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BALD IS BEAUTIFUL IS “UNBROKEN”!

As we all know, the rhythm of opportunity knocks to the beat of its own drummer. This is certainly the case with a companion promo campaign for the upcoming Angeline Jolie-directed film, Unbroken, about the inspiring true life story of Louis Zamperini. The campaign, evocatively titled “I Am Unbroken”, is a forum through which they invited folks from the general public to share their stories of triumph over trauma either in written or video form (or both). I happened to catch an ad for the campaign online and bookmarked it as a “to-do” thing.

I pushed through all the self-doubt, procrastination tendencies, the shoulder-shruggy “what for?” mess in my mind, and . . .

I did it!

My dearest Brandon had me draw out the shots that I wanted (I dunno how to do that sheeit! But I did it anyway . . .) and then we went downtown to a spot that he had found for one of my earlier blogs (the one about the Mustang). We scouted out the shots, angles, etc that we like best for this one, rushing to beat the quickly closing window o’ natural light that I prefer. We got some fun stuff the first pass, but alas traffic noise and dusk had their own plan for Day #1, so we agreed on a scheduled revisit for the weekend a few days from then. We returned for Day #2 for IAmUnbroken guerilla-style shooting and we let it flow! Some bullet-pointed, planned bits and some great impromptu flow from B’s skillful Q&A vibe . . . and BOOM!

Cut. Print. That’s a wrap! Into the editing room, BB went and a few days later . . . I had the IAmUnbroken video I envisioned! In an insomnia-fueled 2am writing session, I completed the extended written portion that would accompany the vid in my submission. After some editing and tweaking in both vid and prose, I had the final components ready. Nervous, excited, giddy . . . I uploaded it in the wee hours at the end of November. YAHOOOOO! Procrastination conquered! Thought converted to action . . . check! YES!

By the next morning, I went to check back on the site to see if it was there, and to my delight it was right at the top of the story page! With great pride, I shared it with my family and friends via the magic of Facebook and basked in the glow of acccomplishment! I didn’t know what would come of it, who would actually see it, and what impact it might have. But it was there . . . amongst the many other courageous people’s stories who also shared themselves and opened their hearts to give and receive healing. It was beautiful. And that is/was everything it ever needed to be.

So . . . imagine my surprise and jump-up-and-down glee when, on December 9, from the thousands of stories submitted, my #IAmUnbroken story and video had been selected and highlighted on the official Facebook page for the Unbroken film! And they also posted it on their Twitter page! (See the screengrab below of those moments frozen in time!)

unbroken FB share2

Official FB page for the film UNBROKEN, featuring my highlighted story/vid!

 

unbroken tweet4

Official Twitter page for the film UNBROKEN, featuring the “tweet” of my story/vid!

 

Sooooooo . . .

Go “LIKE” their page and my vid on there . . . and let’s all go see this inspiring, uplifting film together! WOOHOOO!!

Click HERE to see it on the film’s official Facebook page!
Click HERE to watch my story!
Click HERE to submit your own story of triumph over trauma and read other inspiring stories!

 

BALD IS BEAUTIFUL MEETS THE BOLTS!

Who’d have thought that Bald Is Beautiful and World of Warcraft would have so much in common?! Well . . . it’s not exactly as it sounds, but it actually is.

By luck and happenstance of a random post that a mutual friend saw on an Improv FB group page, I was tagged and cyber-introduced to Andie Bolt, who is shooting an exciting and inspiring film project called WoWMoM, about her mother, Terry Bolt, who uses gaming — specifically World of Warcraft — to cope with her life-threatening cancer! Within 24 hours, I was sitting in Andie’s house getting mic’d up and ready to talk about “Things You Shouldn’t (and Should) Say to a Cancer Patient”! WoW, indeed!

What happened before, during, and after that brief but fun and emotional interview was nothing short of beautiful! I am always awed and humbled by the immediate, open-hearted, pure LOVE that people who are on this journey o’ cancer, either as the patients or the caregivers, share with each other. And I’m infinitely inspired when I meet other people using their powers of Creativity and Love for transcendent and transformational good!

I feel honored and blessed to have been included in this magical, weird, unexpected, intriguing project.

Click HERE to see/read more about her amazing and inspiring documentary!
Click HERE for the “Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Cancer Patient” teaser!

andie n me

Me and Andie post-interview posin’! Love. This. Woman.


When Life Hands You Lemons . . .

Sooooo . . . Wha’ ha’ happened wuuuuzzz . . . I was recently preparing one of my favorite snacks — avocado with lemon juice — and when I squeezed the lemon over the bowl: YEOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEE!

You see, I didn’t know about the teeny paper cut on my lil’ finger. But there she is! Stinging quite sharply and insistently as I try to just move on and enjoy the simple pleasure of eating my avocado. The initial sting dissipated pretty quickly and I proceeded to squeeze the rest of my lemon — with my OTHER hand, of course (“Not gonna do THAT again!”). I throw away the remaining rind (slam-dunking it in the garbage can from inches away just to give myself a bit of profanity-sealed closure on the incident) and attempt to go on with my day ignoring this newly-discovered wound.

The thing is . . . You can’t un-ring the sting!

I’m now acutely aware of my sliced-open flesh. When I type and that finger hits the keypad, it’s a reminder. When I go to staple a stack of papers, I cradle them like a newborn bird while stretching that finger as far away as possible, and then I close the Swingline jaws with a little extra gusto and a hint of vengeful “How do YOU like it, Mister Paper Stuff?” Holding the phone receiver, taking cash out of my pocket, every thing you don’t realize your fingers are doing in everyday activities: reminders of The Sting.

So, I spend the rest of the day in a temporary ambidextrous existence, in reflective and protective mode as I avoid doing anything that will trigger that painful sensation again!

By the end of the day, though, this “acid trip” had me thinking about the parallels between this imperceptible wound on my finger and all the “invisible” but very much active wounds we all have — emotional, psychic, spiritual — that go unnoticed and therefore unaddressed for years or even our whole lives. If the lemon juice hadn’t flowed over my finger, I would not have known about that cut. And that awareness, although inconvenient, also allowed me to take care of the cut.

After thinking about it some more, I felt grateful. Not just for the citric sting but for all of the people, events, challenges, struggles throughout my life that were painful in their time but were ultimately gifts, opportunities to grow, to heal, to cleanse my mind and spirit of negative thoughts and choices, to deepen my sense of self and continue to aspire to be my most Whole, Joyful, Peaceful ME. They were catalysts that activated a more awake existence. A more reflected and aware movement as I forge my path in Life.

So, when life hands you lemons . . . Do NOT make lemonade! Do NOT dilute with water! Do NOT add sugar! Let the sour juice cleanse your spiritual palette and galvanize your salivation, your thirst for innervision and exploration. Let the sour be a fruitful reminder to take care of yourself, to nurture yourself, to make new choices and weave new patterns for your path with patience, compassion, Light, and Love.

diggit.

BARNARD SAYS BALD IS BEAUTIFUL!

Celebrating 125 years of education, inspiration, and activating limitless imagination, the Columbia Spectator was doing a special edition story about my alma mater, Barnard College. I was invited to share some words about my favorite memories from my time there and how those experiences and what I learned impacted my career. One of the news editors from the paper contacted me via my website, noting that because I’d been “doing great work” in the world, and would I like to share my thoughts. Of course I said YES!

I imagined I’d be among many hundreds or even thousands of contributing alums, and was eager to read from what I thought would be a fascinating tapestry of women who walked the same halls and sat in the same buildings and classrooms over so many generations; so many accomplished people in a range of fields and courses of study with such rich and diverse perspectives.

When the editor sent me the link to the online edition, I was floored! The tapestry was indeed rich and diverse, but it turns out I was one of only 8 women selected to represent this prestigious institutions milestone!

Click HERE to read what I had to say and to read from the other extraordinary women featured in this piece!


WAVES OF CHANGE

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
― Bruce Lee

Being in the ocean a peaceful and inspiring and invigorating place to be. Maybe it’s because we humanoids gravity-glued to this spinning ball called Earth in our spacesuits of skin are largely made of water. Or perhaps because, like us, the ocean can be both calm (but never completely still) and also exert boundless power with a full spectrum of “moods” in between. Or just as she, the Ocean, is the home of an intricate and rich ecosystem — from zooplankton to the Blue Whale, from coral reefs and volcanic rock to silky soft sand of the ocean floor — we, too, have an infinite, diverse array of Life forces coursing through us, from DNA to blood and bones to muscle and skin and the electromagnetic pulsation of our thoughts, feelings, and consciousness. Like an exo-skeletal version of us land mammals, the ocean is us and we are her.

So it’s not surprising that she is such a synchronous metaphysical mirror for us. Especially when we are experiencing times of transition or challenge. Change, like the ocean, is an unmitigated force of Time and Life as we know it. And we all have different responses at different moments during these shifts. Even if we are not consciously aware of change, we can feel it intuitively, like the pull of an approaching wave as it draws us in. We may resist at first, but at some point we must engage it. And the best way to do that is to surrender.

Surrender does not necessarily mean to acquiesce or give up or give in. It’s more like a conscious communion. And it doesn’t look any one particular way. We can evaluate the wave — size, pull, proximity — and then choose an engagement that feels right at the time. Sometimes we submerge and the wave washes over us. We are in flow, but not bowled over or knocked down. We can also dive into the trough, the juicy heart of it, the bubbles of the crest tickling our feet as we land just on the other side. And, of course, we can also pick our moment to swim ahead as the wave comes closer, infusing ourselves into the flow as it propels us forward.

I am always in awe of the ocean and the waves I ride. When I want to let the wave roll over me, I turn to face it and receive a heavenly exfoliation from Mother Nature. Diving through the wave is empowering and I feel activated! And riding a wave? Catching it at just that right spot as I stop stroking and kicking and just let it carry me, my arms outstretched and eyes looking forward? Pure joy.

Regardless of how we choose to engage with the transitions we experience in our lives, it doesn’t have to become total devastation or ongoing trauma. Parts of these unpredictable shifts certainly can be painful and difficult, but we can always choose to feel empowered, enlivened, awakened, cleansed, and actively engaged because we are participating instead of disconnecting from it all. Acknowledging rather than denying or avoiding it.

If you are in the ocean, you will always feel the changing tide and the undulating waves it brings. It’s impossible not to engage with it. Such is life, should you choose to accept and surrender . . . and ride them waves!

SHIFTING GEARS

SHIFTING GEARS . . . GET OUT OF AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION!

I was recently in a little rear-ender fender bender. So I left my car in the shop and went to pick up the rental car. When I arrived, the selection was very limited (it was a Friday so the weekend warriors had cleared out the inventory), but there in the middle of the lot was a sexy muthu-shut-yo-mouth all-black shiny, new Mustang GT. I was apprehensive and in my typical pragmatic mode. But Stan the salesman could see the gleam in my eye as I looked her over. “You deserve it! When else would you treat yourself to driving this kind of car?” he said. (How did he know what I was thinking?!?!)

My brain was on fire! I was torn between practicality and adventure. I even felt shy, like the cute boy I always had a crush on just invited me to sit with him at lunch. I literally blushed and giggled at the thought of driving this car. I was having an Existential dilemma at Enterprise Rental Car! After some deliberation (and a little haggling on the extra cost), I silenced the resounding “responsible” voice and went with the gleam. YES, I’ll take it!

Within 5 minutes of driving my newly rented Mustang Ford, I was completely transformed! I was utterly giddy being at the helm of this powerful machine. I laughed with glee like a kid on her first solo bike ride sans training wheels careening down the thankfully empty street. I felt like I was flying — not as on a plane, but like I was an eagle soaring high in the air, majestic and powerful, wild and free. And I felt the need . . . the neeeed for speeeeed.

I was nervous as hell, too, the way it feels to be on a horse that decides to trot just a bit faster than you think you can handle. Invigorated, terrified, and unremittingly overjoyed. I felt like a completely different person!

I spent the next six glorious days with Sally (yes, corny as it is, I named my Mustang “Sally” for the duration of our temporary custodial companionship). From the beginning of our time together, a sense of wonder and adventure filled my spirit. Everyday activities were punctuated by an impatience and eager anticipation for the next time I’d get to drive that car. We took pictures together. We blasted music and sang together. We ventured onto freeways in the traffic-less twilight hours just so we could really open ‘er up and VROOOOOM! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

It was one of the best weeks of my life! And I still can’t believe this flurry of emotions was all because of a car! But life-changing or awakening perspective can come in huge or infinitesimal packages. Maybe it’s cancer. Or maybe it’s just a Mustang.

This particular experience got me thinkin’ (of course!) about identity and story. The stories we tell ourselves about who we are. The stories we tell other people about who we are, and the ones they tell us about how they want to be seen. And how so many of these stories are really just “histories” that too often become mantras that can lock us into one path or one particular direction. We live out a carefully forged habitual life in the safety of our comfort zones, often ignoring opportunities to spice it up a bit or do something “out of character” simply because “Oh, that’s just not ME.”

The thing is, all of it is part of who we are. It may not be the everyday ongoing thing or a long-term change in direction. But it’s vital to explore new things, to re-activate a passion or interest that we set aside, even if only a small part of it, to create a spark of fresh energy. Give the voice in us that may not often be expressed a platform to dance and shout it out.

Strum a few chords on the guitar sitting in the corner, put on that dress you bought 6 months ago but were waiting for a “special occasion” to wear, take an improv class, a cooking class, a yoga class, take a sick day and go read in the park, write a poem, hug a stranger — live like a tourist in your own life, bring a sense of awe and adventure into the everydays.

Let’s not compartmentalize ourselves. All of it is one big YOU stew! And any chef will tell you, for a deep, rich, flavorful stew, it’s vital to stir it up a bit from time to time to let all the ingredients shine!

Don’t text and drive! And enjoy the ride! diggit.