Archives For Interviews

HOrdover“How do you craft your life?” asks writer, mindfulness expert and knitter Heather Ordover on her site crafting-a-life.com.  This question tantalizingly evokes a creative inspiration that also underscores the importance of recognizing personal responsibility.  We create our path to joy and happiness.  We craft our future with our choices.  Heather is a multi-talented renaissance person with a flair for the introspective.  Combining her love of literature, art, culture, and spirituality she has come to a deepened awareness with her life practice.   She has shared her wisdom with us through three important questions answered on the topic of mindfulness and creativity.  Thank you Heather!

1. What were the challenges you faced before your creative outlet became a source of nourishment?  

I’m a fairly scattered person. I’m interested in lots of things and throughout my life I dabbled in lots of crafts and hobbies. I don’t know if the restless spirit comes from being a fifth-generation Californian (covered wagons, the whole bit in my family tree) and it’s been bred into me or if it’s just the way I am, but I get the itch to move and to do and to try all the time.

However, for the last 14 years I’ve been knitting daily—which is curious as the only thing I’ve stuck with longer is my husband. Now the process is familiar and soft and comforting and productive—that combination seems to be magic for me. It keeps me grounded, keeps me attentive, keeps me happy.

2.  How have you learned from those challenges and the challenges of learning a new art form

I think for me what’s been important is how the knitting calms my restlessness. If you’re mindful about the process of knitting you could go two ways—knitting the same thing all the time (baby hats for donations to hospitals are what I did early-on), or you could constantly draw on new pattern techniques to acquire new skills and over the course of a project as your hands and mind repeat and repeat and repeat the same motion, you find a new sense of calm—excitement of the new at the outset and a grand sense of calm and accomplishment by the end. For someone who grew up having variations on “idle hands are the Devil’s playground” modeled for me, this kind of peace while being productive has been a lifesaver.

3.  How are creativity and mindfulness/spirituality connected? 

I’ve found in my own life that mindfulness and knitting are intrinsically connected. Watching the stitches grow and a piece of knitting go from being loops of string on a stick to an Actual, Beautiful Thing, is both marvelous and mysterious. There is a great sense of accomplishment that comes with something as simple as the attention you pay while turning a heel—in fact I spent all of last Saturday teaching various ways to turn a heel—and within those moments, those little stitches, is where you find the place where you can be still, and watch, and be.

I know there are many prayer shawl ministries where people actively pray for the recipient of the shawl as they knit. For me, most of the finished objects go to others and I like to think that the process of knitting attentively knits hopes and dreams and memories and love into each stitch. Other knitters, when they receive something from you, they get it on many levels—the time commitment that you made while making the item, the skill it took to be able to create something that beautiful, and the love that must go into making something soft and warm and comforting for another.

For more information on Heather Ordover peruse these links:

Podcasts: CraftLit.com – Just the Books • Knitting Blog: MamaOKnits.com • What Would Madame Defarge Knit? Books 1&2 Available now: WWMDfK.com 

vaughn2Don Vaughn is a household name that is synonymous with sexiness.  He is one of fifty men chosen as Cosmopolitan Magazine’s coveted title of Bachelor of the Year, and is a supermodel gracing the pages of magazines and walking the hottest high fashion runways.  There is, however, a difference within Don that makes him more beautiful that what his human form would lead us to believe.  He is a man with a quiet confidence and a heart of service.  He finds joy in learning, exploration and the arts.  His voraciousness for life and his intellectual brilliance have shaped him into a modern day renaissance man.  With his accomplishments in art, culture, entertainment and science, he is an inspiration to many to pursue the grandeur of life.

“I don’t take a break.  Ever since I was a kid I was always interested in a variety of things.  I think my parents did a great job not only promoting academics, but also whatever was interesting to me.  In high school it became music and I began dividing my time between playing with a band and pursuing academics of interest.   It has been a whirlwind to pursue whatever it is that I want.”

Don’s Work with Neuroscience:

“I work with Neuroscientist David Eagleman.  Our labs are about the higher level questions like ‘What does it mean to have free will and make free choices?  What is it like to show empathy toward other human beings and why?’  Your brain is involved in everything you do and we search for the reasons why.”   In addition to the exciting search for the seemingly unanswerable questions, Vaughn and Eagleman have developed a revolutionary “Synesthetic” musical iPhone app called eyeFi.  Originally developed for blind people to be able to “see”’ their world by auditory feedback, Don and David decided to develop this technology into a musical entertainment version.  This allows the auditory feedback to be more mysterious, melodious, beat-filled and beautiful. With this app, you substitute one sense for another.

In addition to this revolutionary invention, Don’s research on human behavior further postulates that humans have “default” brain functionalities that cause certain choices to be made for the purpose of surviving.  While these functions are intrinsic to evolution, they are choices.  “Everything ties into this one idea that there is a default functionality that brains have utilized in order to evolve and survive: show empathy toward your ‘in-group’ and show distance to strangers and those that are unlike you in order to protect yourself; this is the prejudice particle.  We see activity like this in our world all the time.  We are now fully capable of overriding such biases, but we have to choose to do that.”

Vaughn’s talents are not just within the realms of inventions, and research to pinpointing the prejudice particle, he also is a highly Don the Musiciansought after DJ and musician; combining his musical talents with his philanthropic spirit.  “I have been drumming for about ten years.   It wasn’t until last year that I decided that I really want to use music actively as something that can change the world and inspire people.  I found out about the Children’s Music Foundation.”  The Children’s Music Foundation’s mission is “Enriching the lives of children and building communities with music, music instruction and scholarship.” They fulfill their mission by giving musical instruments and music lessons to children who wouldn’t otherwise have access.  “I have spent time with kids who have had transplants and cancer who are eight years old.  It was great to be able to play with them and perform.  The best part was teaching them how to play guitar, singing with them and then giving them the guitar.”  Vaughn revels in the transcendent quality of music and is most inspired by those he sees free themselves through the music he plays in every venue, hospital, or club.  He is currently a headlining DJ at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Don is a seeker.   He seeks knowledge, wisdom and inspiration in his life.  He has further solidified his scientific hypotheses by embodying the example of being more than meets the eye (while being quite easy on the eyes).  “While stereotypes may have been useful in a developing society, now you can’t tell anything about a person just by the way they look, their religious preferences, or their origin.  It’s not useful data anymore.  My mission is to assist people to understand that on a spiritual and functional level.  I am at a point where, at the end of the day, I desire to understand what my life is about.  Right now it is music and neuroscience; using both of these aspects of me to inspire the world.”

For more information:

Don’s Website

Follow Don on Facebook

Follow Don on Twitter

NEW Ashely BellWith the classic beauty of Judy Garland, the poise of Hollywood veteran Meryl Streep, and the guts of an action hero, Ashley Bell has defined a place for herself through her craft.  The star of the Last Exorcism I and II and I caught up on Valentine’s Day to discuss the release of the second installment of the acclaimed horror film.   I was instantly captivated by her sweet charm as she exuberantly greeted me with “Happy Valentine’s Day!”  Throughout the interview, Ashley revealed a sense of intelligent pragmatism with a dash of whimsical joy for her work.  We began our discourse with a discussion about Nell, the sheltered farm girl taken hostage by the demon Abalam in the movie series that has set the tone for her career.

“Nell is such an incredible character.  The opportunity as a whole is a dream come true for an actress.  In the Last Exorcism part one I got to develop two characters.  I built Nell and I built the demon Abalam.  In building Nell, I introduced a girl who had never been off of her plantation.  What hasn’t she seen?  What hasn’t she touched?  What makeup has she not worn?  What music has she not listened to?  That is what is so special about those Doc Martens; those were big city boots. They had been everywhere.  This is what she daydreamed about.”

The Last Exorcism’s premise is a battle of faith and belief as Nell is the central focus of a documentary intended to defraud exorcisms.  As the story progresses, Nell becomes consumed by the demon Abalam.  For Ashley, the experience of possession was of great interest to her.  “I researched a lot of exorcisms and read every book I could get my hands on.  I listened to tapes of exorcisms.  I watched video and read actual priest logs.  What really attracted me was the physicality.  I watched people get possessed.  They went through fits of hysteria and psychological breaks.  It affects the whole body.  I saw images of this and it inspired me to try it.

The last exorcism

It was the image Bell created of being bent in half by her possessor that shook movie watchers to the core.  “During my rehearsal at home, I tried it out and I found that backbend.  It was the night before the exorcism scene.  On set, the director asked me if there was anything I wanted to try and I said: ‘I can do this backbend.’   The striking backbend, now an iconic image of the movie, is also a silent testament to Ashley’s commitment to fervently adopt the qualities of a character cell by cell right down to the tips of her fingernails.

“When you are dealing with the devil, evil has no boundaries.  So much is demanded of you physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  It pushes you so far out of your comfort zone.  For me, that is where things get fun and really juicy.  When I look back on filming, the days that are my favorite are those exorcism days.  Everything is on the table on those days.  AshleyBell_Headshot_Jan13Everything’s playing and it’s great.   After days like that I feel worked as an actress and I like that.  I like pushing myself that far.”  Ashley has an admirable sense of adventure that she has lent to the challenges her characters have faced.  She thrives on the extension of herself that is oftentimes antithetical to a young Hollywood ingénue.  Having the chance to play Nell opened the whole world up in a sense.  The roles I now get approached for are emotionally and physically demanding.  I played a character called Mary in The Day: a movie that took place in a post-apocalyptic world.  The producers tried to talk me out of it.  They said ‘You are going to have to shave your head, you are going to have to do your own stunts.  You are going to have to fire a shotgun…’ And I said ‘You still haven’t given me a reason not to do this film.’  Getting an opportunity to play a strong female role was everything I dreamed of.”

In her personal life, Ashley is rejuvenated by delving into compassion driven projects that reinforce her emotionally and spiritually.  Her affinity with animals, especially elephants in crisis, has taught her great life lessons in empowering the disempowered.  “This is truly a passion for me.  I was born and raised a vegetarian, my family has always had a plethora of rescue dogs and cats, you know, the ones that no one wants.  They were so beautiful to us.  I always found it important to give a voice to those that don’t have one.

Through this deeply resonant cause, Ashley connected with the Cambodian Wildlife Sanctuary.  “I had known about the Cambodian Wildlife Sanctuary for about ten years.  A very close family friend is the owner of the sanctuary.  They had been working for ten years just to get the sanctuary going so that they could rescue Asian Elephants.  I got an email that said ‘We found the elephants, the sanctuary is happenin, this is moving.  Anybody that wants to come out can.’  I wrote back and said ‘I am coming.  This needs to be filmed.’  Because The Last Exorcism has broken me out, there is space to have a platform for this passion project.”

Love and Bananas

Love and BananasLove and Bananas is a documentary that captures the rescue of Asian logging elephants from an illegal logging facility and their transport to the Cambodian Wildlife Sanctuary.  Bell states that the documentary’s importance is to educate people about the conditions the Elephants are currently enduring.  “A lot of people say ‘Just go buy another elephant.’  But you can’t.  It takes eight people to own an elephant in Cambodia.  There are no wild Asian elephants left in Cambodia.  You can’t just go and buy one.  Because of poaching and the state of the land, wild elephants do not exist.  To gain the trust of the elephants was remarkable.  Elephants are usually trained by using bull hooks.  Bull hooks are banned on the sanctuary.  It has been proven that you can train them with love and bananas. 

Ashley teamed up with Change for Balance Productions: a production company that specializes in “contributing to the betterment of humanity” with their award winning productions.  “I put my own money in, the whole team flew out.  Talk about being out of a comfort zone!  I am not an outdoorsy person and in the first hour we were in raw jungle with the elephants and it was…breathtaking.”

In addition to Love and Bananas Ashley’s upcoming projects are excitingly diverse.  She has two romantic comedies that will be coming out soon, a period film called Chasing Shakespeare where she gets to utilize the education she received from Cambridge  to play a  Shakespearean actress.

Follow Ashley on Twitter

PageWhat would you do if you saw a woman chase you down the street to tell you that you have a future in the entertainment industry?  Would you accept her instant belief in your talents at face value?  Would you follow her to your unrealized dream?  Channing Tatum did.  So did Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Alexis Bledel, and many others that were scouted by Page Parkes.  An industry veteran and household name among the insiders of the modeling and fashion worlds, Page has built a scouting empire in two of Texas’ biggest cities: Houston and Dallas.  She is co-owner of Page Parkes Corporation, the largest modeling and acting agency group in the Southwestern United States.

When I caught up with Page, she greeted me in warm humility and lovingly extended her helping hand to my aide if ever necessary.  Her nurturing spirit was palpable and her enthusiasm was flanked with a quality of appropriate industry seasoning, free from the jaded aloofness that is quintessential in the industry of branding, packaging, and visual marketing.  After warm sentiments were shared, she began to tell me of her humble beginnings.

“I actually started primarily by not having the highest academic skills or grades.  So in my search to find a place for myself, I of course, was attracted to the arts.  Being raised by a single mom, I saw how she was able to use every bit of the adversity she faced to help teach me to solve problems and to win.  So I went to fashion school.  For the first time I was on the Dean’s list.”

Not only did she make the Dean’s List, Page also received the Young Couture Award and studied in Florence under fashion designer icon Emilio Pucci as a designer.  Page’s takeaway from her quest to acquire her sense of self, and finding her niche was bigger than she realized.  She was preparing to create the same opportunities for others as she was able to create for herself.

Click to learn more.

Click to learn more.

“We all have talent in different areas, be it academics, arts or music.  Somehow becoming a successful girl in fashion design school, I saw that if we are encouraged to just follow our passion, maybe I could change the world one teenage girl at a time.”

She began her work as a talent scout for models and actors.  She helped her clients through her own experiences of adversity by paying her life lessons forward.  “I used a lot of the skills I learned from my mother.  In those days I was close to the boys and girls ages that would come in to be evaluated.  Being close to the talent’s age – seventeen, was great because I could relate more to them.  I Page-Parkesshowed them how to climb their way out of where they were and to break through the stories in their head that were false emotions appearing real.  I would show them that there was not a lot of truth to their fears and that they could win.  When they won I won.”

Through her unwavering belief in her clients’ abilities Page helps them to connect to the possibility of their dreams.  She continues to create new ways to offer education and opportunities to those she has scouted.  “It is a conscious choice to do what you love.  I ask myself, do I want to move forward or wind this baby up?”  Coming off the dizzying success of E Channel’s award winning show “Scouted,” Page has opened acting schools across Texas as another pathway to being the benefactor of dreams and a voice for the unheard.

But it isn’t just the industry greats for which she makes the seemingly impossible dream a reality.  She devotes her private time to being a foster mother providing emotional support, spiritual nourishment, and a happy home.  When reflecting on the successes, challenges, and the rewards of such, Page states:  “It was a garden with a million seeds that I planted.  It was a formula.  Each person was missing different pieces of themselves.  If I could build that and help make them whole, it was a very rewarding feeling.  It wasn’t that I was great.  It was that I made a lot of other people great.  I am happy that I saw the light early and that I knew what I wanted to do, was going to do it, and do it right.”

For more information on Page Parkes Visit:

http://www.pageparkes.com

Page on Twitter

Page on Facebook 

Sandra Dee1“Nobody thought it was possible for a shy small town Pennsylvania girl to end up on television.  The fact that I did get my first job while still living at home in Pittsburg was kind of crazy.”

The first job she received was a role on the popular NBC soap opera Another World as Amada Cory from 1987-1993.  The role had her in intricate plot lines and launched a popularity she was not necessarily prepared for, yet she saw her new career as a means of catharsis.  “I had this fantasy of hiding behind characters and becoming an actress.  No one in my family ever performed, I didn’t know anyone that even sang in the church choir.”

Over the years, Sandra Dee Robinson has been seen on almost every notable soap opera that television had to offer including: Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and The Bold and the Beautiful.  She has hosted shows and infomercials, and has made her mark in prime time television.  Sandra continues to work and can currently be seen on The Bay; an Emmy nominated online soap opera that features the heavy-weights of soap stars spanning every network.

The dichotomy of being painfully shy while not wearing the clothes of a character, gave Sandra a rich complexity on camera through her craft, yet was difficult to process off the set.  She found herself distanced from her fans, and second guessing her talents when she was faced with rejection for roles.

“In this business it is more rejection than work and dealing with that is really hard.  I would ask myself what I did wrong.  I left TV completely for a little while and went into the corporate world for about three and a half years.  I worked in the corporate world and on General Hospital at the same time. I ended up being very grateful for being outside of the business at that time.  It helped me to really understand some of my clients.”

As Sandra embarked on the divergent journey in the corporate world, there were deeper lessons awaiting her that would aide her in Sandra Deetriumphing over her shyness.  She now credits the challenges of working in a results oriented environment with assisting her in discovering a new method of connecting that she calls owning her space.  “You own your space in front of the camera lens, you own your space walking into a room. Owning your space is having confidence in who you are, knowing what you stand for, and knowing what your boundaries are.”

Learning and understanding her personal boundaries was a step in a direction that Sandra had never experienced.  She still had the hurdle of understanding how to convey her authentic self on camera.  Being given permission to express herself naturally was a foreign and excruciating concept.  “I had to learn how to represent myself on camera instead of a character.  I would be called into a job based on my fan following to talk about skin care products, help with a charity, or do a public service announcement.  I would say yes, show up and be told ‘just be yourself.’ I would literally black out from fear… butterflies in the stomach doesn’t come close to explaining the fear I had.  I could literally hear my knees knocking together.  It took me seven years and thirteen different coaches to realize what I teach people now. “Charisma on camera

Through her pain, Sandra has been able to formulate a successful method of representing a person’s authentic self-expression on or off camera by building confidence.  Charisma on Camera is Sandra Dee Robinson’s compilation of techniques that helped her throughout her years on television.   As an actress and media/trainer and consultant, Sandra Dee Robinson specializes in self-expression and is called on by major networks and familiar faces like Dr. Oz and Ellen.  “You have to be confident in yourself and enjoy yourself.  Then work on refining.”

Her advice seems simple enough on the surface but there is a deeper meaning to what Sandra is expressing.  Being confident and enjoying yourself stems from a space of self-love.  The kind of love that makes you face your fears and attract success.  Sandra evokes this passion from her clients by having them share their favorite things.  She guides them to a mental state of being comfortable in relation to the camera as if they were relating to their friends and doing what they love.  Sandra feels that many professionals that go before the camera have blocks to expressing themselves because the camera is an inanimate object whereas other people reciprocate energy.  Her goal is to help her clients relate beyond the camera and connect to the world.

Because of Sandra Dee Robinson’s wealth of spirit and the desire to know herself, she has been able to create an ever-evolving platform that reinforces her message and empowers others to find their voice.

Learn more about Sandra Dee Robinson’s Charisma on Camera at www.charismaoncamera.com