Tag Archives: toast

A Toast! to….toast? Hell yeah. 1/365

Screenshot 2015-08-24 07.41.58

Cynthia Newman Martin has a beautiful blog with “1 true thing” per day. For the year. Amazing. Everyday she writes something. A word, a paragraph, longer essays and observations. It’s telling and poignant and it gets the creative juices flowing, which as I stated yesterday, I want coming daily to Toast to do for me.

This morning I woke at 4 am (yes, nasty habit) and thought about this post and what I should write about and sure as shit, my critic popped in (she must have been waiting bedside, eager to fuck with me before I even opened my eyes).  She shot down every idea I had about what to write about.  She even said that I had nothing of value to say and that’s when I said “hold up.”  That’s not true.

Whatever my thoughts are are valuable. My opinion does matter. What I love or wish for or need or am hurt by, whatever it is that I feel I need to say is valuable. Damnit.

And I remembered that Toast is a blog designed to celebrate, to point out what is good and give it light. Even if it comes from a place of pain and confusion, to Toast! it is to acknowledge it’s goodness in my life.  So there, take that, critic bitch.

So what do I Toast! today? Friends- I’m floating on the joy of two mornings this weekend with old friends. Family- we got a wedding happening NEXT SATURDAY and that’s all about family, for sure. Film- my livelihood. My work. The industry that I’m trying to etch out a place for me.  Politics- women ROAR! Sex. Youth. Children. The weather. Minnesota. Los Angeles. Belize?!  (future travel idea) There are plenty of things in the world to celebrate and that doesn’t mean they require a bigass parade or huge fanfare.  I can, you can, Toast! the smaller things that bring joy, or comfort or just make you smile.

So today I am Toasting…toast.

Yup. I have a deep love for toast.  An addiction, probably. Thick grainy bread. Jams. Honey. Avocado, Bacon, Tomatoes, Nut butters, margarine and cinnamon. The list is long with what you can do with toast but for sure, I gain comfort (and a soothing tummy) when I pour a mug of hot tea and have myself a slice of toast.

Toast.  Peace.  This is day 1/365

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 not knowing what to Toast so toasting…this moment…

Wow.  I’m sounding sorta vague. “sorta vague”  Redundant, I know.  That’s where I’ve been lately, I think.  In this hazy vagueness…Due to having alot on my plate, many balls in the air, juggling with both hands and feet, running in circles, breathing too fast and too shallow, feeling angst that’s keeping me stuck and wow…how many other ways can I describe what’s up with me? 

See- we have been blessed with good fortune. Good health. Many friends. Family support. Love. Laughter. Confidence in our work. Peace. 

And yet, my mind battles the fear that’s it’s all some cruelass joke, it will crumble and I’ll get hurt. YET….here it comes…YET there is nothing to indicate any of my fears are true. Or will BE true.  Reality is good.  My inability to accept that–is the mind game that is keeping me awake at night.  And it’s exhausting worrying all the time. 

I’m a dramatist. Notice I didn’t write ‘drama queen’??  A dramatist. I create story. A storyteller. And I LOVE A GOOD STORY! But for it to be good the stakes have to be high, like…make your heart hurt, skin ripped at the knuckles from crawling to save your soul kinda stakes. However they’re defined, they have to run deep. They have to be big. They’re the shit good movies are made of.  It’s my job to be able to create these stakes, so in my life, at times like this, my urge is to find these stakes. Not create them. I don’t crazymake any more. I can proudly say that destruction doesn’t happen in my life any more.  I tend to ‘search’ for the stakes now. When I sit, that’s what my  mind is doing. When I’m in spin class, that’s what my mind is doing. When my husband laughs and hugs me, that’s what my mind is doing. I’m searching for what’s going to go wrong if and when something does.  

And now I’m tired of it.

I have multiple story and film projects with a host of characters that are in various states of angst that I can give this energy to. I have the support to create the time to let the characters do this, for them to work out their own shit on their own journeys. I have amazing friends that let me ramble to work things out. I have the gym. If I wasn’t so scared of deep breathing, I’d have yoga (that’s coming…I know…) I have my husband. My family. My shrink. Brene Brown. Elephant Journal. Rebelle Society. Funny girlfriends. Loving girlfriends. Deep philosophical girlfriends. Music. Hummingbirds outside my freakin window! and…AND The Great Spirit.  

Any of these things I can focus on and say “here’s my Toast! to….”  But my feeling. Feelings… My emotions are sorta kinda spread out…not firing off in any one direction. I’ve got some hurt going on because ‘searching’ for stakes mean I peruse my memories for what’s hurt me in the past and COULD blow up now, but isn’t….like…friends who ditched me. Betrayed me. Old grief.  I have no desire to engage them, to pick at those wounds….because… in the midst of all this, I have learned to find my feet. To ground. To come back to here. To now. 

This moment. 

So…as I take up this blog again, pushing to expel what’s holding onto me, creating obstacles to my joy, to making me question my worth and what I deserve… I guess I start here. Now.  

This morning’s Toast! is to Toasting this moment. 

 

Peace. 

 

Toast! to Taking Time…to Detox

One of the greatest gifts I have in my life today is time. Really. I don’t say it often enough. Now, I’m well aware that many folks can’t say the same. I want to be really really clear- this is not a boast. There is no bragging or entitlement going on here. There were many years of my life when I didn’t feel like I had any time- not enough to get everything done that I needed to- screw what I wanted to get done.  Forget about it! (been binge watching Sopranos so that phrase is now part of our household vocabulary…along with more creative ways to say “fuck”)  Anyway…I was a single parent for 14 years, working full-time, in grad school for many of those years (got 2 masters…then got my 3rd when Peter came into our lives) so this concept of “time” has always been at the top of my wishlist. 

Not so long ago I was having a hard time accepting this gift of time I was given to write so one gorgeous Minnesota morning in my in-laws kitchen, my father-in-law told me that I had spent so many years of my life working really really hard for everything. I grew up really poor. Came from and survived some tough places (that’s another blog entirely) and I raised my daughter by myself for 14 years. He said that he thought maybe it was time for someone else to take care me.  And I cried. Shit, I’m crying now thinking about the love and support my family, The Jensens and the Parshalls have given me. Have given us. So in turn, I’ve now got time to take care of myself. Whoa! (again…sounding like a Soprano’s cast)

Today, I get to create my days.  Now, don’t get me wrong- most days I still feel like I didn’t have enough time to get everything done I wanted to. Projects are still not done, I still haven’t had lunch with every amazing person I said I wanted to meet with, scripts and books aren’t read, big housecleaning projects not completed, etc… But making that list of what I didn’t do isn’t my focus today. It can’t be because that would undo what time has just given me. 

I just finished a detox.  Dr. Oz’s 3-Day Detox. I didn’t tell anyone online about it because that would make me feel more accountable than I was willing to be.  Seriously!  What if I didn’t complete it? What if I ran screaming to my kitchen round bout mid-3rd day, shoved a piece of bread in my mouth, slammed some… I don’t know..Sapporo and finished it off with a full 6 ounces of dark chocolate?  That was highly possible.  Shit, that’s always possible. 

But I did it. I skipped last night’s smoothie cuz my lunch one took two hours to drink and my snack didn’t happen til 6:30 but I did it. Sure, last night, I was whining bout some food I was planning to eat today and Peter asked me if it was on that Dr. Oz list and I said, pointing at my smoothie, “Hey, fuck that shit. This detox is done tomorrow and he can’t tell me what the fuck to do.” (Sopranos..man, I love that show!) I took a huge swig of my water and tightened my blanket around me to make my point. Peter thinks I’m cute when I’m tough so he blew me a kiss. 

But seriously…through this detox, I got to sit. Each day I slowed down. I met one deadline for a revision on Blessed (now in pre-production) and I hope my director digs it. I finished a book, Defending Jacob, and started Joyland by Stephen King for my book club. I watched Season 2 of the Sopranos and multiple movies and sitcoms (but I tend to watch alot anyway…studying- that’s another cool gift of this creative life..) And I journaled and thought and sweated. 

What I discovered is one- detoxes are to jump-start, to clear and make room for health, for change, and I’ve been doing that for quite awhile now. A few years with intention. It hasn’t been easy. My ass is tired!  But I’ve already been doing what the detox is meant to do and I’m doing it well.  

Two- food wise, for all my joking about food and pastries and well…shit, the name of this blog is Toast! which is truly a deep addiction, I eat fairly well. We shop organic, Farmers Market in Silver Lake on Saturday is a ritual.  In our house, we don’t have much processed food besides my Weight Watchers Popped BBQ chips- so damn good. And I already LOVE kale. There wasn’t anything on that list of food for the smoothies that I didn’t already love to eat. 

Three- It’s always time to make a change. Start right now. You didn’t. Okay, that’s cool. You can start..now! NOW!

and four- I have time. I can race through my day feeling harried and upset cuz my to-do list is way too long, or I can accept what I can get done, making sure that I’m always including time for myself on that list. And here’s the beauty of checking that off that list…it keeps me in gratitude mode for the gift of time I have now. 

So, today’s Toast! goes Taking Time to…Detox…to taking care of yourself, to change, to clear, to good health, to a better you. 

Peace

Toast! to Movies We Watch Over and Over and Over...

Today’s Toast! goes out to the movies we watched that made us cheer, cry, talk about, reenact, stare open-mouthed at the screen! For me- my list includes Die Hard, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, National Lampoon’s Christmas and Thelma and Louise. (yes, the list of great movies is WAY long) but this one…Thelma and Louise- before USC SCA, I would read the shooting script of this film while watching the film. I LEARNED so much from this film. Not just about elements of screenwriting, or incredible believable character arcs, but I also learned about “loving the movie watching experience”.

I watched this with my sisters when our girls were little. We laughed, we cheered and oh, how we cried. It just dawned on me- I might have fallen in love with southwest from watching this film. hmmm….that will be a different topic for a different blog.

My goal- is to make films that can stand that same test- that will make you laugh (okay…I’m not funny but ya know…for the sake of whatever literary thing I’m attempting…I had to repeat the phrase….) but… make you laugh, make you cheer, and Oh, make you cry.

What movies do this to you?

Peace

Toast! to Shopping…for creative purposes, only…I swear.

Yesterday I wrote bout five new pages, edited a few minor things and then gave myself the day to go shopping. I often do this while story brews. It’s sometimes a mindless task and not too damaging when I make sure I kick my awareness to full tilt before I actually purchase.

In this case, I was shopping for something specific. We’re going to Mexico in a couple weeks for a wedding so of course, there’s new clothes needed.  But how did this influence my creative process? How was this a part of living the creative life?

I could tell you it was wonderful and that in my head, I fixed multiple hiccups from ACT II and cleaned up blurbs of shit that currently fill my screenplay drafts.  I could spin you a tale about startling revelations of pure literary genius that struck me in the dressing room at Old Navy. I could tell you that detailed arcs of the deepest emotional journeys for my protagonist revealed themselves while trying on boots at TJMaxx. (and yes, I know, I don’t need boots for a wedding on the beach, but a girl can’t help herself sometimes) I could say that the ahhh moment of resolution appeared in a vision while I wandered like a crazed woman through The Americana on Brand.  I could say that I was so deep in thought, so enthralled with the films I’m writing in my head, that I actually walked passed IN-n-Out burger and didn’t even see it until I had crossed the street and realized I had…crossed…a  street.  Okay, this last one did happen.

The rest, though.  Eh.  Nothing major hit me. Nothing surfaced and made itself clear to me.  I still see Dahab sitting at her husband’s bedside, alone and scared. The doctors and nurses eyeing her like she’s the mother of a terrorist, wondering what’s in her bag. I see Cassidy running hard down a country road, forcing herself to look into the cornfields, unearthing the horrors of her memories that lurk there so that she can move through them to find the lost little girls. And Kiona is still holding her arms tightly in front of her, stuck, afraid to hold the infant because she’s feels like she’s barely keeping her head tethered to her grief-stained body. And Tammy…sweet sweet Tammy, I still see her with a gentle smile on her face, watching her new “friend” hum and twirl and love the life she seems to be creating for her son, not knowing what and how terrified her “friend” really is. Not knowing that her smile means love and that it could kill her.

Oh. I see. I took all women, these incredible characters of my films with me. I took them shopping. And although I struggle to make meaning of this all right now, and am distracted by the hummingbird at my window saying good morning–I bought a pair of jeans for $10. And a tiny blue dress for a hot Mexican day.  

Peace. 

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.