimedia/USIA)

The Girl has been bouncing around her universe and the country, so the Blog has been a bit neglected. Sorry about that, and I plan to do better, even if it means shorter posts.

We are approaching the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. These types of milestones always get me reflective, as well as watching PBS and other documentaries like an obsessed person. My Washington Times Communities column does a bit of reflecting on what the legacy of this pivotal Civil Rights march means, and gives props to Don Lemon of CNN, and writer Danielle Belton for their perspectives. Give it a read.

Who I don’t give props to is Oprah Winfrey, and Russell Simmons. Oprah’s naked efforts at self-promotion with pegging a clerk’s supposed refusal to let her see a $39,000 purse as racism jumped the shark. Then to pretend she didn’t want to mention the name of the shop so as not to draw negative attention to them? You are frickin’ Oprah–the mere mention of it from your lips already did this. I am so glad that the shop owner and the clerk challenged her racism gripe. The whole brouhaha served its purpose, to promote her latest project, “The Butler”. I’ll wait for Redbox or DirectTV thank you very much. Way to go, Oprah: not only are you an entitled baby, but a poor example of honoring the legacy.

Russell Simmons ups the ante on Oprah by allowing a “Harriet Tubman sex video” on his All Def Digital YouTube site. Also an entitled baby, on top of being ridiculous and misogynistic, Simmons ultimately had the video taken down because his “buddies” at the NAACP asked him. Real big of you…

Simmons non-apology:

“‘I’m a very liberal person with thick skin,” wrote Simmons. “My first impression of the Harriet Tubman piece was that it was about what one of actors said in the video, that 162 years later, there’s still tremendous injustice. And with Harriet Tubman outwitting the slave master? I thought it was politically correct. Silly me. I can now understand why so many people are upset. I have taken down the video. Lastly, I would never condone violence against women in any form, and for all of those I offended, I am sincerely sorry.'”

Pathetic.

But the NAACP takes the cake. A rodeo clown at the Missouri State Fair chose to don an Obama mask and mock the President. In poor taste? Probably. A hate crime? Doubtful. Rodeo clowns have done the same thing to former Presidents George H.W., Clinton, and George W. so was it hate speech when they did it to them? Michelle Malkin takes it one step further by reminding us of the truly hateful speech and imagery directed at President George W. Bush during his eight years. So please, NAACP, cry me a river…

It took a Texas senator to call this group on the carpet for its inconsistency on what issues they choose to become outraged about:

“’A rodeo clown is really a nominal thing and it hurt no one,’ Stockman told FoxNews.com. ‘They didn’t speak out when George Bush was being portrayed as a murderer. To become relevant again, they need to become more of an honest broker and not have contrived anger.’

Stockman said the NAACP would better serve its constituents by focusing on ways to decrease unemployment among the black community. He also noted that the national civil rights group was silent after a July incident on a Florida bus where three black teens beat a fellow white student.”

Ouch. That must have stung.

 





In My Orbit: A viral article and CNN

29 06 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I talked to my dear friend Anna last night and said to her “I could not have scripted this day.”

That would be yesterday (Friday), when my morning was supposed to begin teaching a 6:30 am Yoga class. My alarm did not go off, so I woke up at 6 am–the time I’m supposed to be at the studio. Through my ingrained pre-planning (thank you, Mom) and Los Angeles traffic being non-existent (yes, Jesus lives!), I made it to my Yoga studio in 15 minutes, and was still able to teach the class. I’m grateful for that, as I wouldn’t want to disappoint the students–I know how important it is to start your day centered.

Unfortunately, I did not get that luxury!

I had no idea when I wrote my usual Washington Times Communities article on Thursday night that it would go viral. Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman murder trial was a hot topic for all the wrong reasons, and I wanted to speak to what I felt the heart of the issue should be. I took great pains to be consistent in writing a good story that I was passionate about, and attempted to file on time, knowing that I had a packed morning the next day.

Within an hour of my posting the piece, my editor emailed me to say it was trending at 2,495 hits. I was surprised, but immediately dismissed it, as I had to go to bed so that I could be rested for that early morning class.

After the eventful morning, I came home to a mailbox full of comments from the Communities page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.  That didn’t include the comments from “Shares” done by Twitter followers and Facebook friends to their pages.

I figured I would sit down, respond to what I could, and start writing an article for my other gig, Examiner.com. The best laid plans of mice and men…

My phone rang, and the Caller ID said “CNN” with a 212 area code. I thought, Seriously? This can’t be… but I picked up the call, and it indeed was. A producer from the Erin Burnett Outfront show asked if I could be a part of a panel. I let her know I needed to check with my editor and I would get back to her. My editor did not hesitate in approving this (she was over the moon about it), so I immediately called the producer back and said it was go. Wish everything went that quickly in Hollywood!

Two hours later, I was picked up by a car service, whisked to the CNN building on Sunset Boulevard, put in a make up chair, seated in a black box studio, and fitted with a mike and earpiece for the show. Ten minutes later, it was done.

For those interested, here’s a brief snippet of the panel:

Erin Burnett Outfront CNN Panel: Zimmerman Witness on Trial?

I was thanked for my time, the car service whisked me home and it was back to Friday as usual.

Or… not. The story is still striking a chord, and the commentary continues to come in, especially after the CNN appearance. Some positive, a lot of negative, some downright ridiculous. I hope the conversation grows stronger, and goes toward making a difference in how we train our children for the world.

I’m still bemused by the whole thing, almost like viewing it from a dream state–but it’s quite real. I was especially humbled by a woman’s comment on Twitter: “Brilliant. No words.  I’ve printed it out for our daughters. Sometimes it’s ‘easier’ hearing it from someone other than a parent.”

You become a writer to express your voice, and have an influence. It is quite sobering to see when you’ve done just that.

A friend just messaged me to check in to see how I’m doing, for which I am very grateful. He said, “Most people only talk about cultural influence…you actually did it… Hang in there boss.”

Hanging in. We’ll see where the next wave lands.








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