Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Have You Noticed More Use of " Quirky" These Days?

When I started using the word Quirky in 2009 as part of a show title Quirky View, and the goal to tell positive upbeat stories, it took awhile for others to warm up to the word. It got a reaction as I pitched it. Some thought it negative until I explained the playful aspect I envisioned. For some, it had almost  a weird vibe to it, and not a positive one. Some embraced it immediately of course and agreed to be interviewed over the years.

When I googled the word quirky 7 years ago, only the inventor organization quirky came up. Now I see pages and pages of use of the word, even my blog, website, youtube channel and show titles  Quirky View come up, yet used by others. More quirky the merrier I suppose. That attitude is quirky all in its own right, right?

So quirky, or at least thinking one is and using the word, is becoming mainstream. Does that mean it loses its power? Can being quirky be mainstream if it means "something different"?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


I think we give sleep a bad rap. I remember in my twenties in particular, how I loved to cozy into my down-filled bed by 10pm, looking forward to 8 or 10 hours of sleep. I never felt odd because I put myself to bed at 10pm while friends might party til 3am. I tried staying up a few times but it never was fun and I found it difficult to stay awake.
My work life and responsibilities were intense at that time, that sleeping was a true pleasure and get away for me, more so than going to a bar or entertaining friends. Maybe my work was so full of people and managing them, that sleep was a quiet, easy way to escape it all and be good to myself.

Sleep seems to be something many people feel is a waste of time, or a weakness to admit they need more than a few hours a day. Western society revers being busy at work, home and play, so that leaves little time for sleep. The culture acts like we can function well on 4 or 6 hours a sleep a day. Do you want to fly with a pilot who has had 4 hours sleep or a restless night?

Sleep has a true healing aspect to it. Sleep is actually the time for the body to do some cellular clean up helping to rejuvenate what has been depleted during our active/awake time. I'm no scientist so I don't have the terminology for it, but haven't you noticed that people who say they are deep sleepers have healthy looking skin? So the less sleep we get the less healing time we get.

And naps get a bad rap too in this culture, as though it is a lazy thing to do or avoidance behavior. I guess napping could be used for some of those things, but a nap can be a healthy way to recharge, or fend off some bug one can feel coming. Or like siestas, naps in the latin cultures, they are the way to deal with midday heat, so peoples' work and meals resume after the rest period. Shame may be what surrounds acknowledging to others that we take a nap, or sleep in, or go to bed early so don't call after 9pm, that kind of thing. What a funny thing to be feel funny about, huh?

I know my 87 year old mother has a glass of sherry at lunch nowadays. Often she falls asleep on the couch. If I come into her apartment she'll spring up from the couch to a sitting position as though I caught her doing something naughty. She is active , and can still get a lot accomplished in a day. Taking a nap mid-way through her day seems a healthy option, yet she's still not acting comfortable with it. Maybe she did see naps and late morning sleeping as lazy or weak in her earlier years, and now it is hard to adjust. I'm not sure.

 And how many sleep medications are advertised these days? (Enough to put us to sleep, or at least numb us. ) Clearly we have trouble sleeping and enjoying our sleep. Our days are inundated with demands on our time and energy almost non-stop if we allowed it. So at night, brains must be racing, which often leads to worry, which rarely leads to easy sleep. Yet sleep is natural to us humans and we used to be so good at it. Luxuriate in it. What isn't natural is to override the sleep the body needs so our body, mind and spirit function optimally. It is a beautiful thing, a long wonderful night of sleep. So be wild and unconventional. Take back the duvet (and get that TV out of your bedroom). 

Enjoy the Zzzzzz's. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Digital Sabbatical

A local magazine wrote an article wondering if some of us have a fear of missing out (FOMO) if we aren’t connected all the time online or by phone. Some said they do, and are on Facebook, twitter, linked in, skype, emails, cell and landlines, blog, text, even still fax and a host of other things checking all the time, in their fear of missing out.
Missing out on what exactly? Seeing baby pictures on someone’s facebook who has 1000 friends? Who has a 1000 friends really? Do they buy these friends presents on their birthday, and invite them over for cups of tea to chat? If someone I care about has baby pictures they want me to see, I trust they’ll send them to me in an email. Send them to me specifically. But that is how I am wired. I like relevant communication and face to face time with people. Online tools can assist in keeping communication going, but it isn’t in place of meaningful human connection. Quite honestly, no matter what I read online in terms of emails or on listservs, unless I have met you, or get to meet you, or you've been recommended by someone I trust, we won’t be doing business together. 
And I can’t say the online communication world is making us more wise or clear to make good decisions for our business or personal life. We just seem to get inundated with more and more communication and gadgets to buy and learn how to use. Then sometimes we are on the receiving end of others’ poor choices of messages they send. Often redundant or self-serving rather than a good use of my time. My online access is directly related to people I know or are in my professional world. I don’t cast a wide net trying to bring in a random connection.  
I do have several email accounts, websites I administer, listservs I've joined,  2 blogs I attend to erratically, and I’m on linkedin but inactive. I haven’t joined Facebook or Twitter. I don’t have a cell phone. I haven't texted. I do have a lonely, dusty fax only my banker seems to need me to use.
 Do I feel I’m missing out by not doing more, being MORE accessible? No. I feel grateful to have gained clarity of what I need to use, when to use it, why I’m using it and how best to use it for my needs. As I spend much time in my office, I don’t have a cell phone. I like to plan meetings, and I like others to value our time so that if we plan a meeting they are aware if they want to change anything they need to do it before I leave the office. That seems fair notice.  
Too often we seem to use the accessibility of everyone by cell phone as a means for a spontaneous life of work and play. That has decided advantages, but a few weaknesses too. It means less advance planning and commitment to a plan which in turn affects using time well and being productive.

 Many of us creatives have to take blocks of time to focus on our projects away from the online, digital world.  Otherwise we wouldn’t create but just be distracted by the array of communication tools full of demands and bleeps but often little meaning for our day to day. 
So take a Digital Sabbatical, or Digital Sabbath . Put pen to paper sometime, and see how it feels. If your hand still works. Write a letter and mail it. You’ll surprise someone I feel sure. In a good way. Maybe two people. The sender and the addressee. 

Monday, January 31, 2011

Laughing Yoga

I have lots of quirky thoughts, or ways of looking at the world. Some of that I suppose is being a Canadian living in America. The longer I am here, the more quirky things appear to me, and the larger the distance seems to get from what I see and how others see it. Or maybe that distance is shrinking. Certainly my eyesight is getting worse, so maybe I'm not a good judge of these things anymore. 

Naturally you want an example. What's quirky to me you ask? Sometimes, quirky to me is situational, a moment with friends, and I'll see a picture in my head triggered...sort of...by what they say, and then I describe it out loud. Which in this writing is hard to translate. It all is in the moment. But to me, it is my humor bone, and hilarious. I never thought about those pictures in my head that formulate as being a quirky event. It just seemed funny, and usually others found it funny too. That part of me didn't go away as I got older, but it got submerged as those around me seemed less inclined to laugh. Not just with me regarding my jokes, but just less inclined to laugh, or see the mirth in something. (Mirth, isn't that a fine word?)

So quirky topics to me are things like being curious about people different from myself, doing something I wouldn't have invented or thought to do, like  going to a yoga class in order to practice the physical act of laughing. Not with humor, or telling jokes as part of the practice, but rather participants emulate the act of laughing. To me that is a waste. I like humor, being delighted and laughing out loud. But to just imitate the mechanics of a laugh, even if it offers some health benefits, I'd much rather laugh from true delight and surprise than to force myself to laugh, tricking my body into some action. I like the real deal rather than imitation. Always. Plus I am funny, and for decades I attended yoga class and I can tell you most of my teachers were humorless. When faced with many butts in downward facing dog, you can be assured I had a few jokes to share. But sadly this was before “Laughing Yoga” so I was reprimanded many a time. Sigh. I guess I was just ahead of my time. 

There is humor in everything if we just choose to be open to the fun of it. As a friend said, we need to keep our “humor channel” turned on, as laughter is a good medicine, and we can access it all the time. Hopefully that doesn't sound quirky, because soon quirky will be the new mainstream I feel sure. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Gotta Blind Spot?

Is this quirky? I attended the HotDocs film festival in Toronto this May, one of the biggest and most successful documentary film festivals on the globe, with 170 documentaries screened in 10 days, and all sorts of panels, pitches and industry hubbub going on. I was energized by all that was taking place, the fun stories produced and hearing the filmmakers talk about their process.
I returned to New Mexico jazzed. I opened a press release from the Film Office announcing the winners and honorable mentions for this year's annual NM Filmmaker Showcase event they have sponsored since 2005. As I ran my eye down the list I saw there were five judges for this event. They were all women. Mmmmmmm. That seems odd. Why would all the judges be one gender? I read the list of winners and honorable mentions to see whom I might know, and send them a congratulations. There were 12 films picked which included going on tour around the state, and to be broadcast on community cable around the state too. What a great collaboration. Twelve films. One woman and eleven men listed as the filmmakers out of the twelve films chosen . Another Mmmmmmmm.

I mused on this, and based on my good feeling of seeing a strong number of women filmmakers participating at HotDocs (the way any of us feel when we see familiar types like ourselves well represented) I emailed those who'd sent me the press release. My tone to them was curious, wondering if they'd noticed what I had noticed. Women are under-represented in film showcases for starters. Why? Do women not submit? Do women not have good ideas? Are women's films inferior? Do women not have access to the training and resources, or not know how to access them? Does the system favor one group over another in some way we each may be blind about? If any of these answers are yes, then we need to look at why, and deal with it in an effective, productive way. Hey we're creatives, we can do that!

We have lots of women in supportive, organizational and administrative roles in our film community; running film festivals, offices, and non-profits to serve filmmakers. We do not have many women writing, directing and producing films, compared to our numbers or possibilities.

This isn't the only time women are under-represented and no noise is heard. But on the heels of a good experience at the HotDocs festival where I saw a film community that took both women and men seriously and expected them to be a part of everything, I felt weird. I hadn't realized how numb I had become to this odd blind spot. And this seems a blind spot many of us share, both men and women. And if you don't know you have a blind spot, how can anything be done to alter it? If another group were absent or under-represented, there usually is noise. Lots of it. How come women, and others who are in the field aren't noticing. Or are they and we aren't hearing about it?Maybe we assume women have access and choose not to use it? Is that true ladies? Maybe. I don't know, which is why I bring it up. Some festival organizers choose scripts and films anonymously. Cover up the name and choose according to some neutral criteria. Or is it neutral? Does the criteria favor men in some way we are blind? Or does it mean women don't submit as many scripts or films as men (a 12:01 ratio? Really?) Or women submit an inferior script or film to men's? Maybe both, or something else entirely?

As an indie filmmaker, I choose to work on documentary content. I prefer working with a small crew, and the intimacy of interviewing real people as the story emerges with time. I've worked on narrative films, yet so many aspects of it don't appeal to my personality. And maybe the studio culture of film is more evident in the narrative world, and that culture hasn't been as welcoming or accessible for women to have an above-the-line role.

Now I will make a point to notice how many women and men I see at film related events and workshops ( there seems more balance of women and men in the documentary field), be aware of who is talking about and making films, who is asking for support and who is getting support. We need to see more women taking stage with our fellow filmmakers. And we each need to be aware when our industry is under- representing any of its membership.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What's it all about, Alfie?

That title just came to my head. And sometimes I do wonder what life is all about. A lot of good my wondering does me most daze.

I heard someone say the News is about how bad things are, not how good they could be. And most creatives look at how good/fun/off beat things could be. Unless they are doing it just for the money. Then they have to squeeze their talents into what is currently getting funded, awarded or green lit. And usually the decision makers to fund the network/studio stuff are really so far behind what the market is hungry for and needs.
Ho hum. Sad. Boring. Usual suspects, and nothing much creative on TV , in my mind.

I mean, really, how many more body parts of female victims do I need to see on TV or in movies? I would rather see shows with fully assembled female body parts with character, accomplishing fun and amazing things, as real women, and men, are doing. All the time. Every day. And I know. Because I work, play and befriend those types of people.
What fun is a victim? And a dead victim? No fun at all.

Most people I know don't watch TV anymore. They are too busy creating and doing wonderful, positive projects. And proper thing. Watching negative programming is draining. One drags oneself away from the couch feeling far from rejuvenated, and with a head full of yucky imagery. I know that too. Been there, done that.
And sometimes I fall for it still and watch a bit of TV. One reason I watch is to see if anyone in charge is making good use of their power in programming to present us with some new, fresh options. It makes me weep when I calculate how much a reality show costs, and how many great indie film productions could be made for that same budget. Plus the viewer would be delighted, informed and uplifted in many cases, not overrun by dead bodies. I mean how many dead bodies do you see in the run of your non-TV day? I thought so. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


LOL. Most of us know what that means now. Now, it is common place. Laugh out loud.
But when I first started seeing it in emails, I thought it stood for a swear word . I 'd go through the list in my brain (not a big one...the list, not my brain) yet without the F-word, I was stumped.

The first time I read it, it was in the emails of the least funny or laugh-filled people I knew. Quite honestly, dour people. So I would try to imagine what LOL could stand for based on them. Something about being Out of Luck always came to mind.
When I later asked my dour friend what it meant she said laugh out loud, I was flummoxed. She hardly finds anything funny. She has acknowledged she doesn't have much of a sense of humor. When she has laughed it is like a rusty sound that turns into a weak cough. Nothing you really want to hear "out loud."
But what I notice with many I know who use LOL in emails, it doesn't seem connected to what they're writing or saying. I read along, " And then my son gave me a book. LOL. " So I stop dead in the reading, and wonder how is that funny? What is the circumstance or nuance I am missing as to why that is a laugh out loud moment? Sometimes I get the weird visual of my dour friend or whomever and can't imagine her laughing out loud, hence LOL had to stand for Live On Lonely, Luck Out Lover, or something.

Do we bastardize meanings like laughing out loud, if we're not laughing out loud? Is it used to supposedly let the reader know you are kidding, or to soften an insult, like I love your hair LOL?

When was the last time you laughed out loud, really? I rarely do anymore, yet I am told I have a good sense of humor and make others LOL...in email anyway. Or so they say.

What if you were a stand up comedian, and when you said a joke, if the audience found it funny each person would hold up an LOL sign, yet wouldn't actually have the energy or will to laugh out loud in person? The oddest thing to me is someone telling me what I just said was really funny, yet they don't laugh. She just smiles, wags her finger at me and says, " That is very funny." I'm not sure you can intellectualize funny. Either it is something that makes you laugh out loud or it ain't.

What are we saving our laughs for? Spend them now. Spend them everyday. Laugh out loud, in person, in public, with friends, with servers at the restaurant, with little children.
Let's be laugh-aholics and never go for treatment.