Tag Archives: Creativity

Toast! to Inspiration!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about what I’ve Toasted, so sitting down to share with you, Inspiration is the what I’ve been thinking about and here’s why.

This spring as Peter and I have been gearing up for our first Through the Wilderness, LLC production- a short action film about a Native American cop who is forced to deal with her feelings around miscarriage, motherhood, and justice when a dying hooker leaves her baby in her garage (btw, I LOVE this story but that’s a different posting) – I find myself attempting to develop a business mind while watching for the obstacle to my creative work that I fear this business mind will create.

I get that might not happen and perhaps this is just the work of my critic taking advantage of the change in my life to whisper more shit in my ear. I get that.  Yet, the reality is, the time I spend researching to understand…franchise taxes, accounting practices and deal memos and marketing strategies, is all time that I’m not writing.  And let’s be clear, before all this other business in my life, getting to the page to just write was hard enough to begin with. Sometimes.

But before I can go to the page, I need to be inspired, so what is that and where is it?

I’m at my messy desk, in my robe, blanket wrapped around my feet- yes, this is the glamourous life, and I ask myself where is that inspiration.  I look to books next to me. The Quran, Jon Kabat-Zinn Full Catastrophe Living, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, my bills to be paid, my bowl of nail polishes, crayons and greeting cards, The Ten Indian Commandments on my wall, my empty bowl that held oatmeal and berries, my now cold cup of green tea. Then I hear the birds outside. The hummingbird that flutters to my window and peeks in at me in the mornings has arrived. Outside my window beyond the bush, I see the new bistro size patio table and chairs, the big bright yellow and white umbrella, the expansion of my office. Then my mind travels outside our gate and down the street. The sky soft blue (yes, under the LA smoggy haze but stay with me here…smog is an inspiration, too, different post, different story), the palm trees create a landscape so different than home in MN, which I now see in my mind, the big oaks, the flat farmland alongside the highway to my mom’s, the tall cedars along the North Shore,  all so different than…awww…there it is- the places I’ve traveled this year, the people I’ve seen, the voices and languages, songs and food. O yes, the food. But there’s more that inspires me.

The last couple months have been filled with great joys and opportunities. Celebrations, one after another rolled through my life.  In May my daughter, Bird, graduated from college in San Francisco. Family met us in Santa Cruz for beach time, for little girl laughter and salt water taffy on the boardwalk. And in San Francisco, a beautiful city filled with rolling hills and tall skinny houses hugging at the shoulders, I had early morning moments on bagel runs for the family packed into the hotel suites. And in those mornings, with the sun on my face, feeling grateful for love and support, I felt inspiration, too. I did.

I listened to speakers at SFAI send the graduates out into the world with advice. Some was good. Most was daunting, but I saw fresh and slightly frightened young faces eager to run out and show us their world. And at the gallery, I saw my amazing Bird beaming in front of her painting, revealing to us, her family, what she learned about herself at school. And I was inspired by the depth of her creativity, by the young woman she’s become.

For her graduation gift, we took her to Tokyo. Yes- we are able to travel like that. A blessing beyond our wildest dreams.  While there, oh, the sounds and smells. I was often overwhelmed but yet, I had moments of sheer joy, moments of  being deeply awe-struck by beauty, like in Kamakura, the tiny beach village where the huge statute of Buddha lives.

While there, we walked to the shore. And standing on the “other side of the Pacific” while Peter waded into the water, I looked to my daughter and nearly fell over with love and admiration. The three of us inspires me. Our family in MN and across the country inspires me. Our journey that got us from the the tiny, poor little places we lived in while Bird was a baby, to that moment on the Japanese beach, inspires me. Yes. the memories will keep inspiring me, will keep my creativity alive.

So, the Toast! is to Inspiration whether it’s from the photos on the desk, a song on Spotify, the wee bird at the window, or a breeze that invokes a memory, inspiration is all around me.  And my wish for you is to be inspired by what’s in your life, what’s in your heart, what’s in your memories.

Peace.

 

Toast! to Art That Heals- Blessed the film

This is my desk on some mornings. Many mornings. Most mornings.

I discovered a long time ago that what I write is good for me, for my heart, for taking on the emotions that sometimes seep into the morning from the nightmare that wrecked havoc with my soul.

I appreciate that about writing. I am so grateful I discovered this for myself. I know that when I create a story about a woman who’s fighting for her family, I’m dealing with what it means to be a mom and what I’d fight for. How I’d fight. I also know that when I create a story about loss and grief, that I’m trying to heal my own wounds.

Right now, I’m in pre-production for a short film called Blessed. It’s a story about a cop who is trying to make herself believe she doesn’t want a baby and what happens when her wall she creates to hide behind comes tumbling down… in the most incredible way. She is forced to deal with her pain, her loss…her understanding of her faith and who she is.

It’s a tall order for a short film. It’s powerful and deeply connected to me.

See- my character, Kiona, has suffered her third miscarriage. She’s asking all those questions about why and what has she done to deserve this. Her mother, however, straight up believes that Kiona will be blessed when she’s ready.

Of the many beautiful characteristics of these women, the main one for me is that they’re Native American. So to have Mary Beth state so matter-of-factly that she believes the Great Spirit will bless Kiona when she deserves only deepens Kiona’s exasperation of dealing with her loss. Why doesn’t she deserve?

Grief is grief- that’s what my shrink said when I told her about making this film and how exposed I am. See- I suffer…struggle with secondary infertility. I just found that term and a bunch of amazing women, mothers, who suffer this, too. It may not be the same miscarriage as others but none of us are the same, except grieving the loss of a child who will never be.

I know the incredible joy of creating a child, and carrying her inside me only to give her life…I know how I felt when it dawned on me that God must see that I’m worthy of something grand in this world to give me a child.

Now- I truly believe that is true for any parent, no matter how that child comes into their life. When you are chosen to be a parent, through whatever means, that’s what God is doing. Blessing you. And I know Peter and I will blessed with more children.

For me, right now, though, the wound lies deep inside me. In that place of creation that is no longer capable of creating any life. I went through an early menopause at 43. And have never felt so alone. Because so many women my age are just cool with not having more children. Or at least that’s what they say. Their lives are filled with college-bound teenagers and elementary school-agers…and they don’t seem to ache as much I do.

I had my daughter, Bird, by myself. I was a single parent from pretty much minutes after conception. Seriously. And it was hard at times…and it was lovely. And warm. And I love her in ways I can’t even find the words for. I love her with all that I am, with all my essence. Becoming her mom gave me purpose. Gave me direction. Bird saved my life. She did. (that’s another film – to tell the story of the life I was living before her)

But now, I have a husband who is the most incredible dad. His love for Bird is unmeasurable and I wanted to create a baby with him. When we first met and became friends, he told me that what struck him the most was the kind of mom I am. On one of our first dates a couple years later, he told me this and that he wanted me to be the mother of his children. But I can’t have babies. His babies. I can’t.

The pain is so deep. I’ve lost friends who couldn’t stick around to help me. I’ve lost friends who weren’t capable of showing up. I’ve suffered through newborn happenings and baby showers and birth stories and struggled with balancing my pure love and joy for all these incredible mamas in my life while tending to my wounds. My grief. It was private and personal. Intimate aches.

So last year when I pushed to finish a draft of Blessed I didn’t recognize what I was doing, actually. I didn’t see the healing I was committing. I found a brilliant director who not only dug the story of Kiona, she also appreciates the beauty of Kiona being a cop who believes in laws, justice and strength. My director also is committed to the action and suspense in this story, which apparently doesn’t happen that often – female leads in action films about a more feminine theme. She’s bringing me extremely talented people who are joining us to make this film and they get it, too. And I’m so grateful.

I’m meeting actors who take my breath away. Fierce and strong, and yet so wounded, they are giving this story life so that I can heal. I get to keep healing.

Along with my therapy, my daily writings, my Brene Brown work, my watercolors, my collages, tea, toast and dark chocolate, Blessed, the film, is healing me.

So today’s Toast! is to Art That Heals.

And here’s wishing you all some healing love and magic today.

PEACE

Toast! to Calming Forces, like my Hus-b

Tuesday we made our way to Mexico.  Up at 3 am to get to the airport by 5:30, fly out at 7:30. We landed in Cancun and our adventure began. 

Our first destination is Chichen Itza- a place where I’m so open for transformation, I feel giddy and alive. I’m already shaking with vibrations!  I’ve been on this journey, this amazing, incredible hard-ass journey for awhile now. Years, really.  As an artist, I can feel how all that I’m healing and learning is shifting my writing. I’m thrilled. 

But to get here yesterday- we had to take a bus to downtown Cancun.  (guidebooks can be full o shit- there was no direct bus to here)  In downtown Cancun we bought a bag of gorditos, two Mexican Cokes and got a bus to Piste. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.  yup.

But…as we stopped in every tiny little town, every roadside check point to pick up folks getting off work, people selling panuchos and candy, teenagers who made out in the backseat, old women with children, men who were finally relaxing, I saw a part of Mexico, this Yucatan area that I would not have seen if we hit that fast first class and just whizzed on over here.

The need for calming forces came just as we were heading into Piste, though.  We drove past the hotel which pricked at some panic. I was thinking the driver already knew we needed to stop there, but we had failed to tell him the hotel. We said Chichen Itza, so he drove 7 km farther to the town of Piste. And it was raining. Pouring. Sheets of rain.  Panic grew. I complained to Peter that would never get a cab. How the hell would we get back to our hotel. He’s gonna drop us off in the middle of that tinyass town and then what? I wasn’t walking 7 km in the freakin rain dragging my suitcase. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Peter calmly told me baby don’t worry. It will be alright.

We got dropped off. In the middle of a tinyass town. In the pouring rain.  As Peter got our luggage out from luggage compartment on the side of bus, the bus driver stood on the steps to avoid getting wet and waved to me…like, what are you standing there looking at me for? Go now. I tried to ask him for a taxi. Did I mention I don’t speak Spanish??  But my loving, now drenched husband does. I ran to the entry of a market with my suitcase. I dug out my raincoat,my umbrella, and continued cussing. The bus drove away. And across the street, next to a bus going in the opposite direction, was Peter, talking fast to the driver. He hollers to me Baby it’s okay!

He runs to me, grabs his suitcase and backpack. I grab my bag, camera case and suitcase and follow him across the street.

I didn’t stop to look for traffic. I realized that much later that I just ran out into the street and didn’t even look. Obviously I was okay. I was just wet. Big deal. I may think I’m sweet at times but I sure as hell don’t melt!  lol!

But once we got dropped off at our hotel, looking like a couple of drowned alley cats, we made our way to our bungalow.  

Then, though, we found out we missed the restaurant by about 5 minutes. Kitchen closed.  We had KIND bars from traveling. And water. And gum. And breath mints.  If that was my dinner I was going to cry.  But Peter, again, my calming hero, went to the kitchen and asked them for anything.  

Bliss came bout 10 minutes later when we sat on the beautiful patio, eating hot ham and cheese sandwiches on bread that tastes like my grandmas, and sipping ice cold Sol beer.  

So, the Toast for Tuesday goes to Calming Forces, like Peter, my hus-b. 

Happy Anniversary, Baby. 

 

Peace

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Toast! to BIG Knee-slapping Laughter

I have some girlfriends with the most amazing laughs. Loud, robust, their laughter rumbles up from deep within their beautiful souls and bursts from them, filling the air we share with love and light and…O I love laughing with my girlfriends. 

I have so many memories of laughing so hard with my daughter that I’ve practically peed my pants. Some of the most joyful memories I have of watching the relationship of Bird with Peter has been the way he makes her laugh.  We spit up food and hoot and holler. We laugh so hard, we cheer!  It’s so wonderful to feel so good! My father-in-law has this distinct laughter, a….squeak…or I can’t even describe it but let me tell ya, taking him to a funny movie is the best!  Jon thrills everyone with his full participation in the comedy. And often, at the dinner table, he and Peter will get on a roll and the house will shake like thunder from so much laughter.  Love.

The people who are not in my life now- the friends I’ve lost, the times I miss them the most is when I remember laughing with them, back when we were real and connected by love.  

And this laughter, I want to be clear, is not being mean about others. It’s not gossiping or laughing at some else’s expense. It’s truly silliness, just good old fashioned funny stuff.  

I think we don’t do that enough. I think that snark has become equated with wit. I think that a person’s feelings is easily tramped one for the possibility of a laugh. I think cruelity is too common, offensiveness is okay.  And that saddens me. Deeply. 

As an artist. I don’t write funny. I can be funny, sometimes. But it’s rare for me to “get the laugh” and when it does happen (here’s a confession) I walk away thinking of the encounter, dinner, party or whatever it was and I remember the line that got the laugh and I actually tell myself “good job”.  I know…dorky but I’m just happy I made someone happy for a second. Or two. 

The stories I write though, are dramatic. Tense. Deep. I can make you cry before I make you giggle. I’m often raw and I work hard to show the humanity in my characters, which means I dig up their vulnerability and put it out there for the world to see.  Eee….that’s not funny shit.  

So maybe that’s why I have such a huge appreciation for what makes me laugh. For the people who make me laugh. That must be the balance.  It’s a cleansing of my soul…a cleansing in tickling bubbly water.  Nice. 

So today’s Toast! is to BIG knee-slapping Laughter and the people who tickle you!  

PEACE

#Toast! #healing #peace #creativewriting #filmmaking

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Toast! to Wise Women and some Kale Salad

In the last few years of focusing on my health, losing weight, understanding what food really is, and not just what foods are good for me but my relationship to food, I’ve come to love to cook. Sometimes.  Sometimes, I love when my husband “goes out into the wilderness to hunt for our food” (hear him like he’s an Ancient One, a Indian warrior, bow and arrow strapped across his back, loincloth, the whole bit) and he comes home with Thai food from our favorite Thai joint up the street.  Sometimes, I love to turn on a sitcom rerun and lose myself in laughter while preparing a healthy meal.  

Recently, though, a new joy is cooking for others. I love making a dish to share with my writers’ group or with Lit Chicks book group, or yes… please…a potluck?!  I make some amazing salads thanks to Weight Watchers. In the past I only made frybread.  My grandma’s recipe.  It’s sweeter than most frybread you’d come across and it’s filled with memories of her.  I  invoke her spirit when I make frybread. My joy now with frybread is that my daughter and my niece make it, carrying on the tradition. I may still make it for the next time I’m to bring something for a dinner or party but it is white flour, sugar, yeast and Crisco… and for me to honor my wise women in my world, I go for healthy, gluten-free and pure yummy.  Hence….Kale Salad. 

Last night I was blessed to be in the company of some incredible women. Beautiful spiritual loving creatures.  I always show up at the moon meditation fully open to the experience for my own spiritual growth but also open to the love and support that generates in the room, that encircles us and holds us as we make a meditative journey into our bodies and hearts.  Last night, though, I brought kale salad to share for afterwards.  

Now- I know there’s a possible big imbalance between the gift the amazing astrologer and healer, Rachel Lang, gives us leading us on these meditation and the intuitive deep love from the other women compared to a kale salad..but… (picture me grinning now) I know that when I tore the kale leaves off the rib, when I mixed the coconut flakes with it, when I shook up the dressing, doing a little dance cuz I had some happy rockin’ 70’s music going on, I was infusing this salad with my kind of love. My house filled with the smell of roasted love…yeah, man.  

Yes, I was hoping they liked it, but I was really just happy to share. I felt good giving. I felt good. Wow- that makes this whole experience a selfish act but not selfish in a negative way, but selfish in the most beautiful way. Self-love.  And cuz it really is a gorgeous yummyass salad- I got to share the way I know how. 

So, today’s Toast! is to Wise Women and some Kale Salad! 

Cook with love today. 

Peace

Toast! to...Kicking Fear's Ass with Roses in A Walk Thru the N'hood

When I lived in Minneapolis some of my best mornings began with me rising early, riding my bike 15 minutes along the Mississippi River to the Minnehaha Falls. I’d pass people walking dogs, some on their front steps getting their paper, greeting the day. At the Falls, though, I’d park my bike and stare into the water crashing over the waterfall. I’d say good morning to nature, good morning to Great Spirit.

I felt connected. I feel tiny pebbles of peace that I’d gather and shove in my pockets to hold for later in the day.

When I moved here to Los Angeles, I first blown away by the nature, by plants and trees so exotic for this Minnesota chick to see…on my own street! Beautiful. Living here in Silver Lake I also the joy of the amazing hills. Winding roads lead to breathtaking views that I often feel are peeks into my future. Out there, over the landscape of Los Angeles, my films will come together, my stories will be made. Yes, I am one of the worker bees in this vast city but here I am, looking out over the edge, knowing that I will make it there.

Then there are days when I can’t see the horizon, when I wake with my fears so close I feel their darkness bearing down on my shoulders, whispering ‘nothings..you are nothing….’ with their rancid breath. Yes, I have a really vivid visualization of what my fears look like. I also know that they’re tricky, smart and conniving. They have many creative ways to layer their insults, to shut me down. And those are the mornings when I have to take my husband’s hand and go for A Walk Thru the N’hood…to stop and smell the roses. Literally.

This morning- I didn’t smell them, though. He did, but I realize now I was in full rant mode at that moment. I was purging some negativity and fighting the pain of being kicked aside by an old friend, the sadness of losing another friend and the anxiety around dealing with this grief. Frantically searching for the lesson I’m to learn. Even the time I spend with the most loving friends, I still ache to understand what went wrong with others.

This morning, I didn’t stop to smell the roses. So, I’ve found this photo taken awhile ago, invoking the memory of those roses with me now. They are: love. Love from my partner, my handsome hus-b, Peter. Our INCREDIBLE DAUGHTER, BIRD!, our family in Minnesota, DC, Alaska. “Friend-family” here in Los Angeles and back home. Good health. Our gift of time and support to write and create. And the gift of our ancestors, spirit storytellers who are here with me, always.

My roses are kicking fear’s ass this morning. And I’m taking deep breaths to let them do that.

So- here’s the Toast! to Kicking Fear’s Ass with Roses…in A Walk Thru the N’hood.

Peace

Toast! to Marriage...according to the photo booth

Yesterday Peter and I attended the wedding of two of the most beautiful people we know. It was gorgeous! Malibu mountains in the background, flowing wine and love and laughter. Beautiful.

This photo was taken mid-dancing that evening. A copy of this went in a book for the lovely newly wedded couple. We wrote next to it this: 1. What marriage really is. 2. What you think marriage really is. 3. What marriage REALLY is…

It was funny! The first one we were discussing what how we were gonna pose, what should we look like, what message we were going to leave and when do the pictures actually get taken. I was talking a lot and Peter was listening. lol!

The second photo we did what always comes naturally…when all else fails, kiss. I love that.

And then we posed for the third. For fun sake. We didn’t think about the caption until we saw the photos.

Thinking about them now, my first urge is to take our caption back; say this isn’t true and apologize for giving Mireya and Sean the wrong message. But I think we were right..for 1 and 3.. Number 2 has the incorrect caption. Eyes closed, all-heart, full-on love kisses are marriage, too. It’s a blessing, the deepest of blessings (second only to children).

So, this photo is going on our fridge alongside pictures of Bird, family photos. pictures of the babies and children that we’re blessed to have our lives. It will always be there to show us all what marriage is.

Today’s Toast! is the Marriage according to the photo booth!

Peace and love.