|Posted on March 20, 2018 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
And wow again... Why not?
This blog may not quite match the intensity from yesterday's em-powerful ninth-day-in-a-row post, but don't underestimate my first ever suicide attempt survivor event (which was on March 14th). It moved me emotionally so very much. Until shortly before the Kevin Hines film began, I didn't even realize it was the nationwide premiere as well. Awesome. So I feel very fortunate for having come across the opportunity, through the local Suicide Prevention Task Force, and to take advantage of it. Thank you so much as well to Pennsylvania Link for sponsoring the movie event and making it available for this county region. I owe you one.
To date, I have attended four Out Of The Darkness Walks, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which have been great as an interactive group experience of suicide healing in general. Though, and specifically for my mental health advocate work this past year, the Kevin Hines film had a particularly special meaning for me. I have never really connected one-on-one with a fellow suicide attempt survivor before, and certainly not a successful, or fellow public advocate either.
Although Kevin Hines himself was obviously not present at this movie event, his film stood on its own very well. (The Ripple Effect) covered a thorough range of suicide loss, suicide attempt survivor, and advocacy experiences by Hines in the two-hour-long film. He was also very personable, confident, and easily relatable when conveying everything within that time frame. Even though it was indicated that this film is not yet near the stage of being released on DVD, I would look forward to that in the near future.
What I really want to do with this particular blog post is to address it to Kevin Hines himself should he ever happen to read it. Like I've done with my famous people blog category.
In your film, you demonstrated a superb skill with which to share and explore not only your own experiences with suicide and mental health, but you really were an inspiring role model. I hope someday to meet and share my story with you. I just might be a bit speechless at first, to be honest. When you rode in the Coast Guard boat up to the Golden Gate Bridge as it appeared ghostly through the fog... Your gut wrenching, tearful silence... I swear for at least half the film my eyes were not dry. Especially when you shared a segment of suicide attempt survivors.
I had a moment where I lost my composure as one of them, a girl, explained how she would go to sleep and didn't know.. sorry... didn't know whether she would wake up again... It is not easy even now to type, let alone to think about that night of my own decision to let go. What I took would not have killed me unless I snorted it. However, what I experienced during that utterly sleepless night was nothing short of misery.
Yet, throughout this film you showed both your true emotions, included plenty of facts, anecdotes, testimonials of other people who had experienced some form of suicide, as well as how important is has been for you to make a big difference against suicide on a global scale. For the last year and five months, I have been wearily working towards both my own mental health recovery and pushing hard to advocate for that which I suffer from as well.
It is not easy as I'm sure you know which is why I hope someday we can meet to share our experiences. I wish so much that right now, this day, I could be working with you side by side. I have been stricken with treatment-resistant anxiety that has inhibited my ability to make career decisions since Junior High School, which was twenty four years ago. That alone has crippled my development in life... I don't care how much money I'd make just as long as I could be making - not a small - but as big a difference as you have been working tirelessly to do.
Perhaps someday not too far in the future you and I will meet to collaborate. I definitely welcome and look forward to such an opportunity. Let us someday work together to encourage an emotional net all across the world so that it does not take a bridge, a gun, a pill, a rope around a tree branch, or anything to take one's life. The sooner the better. Bless you and thank you very much.
On the other hand, I also had a surprisingly and equally inspiring experience of my own after the film had ended. Although I will not share too many details about the individual, I am compelled to pay her the respect she expressed towards me for reaching out when she felt just as likely not to.
Once I had paid my respects to the two individuals on hand, one being with Pennsylvania Link, a woman approached me. Over I think maybe fifteen to twenty minutes, we shared and discussed our personal experiences that related to the Kevin Hines - The Ripple Effect film. I was realistic, honest, and humble with what I shared with her, but also making sure to encourage the deeply positive inspiration I have come to know in my life. That dogged determination you all read about in yesterday's blog post.
She was brave for reaching out to me, as well as being in her own manner honestly strong. I'm not sure if she believes that yet, but I am willing to go the distance. She was there same as I was for the event. That in of itself is half the battle anyway. She was confident to come up to me and share her own experiences in a public, but still discreet setting. It takes courage, regardless. On the other hand, what humbly touched my heart was something more than that.
I may have been the first person she reached out to. That fills a special place in my heart to have been someone she could look up to. Me? Someone who at times feels like I'm flying apart at the seams; to be strong for her to look up to is an honor. And for her to look up to me when she did after that movie, I also in a way felt like Kevin Hines himself. To be that kind of beacon for hope is truly without words to describe...
Then, while a community co-volunteer and I were there to offer her the moral support she needed, she went to tears...
If you are reading this, Miss, I personally want to offer you my sincerest respect and to honor your courage. You are meant to be here. Although I did get pretty intense in yesterday's blog than what some people are comfortable with, I hope with this individual I can inspire the same courage I dwell upon to keep putting one foot on front of the other.
Not just to get by, but to live an actual life. Whether you have a mental health condition or not, we all deserve to find genuine happiness and fulfillment. Considering the film and Kevin Hines' own advocate work, after I departed the theater I thought of the woman I had hoped to help. She had courage. She had strength. She had worth. She was still here, too. It has been expressed to me to do my best at least to help one person in all that I do.
When I think of how I spoke up, as a suicide attempt survivor, during the question and answer session after the film...
When I think of how, after just a single unsettling year of advocating, my website and my humble wisdom here have not been shared with very many people yet...
When I think of how I feel about my life as I had expressed in yesterday's blog post with so much desperate honesty...
I think of when the woman who reached out to me after this film, and how she broke down crying in the community co-volunteer's arms while we were there for her...
As I expressed then, maybe all of this is to fill a selfish empty void in my life similar to that which the fictional character Bruce Wayne suffers from. A hero or martyr complex. Perhaps I will run into a burning building to save lives someday... Perhaps I will take a bullet to help save someone from an untimely death...
With all of this - and - the last nine days of new blog posts considered...
I just feel being the kind of person that woman at the movie theater was able to reach out and look up to is beginning to mean more and more to me than I ever expected. I cannot simply stop with helping only her. I can't. I'm sorry.
There are just too many other people out there in this world who deserve a voice to hear in their times of need. Too many people...
I hope I never disappoint any of you.
|Posted on July 22, 2017 at 2:25 AM||comments (0)|
Chances are for the millions of people around the world that the former lead of the amazing band, Linkin Park, made you feel at least three - or more - of those emotions goes to show you just how charismatic he was as a gifted musician and one of a kind human being. Chester Bennington, you gave of your heart and soul a countless number of invaluable reasons that you will be missed. Dearly...
During the fall of the year I graduated from high school and started my first semester at college, October of 2000 saw the release of Linkin Park's first and ground breaking album entitled Hybrid Theory. For me, the lyrics in particular as well as the entrancing beats of their music in this album, Meteora which followed, and most of their music since struck an instantly memorable cord I will never forget. Bennington's unique sounding voice also lent an air of distinction that made you know their music whenever you may have heard it.
His tone of voice and many of the lyrics were such that as I was in the throes of my profound depression, and only three years before attempting suicide by overdose, I like many of their fans found a special place and understanding of Bennington. I felt as if I knew him. Through his voice, his words, I could identify with his emotions even before I had overcome my depression half a decade later to actually be capable of idolizing anyone or anything. Linkin Park's music survived my depression symptoms to become one of my most favorite bands for this genre of music.
But now Chester Bennington is gone...
The emptiness is almost overwhelming when I think about it. I consider this the second most depressing celebrity suicide I have lived through (Robin Williams' being the most heartbreaking for me to date). Of course I never personally knew Bennington. I regret not having seen them in concert during my younger years. I cannot say I actually knew him, and neither was I related. Yet, Bennington touched my heart and soul with every word he sung through his pain-driven lyrics. I could easily consider him a friend, a brother, an idol, and absolutely someone to look up to. And despite his fateful decision to give up, I wouldn't change my respect and admiration for him whatsoever.
But he's gone..
What Bennington's suicide leaves in its wake, particularly for this year alone, is a troubling trend of suicide rates both high profile and particularly of younger age groups. Earlier this year, a local high school student had sought out counsel from school officials but to no avail before taking his own life. Not a single one of these or any suicides ever rings a more depressing tone with me than anything average in a day. These lives mean as much as if they were all family. And it hurts every time I hear about someone such as Chester Bennington losing hope so much to the point that they let go! I want to reach out across the great divides of distance, time, and fate, to lay my life on the line. To be there for every one of them and inspire enough hope to warm their hearts. To help them to have faith and hope for their lives worth living.
Not only that, but consider for every high profile suicide which gets reported to realize just how many suicides - and suicide attempts - go unreported. I have no doubt the ratio for that would be staggering. This year has seen too many so far for me to not fear the rest of the year and beyond. What should I do? Dig my feet into this gritty ground and push back harder to do whatever I can to bolster awareness and prevention initiatives of suicide. For me, enough is damned enough. I know there will be more casualties of this forsaken war of sorrow, but those gone before me shall not be forgotten. Not now, not after two weeks of grieving, and not ever.
What I do I do now selflessly for the hope of a happier tomorrow no matter who I am able to reach with inspiration. Every step I take with my growing advocacy efforts will be done while keeping Chester Bennington very close to my heart. Every time I hear his music with that one of a kind voice, I will remember his name and pray for his spirit to find peace. I will also be busy picking up where he left off. Making a difference.
Linkin Park - Iridescent
When you were standing in the wake of devastation
When you were waiting on the edge of the unknown
And with the cataclysm raining down
Insides crying, "Save me now"
You were there, impossibly alone
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go
Let it go
And in a burst of light that blinded every angel
As if the sky had blown the heavens into stars
You felt the gravity of tempered grace
Falling into empty space
No one there to catch you in their arms
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go
Let it go
(Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?)
(You build up hope, but failure's all you've known)
(Remember all the sadness and frustration)
(And let it go)
Let it go
Let it go
Let it go
Let it go
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure's all you've known
Remember all the sadness and frustration
And let it go
Let it go
|Posted on July 14, 2017 at 1:15 AM||comments (0)|
Now that I've finished my six short stories for the book project, as I get back in gear for regular blogging I wanted to give a very special nod to my biggest inspiration for writing fiction. Best-selling author, Sandra Brown.
It all started sometime within a year or two after I graduated from Penn State Altoona in December of 2002. During that year I had taken an English course in which we were assigned various books to read and write reports about. One of the books changed my lack of interest for reading from then on. Jon Krakauer's book, Into Thin Air. Its harrowing account about the tragic loss of eight climbers on Mount Everest during 1996 made me realize there actually were books I could leisurely read. After college, I soon developed an interest to explore other books that might be as awe inspiring to read. The ultimate genre choice of murder mystery was probably influenced by my interest in forensic science from shows like the original Medical Detectives and Forensic Files.
I wanted to check out the best writing, but was faced with a ton of notable authors to choose from. Naturally, I was very skeptical of which authors to try because I hadn't read any of their books before back then. I also hadn't really read any books for leisure outside of high school or college because my Attention Deficit Disorder made it a challenge to focus on sitting still to read for lengths of time. This made me rather picky for which author to choose. On the other hand, movies such as Cabin By The Lake had me teeming with creative curiosity. So, I decided to try murder mystery fiction with the best choice of authors I felt I could make.
Sandra Brown was a prominent best-selling author of the genre and I liked the book descriptions of hers that I read. Through Amazon.com I purchased a large hardcover copy of her book, Chill Factor. What appealed to me about this specific book as my first was the implied harsh setting of a snow-covered cold environment such as Alaska. The characters were interesting enough to have me invest in what would happen as the story progressed. Brown's easy-to-follow writing style rich with well written details made the book very refreshing for me to read. In no time I finished the book and knew I had picked the right author. During the years since then, I have not only purchased more of Sandra Brown's books but have read several as well.
The Witness, Breath Of Scandal, and Ricochet were amazing stand-alone novels each of which I could not put down once I started reading them. Fully convinced of her writing talents I have also purchased Smoke Screen, Lethal, Low Pressure, The Crush, Mirror Image, and Envy so far. One of Brown's strengths is her ability to portray her characters in all sorts of situations but with writing quality that an average person has no problem understanding and following along with. Not to mention how she does a superb job crafting her main characters into those that quickly pull you in to follow and invest in. The only reason I haven't read the books of hers I already bought is because once I started theater script creative writing and my writing of "Just Before the Dawn", I've tended to write more than read leisurely.
It is a bit of a bias for me to hold Sandra Brown to such high regard for being the author that impressed me on the first murder mystery suspense novel I read. I have thoroughly enjoyed other authors of the genre such as Elizabeth Becka, Lisa Gardner, and particularly Michael Connelly. These authors possessed the same quality and skill, but I suppose it is only fair to regard Brown for winning me on my first book because of her talent to write so well. At some point I intend to put down the proverbial keyboard-pen and catch up on those books I bought but haven't yet read. Though, when I get my first book edited and published I intend to send a special copy to Sandra Brown.
I want to thank her for being the empowering inspiration to write fiction that she has been for me and shall continue to be in the future as well. Thank you, so kindly.
|Posted on February 2, 2017 at 1:30 AM||comments (0)|
Happy Bill Murray Day!
If I could pull off an early April Fool's joke on all of you by claiming Groundhog Day is my fourth least favorite day of the year, I wouldn't hesitate to. But when you are the person people say shouldn't have been a professional comedian for a living that does limit your options when trying to make people laugh. Natural comedy isn't my strongest suit, unless there is a blue moon outside (the Blue Collar Comedy Tour helps too). I do have my Mom to thank for sharpening my sarcasm skills over the years, though. Trust me, it gets better with age and makes you worse than sour grapes before you even turn forty. I swear, it feels like I am making up for all those times in school when I never had a good come-back remark when I was teased and picked on.
A good belly laugh goes a long way. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the phrase about an apple a day, so you may have also heard that a laugh a day keeps the psychiatrist away. While I was thinking about what to write for this post, I thought of that same phrase and just had to slap myself silly. What was I thinking? I go on and on, and on, and manage to forget one of the most effective ways I manage my mental health on a daily basis. The ability to use laughter and humor to your advantage, in appropriate ways, truly is an underrated coping mechanism. A fun starting point would be to rent or buy a copy of the film, Groundhog Day starring Billy Murray. The scene with him driving the pick-up truck and the bug-eyed groundhog behind the wheel is a classic.
I respect the history of it, particularly for the Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, but I can't say I'm a big fan of the day itself. Like the Tooth Fairy (and the same film starring Dwayne Johnson), I have long since discovered that neither are true. Old Man Winter doesn't bow down to a groundhog that does or doesn't see his shadow. Today inspired me to remember Bill Murray's timeless comedy from the film and to liven up the mood more. You may think laughing is just a part of you, whether you are good at it or not. Yet, the great thing is with some good practice and minimal effort humor can develop into a true secret weapon against mental illness. Especially against prolonged depression and similar mental health conditions that cause you to be overly negative.
After a number of years of practice, I can laugh appropriately at a lot of things even when my own situation hasn't changed much or still creates considerable depression. For much of the time I don't even realize how easily it comes for me to use humor as a coping mechanism, despite not being able to gauge the effectiveness. I am still here, so that must serve as some amount of proof I would hope. If you can also master what is called self-depreciating humor, which is picking on yourself in ways that can make you laugh, you can really prove that laughing a day keeps the psychiatrist away. Here are some examples from http://www.wikihow.com/Sample/Self-Deprecating-Humor:
I walk two miles a day. One to the donut shop, and one home.
Exercise doesn’t kill you, but why take the chance?
I’m on that new “seafood” diet. If I see food, I eat it.
Do you know that feeling when you meet someone and you both just fall madly in love? Yeah, me neither.
I’m in shape. Round is a shape, right?
Someone asked if I knew a good plastic surgeon? Would I look like this if I did?
Notice how these examples can be fun but aren't counter-productive or inappropriate. In my experience, being this skilled at humor takes the control away from your mental illness symptoms and puts it in your hands to use when you need it most. Back during the mid to late-nineties when I had my first bout of depression, had I been more skilled with humor I would've been less negative if I thought a day was depressing. Laughter isn't a cure-all, but it will definitely help soften the lows when they really pull you down. For some of you, you probably already do this quite well and don't even know it just to show how easy it is. If you have trouble with developing your humor, watch quality comedy like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour or stand-up comedians. Before you know it, the laughter will be so contagious you will feel better in no time.
And for all of the truly talented comedians in the world, including actor Bill Murray and late actor Robin Williams, thank you for making life so much easier to deal with because of your genuine mastery of humor.
|Posted on January 31, 2017 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
Imagine what inspiration would sound like if it were in the form of instrumental music. Simple yet elegant notes of music with the power to influence your emotions. Music crafted by some of the most creative composers, a wide variety of the finest instruments, played by skilled musicians, and in some forms also includes both choral and solo performances. Music which could invoke feelings of triumph, sorrow, peace, war, reprisal, defeat, hope, loss, courage, bravery, a fight for survival, to win against all odds, a battle against good and evil, or a chance between life and death. Such a form of music does exist with all of this potential and much more. I will begin by explaining in detail to avoid any confusion.
Known loosely as modern classical music, it is a style of orchestral music that spans dozens of different genres each with its own unique twist and instruments used, as well as hybrid mixtures of genres that defy traditional composition. Collectively, this modern classical music is broken down into three specific genres important to be familiar with: Film music, Trailer music, and Epic music. The easiest to distinguish first, Film music or score, is original instrumental music specifically written and composed for films. I first started with film music when I was growing up and became a fan of films such as Star Trek and Star Wars, which had notable scoring by composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and later Hans Zimmer.
The second form of music, Trailer music, consists of the background music used in mini-movies called film trailers. These trailers don't necessarily have to contain scoring from the actual film, and often times such scoring is not yet finished because trailers are released for marketing purposes before the film is completed. Trailer music is therefore composed specifically to support the pending release of a film for generating interest within a target fan base. I have been exposed to film trailers long before now, but it wasn't until the 2009 release of the second film trailer for Avatar which awoke my interest in Trailer music. Earlier that same year the reboot of the Star Trek franchise had released their film trailers, which contained music I was equally inspired by at the time.
Though, the first time I began searching for who composed this music was with the second Avatar film trailer. Thanks to YouTube, I looked for the songs by using search parameters such as "Avatar trailer music". I discovered that there were a total of three individual tracks, with two of them having been by the production music company called Audiomachine. In order, the trailer begins with Steve Jablonsky's film score, My Name Is Lincoln (The Island film), Audiomachine's Akkadian Empire and Guardian At The Gate. I strongly encourage everyone to check out Jablonsky's score piece, My Name Is Lincoln, because it is a very soothing and an absolutely incredible uplifting song that will demonstrate the powerful potential for this kind of orchestral music.
Trailer music was originally meant to be used as inspirational and uplifting music for motion picture advertising campaigns. Once it caught on and became a growing sensation, Trailer music popularity has continued to grow at an astounding rate. So far to date, it has also been used in other mediums such as the Olympic Games and commercial advertising. Fans around the world convinced recording studies for the music to make their albums public for purchase, whereas before the compositions were kept private. Sales of such albums and continued popularity have driven some fans to show support for public concerts to be held as well. The Avatar film trailer is what I would describe as a modern film trailer, because of this music's heightened emotional effect.
Derived from Trailer music, Epic music is its base form which can used for film trailers but is being increasingly composed for public exhibition on websites like YouTube under Epic Music Channels (EMCs). Due to the steadily growing popularity, Epic music has attracted a vast new group of composers specializing in composing the music of this type. It has also evolved to become very similar to neoclassical music, which is my preferred name to describe it more accurately. Since 2009 with the Avatar film trailer, Epic music has become a major source of inspiration that has literally changed my life. Beginning with Audiomachine, Two Steps From Hell, Immediate Music, and Thomas J. Bergersen, I gradually explored other production groups and composers.
Audiomachine - Paul Dinletir, Kevin Rix
Thomas J. Bergersen
Two Steps From Hell - Nick Phoenix
Immediate Music - Yoav Goren, Jeffrey Fayman
Q-Factory Music - Robert Etoll
The Hit House - Scott Miller
Fringe Element - David Travis Edwards
Hi-Finesse - Jez Colin
Twelve Titans Music - David Travis Edwards
Confidential Music - John Samuel Hanson, Kyle Biane
I quickly discovered what Epic music was capable of when used expertly in movie trailers for films, such as: Captain America Civil War, Doctor Strange, Everest, Inception, Interstellar, Iron Man 3, Star Trek (2009), Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond, Terminator Genisys, The Adjustment Bureau, The Avengers, The Avengers Age of Ultron, The Martian, The Wolverine, Thor The Dark World, X-Men Days of Future Past, and dozens more just to give you a taste. With the shortest teaser trailers released first, two to three more revealing film trailers usually follow. If a film trailer is meant to be a mini-movie, the sheer intensity of Epic music used in these trailers has to be equally compelling because a trailer only lasts a couple minutes on average. Imagine the potential to help alleviate mental illness symptoms.
Soon after the Avatar film trailer in 2009, I came up with an innovative concept of organizing Epic music songs into special playlists I call Opus playlists. Opus, because I am the one who composed the organization of the songs into extraordinary playlists. Each of the three I have created are actually arranged according to how each song makes you feel, each different emotional reaction progresses to tell a larger emotional story. Generally, they begin with an upbeat mood for the beginning of the imaginative emotional experience, which transitions to songs that create feelings of peril and defeat such as an imaginary evil rising to power. This is followed by triumphant, uprising, and battle tempo songs of fighting back against those dark forces, culminating with a powerful last stand series of songs for the climax.
To round out the end of these playlists, I used songs that create sad emotions to portray the sacrifices made, a couple triumphant songs for the ending, and concluded with a minimum of three very compelling songs that serve as the end titles like for a film score. I used to create similar playlists like these when I was growing up, using Film music from both the early Star Trek and Star Wars films. What makes Epic music far more effective is that it isn't tied to scenes from a movie, which you would immediately think of rather than the creativity of how it makes you feel. This difference allows a listener to concentrate on what emotions these songs make you feel, and when strung together to create a story, can be very inspiring.
I considered sharing each of my three opus playlists here, but that would take up too much room. I do have them saved under the public Notes section of my Facebook profile in chronological order of when I created them: Destiny's Resurrection, March of Souls, and Against All Odds. Where a Film music song such as Steve Jablonsky's My Name Is Lincoln, mentioned above, would fit in with an example opus playlist would be after the climax near the end. It would symbolize a hard fought victory and overcoming whatever forces of evil a person can imagine. What songs like this actually can do is allow a person to feel positive emotions, from the more upbeat songs, and help alleviate troubling symptoms with such mental health conditions as depression and bipolar disorder.
With songs from genres like Epic and Trailer music, and an active imagination, the sky really is the limit for what this music can do. Anyone who might need their own little boost, when their days are somber and down, can pick their favorite energetic song and experience the positive potential. I listen to Epic music just about every day, during my box-ercising routine, and when driving in my car. If you find it enjoyable, share it with anyone you know and maybe someday the composers and production groups will begin to hold actual concerts. Imagine the intensity in a performance center and all those people packed together. I, for one, would be speechless.
I would also like to dedicate this post to the composers who created some of the first Epic music I discovered and have loved ever since. Thank you Paul Dinletir, Thomas J. Bergersen, and Nick Phoenix. I owe you a thousand words for the thousands of hours your music has inspired me to do great things. Well, actually a thousand five hundred words as this blog post turned out to be.
|Posted on January 28, 2017 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Ever since her fiery eyes, her confident demeanor, and strong feminine characters hit the big screen, for me actress Zoe Saldana has been an icon for women, race, and science fiction in a way that always has me riveted to her when she stars in a film. For the actors and actresses I have been talking about for this Famous People blog category, yes I have been highlighting much of what they have done solely in films that I am a big fan of. But I have to believe that a lot of who these people really are comes through their performances and on into the characters they portray. So, I have to trust my judgment to believe actress Zoe Saldana is a strong woman, a woman of color, a person who has the ability to be a powerful force of inspiration and a positive role model through her acting.
This category is to share the best of what these famous people have done in the films I refer to in an effort to share what inspires me about them. I am not judging their entire acting career, unless we're talking about Patrick Stewart whom is the best as they come. Saldana always seems to have a passion in her that she conveys through the characters in films which she portrays. Those characters are therefore an extension of that positive and inspiring force, and those characters stand eternally as more profound examples of inspiration that transcend the many barriers we as human beings naturally create amongst ourselves.
Saldana first caught my attention in the film, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, except for one impish fact on my part. As I had been with many inspirations before 2005-08, I was late with realizing or being exposed to them when they were the center of attention. I didn't gravitate to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise until around or after 2007. By 2009 however, when the Star Trek franchise began its rebirth thanks to the creative courage and vision of J. J. Abrams, Saldana's performance in the first film catapulted her empowering performance capability directly into my heart. My fondness for Star Trek aside, there isn't one moment that Saldana's character, Nyota Uhura, is not the respectable, intelligent, independent, courageous, or inspiring persona as seen on screen in that film.
Furthermore, Saldana's performance in the 2009 film, Avatar, is what ultimately sealed my inspirational judgment of her potential. Saldana portrayed a science fiction character, Neytiri, from another planet whose growth as a non-human character in the film transcended all racial barriers that we as human beings typically create. Her tolerance, her acceptance, her objectivity, her strengths and weaknesses, essentially as an imaginary character should serve as empowering examples for how we as real people can and should act in our own lives. Lives which are fraught with labels, choosing sides, and stereotypes that generalize one individual by the behavior of the group mentality.
If I were to ever have children, one of the top movies for inspirational value of good morals I would show them, when age appropriate, would be the film Avatar. Is Neytiri or actor Sam Worthington's character, Jake Sully, hateful or violent indiscriminately towards others in the film? No. The two fictional characters' actions throughout the entire film are as inspiring role models as they come. Once I saw this film, I was sold by Saldana's potential as an inspiring actress and when she takes up that mantra in the future I look forward to enjoying her performances. I really do. In fact, Saldana went on to reprise her role as the independent and confident Star Trek character, Nyota Uhura, in the 2013 and 2016 Star Trek sequels. How she portrays Uhura in Star Trek Beyond will always in my heart be memorable.
The reason why I decided to talk about Zoe Saldana at the end of yesterday's post, referring to her bullying comment, was also to show that she can be objective enough to recognize and speak out against bullying even amongst her own colleagues and liberal supporters. "We got cocky and became arrogant and we also became bullies," the 38-year-old actress said of Trump. "We were trying to single out a man for all these things he was doing wrong... and that created empathy in a big group of people in America that felt bad for him and that believe in his promises." She set aside her political beliefs and simply was able to recognize the signs that bullying behavior by liberal US supporters had helped support Donald Trump to get elected. Actress Nicole Kidman echoed a similar judgment.
I am on the side of Zoe Saldana when she acknowledged and spout out against people who engaged in bullying tactics against other people. That, right there, takes courage to do. Even I don't completely comprehend the power or influence social stigma has against society, but as I continue forward to confront it I can only hope I have near as much courage and confidence that Zoe Saldana has. She has liberal views, by the way, and has had to withstand a backlash of her own from other liberal supporters and assumingly liberal Hollywood celebrities. I dislike referring to her as a liberal, because she had such independence and strength as a woman of color to stand up against the forces of social stigma. This is why I am writing about her here and look up to her as an actress.
Ms. Saldana, if you read this, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for being you and I hope you find solace in the praise and objectivity I have shared here about you. It doesn't matter what political barriers keep us as a society down, or in conflict, people like Mayim Bialik, Zoe Saldana, and myself will hopefully continue to stand up against stereotypes, prejudices, racism, religious persecution, and so on whether it comes from the side of the conservative Trump administration or if it came from the liberal Obama administration. We will endure, in the end. Thank you, Zoe. Thank you.
|Posted on January 19, 2017 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
With the lengthy recap of the last one hundred days advocating for mental health and awareness taken care of, I want to begin the next one hundred days by revealing a source of inspiration that I had not expected was important to this website. The reason for this was because the film itself came out in theaters, for the US, on September 16th last year and I hadn't been able to watch it on DVD until just a few days ago after purchase from eBay. Once I watched it for the second time ever, I had an epiphany with how inspiring the film was and then I thought back to when it came out in relation to my website blogging. One plus one equaled two and I knew in my heart I just had to give credit where credit was due.
Even though the film, and the person the film is based on, is very controversial especially here in the United States I simply could not ignore or deny the effect the film and its cast members had on me. Directed by Oliver Stone and starring the gifted actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the film was Snowden. Yes, the very same. The film based on the life and courage of Edward Joseph Snowden between 2004 and 2013. I know some of you hit your breaks as soon as I mentioned his name, if for no other reason than to ask what he or this film have to do with mental health and awareness. Or you have not seen Snowden in the same light I have and feel he is a traitor. Your opinions are well justified and appropriate, but if I may insist there is more here than meets the dotted i.
While both before and after this film hit theaters I personally and humbly believed in Snowden's innocence. Let's face it; very few people were close to the events that surrounded him and what the film is based on. I could sit here and debate the merits of his actions in real life, but it is the value of the film which impressed me the most, in such a way and at just the right time that it served to give me courage I hadn't realized until now when watching the DVD of the film. None of us were there, but the film did as films often can do which was to bring those events and heroism closer to our level of understanding and have them unfold for each of us to experience for ourselves. What any of you take away from this, I humbly hope, is the concept of what Snowden portrays about standing up against an immovable force to do the right thing and make a difference in the lives of other people anyway.
On one hand, it would be a stretch to consider the film as an analogy for social stigma and mental health because comparing it to immoral US Government surveillance spying is simply irrelevant. Right? One thing has nothing to do with the other. What struck me was how one person, Edward Snowden, risked his career, his happiness, his wellbeing, the love of his life, his family, and how he risked his future to do what he felt was the right thing. He sacrificed himself for the hope of helping other less fortunate people. Snowden blew the whistle on a force so powerful that we could cower in front of our own computer screens, and keeps people silent against its influence. If opponents were to speak out they would be shut down and silenced. If you stop there for a moment doesn't this pattern of risk and oppressive behavior sound oddly familiar?
It should. The general forces at work are intimidation, bullying, suppression, pressure, fear and silence; all forces that social stigma uses against people like me with mental health conditions. Bam! It seems that I made that analogy work after all, not that critics of Edward Snowden need to question their judgments. Just keep focused on mental health and I will continue, even though my hands are shaking a bit from the inspiration still fresh in my mind. Essentially and if I am write as portrayed by the film, Edward Snowden sounds like an advocate doesn't he? He chose to stand up against oppressive behavior by his peers and speak out to make the right choice. Based on the principles, this shouldn't make Snowden an adversary any more than I am.
Forget for a moment the fact that Snowden was involved in secret government surveillance and spying across the globe, or for revealing those national secrets to a stunned global population. Set aside your doubts and apprehensions about Snowden and notice the fact that he did stand up against Goliath as David once did in the Bible's Old Testament. How can I possibly compare to Snowden? First of all, I have nowhere near as much overall risk at stake as he did. Hands down. Neither am I trying to suggest I do have that much at stake to come across as conceited. By now, enough of you know me better than that. To be completely honest though, I really wouldn't mind having that much of myself at stake because I truly am committed to the cause of improving mental health and awareness to the point that I would sacrifice as much. I really would.
Secondly, I don't have the level of intelligence or experience moving abroad that Edward Snowden has. The farthest from home I've gone without my family is Chicago in 2003 when I traveled with a best friend on a trip. This alone affords invaluable social experiences and professional opportunities that sets Snowden a world apart from anything I have done up to the present time. He has worked jobs I can't even imagine and made incomes I couldn't dream of for the max $11 an hour I've made to date here where I live. He was fortunate to find an independent and strong willed woman, who not only weathered much of Snowden's stress but also stood valiantly beside him when he was forced to Russia for sanctuary from the Obama administration's US Government influence.
Clearly I cannot compare to Edward Snowden, but this doesn't mean someone as below average and ordinary as me, or most importantly that any of (you) can find powerful inspiration in someone like him. If I've been the honest, genuine, and humble person who I hope I have convinced all of you that I am, perhaps I too can be an inspirational force for good. Like Snowden, and even Gordon-Levitt when he accepted the responsibility of portraying him in the film and potentially risked his career, I too have made the decision to stand up for what I believe in. And I believe that people around the world have the right to have access to the best treatment for any mental health condition they may have, and especially not to be oppressed into silence by social stigma.
However, unseen by everyone are the consequences I am most likely facing from blogging about these controversial topics. I guarantee you the first time I mentioned my weak overdose attempt, which was back on October 20th in my post entitled "Before inspiration came the Dark Side", I bet I popped up on scores of employment radars that will black list me. If not then, I surely was at greatest risk on New Year's Eve after I admitted to my 2014 relapse with contemplating suicide - which I never followed through with. Criticizing the likes of employers, especially larger corporations, for contributing to the fear and stigma that keeps people they employ silent about needing help with mental disorders such as Attention Deficit Disorder, will eventually result in employment rejection quietly based on what I say here.
And I will need a resolution this year to the career anxiety and employment issue, or else my situation will become very precarious. Am I afraid of sharing my experiences particularly with depression and suicidal tendencies? Honestly, I am not as fearful right now and probably until the fear manifests itself in repeated employment rejections and social media backlash against my honesty here. Am I prepared for the inevitable backlash? I may feel confident but I am not ready because I've seen the sheer ferocity with which people like actor Steve Martin are mobbed by bullying haters who hammer a person until they crack. In Martin's case, he decided to take down the heartfelt condolence to Carrie Fisher's passing. I can only hope I have the strength to endure forces that overwhelming...
All comparisons aside, I should give equal praise not just to Snowden but for the very talented actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to portray him as a very convincing and inspiring individual. Beginning with the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, continuing with his masterpiece performance in Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Walk, Gordon-Levitt has impressed me very much from his ability to act with immense integrity. If I have seen him on screen, I follow his character's every moment and action, so when Snowden came out I knew he was a natural talent and perfect choice as the title character. Gordon-Levitt is very much someone I would love to see in future roles and performing as inspiring characters to test what new heights as an actor that he can achieve.
Mr. Edward Snowden, Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and actress Ms. Shailene Woodley, if either of you read this blog post I want to thank you for being the inspiring people you have been for me and hope that you all can be convinced of my advocacy to share it with everyone you know who could benefit from it. Why Woodley, you ask? Because she portrayed a strong willed, independent minded woman who stood by her husband as Lindsay Mills did when it mattered most. Just because a film is considered and labeled as a box office disappointment, without regarding the film's worldwide success, doesn't mean that the film Snowden isn't worth every second for the true story it portrays. Thank you.
Before I knew how much I had written, just now I took in the length of this post and I feel proud for how an inspirational influence can make me speak so passionately about a topic I believe in. I face adversity as an outspoken advocate for mental health and wellness and I will face worse in the months to come. If nothing else then for what I am about to begin discussing, which has profound consequences to people throughout history and all over the world: suicide.
|Posted on January 11, 2017 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
"The more confidence you have in yourself and the more you believe that you are destined to do what you are gonna do, it will happen." Michelle Rodriguez.
Before I branch out onto another blogging arc and while I was on the subject of Attention Deficit Disorder, I wanted to relate how actress Michelle Rodriguez comes into play here. Although I don't recall specifically when in the last seven or eight years I learned about it, but for the first time in my life I found out a famous person has the same learning disability that I have. People hear that certain celebrities also have some of the same health conditions that they do, but ADD is not one I've heard much without having to dig around the internet. I don't necessarily need a famous role model for this mental disorder, but since I had already looked up to her in acting she left a uniquely positive mark on me.
Yes, Michelle Rodriguez has Attention Deficit Disorder. When I first read about it somewhere online I was surprised, as a lot of people seem to be when they find out you have the mental disorder. But with Rodriguez, I really respected her after I found out because of having been a fan of hers from her acting career. Starring in tough feminine roles from the Fast And The Furious franchise, Resident Evil, the film S.W.A.T. with a toughness yet gracefulness no one but her could pull off, and Avatar, I really admired her going against the typical female character types to be herself in what she performed. Even if she was typecast after her star role in the film, Girlfight.
And she is as tough on screen as they come, with one of the toughest female film fights against actress and mixed martial arts competitor Gina Carano from the film, Fast 7. Given her personality from the interviews she's given, I'd have to believe if Rodriguez didn't like being often seen as a tough woman she has the confidence to blaze her own trail. So as a woman, as an actress in film and Hollywood, as a person of her age, personality, and dedication to her work, knowing that she has ADD really makes me want to sit down with Rodriguez and ask her what it's been like for her personally.
It is obvious that not only has she had to overcome adversity being a woman, but also with the Attention Deficit Disorder potentially holding her back. In my humble opinion, this makes anything that Rodriguez puts forth with her hard work ethic and toughness is a prime example of succeeding against mental disorders. Believe me; this world could use more examples of famous people that many idolize already but to know that some of them also have mental health conditions. And Rodriguez will always be bearing weight on her shoulders, or donning her metaphoric boxing gloves, and facing adversity just the same.
Actor Logan Lerman's character Percy Jackson was portrayed as having Attention Deficit Disorder in the film, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and having trouble with it to fit in and function in society. Yet, his mentor saw through the disorder and encouraged Jackson's ADD as what gives him his excellent reflexes and attention to multitask. The character Hiccup from the animated film, How To Train Your Dragon, also overcomes his learning disability to save his village. The truth is if you look closely enough, you will find all sorts of people to look up to if you have mental disorders or mental illnesses.
Michelle Rodriguez's part in that positive list of real life heroes is just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you, Ms. Rodriguez, for succeeding as you are despite the conditions that would hold you back.
|Posted on January 5, 2017 at 1:10 AM||comments (0)|
Perhaps one of the most respected and influential creative minds in filmmaking, with works spanning from 1975 before I was born through to the present day, Steven Spielberg is a force to be reckoned with on the big screen as well as an endearing mentor behind it. I had recently purchased the limited edition DVD of his film, War of the Worlds, after selling it several years ago and I couldn't help but feel compelled to share my appreciation for Spielberg's creative genius. After watching the movie twice in a row, I also reveled in how warmly encouraging his demeanor is in this and other film's behind the scenes footage I've seen that stands as a testament for his extremely endearing personality. Don't take my word for it. Check out the list of his films below that I have seen over the years.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Back to the Future (1985)
An American Tail (1986)
The Land Before Time (1988)
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
An American Tail: Fievel Goes West (1991)
Jurassic Park (1993)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Deep Impact (1998)
Minority Report (2002)
War of the Worlds (2005)
Eagle Eye (2008)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Super 8 (2011)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Jurassic World (2015)
Easily one of the best directors in the filmmaking industry today with just a handful of the films in this list, there are several reasons why that make Steven Spielberg stand out. Time and again, he has been an effective role model for the cast and crew he's worked with as well as society in general. Always easy going, kind and friendly, helpful and encouraging, well-spoken and articulate. While I haven't had the pleasure of meeting him in person, each and every behind the scenes footage I've seen of Spielberg through the years leaves no doubt in my mind of the person that he is and a major reason why he has been so successful.
A lot can be said about a person's major achievements, awards they've attained, but with Spielberg his personality on and off the screen are matched with a unique ability to share and craft his creativity with ease no matter who he works with. How he describes and explains his visions of minute details to major elements of a film production, with a very refined understanding of what he feels will fit well on film for audiences, is really a remarkable level of imaginative skill for anyone to have. The way he conveys his ideas to cast and crew is inspiring just for me to see unfold with each film he's produced. Being the kind of easy going personality to be around I'm sure has made Spielberg memorable to everyone he has worked with.
Beginning with his film, Jaws, Spielberg became a household name in a wide variety of film genres. While Indiana Jones and Back To The Future are corner stones of his achievements in the 1980s, I also really liked his animated films An American Tail and The Land Before Time as well. I can still remember the first time I watched Fievel journey across the ocean to find his family again I cried so much because you really felt what the character was going through as a child like I was back then. But if his works in the eighties were memorable, Spielberg made filmmaking history with his ground breaking efforts to bring dinosaurs back to popular culture.
Jurassic Park was a true masterpiece and technological breakthrough for its time, to bring author Michael Chrichton's book to life and the ones thereafter. Just three years later, Spielberg followed up with perhaps the most successful film about tornadoes that has graced the big screen to date with Twister. But towards the end of the nineties, his World War II drama Saving Private Ryan showed that Spielberg wasn't limited to just science fiction to exercise his capabilities at success. His ability to pursue a visionary idea in his mind, surround himself with talent and perfect the creation of his films with such ease, I admire Spielberg not just for the movies listed above but for the kind and generous person I have seen him to be in filmmaking.
Over the years, I have considered if Spielberg is attached to a particular film production then it will be worth seeing because I know from experience what makes this man so special in his work. I hope many of you have also been able to experience the awe and wonderment of his talents, and if not then you might want to check out those films sooner than later to behold his talents and qualities that make Steven Spielberg a force of inspiration and creativity to be reckoned with.
|Posted on December 22, 2016 at 1:05 AM||comments (0)|
Best known for role as the lead character on NBC's series, (Blossom), during the early and mid-1990s and more recently since 2010 for playing the character Dr. Amy Fowler on CBS' comedy (The Big Bang Theory), she is an unforgettable face, a strong voice, with a unique combination of intelligence and talent. Actress and neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik. Although, I had only remembered her from her days starring as Blossom and hadn't followed much since, once I began researching the National Alliance on Mental Illness recently I was elated to discover her recent activism for this cause. With charisma and determination, Bialik has turned the national spotlight onto mental health in a big way. So, for this blog post I want to highlight her efforts and show my appreciation for Bialik's courage as well as the social similarities we share.
"As hard as it is to live with a mental illness, it's also hard to love someone with a mental health condition when we don't know how to help." Mayim Bialik, also added to my Words of Wisdom page. She is absolutely correct, and her point of view excellently reflects the concern down to a one-on-one personal level as well. Many people affected by mental health issues have disrupted social lives and relationships with loved ones that are also in peril, or are kept hidden from their view. Even as basic and fundamental to our daily lives as relationships with the opposite sex. For how many years have I longed to find lasting companionship with the right woman? A few more than the twenty two years afflicted by depression and anxiety. The pain resulting from that longing and failure, in large part as a result of mental illness, is something that when I finally reveal just how immense it has become will undoubtedly raise more than a few eyebrows.
In another one of Bialik's YouTube videos, entitled "Hurts To Be Different", she talks about one of the stereotypes which not only do I embody but also that I have been perceptive of ever since my youth: being a nerd. Well... I still prefer a different term, just about anything else to describe it because all through school and probably as early as elementary grades I hated the words nerd, geek, and dork. I can still remember with mind numbing clarity when a fellow classmate, in Senior High by the way, made fun of me by calling me nerd. "Nerrrrrrrd" was how he said it, just to give you an idea of what I mean. Ever since, it has stuck in my mind and memory. I was, I am, and I will always be different because I fall into this category of liking things and being socially inept which the majority of the popular cool crowds have nothing to do with. Bialik talks about this disconnect in her YouTube video in a way that is so very comforting to hear.
If you want to be the devil's advocate, yes everyone is different. In high schools across the country, for years the differences haven't just been between nerd types and popular kids. But the people who have embodied the nerd stereotype have some of the most troublesome social stigma difficulties of kids growing up from school age. Bialik gives some effective and wonderfully described examples in her video to support this. Also important for me to clarify is that her point of view doesn't influence me to agree just because I am a (nerd) too. Being different period does hurt when it comes to social stigmas. Arguably, anyone could have had the courage to stand up against mainstream society whether they were of celebrity status or not. Mayim Bialik also describes her personal experiences with her own and her family's mental health issues and how it has affected her for a number of years.
Bialik also has a PhD in neuroscience and had studied obsessive compulsive disorder for her dissertation, which puts her in a unique position of having firsthand scientific experience with the medical aspect of mental health. She knows what she is talking about and this is a rarity for mental health advocates in this day and age. To be as recognizable as she has become through acting, Bialik is a valuable voice for advocating on behalf of NAMI and mental health concerns. Her willingness to be seen and heard talking about mental illness issues and her own experiences empowers victims like myself to pursue advocating with more determination and courage. What regular advocates like me are capable of doing right now, while social stigma is still very strong, is to bear the crucial weight of this stigma as we speak out.
By becoming the bridge between the majority of victims who don't need to speak out right away, who don't want to speak out whether it is from stigmas or not, or don't have to speak out because their affliction isn't as debilitating, the regular advocate provides an important service to soften the blow of unwanted public scrutiny. Attention, which if exposed in some cases, could lead to a loss of employment, fear by co-workers and the general public, further discrimination and inappropriate prejudiced attitudes towards them. Make no mistake; confronting and pushing back against social stigma is like surveying a mine field before attempting to pass through it. Painstaking care and attention to the approaches is vital if advocates in general stand a chance of protecting the anonymity fellow victims. I was reminded of this in a most humble way recently, and will endeavor to keep the promise as well as striving to become more of a beacon for hope as I can, even though I too struggle with depression and anxiety disorders at the same time.
Look up to outspoken advocates like Mayim Bialik and myself, as others rise up to create the advocacy safety net and begin to fight back against social stigmas. Know here from me, that regardless of what mental health issue you may have, however severe it might be, or where you live across the world, the time is here for a definitive difference to be made. I pledge to be #stigmafree and do the most I can for advocating on behalf of mental health and awareness. It will not be easy, but improving the lives of fellow victims is worth the struggle. Enough is enough and it is time for fear to be put in its place.
I can only hope that someday, maybe in the near future, Bialik reads this and knows that she is not alone as well. To coordinate efforts with her would be an honor, because her courage and wisdom is what makes this challenge possible. Thank you for your determination and all the hard work you put into your advocacy, Ms. Bialik, and here's to working hard for making a more positive future without social stigmas keeping people from getting the help they need.