I’ll Be the Dandelion and You Can Call Me a Weed

“The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgment.” –Unknown

When I was little, maybe 6 or 7, I used to ask my mom why certain flowers are called weeds.

Plucking dandelions from the lawn, I’d comment, “Aren’t weeds supposed to be ugly? Dandelions are pretty.”

My mom explained to me that a flower is called a weed when it isn’t wanted.

“People don’t want dandelions in their yard, so they’re called weeds.”

When a wildflower pops up among meticulously placed perennials in the garden bed, it’s an invader, unwelcomely disturbing precision. It is the harbinger of mischief in a petaled sea of peace. For where one weed grows, many will follow.

I spent a fair amount of time in the garden growing up, though not always digging up dirt to plant seeds. Sometimes I was looking for four-leaf clovers so my sisters and I could iron them pressed together between two squares of wax paper, preserving luck for generations. Sometimes I was building homes for earthworms and “potato” bugs, arranging pebbles and leaves as sofas and tables for the creepy crawlers of the earth.

My childhood was nurtured by nature, for it has been in the dirt and the grass and the trees and the weeds that I have learned some of life’s greatest lessons.

A small patch of flowers stood out to me on one of the mounds in my mother’s garden. I fell in love with the burgundy flower heads, rimmed with crimson quickly fading into vibrant yellow.

“One of many types of painted daisies,” my mother said. “A weed to some people but not everyone.”

I have seen painted daisies in various colors across dozens of landscapes, but I never came across that color pattern again. Until two years ago when I traipsed through a garbage dump in the Bahamas.

Rummaging through rubbish heaps is a regular pastime on Long Island, Bahamas, where one man’s trash really does become another man’s treasure. On a particularly blistering day, I found myself hopscotching over upturned car doors and broken mirrors heading toward a patch of grass by the dirt road. Empty glass bottles were pinched in my grasp, teetering on the brink of disaster as I scurried to add them to my growing collection in the truck bed.

As my ankles straddled a sullied plank, I looked down at the ground to plan my last jump toward freedom. There at the base of my right foot was a painted daisy, growing tall and wild and proud, echoing the colors I remembered so clearly from two decades ago.

A weed, I thought, that by any other name would smell so sweet.

There among forgotten and discarded man-made possessions grew a tenacious little flower, its wiry spirit disparaging the rolling piles of waste. An invader claiming back the land where once fields of its kind–wildflowers, weeds–likely thrived.

A protester, dreamer, leader, fighter, nonconformist.

Steadfast, virtuous, invincible.

Like the dandelion.

A weed.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” –William Shakespeare

My Feature Film Premiere

On Jan. 22, I will be sitting in the audience of my first ever feature film premiere. And let me tell you, it’s giving me all the feels.
 
In the psychological thriller “The Trees Have Names,” I play Dr. Barbara Riley, head doctor at an insane asylum. And guess what? You can watch me play a doctor in one of 2 ways: in the theatre or streaming online.
 
So listen up, friends in Florida, Ohio, Denmark, Jamaica, Bahamas and Australia–you’ve got no excuse. Follow this link to purchase the $10 premiere tickets.
 
Throughout the filming process, I explored new parts of the beautiful state of Washington, learned drastic differences between film and stage acting, and networked with colleagues who have become friends.
 
This is what working for an independent film company means to me. With Blue Forge Productions, I’m a member of a growing artistic family. BFP was founded by backyard dreamers who encourage all of us backyard dreamers to achieve greatness. They don’t set standards with a high budget; they set standards with a heart of gold.
 
The first five weeks of the year, I’m working on five–yes that’s right FIVE–film projects with Blue Forge Productions. So be on the lookout for BIG announcements coming at you over the next few weeks.
 
As always, thank you for supporting my dreams. Now, go follow yours!

How My 2016 Was Shaped By My 2015

One year ago, I penned a piece on my radical sabbatical. Re-reading it, I’m finding how much it predicted my future.

1. I WAS asked in a job interview about the 1-year gap in my resume. I explained my belief in the value and virtue of self-discovery, self-awareness and self-worth. I got the job.

2. I took this year to be single, to date myself, to embrace my neuroses, viewing them not as flaws but as unique traits that make me stand out among the crowd. I invested in therapy to deal with my recent hardships but ended up facing unchecked problems of my past. I realized that I really AM invaluable to my own success and happiness.

3. Taking a plunge, throwing away any sense of stability I had previously laid out in my life and starting anew in Seattle WAS incredibly challenging. But even moreso, it WAS vital; it WAS necessary.

4. There is a disarming truth to society, which is that we, as individuals, do not believe in ourselves. I had to believe in myself to fight through the rejection of the art industry, and I AM better off because of it.

5. Like 2015, 2016 was ALSO filled with unanticipated emotions, ups and downs and everything in between. But I like my emotions. It makes me a better writer. It makes me a better actor. It makes me a better animal caregiver. And more importantly, it makes me a better human.

I know myself better than I thought I could ever know another living, breathing thing. It is a beautiful, beautiful achievement that no one can ever take away from me. It is something I wish for everyone to achieve in life. Learn who you are, and be head over heels happy with who that person is.

1 Million and Counting…

When you wake up to a note from your editor that makes you realize you can do this writing thing for reals:

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If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed or discouraged, here’s proof that hard work pays off.

Also, I’d like to thank chickens for making this possible.

Check out my trending chicken shaming article here for the laugh you need to get through today.

 

You Happened to Me, Parts I-III

PART I

“She’s a good person, you know.”

“I know.”

“She deserves.”

“Deserves?”

“Deserves.”

PART II

The bath grew cold twenty minutes ago. Water fills the gaps between her toes like air fills her lungs. (Vital.) (Necessary.) She tilts her head onto the tile, the hard surface relentless against her scalp, forcing her to forget.

At least here. At least now.

She is not remembering; she is listening to the methodical, meticulous drip-drip of the leaky faucet that the landlord refuses to fix. What once was her vexation is now her solace. Funny how things change.

(Change.)

And just like that, she is sucked back in, drowning in the mirage of what she once knew, melting into a horizon of revelation.

Heartache is no longer a hyperbole when it screams inside one’s chest.

She inhales, exhales, inhales and disappears beneath the agitated surface, entering a pool of sensory deprivation. But she is not deprived of her mind.

He is there and you are there. You’re there because you’re him.

PART III

You happened to me

On an ideal day

At an ideal time

In an ideal place

 

I painted you in pointillism

Made brushstrokes of your cubism

But we were never surrealism

Only caught up in impressionism

 

You were particles

Seeking me to make you whole

I was already whole

 

Then you happened to me.

just another adventure