A Book and Spring Flowers

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You know we all have our thing, the thing we are self conscious about that seems so large in our own mind. For some reason the feminist movement has made being a woman confusing, should we or shouldn’t we be proud to be a woman. The modern world seems to encourage us to be more like men, and to ignore what makes us different. For years, I avoided wearing dresses, or to wear too much make up, afraid it would make me look weak, but it all goes much deeper than that. Now that I am in my thirties, a department director and soon to be wife, being a woman seems like an impossible achievement to master.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe book Man and Woman: A Divine Invention by Alice Von Hildebrand came to me while listening to Eric Metaxas interview. I would be lying if I told you the pressure of becoming a wife isn’t freaking me out a little bit. Is there a wife bootcamp I can attend to get me ready for the challenge I’m about to face? Probably not, but reading more about my new calling would give me an idea on what I am to do.
I know becoming a wife is deeper than cooking or the classic 1950’s woman. In fact, while reading the book , I began to see being a woman is a divine gift given by God – which I never really looked at it that way.
“[Male & Female] They are two beings of equal dignity, but complementary; therefore, they are mutually necessary for enriching one another.”
Reading about the power of a woman made me embrace being femine. The weeks following completing the book, I bought flowers for the video office. It was a small act, but for me it was part of embracing the fact I wanted flowers because they are beautiful. It brighten up the room and I enjoyed looking at them while I rendered.
It was interesting to read about the influence a woman’s heart can have on society. I thought about when developing a video project, what heart can I bring to my work that I usually ignore?
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“Without feminine, contact, men will never develop their “human side.” They become inventors, creators, and producers, but their own being remains an uncultivated field.”
She quotes another fellow writer, Adolf Von Hildeand,  “So it is that we love a woman as our holy ghost; through womanhood we develop our most human element into full sensibility; the rest of our being belongs therefore to the outer world.”
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“We live in a world that has become more and more dehumanized, more and more heartless, a world dominated by technology, by machines…The machines cannot smile or utter a word of comfort to the sick, who are desperately in need of understanding, patiences, and compassion in order to carry well the cross of physical and psychological suffering. Human persons are made of body and soul, and the body cannot recover when the soul is neglected.”
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“Feminist forget that to be a wife and a mother, to create a home and to be there to give love, and to listen to the little woes of the little ones who crave for tenderness and affection is like being the sun illuminating a dark world.”
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Something Gus told me when we first met, he said I bought color into his world.
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“Each sex has its role; each has its talents;  each has its mission.”

I loved learning about the beauty I hold and the call on my life to deliver it into the world.

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I don’t think I would have been able to embrace my femininity without falling in love with my future husband’s masculinity. Our different strengths together make us better people. I’ve never had so much confidence like I do now, and its not because I’m no longer alone, it’s because his perspective are my blind spots, and my perspective his blind spots. We help each other in so many ways.
Male and Female, how beautiful they complement each other.
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What an adventure we are about to take on. Its going to be fun.. says the happy engaged woman about to marry the man everyone said didn’t exist.
Two months to go..

Book: Misfits Welcomed by Matthew Barnett

I am finding the best audio books to enjoy are the ones where the author shares lots of stories. It’s like being able to sit with them personally to hear all that has happen in their life.

I saw Matthew Barnett tweet about his new book, Misfits Welcomed a while back and left a comment, “Can’t wait for the audio book.” I’ve heard different parts to his story about how he came to Los Angeles to build a church and end up pastoring the homeless living on skid road, poor immigrant families, drug addicts, run aways teens and so many people that society gave up on.

I knew this book would be full of powerful testimonies of people who came out some dark times. What I didn’t expect was to learn so much about serving others and the joy it brings to ones life. I love how encouraging Matthew Barnett was, he made me believe I too could have an impact on others, if I just listen to the voice of God giving me one of those crazy idea to be generous to others and to embrace my misfit self. 

Quotes from the Book

Love finds a way. Love opens the door to dreams that could never come across our minds with out it. Love is the greatest factory of ideas. My prayer used to be, “God teach me how to be creative.” Now I pray, “God teach me how to love.”

[Lessons from running the LA Marathon] That 6 mile stretch taught me everything I needed to know about perseverance. I started to think about all the things that could go wrong, than I stopped myself and said, “Don’t let fear multiply, you’ve come this far, go all the way.” It was the most difficult, but yet the most liberating experience in my life. I decided this victory will be the launching pad to crushing fear. The finish line wasn’t just an end to the race, it was an end to this torment to fear.

People can change and anything is possible, because God is in everything. We really believe our community can changed, and many think we are crazy. We are proud to carry the label of people with unrealistic expectations.

When a misfit becomes activated in faith, they often have no idea that limitations are even there. The joy in being a part of God’s plan ignites a fire in their soul to do something great. 

There is potential in people who society would label as misfits, instead of looking at people as victims with nothing to offer, try telling them that great things are still attainable. Confront people with the possibly of achieving great things.

If people can’t understand your positive expectations for humanity, you are probably a misfit. You have misfit expectations compare to the skepticism of the age in which we live.

The message of Christ was made to go where it doesn’t traditionally fit in…The message of Christ is lived out through the transformation of his people. Sunday morning church is not the decision spot for the church, but the launching pad of inspiration for what we can be and do Monday thru Saturday.

God has placed you somewhere you have unique influence to share his love. Yes, you. You have influence somewhere that no one else has. My advice is to live intentionally about your influence and be confident in the one who loves you, and the power your influence can have in the lives of others.  

Inward living produces outward devastation. Outward serving produces inner joy.   

Serving has never left me empty but always filled. I found the more time I have to look inside myself, the more time I have to feel cheated, victimize, and self center..The thing I got going for me, is I know what to do when life becomes all about me – Jump into someone else need.

Serving is not always a strategy, an idea, its a way of life. Its a way of treating people, a way of encouraging.

What made me believe every word of this book was the on time I saw Matthew Barnet at a Dream Center Outreach. He wasn’t the super star pastor but he was among the crowd enjoy the day, talking to people and being one of the kids. I even doubted it was him because no pastor would be here on a hot summer day, at a little city block outreach like this. haha. Serving is not always a strategy, an idea, its a way of life.

Book: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

During my early graphic design days at church, there was nothing more that I wanted than to be the church’s video editor. I remember being in a meeting with my senior pastors and was asked if I would one day like to be the video department head. I was 24 years old then, and so much of my future was unknown. I knew I wanted a family and I would want to be a stay a home mom, so my answer was, “One day, I want to be married with kids.” They all looked at me and said,”Yes, but would you like to be the video department head in the future?” I smiled, and said, “Yes”. The thought of having my own family, was about to make me draw back from what I knew was my calling. I am very glad that no one listened to my answer in that meeting and still decided to developed me as a leader.

There is a similar story in Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. She is the CFO of Facebook and is passionate about encouraging women to never stop leaning in towards new opportunities at their job. As I read, I was horrified at the different studies of women drawing back or giving up. Also, at the different challenges women have to overcome in order to be taken as a leader. I am fortunate that at my work place, the men believe in the women, and I know that’s because of my senior pastor who broke the mold and is an amazing woman preacher and pastor. I started to see I was my bully, telling myself I can’t or I’m scared or I’m just a girl.

“We internalize messages that say it’s wrong for us to be outspoken, aggressive, and as powerful as – or even more powerful than -men…We hold ourselves back not just out of fear or seeming too aggressive but also by underestimating our abilities.”

“At Facebook, I teach managers to encourage women to talk about their plans to have children and help them continue to reach for opportunities.” 

And this was true for me at meetings:

“If you take the chair on the side of the room, he will take the seat at the table because he knows he’s awesome. So please remember that you deserve a seat at the same table..and that you are awesome too.” 

The book is full of encouraging words and shared experiences from other leading women professionals, to believe in yourself, that you are more than capable, to have a thriving career. To develop a true partnership with your husband, and being co-parents to take care of the daily house hold items and to never stop leaning in towards promotions and leadership positions. I realize I am apart of a new generation of women who work, and its awesome to read I can have a career that I am passionate about and have a family.

“The goal is to work toward a world where those social norms no longer exist. If more children see fathers at school pickups and mothers who are busy at jobs, both girls and boys will envision more options for themselves. Expectations will to be set by gender but by personal passion, talents, and interests.”

Whether I decide to be a stay a home mom or keep working at a job. I am encouraged to keep taking a leadership role in my life. Either way I will be leading my kids or leading others.

Okay, Mom I’ll read it

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Mom’s have a gift to notice things about their children’s lives that others don’t bother to see. No matter how old you get, mom will always be there trying to teach you something so you don’t have to struggle. When I saw my mom leave this book on my night stand, I rolled my eyes but soon realized I better read it, the cliché is true mothers know best.

When I was a teenager I stumbled upon a book in my parent’s library by Elizabeth George, Woman After God’s Heart. I read it out of curiosity but enjoyed the practical advice it shared. I had the same experience reading Life Management for Busy Women. I was reminded of the foundation habits I’ve abounded because of the excuses of busyness.

The book gave me new insight about being a mom, a wife, and having in-laws. Even though I’m still unmarried and have no kids, I like to prepare on what to do. If you’re looking for a cheerleader to lose weight, save money, make your family happy, mental health and ministry, this book will lead you in that direction. Now the hard part.. to do it.

“…the issue really isn’t the lack of time. No, the issue is the management of our self.”

Writing Television Sitcoms!

IMG_5657One night I got caught in one of those youtube traps; clicking from video to video and not knowing how I got to one place to another. I came across an old web series of these two girls in New York called, Broad City. It was different and as a video director — do able! I enjoyed their interview with Amy Poehler about writing a sitcom.

If you were to see my Netflix Instant Queue, you would see nothing but sitcom’s being watched. Its a dying art that I cheer to come back! Give me can laughter, bright lights and punch lines! Maybe I’m just a child from the 90’s who grew up on this stuff or maybe I have a natural liking. Either way, I started to think about episode I would create.

My first amazon search gave me Evan S. Smith, Writing Television Sitcoms. This book is amazing! It was like going behind the scenes and sitting at the writers table. Of course that first thing I picture was 30 Rock.

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For a few weeks I listened to my friend’s jokes and pin pointing why it was so funny which made it difficult to find anything funny. When writing tweets, I started to think about how I was setting up my thought.

“‘displacement’ of an audience’s train of thought; as in, the setup for a joke causes to have certain expectations, but the punchline yanks the rug out by providing a very different, incongruous payoff. The result? Tension is discharged and the audience laughs.”

“On another level, all humor incorporates some elements of surprise within its structure. When we create a funny scene or joke, we try to reel the audience in with a realistic setup, then hit them with a surprise twist at the end.”

“…an unfortunate truth of the sitcom world is that “three-quarters of all writing is rewriting.”..It’s not uncommon for the staff of a show to rewrite a script five or more times.”

I started to see how I could use this new found knowledge in other areas of my work. Learning how many times a script is re-written before they go in production help me at work prepare to share drafts with other. Feed back is gold! I’ve always been the artist that would say, “Don’t look, its not done!” When I started to ask my co-workers to view my work and tell me what they think I would get very insightful help. Usually they would pin point what wasn’t working. Also allowing my clients to see the drafts before the deadline to get some feed back.

The biggest revolution was when I was reading the chapter about the premise driven comedy, which to me, means the story, (the- what happens question).

When You Can’t Find the Right Punchline, Here’s a tip: When you can’t find the right punchline, go back and check the setup. Once, I agonized over a joke through several drafts of a script, spending hours trying to replace a single weak punchline. A producer who was passing by my office tossed off a casual suggestion – “Change the setup?” Hmm. I went back, tweaked the joke’s premise, and suddenly – half a dozen great punchlines popped into my head. Problem solved.”

I started to edit my videos differently after I read this. How important the setup was! Especially when it came to testimonials. You build up the story and the best part of what happens becomes more powerful.

Half the book was about the writing and the other about the business. I forced myself to read the details about the business but I’m glad I did. It gave me a better idea about the piratical part of writing in as a career.

As for my web series, now I have no excuses. Time to write. But first, I must watch a few more sitcoms for research!

 

 

How Jerry Seinfeld Taught Me How to Find the Moment

Something I enjoy doing is going through old stuff at a thrift store and discovering something I would’ve never thought to have bought anywhere else. I found Jerry Seinfeld book called SeinLanguage. Of course I already heard all his jokes from the 90’s from his show but I knew it would be a fun read.

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It was when I read this passage did the light bulb click for me on how to find the moment for filming and photography.

“The movies will always be one of my top all-time out activities. But to be honest, the peak moment for me is always being on the way to the movies. I love being on the way to the movies.
We’re in the car, trying to get there in time. Maybe you’ll have good seats. Maybe it’ll be a good movie. Maybe everything will be good. You don’t know, and when you’re on the way it’s still possible. I love that I’m definitely doing something and I haven’t done it yet. That’s a pure life moment. After you get a job and before you have to do it. Nothing beats that. It’s the spaces between life that I like the most.”

He painted perfectly where the true story is. I took his words to heart as I film this weekend for our Man Day. I knew what I was looking for as I filmed. I found these moments as they where about to happened. Usually the frustrating part when filming live events is trying to make my shots happen. Instead I saw something might happen, press recorded, and captured it. I started to see things that where happening that would allowed the viewer to feel and remember.
Who knew Jerry Seinfeld would help me be a better filmer and photographer.

The Biggest Lie I Ever Told Myself

6325072032_c7a8baf6c6_oThe biggest lie I ever told myself was when I was in the third grade. I began to do poorly on test. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t smart like the other kids. I figured they were born with knowing the answers. I remember telling myself at that young age, “I’m not smart.” My third grade teacher told my mom that I probably had trouble hearing. Because I believed the lie I told myself, I didn’t blame my ear, I blamed my brain.

 

I believed it all though out high school. I always made sure to do all my homework because I knew I wouldn’t do good on my test. I would just make a passing grade. I even made sure to be a good student so my teachers would feel sorry for me and pass me.

It’s when I started to read more, that I saw I was getting better at remembering things and communicating my thoughts with others. Reading books grew my confidence and knowledge. I realized as an adult, I was smart, I just needed to work out my muscle inside my head, my brain!

Now I see, if I want to learn something new, I need to go out, read about it, discuss it, research it, seek it, to prove the lie wrong.

Book: The Cost of Discipleship

Last year I heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the first time. I never thought in a million years this Pastor German theologian from the 1930’s who died as a Martyr who piloted against Hitler in WW2 would impact me as it has. But with a bio like that, how could his life not have an impact on the generations after him? After reading Bonhoeffer by by Eric Metaxas, I ordered his first book, The Cost of Discipleship.

When I first started reading it, I kept thinking about the journey Bonhoeffer was on and the culture he was talking to. But soon after the first few pages, I began to think of my journey, and the culture I live in. The questions he was addressing, I’ve asked, but his conclusions weren’t afraid of the answers.

“…only the man who is dead to his own will can follow Christ.”

“Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

“Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son.”

Here I was reading the fundamentals of Christianity and yet it was so new to me. Why hasn’t anyone told me to read this book years ago? Now when I have conversations with my friends about living the Christian life, I find myself referring back to Bonhoeffer explanations on what living as a disciple really means.

Bonhoeffer writes these amazing chapters where he ask a question, and takes you on a journey looking for the answer. When he takes you to the conclusion, its like seeing the Scriptures in color for the first time. Simple concepts that I thought I knew. He goes in to depth.

The Sermon on the Mount,

Judging others – “If the disciples make judgements of their own, they set up standards of good and evil. But Jesus Christ is not a standard which I can apply to others. He is judge of myself, revealing my own virtues to me as something altogether evil..Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating.”

Loving your Enemies –

“…Men should defeat their enemies by loving them.”

“We must love not only in thought and word, but in deed, and there are opportunities of service in every circumstance of daily life.”

“His behavior must be determined not by the way others treat him, but by the treatment he himself receives from Jesus; it has only one source, and that is the will of Jesus.”

“…not only to refrain from treating him a he treats us, but actively to engage in heart-felt love towards him”

The chapter of loving your enemies made me think of what Bonhoeffer was going through at the time. Being a Christian German in the early 1930’s. Crazy to know he lived this…and know that he died for this.

Reading The Cost of Discipleship help me see the world and myself in a new perspective. It also required me to look in the mirror and to realize just what the gospel was saying to me.

“It is only because he became like us that we can become like him…By being transformed into his image, we are enabled to model our lives on his.”

“His life on earth is not finished yet, for he continues to live in the lives of his followers.”

Above all else, what I learned most, when I die to my own will, He lives.

Book: Rich Habits

Every morning I listen to the Dave Ramsey channel on iheart radio. I find it helps me focus on one of my major goals to become debt-free. Dave mentioned a book called Rich Habits by Thomas C. Corley. Right away I ordered the book. I began to wonder what type of habits successful people have.

When the book came in the mail I was surprised at how thin it was. The author shared some stories of unsuccessful people who had some small bad habits. Each character was blind to what was causing them to fail in every area of their life.  The final chapters reveled the secrets of successful habits.

“I will form good daily habits and follow these good daily habits everyday.”

At first I thought I didn’t have any bad habits, I don’t smoke, I’m trying to control the way I spend my money but when I wrote down my daily routine, I began to notice my bad habits. I then saw how they were affecting my attitude about my future. I didn’t realize I was spending too much time on social media, emails, listening to the negativity of the news, not returning messages or phone calls, ditching friend’s parties, eating bad…etc…etc. haha..

I learned from the book to set goals every day, every week, every month, and long-term goals. Breaking down long term goals to a day, makes them achievable. Successful people build themselves up so they can have more opportunities.

I noticed some personality bad habits in myself and how I treat others. I tend to interrupt, walk away when they’re still talking, traits I had since childhood but now I can see these bad habit, and now I can do something about it.

Successful people are mindful of what they do and how they treat others. They invest in relationships and take the time to build them up.

“I will control my thoughts and emotion each and every day.”

Controlling our thoughts and emotions play a big role on how we think and feel. Its easy to allow our thinking and feelings to guide us but sometimes they can lead us the wrong way.  Encouraging yourself can make all the differences in the future.

What a difference life is when you make it a point to create good habits. I find myself getting more done, eating better, working out more, living peaceful with others, and having hope everyday that what I am doing will pay off in the days ahead.

It’s such a good feeling to set goals and see them get completed.

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What are some bad habits that are holding you back?

Bonhoeffer

I never paid much attention to history in school, maybe because every important event in history was given to me with a number and fact. I didn’t even read, The Diary of Anne Frank. When we watched Anne Frank’s movie in school, I remember seeing my teacher standing on the side of the classroom with tears in her eyes, not saying a word. I saw she didn’t want to talk about the ugliness of war even though I knew it was a big part of the story.

I’ve seen movies on World War II, even made a video about it myself but it wasn’t until I over heard my dad watching a video on-line about an author who wrote a book about a German theologian named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was I suddenly interested to learn  more. First I was surprised to learn there was a Christian German man who was a theologian, pastor, martyr and spy.

The author was quoting Bonhoeffer, “‘Speak out for those who cannon speak.'” Who in the church today realize that this is the very least that the Bible requires of us?” I thought about the context in which this was said and knew learning about this man’s story was important.

What the book so brilliantly does is takes you on a journey from World War I to World War II with Bonhoeffer as your protagonist. You are right there in this young intelligent theologian line of thought, taking the narrow road. I started to ask myself the same questions, “What does God require of me in this time of history.” Bonhoeffer knew Hitler was bad news even in the early days. He knew any man who claimed he was “the salvation for man” was trouble waiting to happen. Bonhoeffer tried his best to speak to the church, preaching sermons like, “The Jewish Question”, bringing to light that the church must not only speak out for those who can not but to stand by their side and help them.

Bonhoeffer knew that a church that did not stand with the Jews was not the church of Jesus Christ…He saw this clearly and would stake everything on it. But it would be a long and lonely road. – Eric Metaxas, author

Bonhoeffer wrote to high church officials pleading that they do something:

“To delay or fail to make decisions may be more sinful than to make wrong decisions out of faith and love…in this particular case it really is now or never…….We must shake off our fear of this world-the cause of Christ is at stake, and are we to be found sleeping? …Christ is looking down at us and asking whether there is anyone left who confesses faith in him” – Bonhoeffer

During those times Bonhoeffer wrote a few books such as, The Cost of  Discipleship and Ethics, in context these were written is very trouble times. He was devoted to God like no one I have ever read in modern day history. He read and knew his word but most fascinating, lived it. He read his word as though it was God’s word to him personally. He even had a seminary school that was later shut down by the Gestapo.
As time went on and things got worse, he knew he might be one of the very few who were able to act and intervene.

“Mere waiting and looking on is not Christian behavior. The Christian is called to sympathy and action, not in the first place by his own sufferings, but by the sufferings of his brethren, for whose sake Christ suffered.” – Bonhoeffer

When it seems like the church wasn’t going to do anything about what was taking place in Germany, he teamed up with his brother, brother-in-law and friends to plot against Hitler. He believed in bring God into his reality.

The evilness of the Nazis could not be defeated via old-fashioned, “ethics,” “rules”, and “principles. – Eric Metaxas, author

“Why should it always have to be the bad people who make the revolutions?” – Bonhoeffer

God was interested not in success, but in obedience. If one obeyed God and was willing to suffer defeat and whatever else came one’s way, God would show a kind of success that the world couldn’t imagine. But this was the narrow path and few would take it. – Eric Metaxas, author

“only the believer is obedient, and only he who obeys believes. ” – Bonhoeffer

He risked everything in this battle, as did his brother, his brother-in-law, his friends. – Eric Metaxas, author

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Today, we still see injustice all over the world and I see that living in the past doesn’t help but learning about it shows us where to pick up the legacy. So much to be said and discuss after reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer life and WWII. It was great to see so many other people reading the book too, anytime I mentioned it in social media some new stranger would respond.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an amazing theologian but more he was a real Christian. I now see clearly that God created a new community and a new humanity call The Church.
I am still digesting it all.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Its Cool to be a Nerd

Growing up in the late eights I remember movies that displayed nerds with glasses, suspenders, and only a little good looking. The mainstream nerd has changed since then. Today, they are honored like geniuses.

Now is the best time to be nerd.

Last month when I was in search for a new book, I came across this book cover of a girl awkwardly standing against a wall. Mindy Kaling. I laughed at the sight and the title, Is Everyone Hanging Out with Out Me? I related, connected and bought the book.

I must have read it in a weekend. I found it funny and enjoyed her personality. She shared about her failures, success, her struggles, and current battles. What I enjoyed most, she was her self from the beginning to end of the book. She was smart, funny, pretty, thoughtful, and even a little naïve. She was a real girl. She worked hard to make her dreams happen, created a theater play with her best friends and then was asked to write for The Office. I thought it was interesting she played a dumb girl on the show, (which I enjoyed her exaggerated version of a girl). Now she stars and is a writer on her own show, playing a doctor.

It got me thinking, now is the best time for girls to let themselves be smart. In fact, its cool. My cousin wrote on Facebook about meeting girls in college, “The popular girls have kids while the nerd girls are single and successful.” So much could be said about that but maybe the truth is it took some time for the pretty girls to realize they were more than looks. And the same could go for the brains, it may take sometime to realize they are pretty as well.

I remember in high school I thought being smart was something you are born with. It wasn’t until recently that I realized knowledge can be obtained. Our DNA doesn’t have to determine our destiny, God has given us the ability to develop as humans. Everyone is born helpless, but we grow each day learning something new. A lie that my culture believes is, “I’m dumb, its too late to learn.” I see that lie being used as an excuses. With so much information available to us, there is no excuses. Instead of saying, “I wonder”, now we can say, “Let me Google that.”

No matter how dumb one thinks they are, if they want to learn, then work towards it. Read, study, work hard, learn how to use your brain.

Now is the best time to be a nerd. I give you permission to say, “I am smart.” Work your brain this year, learn something new and start making better decisions for your life.

smart
adjective
1 informal he’s the smart one: clever, bright, intelligent, sharp-witted, quick-witted, shrewd, astute, able; perceptive, percipient; informal brainy, savvy, quick on the uptake. ANTONYMS stupid.

*And remember even smart people make mistakes. haha. The trick is to learn from them.

Book: Story by Robert McKee

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The first time I heard of Story by Robert McKee it was 2008 and I was hanging out with my good friend/editing mentor Nick Khoo in Australia. He didn’t give me much details about the book but said, “You have to read this.” When I saw how thick the book was, I knew I wouldn’t bother.

Last year I was in Burbank visiting another editor friend when the book found me again. I walked in to a used book store, and there it was, in a pill of film books.

I often think books find their way to me at the right time. I finally finished the book and it has taught me so much about storytelling, humanity, God, the struggles of life, and how we long for story.

“…I slowly came to realize that stories mean much more than words and pretty pictures.”

Learning the art of storytelling has taught me how to better understand my story.

“Deep within these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity. We go to the movies to enter a new, fascinating world, to inhabit vicariously another human being who at first seems so unlike us and yet at heart is like us, to live in a fictional reality that illuminates our daily reality. We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh, experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add dept to our days.”

I often see my life as I would see a movie, knowing that today’s struggles will build my character.

“True Character is revealed in the choice a human being makes under pressure- the greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character’s essential nature.”

“..choice under pressure will strip away the mask of characterization, we’ll peer into their inner natures and with a flash of insight grasp their true characters.”

It was fascinating to learn how important conflict is to the story. In the long run, it is the story. How the character over came, how the battle was won…

“Life is conflict. That is its nature.”

“…conflict is to storytelling what sound is to music…as long as conflict engages our thoughts and emotions we travel through the hours unaware of the voyage…if conflict is kept on hold for too long, our eyes leaves the screen. And when our eyes leave the screen they take thought and emotions with them”

“The Law of Conflict is more than an aesthetic principle; it is the soul of the story. Story is metaphor for life, and to be alive is to be in seemingly perpetual conflict.”

As a writer, editor, photographer – an artist, its our mission to connect with the audience..

“If you give me your concentration, I’ll give you surprise followed by the pleasure of discovering life, its pains and joys, at levels and in directions you have never imagined…Insight is the audience’s reward for paying attention.”

“We go to the storyteller with a prayer: Please let it be good. Let it give me an experience I’ve never had, insight into a fresh truth. Let me laugh at something I’ve never thought funny. Let me be moved by something that’s never touched me before. Let me see the world in a new way. Amen.”

“If the audience expects to happen happens, or worse, if it happens the way the audience expects it to happen, this will be a very unhappy audience. We must surprise them.”

We all have stories inside us and sometimes sharing them takes courage and honesty. There is no telling the power a story can have on the listener.

Book: Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

When I was in Vancouver my friend and I were seeing a movie a day. Not on purpose just because her and I really like films. We came across this small theater in the middle of the city. There weren’t any big movie names playing just abstract posters with strange titles. We looked at them and picked one called, “Finding Flynn.”

Watching the movie surprised me that I had never heard of this film or the book it was based on. The story was compelling and truthful. The first few minutes of the movie I wasn’t sure where it was taking us but by the end of it, the characters became real people to me. It was the movie that answered questions I always wondered about, “What was it like to be homeless? how did they get there? where was their family?”

The movie was beautiful. At the end of it my friend and I sat there thinking about the characters we just encountered.  My friend Ada said she saw his book in her bookstore, she noticed it because of its odd title, “Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.”
On our way home we stop by her store and I bought the book. They transformed the book perfectly to the screen but I wanted to hear more about the story.

It has been since high school since I read a book like this. In fact I wish high schools would add this to the list of books to read, next to The Catcher in the Rye.

There is so much to say, where to start. I wish we were all in a cafe talking about it. There are so remember able passages in this book. It wasn’t until mid way did I think to mark them so I can share them with you here.

The book itself is a memoir, written by Nick Flynn. His father Jonathan Flynn is a hard headed man who says he is the next American great writer, through out his whole life he claims he is writing a book but instead lives a selfish life, and ends up homeless. His son encounters his father randomly, mostly though letters his dad sends him but one day Jonathan Flynn ends up at the homeless shelter that Nick Flynn is working at in Boston.

“Men come through the door with lips and canes, with walkers, crutches, in wheelchairs, and crawling. Some are carried in, draped between two friends, feet dragging behind One has a glass tee he keeps losing. One has F you tattooed on the inside of his lower lips. A few have tears tattooed on their checks, which means they’ve killed someone. Some have scars from the corners of their mouths to their ears which means they squealed. Many fingers are gone, or half gone, to heavy machinery or knife fights….”
Nick Flynn would sum deep thoughts beautifully.

“… I see no end to being lost. You can spend your entire life simply falling in that direction. It isn’t a station you reach but just the general state of going down. Once you make it back, if you make it back, you will stand before your long-lost friends in some essential way they will no longer know you.”
“The shelter was meant to be a waystation, a halfway house, but halfway to where wasn’t specified. The cot and the roof and the plate of food were only meant to tide one over. It was never meant to be a life raft. Even a life raft is only supposed to get you from the sinking ship back to land, you were never intended to live in the life raft, to drift years on end, in sight of land but never close enough.”

“We all need to create the story that will make sense of our lives, to make sense of the daily tasks. Yet each nigh the doubts returned, howling through him. Without doubt there can be no faith.”

“I now find myself writing a book about an absent father who writes letters to a son about the novel he is writing. A novel the son doesn’t believe exists. The Great Unseen American Novel.”

“For the only book written about my father (the greatest writer America has yet produced), the only book ever written about or by him, as far as I can tell, is this book in your hands. The book somehow fell to me, the son, to write. My father’s uncredited, non compliant ghostwriter. Not enough to be stuck with his body, to be stuck with his name, but to become his secretary, his handmaid, caught up in a folly, a doomed project, to write about a book that doesn’t, that didn’t ever, that may not even, exist.”

You may wonder about the book cover or about the title, but the neat thing is by the end of the book you’ll get it. And you wont forget it.

This book has left a print on me.

Nick Flynn.org

Book: Pursuing Christ. Creating Art.

I couldn’t help but compare the book Pursuing Christ Creating Art with the Imagine How Creativity Works. By the first few pages,  I figured out it wasn’t about being more creative but instead about the heart of the artist.

Even though you may be a different religion, I truly believe an editor/artist has to have the right heart for the project, any project. You gotta care about what you are creating. An assistant editor once tweeted me, “Art from the heart.”

I read most of the book on my flight to Vancouver. This book  found me at the right time. The author’s occupation is an independent film maker, creating sermon illustrations and other type of videos for churches. Therefore he was speaking in my language.

“An artist is a heart condition, not a job.”

“…art finds it’s truest purpose when it’s creator attempts to make visible the invisible.”

“I honestly believe beautiful art can change the world.”

I must admit at times working for church, I felt like I was doing God a service. I would often refer to myself as a Martha. Martha was a women in the bible who was busy preparing dinner for Jesus while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him talk. Martha is known for getting upset with Mary for not helping. I’ve always understood Martha’s heart but I’m finally coming to understand Mary.

“We don’t create art for God. He  doesn’t need it. But He dreams of creating art with you, for the world.”

Since I don’t have an official title to my name anymore, I related to the identity chapter. When people ask me what I do, it takes me a while. I say something different each time.

“identity is the person you are. Regardless of your actions. Take your actions away – both good and bad – and whatever is left is your identity. And there’s only one identity that has any value. A child of God.”

I know I learned this as a little girl in Sunday school but reading it on my flight to Canada it felt even more true. I thought my identity was what I did. I also misunderstood freedom.

we tend to believe freedom is- the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want.”

“Real freedom is the ability to tell Gods story with your unique voice.”

Reading this artist definition of freedom spoke to me. It was the kind of freedom I’ve been searching for.

“we can use our freedom as an opportunity to serve – to live large into the lives of others.”

I was being challenged by each line, challenged to be honest with myself, to admit my wrong turns in my thinking and to admit change within myself.

“it’s hard to pursue Christ in the mist of pursuing my own fame.”

“we must be careful that we don’t love our dreams more than other people.”

“the art we create cannot be our salvation. And when we ask our art to save us in any manner, we’ve created something more than art. We’ve creates an idol.”

“humans have no control over their dream outcomes.”

“I am going to plead with you not to give up on your gift. On your art you have been uniquely designed to create.”

“Never stop sharing the beautiful Story through your art.”

“platform only displays skill level, not heart condition.”

I wanna create stuff that matters. Its a desires that ever artist has. Reading another’s artist experience can help us navigate through our own travels.
That’s what I hope to do when sharing my journey with you. 🙂

Book: Imagine How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

I think I underlined the whole book, Imagine How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. It challenged my outlook on a subject I thought I knew all about.

Carrying this book around, I had lots of people asked me what I was reading.  The woman on the plane, one of my best friends while on holiday, on a coffee date, it seemed as though this book was sparking lots of great conversations. Its full of great insight and stories of other creatives like Bob Dylan or the team at Pixar. It was causing me to pay more attention to my daydreams and thoughts. It taught me the value of my ideas.

Before reading this book I thought I understood creativity, I assumed my best ideas came from somewhere else. The imagination was somehow outsourced. I’ve recognized it is God that designed the brain and now its up to me to learn how to use it.

Some quotes:

“The concept is only the start of the process. The hardest work always comes after, when you’re trying to make the idea real.” – Harry West, Inventor

“Once we know how creativity works, we can make it work for us.”

“There’s no such thing as a creative type. As if creative people can just show up and make stuff up. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It’s about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real. And that’s always going to be a long and difficult process. If you’re doing it right, it’s going to feel like work.” – Milton Glaser, graphic designer, creator of “I (heart) NY”

“The lesson of letting go is that we constrain our own creativity. We are so worried about playing the wrong note or saying the wrong thing that we end up with nothing at all, the silence of the scared imagination.”

“The young know less, which is why they often invent more.”

“If you can keep finding new challenges, then you can think like a young person even when you’re old and gray, that idea gives us hope.” Dean Simonton, psychologist studying the Quetelet’s approach

“You must constantly try to forget what you already know.”

“Unless we learn to share our ideas with others, we will be stuck with a world of seemingly impossible problems. We can either all work together or fail alone.”

“Technology inspires art, and art challenges the technology.”

“..the best meetings happen by accident.” Darla Anderson, an executive producer at Pixar

“What I’ve learned to look for is the individual voice. It might be an aesthetic, or a sentence style, or the way of holding the camera. But having that unique voice is the only thing I can’t teach…You either have something to say or you don’t.” Dan Wieden, co founder of one of the most innovative ad agencies.

“The most creative ideas, it turns out, don’t occur when we’re alone. Rather, they emerge from our social circles, from collections of acquaintances who inspire novel thoughts. Sometimes the most important people in life are the people we barely know.”

“The thing about ideas is that they naturally inspire new ones. This is why places that facilitate idea sharing tend to become more productive and innovative than those that don’t Because when ideas are shared, the possibilities do not add up. They multiply.” Paul Romer invented a new theory of economic growth.

“creativity is a key skill for the twenty-first century.”

—- And so much more great insight. Read it. 🙂

The Art of Editing Film

I finally finished a book I’ve been reading for a few months now.

The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film – Michael Ondaatje.
The thing about this book is that it gives such insight I never want it to end. I love carrying it around with pride, and can’t wait for someone to ask me about what I am reading so I could go in to great details of what I’m learning.
 Its a conversation between Film Editor, Walter Murch and Writer of The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje. They discussed work, art, poetry, the language of film and so many other interesting things. I couldn’t help but be thankful for the fact writer, Michael Ondaatje took the time to create this book. I felt like it was a special gift to inspiring film editors everywhere.

I already want to read it over. Here are some things I learned from the book.. and believe me so much more!

“What the world thinks is a success, what it rewards, has sometimes very little do to with the essential content of the work and how it relates to the author and his own development.” Walter was talking about his film Returned to Oz, it didn’t do well at the box office because it was dark and more life like. I remember watching this film as a little girl and when I got older I thought I had dreamt it. He stayed true to the version of the Return to Oz books. He was very proud of the outcome as many where but the general public didn’t like the fact it was dark. Which the books themselves were rejected in children’s libraries because it has witches in it. He quotes Rilke’s, “The point of life is to fail at greater and greater things.” He continues, “Every film has lessons to teach us- if we receive those lessons in the right way. That’s the trick..”

He also gives great insight on the art of film making -
”The task of the camera in his [Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men] films is not only to record but to reveal the hidden agenda, the hidden psychology-psychology that may even be hidden from the characters themselves, but which he’s revealing to us.”

“I’m taking into consideration, at the point of the cut, where the audience’s eye is and in what direction it’s moving, and with what speed. The editor has to imagine the audience’s point of attention when the film is projected, and has to be able to predict where ninety-nine percent of the audience is looking at any moment.”

“Every shot is a thought or a series of thoughts, expressed visually. When a thought begins to run out of steam, that the point at which you cut.”

How the story is told is essential to the story, the chemistry between sound and picture. He discuss that even the Prelude (beginning credits) is impotent to the movie. It sets up the audience for that is coming next.

The danger in breaking the rules to film, like introducing an important character to late in the movie. It can not only seem awkward but the audience has no investment in this person or no emotional connection.

Divergent – when you start with all the characters in the same time and space. (American Graffiti)
Convergent – two or three stories that start separately and then flow together. (Like the English Patient)

“There are two different kinds of film making; The Hitchcock idea that a film is already completed in the creator’s head or the Coppola concept that thrives on process..It has to be said-both system have their risks.”

“One of the reasons I lobby for the increased collaboration of everyone who can have a voice on a film is that through collaboration you add facets to the work. The work is going to be seen by millions of people, over many decades and under very many different circumstances, and even though the film is a fixed thing, you want it to be multifaceted so that different people will see different things in it and come away rewarded.”

I love reading and listening to Walter talk about the art of editing. He says its much like writing poetry, “The decision where to cut film is very similar to the decision, in writing poetry, of where to end each line..We do very much the same in film: the end of a shot gives the image of the last frame an added significance, which we exploit.” I always walk away enlightened and encouraged to keep on moving forward with my dream of being a film editor one day.

Book: “The Best Advice I Ever Got”

The past few months I’ve been reading Katie Couric’s, “The Best Advice I Ever Got”. I discovered this book when I was searching through youtube for inspirational speeches. I was in need of an encouraging word from someone who was living their dream.

I wanted to hear some wisdom about pressuring the impossible. The book was perfect. Each page was full of encouraging life lessons from some of the most successful people of our time. I would sit in my local cafe, read a few pages, reflect and keep on reading. Some days I would only ready two pages. The advice was so good I would land on a quote and think about it all day.

Here are my favorites.

“Acts of bravery don’t always take place on the battlefields. They can take place in your heart.” -Anna Quindlen, Bestselling Author

“Keep trying doors; one will eventually open…Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It’s the mastery of fear.” Arianna Huffington, Bestselling Author

“…resolve to grow intellectually, morally, technically, and professionally every day through your entire work and family life…ask yourself every day, Am I really up to speed? Focus on your weaknesses and on ways to overcome them.” David L. Calhoun, CEO of the Nielsen Company

“If you really believe in yourself and your art, then you have to create your own opportunities. You can’t wait for someone else to do it for you.” Susan Stroman, Broadway Director

“Be patient and persistent. Life is not so much what you accomplish as what you overcome.” Robin Roberts, Broadcaster and Journalist.

“You quit, you fail.” Morgan Freeman, Actor

“Finding your passion will eventually get you to where you’re supposed to be.” Katie Couric, Broadcaster

“We are all frightened by change and by the unfamiliar, but those who remain open – despite their hesitations- can discover new worlds and opportunities.” Vera Wang, Fashion Designer

“How we live our days, or course, is how we live our lives.” Annie Dillard, writer

“Commitment will set your free.” John Gardner

“A boat is always safe in the harbor, but that’s not what boasts are built for.” Producer of the Today Show

“If the world puts you on a road you don’t like, if you look ahead and do not want that destination which is being offered and you look behind and you do not want to return to your place of departure, step off the road. Build yourself a brad new path.” Maya Angelou, Author

“We are often so busy running as fast as we can on the hamster wheel of success, we often don’t take time to appreciate each other, to nurture and ten to our relationships with people we love.” Katie Couric

“When you start getting into the fear business, you blame your problems on other people. But if other people are doing well, it’s not because they’re cheating. It’s because they are working hard.” Fareed Zakaria, Author

“Marry someone who you would want to be, someone who wants to help you be that better version of yourself.” Jay Leno, Comedian

“Society tells us to think about next, next, next so much so that we never really finish what’s in front of us.” Rosario Dawson, Actress

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Thomas Jefferson

“If I would have listened to the critics I’d have died drunk in the gutter.” Anton Chekhov
–And so many other inspiring quotes and stories.