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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?

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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…

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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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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…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Languid Language Loveliness

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…

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Inspiring Tidbits

Trouble for Women

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.

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Sweet Nothings

Complementary Colors

Paint-streaked brick building

My best friend from childhood once decorated her college dorm room in vibrant blues and oranges. From the moment this sea of complementary colors enveloped her room, she wondered aloud whether the oil-pastel drawings covering the walls and swaths of patterned, Indian fabrics draping the bed and windows would make her dizzy with the way the hues buzzed off each others’ surfaces. But, I loved everything about them and came to associate orange and blue with my home away from home. I would take Amtrak to visit her for long weekends on her campus, which was just outside New York City, and we would stay up far too late listening to piano-driven pop music and talking about art, what little we knew of love, and our dreams. Everything about our futures seemed so limitless back then, and – the funny thing is – merely thinking about this friend’s pastel drawings and our endless conversations makes my future feel similarly boundless even now…

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