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.

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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 Family, Life, Relationships

Who Am I Now?

On June 3rd, 2015, my life forever changed. The most important man in my life left his earthly body and took a huge part of me with him. I no longer view the world the same. I am no longer the happy-go-lucky optimistic and often naive girl who only wanted to see the good in people. My rose-colored glasses are gone as I have had to face the harsh realities that my guiding light, my role model, my father was never coming back.

I know now that my relationship with my parents is not “normal.” Even though I have lived on the other side of the country for almost 20 years (with a few roaming years in other states), I remained close to my parents, talking to both of them several times a day, every day. I still expect my Dad to answer the phone when I call.

The last eight, almost nine months, have been beyond difficult and I have lost a lot of friends along the way. It is funny how I was raised to be a loyal person, always there for the people I care about when they need me. But when I hit a difficult road, the majority disappear. “Oh, I am going to take you out to lunch every day.” Haven’t seen or talked to that so-called friend since June. “Why are you still so sad?” That was said to me weeks after my father’s passing. I even found out that someone who claimed to be my best friend since college was asked to be by my side when my family called to give me the news and she told my sister that she just couldn’t do that. She couldn’t be there for me during a moment that she knew would be the worst moment of my life.

So my life has changed. I cherish the friends who have been there for me–they are my extended family. They understand that every day is a struggle. I just want to go to work and go home. I want to talk to my Mom all the time. I talk about my Dad all the time. I cry all the time. I want to be alone more. I am confused about my life goals. I am lost. I hate being asked, “How are you?” No one wants the real answer to that question. I will lie and say that I am fine when I really am not fine. I am far from fine. I am simply surviving. I am going through the motions. Everything is an effort as I try to figure out my life without my father.

I know many don’t understand my attachment to my father. I am his mini-me. He taught me how to install a garbage disposal when I was 3. He loved movies and cameras. He would project 8mm movies and cartoons on a large screen for us when we were kids. And every time he bought a new camera, I would get his old camera. I became a Star Wars fan because of my Dad. I went to film school because of my Dad. I became a photographer because of my Dad. I worked with veterans and General Motors because of my Dad. When I was in college he wrote me letters about how I was living out his dreams. Now that he is gone, I feel lost. I don’t know who I am without him.

Posted in Entertainment, Filmmaking, Southern California

“Eat Me”

During my freshman year at the University of Southern California (USC), I lived in the College-Uni dorm on the 3rd floor, the cinema floor. (I believe the dorm is now called North Residential College). The majority of us were from out-of-state or out-of-county and majored in cinema-television or theatre. We became a second family as we endured the transition into college life…and hundreds of fire alarm evacuations at all hours. We created a special bond that still resonates amongst us after all these years. So when one of us puts out a call for assistance, the others reach out to help (at least I do).

In this instance I am referring to my friend Adrian “Alex” Cruz—who often referred to me as “Michigan” during our college days. Aside from being a talented actor, Cruz co-created the Syfy mini-series Ascension. His current project, Eat Me, is an independent feature film that needs financial assistance so it can reach completion and distribution. Cruz and his partner Jacqueline Wright have created a Kickstarter to reach their financial goals and get this film out to the masses.

Eat Me is based on a critically acclaimed play with the same title written and performed by Wright in the Los Angeles area. In both the film and play, Tommy (played by Wright) believes she has nothing left to live for when a home invader named Bob interrupts her suicide attempt. The desperate and brutal journey that follows will change both their lives forever.

Eat Me does touch on some difficult subject matter and contains scenes of “extreme brutality” and “raw emotions.” It can be described as “an insightful, darkly hilarious and terrifying exploration of the extremity of human endurance.” The filmmakers promise that it is a story of healing and redemption.

Wright was offered numerous opportunities to turn her play into a film but opted to wait for the right team of collaborators to safeguard the material and not turn it into something exploitative. Wright and Cruz have used their own personal savings, used their home as the shooting location and called in favors in order to shoot the entire film in just ten days “without sacrificing quality, style or integrity.”

Their funding goals will help cover the two additional days of shooting needed to complete the project, the editing, the sound and the color correction. If they receive funds beyond their initial Kickstarter goal, they can add in more music, visual effects, promotional materials and distribution efforts.

Back in our USC film school days, we all dreamed of creating our own films and have them presented in a forum for the world to see. We spent a lot of time and money studying the art of storytelling and bringing that story to life. I am happy to be able to do my part and help my fellow Trojan live his dream and tell his story.

If you are interested in being a part of the project dedicated to bringing the play Eat Me to the big screen, check out their Kickstarter page here.

**Quotes are directly from the Eat Me Kickstarter page.

Posted in Diet, Health, Life, Mind and Body, Personal Challenge

Personal Challenge: Pop Physique

redcarpetkellyAt the start of 2015 I began a resolution, like so many, to lose weight and get healthy. Thanks to my job I had motivation to keep this resolution–I had to fit into an evening gown for the upcoming Awards season (my first real immersion into the world of Entertainment awards). I managed to lose 25 pounds by February 15th with the Green Smoothie cleanse and with all the compliments I received in regards to my transformation, I was motivated to keep going. But like any diet (at least in my experience) I hit a plateau.

This is when I decided it was time to get back into a workout routine and my former college roommate served as my inspiration. My sister friend was constantly posting her attendance at different types of workout classes; Pop Physique being the most frequent. Pop Physique is an exercise class created by a former ballet dancer and Pilates instructor. The class promises to tone and sculpt the body into a popular physique; improve your posture and flexibility; increase your abdominal strength; increase your body awareness and give you a hotter sex life (assuming you have a sex life at the moment). So I talked with my former roomie and discovered GroupOn had a deal for 5 classes that I couldn’t pass up. I was ready. I wanted to look as amazing as she did. Plus, this gave us a great excuse to start hanging out on a semi-regular basis.

We opted for the Studio City location, since it was close to both of our current residences. We decided to do the last class of the day on Sundays, allowing us ample weekend sleep-in time. I was pumped. I was ready. It was that high, adrenaline rush you get when trying something new. I managed to maintain that high for the first minute of the class and then, it was gone. The excitement turned into a “what the hell did I get myself into” fight or flight reaction that immediately pushed me into survival mode.

First off, I noticed that I was the tallest and heaviest person in the class. That had me self-conscious during the first few minutes. Once I realized that everyone was struggling with the “up an inch, down an inch” instructions, I stopped worrying about my body size and focused on the task at hand–to survive each exercise without crying or throwing up. This class is not about fitting in. It is about survival. I felt so out of shape because every single exercise was a struggle and boy did it hurt. My muscles were shaking–which is apparently a desired result. My friend, who has been taking these classes for three years, reassured me that everyone was in pain. Pop Physique proves there is truth in the old cliche, “no pain, no gain.”

I was dripping with sweat trying to keep a ball between my legs whilst leaning against the barre in a squatting position and squeezing in my glutes and abs–I had to close my eyes and pray it was almost over. But it wasn’t over. It kept going. It felt like the longest hour of my life. When it was finally over, I felt triumphant. I survived. I didn’t die.

I was sore immediately after the class and for days after. I hurt in places that I didn’t know existed. But I did feel a little stronger, mentally and physically. I needed to go back. I wanted to go back. This was a challenge and I am the kind of person who is motivated by a challenge. I needed to conquer Pop Physique and proceed with my goal for a toned body.

Unfortunately, life interrupted my plans and it was two months before I would return to class. And when I did return, my second class was tougher than the first. I almost threw up twice. But I survived. My sore muscles proved I got a full body workout. I was feeling physically and mentally stronger. So many times during the class, I wanted to quit but I kept going, feeling a sense of pride when I finished the class.

I am still a beginner but I do have a sense of accomplishment with two classes behind me. I have three more classes with my GroupOn credit (pre-paying does motivate one to continue) and I am interested to see how I feel once I complete five classes. Will my body look any different? Will I continue with the mental and physical challenge? Stay tuned.

Posted in Health, Life, Mind and Body

Project UROK

Surfing through my Facebook newsfeed I found an Upworthy post with actor Wil Wheaton and the status quote, “You’re not alone. You are okay.” When you click on the post, it redirects you to the Upworthy website with an article about a video Wil Wheaton recorded for Project UROK. In the video, Wil talks about his own struggles with mental illness, specifically anxiety and chronic depression. Here is that video:

If you continue on to the Project UROK website, you will find additional videos from celebrities, the project founder Jenny Jaffe and videos to start the conversation about mental illness. The project is directed toward teens and young adults struggling with all types of mental illness.

Honestly, from what I have seen, I know grown adults who would also benefit from this site and its content. This site is amazing and a great way of reaching out to those in need. And what a wonderful message, “You are not alone. You are okay.”

So if you or anyone you know is suffering from some form of mental illness, you might want to check out Project UROKshare it on social media or go old school and just tell a friend about it. I am in no way affiliated with this non-profit organization. I am just someone who has struggled (and has a lot of family and friends who are struggling) with anxiety and depression, especially right now in the wake of my father’s recent passing. It helped me to listen to some of the stories and know that there are others who have been in my shoes and understand–I am not alone. It is okay to be sad but it is also okay to get help.

Posted in Family, Life

Daddy

Since this is my first Father’s Day without my Daddy, I wanted to share a poem I wrote for him when I was in college. I read this same poem at his funeral on June 9th, 2015.

     DADDY

Sitting in your family room chair,

Your remote control in one hand,

A feisty little puppy attacking the other.

Glancing in my direction and smiling

As the mirror image of you sits on the couch.

Instead of watching TV, I watch you,

Sitting there in your sweatpants,

Relaxing in a room built by your own hands.

You, content just watching TV with your faithful dog at your side,

And your youngest daughter home from California.

I notice your gray roots, dyed since the age of nineteen, now taking over

Normally a sign of old age, but on you, a sign of endurance,

A six foot three pillar of strength that holds our family together

With your Popeye arms and legs and the belly of a Buddha.

You are the superglue that fixes even the smallest broken pieces

Bonding us all together for a lifetime, no warranty needed.

I notice the orange ring around your chest

A daily reminder of your days of water patrol in Vietnam,

Agent Orange seeping through your camouflage.

A memory you fail to discuss

But a memory that drives you to fight and protect

No soldier left behind, no veteran left behind.

Your hands, covered with scars and calluses,

Reminders of your hard work, starting at the age of 14

When your parents concentrated on raising your seven brothers and sisters.

Hands that could repair anything.

(Except the stupid, you can’t fix stupid)

Hands that picked us up when we fell down.

Suddenly you burst into laughter, watching a Bruce Willis flick on TV.

I watch your eyes as you laugh, your crystal blue eyes.

I can see a blue ocean of emotions reflected in your eyes.

The memories of surviving a devastating war zone.

The sadness caused by the loss of your parents.

The joy of renewing a lifelong love with your soulmate.

The contentment of a stable career after years of struggle.

And most of all, there is the love for three children.

I stare at your chest and watch your heart pound.

Three attacks to that very heart and it still

Continues to pound deep within your chest

Filled with the love you have for family and friends

Filled with passion for justice and a desire to help those in need

Filled with compassion for all walks of life

Even the damn cat who always wants to go outside

But not for the stupid, “you can’t fix stupid.”

My amazing father, you have been through so much

And you continue to see the world as you do.

You are my role model, my inspiration

I strive to make you proud, your mini-me.

You taught me the importance of standing up for my beliefs,

To always follow my dreams and never give up

Fight the good fight and help when you can

And no matter what happens, you can still find joy.

You can fight through the pain—take a Motrin if you need it.

So I sit here and I look at you, the man

Content, sitting in your chair, watching TV, playing with your dog

And you have your daughter home from California.

In Memory of Robert “Bob” Brinker

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July 14, 1949 – June 3, 2015