Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Monday, August 29, 2011

Winning!

It's unfortunate that this one little word, winning, has become the laughing stock of the English language in the wake of the (thankfully) now quiet, Charlie Sheen circus.

Laugh. I don't care. Today, I'm winning!

I will be on my way late Tuesday afternoon for an industrial video shoot for a pharmaceutical company.

Icing on the cake? I'm playing a doctor.

Do you know how many times in my life someone has actually said to me, You should have been a doctor. I'm dead serious (sorry--that dead thing--not medical humor).

Now I get to channel my inner MD when I slide on the white coat and stand in front of my medical practice minions. She says, with a slightly wicked grin.

Can I be House? Can I be snarky and obnoxious and brilliant and say awesome words like autoimmune, sarcoidosis, hematoma, and stage 4 glioblastoma? Start him on prednisone and if he dies, we know we were wrong.

Pass the Vicodin and practice the limp.

Sadly enough, the doctor I am playing, according to the script, doesn't know squat about federal drug regulations and wants to do a little illegal something for her friend in the office across the street.

The real me spent years in pharmaceutical QA and Regulatory Affairs. And wanted to be a doctor, once upon a time.

I have to play dumb?

Anything for a good time. 

It's not paying much, but it's not about the money, it's about loving the work.

It's a piece of the dream puzzle falling into place, one piece at a time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Everyone Needs a BFF

I've seen many stories of women who have held on to high school or college friends all through their lives. Regardless of marriage, careers, children, moves, divorce, and all the other stuff of life, they managed to maintain their friendships.

As I watched these stories, I marveled at them, and thought, how wonderful that must be, but I've never experienced it. I moved quite a bit, and I think I basically gave up on the idea of a best friend, choosing not to risk being disappointed with making friends and then losing them.

Like most things in my life, finding my best friends has happened later in life for me than most people. I had to grow up.

Better late than never.

As I began my modeling career adventure in 2007 I was involved in photo modeling classes, taught by Michael Wray, the agency's fashion photographer. We would all congregate on the top level of the parking garage of Lenox Towers in Buckhead and Michael would put us through the paces of learning to be photographed for fashion and lifestyle print.

After the first few classes, a new person showed up on the top level of the parking garage--Carrie. She had modeled as a teenager and was pursuing it again as a newly divorced mother of 2 small children.

Have you ever been inexplicably drawn to someone? Well, that was the case with Carrie. I started talking to her, and the fact that there is an 18-year difference in our ages never seemed to be an obstacle to our conversation.

It was quickly apparent that Carrie is one of the sweetest souls I have ever met. The bond we share is made of the steel forged when women share their hearts and souls, no holds barred. We have a spiritual connection that makes us sisters. I feel safe with Carrie. I trust her with my heart (and I'm very careful with it). She is smart, funny, and beautiful, inside and out. 







While I was in Miami Beach, Carrie flew down to visit a couple of times and those visits are some of my fondest memories. One of those trips was for the purpose of adding pictures to our portfolios. Michael was in town on other business, so between that and the great locations, the opportunity for a shoot was not to be missed. Of course, we had a blast.
Sidebar--> Thank you, Steve, for joining the party!



I returned to Atlanta in 2009, in the throes of the recession, and started over again. Work, mission trips, catching up with my kids, a new grand baby, and my wedding had all my attention.

Meanwhile, Carrie earned her Master's degree while teaching full-time and raising her 2 children. Regretfully, I didn't communicate with her as I should have; our relationship boiling down to occasional emails amidst our busy lives.

I hadn't seen her in I don't know how long--too long--when the imminent death of our friend, Michael, brought us together. We met again under painful circumstances, but seeing her again was as though no time had passed.

September 6, 2010

 Since then, nearly a year has passed and lots has happened. Carrie is now a Christian counselor, as well as a teacher, specializing in play therapy. Leland and I were with her in June to photograph and celebrate her marriage to Tim, also a Christian counselor. Together they run a non-profit counseling center, Second Wind.

We've both come a long way since the evening classes on the top level of the parking garage. We've had some great adventures, helped each other grieve, laughed, grew, and celebrated how God redeemed the lost years by gracing us with our husbands.

I am more than willing now to risk losing a friend so that I can have a friend. I'm blessed to have this one--my best friend. People come and go through our lives, but there are friends with whom we will always be connected. Whatever life brings our way, I am certain Carrie and I will always find each other.

Do you have a best friend story? Do you have one particular close friend or a group of several that has stuck together for years? Please, share!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do I Believe?

Since writing about my most unlikely of dreams--becoming a model--I have been entertaining those fond memories of my year working in Miami Beach.

And I wonder, if not for the recession, would I have stayed? If not for the recession, would I have gone further in my modeling career, and more into acting? If not for the recession, would I have ever returned to Atlanta, dated, and eventually married the most supportive and unconditionally loving person on earth?

What if...

The reality is, the recession happened and it halted much of modeling and advertising in their tracks. Film production left Florida, along with the tax incentives. I did go back to Atlanta, and of course, married Leland Holder. One dream became my reality after one seemed to have ended, but some dreams never really die.

Fully aware that the business is vastly different in Atlanta than in Miami Beach (read: slow), I managed to book jobs here and there--a print job for Home Depot and several stock photo shoots with a local photographer.

A casino commercial I filmed in Miami was picked up for another year, which resulted in a nice check. It made me think about going back, but there was no point until there were indications of economic recovery.

I listed myself with a virtual agency, Talent Soup, a visionary concept from the creative mind of Rad Harrell, self-appointed Talent Chef. I went about the business of work in the corporate world (and hating it), enjoying marriage, all the while thinking, some day.

Talent Soup submitted me for a few projects over the next 2 years, until May of this year, when things began jumping. I was submitted for 5 projects in about 6 weeks--crazy for this area--and went to one casting.

It was exciting to see advertising pick up again and I knew it was time--invest in new pictures and be ready. I went into high gear planning a photo shoot to update my pictures for my online portfolios on Talent Soup and at Mega Models in Miami. A week of coordinating schedules of my most amazing photographer and husband, Leland, modeling partner, Scott, and makeup artist, Sav, and we had shoot day set in stone. One of my favorite parts, shopping for shoot wardrobe, was done in an afternoon.  

I was jazzed. It was fun. I realized, even after all this slack time, how much I enjoy this. If this is work, bring it on. Modeling and working on TV and movie sets, working long hours, are the things I have done that have actually resulted in being pleasantly exhausted at the end of the day.

Smiling between yawns, after 12 hours on set. Ready to do it again.

So this is what it's like to love your job.

Since that jump in submissions in May--nothing. Cue the crickets. Strange, since I had received an email from Rad about the shortage of talent in the 55+ age range. So I emailed him my theory about the never-ending American cultural view of beauty being youth, and the norm of men my age typically being cast with younger women. I had apparently correctly identified the gap for female talent in my age category.

Bummer.

Whereas once the doors flew open and the phone rang off the hook, now the doors AND windows have all seemed to shut and lock, and the phone is silent.

But do I still believe that all things are possible?

Are you kidding? I've lived it. I still believe it. Admittedly, some days it's easier to give up than others, but deep down, I know it can still happen. Doors of opportunity can be opened. The phone can ring.

Now, there is a difference, and not just in the business. Where I once had a white knuckle grip on this dream, I now release the outcome. I trust God to do with it as he sees fit, because I know he has my best interests at heart. And in his heart is where I love to be.

Dream your dream, take all the steps toward it that you can, and then release the outcome by placing that precious dream into the loving hands of God.

Do you believe your dream is still possible?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Never Too Late

Have you ever thought about those dreams you had as a kid? Did you put them aside, or did they become your reality?

There were plenty of things I dreamt of doing and being as a kid, but the one thing I know I was born to do was to ride horses. I wanted an entire herd of them, and endless, fenceless land to ride through.

When I was about 13 years old, I began dreaming something new. I wanted to be a model. Looking back on it, it seems pretty odd, given the outdoorsy tomboy I was, who followed her father everywhere, but that's what happened.

I brought my wish to my mother. Her immediate answer was, No.

But, why?

I don't remember all the reasons she gave that this would be a bad idea, but the one that stuck was, They'll only reject you. Someone will think your nose is too big, or you're too short, or you're too...

Whatever. I knew I was done.

I was totally deflated. I went to my room and looked in the mirror. My nose isn't that big, is it?  I looked at the magazine article I had read about what was required to be a model. I'm just the right height and weight--5'7", 117 pounds--maybe a little short, but maybe not.

I knew it was a waste of my energy to think about this any longer, knowing that, in my house, no meant NO.

Dream over, buried.

Fast forward, oh, 37 years. I was divorced, kids grown and out on their own or in college, self-employed, making a new life for myself in a new city. A year earlier, I had written a list of no limits dreams and goals and stuck it safely away in my file cabinet. On that list was the goal of becoming a successful model.

I went to a singles group dinner one night in February, 2007, where I met a photographer named Leland Holder. He told me his specialty was executive portraiture, and he asked me if I had a professional head shot for my website. Of course, I didn't. It was a snapshot that I had cropped to head and shoulders.

A few days later, I found myself sitting in Leland's studio, with my stomach in knots, for my very first professional portrait. He was very good at setting me at ease, the glass of wine not withstanding, and he quickly had several good shots.

He looked at me and told me I was very photogenic. Then he asked me The Fateful Question:

Have you ever thought about being a model?

Suddenly, I felt that 13-year-old girl come to the surface. I smiled and asked Leland, Can I tell you a secret?

He lowered his camera, gave me his full attention, and said, Sure.

I've always wanted to be a model, but my mother wouldn't let me when I was a kid.

Well, modeling has changed a lot since you were a kid, and there's a big demand for mature models. I've gotten some really good pictures of you. You should think about it.

Uh-oh. He had to throw me that bone.

That first photo shoot turned into 2 more, and before I knew it, I had enough images to put together a portfolio. I had no idea what I was doing, but I compiled a list of local modeling agencies and with my small collection of photos, I got in the car with Leland and went to the first one on the list.

The agency owner happened to be at the front desk when we walked in. She shook my hand and introduced herself, looked at the photos, and asked me if I could come back the next week for an interview. The following week I signed with that agency, and was ushered back into the photo studio to meet their fashion photographer, Michael Wray.

Thus began an adventure that I never could have imagined. It took me to Miami Beach and 3 more agencies, and one of the best years of my entire life from 2008-2009.

You wouldn't believe the naysayers I had to plow through to get to Miami. These are people who don't want you to realize your dreams because they're too afraid to venture out of the Land of Familiar themselves. But they don't matter.

 




God provided every single thing I needed for this adventure, including my friend, Steve, to keep me company along the way. For the most part, I was alone in it, in Miami, but only in the physical sense. God never left me. He never will. I grew that year, spiritually and emotionally. It took that time away, by myself, for God to accomplish that work in me.

Michael asked me that first day he met me, Why have you decided to start modeling at age 50? 

I replied, Well, I've been wanting to do this since I was 13, so I figured now would be a good time.

He told me several times he never forgot that.

Do you have a dream that is buried deep beneath the adult world of "shoulds", "woulds", and various pursuits of the American Dream of material wealth? One that the naysayers told you couldn't be done? One that you were told was childish? Or you were just crazy? Then I would encourage you to dig it out, bring it into the light of day, and consider nurturing it.

Trust me. It's never too late.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Was Born To Surf

Last night Leland and I watched the movie, Soul Surfer. If you haven't watched it, you should. It is the true story of surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm in a shark attack. It is also about her journey through the tragedy; adjusting to new limitations, her change in perspective, and her return to competitive surfing.

Bethany was on the rise as a competitive surfer, having been sponsored by Rip Curl shortly before her tragic accident. She was living an idyllic life with a strong, faith-based, loving family, a best friend to share her surfing passion with, and the promise of a brilliant future.

I wanted to be her as I watched this story begin to unfold. Who wouldn't?

Then that shark came out of nowhere and took off her left arm, along with her hopes and dreams. But like any passionate dreamer, Bethany was thinking only of getting back into the water as she lay in a hospital bed, in pain, recovering from a horrible trauma.

Once out of the hospital, watching Bethany's return home and the limitations she was facing, the frustration, the pain on her brothers' and parents' faces as they watched her, brought tears to my eyes. And the paparazzi camped in the front yard, like buzzards circling their next meal, made me angry.

With determination born of faith--I can do all this through Him who gives me strength--she adapted to life with one arm. She learned to surf again, her family cheering her on along the way. Then she decided to go to the next level; to compete.

Bethany's dreams of competitive surfing came crashing down around her as she gave in to the heart-breaking frustration of trying to regain her pre-injury abilities. Faith withered under the strain of the seemingly impossible.  

She gave up.

She gave her boards away to some of her younger fans and decided to go with her church youth group on a mission trip to Thailand, following the tsunami of 2004. There, her perspective changed. The suffering, wreckage, and hopelessness of the aftermath of the tsunami brought her out of her own suffering and into the lives of those she went to serve.

Back home with a renewal of faith, she decided to surf again, and to prepare for a national competition. Her father rigged her board with a hand hold that would allow her to duck dive through the surf and pop out on the back side without being pummeled by the waves. She trained, and trained hard, because, as she said, I was born to surf.

In that competition, God gave her the wave of her dreams as the entire lineup of surfers sat in a calm sea and the clock ticked off the last seconds of the heat. She came close to winning that competition, and would have if she had only stood on her board one second sooner, before the horn blew signaling the end of the heat. She placed fifth because that dream ride didn't count.

Not to Bethany. It counted.

How quickly I lose my grip on faith and give up on my dreams. Thank you, Bethany, for sharing your story, and for encouraging dreamers everywhere. You are beyond inspirational--a true champion of the faith.


                            Bethany Hamilton at the Champions of the Faith Awards, Atlanta, GA

What were you born to do? Have you given up on your dream? What can you do to bring it back to life?


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Setting The Stage

As defined by Merriam-Webster:

Dream (noun):  a : a strongly desired goal or purpose
                      b : something that fully satisfies a wish

What the dictionary doesn't say is how dear to us our dreams are.

We are born with some of our dreams having been programmed into our DNA by the Creator, as are our personality and physical characteristics. They have been with us since our earliest memories.

Some of our dreams we choose as we grow, and they change from childhood to adulthood, and even in later years, but I want to believe that even those find their roots in what lies in us on a cellular level.

We do with them what we will--ignore them or pursue them, or as I prefer to say, nurture them.

Most of us are familiar with the beliefs we were taught on our way to adulthood--that unless a dream results in a certain comfort level on the socioeconomic scale, it is not worthy of nurturing. We must put it aside as childish and act like an adult.

God bless The Rebel. 

Cue Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild. (Generation Y, take note. Coolness existed long before you showed up). Visualize yourself speeding down a straight stretch of road in a convertible (on a motorcycle if you prefer), music blasting. And plaster a wicked grin on your face.

Now that the stage is set, I'm planning on sharing my story of the most unlikely of dreams actually becoming my reality. It's quite a tale, it's long and will be condensed, and my goal is to inspire the reader. I'll let you know when it's written.

p.s. You are free, you know. Free to dream, free to nurture your dreams, free to choose to believe that all things are possible, free to flick the naysayer across the room (figuratively, or perhaps, a literal flipping off of the flesh and blood version--thank them first for their input).

Have a wild weekend!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Birthday Randomness

The Holder's don't simply celebrate a birthday one day and move on. No, no, no. We celebrate Birthday Week. This is my week.

On August 3rd, I turned, umm, 55. There, I said it. And I felt it in my throat, sort of like acid reflux.

My goal was to kick birthday ass, my reasons for which, you can read about here. If you're short on time, let it suffice to say, in light of (or regardless of) the many less than happy days of the past year, I decided to party hearty.

There is another reason I believe birthdays need to be a big deal: I have already outlived my mother by 4 years of age. Trust me, every year becomes more of a celebration knowing that none of us knows how long our stay here will be.

The week-long festivities commenced on Sunday, with a date with the hubs to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2--great movie--followed by cocktails at one of our favorite spots. It was quiet, intimate, and perfect for nice, chill conversation.

The next 3 days each brought more birthday surprises from my most wonderful husband and children. I love my kids, and my granddaughter Kate, who called to say, Happy Bu-day, Gamma! 

Love.

Unfortunately, Birth Day went downhill from there. Plans for a night out on the town were squashed as Leland came home from a location shoot with his shoulder muscles in spasm.

Pain from hell. Chiropractor. Ice. DMSO. E-stim. Pain. Much vocalization and declaration that this is as bad as childbirth. Excuse me?!




We did eventually enjoy a very nice grilled steak dinner, followed by CAKE!  

Okay, cupcakes, but still, it was cake with frosting and cute dots in different colors. And candles stuck in the middle. It was FUN. I felt like a kid.

Success.

But there's one more surprise to top off the day like a cherry poised atop a mound of whipped cream on an ice cream sundae.


This video:

video

This angel is Mary Claire, 4-year-old daughter of our wonderful friends, John and Elizabeth. John is one of our mission team members from our October '09 mission trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina. We all learned a few words in Croatian as a result of our visit, and Mary Claire has picked up a few herself. What she is saying is, Slava Bog!, which translated is, Praise God!

Leland and I played this over and over, laughing our heads off every time. I know why Jesus loves kids so much.

Yes, Mary Claire, Praise God--Slava Bog, baby! Birthdays rock!

How do you celebrate birthdays? I would love to hear your story!

p.s. The week isn't over yet!