Síle's Blog-On Anything & Everything
It's been two weeks since my long time fur-baby Tiger passed away knowing he was loved and well cared for. My son via phone was there with me as the veterinarian administered the medicine to allow him to cross over the rainbow bridge. It's hard to let go of a family pets as many are considered to some to be a family members. He was buried in our yard in a decorated box and I received a ceramic imprint of Tigers paw and it's comforting to pull it out and place it next to my heart.
Tiger was born in 2003 born in my hand. He was with me and my son for many years and he was a "guardian of the family." He was my son's protector and unofficial "guide-dog" as he is blind.
The last few years Tiger was featured in my web-series I'm Your Mum as my characters' emotional support dog and his arthritis began to get worse. In the last two weeks he seemed to go downhill quickly. It was the humane thing to let him go. But that was hard as heck.
If there is a lesson to learned it is that we all should celebrate and be present with the people, loved ones and fur babies in our lives. So many walks I had with Tiger I realize how distant I was from him. I wonder if he felt ignored but I'd like to think that he understood and forgave me. Near the end of his life however, I did make the effort to put my petty BS and issues aside. I was "present" with him in the moment and made him part of my conversation. I acknowledged him. It was like making him feel like walking was something we did together. Put the cell phone away and just be present.
This also includes children or family members. Be Present and hear them. Acknowledge them. You don't have to be alone to feel alone. Many people feel alone even in full houses. Pay attention and love one another, because life is too short. Choose to celebrate the people and pets in your life, because once they're gone it's too late to say I love you.
ABC made a swift and decisive decision to cancel Rosanne. We need to more of this more often to anybody who makes racists remarks. Unfortunately, ABC shouldn't have hired her in the first place based on her past history of making (_________) comments about many different groups of people in social media and Twitter.
I grew up in a household that if I ever made a comment like that or even thought about saying the N word, my mother had a bar of soap with my name on it waiting for me. She made no bones about it. My parents were de-segregationalists in Greensboro NC working with Catholic and other religious leaders to fight segregation. She and my father wouldn't tolerate or abide such abhorrent behavior. Luckily, she never had to use the soap because she raised us right; or at least I'd like to think so.
Based on what I've seen and heard on the news channels, more white people need to condemn racism more often than we do and listen more proactively. Do what's right. Take action. As I've said in a recent blog post regarding Bishop Michael Curry..(I paraphrase) Love is a fire burning in our hearts and where there is Love the darkness cannot thrive.
Bernice had a hair shop in downtown Greensboro North Carolina. She did my weaves since 1997. We lost touch for a while, then reconnected in 2013. A few years later she passed away from complications related to her breast cancer. She welcomed me into her shop and made sure the ladies working with her did as well. She lived by the commandment that says we are to love one another and not to judge each other for any reason. See you have to understand the context in order to appreciate this story. Mrs. B, I will forever be grateful to you for standing up for me and standing with me.
My ex mother in law died of breast cancer in the early 2000's and was a teacher. As a teacher she recognized my ADHD right away. Her expertise in that area allowed her to come up with some pretty creative ways to communicate with me. I felt like she understood me. She was an ally so to speak. She made me feel welcome and loved in their family. I felt like I had a friend in the camp so to speak. She was soft-spoken with a valiant spirit like my mothers. She also sang in her church choir and had the most angelic voice. My ex father in law was equally kind to me as he passed away from prostate cancer. He was my second father and he's the inspiration for my Uncle Dave character in I'm Your Mum.
Both these woman were role models to me and that's why I hope to honor their memories through my TV show I'm Your Mum. I also want to thank Ray and honor him for going beyond the call of duty in making me feel welcomed as well. God bless you all. One day we will all be together again along with my loved one's as well and celebrate the lives lived and our journey on earth completed.
Several years ago I had a dear friend who ended up in the hospital a couple of times for cutting on herself. I saw the blood I comforted her in the ER and it was tragic. But I could never get inside her head to find out why. All I could do was comfort her, shut up and listen.
Now if self-harm means more than cutting, then I'm guilty. I used to bang my head against a wooden ironing board when I got angry with myself in college. I would punch myself in the head and call myself dumb ass or stupid, stupid, stupid when something went wrong or I made a mistake. Now much of that happened when I was drunk. I'm an alcoholic with 20 years sobriety and I've been tobacco free for 18 years. So I am aware that hitting myself is not a good thing and that I could end up with a concussion or worse end my life as I know it. I have to keep reminding myself not to hit myself. That's why my mother bought me a drum set when I was a little girl, so that I could take it out on the drums not myself or others. I got quite good at it and played professionally for a few years when I got older. This is not a joke. Many people do it and I'm not talking the "I could of had a V-8 cocktail juice commercial. This is real hard hits. A lot of people like me who are Dyslexic/Dysgraphic and Learning Disabled have trouble with.
My character Sheila Nott, cuts herself too deep in the I'm Your Mum Pilot and dies; however, she is eventually resuscitated. I hope that audiences realize that I don't mean to glamorize such actions as that's the last thing I want to do. I hope the #webseries allows us to talk openly about mental challenges we all face in some form or another. One of the actors is an advanced practice nurse specializing in mental health issues. I will consider her as a great resource in writing future scripts for future episodes. I make this commitment that I will treat this issue with respect and dignity and I welcome feedback and advice on future episodes.
The news is kinda depressing to watch. Without getting political I just think we need to show some common sense. Our Democracy is under attack. There's no sugar coating it. But I believe that something is about to change for the better starting with me and you.
I started to remember the good ole' days of innocent comedy shows like Rowan & Martin's Laugh In and Hee Haw & the Smothers Brothers Show. Some of you younger folks may not be familiar with these TV shows, but you can find old episodes on YouTube. These shows were actually subtly politically charged. They reflected the 60's & 70's. Yes, I'm that old. CBS actually cancelled the Smothers Brothers Show because then President Lyndon Johnson pressured the executives at CBS to do so, because they spoke out against the Vietnam War and made fun of him. Sound familiar? Donald Trumps behavior is nothing new. We've been through this before and Democracy won the day then and it will win the day today.
I believe the change began with Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's Royal Wedding with Bishop Michael Curry presiding. Even the Bishop's first name Michael was derived from the Archangel Michael who smote Lucifer to Hades. The Archangel Michael did it with Love and a really big sword.
Bishop Curry talked about love being a fire burning in the hearts of us all and that we should spread it to others. My mother used to quote Elie Wiesel who said, "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." That's really profound. It seems like ever since the wedding, more people are speaking out more often and that's going to drive out the darkness and indifference. The old English Proverb stated that "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Even though vinegar is an anti inflammatory/antiseptic. You can also change more minds with love. I've learned the hard way that speaking in an angry tone or saying stupid shite on Social Media platforms can get you banned or temporarily suspended. It can also lower your Twitter follower count and that's not good. Most importantly nobody will listen to you or take you seriously if you act like a buffoon.
You may ask me, OK smarty pants what do you believe? Well as a child of the 1970's and a GenXer, I would refer you to the immortal words of Pablo Cruz' song "Love will find a way." It may sound crazy, but when we love each other things can change for the better. Closed minds can be opened. People can evolve. There was a time when the Clinton's, the Obama's and even the Bush's believed that marriage was between a man and woman; however, it was former President Obama who made marriage equality the law of the land. Love changed their minds. Not hate filled rants and emails.
I also believe that there is more than one path to the promised land. I'm a Catholic and Christian; however, I'm not going to condemn, curse or convict a non Christian or non believer. That's not a Christian thing to do in my book. God said to "render unto Ceaser what is Ceasers." My interpretation is, that regardless of your personal beliefs, obey the law and don't break it. There's also that quote about removing a speck in someone's eye, when you got a log in your own. In other words, make sure your shite don't stink before you go claiming someone else's does. The root message of any spiritual path one chooses should be based in Love. Love one another.
I believe that the creator of the Universe, God or whichever you call the power "greater than ourselves," knew what he or she was doing when Harry met Meghan and they fell in love.
I wanted to clarify a comment I made on my recent blog. Yes, we should encourage others to be themselves because we're not robots and we we're all made differently. So maybe I should have said that once a person recognizes this truth then we can continue to support them in other ways as well. Be a model for them and stand up with them.
Many people in my profession urge me to be authentic more so than perfect. Perfection is overrated and in the end will drive one crazy. Bob Ross even talked about overdoing a painting or being a "mud-mixer." That's when you put so much paint on your painting in one spot that instead of looking like a happy tree or stream, it looks more like the home of a pig in slop. Sometimes when we muddy the waters of our lives with our thoughts we can feel like a pig in slop. Time for someone to break out the water hose to clean our minds out.
Most of my life I was in plays and worked in Theater more than film. I majored in Theater Arts with a minor in Communication Arts. As one of my required classes, I remember editing an old reel to reel tape in 1984 for an audio production class at Appalachian State University. Other than that, I had never edited a film. Thank goodness for today's technology because it's so much easier. But not really if you are a perfectionist like me. See I edited the I'm Your Mum pilot so many times based on what I thought people wanted to see, not by what was in my heart. It is ten times better than it was; however, the anguish of saying to myself after every rendering things like, "The sound here needs fixing," or "It's too short here," or "I included Michael's mom in the shot!" drove me crazy. Thank goodness I got it to where I could accept the imperfections of it and there were no obvious mistakes an audience member could pick out. Well I've not premiered it yet lol.
So now that we got that out of the way let's try to tackle this Authentic issue. People will tell you to "be real, be yourself," but when you do, some people get angry because you're not who they envisioned or expected or wanted. I've always known who I am and what I am. But see sometimes when we grow up, we're told "oh hell no!' "You aint gonna live like that here!" "Don't be bringing that weird ass shite up in here!" Well, if my son had been a satanic devil worshiper then I would tend to agree. "No Satanic worship services here."
Someone at my job years ago took a look at the original I'm Your Mum demo reel and said it was uncomfortable to watch. He said, "it should be call I'm Your Dad because you look like a man in a wig." Then he said, "well, actually, you are a man in a wig." A couple of days later, I had a stalker from a dating website comment on all my YouTube videos and said that, "if a bloke ever got him naked and at home the guy would be in for a rude awakening." He also commented that my British accent was atrocious in I'm Your Mum and that Britain didn't want me. He said If I came to the UK, the UK would send me back. That's why nobody can comment on my videos. I've contacted YouTube and they won't do anything about it. Oh well. He's a guy I met on a British Dating website who was military personnel, not anybody from my Twitter or Instagram accounts. It hurt because he pre-judged me before he got to know me. I think we all do that at times and we should take note of it.
So let me set the record straight. Let me be as transparent as possible because there is a purple elephant in the room and it needs to be dealt with. Let me be as real & authentic as I can....(pause) It's none of anybodies damn business! I don't need to explain myself period. If people can't accept me as I am then...well you know the word I want to use. However, for the purposes of casting directors & filmmakers.... I'm a female in every way...well I do need breast enhancement, but other than that I can say this with 100% accuracy. No surprises here.
So there it is. We need to quit telling people to be themselves. They know who they are. They just need us to back them up every once and a while letting them know we all care. That could be on social media and in public. It shouldn't matter who you love, what you look like or what language you speak or where you come from. We all matter we all count. This is the message of I'm Your Mum. It should be a universal theme and we should all live by it.
The I'm Your Mum pilot is finished. Not everyone will like it but most will. I hope they appreciate that it actually celebrates life, redemption, forgiveness and second chances. It celebrates how (the Universe, God or whomever you choose to worship) is working on our behalf. We only have to look and see.
I believe that even though we don't see a way, the power (greater than ourselves) will make a way. Many times my character doesn't see a way out and punishes herself by attempting suicide. Despite her cancer diagnosis as well, there's a plan for Sheila as she struggles to make sense of it for her life.
She often wondered why her mom gave her baby Morwenna up for adoption, only to find out later that her mom was prejudiced and her father, (a passive aggressive coward) stood by and did nothing. That must have hurt Sheila at age 16. It caused her to fear telling Richard (who was of Indian decent) that he was the father and that her mom gave their baby away. It wasn't until Sheila found Morwenna thirty-five years later that she gathered the courage to tell Richard in a letter. He was none to pleased and struggles to forgive her in future episodes.
So what's next? I begin writing episode 2 and gather the necessary talent to make it better than the pilot. Make it rock. We will film in the US and UK. But first I have to find an Indian male age 50-58 willing to play Richard and a 35 year old biracial Indian female to play Morwenna. Mowenna has four children and married to a solicitor. One of those children's' name is David and he has down syndrome. I need to cast my characters Sheila's parents. All British accents. In addition there are my characters' two sister who where like her mentors growing up. Actually the photo is that of my real mom who's since deceased pictured center. (See below). My Aunt Margaret on left (still alive) and my Aunt Merze on far right.
In the next few weeks I will be posting a cast list of characters I will be needing for episode 2. Please stay tuned. This is not a SAG-AFTRA project. I do however, I hope to contact them to see if they would allow actors to work towards SAG credit. I've never made a web-series to this is all new to me so please bare with me. As Tony Robbins says...."your gifts will make room for you.." I'm sure with a little help from the creator of the Universe they will.
Confidence is sometimes hard to come by. If you're over confident then you look bad if you're under-confident that can be worse. Where do you reach that happy medium? You don't. You just do what you have to do to make something stick on the walls of success. But what is success? How do you determine if you achieved it? I don't know, but you just have to keep going. But what is it all for? We're dying a little bit each day so maybe in between our success and failure we truly should stop and smell the flowers. Relish our families. Show a loved one how much they are loved and appreciated. It's out of gratitude that our dreams will come true.
Years ago when North Carolina elected former Governor Pat McCrory, film incentives where eliminated for film makers who wanted to make their films here. They all moved to Atlanta. Boo hiss right? It also hurt me when making my film and screenplay Sins of Ashe County.
In addition, North Carolina has a history of racism, xenophobia, misogyny and bigotry that refuses to look at themselves in the mirror. Unfortunately, we elected racist Senator Jesse Helms, showed our racism towards the African America community during the lunch counter Sit-In's in the 1960's, and the shooting of members of the Communist Workers Party by the Klan in Greensboro (my hometown). The Greensboro Police Department were allegedly complicit before, during and after the shooting, (siding with the Klan).
So needless to say when I tried to make my film Sins of Ashe County (a film that forces North Carolina to face it's racist past) some people bristled at the idea. I also wasn't highly regarded as it was well known that my parents where de-segragationalists during the civil rights movement in Greensboro. Not only that we were prominent citizens in the state as well.
I know the venom directed at me had nothing to do with the script as it was praised by members in the African Community, including the Will Banks family; however, some members of the African American community scoffed at the idea that a white woman would write such a screenplay as I know nothing about slavery. That is a true statement; however, the film is from the perspective of the white Sheriff named Ambrose Clark. After thorough investigation, Clark felt the case was self-defense and refused to hang Will Banks when the jury reached a guilty verdict. Clark also fought for Banks' release amid death threats to himself and his family from all over the State.
Furthermore, it's imperative that white people step up and publicly denounce racism, the Klan and any group that promotes hatred to anybody. Sins of Ashe County is my standing up against racism just like my parents did during the civil rights movement. See, we were raised to be like the Kennedy's. I'm putting my money where my mouth and standing up too. Do I want a metal? No I don't. I want to learn and be part of the solution not the problem. One way to heal might be to shine the mirror of truth on my race and in return reflect the change & understanding we so desperately need right now. We must find our commonalities & unite.
Sins of Ashe County also deals with the inequities on our prison system then & now. After several attempts to collect money owed to him, Will Banks shot his Uncle Frank McMillan over a weeks wages ($1.50) after McMillan threatened to kill Banks with his shotgun. One thing led to another and Frank laid dead on the ground at Cox' Grove Baptist Church. Granted it was in self-defense and the least Banks should have received was manslaughter. Despite having Abolitionist & legendary NC Lawmaker Rufus Doughton defending him, Banks still lost his case. The DA Thomas Bowie, wanted to make an example of Banks and made sure he would hang. Even the NC State Court of Appeals upheld Banks' conviction. Sadly, hundreds of people came from three states or more to see the hanging of Will Banks. It was wrong, unjust, unfair and the story needs to be told. I'm going to tell it!
A sad & tragic photograph or reminder of the hatred in people's hearts that to some extent still haunt us today.
Despite having trouble making my film in North Carolina, I've been courting the idea of making it in the UK. Many of the locations I've discovered are similar to what Ashe County North Carolina looked like circa 1905-07. I also want to find a person of color to direct SOAC. He or she could offer a much needed alternate perspective to my script, making it an unbiased account of true events. If you'd like to be involved message me on one of my social media accounts and we'll make it happen.