Welcome to my Give and Get Blog.
Many of us want to make a difference in other’s lives. This could come from a feeling of gratitude for your good luck. You want to pay it forward and share your successes with those less fortunate, such as the homeless, the elderly or orphaned children. Perhaps you’re compelled to improve our world by assisting animals, stopping climate change, or cleaning up the environment.
In all of these situations, you’re giving back, and this makes you feel great. At the same time, the recipients of your generosity are also uplifted. It’s a win-win because everyone reaps many rewards. Research shows that when we give back to others, it releases endorphins that produce happy feelings. Not only do we feel better about ourselves, you can inspire and motivate other people to do the same thing.
Volunteering in any capacity introduces us to new cultures. It’s also connected to good health, and the impact ripples out to families, friends, neighbors – your entire community. Also, when we give away material things to people (aka “in-kind”), then we’re helping them to attain items they can’t afford to buy, such as cooking utensils, tools, clothes and toys. At the same time, you can clean out your closets, attics, cabinets and garages to get rid of stuff that isn’t being used.
As for me, I grew up on Long Island, NY. I was sick as a child for five years, even though I felt great. Our family doctor gave the correct diagnosis, but the wrong treatment. I was forced to be bedridden from ages nine to thirteen.
Then I was constantly bullied and rejected by other kids. During that time, I dreamed about traveling and exploring the world.
I began writing poems, short stories and articles at age seven. I won honorable mention in a national contest when I was 15, and was published in a local newspaper several times during my teenage years.
As soon as I graduated from high school and was in college, I began my adventures. I was a hippie and became an activist. I spent a summer working in a Japanese bar in Hawaii. Then I went on a semester abroad program in London. I fell in love and took a year off to study and work in England. When I finally graduated from Boston University, I had to deal with a broken heart. I lived in Mexico for a year where I taught English at a school. After that, I hitchhiked all over Central America and Colombia by myself. I became deathly sick from steroid poisoning and dysentery, and was almost coerced into smuggling contraband!
I lived in Paris for a year where I worked as an au paire for three different families, and also as a music reporter. I was accepted to the Université du Sorbonne Nouvelle to study cinema, but decided to return to the U.S. where I ended up in Los Angeles.
I had an exciting job running the Public Access TV station. I produced and directed dozens of programs. Then I worked at 20th Century Fox, and Paramount Studios as the Assistant to the Director of Creative Affairs.
Then I became a script supervisor. This job is one of the toughest on production sets. We have to keep track of all the continuity, including details about wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair and makeup.
There are also tricky issues that script supervisors have to check for, such as matching screen direction and eyelines. Even through all of the crew in these departments are responsible for their work, it’s the script supervisor’s fault if a mistake is made and we didn’t catch it.
Script supervisors also make sure the director has all the shots (camera angles) they need, which is called coverage.
Script supervisors assign the scene numbers for the camera slates and sound department. In addition, we must time every shot to make sure it’s not too long or short, and take copious notes for the editor.
As if that’s not enough, the script supervisor helps the actors learn their lines, and to remember them when shooting. It’s a lot of pressure to keep the cast and crew together. We’re usually right next to the director, assistant director and cinematographer to coordinate all of this, and one of the few people allowed on “closed sets” when most of the crew has to stay away while shooting intimate scenes or working in tight spaces.
I spent over 25 years making a fantastic living as a script supervisor on movie, TV and commercial productions – some shot in exotic locations like Russia, Argentina, Hungary, Costa Rica and Yugoslavia. I got to work with famous actors like Sean Connery, Jane Fonda, Gregory Peck, Julia Roberts, Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Lopez, Edward James Olmos and Jimmy Smits. It wasn’t an easy job because we usually had to work six days a week for 12-18+ hours a day in dangerous and grueling conditions, like rain, snow, wind, dusty deserts and on top of the highest mountains in the Andes.
In between these jobs, I spent months writing 16 original screenplays, and seven as a writer-for-hire.
This included writing three feature scripts for a director who took me to Paris, Madrid and Rome. Two were produced, including one with Ed Asner and another with George Kennedy.
A number of my original screenplays have been optioned, and two placed as finalists in eight writing contests. I’ve also published three books that are available on Amazon.
My writing career was taking off, plus I was in high-demand as a script supervisor when my life changed in 1991. I worked on a movie called Menace II Society about gang life in Watts (South Los Angeles). I’ll share more details about this in another blog post, but suffice it to say that during this production, I became aware of police brutality.
I also found out about street gangs and how they operate in our inner-cities where drug dealing and violent crimes are prevalent.
I was compelled to make a difference. I contacted all of the L.A. probation camps and volunteered to teach a screenwriting workshop. Sadly, they ignored me, but after the LA Riots in 1992, I was able to provide my screenwriting workshop to 30 teenage boys who were locked up for rape, theft, assault and other serious crimes,
The changes these kids went through during my classes were powerful. They learned how to read and write and wanted to go back to school. Some wanted to apply to college. A gang leader even had loyalty tattoos removed from his neck and hand!
I shared my stories with another screenwriter and she told me that her professor Leslie Stevens at the American Film Institute wanted to give me $5,000 to start a nonprofit organization. That’s when Create Now was born – on October 26, 1996.
Since then, my charity has helped more than 50,000 youth who face abuse, neglect, homelessness and similar challenges to heal and thrive through arts education and mentoring. I’ve received national media attention and international awards for my accomplishments. Learn more at createnow.org.
I’m currently editing my memoir, What You Give Is What You Get, which will be available in 2022. Through this process, I dug up buried memories and realized that I had been abused and neglected during my childhood. I was also bullied and rejected my whole life.
I now realize that these experiences are what drove me to give up my lucrative career in the entertainment industry. I needed to found Create Now so I could help children dealing with these issues to heal and thrive through the arts, just as writing saved my life.
By giving back this way, I have greatly flourished. More importantly, it brings me such tremendous joy to know that I’m making a difference!
It also helped me to understand why I had a 45-year addiction to cannabis. I needed to smoke marijuana constantly in order to smother these deeply rooted emotions.
However, I’ve discovered an incredible technique that has not only helped me to easily get over my addiction, but it also helps people with malignant diseases and allergies to heal with treatments given by a trained acupuncturist and chiropractor located all over the world. I have shared details about this in another blog post
In my blog, I’ll show you ways that you can also make a difference in your community, and how you’ll benefit tremendously by giving back. We can communicate online and grow together to make this a better world by sharing our ideas and expressing our gratitude. All I ask is that we keep our comments positive. There’s too much chaos and hatred going on in the world, so let’s come together in peace and harmony and learn how to Give and Get!