Posted in Life, Spirituality, TV, Universe, Writing

A Year Ago Today, I Took A Chance On My Dreams

Exactly 1 year ago today I decided it was time to get back to my dreams of being a writer. I spent 15 years working as a photographer to pay the bills but deep down, I always wanted to get back to being a writer. The opportunity was there, I just had to take it.

I work for the oldest Entertainment magazine–American Cinematographer started in 1920. Yes, I am the photo editor but I do write the news portion of the magazine. After my father died, all I could think about was writing. In fact, all I could think about was writing about the paranormal investigation docu-series Ghost Adventures. All I had to do was pitch my story idea. What was the worst that could happen? If they said no, I would just go right back to the day-to-day of being the photo editor.

It seemed simple but I am an over-thinker. I had to have the perfect pitch. After all, I was basically asking the magazine permission to cover a reality series; we don’t cover reality shows. Being who I am, never doing things the easy way, I wasn’t even planning on pitching a normal reality series. I was pitching a paranormal investigation reality series.

My friends were actually shocked that I didn’t pitch something Star Wars related. But I couldn’t fully explain it without sounding like a crazy person (though my closest friends are used to my crazy ideas). Months prior, I had read Zak Bagans book, “I am Haunted: Living Life Through the Dead” but I was the one who wound up haunted; haunted with the idea of writing a story about this show. It had to be this show and it had to be at the right time. (Divine timing at its finest).

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I searched through our magazine schedule and noticed that April 2016 was set as the digital issue. The Ghost Adventures guys use digital cameras. We had Batman v. Superman planned as the main feature. They were currently filming in Detroit. Zak went to film school in Detroit. I am from Detroit. Plus this was our NAB issue. The NAB show is held in Las Vegas. Three out of four of the Ghost Adventures guys live in Las Vegas. With all these synchronicities, it was clear that this was the perfect issue for my story.

So after weeks of pep talks from my friends and trying to get ahold of the show’s publicist, I was finally ready to make my pitch. I would talk about the evolution of their camera equipment from their documentary through twelve seasons of the show. My stomach was in knots. I was so nervous. I had convinced myself of all the reasons as to why they would say no but I had to do this for myself. So I walked into my managing editor’s office, I pitched my story and he said yes!!!

Yesterday, I was back at my Alma Mater, the University of Southern California. The School of Cinematic Arts (it was cinema-television 20 years ago when I was a freshman there) was holding a ceremony for the Haskell Wexler Endowed Chair in Documentary. I had the privilege of knowing Haskell and was honored to be there supporting his wife Rita as well as representing his ASC family along with other members and AC staff. When I went to check in, they had stacks of the American Cinematographer April Issue (which later became a tribute issue to Haskell and fellow ASC member Vilmos Zsigmond) sitting on the table for attendees. I saw some of my former professors and former classmates reading a magazine that contained my Ghost Adventures article.

It was so surreal to be standing there on the campus where 20 years ago I was a freshman who dreamed of becoming a writer and I was holding in my hands my published article. 20 years ago I was writing essays about cinematography and now I have published articles about cinematography.

I have yet to fully understand exactly why I had to write about Ghost Adventures but I am so glad that I overcame my fears, quieted my mind and pitched that story to my editor a year ago.

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Posted in Life, Relationships, Spirituality, Universe, Writing

So Much Has Changed

It dawned on me last night that I have really neglected this blog and my personal challenge to try something new every day. I thought I would scroll through old posts for inspiration to get back into blogging mode. Instead of inspiration, I found frustration. My life has drastically changed over the past year that I don’t even recognize the woman who wrote about twin flames and the like. I almost want to go back in time and shake her, ask her “what are you thinking?” But deep down I know that everything in my life happens for a reason and every experience has made me into the person I am today. Circumstances ripped the rose colored glasses from my face and I feel like I can finally see things correctly; perhaps for the first time in my life.

The man from my past, the one I believed to be my “twin flame,” my “Mr. Big,” is no longer a factor in my life. Yes, there was a connection between us but it wasn’t meant to be worked out in this lifetime. He served as a lesson–a painful lesson but a lesson nonetheless. Now he is out of my life and it is for the best. I won’t be wasting anymore time on romantic notions or spiritual cosmic connections or whatever I was writing about in regards to him. It was just another chapter in my book of life.

Over the past ten months or so, I have really re-evaluated my relationships, friendships and just where my life is headed in general. This has been the most difficult year of my life and unfortunately, in difficult times, you see who your real friends are and what truly matters the most in life. I don’t have everything figured out but I am working on it.

One thing that I do know for sure is that I want to get back to writing. I started back in September when I pitched my first story for the magazine where I am currently employed as the photo editor. I always wanted to be a writer, not a photographer. Being a photographer paid the bills when I was laid off from a writing job back in 2002 and it just seemed like a path I had to take to get to where I am now. That article is currently on the news stands in the April issue of American Cinematographer. So far I have received positive responses to the article so hopefully this is the first step toward changing my life into what I want it to be. Stay tuned.

Posted in Family, Life, Universe, Writing

A Gift From My Dad

2016-03-03 14.33.17Nine months ago today, my Dad passed away. I won’t say he died. I can’t say it because it isn’t true, at least for me. His body died but his soul did not. He is still here. I feel him every day. And if I ever doubt that his energy is not present, he gives me a sign, a gift to remind me that he is still here.

I recently wrote a post about how I felt lost without him. I did not know who I was without him. Hours after I wrote that blog entry, I was given several clear signs of who I am and where I am headed. My article for our April issue was now a bullet on our cover. My managing editor told me how much he loved my article and that I should feel free to pitch additional stories in the future. So I pitched an idea in that moment (an idea that has a tie in to my father) and was told we could reach out to the studio/network in regards to making that my next story. I immediately called my Mom and we both agreed this had to be Dad guiding me. And if there were any doubts, events last night further proved to me that my Dad is guiding me back to my goals and dreams.

Last night, I decided to make a trip up to my storage space and finally put away my Christmas decorations. Normally I would just drop off my Christmas storage containers and leave but a gut feeling told me to reorganize some of the boxes I had piled in the back corner. I pulled out some boxes and noticed a file container on the second shelf way in the back corner of the storage unit. It looked like one of the containers I used for storing my tax information. I just had a feeling it was important so I made my way back there to retrieve it. To my surprise, it was filled with all my writing samples from high school, college and my years working as a publicist. I even found my acting headshots from college. I cleared a space and sat down on the floor, reminiscing about my past and a time when I considered myself a writer.

I flipped through the different files and stopped when I spotted a blue folder labeled “Grandpa.” I knew it contained a story I wrote in high school about the day my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack. I pulled out the folder and immediately started crying when I saw my father’s handwriting. For months I had been searching for the letters I received from my Dad my freshman year of college. I thought they were at my parents’ house. I had no clue that I had them with me the entire time, in my storage space and with a story about the death of my Dad’s Dad. There they were, in this folder with the story and two writing awards I received—one for the “Grandpa” story and another for all the articles I wrote for my college newspaper “The Daily Trojan.” What a coincidence to find them all together.

So I read the letters, struggling through the tears. My Dad wrote these letters during my first few months at college. I had moved to thIMG_20160302_171925e other side of the country to follow my dreams and attend USC. The funny thing is that his advice in these letters applies to what I am struggling with today. He tells me he is proud of me and he misses me (but not to get cocky about it—my Dad was Han Solo). “I truly believe you know what you want to do.” And when it comes to my dreams and goals, his advice: “You just hang in there and go for what you want.”

He wrote me these letters almost 20 years ago. And for anyone who knew my Dad, writing was not his strong suit. One letter he wrote over a course of a week—adding the date each time he started writing again. It meant a great deal to me back then that he would take the time to write to me and it was like winning the lottery to find these letters now. I am once again at a point in my life where I need his advice and guidance. He found a way to give me the exact pep talk that I needed by putting these letters back into my hands. (Thanks, Daddy!)

Posted in Life, Spirituality, Universe, Writing

In The Right Place At The Right Time

2014-03-06 18.54.41When it comes to writing, I have noticed that some times my mind likes to go on vacation. When I need to sit down and focus on my “real” writing, my mind will go blank. I will try to read a book or watch a movie for inspiration. I am still doing my “try something new every day” personal challenge. But when I sit down in front of the computer to work on my writing samples I…(insert sounds of crickets here).

Whilst playing tourist with my mother, I took her to my favorite bookstore in Pasadena, Vroman’s. The minute you walk in the door, there is actually a huge display of books to help writers. I was drawn to a cube-shaped book entitled “The Writer’s Block.” Each page offers ideas to get the creative juices flowing. For me, my inner child was drawn to the irony of the shape and title. If my inner child is inspired, then I will be inspired. But unfortunately it looked like many others were intrigued by this book because the spine was worn. This is where my adult OCD kicks in–you know the one that wants the books and boxes that look like they haven’t been touched by anyone else even though the outer appearance has nothing to do with the inner content. I went to the information desk to see if they had any other copies of the book. With the worn out spine version before me being the only “Writer’s Block” in the store, they offered to order me a new copy.

Fast forward four days and I receive a message that my order had arrived. When you order a book at Vroman’s, you pick it up at Will Call on the second floor. The second floor is also where they have speakers and book signings. On this particular day, they were setting up for a book signing. I noticed a display with a Buddha head and I was instantly intrigued. I picked up my order and inquired about the upcoming event. Much to my delight, I learned that Shamar Rinpoche would be there to speak about meditation, mind training and signing his book “The Path to Awakening.”

Shamar Rinpoche is the 14th Shamarpa, or Red Hat Lama of Tibet. He organized the Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Centers in 1996 (the same year I graduated from high school and moved to California). The Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Centers are “a network of centers based on a non-sectarian approach to Buddhism. The curriculum of Bodhi Path centers is grounded in the teachings of the 11th century Indian Buddhist master Atisha, as they were transmitted by Gampopa. Atisha’s methods are the most effective for taming the mind and deepening wisdom, and in addition can be taught and employed in a secular way.”

After listening to Shamar Rinpoche talk about his book, meditation and his Bodhi Life Path centers, I realized that this is the next step in my personal growth process. I have struggled with anxiety, depression, insomnia and other afflictions because of my own cognitive thought processes. My mind often gets stuck in a loop, I overthink when I should relax and let it be, and I struggle to shut off my mind for meditation and sleeping.

I was third in line to get my book signed and when I approached Shamar Rinpoche, my nerves took over, allowing my basic knowledge of Buddhist customs to escape my mind. I did remember to bow but then I reached out to shake his hand, instantly thinking “oh shit, what did I just do?”

But with pure grace, he shook my hand and simply said, “You are new to this practice, yes?”

“Yes. I have tried Shambhala meditation but I only heard of your Bodhi Life Path today.”

He signed my book then picked up one of the Bodhi Life Path Buddhist Center information cards and wrote his own personal email address on the card.

“This is my direct email.  You read and if you have any questions, you send me an email and I will help you.”

A Tibetan Buddhist Monk…the 14th Shamarpa just gave me his personal email address and offered to personally help me with my mind training and meditation techniques.  Was this really happening?  I was told that I have “Divine Guidance” helping with every aspect of my life, was this proof?  This is what I needed.  I need to work on mind training and meditation techniques.  Did the Universe really just put me in the right place at the right time to hear what I needed to hear to help me fix what I need to fix to get to where I need to be?

Posted in Life, Writing

Things You Never Knew About Me

On Facebook, everyone is posting things that you never knew about them. If you like the post, they give you a number and you are supposed to post that many things about yourself, things not many people know. I happened to like what my cousin wrote so in turn, she gave me the number 11. The following is my response:

OK. So I guess I am supposed to write 11 things that you never knew about me so here it goes:
#1: I am a smartass
#2: If I told you 10 more things about me that you didn’t know then you would know them so what the hell would I write the next time I am asked to write more stuff about me that you don’t already know? I prefer to remain a mystery and keep you guessing.
#3-#11: Please refer to #2 and if you have any further questions, refer to #1.

Thank you and Good night!!!

Posted in Life, Personal Challenge, Writing

Time to Catch Up

OK, so I am behind on my postings.  I just realized that I have lots of blog entries that I started but never finished.  Most are reviews of places I have visited or things I have tried while living up to my personal challenge to try something new every day.  Many of the entries are finished, they are just missing pictures or some just have pictures and are awaiting my witty words of review.  So I am making a new goal for myself…I need to finish what I started!

Posted in Writing

Woo Hoo, I’m A Winner!

Winner-180x180I did it!  I just finished the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.  I wrote over 50,000 words in the month of November.  And I finished with time to spare.  There is still an hour left in the challenge.

So if anyone was wondering why I wasn’t posting as frequently, I actually have two reasons: the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word challenge and the WordPress App for Android.

I have been writing my posts every day for this blog, documenting my daily personal challenge to try something new.  But I have been having trouble with the WordPress App on my Android.  I take pictures to go with my posts and the App seems to struggle with adding photos into posts.  I try to add them all at once and the app freezes.  So I have to add them one at a time, saving it each time I add a new photo otherwise it won’t work.  And when you take as many photos as I do, this is a very time consuming process.  And when you are teacher, participating in a 50,000  written word challenge while trying to keep up with a daily personal challenge to try something new every day as well as working hard on planning a big school event, well, let;s just say that you tend to fall behind on things.  But I do plan to catch up now that NaNoWriMo is finished.  So expect a whole bunch of posts in the next few days.