Sunday, April 22, 2012

I Wanna Be In A Female Rock Band!

I wanna be in a female rock band! There I said it! I wanna play drums. I want to "Slap DA Bass", I want to play piano, guitar, harmonica, tambourine, be the leader singer, dancer - ok I guess I can’t do all of the parts…but I would certainly love to know all these instruments & be able to do all these roles! And not just do them - do them well! And it doesn't have to be an entirely female band but that would be super cool, like Josie and the Pussycats or The Chippettes!

Please tell me I'm not the only one with this childhood fantasy?! Ever since I was a little girl rockin’ out on my toothbrush &/or hairbrush and recording music videos with my sister on my mom’s old video camera that recorded straight to VHS – yes we had one of those.

This fantasy or buried dream is something that has become more and more apparent to me as I continue my life on this earth. Little moments and events keep awakening this dream for me. Everytime I go to concert, singing live karaoke at the one and only, one of my BFF bestie's, Melanie Alexander’s (One of my dearest friends who continues to inspire me. She is now rehearsing her first lead in a musical in San Fran. SO proud of her!) birthday celebration in college, my first time really singing in front of audience on my maiden voyage of Semester at Sea, seeing Kat rock on in her awesome band Sad Robot, every performance I've ever seen of my friend Reece's rockin' pirate band
The Dread Crew Of Oddwood, playing rock band and my many, many renditions of “None of Yo Business” by Salt and Peppa at karaoke. I LOVE performing! It’s been something inherent in my being since I was little. Since I would organize my cousins in my grandma’s back room with curtains, cued up tapes and a "stage" to be the MC for our very own talent show. My 9 – year - old rendition of “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas was TRULY one of the most heartfelt things I’ve ever seen me do caught on film. I was COMPLETELY in the zone.

College taught me through theater classes and voice lessons, that singing is HARD. So much harder than it looks and even people who make it look easy it’s still HARD. Performing is HARD. Giving yourself and your energy on stage. Telling a story, a feeling through your words, melody and emotion. Not to mention how hard it is to learn and diligently practice playing musical instruments. I learned that through my beginning guitar class I took in college and at Disney and my ukulele class that I also took at Disney taught by the marvelous John Quinn.

A passion for music has been something that has ALWAYS been a part of my life. From going Christmas caroling with my family of former choir teachers and members, to singing & listening to Jimmy Buffett, the Beatles and MJ while growing up, watching my mom dance and sing as she would clean or fix our sink or build something (my mother is basically the best father/mother combo a daughter could ever ask for. Check out my mom's amazing blog "The World According to Mama Pandza...I'm Just Sayin'"). Not until I got older did I realize the power of music and its ability to change people. I feel it is one of the few and ONLY art forms that is universal and has the power to reach people on an instantaneous level. To completely shift a mood, inspire or motivate with a first few notes, strokes of keys, strums or acapella hums and lulls. I know this to be true. Every time I hear songs like “ You Can Close Your Eyes” by James Taylor, “The Wind” By Cat Stevens, “Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” By Elton John, “Ready for Love” by India Arie and  “I Believe in Love” by The Dixie Chicks I know that music is truly a spiritual and universal experience. There’s just some sort of trigger it hits in my heart that shifts my entire being whenever I hear it.

I attended Mosiac’s Musment Compose event a couple of Thursday’s ago and it reminded me of the magic of music. A group of artists gathering together for pure play. Having to compose something in just an hour and a half with a team that I had just met and never worked with before, with just a few instruments, some spray paint cans and our voices. Some of the art that I witnessed come out of that night was truly inspiring.

Music is phenomenal. Every single genre of music ASTOUNDS ME! It inspires me and moves my soul. I realized the amazing amount of different types of music that I didn’t even know existed at The Grammy Museum a few Saturdays ago at the WriteGirl songwriting workshop. There I watched our WriteGirls pump out songs in a day. Their eyes glimmered and I got chills all over my body and tears in my eyes as they were performed on the fly by professional singer songwriters. It was truly indescribable.

See some amazing examples of videos from the workshop below:

A beautiful song by an amazing WriteGirl, Cree Nixon.

One of my favorite songs that was created in the workshop. 
I think the title was "Fear of Falling."

A hilarious, rockin' song by the wonderful WriteGirl, Amaya McGinnis. I was blessed to be her assigned mentor for the Fiction Workshop. I'm guessing the title is "Happy Love Songs."

Witnessing this at the workshop even made me believe that if I kept up with my guitar basics and vocal warm - ups that maybe someday I could write a song - but not just the words, the melody and rhythm too. Maybe that all female rock band isn’t as far from reality as I thought.

I LOVE singing and writing and performing so maybe someday it will happen. Another buried dream unearthed and acknowledged. Who knows if I’ll actually end up doing if for a living or just for fun. Maybe I could be the next Sara Bareilles or India Arie?

Hey – a girl can dream can’t she?! And nothing will ever stop me from continuing to do so.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Contemplating My One Year LA & Disney Anniversary While Sitting At A Table At The Gratitude Cafe

Today marks the one year anniversary of when I started with Disney as the writer and project manager of the Blue Sky Think Tank. A year ago on this very day is when I began working at DCP (Disney Consumer Products) and a few days before that was when I moved to Los Angeles. And by "moved" I mean officially started crashing on couches 'til I found a place of my own. So technically it's also my one year anniversary of living in Los Angeles - crazy! I want to take a moment to reflect on all the change that's happened in the past year and the most importantly focus on - GRATITUDE!

So much has changed in a year. It's flown by but I also feel like I've been here forever. DCP has changed - I'm no longer working there. Still in the Disney family but working at their Children's Center. And though I love working with kids it's not my main passion. I still currently seek a position in a more creative field that aligns with my true passions.

Don't get me wrong I'm extremely grateful to have a job - period. I guess I'm just supposed to type the symbol for period instead of writing the word "period." Period - HA! I'm grateful that I get to play with wonderful children as I watch them learn and grow. When I truly allow myself to be in the moment with them, in their games and their laughter - those are the perfectly blissful and cherished moments. That's what reminds me of why I'm doing what I'm doing and why it's important. It makes me think of the Mac McAnally song "It's My Job." I thought of it and hummed along while I swept on and off stage as an ASM for the Old Globe/USD, while I helped rally kids to perform a play of "Where The Wild Things Are" in an after school program in San Diego, I sang it at DCP during my late, late work nights in the Tank and I have here at the center. A song that reminds me no matter your job you must take pride in the work you do and do your absolute best because it is your job. How can I allow myself
to do anything less than my best? Cause...

"It's my job to be cleaning up this mess
And that's enough reason to go for me
It's my job to be better than the rest
And that makes the day for me."

 But the song also seeks to remind us that your job does not define you. It isn't who you are but merely what you do. That was something I definitely had to come to terms with during my few months of painful unemployment after DCP before the center. If I don't have a "job" than what am I? Who am I? An artist. A nurturer. A dreamer. Countless things I could continue to list that make up the essence of who I am but has nothing to do with my current "job" and sometimes even my passions.

I'm thankful for all of the fantastic, spirited children I've been lucky enough to teach and play with. Thankful to the phenomenal teachers, subs and faculty who work at the center. They inspire me with their level of professionalism and passion for what they do. It gives me hope that teachers and centers like this exist in the world that truly seek to nurture, teach and help children develop into independent, creative and mature adults.

And of course I'm thankful to the Disney employees (former and current) who started it all - my DCP family. The Think Tank. Global Creative. Publishing. The UGA's. Numerous other departments and individuals who helped to truly bless and create my intern experience at DCP. The list goes on and on.

I feel truly blessed to have ever been given the opportunity in the first place. The position I held in the Tank helped reawaken my first true love and passion - writing. It also teased me with the abundance that the Universe has to offer. You can be paid to do something that you love. The work you do can be fun, inspiring and creative and your work environment can be the same, along with nurturing, flexible and unique compared to the typical 9 - 5 "desk"/"office" job we are told and encouraged by society is a "normal" job to have. Staring across the street at DCP I wonder if the Universe is testing me to see if I can still find time and energy to create my art and follow my passions when I work full time at a job that doesn't involve my art. I was spoiled by Think Tank but it surely set the bar high and gave me a standard to aim for. To never settle for a job that doesn't inspire, infect, nurture and intrigue every once of my creative, emotional, intellectual and social being.

My superiors. My peers. All the people, mentors and friends. You are my Disney family. I remember Andy Mooney's last day at DCP. I will never forget his words as he addressed us all. The very words that made me burst into tears, "You're my Disney family. I see you more than I see my real family." Oh how we all can relate to that statement about the people we work and collaborate with.

Time for All Star Shout Outs - (There's a lot so some readers may want to skim to the end. If I forgot to name someone my deepest apologies. There's too many to name and its overwhelming trying to remember all of you who touched and impacted my DCP experience)

First and foremost, the man who started it all, bringing the concept of a Think Tank to DIMG and then transitioning it to DCP, the most wonderful boss this newbie artist could have ever asked for, Chris Takami. His vision, creativity and leadership skills were an inspiration to me everyday. Him nurturing and being one of the main foundation layers behind the concept of a group of recently graduated college students from various backgrounds and disciplines coming together to brainstorm ideas was genius and something every company should learn from. How many people can say that they once held a job in their lives where they were PAID to brainstorm constantly and simply be creative?

My fellow Tankers; my "Erynifying" copy editor ADD social butterfly, Eryne Lagman, one of the fastest, hardest workers I've ever had the pleasure of working with, Brett Long, the eclectic, karmically sound, whirlwind of talent, one of our artist/animators, Jesse Soto, the chic designer illustrator, Jason Shorr, the unbelievably talented, artist/animator who holds himself to incredibly high standards, Ricardo De Los Angeles and last but certainly not least, the incredibly creative and bold, Aleks Mats, whose outside the box thinking, pushed the boundaries and limits of every brainstorm, idea or project the Tank ever had. "Uncle" George McClements, one of the funniest, most spontaneously creative people I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Tricia "Mama/Auntie Goose" Pierce, the hippest, most fun, truly funny,witty and yet efficient project managers that lives. Our "big sis" for momentarily, the social media/communications Goddess, Annjanette Isorda. My mentors, Vickie Saxon and Kim Levario, two of the most amazingly creative, talented and good hearted professional women who bestowed upon me light-years of wisdom. The fun and inspiring fellow tankers mentors; Ron Velasco, Stephane Kardos, Jeff Shelly, John Quinn, Pedro Fernandez, Kevin Gralewski and Nick Jeong.

Honorary Tankers & Tank Allies; Dan Owen, Charysse Jennings, Heather Laing - Obstbaum, Ann Buckingham, Colleen O'Neil, Leah Fonnette, Jen Marie Del Carpio, Tony Colon, Wing Shum, Tiffany Quon, Eric Tan, Hutch, Danny Tong, Hope Goldstein, Rich Tuzon, Kevin Earl, Maryam Urumieh, Dave Zaslov, Kim Ebeling, Marie Garofalo, Regan Forman, Ryan Astamendi, Stephanie Shapiro. THe COI Dream Team; Libby Spatz, Robin Nelson and Cathy Biermann.

Some of the inspiring movers and shakers of Disney; John Gong, Pam Lifford, Andy Mooney, Gary Foster, Marilyn Magness, Sarah Tilley, Christopher Stefanidis, Dave Dickman, Drew Hayashida and of course our spectacular, insanely creative, one of a kind SVP, Luis Fernandez.
My extended Disney family members; Stuart Smith, Gerald Turpin, Magda Loczi, Erica Yu, Graham Barnard and last but not least, the wonderful friendly faces of the front desk & HR reception who brightened my day, Forest Guider, Josh Stoddard and Michael Boyd.

To all of my many helpful and inspiring meet and greeters during and after my DCP time; Stacy Pyles, Tim McNeal, Michael Duncan, Laura Hitchcock, Heather Knowles, Cathryn McHugh, Karen Painter, David Fisher, Jeff Boodie, Ileana Montano, Brett Eliott, Trent Schneidewind, Ileana Montano, Melinda Thompson and Laura Uyeda

My intern UGA famillia; Alyssa Munoz, Louie Alvarez, Alex Yee, Alex Horn, Corbin Pickett, Dan Vigorito, David Navar, Atoosa Ryanne, Edward Kong, Elana Altmann, DeCarlis Wilson, Maxwell Ernst, FredEric Pratt, Ruby Chen, the many James's - James Min and James Yoon, Jason Wong, Jeanette Saris, Jessica Lopez, Julia Li, Justin Yu, Katie Sacchi, Lydia Han, Kevin Portillo, Kim Chang, Marques Dawson, Mayumi Miyasato, Mike Tang, Neenet Hairapetian, Peter Seng, Phil Tan, Resham Parikh, Robert Daligdig, Ryan Damodaran, Shawn Orgel-Olson, Tatiana Guerrero, Tiffany Fang, Uchenna Obiora, Vinu Natarajan and Zulema Uriarte.

And last but not least, Spencer Stuard and Siobhan Vanaman, former tankers, dear friends and fellow Chapman Alumni who recommended me for the position in the first place.

To all of you, words cannot express the gratitude that I feel for having met and gotten the opportunity to work with each and everyone you. You positively influenced, guided, mentored and/or helped create my wonderful Disney experience far beyond anything I could have imagined

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be working for a company that I respect so highly. A company that helped to shape my childhood. Working to help continue to flourish this iconic, legendary notion of "the happiest place on earth" where "dreams really do come true" that encouraged me to dream and believe that anything was and is indeed possible.

I completely rejected the concept of moving to LA right after graduation. But once I was offered the position with Disney there was no way I was gonna pass it up no matter the location. But beneath the traffic and the smog. The bits of trash and superficiality. I have been lucky enough to find friends, mentors, people I think of as my second family and places that make me feel like this is my home away from home.

So thank you Universe. Thank you to everyone for helping make my Disney and LA experience worth wild.

I'm beyond grateful.