I have been to conferences and networking events before, but nothing quite like this. Calling upon my past experiences and from what I gathered from my Facebook blogging group’s advice (seasoned bootcampers like Carolyn West/This Talk Aint Cheap told me some stories) I planned ahead. I am glad I did! I got everything out of the event that I hoped for and much more!
*Get seen and known . . . Make A Splash!
*Meet Bloggers from So Cal Lady Bloggers Group . . . make a genuine connection.
*Meet influential Bloggers . . . make an impression.
Armed with new business cards (complete with all of the necessary components that a blogger/writer/life coach/event planner should have including my Twitter handle, associations and a cute photo of myself,) I set out to meet everyone I could and have some fun doing it! Before I left for Las Vegas, I took a list of So Cal Lady Bloggers that planned to attend this conference, I added pictures and blog names and I printed it on both sides of an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of card stock. I put a nice stack of business cards, a few sharpies, and my folded up list in a wristlet purse.
My plan was to check off each lady as I met her. Rather than just putting a check by each name, I asked my new friend to sign her name by her picture. It was so much fun asking for autographs and it made each blogger feel like a star!
(I love it when things work out!) I carried my wristlet everywhere I went and made sure to swap business cards at every opportunity. I smiled at everyone, everywhere I went, even outside the conference in the hotel, just in case they were a blogger, too. I noticed that most of the people were smiling back and having a good time. I am usually a little reserved at these things (believe it or not!) and I stay to myself. This time I was determined to make the most of the time and meet people.
Another important part of my plan was to learn about blogging. Afterall, that is what I signed up for! Part of my strategy was making sure that I did not share a room. As much as I would have loved to save money, have a bloggy companion, and have tons of fun – my objective was to learn. I know that if I don’t have a quiet place to reflect and process, much of what I learn would have stayed in Vegas. In this case, I did not want that to happen. Although my hubby was with me, I was still able to have space to spread out all my stuff, be alone with my thoughts, bounce ideas off an objective (however imprisoned) supporter, and have quiet time to write my notes.
I took a composition style notebook and a pen to take my notes, as advised by the SITS Girls who put on Bloggy Boot Camp. It was good advice because I didn’t want to have to worry about my laptop, battery life and WiFi connection the whole time. I noted key points that I wanted to remember during the fabulous speakers’ presentations. I wrote my reflections for this post. I took down some awesome quotes. I am glad I wrote them in my notebook, because my cell battery did die and I couldn’t tweet out some of the epiphanies I had.
I took some great pics that I Instagrammed and hashtagged. I tweeted. I shared. Next time, I will bring a separate camera because I missed some amazing “Kodak Moments” when my phone died. I noticed a few bloggers used their phone to take pics of the slides on the screen during the presentations. What a brilliant idea! Why didn’t I think of that? That’s one to remember for next time to really cut down on note taking.
What I Learned
The conference, the organizers, the speakers and the sessions were all fantastic! It was clear and concise. The information was relevant. The speakers were well prepared and professional. I really got what I came for!
I was blown away by the contagious energy and excitement from one of the most successful bloggers around, Laurie Turk/The Tip Junkie. She shared her Top Ten Blogging Success Tips. She was so willing to share that it really gave me hope that I can and will increase my SEO. I was so happy with myself that I didn’t have to ask what that was or even look it up! Search Engine Optimization is something every blogger who wants to increase their readership should know. Laurie’s tips made it seem attainable.
Cynthia Wheeler/@napwarden spoke to us about Great Blog Design. If you visit my blog often you may notice I already made a few changes. She gave terrific advice and if I can afford to get a professionally designed blog, I will know where to go!
The best speaker there was someone I have met personally on a few occasions and was even on my list! Trina Finton/The Gaming Angel gave an insider’s look at gadgets and apps that all bloggers should know. There are quite a few apps and programs that I want to try.
I enjoyed the break out session. I attended the Writer’s Workshop. It was a small group and set up in an informal discussion. I received some good tips for bloggers who are writers from Fran Banducci/SITS Girls, Kathy Bouska/MamaKat, and Chelsea Day/Some Day I’ll Learn. I learned that it is important to “make people want to read what I write” and how to do a “Six Word Memoir.”
My favorite quote from Bloggy Bootcamp Vegas 2012:
“Whatever is on fire, is what gets my attention!” Kathy Bouska
Danielle Liss/Fitfluential gave the bloggers a quick but important overview of the Legal Basics of Blogging. I was happy that most of what I remember from business law (a favorite class in college) still applies. Most of the copyright, trademark, contract and licensing rights can be looked up online. Danielle helped to clear up any blurry issues where blogging is concerned and pointed out how to get the correct and current information. That was awesome!
I was enthralled with the final speaker, Elizabeth Jayne Liu/Flourish in Progress who talked about her personal experience with blogging. She spoke about being authentic and developing a unique voice. She hit it home for me and made me feel so glad that I am doing this. She helped me to realize that it is okay to “Speak the way I speak, say what is on my mind,” and to know that “the more I write the more I can get to know myself and become comfortable with myself.” She is such an inspiration to me! I couldn’t wait to meet her and I was lucky to get her awesome business card!
What I Will Always Remember
I was inspired by the Tribe.
The sponsors were in on the underlying theme. I am bangin’ the drum! We need each other. I want to thank the sponsors. Not because they made my experience top-notch, not because it is the right thing to do, but because I can. I am a blogger and it’s what I do! Shout out to the sponsors: Ford Warriors in Pink, Mirassou Winery, and Jewel Kade.
I had the absolute honor to sit next to a truly amazing young Cancer Survivor who is a Warrior in Pink, Tina Herold. If you know me and have read my posts before you know that I believe there are no accidents. I was meant to sit next to this angel. Because of her I am scheduled to get a mammogram this week. Hugs to Tina! If you want to be inspired, check out this blog: http://imwiggedout.com/wiggedouthome.html
All of the ladies that I met at Bloggy Bootcamp were wonderful. They are just normal people who have a blog. They are just like me. We are all Rock Stars! Mommas, Foodies, Clickertons, Fugalistas, and Adventurers. Best of all, we like to share, to learn, to embrace and to empower. Cheers to the bloggers!!
10850 West Pico at Westwood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90064
You should arrive by 7:00PM to redeem your screening passes
Miz Meliz Note: Admission is not guaranteed and this is one of those times that being “stuck in L.A. traffic” is not an acceptable reason for being late. No “fashionably late” or “Filipino Time” takers on this one, please. I really don’t want to disappoint you! So plan to be there by 7:00 PM.
The Miz Meliz Movie Question is:
What is a movie that William H. Macy is in? Put your email address and the answer to the question in the comments. (That is it! It’s so easy! I know!)
The first ten people who respond in the comments with a correct answer AND their email address will win.
I will send you a confirmation email if you are the winner. Just be sure that before you answer, you can actually attend the screening. You must provide your own transportation. You must be available to go to the screening and you and your guest must arrive by 7:00 PM.
I am re-posting the details for my upcoming workshops.
Do you ever have that feeling that if you take on just one more thing, sign up for one more activity, open one more bill, join one more group, say “Yes” to one more request, or even respond to one more email that everything in your bubble will just pop?
Are you afraid that you will be left with nothing but a giant splattering of the things you cared about and won’t know how to piece it all together again? Maybe you have lost sight of your vision? Does going off on a tangent and forgetting what you were originally talking about sound familiar? If so, then stop and take a breath. It’s going to be okay! Really!
Let me help you refresh your memory and bring you back to the things that are most important to you. You can do it all! I’ll show you how to keep all the bubbles bouncing in the air. With some tried and true skills from the experts in my “light” version of How to Keep it All Together: Balancing and Thriving in a Busy BubbleI will share the techniques that I use to help you stay focused, balanced, and centered in everything you do. It all comes down to taking care of yourself and remembering to care for all sides of your multi-faceted amazing life.
Workshop participants will review organizational skills similar to those presented in my favorite self-development books by Don Miguel Ruiz, Gretchen Rubin, Steven Covey, Peter Bregman and others. You may be learning how to organize on this level for the first time. Together as a group we will explore what it takes to find a true balance. I have developed a system that works for me that is simple and guilt-free. It is definitely worth trying anytime you are feeling overwhelmed.
In the small group sessions, you will experience music, videos, quotes, meditation, breathing exercises, and hands on projects that will help explain and implement the system. You will leave feeling refreshed, inspired and empowered to carry on your life’s dream of doing and having it all.
You can benefit from attending any or all of the sessions which are each designed to be like a “mini spa retreat”. Get away from it all and do something for yourself!
I am so excited to be able to share my experience with you. For several years now I have been asked how I do it all. I somehow manage to raise my family, have a full time job, volunteer on fulltime projects, plan big events, enjoy spending a considerable amount of time with my extended family and friends, continue my education, travel, write, blog, consult, coach, and have lots of fun – all the time! I NEVER THOUGHT I would be the one saying this, not in A MILLION YEARS, but I can and do HAVE IT ALL. I am blessed and grateful for everything and every thing that I have and do. And guess what. . . I want more. I want more experiences, more fun, and most of all, more ways to share what I know and what I am passionate about.
If you are at all interested in the worshop, mini spa retreats, or one on one sessions, let me know. I would love to hear from you! Ready to sign up? Just click on the “Register Now” button.
Session One: Re-Evaluate Your FocusSeptember 26th, 7-9 PM
Session Two: Develop Your VisionOctober 3rd, 7-9 PM
Session Three: Develop Your System October 10th, 7-9 PM
Session Four: Prepare for ObstaclesOctober 17th, 7-9 PM
Session Five: Develop Your Best Self October 24th, 7-9 PM
Five Week “Mini Retreat” Series:Includes Sessions One through Five
Small Group Spa Session – – By appointment. 2-6 attendees. Includes brunch. Four Hours. Two session themes of your choosing.
Follow Up Session:Seeking HappinessNovember 7th, 7-9 PM
One on One – – Private One Hour Life Balance Coaching Session. By appointment. Begin with a theme of your choosing.
I’m a movie buff (cinephile in French, cinefilo in Spanish) and I love going to the movies all the time, but in the summer, it’s almost required. Maybe it’s the cool dark theaters, the gigantic icy soft drinks, the block busters that open in the Summer months, I don’t know for sure. But I have been enjoying taking in a few flicks recently.
Last night I got to see a pre-screening of the film, Magic Mike. This is a much-anticipated film about male strippers set in Tampa, Florida. I’ve heard that it is loosely based on the background of the star of the film, actor Channing Tatum‘s life.
Magic Mike was written by Reid Carolin, actor, producer, director and screenwriter. He is also the co-founder of Constellation, a service (Facebook Ap) presenting live interactive events built around online streaming movies, where viewers can chat with each other and with special guests.
Check it out: http://www.constellation.tv/event/magicmike
Reid Carolin, who also wrote the documentary, “Earth Made of Glass,”about Rwandan President Paul Kagame and France’s hidden role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, is President of Iron Horse Entertainment, the production company he started with Channing Tatum.
Oscar Award winner Steven Soderbergh, who is known for Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, directed Magic Mike. Although the movie was great as a fun summer flick to be enjoyed with a few girlfriends after happy hour or before going out bar hopping, it was not what I would expect from Soderbergh. If this film makes money, it will be solely because of the mass marketing taking place and the possibility of it becoming a ‘must have’ DVD for all the ladies who love Matthew McConaughey and/or Channing Tatum. In fact, I will be stocking up on said DVD to have on hand to be given as a bridal shower/bachelorette party gift for sure!
There were some heavy topics and themes which emerged in the story-line of the film. Choosing one’s life direction and doing whatever it takes to make your dream come true is one of the major themes. Few people strive to be a stripper and to make their living with the dollar bills stuffed in their g-strings. But most everyone has a dream that they hope to achieve in life. We can all relate to the hope of living comfortably and doing meaningful work that we are passionate about. Magic Mike mentors “The Kid,” played by Alex Pettyfer. Unfortunately for “The Kid,” whenever he gets close to success it eats him up. Drug addiction, extreme living, and the “lifestyle” of stripping, sex, and partying gets in the way of his dreams.
The Kid’s sister, Brooke, played by Cody Horn, copes with her struggles to make ends meet on her own, being supportive of her brother and standing by as he learns his life’s lessons while he repeats some mistakes along the way. It was an interesting twist on the story being that it is her little brother who turns to dancing and gets caught up in the dangerous night life. Of course, Magic Mike, who is talented and sexy beyond belief, is the one who travels the most on his journey and has the most to lose. Brooke is forced to practice some tough love on her brother while resisting her attraction to Mike as he works out his own issues.
Thanks to Warner Bros. for releasing this movie and for all the fun promotions that I enjoyed on my own vacation from reality this past week! What I want to know is, do all the movies at the AMC Theater in Century City open with live male strippers entertaining the audience? Because if so, it will be worth it to me to drive there for the rest of the summer!
I would say that the best part of this movie by far was Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Dallas, the owner of Club Xquisite, the Tampa, Florida male strip club. It wasn’t his best acting performance and he played it pretty straight. He might have stolen the show just a bit! I love his acting in films like We are Marshall and The Lincoln Lawyer, but in this particular film all I want is to see him on the screen with his clothes off. It wouldn’t matter to me what he says! Now, if a man said that about a female actress I would most likely protest! I want to be clear that I appreciate Matthew McConaughey’s versatility and ability to share his many gifts. He has an amazing physique. He is a god!
My friend said this about McConaughey in Magic Mike, “It was so wrong, but it was so right. He has the perfect body and I love that it has some meat on it!”
I couldn’t agree more! I enjoyed all the eye candy and fun excerpts of dancing and showing off skin and muscles both on screen and at the pre-screening events. Ladies, it’s going to be one hot summer!
but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself
in the very moment in which I am imprisoning myself.
I have been freed!
May 28, 2012
This weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, I am thrilled to celebrate the 100th post on my blog: http://mizmeliz.com!
I have learned so much and have met so many amazing people in the past six months! It has been a remarkable journey, so far. I want to pause and reflect on all the people who have paved the way and who have stood by and cheered me on. I know there is much, much more in store for me. I want to take a moment and really thank all of you for making this a reality for me!
This is a chronicle of the experiences I have had since I started blogging. I know it’s small beans relatively speaking but they are my experiences and I treasure them and I believe in celebrating each moment. This is how I have made a mark on my tiny corner of the Universe. These first few months have made a positive change in my life. Indulge me if I get carried away here. . .
The First Steps
I wouldn’t have continued with blogging seriously if it weren’t for the nudging of a fellow school parent and church friend, Ricca Frances 1. Who invited me to the group So Cal Lady Bloggersin October 2011. Ricca, who writes at http://www.sprmama.blogspot.com/ further encouraged me when she told me that she reads my blog and she considers me to be a prolific writer! Thanks to Ricca’s faith in me, I have been accepted by some wonderful communities and influential groups in the blogging world.
I cannot thank these ladies enough! Megan McClain 2, Carolyn West 3, Sidney Patrick 4, Wendy Nielson 5, Meagan Elliott 6, Beverly Diehl 7, Trina Finton 8, and AJ Feuerman 9 (and everyone at So Cal Lady Bloggers) for their advice and encouragement. I have enjoyed the meet ups, the conversations, the laughs and the education that they have gifted me with during our brief interludes. Thanks to all of them for showing me the ropes and for including me in their endeavors. It can only get better! I am looking forward to my induction into the wonderful world of blogging conferences and spending more time with you all IRL!
Megan, who writes at http://sunshinewonderland.com was the first person who asked me “What is your niche?” I realize now what a difference knowing the answer to that question makes.
Thanks to Carolyn, who writes at http://thistalkaintcheap.com I had the opportunity to attend a book signing and appearance of Jenny Lawson 10/http://thebloggess.com/hosted by Soleil Moon Frye 11 of http://moonfrye.com/ that made me laugh like crazy, buy the book, and enjoy every minute of reading it which inspired me to further pursue my own desire to write a book!
Sidney, of http://www.milbetweenus.com/ , will always be remembered for organizing the first meet up I attended. I was concerned about the first impression I made after having suggested she add time for cocktails (because I knew I would be nervous and would need a drink) and after exchanging our business cards, realizing we both had the same exact design. After the initial shock of the “showing up in the same dress” feeling wore off, I felt validated that I had a really cool business card just like Sidney’s!
Beverly, from http://writinginflow.blogspot.com/ has inspired me to write what I love. I love her because she is in a niche that I wish I had the balls to be in and she inspires me to be myself when I write and to let the creativity flow freely.
I am grateful for Trina, from http://www.shesgeekyinc.com who thoughtfully dressed in yellow, showed me the way, and gave me direction – quite literally – when I got lost in Beverly Hills while looking for the The Blogess! She was so kind and watched out for me, a total stranger!
AJ, who writes http://confessionsofafatgirl.typepad.com/ is my soul mate in many ways and I am so proud of her because she articulates thoughts and feelings that I have had my entire life that I still have not dared to write about as candidly as she has on her blog.
I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself creatively through writing and photography and I am much happier since I decided to take this turn in the road. In the past six months I have jumped around and explored many of my lifelong interests. I have been especially creative and I have had so much fun with it! From making jewelry, crocheting scarfs, making key chains and bookmarks with feathers, scrapbooking, drawing, face painting, sewing costumes, and decorating Easter eggs, to making videos and editing pictures using digital photography and iPhone apps – my hobbies and interests are extensive. There have been quite a few bumps in the road, but as any adventurer/thrill-seeker knows, that is what makes things interesting.
Special thanks to all the creatives who have accepted me into their fold, added me to their closed and secret Facebook groups and made me feel like a crafter, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a super mom, a super wife, a super friend, even a muse – – all of the things that I know I am, but now have incorporated into my bio. Because of you, I am being recognized outwardly for the things that I have cherished inside of me for so long!
I am proud to have had the pleasure of exploring the crazy avenues of life online as a member of some special groups on Facebook. Because of this I have found myself having heart to heart chats with the most talented and creative people I have ever met and would never have met if it weren’t for the “inter webs!”
It all started with Sue Dribben-Dicksen 15 (Abingdon) who I didn’t know in high school to unknowingly mentor me as a writer on Create a Story and Book Talk. http://aspiefolks.blogspot.com/
Sue then referred me to Susanne Bal Balyemez 16 http://peppysposts.com (Philadelphia) who made me a member of her Girl’s Treehouse Advisory Board and allowed me to share my inner thoughts and advice with a group blessed with so many spiritual, caring and thoughtful women.
Susanne then refered me to The Atelierwhere I found myself amongst some of the most incredible artists like Amy Kalabsa-Garcia 17 (Chicago) http://amykgarciaart.wordpress.com/ and Harold Rantasa 18 (Austria) http://www.art-rantasa.com/ who have shared their original works of art with me and allowed me to use it freely on my newly designed blog site.
Susanne also referred me to The Cooks Cornerwhere I pretend that I can cook so I can hang out with my BFIRL (best friend in real life) Holly Markman 19, private chef and owner of Holly’s Homemade. Holly has used some of my pictures on her website and I help to promote her endeavors. (So, shameless plug here – if you need a chef, a consultation or would like to take classes stop by http://www.hollyshomemade.com/)
Returning to a Familiar Territory
Somewhere around this time I started taking pictures of flowers and food while on all of my adventures. Shortly after I got married (about a million years ago) I took a college extension course in photography. I loved taking pictures and considered photo journalism as an area of interest. My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful Nikon SLR and I learned about aperture, depth of field and the basics of amateur photography. I put the passion for photography on hold for a while and only recently re-discovered it when I began taking pictures with my cell phone.
I joined Instagram, Flickrand Tumblr. I post my pictures of flowers that I edit and I enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them.
I met a photographer/artist who had inspired me years ago at an event and thanks to my new-found confidence; I introduced myself as a blogger/photographer. Now I have a mentor and I am collaborating with the inspirational and talented Elizabeth Thoman, CHM 20. Liz has a made a beautiful contribution to healing the sick by using her photography of flowers to help people in hospitals pray and enjoy their beauty http://healingpetals.com/. Liz has been recognized for her lifetime of work and exemplary leadership in various roles, including writer/editor of Media & Values magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Media Literacy (CML), and co-founder of NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education. http://namle.net/2009/08/31/meritorious-service-award-honors-longtime-leader/
Recently, I found myself in a group called Picture This where I was suddenly immersed in the world of photography. Jamie Gall 21 and Kristin Boyle McGuire 22 http://crazykwistin.wordpress.com/ both members of So Cal Lady Bloggers, are in this group. Jamie included my photos on her cell phone photography blog post http://mngirlinla.com/2012/04/09/week-2-of-cell-phone-photography-entries/. I am challenged on a weekly basis to post pictures with specific themes or in certain categories. Many of the other participants are professional photographers. It’s such a blast!
My article about decorating Lithuanian Easter Eggs got alike from Charlie 23 and Tom 24, two brothers, at http://photobotos.com/. I am hoping to be acknowledged for some of my work on that majestic site which highlights photography from around the globe.
Navigating My Way on the Road to Success
I could not have gone this far on my journey without the support and encouragement of my family and my friends. In January 2012 I was given a special gift by fellow blogger and spiritualist, Joy Detor Holland 25, http://facetsofjoy.com/ who sent me an email in regards to a writing initiative called A Year With Myself. One of my first blog posts was actually a response to a blog that I read by a friend of Joy’s, Raam Dev 26. Raam inspired me to write in the moment and consider a minimalist outlook. http://raamdev.com/
Writing in response to the prompts from A Year with Myself has caused me to examine my core values, my true passions, my talents and my goals. Following the prompts and committing to writing on my blog once a week is what made me believe that I could be a writer. Having the support of the creator and instigators of A Year with Myself has been a blessing beyond words. It has been an honor to get comments and ongoing encouragement from these writers who are experts in their fields.
I have been influenced by Patti Digh27, who describes how living in a liminal space, the ‘in between’ space, is the moment that there is nothing to hold on to where I can be the most present, most alive, most vulnerable, and most human. http://www.37days.com/
C.A. Kabu 32 (the creator of A Year with Myself) defined authenticity for me, asking me to think about my character, values, strengths, and their intersections while relating this to having a sense of who I am and sharing it with the world without reservations. http://ayearwithmyself.com/
Karen Caterson 33 taught me that knowing my differences—and living them is what makes me authentic, and how being authentic can lead to making a difference in the world. http://www.squarepegpeople.com/index.php
Abby Kerr 34 showed me that vision is having the ability or capacity to apprehend what I really want and believe I can do. http://abbykerrink.com/
Sue Mitchell 35 revealed how the relationship of adventure, serendipity and creativity and how being adventurous helps me in my creative projects. She talks about building self-confidence and finding life’s meaning through being adventurous and how inviting more adventure into your life, awakens the adventurer in you. http://www.yourmuseiscalling.com/
Dyanna Valentine 36 beckoned me to proclaim the things that I am not sorry for and to own who I am and what I stand for. http://dyanavalentine.com/
Thanks to A Year With Myself, I have had contact with other writers who are on this journey of self discovery and empowerment as well. One person in particular is Wing Pauh 37 (Singapore) whose website is http://www.wingvantagepoint.com/ at 22 years old, only half of my age, she has a deep insight and understanding of where she fits in the world that I truly admire. I just got a text from her about wanting to appeal to her company’s corporate social responsibility and provide donations for an animal shelter. She is such a remarkable young lady and I would never have met her if it weren’t for the broadening of my horizons through writing online.
I have also had a chance to help out other bloggers with my writing by having a guest post on their blog. When Tiffany 38 at http://stuffparentsneed.com/ was going to be away for a few weeks having her second child, she worked it out to treat her readers to articles from other bloggers. I heard about this on Facebook and I submitted a request to help her out. I was so excited when Tiffany accepted my proposal to do an interview of a new parent asking what item they couldn’t live without.
After that post, I was accepted as a member of the California Mom Bloggers by Teresa Olivera 39, who I would categorize as a blogging media mogul (or overachiever) http://teresaolvera.com/other-blogs/ Teresa is also a member of the So Cal Lady Bloggers and creator of Geo Moms. In a serendipitous swoop Teresa accepted my offer to review and post a weekly recap of The Bachelorette at http://californiamomblogs.com/! Now I have a weekly guest spot and I am reviewing a TV show!
My latest endeavor is my association with the Latina Lifestyle Bloggershttp://llbloggers.com/. I am very proud to have been accepted into this fine group of women. I met the founder and moderator of this group, Ana Lydia Monaco, 40 through So Cal Lady Bloggers, too! My favorite comment after announcing my acceptance to this particular group was from my brother who said, “So now you are Latina – congratulations!” In the next few weeks, I will uncover my deep seeded perceptions as to why I never embraced my heritage in this way until now. I have already begun writing about some issues that come to mind having to do with segregation, racial profiling, stereotypes, ethnicity and environment.
Road Signs and Mile Posts
One thing that every blogger knows about is the importance of knowing your numbers. For whatever reason, I have started to look at my stats and have forced myself to learn a bit about analytics just to keep up on the conversation! The purpose of this becomes important when joining groups, in applying to be a contributor and in the hopes of proving yourself worthy of being sponsored or picked up by an advertiser. For me, it is a fun way to see the potential and growth that I have engaged in as a blogger and I look at it like a map of my journey.
Speaking of numbers, there are some folks that I would like to THANK but it is impossible for me to list. I am grateful for their attention and love!
43+ writers who have influenced me (listed with their links above)
3988 people to date who have visited my blog, from over 60 countries!
89 comments people have made on my blog
16 people willing to subscribe to my blog
82 (and counting) likes on my Facebook Fan Page
424 followers on Twitter
274 people who have connected with me on LinkedIn
25 people who have viewed my vlog on my YouTube Channel
49 people who have viewed my Photostream on Flickr
38 followers on Instagram
67 people in my circles on Google+
76 people who follow my boards on Pinterest
And I am extremely grateful for my two followers on Tumblr!
You for reading the 3306 words in this post!
I am thrilled by the fact that I know these connections have been made by real people and not all my husband just clicking like on everything just to make me feel better! I love each and every person out there who has made a connection with me and I pray for them everyday! I do hope to have more success with my writing. I humbly hope to reach more people, to be inspired by them and to inspire them to live an authentic life. The only way I know this is happening online is to measure my success by using numbers. I think about how each of these sets of numbers represents real people all the time. I hope to add zeros to the ends of all the numbers above the next time I look at these statistics. But honestly, if the numbers do not increase at all, I would continue this path. It is so rewarding to share my thoughts with all of you who care about me.
The main thing I want to express to you (especially to those of you who are still actually reading this!) is that what makes this experience so incredible is all of the influence and support of all the people I am meeting along the way. I took the time to list them and give them credit because I am so very grateful for the way they have touched my life.
Each of the elements I have experienced so far alone would have been enriching and exciting for me to explore, but having them all happen together is life enhancing. It has been like falling in love with life. When you fall in love, you just know. When you are doing something that makes you happy and feel good, everything just falls into place. It feels like I know my way around here and I like the direction this road is leading! For now, I have enjoyed stopping and taking a look at the amazing scenery which surrounds me each and every day.
I had a really good time in Hollywood the other night! I attended the Urban Desert Cabaret show at the Pig & Whistle Back Room on Thursday night, May 17th. I spent some quality time with my family. My brother and sister-in-law were there with my niece and their friends. I was accompanied by my two best girlfriends.
The music was great and the night was special because there was a performance of a portion of Varieadades, a presentation of spoken word and music by the acclaimed writer, Ruben Martinez.
Besides the amazing bass guitarist, Juan Perez and the phonetic stlylings of Martin Holmes’ poetry, it was kind of a girl’s night at the Urban Desert Cabaret. The room was visually enhanced by the abstract art installation of Joanna Fodczuk. Her paintings are passionate and stirring and really set the mood for the evening’s talent.
I was impressed by Raquel Gutierrez who performed with Martinez and included a reading of her own work as well. Even though she comes off edgy, deep, personal and raw – I found Raquel to be cool, smooth and a powerhouse of Latina strength and fortitude.
I dropped her this note after she accepted my friend request on Facebook:
“Hi Raquel, I enjoyed your performance at #UrbanDessertCabaret! I’m posting a review on my blog, do you have a website I can link to? Or upcoming shows you’d like to plug?”
Awesome!! I look forward to seeing her perform again!
The highlight of the evening for me was early on when I was delighted by the incredible performance of guitarist/songstress, Cala Elaine. I can’t wait to see her perform again. I was intrigued by the combination of her strong sultry voice (reminiscent of Stevie Nicks) and her soulful charm and grace (a little like Jewel.) She had so much energy and depth in her performance and when I had a chance to meet her, she was friendly and genuine.
Cala and I also exchanged Facebook pleasantries and she has some website updating and more gigs in the works. Definitely go see her (and any of the artists from UDC) if you can – you will not be disappointed!
Everything about the line up was just as described by the organizer (my cousin) Joe City Garcia on the Facebook Event Invite. All the terrific artists coming together for a show that always seems to end too early! The poetry, the exceptional musicians, the atmosphere and the venue – all added to the perfect evening.
The food at the Pig & Whistle was great, the margaritas are pretty good (made with a splash of orange or pineapple juice.) I just hated to leave! The UDC combo is just getting started when they “play us out.” as everyone says their good byes.
I hope to see you next time at the Urban Desert Cabaret this Summer. You might even see me make an appearance and read my own original poetry!!
Tonight’s special event hosted by Joe City Garcia will be one to remember!!
Featured guest artists for tonight’s performance include: Martin Holmes (Poeticus Racontaurus), Martínez del Río – Variedades (Ballad of Ricardo Flores-Magón), Cala Elaine (Songster of Exquisite Passion), Juan Pérez (his Awesomeness of Bass), Joanna Fodczuk (abstract installation) and songs and jams with the UDC combo: Dean H. Chamberlain, Jeremy Gilien, Tonya Lee Jaynes, Robert Matsuda & host Joe City Garcia.
The Urban Desert Cabaret is a collaborative bi-monthly event consisting of guest songwriters, poets, spoken word artists and musicians. Conceived and hosted by Joe City Garcia.
The Pig’n Whistle Back Room is an intimate venue, a secret oasis amid the ‘new’ Hollywood Boulevard. Located between Las Palmas and MacCadden Place, you can enter from the side off of MacCadden Place between Selma and Hollywood Blvd. In fact, if you wish to avoid the boulevard altogether, you can circle around the back from Selma and look for street parking (only enforced until 8PM on Thursdays) or park in one of the lots ($5 lot @ Cherokee & Selma.)
Segments of L.A.’s hit performances of Variedadeswill be part of tonight’s showcase at Urban Desert Cabaret.
Joanna Fodcuk’s installation of Abstract Art will be highlighted tonight at the event as well.
Come back this weekend to read my ramblings of my experience at tonight’s Urban Desert Cabaret!!
VARIEDADES, the regular “performance salon” hosted by author and performer Rubén Martínez took stage in four installments at the famous Echo Club in Echo Park, in November of 2011. Variedades focussed on an expansive theme: the Desert, in all its immensity, beauty, and fearsomeness. An eclectic bill of artists rendered the “land of little rain” as desert scribe Mary Austin once called it, with music, spoken word, comedy, performance art and even a “performance lecture” by a leading theologian. This resulted in a dramatic and poignant portrait of a place where Mexican migrants cross a searing land, monks seek spiritual purity, soldiers wage battle and students stage revolution… the many deserts within the desert. The show at the Echo Club featured legendary alternative folk figure Victoria Williams (founder of Sweet Relief), internationally recognized performance artist Elia Arce, comedian/playwright/activist Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, and author and Loyola Marymount University theologian Douglas Burton-Christie.
Variedades, as does the Urban Desert Cabaret, pays special tribute to the powerful art scene that’s taken root in recent years in Joshua Tree—a Mojave desert destination long popular with Angelenos. Angelenos are certainly obsessed with the desert. Sometimes we even say that we live in it. (We don’t—you have to cross over the mountains to get to it.) It is certainly our escape-landscape, a screen upon which to project all kinds of desires and fears, and a real, physical place to inhabit. (In the 1990s and first decade of the new millennium, the Desert West saw the fastest population growth of any region in the country.)
As long as people have been traveling to the desert, artists have been representing it. The desert is a recurring character in both the Old and New Testaments. It is the setting for the American passion play of the Western. These days it is often the mise-en-scène for narco noir and neo-nativist politics—Arizona’s SB 1070, an electrified “border wall.”
VARIEDADES is inspired by the Mexican Vaudeville Shows in 1920’s Los Angeles in which Martínez’s grandparents were regular performers. VARIEDADES v.4 approaches this vast, contradictory space the same way previous themes had been approached (migration, the drug war, anarchy): with artists of different genres and generations bringing passion and humor, pathos and spectacle to illuminate the theme. The original four part series, performed last year, was made possible by a generous grant from the Material World Foundation (http://www.georgeharrison.com/mwf/main.html) and Liz Garo and The Echo.
A native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, Rubén Martínez holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. An author and a veteran journalist, he won an Emmy Award for his work in public television. As a musician, he has collaborated with the likes of The Roches, Los Illegals, Ersi Arvizu, and Marisoul Hernandez. (From: http://www.attheecho.com/2011/10/24/saturday-11-12-11-variedades-echo/ )
The birds are singing, it is a beautiful sunny day!
Is that Spring on the way?
As Spring approaches the idea of “Spring Cleaning” comes to mind. Unfortunately, my home is always in need of a good cleaning, and a complete overhaul sounds daunting. The thought is somewhat stressful even. Where should I begin? I look around and everything I look at needs to be cleaned, repaired, removed or replaced. It is overwhelming. I can’t get away from it. I don’t want to be around it. I try to find a clean space to work, to read, to write, to think. Anything and everything I do is haunted by the thought, “I should clean up first,” or “I don’t deserve to spend so much time writing and doing my own things – I can’t even keep a clean house.” Even my kids know that they can’t have a friend over until the house is cleaned up. Cleaning for company is the best motivator. One of the reasons I enjoy having parties at my house is getting everything spic and span. That thought excites me. Why can’t I plan on the unexpected company? Why can’t I always be ready for a party? The guilt sets in.
I grew up in a clean and orderly home.
My childhood home was not obsessively clean or spotless, but well-kept. I do not remember there being clutter all around, or piles of clothing or dishes. My mother kept a good routine of weekly cleaning and a daily up keep. My father was what we called a “pack rat” and liked to keep things that he could use again someday. Now they call that “re-purpose.” He was ahead of his time. My mother did not hold on to things very long. She kept things that were important to her like a wedding invitation or a photograph, but she tossed out cards and letters and movie tickets and junk. She liked things clean and presentable.
Why Do We Have So Much Junk?
By today’s standards, some would say that my Dad was a hoarder. I don’t agree. He honestly kept things that he thought were still useful. He was using jelly jars to hold nails, nuts and bolts long before anyone would think it clever to do so. He nailed the lids to the bottom of a shelf above his work bench in our garage, so the jars could hang from it. He could clearly see what was inside. Mom would say, “That’s tacky!” “Get rid of that junk!” We can afford to buy something nice.”
I save things. It is a big thrill when someone says, I wish I had a string or a tiny cup or a matchbox and I can provide that thing for them. I am always prepared. Need a key chain? No problem. A magnet? Got that. Envelope? Of course! Nothing comes close to the excitement of finding that thing and being able to use it again. Thinking, “A-ha! I knew it! I am glad I held on to that.” Here in lies the problem, the worst is when I know I have it . . . somewhere. I just saw it. I can never find things when I need them. Where is that. . .? Things are getting out of control. Now it is hoarding. Now it’s junk. There is clutter everywhere. It started in the junk drawer and closet, now it has taken over the whole house and is moving outside. It’s in my car, in my purse, in my head.
The good news is, I can take care of this. It’s just a bunch of junk. It does not define me. It does not control me. Spring is approaching. I am going to declare a mutiny on clutter this month. My March Madness begins today. I am going to make this a challenge.
The mission, should you choose to accept it. . . clear the clutter, clear the mind.
Company is Coming!
I am going to take on the mindset that “Company is coming.” I want to live my best life. I aim to bring my best self in all areas of my life. I am a good mom. I am a good wife. I give my best at work. I have discovered my passion. I am writing and I am helping others. It is time to clean up the cobwebs. . . and the sorrows.
There is significance in everything.
When I was a girl, my mom would have me help her clean the sofa every Spring. We would actually bring it outside on the patio. We would take off all the cushions. She would sweep the sofa with a broom, wipe it down with a damp cloth dipped in a mixture of water and Ivory dish soap, and let it dry in the sun. Our sofa had about twenty cushions. She would take each one and beat it with the broom. Dust would fly out everywhere. I was always amazed at how much dust there was! I would think, “Why are we doing this? It looks clean to me. She cleans it every week.” Then I would see that dust and besides being grossed out (I really hate dust!) I would be amazed at how dirty the sofa had become. That dirt and dust was there the whole time. It made the sofa look dingy and dull. All the dust accumulated and was stuck below the surface, in the creases and crevices and spaces in between the cushions. This was not a slip cover couch like we have today. There was no easy way to clean it. It was a messy and tedious job. I think my mother liked cleaning it. At least she liked having it clean. She may not have thought about it in a romantic way as I do. But it was the source of comfort and a symbol of stability in our family.
The sofa was the center of our home. Literally at the center of our home, it was also the heart of our home. We used our living room. It was our family room, formal sitting room, and guest room. It was a big sectional sofa. We had a big family and it was a term of endearment for one to say, “I have slept on that couch.” Those words meant so much to my parents. They welcomed everyone. If you needed a place to stay, you could always sleep on our couch. It was big enough for three people to sleep comfortably. And many families have used it.
I believe that objects absorb thoughts and feelings as well as hold memories.
I’m Not Just Talking About the Dust
My mother cleaning off the sofa and beating the dust and dirt out of it holds a deeper meaning. During the year many times that couch was a place where tears were shed, hearts were broken, arguments were held, dreams were shattered. There were happy moments as well. But in beating out the dust and grime, we are able to recall the goodness and joyful moments with clarity. The surfaces are prepared to receive more and there is space for more things to happen.
But what happens to all the dust? Where does all the dirt and grime go? I would watch it fly around in the air. When you look at a beam of sunlight you can see it floating around. Sometimes it is quite dense. Particles of who knows what are always floating around us. Molecules of debris, pollen, tiny bits and pieces just floating in the air. We breathe it. It settles on shelves and tables and counter tops. It is everywhere, always. When we clean it up, we are just moving it around. It won’t ever go away. We can sweep it up, put it in a dust pan, and throw it in the trash. But it is now in a bigger pile in the trashcan. And more will accumulate. It will never go away.
If you think about your life as a sofa like the one in my childhood home, realize that you can clean it, dust it, wipe it down with soap and water, even beat it with a broom and there will always be some tiny particles of the crap left behind. Even if it is bleached and purified or even if a brand new one replaces it, the crap always comes back. If we let it accumulate it gets dingy and heavy with the pain, the hurt, the losses, the anger, the confusion, the guilt and all that stuff that we carry. It doesn’t have to be a deep seeded problem or issue. It can be all the little things piled up that get overwhelming. Pile a couple of the big things on top of that and it can crush you. There is a reason my mom enjoyed cleaning that sofa.
I believe I can enjoy cleaning up the clutter in my life. I need to take this final step in order to truly enjoy the good things in life. I look forward to beating the cushions. I can beat this. In fact, I imagine I will get a lot of aggression out when I do! I will beat that crap down! I know it will keep coming back, it always does. But I will accept the mission, take on the challenge, and I will be ready for company. Let the March Madness begin!
Great ideas, huh? But I come back to the question, how do I get started? Somewhere I have a book about cleaning up the clutter and getting organized. I am sure I clipped an article about it. I remember watching an episode of Oprah on the subject. What was that? Damned if I can find any of that now! I am defeated before I even begin. Okay brain. Think, think, think. Maybe I can Google it. Oh, I better not! I’ll end up looking at Facebook, Tweeting and Pinning all day! Please, Lord, let this be one of those times where I can find what I need when I actually need it. . . I’ve got this.
I will use these steps that I have filed in my brain to clean up and get my act together. I don’t need a book or a guru – I know what needs to be done. I know what works for me. If you want to take the challenge, you can use my list, or make a plan of your own. But there must be a plan.
HERE IS THE PLAN:
Step One: Survey the Damage
I am going to really look at my surroundings and decide what I want to accomplish. I know I can’t remove, repair and replace everything now. I can start small. When I look at it objectively, I will not let the shame and guilt get the best of me. I will take on the attitude that I am preparing for a very special visitor. That person is me. I will do this for myself. I will start by removing the obvious trash and put things away. There is a place for everything. I will return things to their proper place and get things in order. I will make that my focus for this week. Nothing else. This week I will straighten up. That is a good start.
Step Two: Make a Clean Sweep
Once everything is in its place and the general clutter is thrown out or put away, I will sweep off the dust and polish it all up. I will focus on that for the second week. Everyday I will concentrate on a different room. One room at a time. I have to keep up throwing out the trash and putting things away as I do this or I will have to go back to Step One. I can deploy the troops. I will delegate the trash duty to my husband and keep reminding the kids to put their stuff where it belongs. I will do the dusting myself. As I do, I will think about the layers that I am revealing. I will get myself and my surroundings spic and span. I look forward to returning to a place where I am brightly shining. I may even give myself a facial and wear a mud mask as I clean my bathroom! Even my face will glow anew.
Step Three: Beat it Down
Now for the deep cleanse. During week three, I will take the big step and really tackle the cobwebs in the corners of my life and my house. I think I will book a massage or take a yoga class at the end of this week! I will deserve it and need it. Each day, I will take on a different project. Small things that won’t overwhelm me. I will organize my closet one evening. Clean out the refrigerator the next. I will go through the pile of mail and only keep the pertinent items and actually follow through on the pressing things. If I can’t pay a bill, I will at least make an arrangement to pay it. One evening I will devote myself to cleaning my desk and organize my file drawer. I resolve to use my desk for my work, not a place to put my jewelry and nick-nacks! On the weekend, I will ask my husband to move the sofa outside and I will get the kids to help me beat those cushions. I can’t wait to beat something!
Step Four: Company is Coming
During the final week of my March Madness, I will proceed as if I am getting ready for a party. I will make everything spic and span. I will put the spit and polish on it all. I have been wanting to get rid of all the mismatched stuff and start using the good stuff I am hoarding. Why not? I will get boxes and start in the kitchen. I will donate the dishes, glasses and pots and pans that I do not need. I will keep one set of everything. My aunt once told me I wouldn’t have so much laundry to do if I had less clothes. True. We tend to use all the dishes and every pot and pan, every spoon and fork, before we do the dishes. I am sick and tired of the pile up it causes. If we had one set, we would have to wash them every night. It will take some getting used to, but we can do it. I think I will just tackle the kitchen this week. For me, it is the main source of my disgust and disdain. I will pack up the mismatched dishes and utensils one night. I will organize the pantry the next. I will replace the shelve paper another evening. I will get the kids to clean out that junk drawer. I will clean the oven, the cabinets and counter tops and really put a shine to it. Lastly, I will fill the fridge with food for the week and get back into meal planning.
I may need some encouragement to keep it up. Can I count on you? Will you take that challenge? Maybe we can learn something about ourselves. If not, at least the house will be clean!
To learn more about me and how I can help you with your life’s challenges see more posts under Everything Miz Meliz. I look forward to hearing from you!