Feeling Selfish is OKAY!

Selfish

For the longest time I would put other people before myself. I would feel enormous guilt if I wanted to do something for me. After years of counseling I realized that being SELFISH is absolutely OKAY! I’ve heard it before time and time again that I needed to “take care of myself first” but every time I would start, I would feel like I was being selfish. Finally my heart caught up with my brain and now it’s easier to say “no” or opt out of things if they don’t bring me joy or fulfill whatever need it is that I’m longing for.

If you’re in a place where you want to do something that makes you happy, but you are hesitant for whatever reason…go for it! You may feel like you’re being “selfish” but that means you’re doing something right!

Sometimes You Feel Like A Whale…

Today was just another one of those days where we just wanted to enjoy the beauty that life has to offer. My husband and I decided to take our boat “Trudy” out into the Pacific Ocean and see what beauty we could find. Well, were we in for a wonderful surprise. The dolphins were the first to greet us and as we headed several miles off shore we found more dolphins and seals. As we returned home we could see something in the distance that looked a lot like water shooting up. Sure enough, this beautiful whale was in the channel at Seal Beach leading into Los Alamitos Bay. In the words of Jimmy Buffet and Alan Jackson, this whale was “keeping it between the navigational beacons.”

Whale1

Go Ahead…Have Your Cake AND Eat It Too!

As my husband and I begin our PCS (permanent change of station) move to California, I was asked to be in charge of the cake for his farewell office party. Something so simple, somehow became very important to me.  I wanted to select a cake that would really capture what he is all about. It had to be different, funny and of course unforgettable.

I met up with my friend and showed her a picture of what I wanted the cake to look like. She couldn’t help but laugh and explained how I have inspired her to always take risks and to think outside the box. She said, “I would have always played it safe with a sheet cake, but you come along and you make it okay to be different and to make it memorable.”

I told her how much Gary loved Popeyes Chicken and how he and his friends would eat Popeyes1there almost every day. When he went in for his surgery he was asking for Popeyes Chicken and biscuits in the hospital room. So this cake was simply perfect for my husband!

THANK YOU Celebrity Cake Studio in Tacoma — You’re simply the best!!

Popeyes2

Armless NASCAR Engineer Richie Parker is My Hero

I was forwarded this video yesterday of a man named Richie Parker.

Richie Parker’s entire life has been a refusal to accept the limitations of his condition. Born without arms, he has heard through his whole life that there were things he simply could not do. But when he invariably decided that he would do those things anyway, he had to be innovative and determined in figuring out how it would be done. This and a longtime love of cars led naturally to a career as an engineer, working for Hendrick Motorsports. The innovation and determination that help him overcome his handicap now help him be a champion.

The Best Birthday Gift Ever!

This morning I woke up at 4:30am and I couldn’t help but think of the many birthdays I’ve had in the past. I quietly rolled over and thanked God, the universe and all that surrounds me for the gift of yet another day.

It’s funny, when you’re younger you focus on the “cool” gifts such as Barbie, Cabbage Patch Kids etc., but as you get older, the gifts start to come in different forms. I certainly Curadon’t need a birthday gift on this one day when I receive so many gifts throughout the year. The gift of seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids at Cura Orphanage, or seeing Sam and Emely’s progress as they make their wedding plans. The gift of cheering on my friends who are in the process of adopting a foster child, or celebrating the upcoming birth of my sweet friends babies. The gift of celebrating life that is brought into this world and even though it’s difficult, the gift of sharing the heartache when we lose those closest to us.

Over the past 35 years I have grown a lot. I have made many mistakes, which have turned into blessings. I have found love and I have lost love. I have acquired family and I have lost family. I have taken risks and I have failed several times over. Yet, through it all, I have continued to discover who I am and what fuels my soul.

Each and every one of you fuel my soul with love, laughter and  bless me with birthday gifts not just on this one day, but throughout the entire year. You make my life so much better just by being in it.

With all my love today, tomorrow and for the rest of my life.

Heather

Don’t Make Anyone A Priority Who Only Makes You An Option!

Living life and trying to stay focused on the choices you make and not the choices others make, is difficult. Be the best person you can be with the choices YOU make…don’t allow other people to control your feelings with their mistakes.

Someone sent me this video on my Facebook and I wanted to share it here as well. I thought the title, “Never Give Up” was fitting.

Tuxedo? Check. Cufflinks? Check. Portable toilet? Check. Wait . . . portable toilet?

I read this blog post by my friend Norman Golightly and wanted to share it with you here.

Norm is proof that all people in Hollywood aren’t douche bags. I’m honored to call him my friend and I am blessed to be a part of his journey. Enjoy!

Normby Norman Golightly

Packing for any trip can be tricky, especially with those pesky baggage fees. Paring down all the things you want to bring to the absolute necessities. I’m about to leave for the Cannes Film Festival, which requires a certain level of vêtements de fantaisie (that’s “fancy clothes” in French, and yes, I looked that up). After that week in the luxurious south of France, I will head directly to the Cura Rotary Home outside of Nairobi, Kenya – an orphanage for fifty children who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. I’ll be living there for about a month. It’s my third time doing so.

Not being an orphan, nor Kenyan, you may be wondering about my repeated lodging at a rural orphanage in Africa. I was very lucky to find success early in Hollywood – I started working with Nicolas Cage at the age of twenty-five and was his producing partner by twenty-seven. In the twelve years of our working together, I produced fifteen films and a television series. Living for months at a time in locations like Melbourne, Bangkok, Cape Town, my life moved fast. The phone never stopped ringing and I racked up the frequent flier miles of a pilot.

It was a really good life, but then, it all changed. Our company closed and I found myself without a job for the first time in my life. The phone suddenly stopped ringing and the silence was deafening. The people who had depended on me for so long, now were slow to return my call, if they even did. A few weeks later, a former co-worker whom I liked very much, was killed in a freak car accident. I hate when car accidents are called  “freak” – they’re that by their very nature but when an outrigger canoe flies through your face after it detaches from a trailer tethered to a car coming from the opposite direction on a deserted stretch of Hawaiian highway – well, that’s really freak.

The loss of job and the loss of friend caused me to freeze for a moment. Life suddenly seemed much less certain than it did only weeks prior. What if a canoe flew through my face? What would I leave behind? Who was I if I no longer had the job title I had held for one third of my life? I momentarily slumped into depression. I didn’t leave my house much and the Domino’s delivery guy came with such regularity that he knew the name of my dog and not to dare forget the extra cup of icing with my cinnamon sticks.

Unlike the cinnamon sticks, some of my experiences in Hollywood had left a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn’t just the others – I wasn’t sure I liked who I had become. The compass of my soul was broken and I decided that I might be best served by using a real compass and getting away. Far away. I had always been involved with local charities (Fulfillment Fund, Food on Foot), but there was something slightly too comfortable about my effort. I might pass out food to the homeless, but I still got to go home to my house and pool. I searched high and low for a place where I could get uncomfortable. I then recalled a conversation with Amy Eldon Turteltaub, wife of Jon, with whom I had worked on The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Amy was born in Kenya and her father still lived in Nairobi. Remembering that she had mentioned that her father was one of the co-founders of an orphanage in the region, I reached out.

Amy, who now runs the stellar non-profit Creative Visions Foundation, was a bit surprised that I literally wanted to move into the Cura Rotary Home, but she passed me around to the team. There hadn’t been a large volunteer contingent previously, so there was no set program. I liked that. I was given the green light, then advised of hotels where I could stay in Nairobi for my daily commute to the orphanage. I immediately bucked at this – firstly, I felt that if I was paying for a hotel and not staying at the home itself, I would really just be subsidizing my feeling good about myself, and it would be better spent on the children. And it didn’t fit with my desire to be, uncomfortable. After some haggling, I was permitted to stay at the orphanage itself – I was eventually lodged in a storeroom in the medical clinic. The rusty I.V. stand made for a fine coat rack.

I was asked to create some sort of program around my trip. I liked photography and thought it might be a good hobby to share with the kids. I reached out on Facebook and created a group called Kenya Spare A Camera, asking people to donate their used digital cameras. I never expected the terrible pun to stick, but three years later, Kenya Spare A Camera (the “group” on Facebook and the site) continues to grow each year.

I was admittedly nervous on my first trip. Would the kids like me? What was I even really going to do there? Cameras? You idiot! They probably need food, not cameras. My fears were extinguished upon my arrival at the orphanage.

You know that feeling you get when you step out of an air-conditioned car on a really hot day? A wall of heat enveloping you? I got that feeling getting out of the car at Cura – not being enveloped by heat, but rather by love. A crushing mass of hugs and smiles.

I would spend a month there during that first trip and my activities ranged from helping further the existing farm by raising money to purchase a dairy cow and chickens, tutoring the children, and sometimes, just being a friend to the kids. I slept on the floor. I ate food that I could neither pronounce nor digest. I battled an outhouse that would be labeled cruel and unusual punishment in a more civilized place. And, it was the happiest time of my life. With rare exception I would have days filled with purpose and joy – it’s quite incredible how inextricably those things are linked. The fulfillment I found during this time has focused my purpose in entertainment. I now center my efforts to create content that matters. Socially relevant. Historically significant. Thought-provoking.

As there are forty million orphans in Africa, these kids are likely not being adopted. So it’s more of a group home than our customary view of an orphanage. That means that Henry, who was four when I first visited, will still be there when I return in ten years. This situation creates a palpable bond between the children themselves, and between the children and visitors who return. At the end of my first stay, the question was “will you come back?” That has now changed to, “when will you be back?” I always thought I would have had children of my own by now, and I guess I do. Fifty of them. In Africa.

Norman Golightly

About Norman Golightly

Norman Golightly, a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, held positions with Creative Artists Agency and Ben Stiller prior to partnering with Nicolas Cage. In his twelve year run as President of Cage’s Saturn Films, Golightly produced over a dozen feature film and television projects. He is completing work on his first nonfiction book, entitled “When I Do Good” – an account of his personal journey traversing the worlds of opulent Hollywood and poverty-stricken Africa, revealing his own life lessons supported by his research into the biology and psychology of altruism. Golightly is currently producing “The Flickering Light” for Motion Picture Capital and “Sense8” for Georgeville Television and Netflix. Follow Norman on Twitter, @NormanGolightly