In order to thrive…

I have been writing so much about my life lately as I try to force myself to pursue my more creative interests. Yesterday, since I am, again, not enjoying my new job, I went to Work Source. Work Source is a resource I finally decided to check out to get myself the heck out of the same industries I’ve always worked in. Namely, these are cash handling, food service and customer service. While nice to bide my time, these are not remotely the types of jobs I truly want to be doing. And now that I’ve come out, I made a promise to my mom and myself that I would push myself more creatively. So, at Work Source, I learned about ways to find better jobs and I took an aptitude test. I have a tendency to thrive most in careers focused on creativity and in social services. In that order.

The thing is, my life is a constant remembrance of every single thing I ever dismissed due to religious beliefs. One such opportunity I dismissed was going to school at an Art Institute. It was expensive, I didn’t know if I could really thrive creatively (if I was good enough) and, my personal favorite, I feared the dark influences inherent in art school. I wasn’t ready to be a light to such a dark place. It’s crazy to think now, how much I wanted to change the world but felt like the evil was so overwhelming. No wonder I was constantly writing back then and planning and brainstorming how to be more Christian. I thought the whole world was out to get me, I needed all the help I could get. Today though, I know that the world is not this terrible horrible place full of perspectives I have to change forcibly as if I’m in battle with an unseen evil. The world is full of unique, deeply creative people with hopes, dreams, and fears. These people are not automatically the subliminal evil to my overriding good. They are just working to make ends meet, following their passions and letting their ideas out to breathe. This is more than I can say for myself in the last few years.

Since ministry school, I have been stunted and trying so hard to find myself. The thing is, when they tell you that you have nothing to offer, nothing about you is special unless you live your life for God, when everything falls apart, so do you. I don’t know how to live my life for me. I’ve never tried. So instead of vibrantly engaging my life, I’ve gotten lazy and just watched TV shows and movies, looked online at art, or read copious amounts of fanfictions. I’m living in another world and longing to be a part of it. And finally, finally, I am creating. Yesterday at Work Source, I followed a link to The Art Institute of Seattle, I requested a brochure. Soon after, a woman contacted me.  She had a smile in her voice and an authenticity about her that I hadn’t experienced in awhile. Maybe she seeks to lure me into debt and the program, but I get the feeling she understands what I’m going through personally and how that has affected my art and self expression. I’ve been thinking lately about how much better at art my friends were than me in high school, even though in elementary school I was essentially hailed as a prodigy. (I didn’t draw stick figures so they thought I was incredible.) I had three teachers who taught me art in high school. But only one who taught me drawing. I thrived in Mixed Media, I plodded along in regular art. And I thought that was because I was bad at it, but I wasn’t. I just had the input of a singular teacher.

What I’m thinking is this: I love art, singing, writing, drawing, sculpting, more than anything. But I’m trying to get by with just a basic knowledge of each of them, as if not knowing is the same as being bad at something. This is also, of course, a cult thing. The idea of you expressing your own feelings in writing or in some concrete presentation, if it wasn’t prophetic and made in prayer, it wasn’t good. God was more important than your opinions, your self-expression, your happiness. So I thought that if I trained myself to be better at things, it was warping who he made me to be. It was assuming that I knew myself better than he did. This is why I insist on no longer being religious. This was detrimental to my personality. Now that I can put my finger on what went wrong, I have hope that I can journey to find my creativity again. I can have someone to help hone my skills in all these aspects of myself and then someday, I will thrive in my artistic ability. It’s hard to admit I’m not good enough on my own. It’s harder to admit that connecting with God about this doesn’t feel right to me. I need to stand or fall on my own merit for once. If I want to change the world, I have to start with me. God or no God, if I’m not me, I can do nothing.

I want to make a difference in the way I want to make a difference. Not in a way that is tempered by religion. I want to see diversity in filmmaking, representation from talented actors from all walks of life. I want to write stories that are deeper than I’ve written before and I think  the best way I can do that is to be trained and challenged at the Art Institute. I’m excited, whatever life holds for me, I will create.

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Leaving my Destiny and Starting a Blog: The Story of how I Lost My Drive and I’m Taking it Back Again

Once upon a time, about three years ago, I walked away from what I thought was my destiny, and when I got home, I did something crazy that I had never done before. I started a blog. I started writing in the hopes that someone would notice and my writing would make a difference. I talked about Finding Pearls in a Sea of Sand, the concept that came to me as I got out of ministry school and by extension, out of a lifetime of living in a Christian cult. Everything Christians said was dirty, I saw something beautiful there. When I looked at Hollywood, I didn’t see a bunch of lost demonically possessed people who only cared about the money, I saw vibrancy in those people. I saw ideas being realized and shared and as a creative person it both intimidated and inspired me.

For my whole life, I have felt a connection to story, to movies and TV shows. I heard something in the stories that other people weren’t hearing, and with this blog, PVX Pearls, I had thought to share those thoughts. I kind of dropped the ball on this blog, preferring my tumblr blog to this one. But this is the one where I can be the most prolific and grapple with some of the insecurities I have about putting myself out there creatively. I think that if I am to genuinely enjoy my life and make the most of it, I need to be writing. I need to be painting and I need to be singing. And all of those things, I need to be doing often and the way that I want to do them. That’s one of my issues really, I understand the need for training, but unfortunately, growing up in a Christian cult, I was never allowed to find my own identity. I remember all of the songs and the verses and the sermons about identity and how if you didn’t have your identity in Christ, you basically weren’t on the right track, like you were not really much of a person.

That’s why it was so easy for them (and by extension, me) to dehumanize people and brush past their stories. Because, they didn’t matter until they were God’s. Well, they did matter, they just mattered more as a hypothetical convert than they did as a human being in the moment. Their identity wasn’t solid until they were Christian, and neither was mine. When I became a Christian to the extent that I would talk about nothing else (and think about everything else), I dropped the identity I was starting to build for myself. I stopped writing because my stories were secular and I didn’t see how God could fit. I stopped painting and drawing much because the only people in the youth group who did artistic things did prophetic art, which, generally, my brain didn’t work quite so completely in the abstract, so I kind of doodled here and there. But I didn’t really share my art with anyone ever. Prophetic art, in case perhaps you don’t know what I’m talking about, was art inspired in prayer, bodies were often faceless and messages were always spiritual. And with singing, I watched my poor mom for years constantly being a part of the worship team at our church. And our worship team leader was such a perfectionist about things that my mom often felt like her voice wasn’t good enough. I didn’t want the abuse, and it was stressful to be up there onstage for concert choir, let alone the weekly worship team.

In ministry school, I tried my hand at each of these talents, and I was actually good. I received compliments for everything and I felt really proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. I wrote Spoken Word poetry as I grappled with my anger at God and religion. My friends clapped and said it was so awesome how I was so honest about my feelings. I wanted to shake them. I knew they felt stuck too. But instead they gave me platitudes and pats on the back. I blew them away with my writing, but they didn’t see what I was saying. I didn’t paint but my whole Internship was for Media and I did design some things, like the banner for this website and I played around with new font types. I won a very close third place in a talent show when I sang JJ Heller’s “What Love Really Means”. Honestly, I just need to get better at jumping into a song when there is music. Yeah, there’s a horrifying feeling in the pit of my stomach when I mess up, but I could push past that.

Now, three years later, I have this blog, I have my Tumblr blogs and a few others. I could be a voice, a beacon. It’s the kind of person I’ve always been. So what’s stopping me? Well, hopefully now, nothing. I just got something off my chest and my shoulders and I know I want to do more with my life, now that it’s out. Now that I’m…out. But there’s more to that story I will save for a different entry. I want to be creative because I feel the most me when I am either creating something or responding to something created.

 

It’s always been pretty clear to me that I look at movies from a different perspective. Really, I look at the entire world differently than many I’ve known. So I would like to start writing a short pearl dig (name in progress) on each movie that comes to my mind. If anyone wants to get involved, I would love to include some of your favorites. I have become especially excited, as is often the case, with Disney movies. But I want to include everything, and hey if a discussion starts because of it, that’ll be awesome.

These days I work in an electronics department and I essentially peddle movies and organize them. Honestly, I’m living the dream. This is the kind of thing I had always hoped to experience. Movies are always on my mind. The animated things this year have been incredible. I’d love to talk about them. First on my mind is Trolls, Storks, Moana. I am just so impressed with the stories coming out these days. This will be fun. I wanted to write about it before I forgot about it. 🙂

Defy a Little Gravity: How Wicked Changed my Life, Even Though I’ve Never Seen It

 

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I have never seen the acclaimed musical Wicked but it has shaped my life nonetheless. Defying Gravity was my anthem as I made my decision to leave ministry college. Something in the magical and empowering song gave me permission to begin to question, probe and grow from my experience. Something had indeed changed within me, nothing was the same. I was truly through with playing by the rules of someone else’s game. I realized that I had never believed in the way it was expected of me and I followed a beautiful epiphany that God would love me no matter what I believed. He would and did love anyone no matter their background or belief system, it was an immovable beauty that changed my heart forever. Continue reading

Renewed Fervor for Media!

When I started this blog, I did not start it to grapple with my own issues and background as much as for recognizing the good in media. It is so frustrating sometimes to listen to the tidal wave of hate against Hollywood, calling movies a ‘cash grab’ or a ‘quick buck’. Everyday people doing their jobs to make money just like we do, except, often, what they do for work affects how we see the world. Hollywood, the way I see it, has always striven for a better standard of behavior, especially as far as treating people. Personal actor problems such as: parties, drugs, and feuds aside, the primary message of the fictions played out for us by Hollywood stars seem to be tolerance, kindness, integration. Continue reading

Analyzing the Cult that I Lived Part 1- First Church and the New Youth Pastors

I haven’t published a post in a while and the reason is that because I’m not sure who reads my blog, I am afraid of who I might deeply offend and hurt. But, it has occurred to me that whoever reads my blog should know that it is in fact my blog. My thoughts are in it. So I say this: Whoever you are, if my blog is causing you concern for my spiritual life, don’t worry about me. If my blog is boring you or you’re irritated by various grammatical errors, I do apologize, I would love your feedback. But until I get someone who speaks up about my blog to me, I shall simply write what I wish and see what happens.

I’ve recently experienced an onslaught of past memories especially with regards to religion and the kinds of wonderful things I refused to let into my life by virtue of my Christian faith. In experiencing this onslaught, I began to really think upon and explore what Christian means to other people who are Christian.

It does not seem to be the same upbringing that I experienced.

Continue reading

Trying to Grapple with political tragedy and the Windpocalypse

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Attack on the Two Towers 09/11/2001

The attack on the two towers is a painful memory for many. I, having no connection to news and living in a small town at eight years old, heard the terrible news days after 9/11 itself. I was at daycare, a place soaked through with blissful ignorant innocence and then that ugly truth came into my young life. People can hate each other so much that they will blow each other up. A giant building, protecting thousands of people, will no longer retain its security when determined people seek to bomb it from the sky. The thing that affected me so much as a young child was knowing that people were so volatile. Growing up in a small town without satellite TV, I was always learning about world events when they were in the worst condition possible. This has also been the case for the recent attacks on Paris.

I’m still not sure I understand what exactly happened with the attacks, nor certainly why, but I know that living an effective existence requires that I recognize the hardships of the rest of the world rather than retreating into my bubble of finding happiness no matter what. Sometimes, to have the joy, we need to experience the hardship.

Continue reading

The Color of Creativity is Worth the Risk

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When I was in ministry school, I had this epiphany that had been building up inside of me for quite some time. Hollywood, like anything else  is made up of people who have dreams, hurts and pasts that drive them forward. It occurred to me that every creative effort, no matter how small or uninspiring had some merit to its founder. Continue reading

The World We Call Such a Mess

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In all things seek beauty. Find the light in every dark place.
See the story in each young or wrinkled face.
Dig for pearls in endless seas of sand,
Search out a reason to understand.

Consider others as greater than you.
Recognize some things they think are true.
We don’t hold a monopoly, some patent on truth.
We’re no better than the seemingly uncouth.

As Christians shouldn’t we be
less demanding of some cosmic fee,
Some terrible terror to fear and avoid,
No wonder we make the world so annoyed!

We take away freedom of life and of choice,
We steal their power, we hold captive their voice.
And we give an ultimatum, make it about life or death,
Forgetting that regardless of conversion, God grants every breath.

People are his chosen and final creature
Molded from dust and taught to endure
Trial and joy, pain and happiness,
It’s become this world we call such a mess.

We each have our struggles,
Raging within our tight little bubbles,
But, think about it
Shouldn’t we more than just sit?

Within our strife and grief and worry,
Us world-changers always in such a hurry
Preoccupied with them or thinking of us,
Either way, it’s often the wrong focus.

We’re always down on them or up on us
Judging them for every little cuss.
And each of their sins,
Forgetting that we are supposed to hold some kind of light within.

But with each flippant word,
Spoken idly of others
We ostracize someone from the herd,
Cast away our brothers.

Nobody wants to hear that world is done,
condemned forever for trying to have some fun.
And I think that’s good, healthy and right.
To stand up for the world in the middle of its fight.

To think that such drastic punishment seems very wrong,
To consider that the world sings a desperate and lonely heartsong.
One we should hear and never boycott
Abstinence from everything can’t be why His pain was wrought.

But to bring hope to those who can hope no more
Who’ve shut the gates and barred the door,
Claiming there is no purpose for life on this earth,
Giving the God concept a very wide berth.

And that’s where they are.
Maybe someday they’ll look up at the first star
And see his likeness shining through
But their salvation and conviction will never depend on you.

So relax my friends, try being kinder.
Stop tallying sins and needs in your little prayer binder.
I’ve been there too
Seeing the light is a hard thing to do

It’s uncomfortable and bright,
disheartening admitting you sometimes stumble in the night.
But it changes hearts when you are honest with a stranger.
Confessing that sometimes you’ve feared your own soul in danger.

We’re human just as they are,
It’s okay to finally admit.
For salvation or for friendship, we won’t get very far
If we continue to approach the world by throwing our perpetual Christian fit.

Mining The First Pearl- (Moulin Rouge: Dirty to Beautiful)

 

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It’s become a bit of a cliché to mention but the truth is that as you grow older, you change. Your opinions, dreams, friendships they morph and mutate until, sometimes, they’re unrecognizable. I know that growing up, life for me was frustrating. I suppose I had a lot of the same core that I have found in myself today. I was generally kind, enjoyed coloring, and was especially obsessive over movies. But judgment was never far from my mind. I found a reason to look down on each and every person I ever sought to build up. And, knowing my own hypocrisy kept me from really becoming a truly real person.  It was when I first felt the idea for PVX Pearls taking root in my mind, that I sought impartiality. Prior to that moment, I had actually been taught that tolerance was a poison spreading throughout society as an affront to Christian values. Kinda backwards thinking about it now.

It was through this attitude that I viewed absolutely everything with eyes of judgment at first glance. And then, upon reflection and consistency, I learned to fall completely in love with everything I at first despised. That is the deep truth written within my heart, the pearl within a thousand oysters, starting with the movie Moulin Rouge.

I remember the day my friend had me listen to the music. I was so disgusted by the plotline. He falls for a “courtesan” (that’s just a fancy prostitute!)

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It’s interesting to realize that we somehow deem certain kinds of people unworthy or too dirty for love. First off, a story of a man who treats a prostitute with kindness and falls in love with her is not too far from an allegorical interpretation of the biblical book of Hosea. Secondly, it is incredibly pompous to suggest that certain people should not be allowed to experience love, by virtue of their circumstances. But, these were not lessons I had thus far learned.

Instead, I was appalled by the rauchiness of the club where the woman Satine worked as a courtesan (a high-class prostitute), confused by the random side plots and disgusted by the idea that a man could ever fall in love with someone who was so… well dirty.

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Weeks went by, and try I might, I couldn’t get the songs to stop playing hauntingly in my mind. Then, I watched Moulin Rouge and I felt the pain of living as a prostitute, the romance of protective jealousy, and discovered the beautiful randomness that is life.

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It was letting that first movie in that helped me to overcome my automatic attitude of judgment and indifference. It was allowing Moulin Rouge to speak that started my heart on this journey towards finding pearls in everything always.

Soon, I was viewing all media from this perspective. And I saw that each and every media expression is the product of hard work and incredible vulnerability from every single person involved. We all are imbued with a dream in our hearts and a story to tell. Movies especially capture that beauty so that we can see other views from a positive perspective. Many of us are wary and incredulous about any views that differ from our own. Hollywood provides a forum through which to discuss those uncomfortable things we all struggle to understand.

Moulin Rouge was a standout for me because the characters are very vulnerable and so, in my opinion is the story itself. No one is made to seem spotless, it’s a story of love that hurdles the obstacles come what may.