JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 “JUST BLOGGIN”

MY SOLE SOUL ID

Snapshot roles lived and played 1956-2016

My husband and I wearily arrived home from our post Christmas vacation last month.  After tucking away the last of my packed items, I climbed into bed with the satisfaction of an organized life and a new day ahead.  My eyes flashed open.  I had left my IPAD on the plane!  I could see my hand neatly tucking it into the seat pocket in my typical nesting fashion.  What had I done?

48 hours of high anxiety passed as I contacted the airlines, learned about locking apple devices, changed every pertinent password I could think of, and agonized over the message flashing on my computer that someone was attempting to use my Apple ID.

Bottom line I was freaking out because some unscrupulous person was trying to steal my identity and I had allowed them in the door.  It wasn’t fun.

The next night we watched “LaLa Land”; a film about an actress and a musician, love lost in the timing, and L.A.  Emma Stone played an identity type I could relate to.  As an actress in Los Angeles since 1978, I have personally experienced almost everything portrayed in that film, with the exception of dancing on the top of a car while stuck on the 405, and becoming famous.  My mind was reeling.  I have spent a lifetime immersing myself into the identities of others as I audition, workshop, relate, and professionally share their lives.

I was majorly obsessing about my identity and then the next day at church our Pastor taught a sermon titled: “Sacred Roots: Reclaimed Identity”: https://vimeo.com/199219553

I was mesmerized.  “God, what are you trying to tell me?”

I have spent the last six weeks contemplating this query and the truth of what Pastor Ramin shared.  Human identity is a fleeting, ever changing, multifaceted concept.  We wear our ID as labels of relationship: husband, mother, daughter, neighbor, friend.  Our moniker is also our profession or interest: athlete, doctor, influencer, teacher, cat lady, waiter, artist, fan.

We can have a variety of identities often worn at the same time.  They may be our own choice or epithets subjectively assigned: beautiful, fat, gossip, hipster, idiot, atheist, loud, Christian, intelligent, activist, introvert, gay, straight, Republican, Democrat, liar, hater, survivor, winner, guilty, innocent, rich, poor, loser, hilarious, sincere.

People wear their labels with pride, shame, or futile resignation. The hanging albatross or scarlet letter emblazoned on their forehead can give them a sense of belonging: criminal, gold-digger, victim, predator, womanizer, addict, racist, bully, whore.

Deep within every soul there is a common denominator of need to know who we are and why we are here.  As human beings, we intrinsically know that our condition, choices, race, worldview, or gender don’t truly identify us.  My DNA, and my fingerprints are uniquely mine, but they still beg the question.  None of these markers define me.

Even our physical bodies, organs, and minds alter, mature, and morph with age.  I am not the woman I was a year ago, or yesterday. My desires often change in tandem with wisdom or fleeting opportunity and I remain content because I choose to be, and because of the strength I find in my faith.

I believe God is telling me to fully accept who He has made me to be, not who I think I should be, or what I believe others expect me to be, rather His vision alone.  I, quite literally, am the clay of his artistry. When I allow him to do His sculpting with no resistance, the final result is overwhelming satisfaction.  If I insist on hanging my hat on the elusive labels of beauty, performance, and social approval, I will be forever chasing it down a disappointing road.

It’s true, “My identity in Christ” is a Christianese term I’ve struggled with.  I am called a Christian, but my identity is not in the phrase, or a philosophy, or even in behavior that appears religiously acceptable or not, but rather in the steadfast person who walked the earth bearing the name.  It is a heady subject to wrap your head around.  God does not change…ever.  While the world repeatedly turns on its axis, and for better or worse, its inhabitants, circumstances, and cultures, incessantly reinvent themselves, the Creator remains blessedly the same, and I know my Creator is good.

Jesus was also provocative.  His life on earth ignited a reaction of startling rebellion and violence in the midst of His message of pure love and peace.  He was an advocate of equality between women and men and all the races.  He chastised the religious hypocrites, elevated the poor, and healed the suffering.  He was not interested in approval or status.  His sole purpose was to reveal the nature of, and His identity as God, to restore our relationship with Him, and bring justice on earth because of the inordinate crimes of mankind.  He took His seat for us in the “electric chair of the day”, and terminated our guilt for eternity.  Three days later in the ultimate drop the mic moment, He exited death and the tomb to bring His point home.  The only catch is to believe that He did.

God’s love and forgiveness cannot be earned, only accepted.  Sometimes I think it’s too simple and overly complex at the same time. The Holy Spirit, given to us the moment we believe, is the gift within that illuminates, communicates, and guides us.  People always told me how motherhood would change my life, and they were right, but I had to experience it to fully understand.  The indwelling of the Spirit of God through that 1st leap of faith in Christ is much the same.  One enters the providential learning curve of the ages.

To know who I am I have to know Jesus first and be in relationship with Him.  Who was He really, and who am I because of Him?  Will I be, selfless, forgiving, honest, faithful, patient, empathetic, generous, kind, non-judgmental, and open to relationships with people who are different from me?  Am I willing to listen and relax my defensive posture?  Will I honestly share what I believe, tempering it with compassion and respect for the other person and their point of view?  Will I be willing to grow?  Will I think before I speak saving my anger only for the appropriate righteous moments?  Will I be willing to swallow the last morsel of my fear and pride and get out of the way so God can complete His work in me?  Will I choose to live a life of surrender and love?

The verses in 1st Peter 2:9-10 sum up the identity in Christ that every single human spirit alive, at any given point during their time on earth, are freely offered:

you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (NIV)

With all its reality TV turmoil and genuine terror, life is still an amazing journey and I am thankful to participate.  I am thankful for my passion for Jesus and His for me since I was a young girl.  He clasped my open hand and embraced my broken heart during a night of unbearable grief over my parent’s divorce and has never let go regardless of my failures to reciprocate.

The other side of 60 draws me away from futile striving and closer to those closest to me with a glorious backdrop of my eternal home in sight.  I’m desiring to serve the person in front of me as opposed to the one inside of me.  No agendas.  It is remarkably freeing.  My blogs and desire to publically share my faith and musings are a result of this process.  I pray I’ll be of service to the reader on a similar path.

“16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2nd Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

QUARTER-FINALIST IN THE CINEQUEST SCREENWRITING COMPETITION!

I have now placed in my 3rd screenwriting contest and am very honored and encouraged by CINEQUEST’S RESPONSE.  They also gave me some very positive personal feedback.

DECEMBER “JUST BLOGGIN'”

julie-and-lou-with-walking-dolls

Christmas in the 60’s with our “walking doll” gifts from Dis and Rudolph.

I love the Christmas season. I am one of those people who starts the holiday music On Dec 1st with no going back until New Year’s day. Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, and Andy Williams, fill both car and home while visions of Jimmy Durante’s “Frosty” dance a jig in my merry head.

I am a child of the 60’s when life was a lot simpler and seemingly sweeter. Christmas was a time of great joy and warming anticipation. The worries of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, or our parent’s grown up troubles slowly melted away with each forming icicle and frozen windowpane.

Every year my great Aunt Izola, known to us as “Dis”, would arrive with my Uncle Rudolph laden with enormous bags from Thalhimers. My sister and brother and I found it difficult to breathe as they carried the forbidden booty into our home depositing the bags under the tree and into secret places we dared not search out. Soon the smells of wine jelly cooking and Smithfield ham filled our tiny Virginia kitchen along with conversation and laughter as our family gathered for yet another season of Christmas love.

There were no I-Phones, pods, pads, or anything remotely “I” or Apple to distract us from one another and the leisure of our precious time. These were days of simplicity and focus never to be known in the same way again. Now don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t swap my I-phone for the finest corded Princess today, but I would trade the binding tether that seems to accompany our modern world of communication in 2016.

I marvel at how in a relatively few short years we have learned to stay “plugged in” from the moment our eyes open till the lights of our devices flicker over and out. The general complaint I hear is that there is no “down time” as we work more from home computers and conduct business while driving, walking, and riding elevators around town.

We instantly worry if friends and loved ones don’t respond within minutes of a text imagining the worst until the familiar tone signals all is well. The art of patience along with eye contact and verbal conversation is on the dying path of cursive and handwritten notes.

I imagine children must text or e-mail Santa Claus these days with nary a postcard reaching the North Pole. It is a little sad and worrisome to see stress levels rise and anxiety increase as we juggle more virtual born relationships and commitments than we can handle. Even as we complain of its superficial nature, posting the best photo is a national obsession as we feel the social pressures of keeping up with the Kardashians and their ilk.

I experienced a refreshing break from the media madness this month while delivering gifts and holiday cheer. I stopped by to visit a dear friend and his family in their valley home. Alex and his wife have a large piece of property hidden in the midst of our typical LA mansionization where next-door neighbor takes on new meaning as homes battle for the most square footage. My friends have a private gate that rolls back to expose an elegant two story Tudor with a massive back yard that I’m certain realtors and developers drool over daily.

Alex and Carolyn’s three children greeted me with the cherished love and affection reserved for grandmas and aunties. I had only met these babes a couple of times in their little lives, yet was smothered with coveted kisses. The next hour was spent with the children showing me their individually decorated Christmas trees, sharing knock-knock jokes, and displaying well-executed cartwheels. I held Ginger, the softest bunny alive as Carolyn gently showed me the correct technique. Her soft angel blue eyes glistened as her progeny flitted around like happy larks as children are meant to fly.

Alex tutored the capture of an alligator lizard. They effectively home school with Carolyn at the helm. In her is the patience of a mother who cares enough to discipline with direct consistency and love.

The neighbors are close friends so they built a gate between the properties. One of the girls slipped through and delightfully returned hand in hand with her three year old curly headed chum. The family attends church, and travels often, educating their children and building solid relationships. The only time I saw a child near a computer was in the school/guest house finishing lessons. I felt I was on a field trip of my own as both participating student and cast member in their theatre of life and learning. I was mesmerized.

There has to be a way to follow their lead staying connected without sacrificing our sanity. The Christmas season is a perfect time to take stock and let go a little of our technical binds. Surely Christ appreciates more interpersonal relationships. After all He was born into this world specifically for the sake of rescuing our relations with our Creator and God. He is the King of connecting.

I commit to check on my “likes” less and like people in person more. I plan to make more phone calls and follow through with real time visits. I want to ask more questions and listen better actually remembering the things people say instead of thinking about what I want to offer next. I will not allow my cell phone to share the same dinner table with me, and movies at night with my husband at home will be treated with the same respect as my local AMC. I will spend daily un-interrupted time with God in my devotions far enough from social media and the maddening temptation to check in.

I challenge you to do the same and see for yourself if there isn’t a lowering of blood pressure and resulting lightness of heart. It will be our experiment for the New Year and a lasting Christmas present that has the potential to benefit more than we can imagine. Let me know how it goes!

So on that positive note I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, and joyous holidays for all.

Psalm 46:10

“Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

NOVEMBER “JUST BLOGGIN'”

JUST BLOGGIN’

November 24th, 2016

Today is Thanksgiving. There is SO much to be thankful for no matter how you feel post election, and trust me I have loved ones who are zealous for either side.

I witnessed visceral tears in my Hollywood acting class Wednesday morning after that jaw dropping Tuesday.  A rat even died somewhere in the theatre walls leaving us with an unbearable stench reminiscent of the mood and the recent campaign antics.   In contrast I have friends and family who were elated and hopeful.   They were not so much Donald Trump supporters as they were truly fearful for our country and believed a change was necessary.

I am not a political person.  In most cases I consider it a necessary evil mistrusting the selfish agenda at the heart of many a partisan player red or blue alike.  The election this year was tough for a person who avoids conflict like a root canal with the plague.

I consider myself a moderate Republican. A term I’ve used without too much fear of my Democrat friends searching for their tar and feathers.   Frankly, there are certain things I support on both party platforms.  But in the end I couldn’t vote for Donald Trump … and I’m sorry, I went the libertarian route on Hillary.

This is the deal; with our equally divided polarization pretty much 50% of the people in our country are going to be upset all of the time.  Each side is just as frightened of the other.  Each side truly cares and has valid points.  I am a mix of both so you can imagine the turmoil I could be facing,  if I allowed fear to govern me.

My truth that keeps me sane is the fact that God plays no favorites in government.  God loves Democrats and He loves Republicans. God loves all races, genders, and ethnicities.  God loves people, and He will allow what He will, whether you favor the outcome at the time or not.

Since Trump has been elected by the system we currently have in place as our 45th President I will support his leadership just as I have with all his predecessors whether I voted for them or not.  He is now bending on some of his more inflammatory promises, as every president does when the campaign theatrics are over. Perhaps the gravity of the office will humble him while keeping him steadfast on the issues that strengthen our nation.  I’m praying for his success and the safety and well being of our country and every person living in it.  Time will tell what Trump’s true mark on history will be.

I come from a long line of mostly English Christian families originating as colonists in Long Island in the 1600’s and the Southern state of Virginia from that same period.  I had kin fight in the war against England for our American independence and in the Civil War on either side.  The late 1600’s Mulford House standing today in East Hampton as a museum, was used as a station in the underground railroad assisting slaves in their escape to Canada before the war.

My brother still has the Union sword carried by my Great-Great-Great Grandfather New Jersey surgeon for the army Col. William Cattell Mulford.  My northern relative Captain and later Major Samuel Mulford fought in the 4th Infantry.  Conversely one of my North Carolina cousins, Captain Edward Hall Armstrong lost his life for the Confederacy.  His family letters during the civil war became the subject of a UNCW thesis.  As a teen I was given photocopies of several of those original letters documenting his difficult experiences in the fight for their Southern lives as they knew them in that day.  I grew up in the south and my entire family branch was deeply affected by the pain of that war.

These were men and women with love, honor, family, faith, and convictions they felt compelled to fight for.  None were evil.  They were caught in a dreadful time of necessary change that the country was not equip to handle with peace.  I have empathy for them all.

Perhaps it is the blood of my ancestors that cries out in my heart for brotherly love between all men and women in the United States. My great-grandmother Bir, a descendant of the Harwood’s listed in Jamestown Colony, taught my grandfather to count to ten in Chickahominy and the knowledge then passed from my father to myself, and my siblings.  She had such respect for the Native Americans, which has led me to wonder what more untold stories rest in the fabric of my genetic past.

Today we celebrate all that we are thankful for in our American lives. I thank God that I am a blend of my past, present, and future. I am thankful that because of the sacrifice of others I live in a free country where we are allowed to worship our faith, vote our conscience, have opinions, and support or disagree without fear of torture or death.

I am thankful for my many friendships that cross party, gender, and racial lines.  I pray for patience, tolerance, and continued growth where needed.  I pray for judicial peace and the calming of tensions that produce radical extremism.  We are a big country with big problems that are forever changing, yet in some ways remain the same.

I am mostly thankful to God for being in control of my constantly out of control existence on this planet.  May you also find comfort in that knowledge this holiday season and be equally blessed. Happy Thanksgiving.

Luke 10:27

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

november-blog

JUVEDERM ADS ARE OUT

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VIDEO ON YOU TUBE

RADIANT DERMATOLOGY

My daughter and I booked this job for Juvederm together and shot the video and print earlier this year. So fun to work with her.  And yes they did give us Juvederm injections for the ads. Crazy.