Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell
I was not a fan of Maya Angelou when I first read her work as a persnickety pre-teen who had an inexplicable distaste for memoirs, but in the years since her words have often touched me in moments when I’ve been in need of inspiration and reassurance. Upon second reading, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became one of my favorite books, and what woman amongst us has not somehow been moved by her poem Phenomenal Woman? Of the many Maya Angelou quotes filling the interwebs today, the one I find most moving right now is…
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
In fond (albeit sometimes fickle) remembrance, I am feeling very grateful for Maya Angelou’s turns of phrase on this day. I hope she inspires you in a similar way as well.
Image source: Pinterest.
Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966
Forty seven years ago, Bobbi Gibb became the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon. By taking those figurative and literal strides in a time when females were not yet allowed to officially race, Gibb not only helped change the rules of this famous sporting event, but she changed public perception about what women were capable of accomplishing with both their bodies and minds. She did this simply with her own two feet and a whole lot of determination, and she continued running even when marathon officials and protesters tried to stop her.
Growing up in Boston, it was this kind of story that always struck me with awe whenever the marathon rolled around each year. After all, the race has come to symbolize the fact that –no matter our skin color, nationality, gender, or religion– as humans, we have the power to go great distances by merely using our own two feet. Furthermore, the marathon shows us that if we don’t have the use of our own two feet we can cover great distances by using our arms to propel a wheelchair, and if we don’t have use of our arms the human spirit can propel us along in the form of a loved one running behind us and pushing our chairs…
On a good day, writing feels as magical as screaming into a blasting fan on a sticky linoleum floor in the dead of summer
As I wade through a sea of deadlines and the labyrinthine bank of escalators that may or may not one day lead me to a successful career in the entertainment industry, I find that it’s vital to take a step back every now and then to remind myself why it is I do what I do in the first place. It can be so easy to forget and to get caught up in the stresses (and, heck, even to toy with quitting because of those stresses), but when I give myself a moment’s pause I’m always reminded it is love, innocence, and dreams that are at the core of what I do, not what’s waiting at the top of this pesky elevator bank. Since this has been on my mind lately, I figured I’d share just a few more of the reasons why I write…
Stack of Nora Ephron books photographed by Shelly Gross
It still boggles my mind that one of the most inspiring and influential female voices of our time, Nora Ephron, died last week. Not so long ago I would have quickly deleted that word “female,” thinking it was an insult to any artist to qualify her/his greatness by a gender, but now that I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering what Ephron’s work has meant to me, I realize celebrating the femaleness of all she leaves behind is actually a great compliment. After all, Ephron spent her career fighting her way to the top of some very male industries just so she could tell stories about women, for women, and by women. The femaleness of her blockbuster movies, such as “When Harry Met Sally,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” and “Julie & Julia” has in fact drawn women and their dates to theaters for decades, and these stories hold a very prominent place in the romantic ideals of me and almost every other gal I know. As an adolescent, teenager, and young woman, Nora Ephron’s flicks taught me to demand more for myself out of life and love, and I would dare to say her rom coms stirred something far greater in me than any art-house film ever has.
The Kennedys and their once-picaresque model of American family life
First off, let me just say two words: silly me. S-to-the-I-to-the-double-L-Y me…Back in April 2011, when I wrote this post, I was under the impression that my anxieties about child rearing would somehow subside once I was married. After all, I would be fully committed to the love of my life – a man who happens to be my best friend in the whole world and loves me unconditionally for me (not for the power of my uterus) – and I thought this would provide unshakable comfort in the face of procreation pressures. Not only did I make this faulty assumption, but I also thought our move to Los Angeles would bolster me with the drive to put my career on the front burner and leave talk of children in the dust. However, even in this fitness-obsessed city where mom jeans and birthing stretch marks are considered shameful, I find myself surrounded by more messages than ever that I should be able to do it all – messages that tell me I am defective if I can’t figure out how to be both a successful artist, mom, and sex-pot wife. With these societal naggings conspiring alongside biological urges and ticking clocks, is it any wonder that family planning remains on the forefront of my mind? And, if an otherwise confident, career-oriented person like me is plagued with this anxiety, how on Garp’s green earth is everyone else out there coping with their own cognitive dissonance on the issue of work/life/family balance?
Typewriter, flowers and coffee – I wish my writing set up looked like this
It can happen somewhere as simple as a doctor’s office or cafe, but all it takes is a glimpse of medical scrubs or chef’s whites and I’m a goner. I drift into a daydream in which I wake up to morning sun as gentle as lemonade and a kitchen sink that isn’t full of dishes, and then I pack a thermos of soup for lunch and ride my bike to work in a neatly starched uniform. At the office, I file things away the moment they cross my desk, make a difference in people’s lives for hours on end, and then maybe rehearse for a community theater production of “Pippin” before biking home for dinner. Once I get to this point in my fantasy, an optometrist usually jars me awake with, “Now, cover your left eye,” and I look back at him/her with what can only seem like the most psychotic brand of puppy-dog infatuation on the planet. Yeah, that’s right: I fantasize about being an optometrist. I realize this may sound insane, considering many an optometrist, chef, or meter maid out there probably fantasizes about being a writer on a regular basis, but what can I say? I feel there’s something positively dreamy about uniforms, office hours and designated stopping points…
My fiancé and I sharing an afternoon of glances with the amazing Jamie Conlan
Great loves, friendships and rivalries are all made up of a billion glances – when you understand this, you grasp almost everything there is to know about visual storytelling. Sometimes these glances are through flickering candlelight, over cups of coffee or amidst the clacking of light sabers, but, no matter the locale, they are the heart of any emotional tale. On the first weekend of April my fiancé and I romped around our backyard with a photographer who I quickly learned understands this concept better than anyone. This incredibly talented shutterbug is Jamie Conlan, a guy I’ve known for several years as someone who can get my love talking for days about German cars and taco stands, and he remained the very same guy when he wielded a camera in his hands last weekend. Not once was I aware of him posing us or shushing silly conversations; he kept us rambling away with each other, rolling eyes, punching arms, keeling over in laughter, and even making psycho eyes at our dog. And, I eventually realized there was a stealthy method behind his casualness – while my fiancé and I were goofing off, Jamie was busy capturing genuine moments in time.