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YOU GUYS – my world is full of food. And it is wonderful. Saturday was the first-ever Yard 54 brunch in Atlanta with Chef Rawle Fraser and creative communications partner James Martin. It was invite only this time around since it was a soft launch, and it just so happened that all of the attendees were female. The purpose of this first brunch was to get feedback from local foodies who know their stuff, and from my seat’s perspective everyone had a really wonderful time. I know I was thoroughly impressed by the menu and the courses presented. My favorite dish was probably the lemon bar with raspberry sauce, house made fromage blanc, and lavender honey… yes, as good as it sounds! All portions were very generous and every one of our needs were met. Stay tuned for the first official brunch and sign-ups here. It is the perfect way to kick off any weekend!
Saturday James and I traveled to Nashville for the inaugural Twelve in the city! We stayed with our dear friends (and Twelve hosts) Emily & Chuck. They were graciously giving on all fronts, and their house was the perfect setting for the dinner. We had a few logistical issues setting this particular Twelve up… but we always knew that hosting in out of town cities would be harder than doing them in our own. It ended up being well worth the effort, and we really look forward to traveling to other places throughout the rest of the year. In case you missed it we are doing an open call right now for an upcoming Birmingham Twelve hosted by Morgan Reaves, and also one by James and myself in Atlanta, both in April. Click here to learn more and put your name in the hat.
The film fundraiser is going really great… but we still have 5 days left if you can consider a contribution towards our project! We continue to get some good coverage of our efforts (more on that very soon) which makes us feel really good about what we are doing. We’ve put a lot of work into making this process fun and interesting, so we hope it has been on your end as well. Tomorrow night is our first major production meeting with the full crew where we will take a serious look at the front runners of the story competition (currently, Bubble & Pink). Shooting scripts are being developed, production schedules proposed and creative plans devised. There will be obstacles as there always are with any film endeavor, but I feel confident in our team to end up with a beautiful piece of art that we can all be proud of.
Last night while having a drink with Joe & Andrea Walker, we talked a lot about what it means to realize your dreams. We all agreed that nothing worthwhile comes easily in life – you have to work hard for what you want. This is true in relationships, work and art. Rewards come to those who stay the course, keep focus, and seek their happiness. Sometimes I feel like a hampster in a wheel, not making much progress at all. But when I look back at past actions, outcomes and current goals, I know I am continuously moving in the right direction. What direction is that exactly? It’s where the light shines the brightest on my face, leading the way to a greater understanding of what makes me happy.
Last night was the inaugural Birmingham Girl’s Club meeting, headed up by Sherri Ross Walters! I was expecting awesomeness, but what I experienced was far, far beyond that. A little over 30 of us showed up, eager to see what this group would be all about. We went around the table and gave a brief snapshot of ourselves and individual projects. The coolest thing about the gathering was that nobody was cooler or more important than the next… everyone felt invited and respected. All ages were represented as well. All that was required was an open mind and passionate spirit. There isn’t a full-on agenda yet for the group, but Sherri is well on her way to finding how we can all help each other. We actually spent part of the meeting writing down ideas about just that – how to make this group effective and meaningful for all involved. If you are a lady in the ‘ham, you must keep up with this group. It will definitely inspire you to follow your dreams while having a group of cheerleaders constantly by your side! Every city should have a resource like this one.
This weekend is going to be a busy one. I am heading to Atlanta tonight to see Mr. James… been close to two weeks since I’ve seen his face! Tomorrow we will attend the first ever Yard 54 brunch, then we go straight to Nashville for Twelve on Sunday. James and I are also going to spend quite a bit of time working on preproduction for our upcoming short film to be shot in mid-April. Next week holds some big decisions (we will finally know our story!) and meetings that we need to prepare for. Also, during our artistic team meeting this past Thursday we came up with some great ideas that need to be modified within the scripts themselves. Soon on the docket will be storyboarding, shot lists and production schedules. It’s all a fun process, so we are trying to enjoy every minute of it. Thanks to everyone who has shown us support so far.
There are some other big things on the horizon that I am hopeful to share over the next few weeks. Please send good energy and thoughts as you can spare them my way. As my friend Misty Herron would say, I feel like a duck… calm on the surface but paddling like hell underneath.
Spring is here! Thank goodness. I am so grateful for warmer weather, blooming buds and sunshine. Spring and fall are my favorite seasons. They both bring an energy that is hard to replicate during other times of the year. I think of spring as going uphill – making progress and feeling empowered…getting close to the top. Fall signifies reward, reaping benefits and gliding downhill. Both seasons and states of mind are equally as rewarding in my book.
Now that we are getting close to the halfway point of our fundraiser, I am really looking forward to knowing which story is going to be selected so we can start fleshing out the nitty-gritty. Today James and I are meeting with our artistic team – Jim Roberson (Art Director & FX) and Kelly Steffey (set design and artist extraordinaire) to break down challenges and go over conceptual ideas for each story. We have a full team meeting next week, and hopefully a story will be standing out from the rest at that point. Tonight I am having dinner with our editor (and fantastic wife Andrea), then we will have another key crew meeting in the near future. We are officially in full-on preproduction folks! It’s all very exciting and makes my heart happy to no end. In the meantime however, if you can spare a small donation towards your favorite story, we would be eternally grateful. (Update: our FOX 6 spot is online now!)
This past weekend I went to the lake with some dear friends for a little R&R, and it was just what the doctor ordered. We listened to music, drank wine and ate cheese. We were surrounded by the quiet sounds of nature with a clear sky overhead. We talked about the future for each of us while floating in the hot tub. It was perfect all around! Mini trips like that can make a huge difference in your perspective and well-being. I am so grateful for close friends that are there with you through it all.
Speaking of eating cheese…despite that fact James and I are still going strong on our “new lifestyle” changes! James is really doing well, he’s lost over 20 pounds at this point. I am holding strong at 15 lost, would love to lose 5 or so more. When your world speeds up around you it’s hard to stay focused, so this last little bit will probably be the most challenging. Or maybe I should just change my attitude – if I think it will be easy, then maybe it will be! I promise to keep you posted.
What a crazy and exciting day! Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit our website and vote for your favorite story. We are giving away a Six Flags Over Georgia season pass to two lucky peeps (through 9 a.m. tomorrow). ((: It’s been a roller coaster so far of emotions, but fundraising always is. We will be doing this for 17 days, with a new giveaway at 9 a.m. every morning. Most things can be taken advantage of no matter where you live! We also have some fun media stuff coming up that I’m excited to share with you guys. First thing is schedule for Monday! I will announce that morning so you can stay tuned.
Last night after I got home from work, I got a package in the mail. It was from New Jersey, so I had no idea what it could be. Turns out it was a gift from James, an elephant bracelet, for good luck. He is home in Cincinnati this week/weekend, so he is many miles away. Little gifts like that can really make a difference in your day. Every time I start to worry, I just look at my little elephant for confidence.
Yesterday was the first Birmingham Tastebuddies event, a Facebook group headed up by Vero. Sherri Ross orchestrated the inaugural gathering at Ollie Irene for about nine of us…. and of course it was delicious. It was nice to get my mind off of the launch today and just be with friends (and enjoy some Prosecco)! You should join this group if you live in town and love food, and if you don’t live here, then you should consider starting one for your own community. The premise is simple: an open forum for people to organize food meet-ups, make new friends and support local restaurants. Sounds good to me.
This weekend I am looking forward to a little lake time with friends, as well as a story event called Arc Light. I almost submitted myself as a candidate to tell a story, but I completely chickened out. However, I look forward to being inspired by other local storytellers and possibly learning a public speaking technique or two. I am always fascinated by people who can perform dialog in front of an audience in an effective way. They are able to detach from their egos and are completely saturated with the story they are communicating. Hero status in my book.
James and I are officially one year old! We celebrated with a picnic lunch in Avondale Park consisting of cheese, cheese, and more cheese. It was a beautiful day with temps around 70 and a breeze flowing through the trees. Also over the weekend we have a reunion dinner with all of the Birmingham peeps who attended the Oxford Film Festival (minus Sam Frazier, who was in California with his short film at Cinequest!). All of us brought an assigned course/dish around the theme Spaghetti Western (with some Italian thrown in). Each one of us got to talk about our upcoming creative projects and we had mini brainstorming sessions throughout the evening. It was such a fun night, thank you Vero for hosting!
I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time lately with folks who have ideas and are actively making them a reality. There is now a group of ladies in Birmingham who meet up fairly often for work sessions and/or discussion. This is of course headed up by the one and only Sherri Ross, who if you don’t know, you must. So last night was my second mini get-together with some of these ladies (holla Billie, Mandy & Abbey!). Mandy and Abbey are both working on novels and talked to me for awhile about long-form techniques. Two of the biggest things I took away from this were: don’t write in chapters for your initial drafts (guilty) and be open to writing in a nonlinear fashion. It never occurred to me to write scenes that I felt the most passionate/inspired by first. I’ve always felt this pressure to write in sequence, scene by scene. Last night after leaving them, I went home and worked on my own book for awhile. It is still the highest priority of mine to finish it this year. I also practiced my elevator pitch to them, which I haven’t done yet with anyone. They were very receptive to my story and thought it was really interesting. That made me feel so good. Their stories were fantastic of course… I can’t wait to have more writing sessions with them in the future.
This is a pretty big week for me, as we launch the fundraising campaign for my next short film this Friday! It’s always super scary to put yourself out there in such a vulnerable way, but I hope I have proven my filmmaking capabilities with the last two projects. Since we are going about our fundraising in a unique way, we’ve been able to get some fun media coverage that will soon be unveiled. Not only will you get to choose the story that you want to see produced, but we will be giving away some amazing gifts to our contributors on a daily basis! Stay tuned to those alerts here. James (the producer) and Dan Gavin (the developer and wizard) have been working really hard behind the scenes to make this a fun and unique experience for everyone. Please keep your fingers crossed that all goes smoothly, and we certainly appreciate any support you are willing to give. We can’t do it without you!
One quick note to my Nashville friends – we are heading your way with Twelve on March 24th! If you want to be in on this supper experience with us, please shoot us an email here. We arethisclose to confirming a pretty rad venue, and if it comes through, could be one of our most interesting dinners to date. More on that very soon…
My nieces have changed my world. I don’t think I quite appreciated the innocence and spirit of a child until they came around. I always said that I felt like I had had enough of babies and kids growing up as the oldest child of four. I remember changing diapers and carrying them around on my hip at a very young age. I was babysitting by age 10 or so and was thoroughly trained in the responsibilities of looking after another human being. But now I feel like it is a much different experience being around little ones. Last night Lily kept asking me to play with her in the sweetest little voice, and just having me by her side made her whole world. When mom put her down to sleep, we could hear her on the baby monitor saying… “I love you, I love you, Goodnight Mimi! Sweet Dreams Mimi! Goodnight! I love you!” After about ten minutes of this heartbreaking chatter, mom let me go and bring her back upstairs. The whole way back I told her how special she was and how much we loved her. She can now understand most of what we say, and it is the sweetest thing to see a child comprehend that they are completely adored. My other two nieces Anna and Lucy are in Disney World right now enjoying all things magical and fun. Keep the pictures coming Christy!
This weekend is the one year anniversary from the first day I met James. I still remember it like it was yesterday – this really nice, energetic, passionate soul sat down next to me at a group dinner at Rojo. We exchanged Instagram handles.. and the rest is history! hahaha I did get to spend a little more time with him that weekend before he continued on his documentary adventure around the south. After he left we talked every single day until he returned home to Atlanta about a month later, where we then had our first official date. Sometimes I think time flies by… but when I think about all that we have done in the last 365 days I realize we have taken advantage of every single moment. We already have so many memories. Thanks James for coming into my life and making it shine.
Speaking of us, as most of you know we are taking on a short film project together in the coming months! You can follow our blog here, or stay tuned to news on our Four x Facebook page. We are launching some pretty exciting things next week that I hope you all will want to be a part of. Most of all, I can’t wait to share the three short stories I have been working on!
So much to report this Monday!
First things first – Crush has a mini website! Also, James and I have launched a blog to keep you guys up-to-date on our upcoming short film – check it out here. In just a few weeks we will be launching an interactive fundraising campaign that I think will be a lot of fun. More very soon on all of that after our first production meeting tomorrow night.
We had our third Twelve yesterday in Atlanta, this time all vegetarian. They just keep getting better and more delicious! We will be posting photos and recipes tomorrow on Pinterest, so stay tuned. We will also be announcing our upcoming Twelve in Nashville in the next few days. If you are interested in attending, just sign up via the website.
Vero came up to Atlanta with me, which was a real treat. We went running every morning together, both days in light snow. I was very proud of myself for A. getting up early to exercise, and B. braving the below freezing temps. The second morning I came really close to bailing, but I powered through! My knee has been giving me trouble lately… but only after I go certain distances. 4-6 miles seems to be high range before it starts to get aggravated. In all honestly though, I am happy to just do that. That is long enough to feel like I’ve done a solid run. I can also keep challenging myself with various terrains and time goals.
This week I am going to focus intensely on personal projects. I want to pour energy in creating and checking things off the master list. I am feeling energized and inspired… might as well take full advantage.
Birmingham is a wonderful place. It might be hard to tell from the outside, but this city is full of dreamers and doers. On any given day my feeds are full of people being proactive in their areas of passion, and it is contagious. No wonder we have had so many greats rise up to even bigger recognition beyond our city parameters. Here, if you can dream it… you can do it. And you will have many genuine supporters and cheerleaders along the way. That’s a proven fact.
What does it mean to realize a dream? Is it the recognition that comes along with accomplishment, or is it the satisfaction of seeing your hard work in a pretty little package? What if you did something significant, but you were only one allowed to experience it? Would it lose it’s importance? I ask myself these questions when I start to think I get some sort of self validation based on things I’ve done in the past. What if people hated something that I created… would it impact how I felt about it? I would like to think not. But it probably would. I think it’s because a lot of the things I do or create are meant to be shared and enjoyed by others. They are meant to have a specific reaction in order to be a success. I think when you are living in a creative world, it is very important to be your biggest fan… because everyone else is beyond control. Make things for yourself, do it for your own happiness, remember the purpose and keep your own fire alive. This goes back to a certain degree of self-reliance, being less dependent on others. It’s amazing to give and receive love, compassion, support and attention… it is what makes the world go ’round. Just remember though that your inner voice and spirit are given the most encouragement and comfort from what you believe about yourself.
There are so many exciting things happening right now, it’s hard to sit still… or even fall asleep at night. Through time I have figured out that I thrive on waves of activity, especially goals that fall within a few months range. As I do more and more film work, I realize it is the essence of everything I feel passion for. Process, creativity, ideas, goal setting, marketing, collaboration and end product. I love every single second of it.
As we get close to finishing up with Crush, Rebecca and I have each decided to move forward with our own independent short film projects (with features on the horizon). I am so excited to see what she does next… I got the honor of hearing some of her ideas in Oxford and they are truly up her alley. I am proceeding with my three short stories idea, then in the coming weeks letting YOU decide which one I am going to make. I’ve got an amazing team in place with the goal of shooting in mid April. After our first production meeting early next week, I will reveal more of our plans. I can say this – all the stories involve an element of magic and fantasy. Whichever one is chosen should be a really beautiful and emotional piece.
One more note before I wrap up the film speak… we had such an amazing time at the Oxford Film Festival!! Seriously one of the best festival experiences we’ve had on this circuit. So many of the filmmakers attended, the staff was on top of it all, the programming was fantastic and the parties/networking priceless. Plus, Oxford is a fun little town bursting with artists of all kinds and delicious dining options. If you love film festivals, definitely mark your calendar to attend next year.
Whether you are an artist or any other kind of adventurous soul, ongoing education is a huge part of developing your passions. We never stop learning. I’m never going to be at a place where I know everything about a specific subject or pastime. I’m also constantly learning about myself while going from project to project. I observe how I react to different situations and people, always trying to modify for the best results. Above all though, I have found that if your intentions are good and your actions sincere, good karma is always around the corner. I will take as much of that as I can get.
Inspiration can be found in so many unexpected places. For about a month now I’ve been hearing about this small team in Birmingham who have started making honey under the name We Three Beeks. They release small batches here and there for the public to buy, and luckily James and I scored two honey bears from their most recent one. When I went to pick them up yesterday from Freshfully, I discovered that they were very, very mini… two bears easily fit in the palm of my hand. That visual made me realize the treasure we had scored for ourselves. This wasn’t just any honey, it was honey made by the hands of passionate people pursuing a dream. I went home and did some more research on these creative folks, and discovered their Tumblr site full of photos and stories. You should definitely check it out. There is nothing more inspiring than everyday people making things happen, then sharing it with the world. Their joy and drive is contagious.
Everywhere you look you will find people taking action on their passions. Artisan products are so easy to come by these days. You can feel the energy from something hand-made with love. Whether it’s food, furniture, art or initiatives, you can only benefit from supporting and enjoying the product. I think that’s why I love partaking in food adventures so much as it allows me to watch another creative spirit in action. It’s ideas expressed through something you get to put into your body…. the best way of all to manifest the posi vibes.
Last night I wrapped up story #2 in my three short story series, in preparation for choosing one to make into a short film in the coming months. I’ve decided that once I am finished writing, I am going to do a short synopsis on each one and let you guys pick which story you like the best! I will probably have another Kickstarter campaign to raise what I need, but I also plan to fund it on my end as well. More details coming soon, should be a lot of fun! James is helping me brainstorm some ideas to make it a unique fundraising experience. Crowdsourcing isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I guess it’s all in how you look at it. Projects that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day get made because of support from their communities. It also gives a sense of ownership and satisfaction to those who participate… or at least that’s how I feel when I give to someone else’s project.
My ultimate goal still remains the same: to fund my own feature film in 2014 through completion of my book. I feel like a broken record saying that, but sometimes writing it is more for myself than anything else. I wish I could just tattoo it on my forehead so I could literally be reminded every time I look in the mirror. I am the only person who can make it happen. Sometimes I feel like once I get these two things under my belt, future long-range projects such as those will be easier to execute. I’ve heard that several times from friends who have written books or made feature films. I’m sure it will be the same for me as well…hopefully. Either way, I strive daily to just enjoy the process and find excitement in the mini milestones. It excites my soul to sit down in a coffee shop with a decaf hot tea, my notebook and laptop with nothing but hours ahead of me dedicated to being creative.