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Inspiration

Monday Muse

Anias Nin

Anias Nin at work in Los Angeles, 1963

Anias Nin at work in Los Angeles, 1963

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” -Anias Nin

I’m not gonna lie, I first heard of Anias Nin through a Jewel song. Yeah, that’s right, I actually still have a soft spot for Jewel, but that’s a story for another time… Right now, let’s talk about the iconoclastic Ms. Nin. A prolific diarist, novelist, and writer of erotica, Nin’s self-reflective, deeply honest prose is remarkable for the way it all at once captures the essence of her era and the influential literary circles she ran in while remaining timeless. I mean, isn’t it uncanny how her words above ring so true today and yet you could probably imagine them having been written back in the Elizabethen Era as well?

One of the things I find most striking about Nin is that she survived childhood incest and grew up to become a pioneer of female erotica — talk about taking control of your narrative and rewriting your own story. Not only this, but her entire body of work is filled with incredibly eloquent messages of women’s empowerment, serving as a reminder that the written word can be all at once titillating, entertaining, and inspiring. I think she was a pioneer of the #metoo movement before it had a hashtag. May we all be as bold as Anias this week and always. xo

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Monday Muse

Oh, Meryl

Meryl on the set of Sophie's Choice

Meryl on the set of Sophie’s Choice

“Put blinders on to those things that conspire to hold you back, especially the ones in your own head.” -Meryl Streep

PS: I’m just getting home after 4+ months producing a badass TV series in Canada. Can’t wait to tell you more about it once I catch my breath {and catch up on what feels like a lifetime of needed sleep}. xo

Photo via Pinterest.

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Monday Muse

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling mixing prints and birds like the pro she is

When I think about the kind of woman I want to be as I move into the next stages of my career, lots of amazing role models in television come to mind, but no one quite inspires me like Mindy Kaling. Not only is “The Mindy Project” one of the most watchable shows out there right now, but Kaling is a bona fide #girlboss who unabashedly demands competence from everyone she works with and never apologizes for what she wants. As someone who spends a bit too much time making sure the people around me are happy and feel heard, I could certainly afford to channel Kaling more often. As she puts it: “I love women who don’t ask, ‘Is that okay?’ after everything they say.” You know what I’m getting at, right..? Is that okay?

On a purely creative level, I must also note that Kaling inspires me because her writing manages to all at once keep it real and make me feel good about the world I live in. I think her blend of harsh honesty and optimism is actually what makes the universe of her TV show one that viewers both want to watch and then crawl into, and, on some levels, I think that little universe also improves people’s lives. If I just aspire to create TV worlds like this, I think know I will do pretty well for myself.

Photo via Pinterest.

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Monday Muse

Judy Garland

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in "Strike Up The Band"

Judy Garland singing whilst leaning on books in “Strike Up The Band”

I used to dream of being Dorothy Gale from Kansas — not so much because of L. Frank Baum’s prose, but almost entirely because of Judy Garland. She had such grace, charisma, and, oh, that voice. With a four-decade career, three Grammys, and some of cinema’s most iconic movies under her belt,  couldn’t we all afford to channel a little Judy in our everyday lives? Sure she had her demons, but most complicated people who are worth knowing do. While as a child I particularly adored “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” as an adult I’m drawn to John Gorka’s bittersweet song about the dichotomy of stardust and strife in Judy’s life. It’s called “Heart Upon Demand” — give it a listen and let me know whether it also tugs at your heartstrings.

Photo via Pinterest.

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Monday Muse

Merry Clayton

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

Merry Clayton, backup singer to the greats

How many people can say they performed in front of Mick Jagger while wearing hair rollers and one month later had a hit song? Merry Clayton is decidedly the only siren with those bragging rights, and while her vocals on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” are probably her most recognizable recording, I think the most notable thing about her is that she’s lent her voice to hundreds of famous tracks in which it actually goes unrecognized. Continue Reading

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Inspiring Tidbits, Monday Muse

Eyes Off You

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

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.”

-Maya Angelou

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.

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Sweet Nothings

Twenty Fourteen

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

I hope your new year is off to a smashing start, dears! Have you already begun making resolutions for all the grand things you want to do, be, and see in 2014? I sure have. Big surprise, I know. Seeing as I love, love, love setting goals, I’ve tried to rein myself in this year and just stick to a few simple, very achievable things that I genuinely think will make for a happier me in the year ahead. I’ve made one professional goal, one health goal, and two personal goals. Apparently, I just couldn’t help myself on that last one. In case it inspires you, here’s what I’m striving to do over the next 365 days and beyond…

  • Professionally speaking… This year, I really want to push myself to get my work out there more. Although this task often feels daunting due to my intense work schedule, I’m determined not to let anything deter me in 2014. Whether it’s posting photos to Instagram, composing silly little blog entries, or submitting short stories and essays to magazines, I’m keen to send at least one tiny creation of mine into the universe every day.
  • Healthfully speaking… Pure and simple, my goal is to eat leafy greens at least twice a day. Yup, every day. Bring on the noise, bring on the kale.
  • Personally speaking… Firstly, I plan to make time at least once a month for my hubby and I to go out for dinner with friends in LA. {Once monthly sounds so piddly, I know, but — trust me — it is a vast improvement on our current lifestyle as workaholic hermits.} Secondly, I really want to streamline my morning and evening routines this year. This is to say, I have long suspected that most normal, highly functioning adults belong to a secret society that lets them in on precious insights about the business of life, like the best times to shower, grocery shop, or vacuum without scaring their dogs half to death. Although I don’t expect an invite from this society anytime soon, I’m determined to revamp my closet, hang clocks above my bathtub, and follow every other life hack possible until I feel like an honorary member.

As I work toward my goals, I will be sure to let you know if I learn any secrets that I think you would like. But, enough about me. How are your goals and resolutions shaping up? If you want more inspiration, here’s some food for thought about the golden rules of making goals, setting simple goals, mid-year goals, and laid-back resolutions. What’s up with you and your scheming? Leave a comment.

Image via Justina Blakeney.

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Inspiring Tidbits

Silence

"Shhh," says the ballerina.

“Shhh,” says the ballerina, “now get to work.”

Sorry for all the silence this past week, darlin’s! I’ve been up against a lot of deadlines, and apparently am nowhere near as good at budgeting my time as I like to think I am. After working rather long days, I’ve been unwinding by watching an episode of City Ballet every night before bed. Have you seen it? It is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker and is really quite charming. Ever since watching the documentary “First Position” by Bess Kargman, I’ve felt a strong kinship with ballerinas and the level of dedication they pour into their craft. There was something about that documentary that quite simply touched me and made me feel inspired to try and emulate the work ethic/practice-makes-perfect mentality of a ballerina in my life as a writer. And so, as I burn the candle on both ends, I love being comforted and kept company by the aspiring dancers of New York City Ballet. These tutu-and-tights-clad companions are no substitute for you, however, dear readers… I so very much look forward to chatting with you on the flip side of all these due dates! Leave a comment.

Photo from Girl In A Tutu via Pinterest.

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Sweet Nothings

Sick Days

Coffee in bed, or in my case the mug would be full of soup

Coffee in bed, or in my case the mug would have been full of soup this past month

Doesn’t it always seem to happen that just when you get in the swing of things, life sneakily disrupts your plans? In my case, this topsy-turvy life force took the form of a nasty stomach virus that bowled me over back in September. As a result of these germy-germs, I’ve spent the past month and a half either in bed or at work (albeit taking it very easy on myself whenever I’m out of the house), and I’m only now starting to get back on track with my personal writing, film projects, and non-broth-based culinary creations.

Although I admittedly let myself get a tad down while I was sick, I am trying really hard to stay positive and approach my overflowing in-box with a sense of calm instead of chaos. It can be so easy for us to go the route of chaos, though, don’t you think? I mean, in the lonely days when I was laid up in bed with an angry Puggle barking at me to play and an even angrier calender dinging incessantly with all the deadlines I was missing, I couldn’t help feeling a little defeated, and I often found myself oh-so-melodramatically wondering if I would ever feel on top of things or accomplish a single goal ever again. Whenever I forced myself to flip my thinking, however, I realized how awesome clean bed sheets feel, how cool it is that I was still meeting lots of deadlines, and in those other instances how honest e-mails go a long way toward extending deadlines. Oh, and did I mention that I realized how incredibly darn lucky I am to be in good health most of the time?

So what if I’m a month behind on work, or need to start back at square one on my sugar-free-green-smoothie cleanse, or even if I seriously need to rebuild my relationship with a certain persnickety Puggle? The important thing is just to start back up, dive into our goals, stay calm, and breathe. After all, sick days come and go; the thing that truly keeps us healthy is a positive outlook on life. Corny as it sounds, I really believe this is true. How about you? Leave a comment.

Image via Pinterest.

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Movies and TV

Makers

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes founded Ms. Magazine in 1971 and are just a few of the women who've made America what it is today

Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes founded Ms. Magazine in 1971 and are just a few of the women who’ve made America what it is today

Have you seen this fascinating documentary yet? It’s a three-part series titled “Makers: Women Who Make America” and, even though I first discovered it this past winter, I’ve found myself thinking about the amazing women it introduced me to a lot lately. When I first watched the documentary I was amazed (and admittedly a little embarrassed) by some of the things I never knew about the women’s movement in the United States, and the series left me feeling truly inspired to make the world better — to continue the work of the women who have given me the chances I have now, and to improve the chances for women and other minorities of future generations. PBS’s editing keeps the pace of the documentary energetic, entertaining, and often humorous, and Meryl Streep’s narration lends the piece the kind of comforting, smooth patter that allows you to forget you’re actually learning a ton while watching.

I highly recommend the documentary to anyone who wants to feel inspired or uplifted by vivid, personal stories, and maybe even learn something new about history along the way. You can watch all three parts of the series for free on the Makers website. Do let me know what you think once you’ve watched it…Are there any other books or movies about the women’s movement that have been meaningful to you? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

Image from Pop Revolver via Pinterest.

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