One Year in Cotulla

image

This week, Rick and I “celebrated” living in Cotulla, Texas for one year. The word celebrated is in quotations because this move was all about an opportunity for his career rather than our choice to live here. It’s hard to believe a year has passed already. But as life goes, it isn’t surprising how quickly time has flown by. After living in Phoenix for thirty years, this was a rather significant change for me. 

A little about Cotulla.

It is located halfway between San Antonio and Laredo. The whole town is just two square miles. The population is about 4,000. However, that is NOT including all the truckers! It’s closer to double that size with all the employees that work in the nearby oil fields and either live in their trucks or in tiny portable housing units. A small but very busy town, indeed. With only one street light the traffic is often very heavy mostly with semi-trucks, large diesel pickup trucks and sand haulers. It is not a small quaint town by any stretch of the imagination. 

The infrastructure is trying to catch up to the growing number of workers. So more hotels are being constructed. Unfortunately, restaurants are slower in coming, although there is a fair number of fast food joints. We have only found one decent establishment where we exclusively dine one glorious night of the week. I'm exaggerating, but it is a friendly family owned Mexican restaurant called El Charro. The manager and most of the employees see our smiling faces every Wednesday night. What a far cry from life in Phoenix!

You won’t miss much if you don’t stop by Cotulla on your travels along I35 unless I happen to be here…then you MUST drop by!

What do we do for fun here?

Uh, in Cotulla? Nothing. We have to entertain ourselves since there is no movie theatre, bowling alley, ice skating rink, performance center, nor anything else. There is an annual rodeo but it was pouring down rain that weekend. It is a good thing that Rick and I both like to watch movies. We can’t stream down here but thankfully we have a Netflix DVD account and there are two RedBox machines…although fair warning - they do not work in the rain. :)

Mostly our sanity comes from getting the heck out of here on the weekends for some semblance of a normal social life. Thankfully we have found some fabulous restaurants and nice movie theaters in San Antonio which is 90 minutes away. Corpus Christi and Austin are each about 2.5 hours drive so we don’t get there quite as often. And it goes without saying that returning to Phoenix periodically to hug my children and mingle with friends is absolutely cherished.

What lessons have I learned while living here in this two bedroom manufactured house in the middle of an oil field? You’ve heard the old adage ‘home is where the heart is’. Well for me that is switched around to 'heart is where the home is’! And I have actually felt that way most of my life. Maybe it has to do with moving a lot as a child, but wherever I lay my head at night becomes my home. 

I can work anywhere there is at least some internet access. Living without consistently reliable high speed service makes me pull my hair out at times. However, I’m very grateful to have any service at all! 

And I am very thankful for technology to keep me connected to my children, my friends and my colleagues. It is the next best thing to actually being there. (I sound like a phone company commercial!)

We do feel that this was a good move for Rick in his career and we await for what might lie on the horizon for him.

Despite feeling totally sequestered at times, I have always been self motivated so keeping myself busy with projects comes naturally. In this past year in Cotulla, I have started a blog (dianedresback.com), received news that our feature film is finally available on DVD (Atrophy - formerly Paranoia), produced a winning short film back in Phoenix (Smoke Signals), written my first novel (Promise of Protection), run a successful Kickstarter campaign for a longer short film currently in post-production (Blue Copper), and managed to pound out a first draft of my second book.

Overall, I am making the best of my living situation in Cotulla. I’m remaining focused on my goals and continuing to live my passion for creating through storytelling.

I am one of those individuals that believe that life is an adventure, a journey, and a gift. I never find myself feeling bored—thankfully, because living down here could make the best of us prone to going a little crazy!

Project ideas are beginning to form for 2015 and I’m very excited about moving forward on them. Wherever we end up living is only a side note to intentionally choosing to live a full and satisfied life.  

— For more information on my projects or to sign up for future announcements, please visit www.mindclover.com. My latest film project is Blue Copper and my novel is Promise of Protection.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Promise of Protection

PROMISE OF PROTECTION - on Amazon

I shared a very surreal moment with Rick last week when I opened the brown cardboard package and removed the proof of my very first book. It was so exciting to see it in a format other than on my computer monitor or a manuscript on printer paper. It actually looked and felt like a real paperback novel! Aside from a page in the back that said in big black letters - PROOF, it was an actual book. 

I told myself that I would write a novel this year. It has been quite the learning experience going from screenwriting to book writing. Honestly, for many years even though I wanted to write a book, I just never thought I could. 

But, storytelling is storytelling. And I enjoy developing and molding characters within a fictional world. My hope and intent always being that the viewer (film) or reader (book) will be transported out of their normal everyday surroundings and into another place even for a short period of time. That they will find something in the story they want to think about or discuss further with a friend.

While taking on this first book project, I have increased my own level of reading. As with filmmakers, authors are each unique in their approach. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that my style will be different as well. My hope is that there will be many that will honestly enjoy my method of storytelling.

The story was actually an idea for a feature film. I came up with it a couple of years ago as I traveled alone from Phoenix to San Diego. My goal for the drive was to create a story that took place mostly in a small town. How ironic that now I happen to live in one! (At least temporarily.) 

 Here is the synopsis:

  • After 25 years of estrangement from his father, Joe Tenning is unexpectedly summoned to the bedside of Charles Tenning. Suddenly, he is pulled into unraveling the disturbingly bizarre and ethically questionable work in which his father has been covertly engaged. Uncertain who to trust in the small town, Joe accepts the help of Dr. Lillian Kent who has her own unique brand of patient care. Despite the desire to return to his quiet life running his winery, he now must wrestle with the effects of his father’s work on himself, his loved ones and the lives of many others. 

I have been mired in proper formatting for the past few weeks. Just as screenplays have their own set of rules, guidelines and quirks, so do manuscripts. Especially when you want them to look professional. Thankfully there are many resources available on the Internet, in books and via podcasts. Almost too much information at times. When it felt overwhelming, I just focused on one thing at a time and keep going. When I thought it was all figured out…it wasn’t and I continued to rework it some more. I hope that everything is perfectly formatted. Fingers crossed!

Re-reading and re-writing could continue forever in order to adjust to every person’s opinion. I have found in my past that you try your very best to follow proper due diligence, but at some point you just have to move forward. It is a creative endeavor after all. I think back to all the films I’ve done and realize every experience contains lessons and it’s all about getting better. There is nothing wrong with that.

I want to especially thank Teresa Young who was my editor. She caught things I looked at a dozen times and missed. She was wonderful and made me wish I had paid more attention in English class!

A big thank you also to Trenton and Deanna for designing the book cover. And to all those who encouraged, supported and gave me feedback. 

As I was recently explaining to Rick, it’s not a matter of having to come up with my next writing idea, it’s a matter of trying to choose which one to pursue first! I have way too many in my head. Kind of like film script ideas, I suppose. Anyway, 2015 will bring on new projects and I can’t wait to get started. In fact, I’ve had a hard time sleeping the last couple of nights as a new idea for a book series began taking form in my head!

For those of you that are interested in reading PROMISE OF PROTECTION, you can order it now through Amazon either in paperback or on the Kindle by clicking HERE

If you do read the novel, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Many of you already have my personal email or you can email to mindclover.pub@gmail.com. And if you like the story and would be kind enough to leave a few quick comments on Amazon, that would be super helpful. These days many people make buying decisions based upon those reviews especially if they are unfamiliar with an author.

Thank you for receiving and reading my eclectic blog posts. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

— For more information on my latest film (Blue Copper) or my novel (Promise of Protection), please visit my website at www.mindclover.com.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

The White House

A few fond memories.

Throughout all my elementary school years our family lived in England. My dad worked for a large international corporation and he had accepted a two year work assignment in the UK. What began as a two year stay developed into four then into six years. 

We moved four times in six years. The first five we lived south of London. The last we moved to the far northern part of England, almost to Scotland in the Northumberland area. Our abode was a large farmhouse. There was no number on the house, but a name instead—The White House! 

I wonder if they still give some homes descriptive names as opposed to boring numbers. What a creative idea.

It was fun being that we were Americans living in The White House. My parents would frequently receive letters and cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. President. I’m sure the return address on my parent’s mail to their family and friends back in the US often prompted the postman to take a second look. 

At eleven years old, I didn’t really know how big the acreage was around our house, but I do know at that age it felt huge. We did not really have farmland, but my mother did have quite a vast garden. There was a wooded area with tall trees and a small stream trickled across part of the property. 

I recall a large wooden gate at the entrance of the driveway. During the warmer days, I would climb up and perch on the top amusing myself as I awaited for my father to get home from work. Looking back on that, I’m sure he cherished having his daughter excited to see him after a long day “at the plant” as he described it.

The home itself was probably once an actual farmhouse. It had two stories and several spacious rooms connected by long hallways. An enormous kitchen complete with a deep freeze where my mom would keep special treats—like frozen Snickerbars! It was by far the biggest house we ever lived in and really too big for our small family, but being my dad’s company provided the housing, we didn’t complain.

My brother was seventeen. A few times we took long hikes through the fields that surrounded the area where we lived. There were endless pastures filled with cows and sheep. They didn’t seem to mind much and looked up only momentarily from their grazing to watch us hop the fence and trample through their fields being very careful of where we stepped.

Then it was into the woods in search of a stream. There my brother taught me how to “tickle for trout.” He secured his footing on a couple of dry rocks straddling the flowing water. After rolling up his sleeves, he reached down into the cold water running his hands underneath the flat rocks. Once in a while, he would suddenly thrust his hand into the air clenching tightly to a startled, wiggling fish!

The enjoyment for him was in the challenge of capture, so after a few moments he would toss the fish back into the stream where it quickly disappeared from sight. Unfortunately, I never was able to catch a trout myself. But, I don’t know how I would have reacted should I have actually felt something that slimy under a rock!

As my brother and I were away at our separate boarding schools, and my dad at work, my mom may have been rather lonely. But as resourceful as she was, I’m certain she stayed busy with her artwork, crafts, garden, and a handy telephone to chat with friends. There were not very many houses in our neighborhood. In fact, besides us and the “real” farmhouse across the road, there weren’t any other homes around for miles.

The farm on the other side of the road was a true working farm. They had crops, cattle, sheep, and a chicken coup. The family that lived there worked very hard. I remember thinking how happy I was that I didn’t have to do all the chores those kids did everyday. 

Sometimes I would hike out across the fields to find the farmer working. Riding on the tractor was one of my favorite things to do. I wonder if that developed into my love of driving golf carts. Haha! 

At the end of the day, the farmer would give the command that sent his dog off to round up the sheep for their supper. Jesse was an amazing dog. His master would yell with a very, heavy cockney accent, “Get away back there, Jesse!” And, Jesse would run full speed around the outside of the herd barking and nipping at their feet. He effectively and quickly gathered them up driving them towards the bottom of the field near the gate. There the sheep enjoyed their fill at the troughs.

The farm had a huge barn that was full of hay. I remember climbing up and jumping down, diving and falling in it, and coming home with it all over my clothing and in my hair. One day I went searching for my brother in the barn. I guess there really is something about farmers’ daughters because I found him and the girl locked in a kiss!

Us being city kids, we were very curious and spent time at the farm whenever possible. The grownups over there liked having extra hands to help out and they were always trying to put us to work. One day they sent me into the chicken coup to collect eggs. I watched one of the farm kids reach under a hen and pull one out. How hard could it be? 

Now, I knew from my horseback riding lessons that horses can sense fear in a person. Well, those chickens must have felt a touch of my apprehension because as I tentatively pushed under the first warm birds’ body, she stretched her neck out and pecked my hand! I wasn’t expecting that reaction. I figured she was just mean, so went on to the next one. She did the same thing! What was it with those moody girls! After the third pecking, I was finished with the novelty of collecting freshly laid eggs and I quickly exited that smelly, loud chicken house! 

A few weeks later, I watched with mixed emotions as the farmer fulfilled his wife’s request to pick out a chicken for dinner. While I was still wondering which one he would chose, he suddenly grabbed the nearest one running by. In a split second he had expertly taken it by the neck and swung it up over his head in two circles. The birds neck broke, a little feed came out of its mouth, and it was off to the kitchen! It probably was a pretty humane method being it was so quick but regardless, I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the poor old gal.

It would have been fun to share some photographs from our adventures at The White House. But if there are any, I haven’t found them. However, I do have those images etched into my memory and am very appreciative of those wonderful experiences.

— For more information on my latest film (Blue Copper) or my novel (Promise of Protection), please visit my website at www.mindclover.com.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Blue Copper is a Wrap!

As promised…I’m back! Today I am going to share an update regarding our film BLUE COPPER. If you are in the handful of my Blog followers who also were our Kickstarter Backers, a lot of this information will look familiar. 

My journey back to Texas is complete. I was in Arizona for just under two weeks. I wanted to give you a few highlights of the production phase of BLUE COPPER. I’m including only a few pictures here, but more will be shared later along with some additional stories. Earnest Robinson took a lot of our behind-the-scenes photographs and I’m waiting to receive more pictures taken by others. Again, more will be shared as our journey continues.

We wrapped shooting early last Wednesday morning, October 8th. It was anticipated that our five days of shooting would be long and they were with the last one stretching us into almost a sixth day. With Bret Kalmbach (our Director of Photography) from New York and me currently living in Texas, we didn’t have the luxury of pick up days (extra shooting days beyond the originally scheduled ones). So, with the consent of the fine cast and crew remaining during those last few hours, we pushed through.

Every night since we’ve wrapped, I’ve woke up in a panic, dreaming that we missed a shot! The only way I can get myself convinced that we are done is to tell myself that Bret and his camera have returned to New York! Hahaha!

A champagne celebration at 7:00 a.m.

Colleen (actor) had supplied us a bottle of champagne to celebrate with after our last take. A little glass of bubbly at 7:00 a.m. was sweet not only because of the taste, but because the six of us that remained despite feeling exhausted also felt accomplished.

Aside from the long hours, overall the shoot went well. We shot for four days at a home in Phoenix, one day in Happy Jack, almost a half day at the Boyce Arboretum in Superior, and a half day in Gold Canyon. Our primary location was a home in Phoenix. The homeowner (who was a friend of our producer) came in at one point to see her house transformed into a film set. If you’ve never experienced it, it can be quite a shock! Her good natured and adorable dog, Doobie, loved having us there with so many people to sucker into a slobbery game of fetch. Alex (location sound) even tried to entice him into being a boom operator!

Doobie - The sound dog.

It just seems so understated when I say that we had such a hard working, dedicated crew on this project. Every single person involved played a vital role. As on many independent film sets, many of our crew members did double and triple duties. They were exceptional. Personally, I didn’t hear one complaint despite the long hours and sometimes hot working conditions. Loved those positive attitudes and the sense of humor that emerged at times as it felt good to have a good laugh while being so intently focused on our shots.

A beautiful shooting day in Happy Jack, AZ.

Even though the really warm weather is fading away in Arizona, when we had to turn off the air conditioning and fans (in order to capture better sound), it got hot! Up in Happy Jack, the weather was wonderful. Chilly at night!

Producer - Sara Dangler

A special call-out to our producer, Sara Dangler. She wore many hats during the production. She did a lot of what I have done with past projects, so I totally understood and appreciated her challenges. I would not have been able to do this film without her!

Some of our crew - Alex Quitugua (sound), Sara Dangler (producer), Diane M. Dresback (writer/director), Bret Kalmbach (director of photography), Michael Coleman (actor)

BLUE COPPER was the fourth project on which I have worked with Director of Photography, Bret Kalmbach. His ability to capture an image is amazing. I really like working with him. Many times our thoughts moved in the same direction. He is so talented and I feel very fortunate that we could bring him back from New York for this film.

A friend of mine recently posted an article on Facebook about how director David Fincher utilized a Red Dragon camera to shoot and Adobe Premiere Pro to edit his latest film - GONE GIRL. Bret shot BLUE COPPER on his Red Dragon and we will be also editing in Premiere.

Actors - Michael Coleman, Colleen Hartnett, and Machelle Glassburn.

Our cast was wonderful as well. Indie film sets can be chaotic at times and run behind schedule—our’s was no exception. As far as I could see, all of our actors just rolled with it and still delivered their performances. It was a privilege to work with Machelle Glassburn, Shelly Boucher and Jim Robertson. Also it was fun to work with little five year old Paiden on his first film. He followed directions very well. Our two lead actors, Michael Coleman and Colleen Hartnett were exceptional. Incredibly easy to work with, well prepared, and always with gracious attitudes.

Paiden (actor) and Diane (writer/director)

We now move into the post-production stage in the life of BLUE COPPER. If you are on Facebook and haven’t liked our BLUE COPPER film page yet, please do so to stay up to date and view some more pictures once we get some up.

https://www.facebook.com/BLUECOPPERfilm

It truly does take a team of people to bring films to life. That is one of the things I love about filmmaking!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

OCD or Just Organized?

I’ve always been an organizer — a ‘director’ of sorts. I think it runs through my veins. It is just easier to find the right shirt when my closet is organized by color. I’m not a neat freak but it saves time when I can put my hands on a document that is filed in the proper folder. I’m pretty sure I’m not OCD, but it just makes life simpler when I know exactly which drawer contains the cheese grater or what cupboard holds the wok that barely gets used.

When faced with chores that I dislike, breaking them down over a period of time makes the tasks a little more bearable. For example, I hate housework. However it must be done, so I typically accomplish it over a week. For each of the five days something different gets finished. Dusting one day. Bathrooms another. Floors the next. Nothing taking longer than an hour on any given day. It fools me into thinking that I didn’t spend 4 to 6 hours cleaning the house! Of course, listening to music or an audiobook also helps make the passing time more tolerable.

I am not foreign to organizing big projects. From films to writing to reunions to work functions.

For the last twelve years spent in corporate America, I coordinated numerous events and activities where employees learn, have fun, and bond. Two of my favorites were conducted annually. These were the only times of the year that we had all local and remote employees together in one location. 

One was a themed Employee Appreciation Night and the other was a Team Building Day. My boss and I would generate ideas, then I would go to work creating and executing a plan. I thoroughly enjoyed making these events happen despite the work involved, they were always really fun! 

Some of our Employee Appreciation Night themes included Harley Davidson, Hollywood Awards, Casino Night, Sailing, Hawaiian, Winter Wonderland, Golf Outing to name a few of them. I used a company called Themers. They are located in the Phoenix area and have great decorations, props and everything needed to bring a desired theme to life. 

And I loved shopping for the fantastic door prizes we gave away - televisions, bicycles, game consoles, suitcases, jewelry, camping equipment, patio sets and Coach purses. Funny side note - I had no idea what a Coach purse was until my boss sent me off to find one. Holy smokes was I surprised to see a purse cost so much! Haha! Yes, that is very telling about my fashion sense. But those purses were coveted every year by our female employees hoping to have their name pulled from the bucket!  

Our Team Building Days typically consisted of part presentations and part enjoyable learning activities. One year we did a musical theme where everyone had an instrument to play. Another we had a full on scavenger hunt around our brand new 60,000 square foot building. One time we actually set employees loose with all kinds of random supplies to build a bus in which everyone could fit. A favorite of mine was with a company called Venture Up that had an outdoor course by the Superstition Mountains. There we climbed telephone poles to jump off, fell backwards from wooden stumps into the arms of fellow employees and figured out how to pass people through rope spider webs without touching the sides.

Years before, another project I coordinated for an airline was a million dollar customer service training program. We hired two facilitators to conduct the actual two day training in Phoenix for over 3,000 participants from all over the country. Each two day training session consisted of 100 employees so it translated into thirty sessions. 

Some of what was done included assembling a customized workbook, working with the hotel for ballroom space, arranging meals, coordinating with managers in all our cities to ensure employees were scheduled for training, reserving hotel rooms and transportation for out-of-town employees, scheduling the presentations of senior management, and keeping track of all the training statistics. Huge logistical puzzle! Loved it!

Then there have been reunions of friends and neighbors that were put together. One literally taking years to coordinate in order to find as many people as possible from our high school. Oh, and numerous indie film projects, chairing of volunteer teams, community type projects, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.

So what is the best thing that comes from all of this? Results. The satisfaction of a productive and enjoyable experience for the recipients. Of seeing something come to fruition. Something that didn’t exist before we started.

I recently took the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. What was one of my top five strengths? Yup - an ACHIEVER. A little of their description for this strength includes: 

People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive. By nature, you traditionally determine for yourself and others what should be done. After you have made up your mind, you typically waste little time moving forward with projects or assignments.

Admittedly, I have a human resources and training education and background, so working with people is very natural for me. Granted interacting with people can be frustrating and challenging at times. However for me, I find these practices work best: respect, communication, follow through, acknowledgement, appreciation and most definitely an understanding that people have varied work styles and methods for getting things done.

Why do I write about this today? Because this weekend I fly back to Arizona to shoot our film BLUE COPPER. Several people have already put in lots of work to make this creative endeavor happen. And there will be many additional hours spent over the next two weeks and beyond. 

Most of these projects, events, and activities that I have mentioned don’t come about because of a sole person but instead by a group of individuals contributing their unique part. I never would want to take credit for doing everything myself. I garner tremendous satisfaction in working with people to achieve a larger goal.

You’ll have a couple week reprieve from my Blog while we are in production. When I return to Texas, there will surely be some stories to share! All the best to you!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Unexpected Knock

It is a short story Blog! 

A woman visits the home of her mother’s high school friend hoping to find a family she never had.

UNEXPECTED KNOCK

     Jill sat in the torn seat of her seven year old faded blue Corolla. She had saved all the earnings from adolescent jobs to be able to purchase it when she graduated from high school. It used to smell and look brand new when she had faithfully washed it at least monthly for the first four years. But after Jill had accepted a position in a popular and busy chain restaurant as a bartender, the thought of spending her precious time off vacuuming seats and scrubbing tires became less important. 

     The piece of paper she held in her hand consisted of a name and an address. The paper had been unfolded and refolded numerous times over the past few days. Jill refolded it once again and tossed it into the ashtray. As it landed, a few dry ashes floated up into the air.

Please click HERE to continue reading the story!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Power in a Melody

I know this might sound morbid, but it isn’t meant to be. I have found THE song that I want played at my memorial service. It is called Baptism by pianist Paul Cardall

When I write, music is always playing in the background to facilitate my creative process. The type of music varies on the tenor of the writing. There is the romantic playlist, the classic rock playlist and the dance playlist. However much of the music that vibrates through my head comes from the soundtracks to movies. Inception, Black Hawk Down, Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins, Titanic.

Music moves me. Especially instrumental pieces. 

Fourteen years ago, I purchased the instrumental album entitled FREEDOM by Michael W. Smith. It was an amazing experience and a memory that will always remain with me the first time those notes emerged from my car speakers! When I listened, images started to appear in my head—not just random images but an actual story. As the next song played, the story continued. And that process went all the way through the last and 12th song. 

To say I was dumbfounded would be mild. My mouth was gapping open. It was as if the top of my head had been opened up and that story just dropped in! Oh, and there were NO lyrics.

Uncertain if I could repeat the experience, I listened to the entire album again. There was no way to take any written notes as I was driving. As the music played again—same story, same images only with more detail. It was astounding!

Because this was a faith based story, I approached the pastor of the church I was attending at the time to discuss it with her. She was excited and told me to go for it. THE FREEDOM PROJECT was born. What an exhilarating and meticulous task it was to get the images from my head down onto paper so I could communicate and teach over fifty volunteers how to perform what turned into a stage play. 

I had to pinch myself quite often to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! It was a huge undertaking with no budget but tireless positive and encouraging individuals willing to come to long rehearsals, wardrobe fittings, and memorize their stage movements. Not to mention all the behind-the-scenes people who ran sound, mastered lighting, sewed costumes, created set backdrops and props, provided food and beverages, and promoted the production.

As I sat and watched the first performance in 2001 and the subsequent two others in 2002 and 2004, I was moved to tears. As were several other audience members. I knew at that point that for some people, music holds unmistakable power to initiate meaningful connections. The entire performance (about 40 minutes) had no lines of dialogue (except for one at an unexpected and impactful moment). The story was told through the songs and the character’s actions that were cued off of changes in the music. 

The experience of creating THE FREEDOM PROJECT, coordinating and directing the entire production, and seeing how the result touched so many lives will be engrained in my heart and mind forever. And it pushed me forward with confidence to pursue other creative endeavors.

So back to my memorial service. I discovered Paul Cardall’s song Baptism a few years back. The thing that I absolutely love about this piece is how it feels representative of life. Again, it is purely an instrumental piece so no lyrics. 

The repeating sections remind me of how life is a series of small expeditions making up one long journey. From early childhood, to adolescence, to young adulthood, to middle age, to our golden years, and finally on to our final season. 

And all of these life expeditions are broken down even more to jaunts or perhaps pilgrimages. Although at times we fall into routines with our families, our work lives, our social situations…we can always count on those circumstances changing. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not. But things come and go. This song reminds me of that. A voyage always comes to an end where there is something new to replace it and the melody begins again.

Paul Cardall’s music evokes emotion deep within me. If you have something to reflect upon, perhaps a big decision or a difficult situation, listen to his beautiful musical creations. Allow those notes to touch your heart, your soul.

Towards the very end of the song, the music slows slightly as we also slow at the end of our lives. It is still beautiful just as we are beautiful at every stop on this journey. I believe that the melody of our heart does not die. It continues long beyond the time our frail and mortal bodies pass from this earth. Our souls live on. 

Loved ones: When the day comes that I leave this world behind, you will know what melody to play at my service. For certain, I will be smiling knowing the next exciting journey is about to begin.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Working Blue Copper

Four weeks ago, I wrote my Blog all about the launch of our crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter.com for my latest film project entitled BLUE COPPER. I won’t retell how that all went. If you’re interested, you can read about it here: A Kick for Blue Copper

Our Kickstarter goal is set for $10,000. We’ve got until 9:00 pm Arizona time this Sunday to fully fund the project. Kickstarter is an all or nothing deal so our BLUE COPPER team has been working diligently to get the word out to everyone they know. As of the writing of this Blog, we are at 85% of our goal…so just $1,500 to go in 3 days!  

Honestly, I hate asking for funding. Just not my thing. Rick told me that I’d rather go to the dentist than ask for money. Ha! Maybe. I do really dislike the dentist. Although I have a fantastic one—in case you’re interested! 

A thirty day funding campaign is akin to having a full time job. I had no idea it was so much work! It takes time and effort. Lots of emails, messages, and phone calls to friends, family, and colleagues. Plus a lot of posting on social media sites. Then there is the editing and sharing of additional videos from our cast and crew, updates to our backers, and edits to our Kickstarter page. I even was on a radio show last week! 

I heard a podcast a while back. Two individuals were discussing the difficulty many have in asking for financial funding in the creative arts. This is what I took away from that conversation. You are simply asking for support in your creative endeavors in exchange for creating something the giver will hopefully eventually enjoy—films, books, artwork, photography. There are wonderful people out there who want to see you succeed and will feel good that they were able to help you pursue your artistic passion. All while looking forward to viewing the results of your unique imagination. 

I like that. 

So many existing friends, family, and colleagues have stepped up to back our project. And there are many new people as well. Right now we have 97 backers. Some have pledged $1, some $5, many $25 and some much more than that. Everything is appreciated.

We have so much gratitude to those that have pledged to support BLUE COPPER. It encourages our entire team by knowing people want to see our film and that they believe in our project as well as us as independent filmmakers.

If you’re interested in joining the family and becoming a backer of BLUE COPPER to help push us over the edge, you’ve got until 9:00 pm MST this Sunday, 8/31/14 to do so! Click here to watch and read all about the project and the team:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1239280868/blue-copper

You can also find out information at our website and on our Facebook page.

Have a great weekend and excuse me while I get back to sending a few more emails in hopes that we can successfully cross this finish line!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Goodbye Faithful Slippers

I truly believe that life is to be lived and not just something that happens to us. I am the first to admit, sometimes I don’t want things to change. I like them the way they are. It’s like having old comfy slippers. The ones that have kept my feet warm and protected. They have offered years of soft relief after long days on my feet and they are the first thing I put on when I get home. 

However, eventually no matter how much sticky tape I adhere to them, they wear out. It almost feels traitor-like to toss them into the trash in exchange for new ones. But, things do change and I make the needed adjustment. And, when I ease into those brand spanking new slippers, I quickly appreciate the cushy and hole-free bottoms. 

As in life. On our individual journey’s, we may find comfort and satisfaction and happiness in various aspects of our lives. Relationships, work, spiritual, the pursuit of dreams and passions. Then more often than we like, those soles wear out and we just can’t tape them up any longer. Change become necessary. 

Some of our adjustments may be small, some large. Some are in our control and many are not. When we make a change, everyone might be happy. On the other hand, making an unpopular decision or choosing a path that others do not understand, can be risky.

It definitely takes guts to risk. To put ourselves out there. Especially if we decide to change an unhealthy relationship or pursue a new job or go for a dream we’ve carried inside for many years.

Naysayers and critics are not far away. Those that don’t agree nor understand what we are doing or why we are doing it. Are they wrong? No, not necessarily. Criticism or heart-felt concern is based upon one’s own experiences and perceptions. But those individuals are not us. They can only make conclusions through their own head and heart, not ours. Should we listen to them? Sometimes. But frankly, our life journey is a unique one and the choice remains our own. Remember, our dream is different then their dream. Our passion is different from their passion. Our sense of wholeness, satisfaction and happiness is different then theirs. 

On more than one occasion in my life, I have stopped to listen to the words coming out of my mouth or the attitude emitting from my head or an outcome resulting from my actions. I had to ask myself, “Are those my words? Are those my thoughts? Are those my desired actions? Or are these all coming from someone else’s influence?” 

I know this sounds strange, but sometimes I’ve realized that those words, attitudes and actions coming out of me are NOT me. And I wonder where the heck did I go? The answer usually is when I have allowed myself to become lazy because accepting someone else’s opinion is easier. Other times, I simply hadn’t realized how much of an influence another person had over me and I needed to get back on track.  

Each of us lives our own life. Me mine and you yours. When I start living yours and you start living mine, things start to go haywire. We can lose our energy, hope and grounding. So, when you hear someone else’s words fall from your lips or exhibit an attitude that isn’t truly your own or engage in behaviors that feel foreign, take note. It may be time to abandon the taped up slippers and try something new. 

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

A Kick for Blue Copper

I am very excited to highlight some of our recent activities surrounding the launch of our Kickstarter Campaign for our film BLUE COPPER. 

If you are in the independent film industry, you know what Kickstarter is all about and most likely have supported a few campaigns here and there. I personally have backed many projects over the last few years because I believed in the project or the people creating the projects. However, if you are NOT in the indie film world, you are thinking, “What the heck is a kickstarter?” 

A few years back, crowd-funding started to become more popular. It truly is a wonderful platform for us creative types to raise funds to help pay for our projects. It works beautifully because if a lot of people give a little bit, then everybody wins! Although, there has been some huge campaigns out there that have raised in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Blue Copper isn’t near that size. However, I have some good ideas on how I would use that much money should some rich millionaire come along. Haha!

Once deciding to utilize Kickstarter in helping raise funds for our project, we assembled all kinds of information, set the fund raising goal, set a timeframe, and created supporter reward levels. Then the video was put together and added into the Blue Copper Kickstarter page along with everything else. 

The one thing about a Kickstarter Campaign is that they are all or nothing. So, if we don’t raise at least our goal amount, then our team won’t receive any funds and our backers don’t pay anything. That’s why it’s so important for us to get the word out. We can exceed our goal (which would be really helpful), but we at least need to raise that initial goal amount. If we make the goal, before Kickstarter gives us the funds, they take a small percentage fee to cover their expenses (just from our final amount, NOT from our contributors). 

Back to BLUE COPPER. I talked to some key people who are close to me about the BLUE COPPER project. They liked the 25 page script and thought it would be a cool story to see up on the big screen (20 to 25 minutes in length). I engaged the invaluable help of Sara Dangler as my producer and we started the process of putting together our campaign. There are many articles out there online about the process, tips and suggestions, as well as horror stories! It is very time consuming, but something that we are willing to do in order to pursue our passion—making a film!

We just launched the campaign, so now we spread the word! The campaign will run throughout the month of August and we hope that there are some supportive and kindly individuals out there that will want to be a part of our Blue Copper team. Understanding that sometimes people are in a tougher financial position, even just spreading the word of the project to others is very helpful. 

I hope that you’ll click on over to watch the brief video that we’ve put together for our BLUE COPPER Kickstarter Campaign…no obligation, of course, just a big thank you from our production team. 

Here is the link to the video: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1239280868/blue-copper 

You can find more information at our website and on our facebook page.

Thanks for your continued interest in my variety of Blog posts. I honestly do appreciate your valuable time. This should be an interesting month!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Alaskan Wonderland

For many years, I have wanted to visit Alaska. Finally, I was able to make that trip a reality via a recent seven day cruise.

In August 2012, I was spending time with my best friend on one of our many visits over the years. Our father’s had worked at the same company, so Karen and I have been friends since the tender age of three! Thankfully, we have made the effort to spend time together whenever possible despite only living in the same state for the first few years of our friendship.

I happened to receive a solicitation phone call regarding a vacation deal. Normally, I dismiss those type of calls right away, but Karen and I were having such an enjoyable time at that VERY moment, we made the salesperson happy when we each purchased a package. A few months later we booked the Alaskan cruise. So, the anticipation had been building for quite awhile. Karen, Johnny (her son), Rick and I, just spent a week aboard the Norwegian Jewel cruise liner.

It might sound cliché, but to summarize the trip up in one word, it would have to be—Wow! The scenery was absolutely spectacular.

First off, the ship was one massive floating resort with tons of restaurants, bars, activities, and entertainment. Yes, it is true what they say about eating too much on a cruise! It was a good decision to have upgraded our food package enabling us to dine in the “speciality” restaurants. The food was better and there were less people. You can imagine with over two thousand people on board, the main dining rooms and buffets became over-crowded at times. In my opinion, our best meal was the teppanyaki grill where they cooked everything right in front of us. Our chef was very entertaining and funny. The food was excellent.

Those that have cruised before know of the traditional dress-up evening. This itinerary also included a White Hot Night when everyone was encouraged to wear white. Rick and I actually made it onto the ship’s final highlight video being recognized as a “dressed to impress” couple and I was awarded a free, fruity cocktail!

The most surprising part of the trip was the weather. It did get windy and chilly at times while at sea or on the gangplank, but we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. More than one person told us we hit the jackpot as normally it rains 300 days annually in much of Alaska. We did not experience even one drop! Even the arrival and departure days in Seattle were dry.

There were four ports to explore. The first in Ketchikan. Rick, Johnny and I donned rain gear and boots if only to keep us dry from our own spray as we zipped around the bay onboard our own sturdy rubber power boat. Our tour guide, Vee with Ketchikan Outdoors, led our small group sharing history and legends from the area as well as explaining about the wildlife. She even tossed a fish to one of the several bald eagles flying overhead. He swooped down right in front of us to scoop up that tasty morsel.

The scenery was breathtaking and thrilling to view from up close while hanging on for dear life! The excursion ended with hot chocolate, spiced cider, and crackers with the most delicious salmon-spread ever. From there we found ourselves at a local fish joint savoring a pound of fresh Alaskan King Crab.

Next it was on to Juneau where we climbed aboard a ten passenger sea-plane run by Wings Airways. Taking off and landing on the water was pretty cool in itself. Seeing the tree covered mountains, water-ways, and glaciers from the air was no short of amazing. What a way to view the beauty of Alaska.

We flew up to the secluded Taku Glacier Lodge where they smoked and served us—yup, you guessed it, fresh salmon! Yum! The grounds surrounding the lodge provided stunning views, a cool damp nature walk, and some gigantic mosquitos. We were happy to see they provided plenty of bug repellant.

Then it was on to Skagway. There we hung out in town to do some shopping. I’ve never seen so many jewelry stores in one place! At that point, there were four cruise ships docked at one time. Needless to say, the little town was over loaded with tourists. 

To relax and ditch the crowds for a while, we ducked into the Historic Skagway Inn for some snacks and drinks. The rhubarb wine was refreshing and the bread pudding sweet.  Janet, our friendly waitress and the current Innkeeper, shared stories of her interesting past jobs. She was one of those people to whom you instantly felt rapport. 

Our last port was Victoria, British Columbia in Canada where we visited Butchart Gardens. For over two solid hours we took in the most brilliant and vibrant colors. The flowers were beautiful and the gardens meticulously maintained. Again, the place had a few too many patrons for my liking, but still it was an enjoyable afternoon.

One of my favorite afternoons/evenings was spent on the back deck watching in awe as our huge cruise ship made its way up a fiord to within a few miles of Sawyer Glacier. We knew it was getting close as we passed larger and larger chunks of ice floating in the water. Several long skinny streams flowed down from the tall peaks creating cascading waterfalls into the ocean. The aqua water color was something more expected to be seen in the Caribbean. 

As we approached the huge glacier, our captain turned our vessel completely around. The view was mesmerizing. As we moved away from the glacier, a few of us actually saw a huge part of the ice break off and crash down into the ocean below. Even from a distance it was an incredible and rare sight to behold.

During our Alaskan adventure, we didn’t come across any bears, which might have been a good thing! However, we did watch several whales from the ship and also saw some seals.

Overall, the entire cruise experience was fantastic. After waiting and anticipating for such a long time, I was not disappointed in the least. It truly had to be one of my best vacations, yet. And, I highly recommend it should anyone have the opportunity to go.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Flutter, Scamper, Crawl - Can I Love Them?

I have a history with creatures that flutter, scamper and crawl. Coming across them while outside can often be fascinating and amazing. Did I say, outside? Okay, so that’s where I believe they belong - outside. That’s their home. But, inside - it’s all about me and I can get pretty territorial.

Maybe my strong feelings come from horror movie images of creepy crawlies dropping into my open mouth at night. Did you know that it is estimated that the average person unknowingly swallows a pound of insects every year? Somebody stop me.

Or my feelings may come from memories of my hair being adopted as a refuge or sharing my dinner with uninvited guests. Let me share a few of my well grounded dislikes over the years. Ready? 

When I was a little girl we were enjoying a visit to Trafalgar Square in London. All was wonderful until a pigeon decided my head looked like a nice cushy landing spot to settle upon. Of course, I freaked which just made matters worse. My parents were likely stifling laughter as I ran around screaming like a banshee trying to get him out of my hair. 

Oh, and I have been a “target” for many a bird over the years. I can count a handful of times when I’ve been blessed from overhead by my winged friends. Nothing is more peaceful than enjoying the rhythmic waves of the ocean, the bright sunshine on your face, and that sudden warm sensation on the back of your hand. It’s true. Seagull’s poop is warm! They like me, seagull’s. Once while visiting Sea World in San Diego, luckily I turned my head in the nick of time to barely miss a present delivered to my face. Instead, it was received on my jacket in a sprawling fashion. See, they love me, them seagulls.

Birds are cool. But, a bird in a house is unsettling. Think, THE BIRDS. Okay, so it was only one bird loose in the house, but it was still creepy. All that flapping and flying around my head was too much. Take COVER!  And, is Michael Bay really going to remake that movie?

Moving on from our flying friends and to the scampering ones. 

As a single mom you have to be brave, mostly out of necessity. Books before bed were a long standing routine with my kids. One night during a reading of probably either Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (by Judith Viorst) or Are You My Mother? (by P.D. Eastman), a scuttle caught my eye. I realized it was a mouse! A mouse in my house! Not wanting to create a panic in my son (who was only two), I pretended like I didn’t see that furry rodent running along the baseboard in his bedroom. Ugh! 

True, this may have been payback from a pet mouse I had as a kid. Honestly, I had tried my best to provide a warm and cozy living environment for my furry friend and stuffed his small cage with burrowing material. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing doesn’t always have a positive result. All right, I admit my guilt, but I swear it was involuntary manslaughter. He suffocated and it was my fault. Now, he had returned to haunt me while reading my son Green Eggs and Ham (by Dr. Seuss).

And, finally on to the crawlers.

No matter how hard I tried not to, alas my skittishness for creepy crawlies passed on to my sons. Especially my eldest. One night he and I discovered a large cicada had wandered into the house. We cowered together, hands interlocked (did I mention he was in high school?). We each hoped the other would be a grownup and take charge. When no one came to our rescue, we put our heads together and devised our strategy because you can’t just leave the critters wandering aimlessly around the house. 

We deduced that the little guy had come inside because of our glaring lights. But, we had a plan to free him. Open the arcadia door wide, turn the porch light on, and turn all the lights in the house off. Perfect because he would fly back outside—to HIS home. Onward. 

We opened the door. The porch light was lit. Then in one fail swoop of simultaneous precision, we flipped off all the lights inside the house and quickly moved away from the open door. But, we missed one. And, of course it was the brightest - a halogen. In a split second, that bug flew right onto the hot lamp and met his death with a loud sizzle. We just stood there for a second unsure what had happened. We were horrified. Then just grateful the crisis was over and slammed the door shut so no others could enter and face the same fate. 

When in college, I existed on green peas (straight from the can) and baked potatoes with stewed tomatoes smothered on top. And, a few other things. One of my favorites was boxed parmesan noodles. One night, I fixed some of those delicious treats (they have so many pretty colors in the ingredients like Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, and my favorite Yellow 6).

Anyway, I finished my first over sized serving, then half way through my second helping, I realized there appeared to be quite a few extra specs of parmesan cheese in that particular box. Lucky me. No wait, they were weevils. Once I looked closer, I saw dozens, not mentioning the ones I had just consumed. But, of course, the mama weevil just did her natural thing by laying her eggs in my box. 

Perhaps if I saw these bugs coming, it wouldn’t be so bad. But, they always seem to reveal themselves at the most inopportune moments. No matter how much we spray down here in Texas, we can’t seem to keep those spiders, mayflies, beetles and lord knows what else outside. Oh wait, there is one more. 

When packing for a recent trip, I pulled some old napkins out of a backpack pocket. And BINGO, I got nabbed by a scorpion. Scared the pants off me! After I picked them back up, I completely freaked out. Even worse than the bird in my hair. After several choice words (which don’t typically escape my lips) and practically squeezing the end of my right index finger off, I tried to reach Rick at work. He was busy (imagine that) so I left a breathless panicked voice mail for him that I got “bit” by a scorpion and didn’t know what to do! He’s sympathetically has re-played me that message a few times.  

I lived in Phoenix for 30 years and never got stung. I just didn’t know what to expect. It hurt like crazy and I shook like a leaf in a wind storm. Since the poor little dude was still sitting there ON MY BED probably as freaked out as me, I mustered up enough guts to grab him in the napkins and bolt for the toilet where he promptly went down with three flushes and some fresh “liquid” over the top to be sure he was gone. Then, I did what a rational person would do and went to the internet. I discovered that unless I was allergic to the sting, I would survive. It did say that I should remain calm so the poison didn’t spread as quickly. Too late for that!

However, after all these memorable occurrences, I am here to tell you of my fresh approach. I’m going to reassure myself that these are all God’s creatures and nature has a purpose for each of them (although, I’m not sure about cockroaches). 

I’m going to change my attitude. Embrace them. Invite them in from time to time. I’m NOT going to go into a panic attack when I see a brown recluse on my kitchen counter nor emerge from my office every two minutes for six hours obsessively watching to see if he’s moved. And, I’m going to be welcoming and have a warm heart towards the oversized black beetles that suddenly emerge from my pile of white laundry. 

I will tell myself that I love all things that flutter. All things that scamper. All things that crawl - INSIDE my house. 

This attitude adjustment worked well with my repulsion then love of most Sushi, so I have high hopes.

It will be all smiles and laughter the next time I see something making its way along the wall, popping out of a drawer, or waiting for me in the bathtub. I CAN love them.

Do you think my new strategy will work?

Just a side note - no blog next week. We are taking a really cool vacation and I can’t wait to write about it and share some pictures once we are back. Hopefully, I won’t encounter any unexpected creepy friends that decide to hitch a ride in my luggage! If so, it’s all love and kisses from me! 

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Returning to Davos

Our family lived in England for six years during my elementary school years. My father worked for a U.S. corporation that moved us there to live as he managed some of their plant facilities. While there, my parents took advantage of the close proximity to many European countries and we traveled through several of them.

One of my favorite trips was a two week skiing vacation to Davos, Switzerland. We traveled with another family, the Lloyds. They were also American’s working in Britain. Our families would get together for occasions, especially ones not celebrated in that country—namely, Thanksgiving and Halloween! The Lloyds had two of their sons (Don and Mike) living in England with them. Don and my brother, Kenny, were around the same age of fifteen. And, Mike and I were the same age of nine. 

As an amusing side note, Mike was the first boy I ever kissed! We played spin-the-bottle in our laundry room when his family came for dinner one night. Since there was nobody else to kiss, we just decided to increase the length of each kiss by ten seconds. Picture our young innocent lips pressed together while our eyes were glued on the second hand of the clock. Too funny!

We flew from London into Zurich, rode two trains to bring us to the bottom of a mountain, then rode a funicular up to the resort. The funicular was like a tram that climbed on tracks up the steep mountain side. At the top, looking enormous, was our home for the following two weeks—Hotel Schatzalp. 

Due to technology these days, I was able to find the same resort online. Some of the internet photos I’m sharing were taken in the summer, but we were there when everything was covered in snow. The resort, now called the Schatzalp Snow and Mountain Resort, was and still is beautiful. There were many rooms and areas to explore as kids. All around us were the most magnificent snow covered peaks and valleys, all part of the Swiss Alps. Even at that young age, I was impressed with the awesomeness of that setting.

Since I had never snow-skied before, my parents registered me for ski lessons. I had to attend all six classes to earn the certificate of completion. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the last lesson due to a situation that overcame me every time I tried to leave the restroom. I still think it was nerves about the test required that day. The class had about twenty students—all boys except for me. I learned the basics, enough to ski some beginner and intermediate slopes over the rest of our trip.

The lodge was vast with several floors of guest rooms. In the boys room, us kids decided to collect sugar cubes. By the end of the fortnight, we had amassed almost an entire drawer full of the carefully stacked little delicacies. I would have loved to have seen the cleaning person’s face at that discovery! A wonderful outside deck offered a fantastic view of the slopes. The ski runs in Davos seemed to go on forever. There was a white table-clothed formal dining room with a black and white tiled floor. And, a lounge area complete with a polished black piano. 

Kenny, Don and Mike were able to convince the parents to let them go tobogganing a couple of times. Nothing like climbing up a hill and gliding down the soft snow attempting to avoid trees. But rather, a toboggan ride like an Olympic run! A long icy chute that was fast moving. I was rather perturbed that I couldn’t go with them! 

Instead, I recall having to hang out with the adults in that lounge area listening to some guy play the piano. Boring! When the entertainer took a break, my parents prodded me to go play something. Eventually, I walked up and began pushing down a few random keys. The pianist came back and encouraged me. So, I played Greensleeves. All the adults in the lounge applauded and commented on how cute I was and—gosh, I played so well for a young lady. The next afternoon, we were all back in the lounge. The pianist once again invited me up to play a song. Feeling pretty confident then, I placed my fingers on the keys and did an encore presentation of Greensleeves. It was the only song I knew! After that, I didn’t get invited back. So ended my celebrity status.

One evening when us four kids were exploring the property, we accidentally pushed the button in the elevator for the basement level. When the door opened, all we saw was a dimly lit hallway with dust on the floor that contained footprints. We thought it creepy and immediately pushed the button to go to a different floor. However, the elevator door closed but then reopened again. The footprints in the dust had disappeared! At least that’s what Mike and I believed. The explanation was more likely about the older siblings attempting to scare the younger ones. 

The parents had planned a special day of fun. Carrying our skies, we were to hike up a pass, eat lunch in the lodge at the top, then ski down the other side of the mountain. It sounded adventurous and we started off on a clear, crisp morning. Hiking up the mountain was difficult in the high altitude, but the scenery was spectacular. We followed along a trail which alternated between being very wide with being extremely narrow. Even though it was hard physical work, we were looking forward to the long ski ride down. 

After a while into the hike, clouds began to roll in and the sky grew dark. It began to snow harder and harder until we were in a full fledged blizzard. We could barely see in front of our faces. The only thing keeping us moving in the right direction were tall orange metal posts planted deep into the snow. It was freezing. Mrs. Lloyd had icicles hanging from her goggles and ice clung to Mr. Lloyd’s mustache. We kept trudging forward for what seemed like an eternity. At one point we reached a summit. As I crawled up over the ridge, the wind was so strong that it began to blow me towards a steep drop off. My brother quickly jumped on top of me to stop an impending disaster. 

We then proceeded around a mountain, inching our way along a path that was only a couple of feet wide. The faint lights from the lodge we were heading for in the distance. One side of the path was straight up, while the other side was straight down! That was a bit hairy, but the adults felt it was the only way to finally reach the lodge before we all froze. At long last we made it safely to the warm destination. As we looked up at the large board that displayed the status of the ski runs, we saw that the pass we had just hiked up was closed due to severe weather. The disappointing end to that eventful day was the weather didn’t clear up so instead of skiing down, we had to take a train. 

Our family certainly sustained some injuries. At one point when I was skiing with my dad, I saw him fall and hit his head really hard on the icy slope. He didn’t move for a few moments, which was rather unsettling. My mother took a bad tumble and strained her knee. Unfortunately, this put an end to her skiing. Or perhaps fortunately, for she spent a lot of time in the spa during the remainder of the trip. 

With just three days remaining of our holiday, we were on the slopes getting more incredible skiing in. Kenny had skied a particular run twelve times that day. He grew frustrated because the bindings on his skis seemed to be releasing more than necessary causing his skis to periodically pop off.  So, someone tightened his bindings slightly. The thirteenth time Kenny skied the slope he fell, but the bindings were too tight and didn’t release. He broke his leg. 

The efficient and busy medical team strapped my brother into a stretcher shaped like a shallow trough. One of the guys zigzagged their way down the long slope to the lodge pulling my brother behind him. From there, they loaded him into the funicular to get to the bottom of the mountain. Then, it was off to the hospital and into a ward with eleven other teenage boys—all with broken legs strung up in the air! Because we were supposed to be flying back to England only a few days later, the doctors decided they would not set his broken leg. This meant that until we returned home, he had to keep his leg elevated at all times.

One of the activities Kenny missed due to his hospital stay was the sleigh ride. One morning we boarded a horse drawn sleigh; Mike and I bundled together in a blanket on the high back bench and my parents in the middle seat. There were several sleighs that traveled together caravan style with live musicians on one of them. The scenery was gorgeous as we glided across the back country on the gleaming white snow—just like in the movies! For lunch we stopped at a tavern. I recall my father lifting me up on his shoulders to ring the cowbells that hung from the ceiling.

The vacation came to an end. During the journey home, we had a tight connection (maybe five or six minutes) in which to disembark one train and board another to carry us to Zurich. With eight people, one of which had to be carried, and 14 pieces of luggage it had to be a quick and calculated plan. My father made sure we all knew what to do. Once the train we were on stopped, my dad would carry Kenny (because of his broken leg) across the station to the awaiting train. My mother would stay with him. Meanwhile, the rest of us would unload all the remaining luggage and pile it up on the platform. Mike and I would watch over the luggage as the others would transport it from the platform to the second train approximately fifty yards away. 

Everyone was prepared to implement the plan and we all jumped into action. The train stopped, my father carried Kenny to the other train, took off his jacket, and left him there with my mother. Meanwhile, Mike and I stayed with the pile of luggage as the others hastily carried items to the awaiting train. There were no wheels on luggage in those days! Everything was moving along smoothly, but time was getting short. 

As my father, Mrs. Lloyd and I ran with the last load of bags, the train started to pull away from the station. My mom was standing in the doorway of that train. As a nine year old, it was terribly frightening to see my mother leaving on a train without me. I started crying and running after her alongside the moving train. An official at the station and my dad were yelling at me to stop as they were afraid I would fall under the train onto the tracks. When I couldn’t catch her, I just stopped and sobbed uncontrollably. 

My father began yelling some choice words in English at the station official who reciprocated by yelling back in his own colorful language. My father was furious that they couldn’t have waited for thirty more seconds before letting the train leave. Finally, after they both had calmed down, we learned another train was coming in just five minutes later so they were unable to delay the first train. Our plan B was to board that second train that was actually faster. This would deliver us to our desired destination more quickly than the train the rest of our group was on. Back then, there were no cell phones to communicate all this with our loved ones. 

My father, Mrs. Lloyd and I boarded that next train. I remember still being very shaken up and wouldn’t even remove my jacket. The conductor came by to collect our tickets. It was then that my father realized when he had removed his jacket and left it in the other train, inside those pockets were all our tickets, money, and passports. We had nothing to give the conductor but our story. Fortunately, he believed us and allowed us to remain onboard. We quickly stopped at station after station. Then suddenly at one stop, Don walked onto our train with our tickets and packed lunches! He had taken a chance that we would be on that train.

When we arrived for the flight home, they put our family in first class because my brother needed to sit with his leg raised up. After arriving in London, they took him off the plane in a scissor lift. He was then taken directly to the hospital where they set his broken leg. As they removed him from the surgery table, they promptly dropped him and broke his leg again, then had to reset it all over!

That trip to Switzerland was one I remember fondly. It was in the most beautiful country and was full of adventure and stories! 

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Mid-Year 2014 Update

I missed last week’s blog—first time in six months! Probably due to being out of town and more likely because I haven’t been in my “creative” space lately, but in my “planning and coordinating” mode. So, this blog is more of an update on Mindclover projects.

While on my recent nine day trip back to Phoenix, I started out by attending the Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival where we had one of our short films (INDIGO CHILD) screening. I was honored to have been part of a panel discussing women and filmmaking. The festival was very enjoyable, but more importantly, a time to network and reconnect with other indie filmmakers.

Then, it was on to two days of auditions. There is definitely some quality acting talent in Arizona. Making the decisions for cast members is necessary but always difficult!

The remaining few days consisted of several business meetings and personal appointments as well as time with family.

Once back in Texas, it took me a day to update all my to do lists for ongoing and upcoming projects. And, I’ve been staying focused on getting things crossed off of that list. For anyone that might be interested, I have four major projects remaining this year.

First, I’m really excited about a longer short film (about 20 minutes) that I have written and will be directing. The film is called BLUE COPPER. The auditions I held while in Phoenix were for the two lead characters. Here is the synopsis:

Hired for a month to care for 25 year old Hunter, Roz and her psychologically complex client develop a relationship based upon an undeclared mutual desire to liberate the other. Well-intentioned efforts lead down precarious and unexpected pathways.

I am thrilled to have Sara Dangler producing on the project and Bret Kalmbach returning from New York to shoot for us. My two sons, Devon and Trenton, will and already have had useful creative input on the script. We will be filming this project in Arizona this fall.

After supporting other people’s crowd-source funding campaigns over the past several years, this time we will be conducting our own campaign. Many people have become familiar with Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other websites that allow filmmakers, artists, musicians, and other creatives to raise money for their projects. People often want to help others achieve their creative goals and will happily contribute a few dollars to help see the project completed. And, in doing so also receive some fun rewards themselves. It is a growing trend in many creative fields, especially indie filmmaking. So, for those interested, stay tuned for more updates on BLUE COPPER on my website: http://www.mindclover.com/films/#/blue-copper/.

Second, I can see now that as with any type of writing (screenplay or manuscript), it feels like revisions and rewrites could go on indefinitely while attempting to achieve perfection! Knowing perfection is a moving target, soon I will be seeking an editor, then proceeding to the final version of my first fictional book. In addition to an ebook format, I met with a talented actor friend of mine to discuss a possible audio version as well. That will be fun!

Third, we will be doing a second project with one of my favorite clients, Phill Akinwale. A couple of years ago, we shot an hour long production of a narrative script he had written to train his clients in Project Management. There were seventeen local Arizona actors in the Time Machine fictional story. This time, we will be shooting a reality tv type of show and will be following a project management team through their process.

And last but not least, we had a development meeting while in Phoenix on a feature film that I have wanted to get off the ground for a while. There is still much to be accomplished, but we felt renewed enthusiasm about the project after a productive meeting. We are taking some long awaited steps to hopefully bring this film to life next year.

That’s about it. Busy and focused will be a good description for the remainder of this year. If you read this far, thank you so much for your interest and your support!

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]

Beauty in Motion

Kindness feeds your heart nourishment. Intentional graciousness communicates through our touch, our words, our actions, and our smile

A gentle arm about a shoulder. Safety ensured by holding a child’s hand. Embracing just a few moments longer than expected. A pat on the back, stroke of the hair, the caress of a cheek. 

The gift of listening. Consoling another. Being there—in silence, imbuing comfort. Storytelling for compassion, connectedness, inspiration. Simple politeness. Sharing giggles and deep belly-laughs. Providing encouragement. Verbal thanks, appreciation, and recognition. Words brimming with affirmation and beliefs of possibility. 

Unselfish acts of grace and service. Surprises of garden flowers. Basic courtesies with doors, tires, and errands. Philanthropy. Warmth initiated through befriending. Sharing of time, skills, passion. 

A smile—simple and free. Offered to a stranger, a waitress, a store clerk, a neighbor, a child, a coworker, a teacher, a friend. Smiles visibly exposing the love and gratitude residing in our hearts.  

No matter if intentional acts of kindness remain anonymous or are celebrated. Behaviors simple or complex. Widely-shared or only for one. All are actually something more than just kindness—they are beautiful. True beauty in motion.

I discovered an organization whose sole purpose is to promote kindness. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website contains literally hundreds of ideas, plenty of quotes, and heart-warming stories from across the world. 

Today and everyday, may we all choose to be just a little bit kinder towards those sharing this world with us. 

Kindness—What a beautiful thing.

[To be notified of my future blogs via email, simply click on the Get Notified of Future Posts! link at the top of this page. Thank you!]