JAW DROPPING INSIGHT

It flared up all of the sudden. I opened my mouth to yawn and my jaw seemed like a creaky, old door, the muscles stiff, the joint popping. I iced it all evening and took pain pills. It was possible to still speak, but annoying to do so. I had almost forgotten what TMJ felt like.

Earlier yesterday, and I mean 4:40 AM early, there was an earthquake in nearby Pacoima. I felt it. I jumped out of bed. The day started stressful and somehow, despite my mental stress being allayed, it seemed that stress had landed into my vulnerable jaw.

I’ve had TMJ most of my life. It’s not a new thing. What’s new, though, is my understanding that it flares up during stress. Though yesterday was hectic by any account, I was reminded that mind and body are one. They communicate and interface. My body was telling me that though I had rationalized my stress away (seemingly) it still hadn’t been thoroughly dealt with.

I wake up today with pain that’s less intense. That’s a good thing. Time to slow down, face fears gently and baby that jaw some more. Pain and suffering are not the same thing, though we often connect and interchange them in daily discourse. If we listen to our pain and get curious about it and attentive to it, we can heal ourselves more deeply and thoroughly.

Today, I am thankful for my jaw pain, because pain can be my teacher if I choose this.

Thank you, Sherman Oaks Fatburger

In a world where so much is disheartening, Fatburger in Sherman Oaks, managed to make me happier–and not just because of the delicious burger.

While waiting in a socially-distanced line to pick up my order, I saw this posted on the window:

I am not sure if the manager chose to do this or if this is company wide. What I do know is that the business cares. In a time of callous disregard by those refusing to distance and refusing to wear masks, it was refreshing to see that this Fatburger location cared enough to spread helpful information to our community.

FatBurger at 14402 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA.

Please patronize the Fatburger at 14402 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, CA 91423 . They also have delivery through GrubHub, Postmates, et al. We need to support businesses that truly act on their message of “We’re all in this together.” Thank you, Sherman Oaks Fatburger, for connecting your customers to this helpful information during this difficult time.

Morning and Mourning

First, I want to say that I stand with the peaceful protesters.

Second, I condemn rioting, looting and vandalism.

Third, I value our police, first responders and law enforcement.

Finally, there is no place for racism in law enforcement. Equal justice under the law mandates equitable enforcement of the law.

I awoke at 5:57 AM today, a little less than 30 minutes after last night’s curfew in Los Angeles lifted. I had grown used to helicopters circling at the nearby park like clockwork at 11:30 PM each night. I admit that hearing the helicopters made me nervous. The noise pollution was my nightly reminder that COVID-19 was still out there, lurking, being transmitted by those not practicing social distancing. Last night, it was the helicopters hovering at 10 PM that got to me. Those were not patrolling the park. They were patrolling against the rioting and looting taking place. I have a friend who’s a citizen of another country and doing business in California. She’s currently living in Beverly Hills. I made it a point to check on her.

Photo by Edgar Colomba on Pexels.com

Before bed last night, I promised my mother I’d be in touch as soon as I woke up. It’s a quiet morning as I sip my coffee. However, the news is disquieting. Hundreds were arrested yesterday. Businesses in neighborhoods I love were destroyed, already crippled by the pandemic. Those yearning for justice who were peacefully and lawfully protesting, were overshadowed by opportunistic anarchists.

“The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication thinker Marshall McLuhan. Last night, all many people heard and saw was the rioting and the looting, not the well-justified despair behind the protests. Protest is a legally protected form of communication. Looting and rioting are not. So many will write this off as “an urban problem”, a “race issue”–and put the news into convenient thought-oubliettes of their own making. They’ll write this off as one “incident” among many, not questioning or thinking about the systems and systemic injustices that cause and foment this type of behavior.

It’s hard in the face of such devastation to maintain nuanced thinking patterns. Right now, many Americans are tuned in or tuned out. Many are stuck in the familiar us-versus-them mentalities or “not my problem”. This morning, I read another unsettling article. Rural America has not reached the apex of it’s COVID-19 fight. Being a “small town girl” living in a city devastated by riots and looting, my heart hurts today.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We love to think in terms of conflict. We are taught that narrative is conflict–man versus man, man versus society, man versus self, man versus nature. One of the biggest issues we have is that we don’t agree what the “conflicts” are. It’s more than right-and-wrong and black-and-white. The type of problems we face are not solved by caped, masked heroes and feel-good soundbites.

We are habituated to think in terms of conflict. What if we started from a place of consensus? Instead of focusing on what we don’t agree on, can we clarify what we do?

Let’s start here:

Can we agree that everyone has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” regardless of skin color?

Can we agree that public health threats affect all of us, directly or indirectly, rural or urban, young or old, well or not?

What can we agree on? In times of disagreement, we tear down. In times of agreement, we can build. We’re at the point where we need to re-build. A society divided against itself cannot stand. We need to stand up for each other now. If you haven’t done anything lately to heal race relations, take some time and do so today. I donated to the NAACP.

A little extra effort goes a long way. Yes, we’re social distancing. Yes, we’re wearing masks. Thank you. Please take a moment and do something for our health heroes and public health today. I choose to report my symptoms and social distancing to How We Feel app. Find something that’s do-able for you.

Please do something, even if it’s just listening, without judgement or prejudice, to someone’s pain, whether that person has been affected by racism or COVID-19 or both. We must take the time and make the effort to heal each other. The cures are better than the social and medical ills that affect us.

Cleaning Up My Perspective & Purses During COVID-19

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I work from home.  I’m used to it.  I’ve been busy, even as there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the entertainment industry.  Today, I took a breather and set out to the task of cleaning.  I cleaned my office and I emptied out my purses, which I hadn’t cleaned out since the lock down began .  It was like going though a mini time-capsule.

 

What was in my purses:

promotional materials for a film festival screening I attended

breath mints

coin change for parking

assorted colored pencils, highlighters and post-it notes for marking scripts on-the-go when I chose to work at cafes

an extension cord for plugging my lap top into an electrical outlet at a cafe

a movie ticket

Cleaning out my purses hit me hard.  As I cleaned, I felt like I had just been through a strange time warp.  We don’t know what the future will bring, though we’ve been told there’s a “new normal” coming.  What I want to emphasize here is that, yes, all of this made me blue today.  However, I quickly pivoted to my gratitude for those experiences and the hope that I can have them again soon when it’s safe to do so.

The film festival promo materials reminded me that I love film festivals and seeing my work on the big screen.    I am grateful to all the film festivals that have ever screened my work.

The breath mints were comic.  Though we’ll be wearing masks for awhile, the mints reminded me that we need to keep a (minty) fresh perspective.  Let’s not get stuck into to many ruts or bad thought grooves at this time.

They stopped enforcing most parking ordinances since the stay-at-home order in Los Angeles, so I haven’t needed to feed a meter.  Admittedly, parking Los Angeles has been way easier.  I am grateful for the days in Los Angeles when scoring a parking spot was the biggest of my worries.  I now know there are far bigger things to have anxiety over.  I’ve had to learn how to better manage my anxiety.

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Photo by EYAD Tariq on Pexels.com

I love my home, but sometimes I need to get out of the house to work more efficiently.  I get TOO comfortable.  I am grateful for all the times I’ve had great coffee and a great work day and even run into old friends.  I hope to enjoy this again soon.

The extension cord reminded me of how lucky I am to have basic utilities and that all of my utility services are still going, despite the pandemic.  Those working to keep our water, power and sanitation going are essential workers too and we owe them much for their service at this time.

A movie ticket…There’s much discussion right now of how to move the industry forward during the pandemic.  Fortunately, I am very diversified.  Some are not and it’s been difficult to see how many friends and colleagues are anxious and suffering right now.  The movie ticket is my reminder to rebuild.  The movie ticket is my reminder to adapt as best I can.  There will be no Dark Ages of Entertainment if I can help it.

Instead of yearning for the past, what can we do to bring our appreciation into the future?

 

Fears Separate Us from Our Prosperity

It’s amazing to me how much we buy based on our insecurity.  We buy creams to “correct” wrinkles.  We buy makeup to hide “flaws”.  We spend money on all sorts of costly cosmetic treatments to beat aging.  We buy into diet program after diet program to keep weight off, instead of dealing with the “why” of the weight.

Copy of body positivity (2)I think all of this buying into what we “should” look like or how we appear is more than vanity.  It belied a great amount of fear and insecurity–fears of over not being seen, fear of being out-of-control, fear of being judged and disrespected.

A few days ago, I was hanging out in a very tony area of Los Angeles, catching lunch between meetings at a casual lunch spot.  Every fear I mentioned above got triggered.  I noticed right when my plus size self walked in, it was like I was immediately out of place.  It was like no one saw me.  This area is high traffic for tourists, but there was no line after the lunch rush.  I sat for at least 10 min before a waiter approached me and then another 15 min just to get the glass of water I had asked for.  No one bothered to refill it.  Meanwhile, the lithe couple that was seated next to me five minutes after I arrived were served with much more attentiveness.  Newsflash:  the svelte woman ordered the same food I did–veggie quiche and a lightly dressed side salad.

It’s hard not to feel out of place sometimes.  I felt completely unseen at this lunch spot.  Normally, this would be the stuff of Yelp reviews, but instead of dumping my anger on Yelp, I wanted to see where that anger was coming from. So here it is:

I fear being unseen as a plus size woman in the world.  I fear having assumptions made about my self-care.  I fear having assumptions made about my personal finances due to my size.  I fear being made to feel out-of-place.  I fear being judged for how I appear to the world.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Though I was angry at how I was treated, I am grateful because I took a moment to understand where that anger was coming from instead of just being another unhappy, indignant customer.

And…that’s why it’s so easy to sell diet culture to the masses.  Most women are plus sized and they’re told they’re “less than”.  We fear being left out so we buy into the useless pills, the cosmetic offerings of the moment, all to push back against that fear of not mattering.  Just for today, take a moment before you whip out your credit card and ask yourself if you’re making a fear-based purchase, especially if it’s in regards to your appearance.  What made your feel that way and why?

Separating women from their hard-earned money (pay gap and all) is a means of controlling women.  Don’t let someone profit from your fear and insecurity.  Walk through world, proud, no matter what…even when tony tourist spots treat you like shit.

Fashionistas Fashion the Future

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I was so inspired by last week’s broadcast of What Women Want Talk Radio.  We had fashion moguls Megan Grassell and Marissa Lewis on our live broadcast, two young, enterprising ladies making waves in fashion.

Megan Grassell founded Yellowberry, a brassiere company for teens and tweens, after she could not find an age-appropriate bra for her little sister. What I found interesting about Megan’s story was her ability to push back when all department stores offered were push-up bras for her young sister.  So often we go with the flow, or resign ourselves with “That’s the way things are.”  Megan didn’t accept the status quo when it came to bras for teens and tweens and has made it to a successful business.

Marissa Lewis, founder of Miss Jumpin, came to Los Angeles with dreams of making it as an actress but rekindled her love of fashion and now runs successful and philanthropic enterprise in downtown Los Angeles.  Marissa always loved jumpsuits and quite literally followed her dreams to where she is today.  Hers is a story of listening to her deep self and knowing when to pivot and adapt.  Marissa also has tremendous commitment to her downtown LA community and she exemplifies the moxie and pay-it-forward approach of the millennial businesswoman.

Listen to this powerful conversation here.

Behind the Scenes of The Litch

This week, I got to have a fun part in The Litch, directed by James Balsalmo of Acid Bath Productions.  It was a high-spirited, improvisational shoot.  Coming out later this year, the film also stars Tom Sizemore, the legendary  Lloyd Kaufman and fellow scream queen Genoveva Rossi.  James is creative, collaborative and fun and I told our manager Matt Chassin that he was like the “Christopher Guest of horror”.  This is sure to be a fun horror comedy.

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Armin Nasseri of Seeking Valentina fame was also on-hand helping with our scene. It was great to have his positive energy there.  I can’t wait to see it debut on the big screen later this year!

litch group shot

 

 

LIKE The Litch on Facebook to get all their updates!

the litch

The Concours d’Elegance, A Beverly Hills Tradition

Dubbed one of the “300 Unmissable Events” of the world, the Concours d’Elegance is a car show–Beverly Hills Style.  Staged on famed Rodeo Drive on Father’s Day, hundreds of car aficionados come out to celebrate some of the worlds most sought after cars and have been doing so for 20 years.  The event is free and open to the public and the public did come out in droves!  The Concours d’Elegance is the largest public event held annually in Beverly Hills.  A unique mix of guests, including car collectors, families and international visitors and residents from Beverly Hills and the Westside came out to celebrate Father’s Day in ambiance only Beverly Hills can provide.

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From the hottest cars on the market today to the most rare vehicles of yesteryear, these cars are beauties.  I was especially enchanted by the McLaren 720s from Auto Gallery of Beverly Hills.

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The amazing cars on display included the 2015 Ford Mustang, a 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom and a McLaren 12C. The coveted automobiles are displayed along iconic Rodeo Drive for auto-enthusiasts of all kinds to admire up close.  Here’s a few of my pics!

 

 

 

 

Pumping Up the Cash for Animals

Los Angeles is a tremendous city, but in terms of animal welfare, it is still not a no-kill city.  Animal euthenization did hit a three year low in 2015, according to city statistics, but LA still kills 14,000 animals a year in its shelters, which even city officials admit is too high.  As the mother of two feral cats that I tamed off the mean streets of the City of Angels, I am very concerned about the welfare of our city’s animals, which is why I went to Lisa Vanderpump’s Pump Restaurant last night to pump up some cash for the amazing St. Martin’s Animal Rescue.  

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Kristin West on the red carpet to support St. Martin’s Animal Rescue.  Photo courtesy of Bob Delgadillo.

St. Martin’s is unique in its mission and focus.  Check out their inspiring Mission Statement:

Our focus this year is to create an innovative, self-sustainable, solar powered haven in Southern California. This exciting new eco sanctuary and learning center will welcome families to enjoy free and enriching activities. This will expand the minds of our youth in a positive way and give them a sense of community and the importance of their involvement in our precious world.

I really like that. Animal welfare and our planetary, ecological welfare are deeply intertwined and it’s exciting to see St. Martin’s come up with innovative solutions to address both.  I also like their emphasis on education.  Our children are our future and Founder Sky Valencia’s commitment to education is evident when you meet with her and discuss the issues she is so impassioned about.

Check out this short interview with Sky at the opening of What Women Want Talk Radio Show last week.  I can’t wait to have Sky back on the show!

If you are interested in learning more about St. Martin’s click here and you can also donate here.