Tag Archives: filmmakers

Toast! to 10 Things Art Does For My Soul

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I’ve been stating to people lately “I”m so grateful I’m an artist.” Which is comes much later than that first statement, “I am an artist.” – which I had to give a lot of thought and contemplation years ago when I did that mid-30’s change of life thing and started writing. But once I embraced that and began to build a life around honoring my writing, I still didn’t feel the gratitude of having this calling. Even when I attended school, working towards my MFA’s, which I know statistically for a COC of a certain age (Chick of Color at 40-something…hee hee) puts me a  small percentage of all people in this country earning degrees at that level, I still didn’t really fully feel the gratitude.

It’s now been 14 years since I started writing. Playwriting, prose, and now screenplays, I’m a storyteller and this is just a short list of what Art Does For My Soul:

1. Art feeds my imagination. Like a child playing make-believe, I get to imagine worlds, people, scenarios, winning wars and creating joy.
2. Art helps me figure shit out. I can give my characters my flaws, my insecurities, my anger, my hurt and let them figure it out on their journey so I can live a life in reality in peace.
3. Art gives me a vital purpose. This is a calling. It is. Just as we all need doctors who love to heal, lawyers who believe justly in the law, teachers who love a student’s mind, I’ve been really blessed to hear this calling, I love writing and knowing what I”m suppose to contribute to this world.
4. Art teaches me about who I want to be. The layers of my complex characters show me what I want to change in myself and what needs nurturing.
5. Art has created a community. For as much as writing is an individual act, in my head, at the page, for the amount of time I spend in my robe with tea by my window in the mornings, I also have an incredible community of writers, filmmakers, poets, novelists, journalists, painters, designers, musicians…the list is long of the creative minds in my life.
6. Art simmers down the prickly past. When old wounds burst open, or an old fear grips onto my heart, hijacking my day, art gives me a way to work it out. I write letters, draw, paint, fill journal pages with stickers and swirls of crayon marks. I write stories of badass women who kick the shit out of the bad guys while they heal their own pains.
7. Art lets me be selfish, in a healthy way. I’m a caregiver. Loyal to a fault and that hasn’t been a healthy trait. Extreme caregiving was about seeking approval and intense need. My art makes me explore what’s happening in my head, what’s making my heart ache, what’s bringing me joy. And helps me balance what’s self-care and what’s for everyone else.
8. Art means daydreaming’s cool! I never got in big trouble in school as a little girl for daydreaming in class. I was a pretty good student. But I do remember times being told to pay attention. I remember being asked where my head was and the shame of that. I never told anyone what I dream of- about my mom, about my family not being so damn poor, about being someone special and important. One of the hardest thing for me when I was a little girl was admitting I even had dreams. How dare I, right?
9. Art sustains my family. Art brought my husband into my life. We met as members of the same theatre company and our friendship grew out of working together with kids, telling stories over beer. And years later, when my daughter chose art school for her education and SFAI chose her, we couldn’t have been prouder. Art is woven into the foundation that holds my family together. And that same art has made us all better for our extended families. And now art, making films, has created Through the Wilderness, LLC, our film company.
10. ART IS PLAY! In this photo the lamp illuminates the little girl spirit who hangs out on my desk in the mornings, waiting for me to show up and play.

I am so grateful for being an artist. So today’s Toast! is to Art And What It Does To My Soul.

What does art do for yours?

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

Toast! to Toasting…and movement

Good morning,

I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile now- to get this blog back up and moving. Moving. Moving. Moving. That’s what I feel I need to be doing…always moving forward. That’s been difficult this summer, there seems to be alot of obstacles for that…first the breast cancer scare which kept me stymied in a state of fear for a month. Movement was chaotic and emotional. I felt blind and lost. Abandoned and confused.  So when the verdict came back that I was okay, the lymph node is recessive and that I have til December before I need to pick at it again..I took a deep breath, gathered up the lessons I learned about myself and thought..”awhhh…yes, now to move forward!”   But then my arm and shoulder didn’t heal, the nerve pain intense. And just as I began to treat this, I got into a car accident. My fears loomed up from the back seat as my car was totaled and I got stuck. Again. Sure, we continued with our plans- vacation and traveling, precious time with family, but the pain kept me from moving forward as much as I wanted. As much as I needed.

Physical therapy, drugs, a spiritual and astrological reading, hours with friends, chocolate, forgiveness, and therapy – all doing its job has me ready to move. And that’s brought me here – back to this blog.

I am blessed more than I could have ever dreamt for. I am supported by the people who matter the most- my husband, my daughter, my family and friends. They believe in me as a storyteller, as a filmmaker. They hold me up when my critic gets loud (and she can be a total bitch at times) and I think my work is lousy when really it’s just draft.  I have days to do what I want to and need to…all to feed my creativity. And that’s a huge blessing.

There was a time in my life, a very long time when I struggled. Every day. I was very poor. And a single parent. Working and in school, always trying to move forward, always trying to heal, always trying to define and keep my dream alive…and to think that I’m on that path, now, living creatively, that it’s all happening as it should, as it was meant to be, as I dreamt… makes me stop in my tracks. That’s not an obstacle to movement, it’s a…present breath that surges me forward.  

So part of honoring this dream and moving forward is this blog,Toast!  For the month of October, I am committing myself to do an entry a day. Toast something everyday, something that honors my creative life.  I hope some days it’s poignant, other days, more literary, like the great story I’m reading. It could be more…technical exploring an element of screenwriting, like toasting character development discoveries or that dark writing pit towards the end of Act II where you discover if the story works or not. There will be blogs coming to you from Mexico- we’re there in three weeks to celebrate dear friends getting married…on the beach, baby. I foresee blogs about my people; friends who influence me, who make me laugh, who always make me smile. Friends who tell me I’m a good friend when I need to know I’m doing right by them. Friends who have space in their worlds for me, just as I do for them. Friends who hold my heart. There will be blogs about my current projects, what’s in pre-production, what’s brewing. I know there will be blogs about family and love and support. There will be blogs about being a socially-conscious writer, about being a COC (chick of color), about being over 40 and rockin it hard…there may even be a blog about how I would embarrass my gorgeous creative daughter if she heard me say “I’m rockin it hard..”  

Every day I’ll make a Toast! 

…last night the government was shut down. I’ve been grieving losses, again. I woke at 4 am with a heavy heart. But got up and wrote this blog…so, today’s Toast! is to movement.  We have to move. Go forward. Take that moment to feel the ground beneath you, breath into Mother Earth and hear your breath connect your heart to the world around you. Then no matter how tiny the step, take it. Take it with intention, with love, with purpose. We can’t afford to sit back. Move. Towards

Peace.