Pray Then What

I have been known to call the next great thing way before anyone else a time or two and I pretty much have been calling it about Nate Parker for quite some time now. 1954-2I mean, how could I not be captivated? My first time seeing him was opposite Denzel (who happened to be his director at the time) and I was so caught up I only saw Nate Parker (I generally say his whole name so don't mind me). He was really remarkable. Like super solid and handsome and leading man and yeah all of that lol. I'm sure my friends were sick of me with Nate Parker. Then there was a period where I still loved him just didn't dig his character or his role much. And that's no dig - it happens if you watch enough movies (same with books - you don't love every single character!). Then he came back so hood/gangsta in "Red Hook Summer", I was convinced he could do it all. And then came "Beyond The Lights" andjz9imknnakqasiza7n0x that would get me all off topic (OMG super fine, saved the damsel in distress and preferred the natural girl oh yes Nate!). I digress...

I'd never see him out or in the news so I figured he was probably a quiet, well read guy. I figured he'd likely direct nateparkerpicsomething one day - again Denzel directed him in his first feature. I always had an eye on Nate Parker honey. I remember when I got my hands on "Birth of A Nation". It was late in the day when it came so I printed it and got ready for an evening in. I was so amazed. My vision of near perfection had been surpassed. This brother can write - like the kind of entertaining and structurally sound film writing dripping in intellect and confidence in the factual historical content type of write. By this time he was in production and casting and I didn't know the story of how he got the money. I thought he made good choices as I read about the project on Deadline. I just knew it would be great.

His film appeared at Sundance on Monday evening. And the preceding news stories all reported on how he raised TEN MILLION DOLLARS for his film. I also read he stopped being available for work until his project was done. Nate Parker was BOUT THAT LIFE! For real. The buzz was swift and favorable - Nate Parker had written, acted, directed and produced himself to the top of the Sundance conversation. Everybody everywhere was talking about "Birth of A Nation". Around 11ish, my coworker told me there was a livestream interview with cast and crew from the film. I immediately got the earplugs out and tuned in to this conversation and found out so many interesting facts including that he has a wife and a mortgage but put up $100,000 of his own dollars to make the movie, he had to go out and ask people for money, he was so knowledgeable about what's happening in the world right now. But there was one fact I didn't know and it really took me by surprise.

The moderator asked Nate Parker something like how did he do it but really the question became obsolete once I heard the answer. He responded, "I didn't know how I'd get it done. It was just pray, pray, pray, pray, do it. Pray, pray, pray, do it. There was no luxury of thinking about it."

pray-work-hand-drawn-vector-illustration-drawing-handwritten-phrase-48441466I have been struggling with what to DO about my career. I have a big birthday rapidly approaching and I feel like it's now or never on my dream or I feel like it's about time to let the dream go and at last, focus on getting this money (my dream has money potential but I'm still in the not enough coins phase). Then I see someone as awesome-sauce as Nate Parker, making a clear line in the sand for his film. It surpassed what HE could do, he had to seek the supreme power...

As I review the last year of my life I've been super busy but I'm not sure what I was doing. I didn't write. I didn't shoot. I did simple edits at work but nothing for real. I wasn't even doing my collage scrapbooks - I was not in my creative flow. When I'm not creating the doubt flows in. When I'm being doubtful the world appears dark and there's nothing I can do to shake it. Even things I once viewed favorably become awful (Yeah I shot a short but it had sound and mirror shot issues; yes I produced a play but I don't have any of the money left I raised to put on the show; yes I work for a top talent management company but there's nothing happening there as it relates to me/my goals/my career.) Everything seems dark.

I admit, I turn to prayer in these times but when my prayer life is on, the truth is that my action levels are not. I pray and wait. I go into hiding as I pray and wait. I don't like to talk to my friends or family, I just pray and way. But there was Nate Parker with another alternative. And like all "signs", this one work because it reminded me of my Granny's "faith without works is dead" mantra. What about if I pray and do? Like make it a point to pray and do. Ironically a good friend who never talks church or God recently shared her experience with a fast. She said she felt compelled to DO something for God. What have I done? While I don't think comparison is helpful in general, I do think we can compare our actions to that of someone we see achieving what we want - i.e. how we all look at youtube videos for workout, cooking and hair tips! Where was my action?

In the past, I recall praying for work then going out and applying any and everywhere. I remember praying for writing opportunities then sitting at my computer and creating them by blogging and submitting articles. I remember my prayers around my last short film project and then going out and asking for actors, crew and locations. Things do happen when prayer and action combine. For Nate Parker, the result was a record breaking film sale at Sundance and as I learned in his interview, more importantly to him, he's telling a story not many people know. He's creating a reference of a man that decided today is the day and he wouldn't take it anymore. He's drawing a parallel to a time past and subconsciously asking us what will we do. What better messenger than Nate Parker to deliver the news. I've had enough. I'm ready to go about this life in a different way. I'm picking up my weapons-prayer and action.

Time for my own revolution.

the-birth-of-a-nation-2016-nate-parker-1b

Just A Reminder

While cleaning last night, I found my old phone. I was shocked to find it had all of the music I assumed had been lost. I was very happy because I knew that today on the way to work, I'd have some good music which always makes my day flow better. As I pulled into the driveway at the office, a familiar K West beat hit and my eyes filled with tears. "A Dream" is one of my favorite Jay-Z songs because as he poetically share Biggie's notes from the other side, I can't help but realize their relevance to my life. So as I head into the second week of this year, it's the reminder there is NO ONE built like me (or you just FYI) as I build myself...my one of a kind self.

A Fly On The Wall

Confession: I'm lightweight obsessed with Ava DuVernay...and by lightweight I mean a whole lot. 24womens-well-film-slide-UWK1-tmagArticle There are a plethora of reasons why - I'll skip the fact she used her savings to fund her first film or that she was the first woman (and person of color) to win the director's award at Sundance. I'll skip that she is a beautiful black woman who tweeted about her gown selection for the Oscars with so much excitement that I could tell she's more a jeans type of girl. Oh and then there's the fact she directed the story of one of our most prolific leaders, Dr. Martin Luther the King! I think the biggest reason I'm so obsessed with her is that I see myself in her. Years before she was a sought after director, Ava DuVernay was a great publicist working with all the top filmmakers. While she was working, she was also watching. Her craft was being developed and she's a great symbol to me of what can happen if I utilize my opportunities while doing my job. Then there's her work with AFFRM-how she not only used her publicity experience for more profit for herself but that she became an active advocate for all filmmakers of color. Oh and you know I'm petty, so there's the fact her name DuVernay has some similarity to DaVida with that capital V following a vowel that follows a capital D and all. And thus my obsession...

As a huge fan of Ms. DuVernay's work, I listen to her speeches constantly when I'm in flux about what to do next career wise. She not only speaks about but she really stands for creating your own path while not waiting for someone else to say it's ok or give you said opportunity. As a strong worker bee type, this message is sometimes a tough one for me. I've spent my entire life trying to work for this person or that person so by association my great big chance will come. Well, let the record show, I've consistently worked for the best of the best and no golden stairway has magically appeared. I am not saying I don't get great perks for working for others -in fact this post was made possible as a result of my day job. What I'm saying is that I am going to have to produce something for folk to start taking me seriously as a producer! Ms. DuVernay constantly reiterates that sentiment well that's what I perceive her to be saying :)

So again, while my job doesn't fulfill my most passionate desires, it does offer some pretty cool opportunities (and I learn so much so no shade to the folk that pay the bills). I knew that one of my boss' clients would be involved in a top secret shoot. A week or so before, I found out that the project would be directed by Ms. DuVernay. Mind you I found out a Monday and that previous Friday I was all up in Ms. DuVernay's Twitter DM's pleading for an opportunity to meet her. Funny how things work out...

Normally I don't get to attend client shoots with my boss so I assumed that would be the case with this particular shoot, especially due to the secret nature of the project. I was overjoyed when the shoot day came and my boss asked me to meet him on set! I had to prep - my emotions have often gotten the best of me when I've met folk I admire (let's not recall my grabbing poor Ms. Winfrey in a bear hug when she introduced herself to me on the set of "Lee Daniels The Butler"). Once I found out I would be able to attend I prayed and meditated to get in the right space. I had to set an intention for the day - while I so desparately wanted to meet her, I realized she'd be working and that might not be possible. Also I was working and didn't want to misrepresent my company or our client. My intention was to be a fly and the wall and watch her work. I wanted to see what her process was like - I was excited to simply see and I would have been grateful to see her set up one shot!

I can't say much as I did sign that NDA but what I will say is that I got to SEE her work. I was observing EVERY thing - how she interacted with the cast and crew, how she ran her set, what she did on break....man I'm so happy no one caught me because they would have surely thought I was a stalker chick! My obsession grew and felt validated. She was the truth. The things she talked about in her speeches were so vivid in front of me. I had no desire to run up on her and beg for her mentorship any more. Instead I knew without a doubt what I had to do. I was confronted with the core of my obsession. The number one reason I f's with Ms. DuVernay is that she is a proponent of doing the work. She never mentions shortcuts or having one of the director's she worked for putting in a good word for her. Her entire platform is about doing it for yourself. Getting the chance to see her work made that so visible. I saw her doing the work. That helped me realize that when I do meet her, my work will be able to speak for me. It will likely portray my crazy, passionate, emotional energy but that's ok because it will be mine. I left that day feeling so empowered and inspired - as has been my feeling any time I've encountered her interviews, tweets or her film work.

So what was the shoot? It was a promo for Apple Music and Chapter 1 debuted during last night's Emmy broadcast. Sidenote-considering her first project is a doc about hip hop, this all felt like I was watching a full circle moment...In case you missed it, here it is. What a perfect clip to reintro motivational music Monday! Also note if you go to Apple Music, you can see the commercial in more high quality.

Straight Outta Thin Air

This week I've been walking around in a daze. I had no idea a movie about a famed rap group would continue to enforce the power of gratitude, law of attraction and MAGIC at work in my life. When I moved back to Louisiana in 2008, things looked dismal. I'd returned home without work, very few friends and low funds. After trying to secure a "real" job and getting no results, I opted to go back to waiting tables. In the past, that type of work always led to new opportunities AND going home with cash everyday is always nice. I got a job at HoustonsHouston's on St. Charles in New Orleans - plus side it's always packed. Downside it's always packed with people who had known me before so they wanted to know what happened with my life that after working in Hollywood with "the stars", I was now a waitress. Although it was embarrassing at first to share that I'd come home to regroup as the pursuit of my dreams had left me a bit discombobulated. Luckily I had coworkers that believed in me when I'd share my dreams. In particular there was my friend Darren, a talented musician who could relate to the plight of a creative dreamer. And then there was Yvonne. Yvonne was someone who always had the right words - like when I first came to work wearing my hair in it's natural state, Yvonne was the one who said rock that ish. When I would get upset because I had to face folk who knew me when I was up, Yvonne was the one who gave pep talks in shaking them off. And when I'd have a bad day and feel like my dream would never come back around, Yvonne was the one who would provide enthusiasm and pep talks to get me through the shift. Yvonne and I became friends at Houston's but our relationship was able to last beyond that - highlights include me doing her first radio interview and her giving my sister her first production job. So I was pleasantly surprised when I moved to L.A. last August and low and behold, guess who was in town indefinitely? YVONNE! She had moved to L.A. for a while to help support her brother who was filming the new NWA movie. Once again my life was in transition and once again Yvonne had popped up to bring new energy and motivation. My first few months here were great as she was a welcome piece of home as I re-navigated the city.

IMG_2377Fast forward to last week. I'd spoken to Yvonne who was planning to come to L.A. for the premiere of "Straight Outta Compton" to support her brother. I invited her to stay with me. She arrived last Thursday. Our first two days together were a recap of all the things we'd spoken about that have since come to pass - how I talked about getting back to Cali when we worked together or how just last summer she called in production accounting work! We literally have been manifesting our lives the entire time we've known each other. And now we were surrounded by more people with stories that paralled. Here we were sitting and chilling with her brother who critics are praising for his portrayal of rapper Easy E. His dreams are coming true right in front of us and that's powerful to witness. All of this "magic" was happening as a result of her visit! All I could think about were the possibilities of what could happen and we hadn't even seen the movie yet!

On Sunday we went to a cast/crew screening of the film. At the screening theIMG_2395 director, F. Gary Gray (side note: Freaking F Gary Gray! FRIDAY! SET IT OFF! That dude!), gave a brief speech about how the film had come together. He spoke to the cast/crew as if he were genuinely grateful for the work they had done to make this vision a reality. He gave numbers examples of specific things people had done. The attending cast got to speak. It was crazy listening to O'Shea Jackson, Jr. talk about this being his first movie role and how it felt to play his dad. I couldn't imagine...then it was time for Yvonne's brother Jason to speak. He was so excited as he thanked everyone for helping make his dream come true. As someone who has worked in production, movie making is truly a team sport. It felt good to see the movie for the first time with those who had labored for it. The movie was amazing...so great I'm going to write a whole 'nother post reviewing it when I get to work! But the feeling I got from being in the theater with those people who literally made the movie.

Monday was the premiere. Let's be clear, this was not my first premiere but there was something special about going and celebrating with my girl. Our word for the night was CELEBRATION and we were bout that life! I'd taken off early and got my nails done. We met up, got dressed and went to get makeup done. When we arrived at the shop, it was clear we were running very behind schedule which is a nightmare for me. My ego kicks in with the mental chatter about "messing up" and I silently start to freak out. But because I was Yvonne's guest, I opted to go with her flow which was calm and flexible. Once makeup was done we hopped in an Uber. The driver was excellent, taking us through 6pm Monday L.A. traffic like a pro. We got the venue with 10 minutes to spare. Again, this was not my first premiere but I had NEVER seen an event line like the one ahead. IMG_2407My experiences with these type of events had me prepared for the crowds and lines but this premiere was the most massive I had seen! First of all it was at the type of theatre that houses concerts and plays not movies. It's HUGE and from the looks of the line, every seat was going to be accounted for. The good news about the crowd is at that point I know it's impossible to start the movie on time. That helped me relax, figure a short cut to the line and get the tickets quickly. We arrived to our seats, shortly after Jason came over and then it was showtime. Tonight, F. Gary Gray (yes I keep saying his whole name!) was accompanied by the people who made it happen - the surviving members of N.W.A.

Now listen, we're talking Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Dr. Freakin DRE on stage talking about their lives and this movie they had made. I was so captivated but for obvious reasons I was estatic when Ice Cube spoke about how he wrote Friday and collaborated with F. Gary Gray to make the movie and now they got to do this storyIMG_2409 together. I was full of emotion. I'm sitting on the row as a guest of one of the stars who is from where I'm from, I'm surrounded by "the stars" and I'm facing people who in the face of adversity leaned on their talent and changed their entire world. EXHALE! It was a lot to take in. One thing I will say about the movie is that the opening scene makes me want to scream aloud. I am still not quite sure if it's based solely on the sequence's action or if I'm just in awe of how this night had come together for me.

I wasn't there because I worked for such and such who manages you know who. I wasn't there because I was dealing with some dude who gave me the hookup. I was there supporting my friend who was supporting her brother who was very happy to have his people there with him. That's my dream - to do what I love and be surrounded by the people I love who love me back. I'm always on the lookout for the signs - signs that I'm on the right track, signs that it can happen, signs that dreamers like me were here and made it. The experience of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON has been such a clear and vivid sign of what I truly desire and how close it is to me at all times.

The evolution continues...

IMG_2400

Adventures in Petsitting

I have had two pets over the course of my life. I didn't keep the dog (Diamond) or the cat (China) over a year. I don't consider myself a pet person. Yet, I'm often entrusted with petsitting for friends, employers and colleagues. I feel good about that - makes me feel super trustworthy. I totally get how important pets are to people so I don't take the responsibility lightly. In fact, I'm pretty anal about my pet sitting... Which brings me to this morning. I'm feeding my employer's cat this week. Here's what happened when I arrived to give him breakfast today...

Kanye Be Preaching To Me

In  my play, "Hip Hop Is Alive: The Play", there's a scene where a preacher's sermon is full of Kanye West lyrics. That scene was inspired because I really do feel like Kanye's music speaks to me in that same way. Case in point: this morning. I was on my way to work and was listening to Power 106's The Cruz Show. They are getting ready for their annual power concert and Kanye West is the headliner. The DJ said he'd take it back. I almost wrecked my car when Spaceships came on.

musvid-spaceshipSpaceships is a dissertation by Mr. West on the way it feels to go to a job when you know your destiny is so much more (DaVida's interpretation). That song came right on time! Yes, Kanye shares his anguish about working at this job and shares all the thoughts that run through his head during his work shift. But his lyrics don't just focus on the issues at the Gap, but instead he gives insight into what he's really doing - ahem locking himself in a room doing five beats a day for three summers. Historically I'm not sure that he worked at the Gap for three years but let's be clear do we really care about specific deets when the story is compelling? The point for me is that while doing what he had to do for money, albeit not much money, he was focused on his purpose. MESSAGE!

So here's the church aspect. Do you know how sometimes you go to church it feels like the preacher read your diary the night before since his message is so on point to your life? Well it's like that. I daily, actually more like hourly, get upset about my current job. And while I don't have visions of assaulting my boss physically, I do say some harsh words in my head! I'm most upset because I know I want to do something more. I've worked so hard and done so many gigs that like Mr. West, I feel I deserve a Maybach! (Well actually a Prius but I digress.) What I'm getting at is the song came right on time. While I have been down about my job, unlike Ye, I am not putting my energy into my art in that aggressive manner. I do believe that is necessary to become great at your craft. It's been noted that to master any skill, one must put in 10,000 hours. I know in the past I have given my all to my work (again I think of Hip Hop Is Alive) but lately I haven't. I go home and relax, not write. I talk about what I'm going to do, not do. I think about writing, not write.

BOOM and just like when in church, there's the moment of conviction. Everything takes time and I'm grateful to have a relevant job while I pursue my art. And I'm super grateful it's not in the world of retail! Jokes. The morning drive got me together really quickly today thanks to the good Rev. Dr. Kanyeezy Mr. West.

Check out the video of SPACESHIPS and the Kanye West tribute from my play!

KANYE WEST SPACESHIPS VIDEO:

HIP HOP IS ALIVE THE PLAY - "You Are A Champion" starring Gian Smith

Shaky Ground

I love most things about L.A. The weather is absolutely amazing. There's several beaches within driving distance - each with their own vibe. It's super easy to eat and live healthy here. Everyone is beautiful...well the majority of people are beautiful. It's really a beautiful place to live. Nowhere is perfect though. Pick any city, it'll come with risks but the risk I encounter here may be driving me mad.ca_onshaky

I'm afraid of earthquakes. Seriously afraid. In the last month we've experienced quite a few mild ones. They occur at all times of day with no warning. The earth literally shakes. Now I'm convinced I can fill the ground moving under me - all the time! A Prius just passed by I swear I felt the vibration!

My normal sleep is being interrupted. I'm scared to visit friends and family who live on the first floor. I'm nervous constantly at work and on the roads. My conversation is all about earthquake preparedness and strategy. I also find myself asking folk constantly, "Did you feel that?". I know "the big one" is coming - statistically it has to be! The last HUGE one was when I graduated from high school. I've got to get out of my head on this earthquake thing...

I feel like I generally live my life on the edge but living on shaky ground is way scarier!

It Means Something To Me

On Saturday, I accomplished something. It meant a lot to me and that's what makes it sort of a big deal. burgWhen I accepted the job offer to come back and work in Los Angeles., I promised myself that I'd pursue my truest desire this time around. During the time I spent living/working in New Orleans, an undeniable artistic and creative side of me emerged. My promise was to continue studying my craft and to take advantage of the great learning opportunities Hollywood provided. I want to write, produce and act. I personally think I'm pretty funny so I wanted to take some form of comedy class. I opted for improv at The Groundlings simply because so many of my favorite comedians came from their program - Lisa Kudrow, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig, Kathy Griffin, Maya Rudolph for a handful of an extensive and accomplished list! I figured if I were gonna study, I should at least start with trying to get into The Groundlings.

I went to a free "audition" last December and was pleased when I found out I had enough to get into class. Unlike other programs, The Groundlings starts everyone off in basic level classes. Once I crossed that hurdle of being eligible to take classes, fear started to kick in. I began to talk myself out of it:

  • Money is not falling off trees so why would I spend that kind of loot on a class to learn to act when clearly I'm too old to be starting classes!
  • Rent is too high to be wasting money on comedy lessons!
  • What if the actors that are clients where I work were to see me?
  • What do you plan to get out of this anyway you're supposed to be writing?
  • You don't have enough time for classes.
  • All the students will be young and you'll stick out as an old lady!
  • I don't have time or money to waste on some class for 12 weeks!

Don't get it twisted. My inner voice can be quite a beyotch! I decided to compromise with myself and go to a special workshop. It was a one night committment and only costs like $10 or $20. The topic was overcoming the good girl stigma and would be a night with just ladies interested in comedy. I figured I would at least have a fun ladies night but was elated the session turned out to be a night focused on pursuing your dreams while in L.A. - a topic much more on my mind at the time! Long story short, that course made me ready for the basic class and I signed up the next day. I at least had to TRY to assert myself in L.A. the way I do back home. This class was my first foray into that world in this new place.

This past Saturday was my final basic improv class at The Groundlings. After 12 weeks of solid instruction, our teacher Liz put our skills to the test. I gave it my all. I used every technique we were taught and I openly performed with all the partners I was assigned. Most of all, I had fun. After class, we students all had private one on one sessions. I was elated to find out I was advancing to intermediate class. I was proud of myself. I felt very accomplished and it was a big deal for me.

Now in the grand scheme of life, it's REALLY not that big of a deal. (My subconscious is saying some slick ish right now that I'm ignoring so I can finish this post and eat some chicken.) But I'm tired of letting the moments of my life pass by with no celebration. My personality is so hard wired to seek out the next big thing, I can tend to overlook all the gazillions of steps that come before that moment. I've dreamed of doing improv and being a funny girl since the days of watching "Soap" and finding out that most of the actors were SNL alums. In addition to all the great feelings this accomplishment brought, it gave me a bit more confidence to go after the next items on my "when I move back to L.A." list.

I'm optimistic and excited for what will come next!

Which Way Do I Go?

0097447b-21ea-4c90-b88a-fb189307270aYou're driving along in your car to a destination you've never gone. The iPhone GPS told you to make a left several miles back and you think you did, but you can't quite recall as that was at least 30 minutes ago. You haven't seen another car for some time and the sun is starting to set. Your iPhone service is going in and out so the GPS is sketchy during this stretch. According to your research and how long you've been driving, you know you should arrive soon but you can't tell for sure since your devices are tripping. You're getting nervous - you have only used a 1/4 a tank of gas and you have some water and snacks so you know you're safe it's just a bit weird and that icky feeling is taking over. You notice that in a few miles you'll have the opportunity to turn off the highway and go another route. You wonder if it'll get you there faster or if you'll end up even more lost and confused. Of course the phone is tripping at this point and now you must rely on your gut. Do you stay the course (even though you may not be on the right path due to that confusing left a while back), turn right and start a new direction (hoping your GPS might kick in once you hit the new spot) or do you just pull over praying that somehow your phone and the 4G you were so excited to get finally come to your aid? What do you do? Which way do you go? How do you get back on track or are you in fact on the track still having never left? How can you possibly tell where you're going if you don't know where you are?  If you could, you'd ask someone for directions but there isn't another soul in sight. If your phone would work you'd call but again, how can they help you if you don't know where you are. On this journey, no matter what you decide, it shall be a decision totally based on you.etsy-com So...which way shall you go? Only you can decide...only you can get you where you need to go...

The Valley of Artistry

JoelOsteenANightofHopeOn Friday night I got to go see Joel Osteen at the Staple Center. One of our amazing clients was kind enough to invite me out to the Night of Hope event - Joel pastors Lakewood in Houston but travels across the country and the visits are called "Night of Hope". I'm a fan of Joel's and listen to his podcasts often to find inspiration and motivation. It was an amazing opportunity to see him live and in person. I was intrigued when I found out the night's topic would be "The Valley of Blessings". A valley is defined as a low point or a condition-not usually the first place that comes to mind for blessings. In short, Joel's message revolved around the fact that in life we will all find ourselves in a valley at some point. While God will sometimes remove these valleys, other times we have to go THROUGH the valley to experience growth and to prepare us for what comes after this point in our lives. Without quoting him line for line, Joel said there are blessings in every valley. Further, if we can focus and rename our valleys, we'll be able to go through these low points with more ease. He gave many examples of valleys, including jobs, relationships and of course, Biblical stories illuminating those characters valley moments. It was quite revealing.

I moved to L.A. to push myself to the next level of creativity and career advancement. I started writing, acting and producing in New Orleans and while I think I did pretty well, it was clear to me I need to become better at my craft. Since arriving here in August of last year, I've been all around unsure that I made a good decision. (Sidenote: Joel did say, we are where we are supposed to be and "if you were supposed to stay you would not been able to move".) My job has been a humbling experience. I've worked freelance since 2009, so returning to a "regular" job has been challenging. I'm very used to doing work in a systematic way that works for me. Now I'm in a situation where our work is based on a model that doesn't value my experience or input. I know I'm currently in a valley and I have been calling it "The Valley of WTF have I done to my life!".

In an attempt to apply what I heard at the Night of Hope, I felt renaming my valley was essential. In true DaVida fashion, I needed to research this valley and see what it is really about. My research led me to look toward people who have achieved the type of success I seek. I wanted to cross reference my valleys with theirs. I found quite a few similarities:

1015-oprah-daily-show-rally_standard_600x400The Valley of Rejection: I still find it so amazing that folk really rejected OPRAH! The now mogul has often shared stories of being let go from news anchor positions for a variety of reasons. She was also talked down to by the casting director of "The Color Purple" during the process of being cast in Oscar nominated portrayal of Sophia. If Oprah bounced back I know I can!

 

 

paulocoelhoThe Valley of Are You Crazy: I've heard I was crazy a time or two in my life but I can't imagine literally being committed in pursuit of my dreams. Paulo Coehlo says that when he told his family that he wanted to be a writer, they thought he was surely mad so they committed him! Crazy? Coehlo has gone on to write 30 books and sold over 175 million copies. His most famous work is "The Alchemist", which is regarded as one of the most read book in the world.

 

JayThe Valley of Isolation: While I have many friends and associates in L.A., it's not the same as my circle in New Orleans. There I was in a creative groove and the majority of my circle was in the same space. We'd create a lot and while we were learning as we went, we kept each other motivated. This feeling of isolation reminds me particularly of Beyonce/Jay Z. While there's so much speculation about the validity of their relationship, this I know for sure - both of them had to part ways with essential members of their team to advance to the next level in their career (which in my opinion has got to give them a serious bond that few others understand). They both caught flack for it and those losses could have halted their progress. Obvi no one really knows what goes on with them behind closed doors, but it appears they found a way to continue moving forward and pushing to toward their goals on their own. Seems to have paid off pretty well.

 

taraji6The Valley of It Takes Time: Taraji P. Henson has been working for years in Hollywood. She's been doing movies, TV and stage work for years. This year, she's suddenly become a household name for her portrayal of "Cookie" in FOX's phenom hit, EMPIRE. While she is a beast in this role, I'm moreso inspired by her tenacity and hard work over the years to get to this point. Taraji's trajectory is a great reminder there are no overnight successes EVEN if it appears to be the case.

 

jk rowling 210707The Valley of Dayum I'm Broke: I often get so upset over money. I often feel myself just getting by and am not able to earn enough to have a strong savings account. This bothers me so much and I find it hard to focus on acquiring wealth when I have no idea how I'm going to take care of my basic necessitates. Then I recall J.K. Rowling's story. Now boasting a net worth of $1 billion dollars due to the success of her Harry Potter empire, Rowling was a poor single mother on welfare (shout out to 2Pac). Talk about momma we made it!

 

While these are just a few of the examples that came to mind, I'm convinced these valleys all combine into one HUGE valley in which I now reside. I name it "The Valley of Artistry". I came to see everything I'm going through now is to make me a stronger artist. Great artists evolve into their craft and now I'm gathering more tools to perfect my craft. I'm also dealing with me, the deep down stuff that stands between me and my best work. It's all a process but now that I know what to call it, I already feel better about my situation. I'm confident that all the lessons I'm learning right now are going to be necessary once I move from this valley and into my next season.

The journey continues...

It Is What It Is

God, grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference.  

acceptanceThings I decided to simply accept:

  • I am black in America
  • I am a female
  • I am 38 years old
  • I live in Los Angeles right now
  • I have student loan debt and poor money management skills
  • I have been trying to lose the same 15-20 pounds for the last two years
  • I have not written anything I feel is significant enough to warrant a full time writing job
  • I have never been married
  • I have no children
  • I don't have a job title
  • I don't dance very well
  • I never made a "30 under 30 list
  • I haven't written a fully developed feature
  • I work for others (I'm not the boss at work)
  • I don't know how to swim
  • I am not athletic and working out is a struggle for me more often than not
  • My hair hasn't grown as much as I thought it would by now
  • I have a not so stable relationship with food
  • My car is crappy but I can't afford a new one right now
  • I also want to move but the cost of living in L.A. makes that unaffordable at the time as well
  • I can't do 30 consecutive days of Bikram
  • I watch a lot of Lifetime and thus I don't trust enough...
  • I don't have enough clothes
  • Life gets hard for me a lot
  • My faith is shaky sometimes
  • I get scared
  • I've made a lot of mistakes

And the biggest thing I decided to accept: I sometimes don't know what I'm doing.

 

I now accept these things and graciously allow the transformative miracles to come forth.

 

No-Thing But A Number

I often get bogged down with my age...oh whoa is me! I'm sooooo old! What shall become of my youth! Every so often there's a song that comes along that helps me embrace this age of mine and all the wisdom and insight that it brings. Last night while watching EMPIRE, Hakeem gave me a new song and perspective. I'll be singing this one as I eat birthday cake come July! Let's be clear, I'm all about self improvement but sometimes we have to take a moment to embrace what we have and are currently. I feel like a grown azz woman. This tune on last night's episode made me feel real happy about my age. And while I may not be Ms. Naomi, I'm a pretty bad azz DaVida Chanel. If you're feeling a bit over grown today, maybe this song will do for you what it did for me.

Time For Some Action

good-intentions2Ahhhh the day after the Oscars... In the past this day would trigger a week of inspiration. After spending hours committed to watching each and every moment of the telecast on Sunday, I'd spend the rest of the week engrossed in all things Academy Awards. I'd compare my personal picks vs. who the Academy picked as winners, read a ton of blogger positions on the event and find out who wore it well as per the fashion police. I'd tell myself this was all a part of getting me closer to my goals as a filmmaker. I'd tell my self conscious/ego that I needed all this knowledge so that one day I too could create something strong enough to be considered for Hollywood's biggest night. Every year, for as many years as I can remember, I would eagerly sign up for this my personal Academy Award shuffle. After all, it would all be in the name of inspiration...

The harsh reality is that this form of inspiration has not inspired much action over the years. Yes I have written and created work post Oscars, but it would literally be MONTHS after before I could pick up a pen. The Academy Awards do inspire me, but I admit, the hoopla of the entire event drains me and makes me feel incapable of reaching my goals. Another thing is the form of inspiration doesn't really help my work. I visualize the gown I'd want to wear or the speech I'd deliver, but my thoughts are not on the work. Once I've studied all the event's post talk, I then start the dreaded task of comparing myself to the winning filmmakers. It's a harsh comparison - I realize I don't take into account these people's entire journey. I only see that one piece of work that was so well received and I freak out...how can I go from a 10 minute short to a project that will receive a huge award? Then I go down the awful road of trying to create what I think will be popular. Horrific mistake! True art is produced from within and attempting to concoct some sort of shoe in for people's adoration is not real! Then I go into a bit of a creative lull that eventually breaks (usually after my birthday which isn't until the end of July).

Time For Action ImageThis year I don't have time for my normal Award Season antics. This year I need some action. I have a clear goal in mind as it relates to my career goes for 2015. These plans do not include letting months slip by with no true work in sight. So last night, while I did tune into the awards, my approach was different. I wasn't all consumed. I didn't participate in any Oscar pools and I didn't live tweet during the event. Since we're putting out there, I even nodded off several times and missed the last segment due to one of those naps!

Once I gathered myself (code for woke up) and found out all of the winners, instead of starting my normal onslaught of web searching to find out more about the honorees, I said a prayer of intention. I gave thanks for the performances that moved me and I asked that one day my work would move others. I planned out my next writing project - no it's not a feature film but actually a short story for a friend's collaborative writing project. The point is, I have a clear goal and a reason to put pen to paper. The idea of having a project that requires my deliberate attention feels much more purposeful than my previous post Oscar routine. I'm excited to see how this shift affects my work!

On The 21st Day...

I'm so amazed at myself. I actually made it 21 days with no sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten or animal products. That happened.

And inspired me to embrace change...well forced me to embrace change is more like how it really went. During the first week I had several breakdowns, seemingly unrelated to food. Things at home, work and in my social circles were a mess. Everything seemed to be falling apart. I had no idea how often I grab a hamburger or pour myself a drink when things bother me. I also didn't realize how often I allow sweet treats to comfort me in sadness. This cleanse definitely highlighted some unhealthy patterns and connections I have with food. Those thoughts about food led me to recognize a bigger issue - an inability to deal with emotional highs and lows. This was a glaring realization during the cleanse and I have now created healthier ways to take on the ebb and flow of life.

During the first two weeks of the cleanse, I was dropping pounds left and right. As of last Monday with a week to go I had lost 7 pounds. Today I weighed in and had only lost one additional pound. I figured out the issue though. Last week I found several vegan restaurants with meals that fit my plan. The week started with a holiday so I was off on grocery shopping. I also worked late every night so had to grab dinner on the way home. So while I ate within the plan, I didn't necessarily make the best choices of the options avail (i.e. eating carbs too late). But no complaints - 8 pounds in 21 days isn't horrible at all!

Energy wise, I feel like a new woman. I wake up every day before the sun with no alarm. I work out 3-5 times a week and work 9-10 hour days with after work obligations most nights. I've been keeping up quite well especially considering I haven't had my green tea! People have said my skin is brighter and looks good and I feel my hair is enjoying the change quite a bit. Not to give TMI but I go to the restroom quite a bit more than I was before.

So what now? Will I stick to this plan? Am I going to be a vegan?!? No. I am going to abstain from red meat until my birthday in July. I'm also going to eat chicken sparingly-like this Sunday for Super Bowl wings are definitely on the wish list! I miss dessert and have decided to order myself a king cake from my favorite spot in New Orleans since I can't be there for the Mardi Gras festivities. This week I'm trying a 5 day protein challenge where I eat one meal at lunch, protein shakes for breakfast and dinner and two snacks (half a protein bar and fruit/nuts). I'm actually excited for this...weirdly lol. I also upped my workout plan this week - S, M, W, T, S. Ready to go!

Welp without further ado, here's what I ate over the last week:

Sunday -

Breakfast - oatmeal with fruit

Lunch - veggie patty, spinach and rice medley

Dinner - deluxe veggie burger w/side salad (The Grain Cafe)

Monday -

Breakfast - protein shake

Lunch - Brussel Sprouts, wedge salad, tomato/avocado salad and vegan tomato soup (Lemonade)

Dinner - leftovers from lunch

Tuesday -

Breakfast - protein shake

Lunch - tomato and avocado sandwich on whole wheat with middle scooped out

Dinner - Vegetarian pho with brown rice noodles

Wednesday:

Breakfast - protein shake

Lunch - kale/romaine salad with quinoa

Dinner - Chikn Club sandwich with side salad (The Grain Cafe)

Thursday :

Breakfast - protein shake

Lunch - gluten free personal pizza with dairy free cheese, brussel sprouts and mushrooms

Dinner - had vegetarian option at awards dinner (OMG super test day - had amazing bread baskets and dessert trays at our table!)

Friday:

Breakfast - wheatgrass shot; protein shake (Naturewell 2)

Lunch - Sofritos bowl with brown rice and black beans from Chipolte

Dinner - Chips and guac/pico from lunch

Saturday:

Breakfast - vegan toaster waffles and morning star patties

Lunch - french fries and pitaya fruit bowl (beach day with friends)

Dinner - half bbq cauliflower salad and a no root beer soda-hated the drink YUCK (Powerfoods)

Sunday:

Breakfast - protein shake

Lunch - side salad and gluten free tostada pizza with no cheese

Dinner - other half of the bbq cauliflower salad

Monday:

Breakfast - protein shake

Snack - half Qwest s'mores bar and an apple

Lunch - clear soup, jasmine rice and eggplant/tofu/veggie mix

Snack - other half protein bar and half banana from this morning's smoothie

Dinner - protein shake

 

And there you have it! The end of my first 21 day journey of 2015!

Two Weeks Down; One To Go

I'm so proud to say I've made it through 14 days of no gluten, sugar, alcohol, caffeine or animal products! I've noticed the headaches have ceased and it has become a lot easier to make choices in line with the restrictions. I did find this week to be emotionally challenging. Whereas I'd normally get upset and have a drink (or a hamburger), I have to find other ways to deal with those emotional triggers. I've found myself to be more honest with my feelings. I don't have the desire to sugar coat things - probably because I'm literally not sugar coating with a cupcake or donut to make me feel better. This week I also met my gym goals so that felt good. I noticed a big change on the scale - as of today I'm seven pounds lighter. So here's what I ate in week two:

Monday

Breakfast - oatmeal w/blackberries and chia seeds

Lunch - Spinach and arugula salad; broccoli rice (not the casserole my Granny makes so wonderfully, just some rice mixed with broccoli)

Linner - sweet potato tortilla chips with fresh salsa

Dinner - protein shake

Tuesday

Breakfast - leftover broccoli rice (I had to do bloodworm and couldn't eat until after so opted to finish my lunch from the day before)

Lunch - veggie wrap on whole wheat wrap

Linner - sweet potato tortilla chips

Dinner - stir fry with veggies and a  morningstar veggie patty over black and brown rice medley

Wednesday

Breakfast - oatmeal w/blackberries and chia seeds

Lunch - Chipolte bowl with sofritas and black beans

Linner - the rest of my bowl

Dinner - chips and guac from lunch

Thursday

Breakfast - oatmeal w/blueberries and chia seeds (yes I have oatmeal pretty much every day!)

Lunch - veggie wrap on whole wheat wrap

Linner - nuts and fruit

Dinner - veggie fried rice and spicy cauliflower (my friend who is also on the cleansed cooked!)

Friday

Breakfast - oatmeal w/blueberries and chia seeds

Lunch - half a tomato and avocado sandwich on whole wheat

Linner - other half of sandwich; protein shake

Dinner - stir fry with veggies and a  morningstar veggie patty over black and brown rice medley

Saturday -

Breakfast - peanut butter

Lunch - acia bowl (something new for me-it was like a smoothie in a bowl topped w/granola and fruit oh so awesome!)

Dinner - Grilled MorningStar patty; grilled cabbage and carrots (so great who knew you could grill cabbage!); veggie medley; fried cornbread

Today is Sunday on the MLK holiday weekend. I'm so close to the end I am going to try a new recipe later tonight so excited for that. I can't believe it's only seven days left! I'm not really having any cravings but I do know I will be ordering myself a king cake once this is all done! I'm not sure if it's because I miss sugar or New Orleans during Mardi Gras but that's another story :)

Put Em On Da Glass

Throughout the course of my life, I've taken plenty of tests. I have a general test taking strategy that has served me well. Place mammogram-1the material under my pillow, get a good night's sleep, wake up early and say a prayer, take a shower and get dressed in something that makes me feel confident then go do my best. Yesterday I took the most challenging test thus far in my life and unfortunately none of my test skills could help me. I was taking my first ever screening mammogram, a test that uses images from an x ray to detect abnormalities in breast tissue that may be linked to cancer and other diseases. In general, I don't do doctors. I never had any major illnesses and I don't plan to in the future. I prefer more holistic approaches to healthcare and think that sometimes medicine is designed to make us sicker. Having said that, I do think alternative medicine can help but you've got to be aware. And since President Obama fought so hard to get healthcare for us all and I have a job that covers, I figured I'd go in for a physical. When I got there and explained my family history (my Grandmother has survived breast cancer TWICE) I was told that her history plus my age pretty much put me a super high risk. Additionally, I have some things in that I have come to know as unique to me and my boobies but my new doctor was not so familiar. I was ordered to go take a mammogram and so I made an appointment. I was gonna blow it off but of course I was reminded of my younger cousin who was not as fortunate as my Granny when she faced cancer (not breast but still). I also thought of my cousins, colleagues and friends who have faced the utterly stupid disease. I also had to remind myself that no matter what I face, it's a part of the Universe's grand conspiracy on my behalf. So I got dat azz up earlier than normal and heading to Beverly Hills for my test.

I had to make my  appointment super early - this fine gig I have does take care of my health care but doesn't want me missing work time to pursue such appointments. The office was filled with women of all races and seemingly socio economic backgrounds. They all looked older than me and the room was filled with a weird vibe. Up to that point, I wasn't too concerned but as I scanned the room, I took on that energy and became quite nervous. What if they found something? What if my new elevation to DD was due to some viscous tumor looking to claim my twins? What if What if What if...I made myself busy filling out all the paperwork and signed away my right to a malpractice suit. After a brief wait it was my turn to go to the back.

IMG_3185I was given a cutesy dressing room and told to put on a pink coverup. Once de-robed (and snapped a selfie of course), I went in for my turn. The lady briefly explained what I had to do. As she talked all I could think of was Sir Mix A Lot's "Put Em On The Glass". That's literally what she was saying would happen. I have a habit at finding sexual inneundo in the least sexy situations. As I chuckled uncontrollably, I had to place my girls on a glass plate while a thing pressed em down flat! Talk about uncomfortable...and cold (but still funny bc it was so not really like the song but sort of kinda like it). I immediately knew this system was designed by some dude who had no idea how painful this felt (which made me think of feminist Beyonce so now I was singing "Grown Ass Woman").

All in all the whole thing took about 20 minutes and I was then left with the worse part of test taking - the wait. In school, I've always been the type to take the test then forget about the test until grades came. I am currently trying my best to employ that tactic since it'll be at least a week before I hear anything. (Reminding myself the Universe is ever conspiring on my behalf so all will be well no matter the results.) The worse part? If I do "pass", I am still have to take this test every two years from now until forever....just like other women everywhere...

Worse test ever...

My Golden Globes Picks

WOOOHHOOO Award Season is upon us! As I become more attached the idea of becoming a prolific filmmaker, I'm watching more and more films. This year I am ahead of the curve and spent my two week holiday vacation watching multiple films. I am still a few shy but have watched enough to give my thoughts on a few categories-this award show covers television and film so there are quite a bit of nominees so I'll just talk about a few. Selma_posterNominations Best Motion Picture – Drama “Boyhood,” IFC Productions and Detour Filmproduction; IFC Films “Foxcatcher,” Annapurna Pictures; Sony Pictures Classic “The Imitation Game,” Black Bear Pictures; The Weinstein Company “Selma,” Paramount Pictures and Pathé; Paramount Pictures “The Theory of Everything,” Working Title Films; Focus Features

I've seen three of these five films and plan to see "Boyhood" before the broadcast. Based on what I've seen, "Selma" is my favorite. I think that the filmmakers captured the story so vividly and beautifully. Also, I feel it is extremely timely for a historic picture. "Foxcatcher" was also extremely great and the performances from the actors were award worthy. With that said, I think the winner will be "The Theory of Everything" or "Boyhood" because both have been getting extreme praise from critics.

 

Birdman_posterNominations Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical “Birdman,” Regency Enterprises and M Productions and Le Grisbi Productions; Fox Searchlight Pictures “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” American Empirical Picture; Fox Searchlight Pictures “Into the Woods,” Disney; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures “Pride,” Pathé Productions Limited, British Broadcasting Corporation, The British Film Institute and Calamity Films; CBS Films Inc. “St. Vincent,” Chernin Entertainment; The Weinstein Company

I've only seen two films in this category and that was enough. "Birdman" will hands down win. It is a masterful work in cinematography. It is so original and took so many risks. The long, continuous, hand held shots were so atypical to what every one else is doing. It made me want to shoot something immediately!

07DUVERNAY3-articleInlineNominations Best Director – Motion Picture Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Ava DuVernay, “Selma” David Fincher, “Gone Girl” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Again I still need to see "Boyhood" but this is a really tough category. I'm putting all my energy behind Ms. DuVernay. She slayed "Selma". It was beautiful. It remained true to her previous work. I saw her style shine through. Now I do think "Birdman" was amazing but I'm going to go with Ava DuVernay in this category because I want more than anything for her to take home the award. Well that's my choices in three of the many categories tonight. I can't wait to tune in to hear inspiring speeches - that's my favorite part of course! I'll be live tweeting during the broadcast. Off to see "Boyhood" so I can be back in time for the big show!

 

Another 21 Days: Eat Well

21DayChallengeButtonHAPPPPYYYYY NEEEWWW YEAR!!!! We're well into 2015 and I decided this was the year to "Just Do It". My motto came from my desire to truly live the life of my dream. I can't help but feel I've been doing a lot of talking but not much action. I've read a lot and studied a lot but again not much getting things done. I feel like in many ways my life is out of control and I need to start this year off in a way that gets this train back on track. So how do I hop into just doing it? A 21 day challenge of course! The word is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. In 2014, I established some pretty great habits - breakfast daily, drinking enough water, green smoothies, prayer and meditation. So in 2015 I'd like to create habits that help get me from where I am to where I'm going.

I decided to start with something I know I can control - my eating habits. At the end of the day, even though it is difficult, I'm in total control of what goes into my body. I have the ability (and privilege) to decide what I eat. I've opted to start this year with a 21 day challenge I did in the past with a group of people and had great success. I heard about this challenge from the guru herself, Oprah. She did this cleanse and shared her journey with readers on her blog as well as her show.

So what's the plan? This plan focuses on a plant based diet and eliminating toxins in overly processed foods. For 21 days, the plan is not to eat meat/animal products (which would include eggs and diary), gluten, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. It seems overwhelming when you focus on what you can't have BUT when you look at what is allowed, the choices are plentiful. I've completed one week and have not had much drama at all. I did have a lot of headaches this week but because I'm a female and experienced my monthly visit from Aunt Flo during week one, I'm not sure what was the true source of those headaches. I'm so excited about what the next two weeks will bring up. It is my hope that by completing this challenge, I'll be better equipped to get my life train back on track!

WEEK ONE RECAP

MONDAY

Breakfast - steel cut oats with chia seeds and blackberries

Lunch - Burrito bowl at Chipolte with sofritas, veggies, black beans, brown rice, guac (no cheese or sour cream)

Evening Snack - Banana with all natural peanut butter

Dinner - Protein shake with hemp pro with fiber added (almond milk, fruit, power greens)

TUESDAY 

Breakfast - steel cut oats with chia seeds and blackberries

Lunch - Salad from Subway with veggie patty and veggies

Dinner - Ok this was a real test; at the last minute I got to go to a premiere and after party and while they had food, they didn't have anything on my plan; I didn't plan ahead well enough so went to bed VERY hungry only having some vegan popcorn that came in a gift bag to our office :( I do not recommend days like this! I woke up extremely hungry and with a severe headache.

WEDNESDAY

Due to the previous days experience, I was prepared. I took a more substantial evening meal for the day.

Breakfast - steel cut oats with chia seeds and blackberries

Lunch - chargrilled veggies with white rice and black beans

Linner (lol that between lunch and dinner meal) - the rest of the beans and rice and veggies I'd brought from home

Dinner - Protein shake with hemp pro with fiber added (almond milk, fruit, power greens)

THURSDAY

Breakfast - steel cut oats with chia seeds and blackberries

Lunch - Salad with spinach, arugula, tomato, cucumber, walnuts

Linner - the leftovers from Wednesday's lunch

Dinner - Protein shake with hemp pro with fiber added (almond milk, fruit, power greens)

FRIDAY

Breakfast - steel cut oats with chia seeds and blackberries

Lunch - Salad with baby kale, arugula, almonds and fennel; french fries (no ketchup though which has a surprising amount of sugar)

Linner - Rice and veggies from home; banana with peanut butter

Dinner - Protein shake with hemp pro with fiber added (almond milk, fruit, power greens)

SATURDAY

Breakfast - Greek yogurt, strawberries, blueberries and cashews (no greek yogurt is not on plan but I had one plain container left and needed the protein boost before my workout)

Post Workout - Vegan protein and strawberries

Lunch - Sweet potato fries and kale salad

Dinner - Avocado and sweet potato tortilla chips

SUNDAY (today)  

Breakfast - 2 gluten free, whole grain waffles, Morning Star veggie patties, blueberries and blackberries

Lunch - sweet potato fries and kale salad

Linner and Dinner - cooked power greens in vegetable broth with brown rice and quinoa with garlic

 

At this point I'm feeling great about this decision. Life still seems pretty chaotic around me but I'm in control of what I'm ingesting. I survived the premiere - which had an open bar and dessert table by the way! Also our office got chocolate covered strawberries and ginger snap cookies this week! I made it and look forward to the next 14 days!

Going Back Home

IMG_0073One of the highlights of 2014 was attending my 20th year high school reunion. Yeah I know I look too young to have graduated that long ago. I was smart and they skipped me quite a few times...ok not true lol. I discovered so much about myself over the three days of spending time with the people I grew up with recalling the good ole days and catching up on where life has brought us to now. As I reflect on the year, going to the reunion had the most influential effect on my year. I hadn't been back to any events at Plaquemine High since I graduated. I take that back - I went to visit my aunt's class in 2005 to talk about pursuing non traditional careers. Other than that I hadn't been back. This may not seem abnormal - when I was discussing going back with my friends who grew up in larger cities, they never even considered going to a high school reunion because they don't recall their high school friends or lives. Since I'm from Plaquemine, Louisiana (and just for clarity, that's the city not the Parish), the people I went to high school with were my true peers. We literally grew up together. I went to pre school with these people and with the exception of a transfer student here or there, we sat in the same classrooms from first grade through twelfth! Nothing ever made me and my friends fall out-it wasn't that type of thing. We all went to college and stayed in touch for a while, but it wasn't the same. Now that I was at college I had so much more to do. I was in so many clubs/organizations, I worked a work study job and an off campus part time job, my family literally moved away while I was in college - my life was changing and keeping in touch wasn't as easy. (Truth is it became a pattern-I've moved A LOT over the past 20 years and whenever I relocate, I have to start again and many of my aces become strangers because I'm just not that good with staying in touch...)

So I was a bit nervous about the reunion. I wondered if it would be awkward seeing everyone again. I IMG_0141mean it had been literally twenty years since I had seen my former best friends! I was also nervous about who I had become - enter the DaVida Drama (insert dramatic dun dun duhhhhnnnn music). See although the reality is that I was scared to death to see my peers. I mean I used to be pretty cute and was definitely slim-code for super skinny like before I got these current hips lol. I had a nice smile, REALLY amazing hair (except that time I chopped it off in the 8th grade which these people would recall so I couldn't go with bad hair!) and back then I was in a power couple! Like totally on the high school level but we literally won best/couple  like all the time lol. And now I haven't had a real boyfriend in dayum near as long as the reunion. Plus my friends were super intelligent and we were all competitive! We did not play over grades and we all had big goals for ourselves when we graduated. I wondered if they'd get where I was on this artistic path...would they see me as a failure?!?! I was S-C-A-R-E-D!

Then it hit me. I was going HOME. These people knew me. They BEEN knew I was scared lol. But what I now knew was that I was so much stronger. Oh don't get it twisted, I'm not saying their opinion didn't matter, it mattered a lot - I had to go get the super duper press for my hair and even got my sister and her friend to do my makeup and styling that night to make the focus on the hips not the belly fat! S E R I O U S! LOL but I was no longer afraid to do things as I had been growing up - partially because I was free from the threat of getting beat or super punished! I was grown and I had grown up a lot over the 20 years. More than scared to see them I was excited to see who they had become and how they had grown. I remembered their dreams and I wanted to see if they were coming true!

Going to my 20th year reunion became one of the turning points of the year for me and I think in retrospect, probably my life. We had a lovely time, I saw people I hadn't seen in 20 years. We'd all changed but not really. We were still deep down who we were then. Of course life had happened but everyone was good - REALLY GOOD! It reminded me that I didn't grow up friendless in some small town finally escaping to Hollywood to pursue my dreams which is the melodramatic story that plays around in my head on my bad days. Going home for that reunion reminded me of the truth. I grew up around some pretty amazing people who have grown into even more amazing people with families, careers, and lives that make our small town proud. Going home reminded me of so many great memories as well as my childhood desires. I've wanted to tell stories all my life. Going to that reunion helped me make the decision to come back to L.A. and give my dream another chance...

IMG_0110 IMG_0111 IMG_0112 IMG_0113 IMG_0114 IMG_0115 IMG_0116 IMG_0118 IMG_0119 IMG_0122 IMG_0124 IMG_0131 IMG_0132 IMG_0133 IMG_0140

IMG_0058 IMG_0059 IMG_0077 IMG_0081 IMG_0083 IMG_0084 IMG_0086 IMG_0100