Friday, November 30, 2012

A Grand Adventure or Nada!!!

I finished the documentary on Tyga the rapper.  It took about 2 months.  And a handful of people were allowed to see the finished goods.  But in the process of creating it, I decided that I didn't want to release it.  The film quality was excellent and the editor did an amazing job with the piece.  But towards the end of the process I became more troubled.  I realized that you can't separate the messenger from the message.  I decided I didn't want to release a doc to high school kids that puts this rapper on a pedestal of a role model.  I'm sure like all of us, he's a mix bag of great, admirable qualities and horrible elements, he's human.  But I'm not sure he would even be comfortable with the notion of "role model".  Soooo I canned the project and that was painful. A part of me still wants to release it because it demonstrates the price of one person becoming FEARLESS.  It shows a young kid in a classroom giving everything to his craft, having setbacks and years later, persevering. And I wanted kids to see an example of someone who worked through his FEAR, and what is possible for them.  But what has he done with his fearlessness? Is he raising awareness for a cause?  Is he teaching young boys from the hood his path to entrepreneurship?  Isn't that MORE IMPORTANT than overcoming fear itself?  What will we become on our hero's adventure? But I am severely biased.  I want too much from my students.  And he is still young and has plenty of time to decide his path GRRRRRRRRRRR!

Ah the hypocrisy of being a teacher.  We want what we want from our students.  But great teachers know that we teach students to think independently even if it pains us.  I am also slanted of course in my judgement of Tyga.  I've been called a light worker, an idealist, a martyr, an underdog, and an outlier.  I suspect all of those are somewhat fitting. It is not enough to be courageous to me.  One has to do something to leave this Earth a bit better.  And who am I to judge perhaps?  Even those who do harm in one area (degrading women on videos), many times do good in other areas (donate money to schools). 
Overall, this project made me realize what I cared about the most: Helping to raise people's awareness. And getting rid of everything this year has left me with who I am.  It's been a scary and thrilling ride. I like to call this period in my life "reconstruction".  After all, we are the builders and destroyers of our own path.  We determine how high and distinctly beautiful or appalling the structure.  This may be a big shocker to some.  Many people still believe that life is about blowing in the wind without a rudder or purpose.  This couldn't be further from the truth.  And yet, the secret is YOU determine that purpose.  You decide what it will be and if you are willing to pay the price for what you want out of this life which takes a nice helping of COURAGE.
Hellen Keller said, "...Life is a grand adventure or nothing at all."  I couldn't agree more.  Since leaving my stable, well-paid corporate gig, I have finished the documentary that I didn't release, lol.  I have acted in 2 other film projects that I co-wrote one involving filming on the 405 freeway, so much fun.  Annnnd I'm finally finishing a book about FEAR and how it destroys lives.   Lastly, I'm applying to a teaching residency for a charter school program.  Oh and I became a part of SAG, the official union for actors, blah, blah.  I used to think there was a blueprint for success.  In fact our logo was based around this notion.  But what I realize now is that success is about doing what you want to do and being who you want to be.  And for me that entails raising the awareness of others in society.  I'm happy.  And I thank the Universe, God, Allah, Jesus, Buddha and anyone I may have missed for allowing such a grand adventure at such a young age.  Encore!!

P.S. Check out this article by Steve Pavlina.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Become on Fire!!!!

It's been almost a year since my last post, at least I think.  It had occurred to me that I was starting to spend too much time watching other people's grind instead of actively working on mine so the blog has since suffered.

It's easier that way.  You know, sitting on the sideline, pointing out the highlights and lowlights of a person's career.  But what about us?  What do WE want to accomplish?  I think that's the right question. But then there's the hard part.  Making a decision!

Do we DARE to go after what we want?

What would happen if you allowed yourself that desire to want what you REALLY want.  Most of us can't stand the thought of desiring something because we don't think it's at all possible to attain.  But what if it was? Very few peeps have dreams that are totally out of reach and yet they still DO NOTHING to move towards them.  We get stuck.  Should I go for that new job?  "Naaaaah!"  Should I talk to that cute girl?  "I dunno what if she doesn't like me?"

What to do?  Show no FEAR.

Take one little, baby step towards it.  And who knows, one thing propels you to the next thing, and before long you're moving in the direction of your dream.

I've had these tapes of film in my closet FOREVER.  It was just sitting there, getting nice and dusty like most stuff that just sits.  One day I had the bright idea to transform the tapes into digital files to see what was actually on the film.  Who knew the film would contain an amazing story just waiting to be sculpted and plucked from obscurity.  6 years ago I had an idea of highlighting what young MCs and Skateboarders do (they grind).  So I wrote/directed a story and hired a production crew without any experience of course.  When you have something you Really want to do, you just DO IT.  The TV pilot was called Grindin'.  I decided to bring along a kid I was helping at the time.  It was his energy.  It was his passion.  He was a MC before he was a MC (CARS, $$$, LADY FRIENDS).  Rappers do that you know.  They're some of the biggest believers.

6 years later.  Tyga is HUGE!!!!

And on film, I have what I saw 6 years ago.  A kid,  (Unknown but On Fire).  It's what I've been trying to tell  anyone who is willing to listen.  "BECOME MORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!"  "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE MIGHTY, INSANE THINGS", "FIND WHAT YOU LOVE AND GRIND".  I have witnessed and helped many on their hero's journey.  And FINALLY I was clever enough to capture it all on film.  YES!!!!  Maybe by coincidence.  I doubt it.
Now, for the fun part.  I have to get the story out to millions.  On to the next challenge.  And so I'm off on my own adventure again.

P.S.  I'll post the short documentary of Tyga when finished.  :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Empathy & Dvd Extras

 Director, Gabriele Muccino and Will Smith

I am one of those people who watches the dvd extras and I mean all of them. There's always a gem. While watching the extras for "Seven Pounds" something in particular resonated with me and I found it truly inspiring. I really loved the insight that everyone gave about Gabriele, the Director. He is an emotionally in tune guy and asks for that extra bit from his actors. It reminded me of an exercise Shak suggested a little while ago. She suggested we ask people what they saw as our natural talent/gift. I asked and kept hearing, empathetic...and that I'm incredibly intense but more on that later.... lol What this translates into for me as a Director is the ability to understand where a character is coming from and getting that depth from my actor by being able to articulate what he/she needs to feel and what I need to feel from them. Awesome. The hard work is in conveying it in a manner that can be understood. A part of being the best is understanding your strengths and weaknesses.

So, what exactly is Empathy? There are several forms of empathy but let's start with the origin of the word. Hmmmm the origin of Empathy is from the Greek word empatheia which means literally, passion. 

Definition: : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this

Ha! I love it. Yep, that pretty much sums me up. Passion, sensitivity, intense emotions.... I think we all relate with the world outside of us from within in a manner that is most natural. Some people see rigid lines whilst others see equations. Others still, see a cornucopia of colors or wavelengths. I am sensitive to my surroundings. I sometimes still battle whether or not this is a "good" thing. Kindness and beauty will bring me to tears. Joy wells up inside of me and bursts from my spirit and eyes. The other side of that coin is true, as well. When I see/feel sadness or despair it strikes a deep cord. What I am working on is experiencing those things without holding on to them. All of that... joy, pain, despair, beauty and graciousness are a part of life but we are ingrained to believe that joy is fleeting and pain is forever. Think about the saying, "through rose colored glasses". Its origin is to describe someone who has a positive optimistic view of life and/or a situation. Currently, I hear it used commonly to describe someone who isn't seeing life clearly. That person is forgetting the pain they endured. SMH. Why? Why are we taught to "wait for the other shoe to drop"? That something is "too good to be true"? Well, my guess is the answer is the saying "misery loves company". lol I believe we are supposed to forget the pain. Too often, myself included, we wear it around like badges of honor for experiencing life. But I am learning that that is just another way of playing the victim card. When I had that "aha!" moment, I almost fell out of my seat. Wow. What is truly healthy empathy? I believe it's using those deep feelings to help get others through their current pain by whatever medium suits you a film, play, song, poem, blog etc. Not to hold on to it and relive it on a daily basis or when an experience creates a trigger. 

Release. Release the pain. How? Through forgiveness. How do you forgive? Start with yourself. We must forgive ourselves and recognize that we learned from the experience (joy point!) and did the best we could at that time (another joy point!). When we forgive ourselves everyone else involved becomes easier to forgive. We don't secretly blame ourselves and try to pass it off on someone else. We extend them the same courtesy, they did the best they could with what they had at that point. I'd like to be like a duck in this instance. A duck gets wet but the water also rolls off it's back. 

*Puts on her rose colored glasses and smiles*



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Let's GO!!!!

Finally I found a sensible, rational health tip that is worth something. Jamar and Sean (my trainers) would be proud…cut 250 calories per day and burn an extra 250 calories per day and 14 lbs should be OUTTA here by Labor Day Sept 5th. That sounds easy enough and we’re only 9 days behind. Notice how I said we’re (meaning you and me). I don’t like doing uncomfortable things by myself. There is something to be said about group suffering that is much more heartfelt, poetic even.

Now, like most of you, I want to lose around 10-15 more LBS. Am I asking for the moon? NOOOOO! And I have a pretty good suspicion about what’s been keeping these 10 lbs on me. Not my Americanos in the morning, not my unsalted peanuts snacks or my chili beans w/ corn on the cob. It’s those stupidy chocolate calories. If I say goodbye, there goes my 10 LBS.


The problem is I’m not that sensible. Of course skinny minnies (i.e. my friend Brenda) proclaim, “Eat in moderation”. Sure I can eat green beans w/ chicken w/ a few spoonfuls of rice, or a 6 in tuna sub on wheat bread at Subway w/ cheese but only ½ the bread with a bite of chocolate for dessert. Oh and I can do well with this sort of thing for about a week. But then this lil voice starts yelling at me, “Stop being a lil wuss, moderation is the mother of BORING! Are you going to let those salad-eating pansies tell you what to do? Give me chocolate or give me death!” And sadly, I have no comeback for that type of passion and zealous response. How do you combat such charisma? And then I realize I’ve lost again, sabotaged by my alter ego, me.

No worries, I will prevail with a little help of course, maybe some therapy. Who will join me? 10 lbs by September 5th? Any takers? Go! Go! Go! On a more cheery note, I have been more consistent with the workouts than my eating. We have to take our strengths and build upon those. Like this random kid told me, “Every day I try to be the handball king”.


Friday, June 3, 2011

The Take Over...Love

there's been no mistake,
it's first degree murder
i know what's at stake,
i'll go a bit further
my grave I have to make

i'm strapped and ready
to set the world on fire
many flames are unlit
but they're not retired
who better than a misfit

i'm loading up my guns

firing kisses and understanding
i'm loading up my guns
you're my prisoners
no one can run

i'm starting with the heads
cuz they are steadily rotting

freezing assets for access
financial systems tip-topping
this is play-time, it's recess

i'm loading up my guns

firing kisses and understanding
i'm loading up my guns
you're my prisoners
no one can run

first your masks will come off
i'm the only one that can be armed
it may feel like a loss
strip down, no need for alarm
bare bones no shiny gloss

i'm loading up my guns

firing kisses and understanding
i'm loading up my guns
you're my prisoners
no one can run

i may seem a little undone
but promise this war will be won
i'm loading up my guns

firing kisses and understanding
i'm loading up my guns
you're my prisoners
no one can run


Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm inspired by Florence and the Machine...Lose Yourself

I remember my mom would say, "You just don't fear anything do you?" That was after I nearly cut my left thumb off as a result of a water fight. I sliced it on glass bowl inside of a friend’s house. In the hospital I remember being ticked that I wasn’t going to make it to the movies that night. While raging war on the other girls with my water bombs, I severed a major nerve and ended up needing months of physical therapy. But that’s how life is at times when you get lost in the moment. It can be exhilarating and extremely painful. I guess I've always been some what of a rabble-rouser, doing things that I “shouldn’t” be doing. Is that so bad?

I've tried to be totally lady-like and abide by certain rules and structures. Let's be honest, it sucks and it’s kinda boring. Don’t get me wrong it’s major fun dressing lady-like and it's cool being a lady in a relationship. Even still, it's not enough for this experience called life. It's never been enough for me. There's like this lil beast inside that rages to do things, grow, stretch, test things to the limit. Life has to be intense, extreme even. I’m a Porsche that’s built to race, hugging the side of the road, screaming to go a little bit faster. There’s this yearning to feel, to taste all that can be experienced. And yet it’s sooo hard when you’re surrounded by endless lanes of blah. I find myself slowing down to plan for the next exit on the fwy.  And lately my car has been stuck on idle.  For me, that’s worst than the engine dying.

I mean why are we all here? What’s the point if it’s not to be ALIVE? See! Hear! Smell! Touch! Taste!

And just like that, I was humming along on the fwy one day and the soundtrack showed up. I heard this voice. The sound was like a heartbeat on fire, bursting in flames. I’m like, “YOOOOOOOOOOOOO who is this chick, I NEED HER?” She wailed over the guitar and her voice got stuck in my heart. And like a fiend, I started scrambling to find the sound, the song, any resemblance of that tribalistic noise. It changed me. I was so high.

And just like love, I was infected. You can’t stop matters of the heart. There are times I’ve tried to erase the feeling behind meeting a stranger. Fools we are, thinking we are in control. And I began my hunt. I went back to the radio station for it. Nothing! Not even after a month. And since I suck at remembering what I hear, I had the lyrics all wrong. My Google searches and iTunes searches were leading me to nowhereseville. DAMN IT! Finally, the other day while driving to that same friend’s house, it came on and I BLASTED it. This time the hit was even more surreal than the first like I was barely even to focus on the road. And in those 3 minutes I lost myself completely. I can’t even tell you what she was saying. All I know is that I left myself…flying. That’s what artists can do to you if you're not careful. They speak to our souls with or without our permission. They remind us why we’re here in the first place. It doesn’t matter what language they use because the universal language, that existed before time isn’t spoken at all but rather felt.

It’s one thing to be entertained. I’ve been entertained and delighted plenty of times, pops songs and all. But it’s a whole other thing to be swallowed up in an artist’s trance unable to break free of their melody.
One day, I sincerely hope you find a song that SHAKES the dust off your wings whatever it may be. And when you do find it, I hope it makes you roll down your windows, speed up a little faster and yell out the window like your life depends on it. If you’re lucky it might remind you of why you’re here in the first place. (Dog Days Are Over)


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm Inspired by Martha Graham

Check out Google today, 5/1/11, it’s inspired by a dancer/choreographer named Martha Graham. I took a few moments to look her up on my fav, Wikipedia. And I found an amazing convo that she had with a dancer who was an up and comer at the time.

Here’s there exchange:

According to Agnes de Mille: "The greatest thing she ever said to me was in 1943 after the opening of Oklahoma!, when I suddenly had unexpected, flamboyant success for a work I thought was only fairly good, after years of neglect for work I thought was fine. I was bewildered and worried that my entire scale of values was untrustworthy. I talked to Martha. I remember the conversation well. It was in a Schrafft's restaurant over a soda. I confessed that I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.

Martha said to me, very quietly:"

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. ... No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others."

I need to frame her quote. I feel that the greatest thing you can do creatively in the beginning is to stay open to the inspiration. Most people choke it because they’re too busy worried about the outcome, or they get caught up in executing busy work or how it looks along the way. In their attempt to completely control the creative process they close up the exchange, suffocate it and so they don’t receive the energy. And there is so much purity and power in that exchange. It’s how folks are able to do ish they’ve never done before creatively. And I’ve never heard anyone reference it so explicitly until now. Well besides in Star Wars but that’s “fiction”.  I love this part especially, “it is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open”.

How lovely and how freeing that is for all creators.  She's saying, there is something worthwhile about your creation because it's uniquely you.  WOW!  Thanks Martha.