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.

The Future You will Thank You

20140606-153740-56260025.jpgDo you have any weird rules you put on yourself?
I have one where I tell myself to read a chapter of a book before I hang out online, watch netflix or play on my ipad. I also put my timer on for 15 minutes to keep me still while reading. I use to have a problem not finishing books, and now I read one in the morning another in the evening. Another rule, I only allow myself to go to Starbucks once a day. I can never visit twice because I can easily make three visits if I’m not careful, spending my weekly lunch budget.
Even since I was a kid, I wanted to break the rules the moment someone gave them to me but when I placed them on myself, I had more self control. I know “Future Monica” will thank me. Living a disciple life doesn’t have to be hard, but the moment you give up on one rule, you will find your self compromising in other areas.
What rules do you put on yourself? What made you create that rule?
I know if we aren’t careful how we conduct our lives, we can become lazy and stop growing. One day, you’ll be thankful you never gave up on your dreams and future you will thank you.

The Secret to Great Work

It wasn’t until recently I discovered the secret to great work. The answer might surprise you. For me, it clicked a few weeks ago when I tweeted how it took me seven versions to get a video just right. An editor, who does amazing work, responded how it normally takes them doubled that.
It was then I realized the secret: refining.

For so many years I created videos making three or four miner adjustments, which were actually fixes, thinking it was as good as the project can get. Not knowing, I was limiting my creativity. It’s true, there comes a point when you must abandon your project but that can become an excuses. What would happen if I change my attitude and start to ask myself questions about my work?

How can I make this project better even when it looks like I have a final product?
What can I do to get it just right?

As artist, we can get offended if we don’t get the project just right on the first, second, third or 20th attempt. You mean we aren’t creative geniuses? I’m pretty sure William Shakespeare didn’t write Romeo and Juliet on the first try. There was editing, adjusting, fixing, refining.

Another editor once twitted, “The first cut is like a fat lady falling down the stairs”. That visual gives us comfort, it tells us creatives, we aren’t the only one who’s first attempt is a mess. As you ask for feedback from friends, colleagues and yourself, you will see your work improve.

It takes great effort to achieve great work.

Have Some Pride

Pt. 2
The more I thought about no pride allowed, I realized I was only able to give my pride because I had some in the first place.
One of my first jobs as an editor was to create promo’s for Vegas. This was a job I wasn’t at all excited about. My personal goal was to work on videos that would influence people to do more with their lives not to party all weekend. I worked at this place for a week trying to give my pride up, but by Friday I couldn’t do it. I told the company the job wasn’t a good fit for me. I realized I needed to work somewhere I believed in. After all, every project requires some heart.
Leaving that place meant I no longer had a job but I felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
A few interviews later and no return calls, it made me wonder if I should have sucked it up, but I knew the right job was out there somewhere. While I was in line to a Hillsong concert I met a girl who was leaving her position as a graphic designer to my local church and told me to apply. I was looking for a video position but I knew this job could be the open door I’ve been waiting for.
Fast forward 6 years, I am the media dept. director at The Rock Church. I’ve had my ups and downs as to where I belong but everyday I go to work knowing I’m making a difference. And for me, that’s what matters. Imaged if I didn’t leave the job I didn’t believe in, where would I be? Who would I be?
Sometimes we ignore what our pride is saying to us. The key is to listen to God’s direction and to be honest with yourself.
What matters to you when it comes to work?
What have you learned about pride over the years?

Audio Interview with a Cinematographer

One of the cool things about twitter is when I get to meet someone I follow in person. I asked Cinematographer Julia Swain if she would like to meet up for an interview. I was excited when she was more than willing.
We had a cup of coffee and talked about what we are passionate about: creativity and movie making.

A big thank you to Julia for taking the time to chat with me. You can see more of her work at and be sure to add her on twitter. 🙂

His Exchange Rate

During my drive home, I began to think about how different my life will be in a few days. I’ll be leaving a job I love. Why you ask? Because I am crazy. At least this is what I’ve told myself. The real reason is I know God’s exchange rate is awesome.
I started to remember of all the times I’ve held on to something tight and when I finally gave it to God, what He did with it.
A very hurt heart – When I gave it to God, He help me discover my creativity which brought me healing. It also led to studying graphic design and digital editing.
My desire to go to Bible College in Texas – Years passed and nothing came about. He then showed me Hillsong in Australia that had a theology and media program. I lived there for a year and a half and worked as an editor.
Hating my hometown and wanting to live in Australia forever – He placed me in a job that was about loving and caring for people in my hometown. At The Rock Church I learnt what it was to have His heart beat. I also discovered photography, my love for film making, leadership skills, and most of all confidence.
Worrying about what I’m going to do next month – Peace. He will lead me to the perfect job, as long as I keep following His guidance.
I now believe that I can do any job I put my heart into.
Though I don’t have another job lined up I know once I hand over this position to a new editor, God will continue to show me His awesome exchange rate. I’ve been saving up and preparing for this transition for a few years now, it’s time to take that step of faith and go for it.
After I thought all this I looked up. The sky was full of the most beautiful colors I have ever seen. It was like a painting. Can you believe this beautiful exist in the mist of our crazy world?

When You’re Out of Times and Ideas

When creating in After Effects its easy to get frustrated. For one, there is the blank canvas. The beginning stage of, “not knowing what you want to do”, can in itself waste time. Deadlines can be your worst enemy or best friend. They help you make up your mind and get on with your life.

You might begin with a few ideas and find that trying those ideas are costing you hours. What you need is a solid idea.

Search around and find some art work of colors you like and see if it fits the project. Next look through your files and see if there is anything you’ve created before that you can re-use in your new project. Then close your eyes and image movement taking place. Now animate your design and bring it to life. Don’t feel bad for trying something out and deleting it after. The earlier you admit to yourself its not working, the less time you will waste. Chances are the next attempt will be, “the one”..if not, go back and get a new idea.

Creativity begins with an idea.. if you are at a wall and have no ideas, then don’t feel bad if you have to copy another person’s ideas but the key is to make it our own. When I was interning at Warner Brothers, they did this all the time. They research other designs and copied ideas. After seeing this I no longer felt guilty for getting inspiration from other places. Notice I didn’t say “copy” someone’s video.” The internet is a small world.

For this countdown, I was low on time. I opened up a past conferences title opener,  adjusted the colors, and camera view. It took me sometime to animate it but it was the design that took the longest to come up with.

My Sunset

You can find a million sky photos on the internet but for me there is one that I crave to see.
When work is busy I think of the sunset I will see when I get home. Many think of their children awaiting them but I wonder about which colors will fill the sky that evening. It brings me peace, it reminds me of my Creator, reminds me of the hope life is full of.

It is my California sunset.

Audio: The Starlight in his eye

audio player not available for

He worked at an okay job for most his adult life. His passion laid far in the distance and occasionally could be heard when spoken of the future.

When asked, “How” and “When”, he would answer with, “Hope” and “Soon.”
The years passed with no real opportunities in view. He kept moving forward even when he heard, “Accept your destiny.”

His comfortable job was soon fading away. Without the safety of his daily living he was left with only the hope of his youth.

The original plan was brought to remembrances.

The dream he once thought would never happen was slowly becoming a reality. And only at the cost of everything. His time, heart, money but most of all himself. He had to do away with the negative personality he grew over the years. It was time to become the person who he was created to be. To live with divine purpose.

When the day of opportunity came, he was ready.

Now when he enters in the room, his passion for life lights it up. He is doing what he loves.  When he wakes up for work he thinks,  “I hope to be doing this for the rest of my life.”

Now, you can see the starlight in his eyes.

Based on a True Story

Focusing and Editing

So over the years I’ve develop different tricks to keep focus while I edit. Here is a list I came up with. I love list. Even if you aren’t an editor, this list might help you stay focus in general.

Ways to keep the flow going:

1. Block out the outside world with headphones

2. Play music you enjoy and inspires you. I prefer artist like: Hammock

3. Have a hot cup of tea next to you, the kick of coffee doesn’t last long but it works too.

4. Food within arm reach: fruit, nuts, chips, -chocolate is a great reward.

5. Phone on silent.

6. Fiji water (you’re worth it)

7. If you aren’t editing dialog, listen to Podcast. They can help keep the working rhythm. Especially in After Effects. Check out, “This American Life.

8. Limit how many times you check your email.

9. Keep a note book in front of you. When your thoughts begin to think of other things, write them down. Get them out of your head. This will make you feel like you are doing something about it.  Also sometimes new creative ideas will come. Writing them down will help you do them later.

Those are some of my focusing and editing tips. If you can’t focus then take a break, watch an inspiring video or go take a walk. Above all else, get the project done!

Do you have any focusing tricks?

September is mine

August was a busy month for me. To be honest, my creativity and inspiration was consumed by so many different projects, none of them being my own. This was good but then it wasn’t. Though I was completing projects for others, I myself could no longer afford me.

Until now. Since I worked all of August, I financially can hire myself.

There are a different few projects I am working on this month.

The first one, I was inspired to jump in to children photography. I was out shopping with my sister in Baby Gap and was taken by the photos on the walls. The kids were just so darn cute! I told my sister, “I would love to do children photography, that would be awesome.” I then remembered some wisdom I learned from, Robert Rodriguez.  -If you wanna be a filmmaker, then do it. That night, I posted up a status telling my 500 friends, “Free portraits for kids 2-5, book now.”

I have around five photo shoots booked, yes, for free. I am hiring out myself.

Second project, is to get my portraits done. I wish I could take them myself. I asked a few friends but I decided to do it myself. How you might ask, well.. I will post a blog telling you all about this.

This month of September. A month to stop saying “One Day”.

Testing out 16-35mm on David

Work Anniversary

Today is my official four-year anniversary working at The Rock Church. I text my friend the good news and she congratulated me for sticking around and committing myself to a job for that long.

When I was out in LA a few weeks ago a few people asked me what I did for a living. When I said “I’m a video editor at my church” they would give me a blank look, having no idea what a “church editor” does. Many asked, “Why does a church need a full-time video editor?”

Well The Rock Church has 23,000 members. We live in a world where communication is visual. I communicate whats going on through video announcements (mini commercials), communicate the vision of the church through special spot light videos (mini-documentaries), communicate what God is speaking to the hearts of the pastors (short films). I report the stories of what God has done in people’s lives at The Rock, visually (the news).

I just don’t sit at a computer and edit but I also come up with concepts, go out and film, direct, coordinate, etc etc etc. Thank goodness I have Beth who also edits with me. Together we produce some of the most random, funny, deep and inspiring videos San Bernardino has ever seen.

Each week our videos are seen by 13,000 people. Sometimes on holidays or large events I get a opportunity to share what is on my heart. The cool thing about The Rock is they give me so much creative freedom. They trust me. I am a little girl back stage creating videos and they allow me to speak in to lives of thousands each week.

When I returned home in 2007, I kept asking God, “Why did you bring me back!!”  Four years later, I now know why. The Rock Church has the most amazing heart for God and people. It’s a church that cares for people and has integrity.What I’ve learned here I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.

Here is a video I created for Easter about The Rock Church and World Outreach Center. We are a church full of real people with real lives who want to know God.

I am thankful and honored to be apart of The Rock. Happy Anniversary to me.

Four years

Dec 2006 I was completely lost. I had no idea what the next step was in my life. I thought I would be working and living in Sydney, but when the job fell through I had no where else to go but home.

Jan – March 2007 I was disparate to work and to contribute to society. I needed a job, friends and a new church. Friends were writing me from Australia about how great they were transitioning from bible college to the real world. I felt like God forgot about me. “I hate San Bernardino, why did You bring me back?”

April 2007 Some old friends invited me to the “famous large” church, The Rock. I heard rumors about it but never visited it. I began to go to their young adults. I decided to make The Rock Church my home church. Saw an ad in their bulletin for a graphic designer. I applied and interviewed. I was done waiting for a call from Sydney.

May 2007 “Can you start in a few days?” I answered. “YES!” I was officially one of The Rock’s graphic designer even though I wanted to be their video editor, I was willing to take whatever was offered. I needed to get my life moving forward, and this job was creative. My prayer was, “God just give me a creative job.”

December 2007 Visited Sydney. Loved it. Missed it. Camera got stolen. Pictures lost. “I’m coming back to Sydney guys.”

August 2008 I was promoted into the video department. I started to see why God brought me back to California. I was growing, learning and my heart began to mature.

October 2009 Another visit to Sydney. Everything was different. The boy I liked ignored me. “This is no longer home, I don’t belong here, good-bye Sydney.”

Jan 2010 Video editor. Team leader. Producer. Director. Camera operator.

March 2010 Bought the Canon 7-D. Officially a Photographer & Film maker.

August 2010 (Birthday month) Should I move to Paris? London? Vancouver? Sydney? Los Angeles? New York? San Francisco? Watched a travel show, learned that Vancouver is the second largest film & production industry city in the world.

November 2010 Started hanging out with a really cool guy. He was inspiring and caused me to see my faith and future in a fresh new light.

Jan 2011 Life was full of rainbows, butterflies and birds singing.

Feb 2011 Bought a Macbook Pro. Began doing more freelance work: Photography & Video. Layoffs at work and no more large events. Video department began to focus on how to use video to build the church up and not just entertain.

March 2011 Gray clouds. Really cool guy disappeared causing me to make up my mind. “It’s either now or never. Vancouver it is.”

April 2011 Spring. “Party of one.” Blog. Blog. Blog. Work. Work. Work. Cha ching.

May 2011 Four year anniversary at the Rock. I love my job, work, family.. *deep breath* But the time is coming for me to leave soon. Preparation is key. 

The past four years of my life.

What I do for fun

What I do for fun is what I do for work. I am indeed a very fortunate creative girl. What I do for work is what I believe in. Today a friend complimented me on a video I made for church and I responded, “Thank you, I put some heart in to that one.” And that’s what I do with all my work, I put my heart in to it. One day when I leave this earth, my videos will live past me and their message of hope, inspiration, purity and creativity will live on.

Be ready to watch this kid grow up.  David enjoying his childhood with grandma and grandpa.