Passion Follows

 

Big Bear Clouds, Too

 

I’m knee-deep in getting a show ready for the stage, but took a breather to attend a writers’ retreat this past weekend. It took place at Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was cold, y’all (by Los Angeles standards) and there was an abundance of nature (again – by Los Angeles standards). I was pretty happy about all that.

 

The retreat was led by Pete Goldfinger who is, well, how do I describe him? We only just met and I am already singing the guy’s praises. He is a successful screenwriter, yes, but he is also a natural when it comes to teaching. I learned so much from him and came away with a hunger to learn more. To dig deeper into the process of creating. He touched on aspects of writing that I hadn’t ever considered. My mind felt like a kid discovering the 64-box of crayons after only knowing about the 8-box. So much color! I was overwhelmed, in the best way, and couldn’t wait to use what I was learning – to create, to envision, to dream.

 

Big Bear Clouds

 

And I can’t begin to describe the other attendees. Their projects are exciting, varied and creative times eleven-ty. Being around them was a privilege. Picking their brains was informative. And they were fun. I hope I see them again. I want to hear their stories. I want to be challenged by their ideas and intelligence. I want to hang out with them.

 

Once I got home, I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges and he spoke about a TEDx talk given by Terri Trespicio and how it inspired him. In the video, she gives her take on passion and how we are too often told to figure out what we’re passionate about and to follow that. She posits that this particular course can be limiting or worse. To butcher her words, she says we should get after life. Take care of business. Hustle. Make those ends. If we are busy with the business of living, we won’t have to follow our passion. Our passion will follow us. As someone who’s barely keeping her head above water while spinning various plates and juggling multiple commitments, I can tell you that Ms. Trespicio may be right. Yes – I’m overwhelmed with all that’s going on. But I’m still here. I’m still going for it. And if I look over my shoulder, I can see the shadow of passion just behind me. And I can’t stop smiling.

 

Mikki Writing at Big Bear - Photo by Yeni

Bad Ad

 

 

I’m working on a show right now, based on historic archives (some pieces 125 years old!), and I’ve got writing on the brain. Some things as simple as emails to actors are being handled and I pore over each mission more than you can imagine. Do I make mistakes? Yes, yes, and yes. And that is why I first send the text of said emails to my cohort in this endeavor. I always hope I’ve caught my own errors before letting a missive fly, but just in case, I want my buddy’s eagle-eyed opinion each and every time. Not only might she flag an obvious error, but she may have a much better way of getting a point across. As The Temptations sang, I ain’t too proud to beg. Collaboration is a beautiful thing, y’all.

 

I’m telling you this because not everyone is open to letting someone else proof their work. And as Fats Domino sang, ain’t that a shame

 

Bad Ad

Half In The Dark

 

Just a quick catch-up… Sorry. Sometimes I find I have John Oliver on the brain. (If that makes no sense, too bad for you.)

 

Aretha Franklin. For a while now, I’ve been drunk on her version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Now it seems more poignant. More important. And I adore it.

 

Because I love, love, love Kate Bush, the gods gave me this video of Big Boi, referencing her work. Right to the end, it is everything I love about music and how it can (and should) be universal.

 

I’m stuck on repeat of a playlist of mostly ’80s songs and it’s fortifying my soul. I will never apologize nor regret it. Same for a playlist of slow jams. Both lists go damn well with a glass by my side.

 

I recently finished a first draft of – something. Maybe it’s a book, maybe not. Today, I just don’t know. I’m just giving it some breathing room and trying to love me for getting it out at all.

 

I’ve started writing songs again. (Well – I’ve started writing a song – singular.) That’s a big freaking deal. Honestly – I love me for that, too.

 

Looking over this list, I see a lot of love present. Hmm. The world can jack me up sometimes. So I hide. Okay. But I can’t hide from me.

 

It’s good to be back, even if I’m still half in the dark.

 

Hallelujah.

 

Shadows

Mr. Poe

 

 

Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. If you’ve not read any of his poems since your schoolin’ days, I highly recommend looking one up and reciting it aloud. No need to read in front of others. You, yourself, will do. May you enjoy the beautiful, dark flow of his words.

 

Isn’t it wonderful that Mr. Poe became a writer and not a soldier? Wonderful indeed.

WriteGirl

 

 

Earlier this week I attended a reading with my painting buddy, Nicole. The event featured young authors from WriteGirl. This non-profit pairs female adult writers (mentors) with female teenage writers (mentees), in the hopes that the young ladies will develop their writing abilities. But much more than that, the young writers also grow their confidence and self-esteem. One of their mottoes is “Never underestimate the power of a girl and her pen!” How’s that for fabulous, huh?

 

Anyhoo, there were 7 young writers – aged between 14 and 18 years – and the work of each was wonderfully different. Personally, I was engrossed and wildly entertained. The venue itself was sweltering (danged L.A. weather), but the girls were beyond cool. It was so inspiring to hear their thoughts, in their own voices. And to witness such potential! I swear, at the end of the event, Nicole said something along the lines of, “Okay, I can see our future is gonna be alright.” And I understood. So often in this world, we are exposed only to the bad kids. To the kids who seem – frankly – downright idiotic. To see these intelligent, creative, brave young women was not only refreshing, it was also comforting. If these girls end up running the world, we truly will be alright.

 

As Nicole and I drove home from the event, we discussed all we’d heard and seen. I said that one line I’d remember, from one of the young writers, was deeper than I’d expected from a 14-year-old. That lovely, bright child had said – and I’m paraphrasing here, as I didn’t write it down in the moment – “When I die, I hope my last breath is spent listening instead of talking.” Honestly – I could cry, just typing the words. For the life of me, I have no idea how someone so green could come up with something so heavy. But she did, and I will not forget it.

 

For now, I think WriteGirl’s programs are only in Los Angeles (though I could be wrong about that). With any luck, this program will spread across the globe. And more and more young girls will not only find their voices, but also be brave enough and willing to share their work. Personally, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

 

Ladies First

 

 

I am still riding the wave of the goodness of Rock Camp. That week generally leaves me feeling strong and comfortable in my gender. I smile when I see a female doing something radical or bold. I openly support women I know and women I don’t as they pursue their dreams. I feel grateful to have this female experience.

 

None of that means I am anti-male. I adore men. I’m married to one, for cry-eye! Being a feminist and a strong woman doesn’t equal discrimination against males. On the contrary, it equals respect. I have that in spades.

 

But I digress. Because I’m feeling all girly-proud and what-not, I got such a kick out of something I recently learned: the first known author and poet to sign work and leave a lasting record of writing was Enheduanna – a woman. She lived over 4000 years ago (yes – four thousand) in ancient Mesopotamia and her writings are still referenced and translated today by contemporary authors. Wow.

 

I’m guessing there were other poets, perhaps writing at earlier times. And their works may be documented somewhere. But the first person to leave a signature with a work was Enheduanna. And I get a kick out of that. I hope I remember this historical tidbit, and I hope I smile whenever it glides across my mind. Honestly, how could I not smile? Honestly…

“Found Words” at The Ebell

 

 

 

This week I participated in a night of storytelling at The Ebell in Los Angeles. Six other writers and I got together to weave tales in The Ebell’s historic Fine Arts Theater. Friends, family and complete strangers gathered for the sole purpose of listening. I think Mister put it best when he said, “This is throwback entertainment.”

 

When I was initially asked to participate in this event, I immediately wanted to say no. The mere thought of getting up in front of people to read one of my stories paralyzed me with fear. What would I share? Why would anyone be interested in something I wrote? I’ve never done that! These thoughts of self-doubt (and about a jillion others) raced through my mind and very nearly kept me from saying yes.

 

But then I realized my fear was only fear. And that the worst case scenario was I would keep my head down and read my story during my time on stage, never looking up. I mean, it was a reading after all, right?

 

So before I could second-guess myself… Before I could shun the people who believed in me enough to invite me in the first place… Before I could sabotage what might be a new and positive experience, I said Yes. I committed to participating in the event and that was that.

 

I worked on my story. I did. I practiced reading and I even consulted a fabulous actor friend, taking her advice and trying my best to incorporate her excellent suggestions. She told me that the more I could memorize, the better my eye-contact with the audience. I knew what she meant. I’m often “the audience” at such events and it definitely makes a difference if one feels a connection with the performer. I love that feeling. Of course I wanted to foster that from my side of the podium. So I practiced some more. On one particular day, I went over my 10-minute story so many times I was left hoarse. But it was the right thing to do.

 

I wanted to give my best. Now, I felt this way simply because, but I had also invited several folks to the reading. And – lo and behold – they were actually planning to attend. If I told you how uncomfortable I was in simply inviting people to this event, you wouldn’t believe me. I go see friends as they pursue various performing endeavors all the time. And I love it! Concert? Sure! Stand-up? You bet! Theater? Dance? Recital? Gallery Show? Yes, yes, yes and yes! But to ask people to show up for me is beyond painful. Let me just say there was a lot of deep breathing involved and a lot of denying my dark side. But I did take the breaths and I did quiet the critic and I did ask my friends to attend.

 

Here’s what happened: people showed up. They braved traffic. They bought their tickets. They gave me more love and support than I ever expected. And though I’m not very good at receiving, I tried. And I said Thank You. And I hugged each of them, and even slow-danced with the gal with the second greatest dimples on earth (Mister’s receive top billing, don’t you know). I marveled at the love I was given. I felt my heart stretch at its crooked seams. And I realized I actually have friends. As much as I go through life thinking my love for these wonderful souls is one-sided, it absolutely isn’t. Whether or not I’ve admitted it, I am loved in return. I can’t tell you how it makes me feel to own that. To accept it. To allow it into my walled existence.

 

Anyhoo, the other night I got up and read my story, and I was fine. I was off-the-page enough to feel good about looking at the audience, and when I did look down I somehow managed to know just where I was in the telling. I got to hear the other stories and I got to meet the other writers and I got to check off my First Reading. All in all, it went pretty well.

 

For what it’s worth, I can tell you my goal was to warrant being included with that group of storytellers. I simply wanted to hold my own, to be my finest version of me. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less. I think that goal was accomplished.

 

But if there were doubts, they were certainly quelled when I received a beautiful note from a friend the morning after. She shared a personal experience, then tied it to my self-doubts about the previous evening’s Reading. Her note ended, “Just let go. You’re a lot better than you think you are.”

 

To her, and to all the Friends who showed up, laughed and applauded – Thank You. You will never know what your support means. And if your affection for me is a mere smidgen of mine for you, well, I am blessed beyond all measure.

Women

 

 

I recently joined a women’s group. When my dear friend asked me to attend, I did quite a bit of soul-searching.

 

I’m not a group kind of girl. I don’t know how to function in that environment. I mean, I can handle the side of things where you support others and give positive vibes, but the receiving? I have actually broken down while others did nothing but look at me while thinking positive thoughts about me. I’m working on it, on my own. But in a group?

 

After much deliberation, I decided to give this particular group a try. These women are getting together on a regular basis to share stories. That’s right – it’s a writing group. They’re writing stories about other women who’ve inspired and helped them. I love stories. I love writing. So I showed up.

 

I knew a few of these gals, but the rest were fresh faces. After some coffee and socializing, we sat together and listened to the writers who’d brought new stories. We read our short tales aloud and it couldn’t have been lovelier. This group showed amazing encouragement and validation. That would have been enough, but to me the greater glory was in the talent. These women can write! I was awed and entertained. I was moved and felt tremendous empathy. Women. Here we were, just sitting together in a room – sharing. Wow.

 

At the meeting’s close, it was determined that we could use more attendees and more stories. Our facilitator wondered aloud if perhaps we wouldn’t benefit from writing another story, on top of our initial offerings. I raised my hand before I realized I was doing it, and said that I’d love to write another story. That it would be good for me. That I’d enjoy the writing process.

 

And just like that, I knew I’d be going back to the next meeting. To the group. I’m working on short story #2, in preparation for January’s meeting. The writing work is good for me. The women are even greater.

Slowing Down

 

 

Life is good, I’m fully aware. I am blessed to be able to work on art, projects, cooking, life. I get to hike in the mountains of southern California. And the weather can’t be beat.

 

I also get to slow down once in a while, at my choosing. And those moments are lovely.

 

Those moments are lovely. This moment, however, isn’t my choosing. And I Do. Not. Like. It.

 

I’m not sure, but I think it began with one of those So-Cal hikes. I talked Mister into taking a side trail, off the beaten path. It was a new view for us, and we had no idea the uphill portion would be a bit more challenging than what we’re used to. But there it was, so there you go. And y’all, once you’ve started hiking, there’s no stopping. You’ve got to get yourself out of there. Ain’t nobody gonna do it for you. So we trucked up the side path and eventually re-joined the known trail. For me, it was hard. But I did it, and I didn’t think anything more about it. Until about 24 hours later.

 

I was standing at the grocery store, choosing a can of garbanzo beans (I kid you not). I placed the can in my bag and stepped away from the shelf. That’s when it hit me. The foot pain was major, and ugly. I knew it wasn’t good. Not broken, but still not good. My doctor confirmed my suspicions: injured tendon.

 

So now I’m slowing down, more than I prefer. It isn’t easy for me, as I tend to define myself by how much I accomplish on any given day. Doing mostly nothing leaves me with a low sense of self-worth. I know it’s whack-a-do, but it’s just the way I am. It’s a bad habit and I’m working on it, but it’s tough to shake. This little injury has left me struggling already, and as Mister puts it, I am a terrible patient. But sometimes life doesn’t give a doughnut hole what I think/feel/want. Life just is. And right now, life means being laid up for a while. Maybe I’ll read. Maybe I’ll write. Maybe I’ll do both, and everything else that doesn’t require the use of my right foot. I don’t know.

 

But though I can’t see it now, I’m sure there’s an opportunity here – for something. Wish me luck. Like always, I surely need it.

One Year Anniversary!

 

 

As of today, I’ve been writing these posts for one full year. I’m not sure I thought I’d make it, or that I’d stick with it. But here I am. Go figure.

 

I like to think I’m learning to be better at this endeavor. I am aware there’s much room for improvement, and I’m okay with that. (In all of my life, there’s much room for improvement. That’s why I’m still here, and not floating a foot above the ground. “Enlightenment” eludes me. That soul-tease!)

 

Anyhoo, I’ve appreciated many resulting gifts from publishing these daily missives. I’ve re-connected with friends past. I’ve made new friends. There have been opportunities to research new-to-me ideas. There have been moments to share art, recipes and music. There has been life, lived right out in the open, for all to see.

 

And you’ve been just peachy, sticking with me through this past year. I’m blown away by your company. I’m grateful for your shoulder. I’m a better person for your generosity of spirit, your compassion, your stories, your support. You have no idea how much it means to me, knowing you’re out there, reading. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

Finally, one lovely benefit I’ve gained from posting daily has been discipline. No matter what my world may look like, no matter which direction I’m spinning on my life axis, I’ve made a commitment to this blog. And that’s been good for me. I guess it’s a commitment to myself. To caring for myself. And that’s not too shabby a way to live, friends.

 

I plan to keep going. Hopefully, I’ll evolve and grow. I hope the blog evolves and grows. There’s so much I want to try and do in life. There’s so much actual living I want to experience! Sharing it is just icing. And icing, friends, has always been my favorite part of the cake.

 

Butter-cream, please. The real, spanking, sweet-ass deal!