Today we remember the late, great Robin Williams who took his own life three years ago. He is sorely missed for his humor, his heart and his own unique brand of comedy that can never be duplicated.
When I think of Robin Williams, I think of one of my favorite childhood movies, Hook. There was no other actor who could have portrayed that character of the adult Peter Pan so perfectly.
His death also reminds me of how mental illness and depression specifically are not one size fits all diseases. For some people depression means staying home all day, mindlessly watching television and afraid to step out the door. For others, it means scheduling every moment of their day so they don’t have to face what is brewing inside them. For another group, it means putting on the mask and doing what has to be done, even though all they want to do is lay on the couch and watch television.
If I take away anything from his death (in addition to recent and heartbreaking loss of Chester Bennington), is that we need a new approach to treating mental illness. We also need to remove the stigma of mental health to allow those suffering to receive treatment openly and honestly.
Z”l Robin Williams. You are truly missed and loved.
When life gives us lemons, we try to make lemonade. When we are single after years of being in a relationship, what looks like a dark path of unknowns may actually be an opportunity to grow in new and exciting ways.
After 8 years of playing Grace Adler on Will and Grace, Debra Messing completely stepped away the world of Will and Grace to play a new character: the eponymous title character in the 2007 miniseries, The Starter Wife. Molly Kagan (Messing) has been married to Hollywood mogul Kenny Kagan (Peter Jacobson) for a number of years. All is well in her world until Kenny divorces her. Molly has to face her new reality as a single woman with the help of her friends, Joan McAllister (Judy Davis), Cricket Stewart (Miranda Otto) and Rodney (Chris Diamantopoulos).
I remember enjoying this mini-series. It had humor, it had heart and it also spoke to the idea that new normals happen all the time. It’s just a matter of rolling with the punches and putting one foot in front of the other.
I recommend it.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”-Franklin Delano Roosevelt
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”-Carrie Fisher
Fear is not a tangible thing. It’s not something we can physically pick up and hold in our hands. But yet feel it. We can smell it, we can taste it.
One of the podcasts I regularly listen to is Problogger (which I highly recommend for my fellow bloggers). One of the things that came up in this week’s podcast was fear. Fear of starting the blog, fear of not being good enough as a blogger, fear that no one will read the blog, etc.
Fear is not entirely bad thing. The fight or flight reflex has been built into our bodies and minds for a purpose. But the question is, when we are looking straight at what scares us, do we have the courage to walk past our fears or do we let our fears stop us?
I know this question is not easy to answer. When faced with the choice of facing our fears or running away, many of us will run.
But what would happen if we didn’t run away, if we faced our fears, not knowing the consequences?
In my own life, I’ve found that when I face my fears, no matter how difficult or scary it seems, I come just a little stronger and a little more confident.
Facing our fears is often the hardest thing we will ever do. But it’s the only way we will ever most past them.
Filed under Life, Writing
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I received 2 educations: one inside the classroom and the other outside of the classroom.
In the 1994 movie, With Honors, Monty (Brendan Fraser) has just completed his thesis, which he hopes will get him on the right track to a healthy and successful career. Then his computer dies on him (as usual at the most inconvenient of times). With only one physical copy of the thesis back to his name, Monty runs to the library to make a copy. But before he can get to the library, Monty slips and falls. The envelope holding the single copy of his thesis falls through a grate.
Desperate to locate it, Monty goes through the building that is connected through the grate. In the basement he finds homeless drifter named Simon (Joe Pesci) burning the pages to stay warm. Simon makes Monty a deal. Simon will give Monty a page a day. In return, Monty will house and feed Simon until he gets back what is left of his thesis. Monty hopes to get his thesis back, what he surprisingly gets is an education that goes far beyond the classroom.
What I like about this movie is not just the dynamic between Fraser and Pesci, but also the idea that education and learning does not stop when we leave the classroom.
I recommend it.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Megan Phelps-Roper come from two different worlds. Rabbi Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, a politician and a respected speaker. Megan Phelps-Roper was raised in the Westboro Baptist Church. The granddaughter of the head the church, Megan and her sister made the decision to leave their home and their church as adults.
I watched both of their Ted Talks speeches a few minutes ago. Both were illuminating and potentially life changing.
While both Rabbi Sacks and Megan spoke of different things, the conclusion that they came to separately is that we need to not only think of others, but extend our hands in friendship to those who are different. If we stay only in our communities with people who think and believe as we do, not only will we not grow, but our world will not become to better place we say that we want it to be.
The reality is that no person is an island. There are millions of people around us and until we truly work together a human beings, the better place that we say we want to be at will only continue to be a pipe dream.
Loss is a part of life. No matter where we live or what we believe, we will experience loss.
In 2015, Facebook executive and Lean In writer Sheryl Sandberg unexpectedly lost her husband, Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg. She chronicles the loss of her husband and the aftermath of her husband’s sudden death in Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Co written with Adam Grant, the book not only examines how Ms. Sandberg dealt with the loss of her husband, but how others have not only dealt with loss, but also survived.
This book is a must read, especially for those who are grieving. Whether the loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, a relationship, a job etc, it is a guidebook for finding happiness in the face of loss. It is possible to move on and be happy again, but only if we let ourselves.
I recomend it.
Game Of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage has a powerful message on life and dreams.
In his 20’s he had a regular office job and dreamed of being an actor. But like many of us, logic stepped in and said that acting is not a reliable job. So he worked at his 9-5 job and dreamed of the day that he would be an actor.
Then at age 29, he made a decision. He decided to go after what he wanted instead just dreaming about it.
The message I get from his story is that it is ok to go after what we want. Is it scary? Of course. Does it bring a large amount of uncertainty to our lives? Yes.
But at the same time, living our authentic lives and doing what we want to do instead of doing what we need to do is sometimes the only way to live.
Life is messy. So is romance. Some movies portray both with a sentimental view or via rose-colored glasses.
The new film, Maudie, portrays the real life mess of both. Based on the life of artist Maud Lewis, the film starts in 1930’s Nova Scotia. Maud (Sally Hawkins) has lived with juvenile arthritis her entire life. Needing to escape the emotional confines of her family, she takes a job as a housekeeper for Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke). A gruff loner, Everett is expects things a certain way. Maud surprises him with her art, her outlook on life and her tenacity. Their marriage is something of a surprise, but somehow, they stay married until Maud’s death in 1970.
This movie is nothing short of a revelation. Directed by Aisling Walsh, the film could have been taken in the direction of sentimental mush with the predictable messages of love conquering all and dreams can come true. But thankfully, the film is not sentimental mush with the predictable messages. It’s a movie about how hard life is and how hard relationships are. Everett is an a**hole at points in the film. He is not the romantic hero by any stretch of the imagination. Neither is Maud the predictable romantic heroine. That was one of the things about the film that struck me, neither the narrative or the lead characters are what the audience would expect for a film that is essentially a romantic drama. That quality alone makes the film stand out for me.
I absolutely recommend it.
Maudie is presently in theaters.
For the most part, when someone famous dies the response is as follows: their death is reported in the media, there maybe some smatterings of memorials on social media and then they are remembered during in memoriam section during the next awards ceremony.
When Carrie Fisher passed away suddenly from a heart attack at the end of last year, it was a shock to the cultural system. As an actress, writer and mental health advocate, she has been a part of our cultural landscape since 1977.
I recently purchased the Vanity Fair 40th anniversary Star Wars editions.
The one section of the article that struck me was a conversation that she had with John Boyega in 2014 when the original trailer for The Force Awakens was released. The backlash of having not just a black storm trooper,but also a black leading man did not sit well with some fans. Fisher’s response to the backlash and Boyega’s reaction to the backlash was simple: “you do you”.
Out of everything that I remember her for, it is the fact that she was her authentic self, warts and all. While some of us present a certain image depending on whom we are with, Fisher was not afraid to be herself, even if that meant revealing her demons or her less than ideal past.
She encouraged her fans to be themselves and not be afraid to reveal their own dark sides.
While I will always adore her as Princess Leia, it is her fearlessness that will continue to inspire me and her fans around the world.
RIP Carrie. Gone, but never, ever forgotten.
Life immediately after college is often very confusing. The expectation is to get a job, eventually settle down, maybe a have a kid or two and lead a generally quiet life But what happens when this expectation does not meet reality?
In the 1994 film, Reality Bites , Lelaina (Winona Ryder) creates a mockumentary of her post college experience. Her best friend, Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a musician who has lost several minimum wage jobs. Her other friends, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) are grappling with their own issues. Vickie is anticipating the results of an AIDS test while Sammy is in the closet. Then, along comes Michael (Ben Stiller), who offers Lelaina a career making opportunity. Now she must choose not only the life she wants, but the man she wants in her life.
I have two thoughts on this movie. The first is that the feelings and experiences of the characters feel very universal. Those of us who do complete college most often come out of it with a question what to do with our lives. Without the structure we have had for the last two decades, our life feels incomplete. But on the other hand, this movie is very Gen-X specific and it does feel a little dated.
Do I recommend it? Yes.