In the eyes of judgement..

I never thought I would be here to see my country die. Here I am watching the soul get ripped apart. There is so much hate. No one trusts anyone anymore, and why should they? We do not live in a free country. “Home of the free, Land of the brave” my ass! 

I’m a watcher and reader. I admit it. I randomly cruise through posts on Facebook, read the articles or news reports and read all the comments, but rarely do I state my opinion. I have turned into a silent creeper. I haven’t always been this way, for a long time I was outspoken and stood up for what I believed in. I didn’t care what others thought about me, I was who I was… Deal with it or walk away. Then one day out of fear I sat down. I shut up. I grew a conscious. In all honesty, I hid. In case you’re wondering…. Yes, I lost myself. I conformed to the small town we moved to, and I hid.

I thought I was making life easier for my family. When in fact I was making life harder on myself. I killed my soul. I lost my path.

Truth is I’m not a Christian. I have never been. I don’t base my faith off a book. (If I did J.K. Rowling would be my god)  I was taught love and compassion. I was raised to follow my heart, and to put others needs first. I have always followed my own path. Though “my path” to others is wrong..

When we moved to this small community, I was dumb stricken. People looked at me as if I were a spawn of the devil. Because I am not Christian, I am a devil worshiper. Wrong, dead wrong. I do not even believe in the devil. Honestly if there is a hell… I am living there right now. I believe in what I see and feel. Is there a god? Is Jesus our savoir? No clue. I have never seen or met either of them. Do I believe there is something more, something bigger than us? Yes, I most definitely do. Man or woman? I do not know. Do I pray? Yes but not to anyone in particular. Do I believe in heaven? To a point, yes, I believe we go to a better place, a place of peace until it is time for our next journey. A place where we can see our loved ones once more, a place of true love. I call upon the gods and goddesses when I need help, though not any particular one. The Lord and lady have helped guide me through from rough times. The earth is my mother, the sun my father. Does this make me a bad person? No.

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I have been so scared of being myself since I’ve moved here, that I lost myself. Why? I am afraid of being persecuted by this small town. A place that I love. A community I love being a part of. But the fear of them finding out my beliefs took over and I shut up. Afraid of the hate. I am scared my children will be out casted. I am afraid I will no longer be respected, me or my family. Will i lose the friendships I’ve made due to my “religious” beliefs? It’s a deep fear I’ve never experienced.

I personally don’t care what your religion is. I love with no boundaries. If you live your life by the word of God… Awesome. I see no fault in anyone. Good people are good people…. No matter who they pray or don’t pray to. I see a person’s heart, not their religion.

That brings me to the point of this blog…

I am sitting here watching my friends fight, as I quietly support them. A fight I should be fighting, but I allowed fear to take over.

This past month so much has happened in this small community. Living in North Carolina one of the big topics is the HB2 bill. One I am strongly against. It is based on bigotry, racism and shame. Every person should have the same rights as another. Are people really that ignorant?

My friend Melissa, a Democrat, went and spoke at a Republican meeting about this bill. If you’re interested read about it here…  http://bit.ly/1SZpKFc A Bernie Sanders supporter waded into what might have been seen as enemy territory last night at Shatley Springs…

Melissa is my voice, the voice of many. She is taking a stand against this stupid bill. I am honored that she is a part of my “framily”.

Over this past week there has been a big issue in this small town. Our elected officials have place “In God we trust” on our government buildings. Now this not a Christian issue. The issue is that they used tax payers money to do it. I am going to steal the words of my good friend Cassondra Greer……..

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“Let me Begin by saying, this is not an attack on Christianity. I do not judge or discriminate against anyone because of their beliefs. I do not believe you are wrong. You have the right to freedom of religion, just as I have the right to freedom from it. It is not my right to say your beliefs are wrong and it is not your right to say mine are. However, Christianity does not represent everyone in this county. But more importantly, $2,500 of taxpayer money being used for idolatry was completely absurd when there are human beings, our neighbors, who are homeless and penniless. It is blatantly disrespectful and a slap in the face to the residents of Ashe to spend OUR tax dollars on showiness and greed simply to push an agenda that everyone does not agree with. These words will only further divide our small County when we should be coming together despite our differences. This is not just a protest against this unnecessary cost to taxpayers but also an attempt to show that there is diversity in Ashe County and that those minorities deserve a voice, too. I want to give people a chance for their voice to be heard because far too often people who go against the majority are silenced and bullied into submission. This is unacceptable and we must speak out if we wish to be heard. I would just like to say, many times today others have said to me “I will pray for you”. My request is this… Instead send those prayers to your God for our brothers and sisters who are less fortunate. Those who go to bed hungry, those without a home and those whose homes are filled with hate. Pray for those who are told to stay silent or are bullied when speaking out against inequality. But, above all else, pray for our brothers and sisters who are discriminated on a daily basis. They need your prayers, well wishes, and positive energy more than I. And finally, please donate to local charities, help out your neighbors, and stop judging them.”

Wise words from a very wise woman. She took it upon herself to start a action against this. (I can’t begin to tell you how very proud I am). Here are some photos by Cassondra of others that took part.

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I’m done with my silence.

It’s not about “God”… It’s not about ” Christianity…  It’s about people’s rights. It’s about separation of church and state. It’s about this country and its people. It’s about equality, freedom and love. Stop the hatred!

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Lost in Yonkers

I’ve always heard that with actors there is “no small role”. I never quite understood that saying til now. Earlier this year I was cast as Aunt Gert in “Lost in Yonkers”, a play by Neil Simon. I honestly thought, small role….. Easy! I was wrong. Dead wrong. This role has been one of my hardest to date.

Do me a favor….. Repeat this line – ” Louie, can’t you just sit down for a few minutes until Bella tells us what it is she want to talk to us about.”
Now.. Repeat it again except after “Bella tells us” say the rest of that line sucking in…. Seriously try it!  Not so easy is it? Now do it with a New York accent…..

So that’s my character. Poor woman can’t breathe or talk right.

This was one of those plays I put my heart into. Like I said before, there is no small role.

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Photo by: Della Vodenicker

I want to tell you about the other characters and the people who portrayed them….

The boys.. Jay and Arty. (Eddie’s sons)
Jay played by Rowan. Rowan was born to be on stage. This young man has talent, he’s amazing. He’s not just an actor.. He sings, he dances… He does it all! The kid even spins fire. I have watched him grow into such a beautiful soul.
Arty is played by Levi. Love this kid! I can’t explain how he just takes the audience into his hands, I see a fabulous future on stage with this little guy!

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Photo by: Cassondra Greer

Then we have the siblings – Eddie, Louie, Bella (And me Gertrude)
Eddie is played by my friend Baron. I adore Baron. To me he is larger than life… Could be cause he towers over me by a foot, but honestly it’s cause he takes a role and makes it his own.
Louie is played by Ike. This guy… What can I say? Ike is good, very good and such a pleasure to watch on stage. I’m pretty sure this guy could grab your attention on the big screen.
Bella is played by Abby. Oh my Abby! Phenomenal actress. She is just a joy to be around. This was her first show with our little theatre, and I’m hoping not her last!

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Photo by: Cassondra Greer

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Photo by: Della Vodenicker

Last but definitely not least is Grandma. Grandma, or Momma is played by Sharon. This is my second show with Sharon. She is just a fantastic person to be around. So grounding. And I have to say she’s a damn mean Momma! 😉

Then there is Olivia (Barons daughter) and Mason (Levi’s brother) who have little cameos. These kids are awesome!

This cast was awesome!

I can’t forget our production and tech crew. Without them there is no show. There is no direction, no lights, no set.
Jim, our director. Jim is a straight shooter. I have shared the stage with him quite a few times, and I will say this man has helped make me a better actor. This was my first time under his direction, and yet again I feel he has only made me stronger. I have learned a lot from him and I am grateful.
Melissa is our stage manager. This lady I am proud to call my friend. This was actually her first time working behind the scenes and she rocked it! Always there. She is a rock. As awesome as she is on stage, she took that experience and used it on us. That right there my friend is pure genius.
Rebecca is our producer and costumer. She has the eye of an eagle. Fabulous is my only word for her.
Ken and Judy…. Ken built our beautiful set (with help from others) and Judy made it pretty. They both always give 100%, I hope they know how much they are appreciated.
Richard is our sound guy. But he’s not just the “sound guy”, he helps wherever he can. Without him…. Well you’d be bored to death!
Jeremy does our lights. You may think he’s just a button pusher, but it’s not true. One wrong move and we are in the dark… So he is our ” light”!
The we have the absolutely adorable Kelly running our spotlight! Love this girl! You can always count on her to put a smile on your face. She has more than once for me during this production.
And last but not least the ones that make us pretty, our makeup and hair ladies…. Charna, Cynthia, Judy (again) and Vikki. Love, love, love these ladies!

Today is our last show… Such a bittersweet moment. You work so hard to put a production together, then it’s over and on to the next!

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Thank you each and everyone of you!

I just love my theatre family. These people are real. This play was a difficult one for me. I lost my father during the rehearsal process, my car decided to play tricks on me and my husband changed jobs and hours. Each one of them were there for me, and helped me move forward. You all will be forever apart of my heart. My deepest thank you!

That’s our little cast.

But most of to my husband and kids for allowing me to live my dreams and putting up with it all!

Saying goodbye to my dad….

On Friday, February 26th 2016, I lost my Dad. He was 59 years old.

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It’s been over a month. I’m still dealing with the fact that I will never see him again… My dad is gone.

My father was a auto mechanic by trade, but his love was the sea. He was a dive instructor (though he hadn’t taught in many years), he loved the water. His passion was wreck diving, he was a pirate on a search for treasure. He worked hard, and played harder. My father never stopped, always on the go. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing. My dad was a very gifted photographer of both land and sea.

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Photo by Bruce Sanders

                                                               Photo by Bruce Sanders

He loved his family. He loved his friends. He was a good man.

My father and I had a strange/hard/loving relationship. See he wasn’t my biological father, he fell in love with a single mom. The first memory I have of my dad was my fifth birthday party. My mom brought this stranger to my birthday, a month later they were married and I had a daddy. Not only did I have a dad, but now all of a sudden I went from being an only child to one of three girls. I inherited two little sisters. When I was younger he would take me hunting and fishing. He taught me to scuba dive. He was the first person to put a camera in my hand (a love I never let go and still have, yet never fully fulfilled). We had a good relationship, that is until I became a teenager. I was rebelious and basically out of control. He was short tempered. As an adult, I know he was just disappointed in me – he just wanted more from me. I get that now that I’m a parent.

The last twenty years have been different. We were friends. I could talk to him about anything. Becoming a grandfather softened the man I thought was so hard. He was always smiling.

My dad was a prankster. I love hearing stories from his friends of all the rotten, yet ingenious jokes my father would pull. I looked forward to his dive season videos and his photos. There will be no more Facebook videos…. No more jokes…. No more stories. No more silly pictures of him from my mom, or pictures of my Mom from him. No more memories.

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Photo by Bruce Sanders

I think about him everyday. I still cry everyday. Songs repeat in my head. Stories. Memories.

Shortly before his death my father accomplished one of his biggest dreams, he got his Captain’s license. He was so proud. We were all proud. As I said before, other than my mother, his love was the ocean.

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Photo by Bruce Sanders

For his funeral I chose the song “Come Sail Away” by Styx. I knew he loved that song as much as I did. I knew every word to that song, though the words didn’t hit me until I fully listened during his funeral…. It’s funny how a song that use to make you smile, now brings a flood of emotions.

I am grateful he chose me to be his daughter. He never gave up on me. He pushed me when he knew I needed it. I am who I am partly due to him, and I am grateful for every memory we made. In the words of Brad Paisley….. He didn’t have to be. He didn’t have to love me. But he did. I had 36 years with the man I call my dad. I’m grateful for every one of them.

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I love you dad. Always. I will see you soon.