Archive | November, 2015

Life, Death, and Creativity

30 Nov

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My family lost a member to suicide this week. For all involved, it has been a time to process this information while offering support. There is a legacy of loss here that can’t be negated. My mother’s death from seven years ago was on people’s minds as well.

Tragedy always strikes in the strong currents of life. There is a never an ideal time for loss. Often you’re already at max point with the demands of work and day to day, yet death insists that you stop. It insists that you keep going as well. When I received my mom’s suicide note, I was asked to come into work until I knew more because the hospital accredidation surveyors were there for their annual review. I thought this was the height of insensitivity, particularly from a mental health organization, but I went in and led groups and charted my notes. Three days later the police called me.

This is life. It will toss you about like a garment in the washing machine on spin cycle.

The day after news of the family death, I received confirmation that my male lead in the short film I wrote and am producing and starring in got cast on another film. He was already in Europe on a film and starts work immediately on a new feature.

Making a film doesn’t begin to weigh in comparison to the life and death of an individual. Yet in this chaotic swirl of the last few days, creativity affirms life in the face of death. We can collapse or create. Or collapse and then create. We film in a week in LA. Figuring out a new shooting schedule with a new lead who has the chops was like trying to solve a rubik’s puzzle but we did.

It is a constant honoring of loss while moving forward with life. After the film wraps, I see clients, finish up a course, and then get on a plane to see my grandmother one last time before she passes. She has held out beautifully on hospice living longer than we expected. Then it’s another plane ride and teaching for a week while we all continue to grieve for the recent death.

For the most immediate family members, they will not be moving on quickly. For them, they will need time to stand still. They will need to simply rest while remembering to eat and take out the trash. And then one day, the darkness will lift a bit. They will take a step out from the shadows and they will see a ray of light and life. During that time before and after, we will hold hands and make phone calls for this is God’s grace.

 

 

 

 

Resting Bitch Face

14 Nov

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All my life I’ve been told I have a beautiful smile. Yet even at a young age, I got flack when not smiling. I can remember as far back as junior high people asking me, “What’s wrong? When you walk down the halls, you always look so intense.” I wish I’d known then to simply respond, “That’s just my resting bitch face.”

Resting bitch face is a term my colleague Angi coined. When she introduces herself to a group she is training, at the end of her spiel she remarks, “Oh yeah. I want to warn you. Apparently when I’m not smiling, I look like a bitch. I’ve been accused of ‘resting bitch face.’ So if I’m not smiling at you, don’t assume I’m mad or not approachable. Come up and say ‘hi’. I don’t bite.” At this the group always chuckles because Angi is dead pan funny.

Yet Angi is also knock dead gorgeous. Tall and dressed to the nines, she looks like a svelte, hip Barbie. She has close cropped blond hair, big blue eyes, and curves in all the right places. When she opens her mouth, she is intelligent and sometimes swears like a sailor. But when she doesn’t smile, she has ‘resting bitch face.’

Many of us do. Males and females can be accused of ‘resting bitch face’. For instance, I have a guy friend who teaches and he says that students often accuse him of looking stern and callous when in actuality, he is pretty laid back and at times, goofy. I do however think ‘resting bitch face’ is a label attributed to women; not to men.

Obama often has ‘resting bitch face’. (I don’t blame him – he’s got a lot on his plate). He has been accused of being cold, yet never a ‘shrew’ or ‘bitch.’ James Bond too often has ‘resting bitch face.’ It has made him an international sex symbol. Unfortunately, ‘resting bitch face’ has never gotten me any dates. I remember once being told that when I was angry, “all the beauty drained from my face.”

I wondered why beauty was even on the table. But if truth be told, the issue of beauty is almost always on or off the table for women. In college, a boyfriend once told me, “You’re very sexy when you cry,” after I had just poured out my heart to him about my father’s drug use. Of course we ended up making love, which was great, but I’m not certain he even heard the bit about what was happening in my home life.

If beauty is indeed always a factor then I’ll go with good ol’ Angi’s summation: “Women are their most gorgeous when pissed because they’re most in their passion and power then.”

There must be something about the name Angi… The other night I heard that Angelina Jolie was once offered the role of a James Bond girl. She apparently declined stating that she wanted to be James Bond. You go, girl!

I want to be James Bond. Well, not really. ‘Smiling girl’ is actually more true to my nature than ‘resting bitch face.’

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The truth of the matter is that we have many faces; many moods. We need to embrace all of them because they represent all of us. We also need to see beauty in areas that often are viewed as negative. What if worry lines were viewed as intelligent lines and didn’t necessarily need to be botoxed away?

It’s okay to be a human being. And it’s okay to sometimes have ‘resting bitch face.’

 

 

 

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